Sofie Ghyllebert is a digital staffing expert and manages the On-Site consultancy services at The Reference. She talks with companies in various sectors on a daily basis about the needs and requirements for a well-balanced marketing team.
Have you seen an evolution in marketing teams over the years?
“Absolutely! I remember when eight years ago, most companies didn’t deem hiring an internal all-round digital marketer as an option. If you did, your company probably was of such a high caliber that you required a highly specialized team.”
“When experienced digital marketers were looking for an internal position in the marketing team of a company, it wasn’t easy to find an employer that actually wanted their skillset in-house. These profiles usually ended up working for an agency instead. Companies back then asked themselves: “What use is an experienced digital marketer internally?” Now, eight years later, these are some of the most sought-after profiles.”
“However, I’ve also noticed strong changes in how digital marketing related roles are interpreted over the years. This is something I can only applaud. Consumers and markets are constantly changing and fortunately, many companies are also picking up on this. Some need a slightly stronger push than others to come to that realization, but there is progress.”
Eight years ago, most companies didn’t deem hiring an internal all-round digital marketer as an option.
How do you notice this evolution?
“There’s a shift in skills companies hire agencies for, and skills for which they set up internal teams. We also strongly notice a difference in specific needs and skills companies focus on.”
“For example: the skillset of the search engine advertising (SEA) marketer was in high demand until a few years ago. Every company wished for someone with a certain experience level in paid media campaigns. Nowadays, this profile is being pushed more and more to the background.”
“On the one hand, you can't compete with the knowledge and experience of a full agency. It is a big, continuous investment to keep your marketers up-to-date with the rapidly evolving world of digital marketing. Furthermore, marketing campaigns on their own aren’t enough, they should be part of a complete marketing approach.”
“On the other hand, you also have the big shift towards automation of campaigns, which means that the purely operational side of things disappears, requiring more strategic thinkers."
Which profiles are currently in high demand?
“Companies understand you can't find success with marketing campaigns alone. When customers finally find their way to your website, you want them to stick around and take certain actions.”
“Compared to five years ago, a website has become much more vibrant. To keep it relevant and interesting, you need content, a user-friendly user experience (UX), customer experience (CX), a good sales flow, the list goes on.”
“Nothing is more annoying to a visitor then a slow loading website, or a site where you feel like you have to go through a maze of pages before you find what you’re looking for.”
"This translates to the roles of the more strategic UX designer and the rather operational and coordinating content or web manager.”
UX designers are now highly sought-after.
“This is a trend that I saw emerging fast and actively five years ago with a well-known player in the financial sector. Back then, UX design was not yet top of mind for mainstream businesses. These profiles also weren’t easy to find in Belgium. However, in retrospect, both the company and the few people willing to learn UX design in Belgium are strongly benefiting from this now. UX designers are now highly sought-after. Meanwhile, the financial company is still at a strong level today. This is especially visible in their app.”
How do you see the digitization evolve from here?
“A website or webshop is now more than ever the digital extension of you as a brand or company. The user-friendliness and experience of this platform is crucial.”
“I recently noticed this personally. We have been renovating our home and tried to do as many things as possible ourselves. Initially, we focused on buying our materials from Belgian webshops, because we wanted to support our local economy. However, we quickly realized that these shops are not yet on the same level as webshops in the Netherlands. They really are miles ahead.”
“For me, it’s simple: if your website does not radiate professionalism, I immediately ask myself: “What about the service and quality of your product?” The supporting content often was also deplorable. Of course, some Belgian webshops performed better and are able to keep up with international big boys. Many others, however, offered a rather disappointing user experience.”
“Additionally, I believe ecommerce will keep growing exponentially. Both personally as in my surroundings, I notice more people moving their shopping behavior online. In today’s context, this trend will only grow. Physical shopping is being pushed to the background, webshops are now king. A tendency that will also cause shifts in the labor market, logistics, real estate, ...”
“It’s important for companies to not adopt a wait-and-see mentality. They must think about what the future will bring and act now.”
What’s your recommendation for these companies?
“Markets are constantly changing and you need to keep up. Therefore, it is important to continuously question the skills and capabilities you have within your company. Are they still relevant to guarantee you lasting success, or are there gaps you’ll need to close?”
“We tend to look up to pioneers in our respective markets, but even they can struggle with this. If they do not adapt to the requirements of the market, they will go under, just like any other company. I think we all know some big brands that lost their way and eventually lost market share to new, alternative businesses. Adaptability to change is a continuous mechanism that has to be present within a company. A mechanism which is always threatened by internal assumptions, fear of change, routine, ...”
“When you're in the middle of it, it's often very difficult to see this. On the one hand you are busy with the current approach and way of working. On the other hand, there is the element of change for which we by nature often have built up various defense mechanisms. Routine feels safe and familiar. However, outside of your comfort zone is where the magic happens. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes either. They can often lead to new ideas and successes.”
You should always make time to assess market changes.
“You should always make time to assess market changes. Workshops are a perfect way to do this with your teams. It’s always a good idea to involve an external pair of eyes as well. People who might notice potential pitfalls, can provide a fresh point of view and have experiences with other sectors. They are not attached to internal politics, visions and assumptions which have developed within your company over the years.”
“For a company, it is important to go back to the essence: "What is my goal as a brand?” and “What does my customer expect and need?” Believe it or not: the answers to those two questions are often not aligned.”
“There’s also a third, maybe even more important question to ask: "What do we have to do to achieve our goals and help our customers?" This can sometimes result in hard and drastic decisions. Decisions that are often essential for the future growth and health of a company.”