- 1 When do I hire vs. outsource growth marketing?
- 2 What kind of Expert do I need?
- 3 Hiring for your marketing team
- 4 Final Remarks
When do I hire vs. outsource growth marketing?
Hiring for marketing is one of the most tiring tasks for founders, especially in growing ecosystems. You could be facing a shortage of calibres, a growing need to grow, and an intense competition for hiring the few available for full time.
The second issue is finding which type of marketer you need. You might want one of the following:
- Social Media Marketer
- SEO Marketer
- Performance Ads Marketer
- Affiliate Marketer
- Content Marketer
When do I hire?
Marketing is a large field, with lots of sub-categories. According to this article by Hubspot, there are 41 types of marketers! Are you really going to hire 41 marketers to set up a team? Not even half that number is required before Series B or C!
(If you’re in SaaS, here’s a great organizational chart for the whole company from Series A to C here.)
For this article, I will recommend the types of marketing Experts you need to be looking for, depending on your industry type: SaaS, e-commerce or mobile apps in pre-Series A startups.
What kind of Expert do I need?
I’m going to focus on 3 industries for this article and suggest hiring vs. outsourcing marketing: SaaS, fashion e-commerce, non-fashion e-commerce and mobile apps. If anyone needs more types such as marketplaces or specific industries (healthtech, edutech, retail), I’m happy to do a version 2 of the article.
When starting a SaaS business, go for SEO and Content Expert
Focus on organic growth by combining 2 powerhouses: SEO and content writer. To make the combination both affordable and generate impact, outsource the SEO to an SEO Expert, and have an inhouse content writer. This way, you can generate exact content that would help your business grow. The SEO Expert would focus on technical issues with the website, landing pages, blog and FAQs. They would also filter results to find the best targeted keywords by user intent, competition for such content and the best outline (H1, H2, H3, etc.) for such articles.
The content writer would take in these content roadmaps, and start generating content based on the SEO Expert. Additional content may be recommended and created as well. Such as lead magnets, ebooks, whitepapers, guides, templates and PDFs that could be helpful to potential users. If you cannot afford a content writer full time, another option would be to go for a Content Expert.
For fashion e-commerce, go for Social Media and Performance Ads Expert
When starting in e-commerce it’s better to test multiple channels first before focusing on a marketing niche. Usually what happens with many e-commerce stores is multiple trials across the marketing spectrum but with no follow through, constituency and sporadic trials. Having randomized influencer campaigns, organic social media posting, performance based ads and content will slow down the growth numbers.
I always say a fashion e-commerce store should have a story or an impact, and a brand can be a strong hook for lifetime sales, albeit it takes a lot of time. One of the best examples can be seen with Toms, Paliroots and The Doodle Factory. When starting a fashion e-commerce, the suggestion would be to hire a social media executive who can build a good rapor online, and couple that with a Performance Ads Expert, who can plug and play converting ads for certain segments such as abandon cart triggers. Then, focus on loyalty!
Even though SEO is important here too, it’s a very long road for user acquisition through organic because you would need to create content focusing on collections and trends which are easier to find user intent keywords for. Unless you are selling “white cotton tshirts”, it’s best to focus on the tips above as well as flows in omni-channel communication. Automated SMS and email campaigns have transformed Zara’s ecommerce.
Go for an SEO Expert
What if you are an e-commerce store selling objects, or expensive items? Here, focus on the main matter: SEO. Your website should act as an open source dictionary, with perfected descriptions, schemas and maps. The website should be perfectly organized, categorised and crawled. This will also help with Google Shopping and appearing in search results with images, descriptions, pricing and even reviews.
This is especially useful for selling objects that are less about taste, or extremely subjective (like fashion). Continuous customers and traffic can be generated organically for searches on models, brands, furniture pieces or even groceries. If the items you sell are less opinionative, and require less customization (size, colour, length, etc.) go fully for Search Engine Optimization Expert.
Semrush, a popular SEO tool, knows the importance of itself to e-commerce users, to the point that they actually run a Google Ad on an article on SEO for Shopify stores! They then stuff benefits on Semrush in the meta-description. That’s either very sneaky or very worrying.
(Screenshot taken 27 July 2021).
For mobile apps, more specifically multi-sided marketplaces, you’re going to be trying a lot of different things. Start with a Data and a Performance Ads Expert.
Mobile apps can be tricky, especially if they are a multi-sided marketplace. They require a lot of different marketing activities simultaneously: growth marketing, performance ads, data & analytics, content, social media and that’s a lot of resources to hire for.
For mobile apps, start with a Growth Marketing Expert, who would work on generating loops of referrals, perfecting onboarding and would focus on reverse engineering the growth. What insights do we have on existing users using the app? Do we need to change the signup process? How about the CRO from within the app?
For mobile apps, I would recommend focusing on Performance Ads Expert, and digging deep into lowering CACs, increasing conversions and retargeting. However, you will always need to focus
A Word on Supply and Demand Side in Mobile Apps
When it comes to multiple sided mobile apps, it becomes harder to manage marketing. What’s your focus? Is it on supply or demand acquisition? Depending on my customer persona, I would then start to laser focus on that. It requires very different marketing if my supply side are:
- Businesses – F & B apps
- Service providers – healthtech and edutech
- Individuals – transportation and labour
Since there could be multiple personas when it comes to each side in this case, I would invest heavily in finding loops: growth loops, referral loops, UGC loops, etc. That’s one of the fastest and lowest acquisition costs for this type of startup.
Hiring for your marketing team
If you do not know how to grow, then neither hiring nor outsourcing will help. The prerequisites for growth is definitely a functioning business model, a solid team and resources to implement. Perhaps testing with a small retargeting ad, sponsoring a backlink or podcast, and space to see what works and what doesn’t could be a good start. If you would rather take your time and build a solid growth curve without experimentation, then I would recommend building up organic content and working on SEO (especially B2B).
Here, I will outline 3 positions and discuss the levels of each required. There are other positions both in between the ones mentioned, and after. For example, there are Marketing Directors, VPs and CMOs, but I will not discuss those.
Junior Growth Marketer
The requirements for a JGM is the ability to learn and maneuver around problems by coming up with creative ideas. Ideally, this person must be a little bit comfortable with numbers. I’ve met great juniors who came from backgrounds as diverse as computer science, business informatics, and social sciences.
The tasks of a JGM should be around the following:
- Coming up with experiment ideas. They tend to be the most creative in the team and the quickest learners
- Shadowing senior marketers. Allow the JGM to see what others are doing and give them a chance to collaborate
- Focusing on a specific technical specialization they are good at such as feeding the team content, or analysis if they come from a data background
Do not overwhelm juniors with the whole marketing for the startup. The more you ask, the less they will deliver as a total. Founders get inclined to hire juniors and ask them to write articles, create ads, handle social media, respond as moderation, and monitor the analytics and metrics.
It won’t work.
Senior Growth Marketer
Oh that’s one of the sexiest positions in hiring. I’ve seen a lot of companies change titles from Digital Marketing Executive to Growth Marketer just because it’s cooler, and whoever is hired gets to tell us how they will be different. That’s not how it should work. Rather, find out the exact personality and technical skills you need. Search for someone who has previous experience in a similar industry, and who has previous successful case studies. This person must be confident with numbers.
The tasks of a SGM should be the following:
- Executing and monitoring multiple experiments across growth and could potentially be cross-collaborating with product and customer success
- Able to implement and manage a company wide experiment (this task is probably why tech and engineers hate growth marketers)
- Can analyze and reflect on the full funnel and give recommendations on priorities in funnel leaks
- Creates and/or succeeds at an initiative funnel from start to finish within marketing and/or growth
Marketing Lead and Head of Growth need to have the right empowerment resources, whether it be a team or a budget, and preferably both.
The tasks of a Marketing Lead can be the following:
- Creates and/or succeeds at a full initiative funnel from start to finish that directly impacts the north star metric of the company, either with his or her own team or across different functions in the company
- Manage multiple marketing channels at the same time: organic, social media, influencer, SEO, content, etc. and prioritize them too
- Views the companies’ full funnel and suggest changes to the product and monitors conversion rates
I’ve mapped these points from my own experience and doesn’t necessarily reflect what you may be looking for, although I hope it does!
Hiring and outsourcing complement each other. Depending on your size, industry and budget, one is preferred to the other. However, seeing that there are 41 types of marketing, and probably on average, you will always need at least 4, then you most likely will need Experts in one, two or all.
If you are looking for the top marketers in your industry in the region, head to startupsgalaxy.com to get your custom Expert recommendations!