What it Means to Provide Value as a Digital Marketer
Value. It’s a concept that we all understand in theory, and we have all certainly faced this question in our professional lives: “What value do you bring?”. It can be a tricky question to answer, and to even begin to answer it we first must have an understand of this word “value”.
This is the cliché part where I include a Merriam-Webster definition of “value”
It’s a lot to think about! I’ve been working at Hanapin for 5 years now, moving from the client-facing Account Manager role to my current role as Senior Account Analyst. Recently this topic has been on my mind, both in terms of how I’m providing value to my teammates, their clients, and Hanapin as an agency. I have the added benefit of sitting next to Kayla Kurtz, our Associate Director of Sales, and this has given me opportunity to learn a bit about what prospects are looking for when they come to us.
I have found that much of our focus is turned towards hard skills. Learning how to use the AdWords (I mean, Google Ads) interface. Excel skills. How to write ads and use the coolest new betas available. But I think we sometimes miss a piece of the puzzle, and need to occasionally take a high level look at how we are providing real value.
As you read this, I encourage you to think about how you can provide value to:
- Your boss
- Your clients
- The C-suite
- Your organization
Ready to dive in?
Provide Insights, Not Just a Data Dump
“Insights” is a word that’s thrown around the industry a lot, but what exactly does that mean? What distinguishes an insight from data? Here are two graphics that I think illustrate the point:
Anyone can pull data from an interface or analytics. It takes someone with some experience and intelligence to take that data, organize it into information, then apply their brains to it to produce something meaningful to the organization. As you become a seasoned PPC professional, you can use your experiences with other accounts to help build insights for current problems. Here’s a practical PPC example:
Data: A campaign report pulled from Google Ads, broken down by month.
Information: That same campaign report segmented into brand vs. non brand, with some notes about budget changes over the last 2 months. Also noted that CPL has risen substantially.
Knowledge: Knowing that we need to take this report and look at CPCs and conversion rates to uncover why CPL has risen.
Wisdom: Competition has increased substantially over the last few months, as search impression share has decreased. By using competitor insight tools we see that major competitors have increased their bids and budgets, thus driving up CPCs which results in a higher CPL. Conversion rates have also decreased from 30% decrease in page load time for our key landing pages. To remedy the situation, we should loop in the web development team, and reassess our strategies around bidding and ad copy to stay competitive.
A good insight does the following:
- Doesn’t just list what happened or give the numbers, but digs into the “why”
- Focuses on metrics that are important
Connect to Real Business Results
Now that we’ve talked about what makes a great insight, we need to dive into how exactly you can connect that to business results.
Sure, you’ve found that competition has increased by 15% in the last three months, driving up CPCs. But what does that mean for the larger scope of the business? This is where we can be really valuable, especially to those who aren’t in the PPC weeds all the time.
Frame your data and all of your hard work around what impact it has on the business. In the example above I mentioned increased competition and rising CPCs. What would a stakeholder care about? I would take a guess that they care about profitability and the bottom line, as well as growth. Make sure each of your points ties back to these KPIs, and make it clear and easy to understand!
Step Outside of the PPC Bubble
This point goes along nicely with the previous one. Not only do you want to connect to business results, but you want to look for learnings and insights that may impact other channels or areas of the business.
Some examples of this can be the competitive landscape, ad copy language, and search query language. These areas can provide nice little nuggets of insight that might be valuable to other marketing or branding efforts. If you find that a certain unique selling point does really well in your ad copy, consider adding that language to landing pages or email blasts. You are uniquely positioned to give these insights, so take every opportunity you can get!
Present in a format that’s understandable & relatable
The above point was a nice segue into presentation. It’s so important to speak the language of whomever you are presenting to. If you’re talking to a PPC Account Manager or Digital Marketing Manager, then you can probably get away with using all the PPC jargon your heart desires. If you’re presenting to a VP, CEO, CMO, or other executive, you’re probably better off not using a bunch of acronyms and jargon.
I could ramble on and on about data visualization and its importance, but that’s a story for another time. For this article, I’ll leave it at this: use graphs that your audience will be comfortable reading, and that gets your point across cleanly and concisely. If you want more information, I suggest do some Googling for data visualization and presentation best practices.
Unique Tool & Process Development
In my particular role at Hanapin, this is my favorite way to provide value to my teammates and their clients. I get to be creative in how I solve problems (I love puzzles, Logic was one of my favorite classes in college), learn new things and expand my skillset, and collaborate with other brilliant minds, all while making my coworkers lives easier (I hope).
When developing a proprietary tool or process, you should ask yourself these questions:
- What problem or pain point am I trying to solve or alleviate?
- What’s the best way to solve that problem?
- Do I have the skills and/or resources needed? If not, what can I do to fill those gaps?
- Does developing this tool provide value by either:
- Saving time
- Saving money
- Providing insight (remember our discussion on insights above!)
These questions should provide a good guide on your tool development process.
Have a Plan to Execute
When delivering recommendations based on your expert analysis, it’s always a good idea to have a plan to execute said recommendations. Remember that old saying “a goal without a plan is just a wish”? That applies here.
Your plan should include the following:
- Why is this important? What impact will this have on the business?
- A time frame. When will this be completed? For how long will this test run? When will we know if it’s successful?
- Measurements of success. What metric will we look at to determine if we succeeded? What’s our specific goal?
Be A Good Partner & Establish Yourself as the Expert
Don’t Be a Yes Man
One critical thing that is easy to forget is that you are the expert. Your client, boss, etc. has hired you for a reason, and is leaning on you to use your expertise to give a recommendation. Know when to push back, and don’t be a yes man.
Of course, there are times when a client or boss tells you to do something and won’t budge from their standpoint. However, it’s crucial to know when you should push back a little if your recommendation is truly in the best interest of the account. As a good partner, you should always have the client or business’s best interests at heart.
To build trust I find it’s very important to give all the supporting data, articles, etc. to back up your point.
Know your expertise, but also know your limitations
If you work at an agency, your clients will know their business better than you. Of course you should strive to understand as much as you can to be a good partner, understand that you can’t know everything that happens internally.
What You Should Take Away From All of This
We’ve gone through a lot in this article, and kudos to you for following this thing through to the end.
Here’s a quick TL;DR –
- Provide insights, not data.
- If applicable, create proprietary tools & processes
- Be a good partner – speak their language, and know when to push back
As digital marketers, it’s easy to get lost in the daily ins and outs of managing accounts. Clicks went up, CTR increased, etc. Make it a practice to step back and really think about how you are providing value.
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