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8 requirements of a Digital Marketing Engineer (DME) for start-ups and SMBs

I’ve been a digital marketing “engineer” for a long time. I use the word engineer loosely because there are many levels to what one can do. 

For example, I understand some of the ins and outs of Google Tag Manager with relation to building event/conversion tracking, passing variable data, etc. But I don’t write custom javascript (I can read and edit it in certain cases but nothing is created from scratch). That would be an example of what to evaluate when looking for a digital marketing engineer (DME) – what level of technical skill do you require specifically.

That being said, here are some ideas on what you should look for if you’re needing to bring someone into your digital marketing team that has more technical skills:

1) Fast Access to Support. If you’re paying top dollar for technical support on your digital marketing campaigns, you need a fast response from the engineer you’ve hired. The digital marketing world moves at an incredibly high pace today and rapid response troubleshooting can make or break a campaign. Establish an instant messaging connection like Slack or Teams. Give your DME lead time (when possible) on upcoming projects and campaigns, as well as promotion schedules, so they know the potential for immediate needs

Tips to working well with your DME:

  • Your DME has other projects going on so instant access isn’t always possible. If you don’t get a response, follow up with an email or support ticket
  • Use instant messaging tools for urgent, time-sensitive issues and planned meetings, not general impromptu discussion

2) Diverse Knowledge and Skill Sets. A business owner wants to be able to get most of his technical questions regarding online marketing answered by the engineer he’s hired. Better yet, he not only wants answers but implementation. Decent digital marketing engineers have 90% of the answers. The best digital marketing engineers know how to get 100% of the jobs done.

Matching up with a DME: Ask for examples on any projects you foresee in the coming 6-12 months that you’d want to hire a DME to execute. An experienced DME will likely have executed more than 80% of what you are looking to do.

Things to know:
Your DME may outsource to leverage others’ expertise, moving along the project faster with higher quality. Discuss ahead of time any requirements/concerns you have about subcontracting pieces of your projects

3) Flexibility. In a perfect, no-pressure, low-stakes world of business, agencies would craft a fancy schedule pinpointing the exact times they are available for your projects. In reality, you, the business owner, need to switch gears or deploy an impromptu campaign quickly and you need to have a flexible agency as a partner to make that happen.

4) Organization. As the business owner, you have a running stream of hundreds of to-dos, appointments, and decisions to make. Keeping track of every digital marketing asset, software login, or campaign project status should not be part of what you need to keep track of, but getting the information when you request it should be required of your engineer.

5) Agile problem solving. Your digital marketing engineer needs to be able to solve a wide array of problems quickly. A good engineer, even if he doesn’t know the answer to a problem, can research and solve issues rapidly anyway.

6) Expert insight. To have someone who can not only complete tasks but also provide insight and ideas into continuous improvement of your digital marketing efforts is vital to long-term collaborative success. The best type of digital marketing engineer is someone who:

  • Keeps updated on industry best practices, new tactics, and proven methodologies
  • Offers up feedback and new ideas
  • Takes action and implements with speed

7) Budget awareness. Having experience keeping projects on or under budget, as well as knowing the average costs for proposed projects (using historical cost data and industry averages) is a critical requirement for any DME that wants a good relationship with you and your repeat business.

8) Testing and Quality control. Testing and assuring your campaigns go out as accurately as possible is essential and your DME is often the last line of defense before items go live. Trusting your DME to launch error-free is a requirement.

Digital Marketing Engineers are hard to find but having one supporting your team is paramount to delivering technology-driven customer experiences.