My Official Title Is Digital Marketing Strategist

A Special Article: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

u/DZAST3R

[Advice] My official title is Digital Marketing Strategist, and I'm so lost.

First, I'm basically set in the fact that I will be leaving this position as soon as I can find something else. I am trying to grow my creative career vs. marketing. I've been working in agencies for about 5 years now.

TLDR/question at bottom.

Second, I've been struggling with the management here. Often, I am brought in as a production artist with a lot of things… while artist implies the creative sector, I do so many other things that again I can't help but picture myself as the "clean up" guy; fixing websites, troubleshooting software issues, making small changes to design collateral, and the list goes on. I do not have any direct contact with any of our clients and so I find it difficult sometimes to address my needs with the account coordinators/executives. I rarely make any "final" decisions (not what this is about, but it's weird having expertise and not… leading discussing in some cases, I guess?), and everything goes through the marketing manager and/or the owner of the business.

Additionally, my understanding when brought on was that I would spearhead their digital marketing, well, strategies, specifically Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It's been over a year, and we just landed our first official SEO client, and the same things have been happening as mentioned above; no direct contact with client, trying to coordinate SEO efforts and explain how things work, being held up and strong-armed/gatekept from client & project information, running everything through the marketing manager/owner, etc.

Third, I've been with my current agency for just over a year now and as the title suggests, I'm the Digital Marketing Strategist. Unfortunately, even after a year, I haven't received an official job description, only a list of tasks/expectations as follows:

Website

• Assist with a wide range of updates across all clients, including copy, design and coding on WordPress, Shopify and other Content Management System (cms)'s

• Manage site performance; make recommendations to improve site performance

• Conduct backend security updates on a weekly or monthly basis

• Manage all Google Tag Manager (GTM) and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) setup and integrations

• Assist with data collection and analysis through Google Analytics; create Google Data Studio reports as needed

• Troubleshoot a wide variety of technical website issues related to performance, analytics, hosting, plugins and other integrations

• Assist with website automations, including use of Zapier

Email Marketing

• Assist with the design and programming of newsletters and eblasts across all clients; occasionally develop new, brand-aligned templates

• Assist with data collection and analysis as needed

• Assist with list management/updates as needed

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

• Drive all client strategies; work with AEs/leads to ensure strategy is consistent across all tactics

• In addition to strategy, oversee all technical and on-page SEO. Work with AE/writer to drive SEO content strategy

• Take lead and collaborate with AEs to identify keyword strategies and continually hone analysis

• Make recommendations to improve SEO programs

• Contribute to the proposal process in identifying SEO opportunities

Design

• Contribute to graphic design and motion graphic needs, including social media content, digital content and various print marketing communications that contribute to an overall marketing strategy

📰👈

[TLDR/question]; My question for anyone here willing to lend an ear & voice would be: do all these tasks/expectations seem acceptable or even appropriate for one person, as a "digital marketing strategist," making $54,000/year salary?

Maybe I just need a wakeup call and am a little out of touch with what's expected of me, which I'm absolutely willing to hear from an unbiased party.

Anyway, just wanted to get that out in hopes someone had a point of view they'd like to share. Thanks for reading. 🙂
29 💬🗨

spanchor
They made the title "strategist" to make it sound better. What it sounds like you are is a catch-all marketing assistant-esp. if you're not actually doing any of that SEO work.

I can't speak to the salary, depends partly on where you are and the company industry/size (presumably not very big).

You should 100% leave. They were either deceptive in describing your role, or they're too incompetent with managing roles/resources to get you into your real responsibilities.

DZAST3R ✍️
Awesome, thanks for the reply. I appreciate it! 🙂

Ausername
So, titles in marketing don't mean anything. Titles are extremely inconsistent from company to company, and what really matters when you're trying to figure out what you're going to do is the job description. Always, always make sure you know the description going in and never focus on the title, unless the title is so "off" that it makes you look unqualified for the jobs you want. I ignore recruiters when they contact me about jobs and want to talk to me on the phone about the job but won't send a description. Or when the description looks insane/like 3 different jobs in one, like yours.

As for the salary, $54,000/yr would be very normal–not "right," but "normal"–for this in a low cost of living state. Otherwise, you should be making closer to $80K+ and around $100K in high cost of living places. Still, employers are also remarkably inconsistent with this, as well. Personally, I've always made the most money at the jobs where I had the least on my plate. The job I had that looked the most like yours was my lowest-paying job by far, and that was my entry-level job at a small business.

When you're looking to avoid this, one thing to look at is company size–this applies to companies and startups, not necessarily agencies (it amazes me how many people here work for agencies–I literally have never worked for one). The smaller the business/marketing department, the more you'll be asked to do at an unreasonable salary, generally speaking. Corporate jobs often have larger departments and break the duties up among more people while paying a bit more fairly. Startups that function more like corporate jobs, i.e. they are not new startups (i.e. less than 4 years old), are similar. I literally avoid everything but corporate jobs and startups, and my preference is startups that have been around for a while because they have the best combo of duties, culture, pay and benefits.

DZAST3R ✍️
Wow, thanks for such a thorough reply. I really appreciate that, I can definitely use a lot of your tips while I'm looking elsewhere!
Lidiflyful
I second this.

I pretty much do everything that the OP does and my title is 'Content writer' which is insane since I barely spend 3 hours a week actually writing.

But I am with a start up with a small marketing team, not an agency and they are vastly overpaying me for what a content writer would make so I really don't mind. Plus I am still learning a lot of this stuff.

OP if your happy that the pay matches your level of responsibility I wouldnt worry too much. Push for a title change a year or so before you are ready to leave so you can apply for higher positions at your next job.

Yesterday
OK, so UK not US here, but my team covers both.

I wouldn't ask this of any member of my team (Business-to-Business (B2B) Software as a Service (SaaS)).

They have found someone that says yes, and they are abusing it.

Look for something else, but take the time between now and then to learn whatever you can. In an agency you can gain some really broad industry insights.

For salary, I couldn't say, but I know what I am paying my team over there and that sounds rather low for what is being asked.

DZAST3R ✍️
Thanks for the view from across the pond, much appreciated!

Kenn
First, it really is not strange that you are gate kept from clients. This is not about you, generally this is to protect you. The problem is with many clients is that once you introduce the people behind the AEs with the actual technical skills, those clients will start emailing you directly with questions. Sometimes simple ones, sometimes not. But it is the AEs job to make sure all requests come in through the account team only.

It sounds like your role was created with the idea that they would start driving new business around Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For that, they decided to hire someone with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) experience, but could also do a lot of other digital work.

If they can build the SEO business, then you are in a good place. In the meantime, it sounds like you have a broad skillset, so they are taking advantage of that (in a good way, not taking advantage of you.) This justified them paying you while they try to build business.

I am in New York City (NYC), so here with 5 years, you would probably be around $80k. So it really depends on your market.

DZAST3R ✍️
For sure, that all makes sense. Thanks for the input, greatly appreciated!

rinehale
I agree with the commenter saying this seems like a catch-all assistant. I think it's common for people to not be super honest about marketing positions and what they entail. They will hire someone to do it all and pay them for one, or hire someone to do more yet not give them responsibility, etc. Which I guess can be a problem in any field.

For your salary, depending on your experience and where you live, I guess it is "normal" but I'll agree – you're doing a lot and it seems kind of all over the place. The lack of direction or job description would be an annoyance.

I'm in a similar position except I am at the managerial level and I'm significantly underpaid. I will be leaving in a few months after I tie up some loose ends. It's a smaller, family-owned company. I think I'll avoid those like the plague moving forward lmao.

My best advice (and what I will do moving forward now) is figure out what I disliked about this job and what I wish I would have asked prior (budget allowances, responsibilities, who is setting my Key Performance Indicators (KPI)s and if it's me, will I be paid fairly to do director AND managerial work, etc) and I will ask all of that in interviews moving forward.

From my experience…. Smaller companies do not pay well and will not understand marketing as well as large companies do.

DZAST3R ✍️
Right on. Super solid advice for continuing on too, that will definitely help. That was something I struggled with for sure, not really knowing what's expected of me.

Appreciate the time and good luck in your future search!

rinehale
Best of luck to you too!!! It's super frustrating not being able to use your creative ability or the skills you were hired to use. You will find something much better for you I'm sure!

softwareforall
I'm going to give a slightly different perspective.

Agree with other commenter that keeping you at arms length from clients is to shield you and protect scope creep. Agree with the salary feedback too.

But my guess is you probably could spearhead the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy, but no one's going to pause everything else (that pays the bills) for you to do it. you have to carve a path and do it, then help bring in revenue, then talk about your role and what you can let go of and compensation goals.

I'm on the other end of this, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and I've hired many people thinking they would spearhead things and then they just don't. Of course it takes some acclimation, and finding a rhythm and your groove (which looks like a lot of those filler tasks and supportive roles). But 3, 6, even 9 months later I'm still expecting that hire to say to me "hey, remember that spearheading you wanted me to do? Well, here's a document I started. I've reviewed all current accounts. Here's what we could add on as services. Here's what we should drop. Here's how we should be packaging and pricing things differently. Here's the team we'd need to hire (include email or whatever you need to get out of to do this job). When is a good time to talk through this and your goals for the agency more concretely?"

I rarely get emails like this. I would be f*cking delighted to get this email. What a weight off my shoulders, initiative, I certainly can't grow every arm of this business myself it's exhausting.

If you have some gaps in the strategy, that's fine. You aren't expected to have all the answers, but you do the driving means… you do the driving. So what's holding you back? What are you waiting for? A red carpet? Probably not going to happen. Need a brainstorm to kick it all off maybe? Organize it.

Problem is, the salary you're on may be low to you, but for sure you wont have an easy time raising that until you're actually bringing in higher ticket services and your boss and account managers have pitched, proposed, and secured the additional budgets from clients.

DZAST3R ✍️
I really appreciate this perspective, thank you.

Can I build on this, since you're a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), when I've tried to spearhead – admittedly not super hard – I get met with things along the lines of "the client doesn't have the retainer budget for this" or "there are restrictions with the client that you aren't privy to."

What are your thoughts on that?

To me, it seems like spearheading is not really an option. I feel like I've tried, again not extremely hard, but I'm met with pushback or excuses or reasons why what I'm wanting and trying to do won't work (at least, "not right now").

softwareforall
I think identifying opportunities is always good. But yes, any account manager will always pushback with "where will the budget come from". So I would zoom out of a particular client and think bigger first.

You'll need to get buy in before you can implement something new, and that conversation has to be about results.

Instead try: How are your clients current SEO packages scoped? What results are you getting? What are their short, medium, long term goals with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? (They may not have articulated this but you can do some benchmark research to help them formulate goals for example) What opportunities are there to do more/better? What results could you see if you implemented these opportunities?

You'll need to get to a point where an account manager can say: We can get ___ more results for you if you invest ___ which would allow our team to ___.

Then it's for the client to decide if and when they want to invest and if it's in line with their goals.

It's hard with SEO cause the lead times are so long. From an agency standpoint, you might decide to do some low margin work enough to build a case study for example. And then use that case study to sell the service.

Hope this helps.
DZAST3R ✍️
This helps a lot. Thanks for taking the time to write it out, greatly appreciated. 🙂

Jalapi
No, but you've been unknowingly set up for where digital marketing is going.

Automations are pushing the industry to focus on creative first strategies. The problem is that creatives and buyers speak different languages. Agencies and brands need a position that sits between the teams, a position called a creative strategist.

This is someone who understands design and creative, but also understands how to evaluate performance.

Take my word, you can consult in this role at $300/hour for agencies.

DZAST3R ✍️
Hm, very interesting indeed. I'll look into this, thank you!!

Jericho
Dude the titles don't mean a thing. Everything you've described as far as the list of tasks goes is all apart of the digital marketing process. You very rarely will have to do the full process with 1 client. As far as not having direct contact goes, u should collect email addresses, addresses, phone numbers from ALL clients before you do anything. Also I have a question. Did you ask the other managers or whoever u did have contact with if u could have the number or email of the person directly in charge?

DZAST3R ✍️
There are account managers, and I've asked to be given more information, included more prominently, or even just sooner but it hasn't really happened.

xDanSolo
I do basically all of those same things(two other people assist more so with the analytical side) and I make about $62k+/year. I'm in CA, and one of 3 people on this team. As someone mentioned below, the bigger/better companies will typically pay you well to do less, because they can afford to and have more people on the Marketing team. Small/mid sized companies often have singular people handling multiple tasks that should ideally be more spread out. I'd say stick with it a bit, use the opportunity to learn as much as you can and execute some stuff you're proud of. Try to get some wins that you can document/prove for your own portfolio/resume. While casually browsing for a better company/position. The more time spent in the trenches(like you're in now) the better chances you have of securing the next best thing when the opportunity arises.

DZAST3R ✍️
Right on, thanks for reading and for the reply. 🙂



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