Digital marketing agencies are architects of online visibility and customer engagement. Typically, every agency will use different tools to achieve goals, but even the most state-of-the-art tools are ineffective without having a well-trained, experienced team that can analyze results and design strategies.
But having a well-trained and experienced team is a challenge. Analyzing our internal data at (un)Common Logic, we’ve identified that training is one of the biggest time and money investments at our agency. And it’s also one that we found is critical to the success of our clients.
The challenge most agencies face is that training in digital marketing is complex. The marketer needs a wide array of skills and expertise that are hard to learn in a short time during onboarding. Additionally, the landscape of digital marketing is always evolving which requires the team to continuously learn and acquire new skills.
How do we strategically approach training?
1. Make training a priority
One of our six core values in the agency is “Always Learn and Try New Things.” The team is constantly encouraged to push themselves beyond the confines of what they know and explore new solutions either on their own or with their teammates. Our team has a director of training responsible for everyone’s development from onboarding analysts to directors. Training also has a dedicated yearly budget and goals.
2. Hire the right people
The rollercoaster of agency life is not for everyone. HR and the interviewing teams need to identify the right candidates who will love this job beyond year 1.
The right agency candidate will be a curious problem solver who possesses grit. Since digital marketing is fast paced and accounts don’t perform perfectly all the time, the individual should be able to rebound when mistakes or bad performance happens.
3. Onboarding training has to be engaging
Watching videos or reading a slide deck is ok sometimes, but if that’s all that is used, be prepared for a teammate who is not equipped to handle an account.
At (un)Common Logic our onboarding training is extensive and can take 8-10 weeks. It consists of in-person training, training exercises, and hands-on tasks where the trainee works on an account (supervised). This helps to ensure the new teammate is truly building essential skills to be ready for successful client work. There are 3 other elements that are important to us:
- Capstone assignments where we examine the skills of the onboarding teammate to ensure they are ready to take on accounts
- Every teammate (analyst, manager, strategist, director) is a trainer. It helps the new trainee get to know everyone on the team and it helps the development of the trainers
- Surveys filled out by trainees and trainers to help the director identify and make adjustments that need to be made to the training
4. Create ongoing training for the team and for individuals
With the everchanging nature of digital marketing, best practices need to evolve. Given the wide array of skills necessary, most of the team needs refreshers in different areas. The director of training needs to identify the gaps in skills for the team that require reiteration and plan evergreen training.
The director also needs to work with managers to identify specific gaps for each individual on the team to help create their own personal development plan. The bi-yearly review helps to keep track and align with the individual’s goals.
5. Don’t live in an echo chamber
External training is important to expand knowledge beyond the best practices of the agency. Reading articles, going to webinars, and participating in conversations with other agencies is important on the day to day. More comprehensively, include conferences in the budget and assign external mentors for specific individuals when the time is right.
6. Provide ample opportunities to share knowledge
At (un)Common Logic, we’ve launched our own proprietary knowledge base search engine to provide quick information to whoever in the team seeks it.
Additionally, the heads of each service have separate weekly open hours, so the team can come in and discuss strategy or answer any questions they may have.
Everyone is encouraged to share learnings which can benefit other teammates during our weekly meeting attended by the entire company.
Finally, bi-weekly, the different teams meet to share their knowledge and discuss new ideas, findings, and learnings.
At the end of the day, for a digital marketing team to meet client and internal performance goals, it is imperative to have an effective ongoing training program, not simply a one-time event that begins and ends with onboarding training.
From hiring the right candidate to continuous skill enhancement, training must be a priority and part of the backbone of a successful digital marketing agency.
Contact us to talk about how our team of well-trained digital marketing experts can help with your business goals.
Want to learn more? Read about our approach to taming shiny object syndrome, questions to ask before hiring a digital marketing agency, and what else makes us such an (un)Common workplace.