How to build a winning digital marketing team: A game plan for 2017

Marketing is a team effort, even more so when it comes to digital marketing.  The work is agile and is done in real time.  Pressure to perform or react can soar within seconds. The team must be responsive and able to get things done fast.  To assure success, a digital marketing team needs an overall strategy, good ad-hoc coaching and leadership. At the risk of being cliché, I find that a sports analogy is the easiest way to explain this concept, and building a basketball team is a great example.

Six steps to a winning digital marketing program in 2017:


inbound marketing team infographics-20171. The Team

Every marketing manager knows that the success of his marketing efforts depends on his ability to put together and manage a cohesive team that shares their knowledge and can enhance the performance of each individual. Even with has a rising superstar, an inexperienced rookie or an all-star freelance lineup, your team must be well directed, know to work together and be committed to the overall strategy. Team players are not to be confused with “yes men.” Your team should have a good internal dialog while encouraging innovation and new ideas.

When managing the marketing for an organization or a brand, your team should include these team members in-house or as freelance.

Inbound Marketing Leader

The team expert that creates the strategy and makes sure it is properly executed. This is your coach.

Content Marketing Manager

Responsible for feeding the content hungry beasts – web, social, PR etc. This creative position is your point guard.

 Social Media Manager

Responsible for the day to day operation of the social media outlets and the unique voice of the brand, the dialog with the community and the data from the venues. This is your three point shooting guard – think Steph Curry.

SEO/SEM/Data analyst

This job could be divided into three positions. The responsibility includes managing SEO/SEM while collecting and analyze the web data, mining data and feeding it back to the team constructively. Someone needs to play defense in every game – this is your power forward.

Web/App Master

This position requires a background in web or app development. Most likely it will require managing outsourced vendors and project management skills.

This is your center, not too creative but feed him the ball next to the hoop and he will dunk.


Your brand needs to be highly visual – a consistent intuitive language carried across all outlets. The mobile revolution of the web requires a good understanding of UX. And someone needs to assure that you just plain look good out there.  This person is like a shooting guard making the  pretty and elegant shots.


2. Schedule

The work is highly agile but that does not mean that you don’t need to plan. Quite the opposite. You need solid anchors on you calendar that will allow you to assure that the work is moving forward and goals are met. Consider your pre planned trade shows, company events and meetups, holidays, on and off season peeks, when you build your activity GANTT chart. Plan for reasonable work load distribution, budget availability, advanced resources hiring and needed development time.  It is easier for your team to tackle unplanned challenges and pursue new opportunities when they have advanced knowledge of assignments.

3. Game Plan

Do you have a strategy in place? A digital strategy should sync with your business strategy. It needs to be broken down into Inbound and content strategy, social strategy, SEO strategy, etc. Each strategy should be broken down into specific targets and action items. This game plan needs to be approved by your management. It needs to have clear goals and budget. The plan and the schedule need to be in sync and to explain who is responsible for what, when and how.


The modern way of development software can be applied to your digital marketing modus operandus. I define Scrum as an agile way of completing complex tasks as a team and many of its elements especially the daily run are a great way of pulling together your team and staying on course. This is like a timeout in basketball to plan your next few moves on the court.

5. Test Everything

If you haven’t already, watch the movie Moneyball. Use your gut instincts but test everything. You just can’t assume general truths anymore. The proof is always in the pudding – or the numbers.

6. Analyze and Refine

When you do test things, campaigns, activities, messages or even players, make sure to run good analyses that are conclusive. For that, you need to ask the right questions. For example, instead of asking “was that a good campaign?” ask- “what was the ROI on the campaign and how does it compare to other efforts?”.

With concrete conclusions in hand you can now go back to your plan and make changes.

Play ball!


*Icons represent all genders