Q: How is the COVID-19 crisis going to impact ecommerce employment?

A: Right now it’s too soon to tell, but there are many who believe ecommerce will lead the way when the economy starts to rev up again. People are at home more buying what they need online, and they’re becoming more comfortable with it.  Amazon is experiencing some of its biggest order days ever. There have been other major economic downturns since the dawn of the internet, and after each one, ecommerce emerged bigger and stronger than before.

Q: What makes a successful Ecommerce leader?

A: Based on my experience placing more than 250 Ecommerce Managers, Directors and Vice Presidents, these are among the top qualities that stand out among the highest achievers:

-They have a strategic mindset. The ecommerce leader holds the company’s ecommerce vision. He or she sees long-term market potential and business opportunities. They’re expert at employing research and customer data to drive the business. They think “beyond the margin, ” as I like to call it.

-They have a strong aptitude for data and analytics.  You can measure what works and what doesn’t, sometimes almost instantaneously.  They are highly skilled at crunching and interpreting data, and they have a deep understanding of ecommerce metrics to measure performance.

-Operational and project management expertise. The best ecommerce leaders are a blend of marketing and technology, or “marketing techologists” as they’re often called. To them, technology is a means to an end- converting visitors into paying customers.

-People management and leadership skills. The ability to hire, develop and motivate a staff of specialists who run the day-to-day of the ecommerce operation is key. In senior-level ecommerce positions, you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with.

Q: What are the most difficult positions to fill on an ecommerce/digital marketing team?

A: Candidates in greatest demand right now are those involved in search, content and marketplaces (particularly Amazon).  This is largely because these mission critical, labor-intensive functions are often outsourced by smaller online businesses, and as those businesses grow many want to build those competencies in-house. Plus, agencies have a constant need for this type of talent to serve their clients.

Q; Does ecommerce pay well?

A: It definitely can. Entry level jobs in paid search and web anaytics are among the highest paying jobs for entry level candidates. At the C- level, Chief Digital Offices for Fortune 500 companies are among the highest paid executives in American business. You can make a very good living as an ecommerce or digital marketing leader, both on the client side as well as at agencies, B2C as well as B2B.

Q: What is the best way to find an ecommerce job?

A: There are many ways. Indeed.com, Monster.com and LinkedIn are among the top job posting sites that feature ecommerce-related opportunities. But the vast majority of ecommerce positions are filled through word of mouth- good old fashioned networking. That’s because many ecommerce positions are never posted, and even when they are, the odds of landing a job through a job posting are slim- less than 5% according to some studies- and the odds that you’ll get placed by an executive recruiter are even slimmer. But around three-quarters of open ecommerce jobs are filled through networking, and that’s why building a strong network of people you know is so important.

Q: Are there more ecommerce opportunities in some parts of the country than others?

A: As you might expect, there are more opportunities in the major metros than there are in smaller markets. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin, Chicago, and New York are the biggest ecommerce centers. But you can find attractive well paying jobs in cities and towns of all sizes. Plus, there are lots of remote opportunities.

Q: What are the most important job skills required for success in digital marketing?

A. These are the top attributes our clients are looking for in our candidates: Data Literacy, Critical Thinking, Tech Savvyness, Adaptability/Flexibility, Creativity, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership Skills, Judgement and Complex Decision Making, Collaboration

Q: How does someone enter the digital marketing or ecommerce profession?

A. We’re living in a golden era of digital transformation- there are many ways to get your career started! You can work with agencies, brands or technology service providers (SaaS, for example).  They’re all hungry for digital talent. Many scoop up graduates right out of college for specialized needs, and will pay for required training.  Once you’re in and prove yourself, opportunities to advance rapidly are abundant.

Q; Is it difficult to transition from B2C to B2B as a digital marketer?

A. Generally speaking, no. Many of the same strategies and tactics apply but there are differences, most notably the customer journey.  B2C’ers live in a world of brand building, instant gratification, product based pricing, direct decision making, highly sensitive media consumption, speed to fulfillment and generally lower SKU counts compated with B2B.  B2B’ers, on the other hand, focus on lead generation, higher SKU counts, larger/more complex sales cycles, consumer specific pricing, direct and distributed sales, trigger driven media consumption and speed to fulfillment.  Also, B2B’ers sometimes have to work within regulatory and compliance constraints (think business insurance), as well as product customization (think circuit boards for specific manufacturing applications).  But many successfully make the transition. I see it all the time. Customer centricity is one of the things that is bringing the B2B and B2C marketing worlds closer together.  B2B did not traditionally have the data or the techstack to address things like personalization, but that has changed due to big data collection and insight development.

Q: What are the biggest challenges I’ll face hiring an executive marketing leader in today’s hyper-competitive market?

A: There are many. not the least of which is that we are in a candidate-driven market. Executive level marketing leaders with strong digital backgrounds plus experience in more traditional marketing channels and who are also adept in technology are very highly sought after and have many choices. Compensation packages must be highly competitive, with performance bonuses that richly reward over-achievement.

Q: Any advice on how to move from a top ecommerce position into a higher level marketing leadership role?

A: Moving up through the digital marketing and ecommerce ranks has become a great way to experience all aspects of business and customer experience. Having some amount of past experience in finance or accounting is also a big plus.  Those who have made that next big leap to the C-suite have touched as many areas of the business as possible throughout their careers, but without being invasive. They have led change and those they’ve hired have often been promoted.  They roll up their sleeves and work alongside their team members, and are always learning. In good times or bad, keep a balanced perspective: Keep an open mind, listen to other perspectives, and learn from them.

Q: What are important interview questions I should ask when hiring an Ecommerce Manager?

A: Ecommerce is a highly specialized function that requires highly specialized skills and abilities. When hires go bad, it often traces back to the initial interview, when questions weren’t asked that should have been.  First round interviews should focus on the basics, such as the following:

  1. Ask for concrete examples, with performance metrics, where the candidate has driven new traffic, created and delivered an online experience that endeared users to the brand, and converted visitors into customers while maximizing overall profitability of the online business.
  2. Ask about their technical and software skills, such as the various ecommerce platforms they have worked with or installed, programming and coding expertise, digital marketing automation tools, etc.
  3. Ask about their experience selecting and/or working with outside vendors.
  4. Ask if they have built an ecommerce team, or if not, describe the ecommerce departments they have managed in the past.
  5. You also need to understand what type of cultural environments helped lead to their successes, and those that led to disappointment.

Q: What are the habits of a successful digital marketer?

A:  Here is my top ten list:

-Shifting from finding customers to getting found

-They break through silos to erase seams between channels and experience

-They use data to target precisely and measure relentlessly

-Test and challenge assumptions

-Ditch the pitch in favor of authentic engagement

-Highly adaptable

-Able to bridge the business and technical divide

-Intellectual Curiosity

-Thirst for knowledge

-Business Acumen

Q. What are the advantages of using an experienced ecommerce recruiter or digital marketing recruiter?

A. There are many:

-Knowing if a candidate is truly serious, or just looking to collect some quick intel.

-Being in the job market day in and day out- knowing the trends and the candidates who are recruitable.

-Knowing about other competitive searches that are underway in your area.

-Choosing other than the most passive solution, like job boards and postings, for mission critical hires. You’re going to them; you’re not just hoping the best ones come to you.

-Knowing where the “Hope Diamonds” are buried, and knowing how to get their attention and stimulate their interest in your opportunity.

-Knowing candidate reputations ahead of the search.

-Understanding what really motivates someone to give notice and quit their job in this hyper-competitive job market for top performing digital commerce talent.

-Knowing how to speak to a candidate’s agenda, and not just yours.

-Knowing how to anticipate and handle a counter offer.

-Keeping the search strictly confidential.

-Knowing what level of compensation you will need to attract the best and brightest.

-Knowing what else the candidate may need to see in an offer to get to “yes”

-Many individuals won’t even explore an opportunity unless it comes through an experienced recruiter they trust and who comes to them with a “pre-vetted” opportunity.