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What is wrong with e-[digital]marketing

It's getting better, but online marketing is still under-valued - and worse still, too often in the hands of the techies.

The following is made up of extracts from a genuine job vacancy advertised on the web in the latter part of 2006 [update : December 2010 - sadly this is still a good example]. My comments are added in red.

Job description

Role - to be responsible for the following functions within the business:

  1. Search engine optimisation [website optimisation] A specialised job in its own right, people good at this practice are thin on the ground
  2. Webmaster What does this mean?
  3. Identify new online marketing opportunities Entrepreneurs do this for themselves - they don't work for someone else. Sales experience might help
  4. Affiliate administration [trade doubler, affiliate window, internal affiliates] I think I know what this means, but then I've co-written a book, and one of my chapters covered affiliate marketing

Reporting to:
Head of IT aaaaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh ... and the head of IT's marketing qualifications/experience are what? How will they know if this person is doing a good job or not?

Salary & benefits:
25,000 GB pounds per annum + 20 days holiday with annual bonus based on performance See comments below - but note; the job was in London

The principal part of this role is the optimisation of the websites in the business. The successful candidate will have at least three years practical experience in successfully optimising websites. SEO is new to most businesses, so 3 years is a long time - with that experience you are worth more than the salary offered for just this aspect of the job

This role would also be the business's single point of contact for all link exchange and internal affiliate programme proposals Another specialised [marketing] job

Candidate requirements

Search engine optimisation
Proven optimisation skills with all major search engines including but not limited to Google, Yahoo, MSN, ASK etc See previous comments on subject
Must be conversant with the rules and acceptable practices of search engine optimisation Ditto

Technical skills
Knowledge of html, asp, xml, css, asp, .net, rss So you must have a computing qualification?
Knowledge of windows operating systems preferably windows 2003 server, IIS Ditto

General skills
Thorough knowledge of the internet with some experience of online marketing including search engines, portals etc Define 'some' - particularly given the job description

And so the techies rule the web? - but they shouldn't

Look at my profile. I could have a crack at most of the 'marketing' elements and the html in the job advertised above. There will be very, very, very few people who could do all of the above proficiently. But for 25,000 pounds a year? Anyone who is good at the online marketing elements alone is worth at least three times that amount.

So why is this an example of what is wrong in e-marketing? Simple, the person who gets this job will have an IT background. They will have a degree from a computing school. They will not have studied or practiced marketing. With the exception of the technical elements of website development, this post is about marketing.

But ... as long as organisations put 'techies' in online marketing jobs there will always be work for teachers / trainers / consultants like me.

So keep it up you folks, I have a massive mortgage to pay.

UPDATE, December 2009 Good examples are still too rare I'm afraid - but things are getting better in some organizations. Take a look at this recruitment ad from [note it will open in a new browser, and give it a while to open, I made the quality high for clarity]. In particular, notice how the 'techie' job [web developer] emphasizes usability and not just 'Flash'-type visual eye-candy and that the value of textual content is recognized by employing specialist copy writers. And yes - they will be managed by a marketer. Hurrah ... here is an example of a company that puts square pegs in square holes. It is no coincidence that said firm is really good at practicing e-commerce.

UPDATE, December 2010 I just came across an ad for a 'Faculty Web Marketing and Content Developer'. Now, let's not go into the syntax of that job title [what exactly is the job?] nor dwell on why I should come across an ad for such a job at a university [think about it]. No, I just wanted to raise the fact that I could not apply for the job. Why? Because one of the 'essential qualifications' was:
Knowledge of Macromedia Dreamweaver, Macromedia Flash and Adobe Photoshop software.
Again, let's not quibble over the grammar [what is 'knowledge' in this context?], but concentrate on why a web marketer should need to know how to use this software. Guess what? I can't. Oh, I know that Dreamweaver is a WYSIWYG tool and so I guess I could handle it, and I use image software similar to Photoshop so I'd probably be able to get by with that as well. But Flash, good heavens no! As usability God, Jacob Nielsen says 'Flash: 99% Bad' - so why should I have learned how to use it? [BTW, the ad also says the applicant will be responsible for meeting usability requirements: usability / Flash - oxymoron?]. This ad should have concentrated on the marketing skills and experience - if using this software was essential, a couple of hours hands-on tuition would suffice for what it would be needed.

UPDATE, December 2014 Can't give you a specific example, but although things have improved, the basic problem still exists. Ho hum.

UPDATE, September 2017 The issues described above have led - in my opinion - to the problem of non marketers in digital marketing. See also my comments on Facebook: one, two, three and four.

How to cite this article:
Charlesworth, A. (2006). What is wrong with e-[digital]marketing?. Retrieved [insert date] from

This page was first published around 2006 but has been updated since then
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