How To Hire & Retain Digital Marketing Superstars in 7 Easy Steps

I’m Alex Marriner, Founder & Recruitment Director at Acquire Digital Talent. I’ve specialised in hiring Digital Marketing professionals for over a decade and have a wealth of experience working with high growth companies across London and Europe.

Hiring the very best candidates with Data-Driven Marketing skills can be a nightmare in today’s ever-competitive market. Whether you’re an established brand, growing tech start-up or even digital agency, everyone is looking to take this talent on board, and everyone wants the very best.

Don’t leave hiring Digital Marketing experts to chance, use this guide to give yourself the best opportunity to stay ahead of your competition.


Part 1 Planning

As with all things in business, you can’t get started without a plan of action. So, in this first section, I’ll be helping you to ensure your hiring plan is as robust as possible.

Firstly, define what you need this person to achieve. Is it to manage a large Google Ads or Facebook spend, do you need to increase your organic rankings, or perhaps require a CRM expert who can plan and deliver great email communication to your new and existing database?

Will this person be managing an agency, or will they be responsible for the end to end process in-house with or without some agency support? This will differ the type of candidate required.

Someone managing an agency needs to be more strategic and have good overall knowledge in all areas of Digital Marketing, whereas someone looking after the end to end process will be an expert in 1, maybe 2 areas, yet not have the breadth of wider channel experience.

Do you require someone who understands your sector? Are there similar sectors that would work just as well? Could someone who’s been working in an agency environment make the move client-side or vice versa, and still fit in well?

Have you considered diversity and inclusion? According to Glassdoor, highly inclusive organisations generate 1.4X more revenue and are 120% more capable of meeting financial targets.

Are you prepared to make an offer after meeting just a few candidates? Long gone are the days where you’d have a choice of 10 individuals to make a hiring decision from.

With talent in hot demand, you may only have 2, 3, or 4 to choose from. Therefore, ensure the budget is in place and you can move quickly. Over the years I’ve seen exceptionally awesome digital marketers come to the market on a Monday and be offered and snapped up by the end of the week. Permanent too, not contractors!

How do you plan to recruit? Do you have the MANY hours required to complete this process on TOP of your existing day job? Do you have an internal recruiter who can handle the process? Do they understand this space and have the network to immediately reach out to? Can they spot a gem or someone who can just talk the talk, not walk the walk? Do you use a 3rd party recruiter? Again, do you know for sure they specialise in exactly what you want?

Although not an exhaustive list, some key areas to make sure you’ve thought about and noted down. This will then allow you to create a Job Description that will deliver high-performing Digital Marketing candidates.

As they say, ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’. Give yourself the best chance of success from the outset.


Part 2 The current state of the market

In part 2 we’re looking at the current state of the market and some of the skill sets that are in hot demand right now.

Taking you back around 6 years ago, most Paid Search campaigns were managed via a digital agency.

Over the years many brands have taken many functions of Digital Marketing in-house, most notably Paid Search.

In recent years Paid Social has experienced a similar trend and with many tech and high growth start-ups seeing this channel as better bang for their buck due to the increased level of customer targeting, Paid Social is right up there in the in-demand skills space.

Paid Search continues to be a popular hire, however today it’s about finding those who are extremely data-driven who can get involved in automation through creating AdWords scripts and being more tech-focused. SEO is always a driving force, with Technical SEO being a highly sought-after skill. And recently the rise of Growth Marketers. I’m not talking about using it as a buzz word to tempt talent to your business, I’m talking about these rare, exciting individuals who are able to get involved in all parts of your funnel, acquisition through to retention and cross-selling.

Languages are also something to consider for those of you operating across wider markets than just the UK. If you’re planning on hiring native speaking German, Dutch, or Scandinavians, ensure you give yourself a little longer to hire. These are some of the most sought-after languages to secure.

Degrees. Another important aspect. With so many who can talk the talk, many brands have identified those who hold numeric or scientific degrees to be a much safer bet than those without. Not saying that those without aren’t worth considering, however finding a suitable candidate with a Mathematics or Economics degree might also mean more money required for the budget.



Part 3 How attractive is YOUR business in the market?

Make no mistake about it. We’re in a candidate-driven marketplace for many sectors, however, Digital Marketing is right up there. These professionals will have a fair few suitors, once they make their impending availability known.

Therefore, you need to make sure your business is as attractive as possible.

Candidates who are making a move will want to ensure that any new company they join will add strings to their bow so that they are an even more attractive proposition when they again move on in the future. What training or courses can you offer to make them even better?

You may sit there and say, “hang on, I want people who want to stay with our business long term”. Ultimately, I’d counter that and say, get real!! In today’s market, most candidates will move on every 2-3 years, some millennials every 12 months!

Once upon a time this amount of moment on a CV would be frowned upon by future employers. In today’s market, with many brands so desperate to hire in the best, it’s become commonplace.

Would you say no to an extra £5k-£8k pay rise every year? It’s not all the about the money granted, BUT it’s something very difficult to turn down when most internal increases of around 3% don’t get anywhere near to these figures.

According to research from Glassdoor, the Top Five considerations job seekers take into account before accepting a job offer include salary and compensation, location/ commute, work-life balance, benefits, & career opportunities.

Also …. More than 40% of millennials select employers based on their health and wellness benefits package. Get these right and you’re on the right path……

Many of us use review sites for most of the things we purchase nowadays, whether it’s a holiday, TV, or laptop. Jobs are no different and candidates will check sites like Glassdoor and the rest so make sure you are on top of this internally and it’s not only those leaving your business who are commenting. Make it fair and reasonable.

The role itself. Candidates who have 3 or so years of hands-on PPC experience won’t be overly thrilled to take on a new role doing the same. Unless of course you’re paying silly money and you’ll always find someone, not perhaps the best though.

Ensure the people you are looking to hire will be challenged by taking on something new like new channels to manage or people management, or perhaps a new piece of technology to work on.
Being more strategic than hands-on. Ensure you are getting what is needed from their skills and background but make sure you are adding to their professional journey too.

So, we have a plan, know what we want, and believe our proposition and position in the market is attractive. Next up is the interview process. KISS. (Keep it simple, stupid!).



Part 4  The interview process

The interview process. This is, of course, a crucial part as it’s the time you’ll be able to identify who not only has the right skills and experience but who is right culturally for your business and who demonstrates a clear motivation to join your team and be a part of your journey/vision.

For the process itself, a couple of key things to say.

No more than 3 rounds and never make an offer after just 1 interview! However great someone seems, and it might help in terms of getting them onboard quicker and the process not going on any longer, I’ve always found 1 interview hires never work out, especially long term.

Candidates and companies will always have additional questions the day after and it can come across as too eager. Like with dating, interviews are not too different. So, keep them mean, keep them keen. To a degree!

Make sure you plan out what each stage will involve, and who will be required and make sure they will be around and not on holiday for example.

A typical process for a mid-level Digital Marketing role may look like the following;

1st round face to face with the hiring manager covering off their background, skills, experiences, a chance for you to sell the business and role and cover off their questions

If the candidate is suitable to move forward, this is where I’d recommend setting him or her a task to work on and present at 2nd stage.

2nd stage being another face to face and including a wider panel – perhaps more team members from the wider Performance Marketing team, a senior stakeholder, and someone from HR. This is to help that all areas are being assessed. Not just skills but team fit and culture.

If you decide to do a 3rd stage this could be for the candidate to wash up with the hiring manager, covering off questions each of them has or bringing in a very senior stakeholder (someone at C level) to give them the once over.

The key things to take from this part is to plan out the process from the start. No one likes to hear there are another 1-2 additional rounds that hadn’t been discussed from the outset.

If you set a task (which I highly recommend), this is produced and signed off before you start, everyone who will be involved will be in the business, and you can move the process along quickly.

Unless you’re Facebook or Amazon, no one likes to wait for 2-3 weeks (or months as I’ve heard in the past) between stages, or even longer for a final decision. Those 2 brands will always get the volume of applicants so have the luxury of being picky. Your 1 or 2 gems will be snapped up by your competition by failure to move the process forward.

You’ve made the decision on who you want to hire. Next up is all about making the offer and managing the candidate until the start date.



Part 5 Making the offer and managing until the start date

You’ve found someone you like, and think will be a great addition to the business. Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty and to hopefully make sure everything is aligned so it’s a straightforward process to bring this person on board.

I would strongly advise to not talk numbers in an interview or even allude to the fact you will or are about to make an offer. In this ever-competitive game, you need to hold just a few cards close to your chest.

Whether you’re managing the hiring process through an internal or agency recruiter, I’d advise they are the ones to manage this part of the process.

Candidates will be much more open to a 3rd party recruiter, however, anyone within a recruitment capacity should be able to have these open and honest conversations about salary and benefits and potentially joining the company.

At this stage, the key things to remember are to have visibility on everything this candidate is looking at and to therefore position yourself correctly as the company of choice. If a candidate requires some time to go away and consider the offer, this is fine and to be expected, however, try and be upfront about the timescales of when a decision is needed. Albeit you’d prefer your plan A candidate to accept, it’s sometimes better to secure plan B, than to lose out on both and go straight back to square one.

Once an offer is accepted, ensure that paperwork is sent out (ideally via email) in a timely fashion so that the candidate can resign and start working their notice ASAP. This is a very delicate time and one where a specialised agency recruiter can really earn their fee due to having so much experience of being through many of these situations over the years.

In today’s market, some candidates can be on 3+ months’ notice periods, which can feel to all involved like an absolute eternity. It’s imperative to remain in contact with them during this time.
If you have team socials during their notice period, it’s a great opportunity to invite them out so they can get acquainted with the wider team and makes day 1 a lot smoother.

Likewise, if any important topics arise that require team debate, it’s a great idea to try and include them as much as possible. Although they are yet to start, it makes the candidate feel much closer to the company and helps to form bonds much quicker.

In part 6, they’ve joined you. Now you need to make sure you put a career plan in place for them. I’ll show you how.



Part 6  Putting a career plan in place for the short, medium, and longer-term

Once your new Digital Marketer has joined the business, being able to sit down and map out their career plan for the short, medium, and long term is an ideal way to keep them engaged and on the right path.

The first month is a critical time period for any new hire so close contact and being able to demonstrate your commitment to them is a sure-fire way to success for you and them.
According to Glassdoor, if employees don’t feel challenged in a given role for a 10-month period, there is a 1% higher chance that these employees will leave the company for their next job.

Over the years I’ve witnessed many candidates leave roles due to not having a vision on where they would go within the business next. I’ve heard the phrase ‘reached a glass ceiling’ more times than I can remember. Many of these times I believe their hiring managers did have plans for them to continue their growth and learning, perhaps it just wasn’t communicated enough and effectively.

Discussing up and coming events or seminars that they are interested in attending will give them something to look forward to and may even open your eyes to an event or seminar you hadn’t come across before.

By having these types of plans from the outset doesn’t mean they need to stay rigid and to be an exact science, however, a great document for both employee and employer to review from time to time to make sure they are on track and each party is moving forwards, feeling they are gaining from this 2-way relationship.

For those candidates who get involved in seminars by way of being speakers, this is a great opportunity not just for them to show their expertise but to show off the talent YOUR brand has been able to attract. Another trail of thought and this will depend on office space and location, but for your company to hold events for specific Digital Marketing talks or meetups. This is a great way for the wider Digital Marketing community to check out the office space if perhaps that is an attraction.

You may also like to read our eBook, The Ultimate Guide To Building A High Performing Digital Marketing Team

We’re nearly there! The finale is just around the corner…



Part 7  How Acquire Digital Talent can use our expertise to guide you on this journey from start to finish

Whether you’ve learned lots or just a little, I hope this advice means you’re better prepared and more likely to not only hire top data-driven marketing talent but to keep them for the longer term too.

As you can tell, I’ve only touched upon key areas and each email could have been much, much longer.

With so many steps to take and hurdles to jump, it can sometimes be in your benefit to save time by using an expert in the field of hiring Digital Marketing Recruitment, like Acquire Digital Talent.

We have over a decade of recruitment experience dedicated to securing the very best Digital Marketing talent for some of the most exciting tech start-ups, high growth businesses & established brands in London and across Europe.

We bring the knowledge and expertise to build highly successful Digital Marketing teams so your business can grow.

Working in partnership with Acquire, our customers can reduce time and cost per hire (some by over 40%), meaning they can spend more time focusing on being market leaders within their own fields. We also have a better than 2:1 CV to Interview Ratio and can offer rebate guarantees of up to 6 months!

Don’t just take our word for it, here’s what the wider market says:


Working with Alex at Acquire Digital Talent has not only helped to speed up the recruitment process, but we were really impressed with the high quality of candidates submitted. Having the opportunity to watch a video interview alongside their CV made us feel confident that those we decided to invite for interviews at our offices would be a good use of our time. We’ve since gone on to hire a couple of fantastic Performance Marketers that have really helped us achieve our growth goals. I’d highly recommend Alex and Acquire to any business looking for top quality Digital Marketing talent.

  • Head of Performance Marketing, Leisure Pass Group


Alex knows more Digital Marketers than you can shake a stick at and can help your co find your next online marketing superstar! Give Acquire Digital Talent a try. Thumbs up from Motorway 👍

  • Co-Founder & CMO,


We engaged Alex and Acquire Digital Talent on a recent search for a Customer Acquisition Manager. Due to the nature of our business, we required candidates with specific experience from within an app environment and were very impressed with the high quality of candidates Alex was able to source. We have since hired and look forward to partnering with Alex on future Digital Marketing vacancies. 

  • Chairman, Popsa



Keen to chat through your upcoming Digital Marketing hiring plans? Book a call directly into my diary.

Alex Marriner


E: Alex@AcquireDigitalTalent

Tel: 07583 648 612