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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Phillips

What is a 'Virtual Head of Digital Marketing'? And why your business might need one...

It’s my belief that most businesses can benefit from doing digital marketing more effectively, but making the right decisions in choosing that path is a hard skill to master.

Aligning a digital strategy to your business and marketing strategy is one thing, but with a myriad of tactical options available, knowing what to utilise, and when (and how) can be overwhelming. 

Building and optimising a website, understanding analytics insights, driving SEO, undertaking content marketing, paying for SEM/digital advertising, getting into native, nailing social media, engaging in influencer marketing can all contribute in driving growth but each requires it’s own level of understanding and expertise to get right.

Digital marketing can provide lots of great outcomes for a business, but understanding the tools, strategies and tactics that are important for your business can be tough to get your head around. Then executing and measuring them in a way that is meaningful for your business requires a whole different skill set. 

With so much choice and so much confusion, many companies struggle to know what good digital looks like for them, so they jump on what ever’s trending right now. “I need an app”, “I need to be on Snapchat”, “I need A.I.”.


Getting digital marketing right needs specialist thinking - and that’s not a hugely available resource:

Traditional agencies are built around about making ads and campaigns that build brand equity. They tend to make interesting, creatively led digital experiences, but generally focus on engagement spikes that might make a brand famous, but without the underpinning of a strong digital marketing infrastructure.

Media agencies are generally silo-ed in buying media; they’ll drive traffic and (hopefully) sales but they tend not to have creative resource and their responsibility stops once someone gets to your website. Conversion rate optimisation isn’t a native skill for most media agencies.

Specialist digital shops like SEO practitioners, SEM buyers and web developers may excel in their field, but often overlook look the big picture. They’ll create a sense that what they’re doing is the most important thing for you to invest in - but more often than not without a view on the overarching business objective.

Many business owners and marketing managers know enough to 'do digital', but lack the domain expertise to get it right. With limited budgets, and being unable to find an agency that’ll deliver everything they need, they hire a grad/2/3rd jobber with digital experience and an understanding of new media channels. 

The challenge with this is that being a digital native doesn’t mean you understand business strategy. Knowing their way around social media doesn’t give someone business problem-solving skills. Setting unreal expectations for people with digital skills is rife in our market.

Senior, experienced digital marketers can help you make better, faster, more effective decisions that will get your business on the right path. And in an environment that demands, speed and accuracy of decision making and for investment to drive ROI quickly, it makes sense to employ people who know what they’re doing when it comes to digital marketing.

But for many businesses, hiring a senior digital marketing resource is out of reach. Only the top tier of NZ based businesses have enough scale to be able to hire a head of digital internally - so how do the other 98% of kiwi businesses confidently get better digital marketing results? 

That question is what drove me to start Aftermath and introduce the 'Virtual Head of Digital Marketing' service.

I wanted to help fill the gap for companies who needed better digital marketing, but can’t justify senior in-house resource and haven't found an agency that ticks all the boxes for them.

What is a Virtual Head of Digital Marketing?

Similar to a Virtual CFO, a Virtual Head of Digital Marketing isn’t a piece of software, but rather is a real person (me) who is deeply experienced in digital marketing and helps guide you at a strategic level. 

The focus of a Virtual Head of Digital Marketing is to help translate your business and marketing objectives into a digital strategy then create a roadmap/marketing plan that is viable and achievable based on your available resources (time/budget).

As a Virtual Head of Digital Marketing my focus is making effective digital seem attainable, regardless of the size of your business.

In getting to a digital marketing plan, I typically undertake the following process:

  • Workshop: Understand your business and marketing objectives and strategies

  • Analytics deep dive: Understand the current digital dynamics for the business by looking at your marketing data (Google Analytics, Facebook business manager, Adwords etc). This creates a raft of data led insights: how people have interacted with your business in digital previously and where the gaps and opportunities are

  • Digital strategy: Clearly define what we are seeking to achieve and how are we going to get there.

  • Investment plan and roadmap. Define the infrastructure (website, apps etc) and assets (content, advertising, other engagement tools) you need to invest in to create the ideal digital marketing eco-system. 

  • Digital media plan: Define the channels will your messaging live in and how much do you need to spend in media.

  • Growth and scaling plan: The plan for starting small and driving immediate wins and ROI,  with a view of going big. A big focus here is on on-going optimisation of your digital assets in driving a better return. 

  • Digital team build: Map out the resources needed internally and externally to deliver the agreed plan

A robust digital strategy is more than just being in Facebook or sorting out your SEO. If you think your business would benefit from the help of a Virtual Head of Digital Marketing, drop me a line.


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