1 week ago Last updated May 20th, 2020 44 Reads share

11 Digital Marketing Agency Owners Share Their Best Team Training Tips

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Curt Storring, Floor 500

 

All of our processes are SOP driven, which means we can hire new people and get them up to speed quickly.

The most effective way for us has been to have both written and video SOPs. For people who learn best by following step by step instructions, the written ones are key, but we’ve found that many people prefer to actually watch the work being down through a screen recording.

I’ll just fire up Loom to record my screen and my video, follow the written instructions while walking them through exactly what I’m doing, and show them the finished result that they should get once they’ve completed that step.

Having the two different mediums seems to cut down on questions asked via chat or email, and also allows us to put more of the responsibility for getting things right on the employee/contractor. If someone still has trouble after both reading and watching the video, it usually means that we’ve made a mistake during the hiring process and that person isn’t right for the job.

Joe Davies, Fatjoe

 

The best team training for us has been industry conferences. Whether it’s specific to SEO or marketing in general, the day out, the seminars and the whole networking experience has been great for the team. Every member of the team always comes back with lots of new knowledge and ambition to get that new knowledge put to action.

As well as the training side of the things, networking also has a profound effect on their confidence within the industry. They get to see other people ‘just like them’ killing it in their specific areas and manage to make new contacts for future projects. The talks are also great to find those nuggets of wisdom.

Overall I would recommend PubCon (because… Vegas) and BrightonSEO for great marketing and SEO conferences. There are plenty more we haven’t tried yet, but we will certainly be looking out for them in the coming year.

Amanda Thomas, Konstruct Digital

I once heard the story told of two twin brothers. One trained to be a master welder, the other a digital marketer. The master welder had his ticket for life. The digital marker on the other hand, if he didn’t constantly train, his skill set would be obsolete within months.

The point being, that, unlike other professions, to be a digital marketer you need to subscribe to constant, ongoing learning.

I believe there are 4 different categories of training for our digital marketing teams:

Initial Training – on boarding an employee when they first start.

Ongoing Training & Mentoring – ongoing advancement of skills

Skill Jumps – cross-training, learning a new skill, or leveling up to a higher level of a discipline

Team Interpersonal Training / Team Building – improving team dynamics and interpersonal communication skills.

My best team building tip? Subscribe to, and have your team buy-in, to the idea that training is ongoing. It’s not something you do once a year at a conference. Set aside time every week for ongoing training.

Jordan Choo, Kogneta

What I’ve found to be the most effective way of training my team is by having a multi-phase process which is broken down into the following steps:

Pre-Recorded Training Video

The team member that is learning will watch a prerecorded video that will outline:

  • Why we do this and how it plays into the bigger picture
  • A step-by-step walk through of the process that they are learning
  • Answers to the top gotcha’s and questions that are commonly asked

Q&A

After watching the video, the trainee has an opportunity to ask any questions that may have come up while they were watching the training video.

Attempt

The trainee is then assigned the task of actually doing the task itself on their own. This gives them hands on experience of doing it along with building up their confidence.

Review + Q&A

After the first attempt, they sit down with their direct manager or trainer to review the output of the task to receive constructive feedback, answer any questions and problems that may have come up.

Revisit

Based on their questions and problems that they brought up in the Review + Q&A step, the training video is then edited to include that information for future trainees.

Tom De Spiegelaere, Mango Matter Media

There’s a few important aspects to training your team on new processes or systems.

The first major one is to make sure that whoever is training them, actually knows the process/system inside-out. This might seem obvious, but it does happen that the trainer themselves have just received their own training quite recently and aren’t aware of the important details of a specific process/system… and the devil is always in the details.

The second point is to try and attach incentives to the training, so your team has extra motivation to learn and use the new processes and systems. This will speed up the adoption rate within the team.

And the last point is about training format. Depending on the skill and type of process or system, this will be different for each training session. Generally though, we don’t like to train people in large groups, as some will require more attention to help them grasp whatever we’re teaching… and you lose the ability to focus attention on sub-sets or specific people if you go with the usual conference type training.

Charlie Morley, Movement SEO

When it comes to team training, there aren’t shortcuts. Investments in this area are crucial, and what you put in, you get out. This investment applies to resources as well as time. When it comes to SEO, two resources that I often use to train others are Traffic Think Tank Academy and Ahrefs Academy. These two resources have such a wealth of information its hard to go wrong.

Using these resources, you can structure a training program based on the needs/objectives of the team you’re looking to train. Are you focusing on technical SEO or looking to improve your content marketing? Whatever your aim ensure the bulk of the training modules/sessions you run are focused on these areas.

Video sessions, such as those included in the academies above, are fantastic. Still, they also need to be complemented with real-life projects and tasks to help cement understanding and learning. A great way to do this is to use case studies using either small real-life projects your agency is working on or imaginary scenarios. These projects will help trainees start to understand how they can implement their new knowledge in the everyday tasks they carry out.

Chris Sloane, Heaviside Digital

Our best tip for training is to have a plan for each role in your organization and have it documented.

We have an onboarding process that everyone goes through – employee handbook (policies including paid leave, general expectations, holidays, etc), operations training (how to track time against projects, how to request time off, etc), tools training, and so on. This gives everyone a common set of understanding about how our company operations flow. This is coordinated by our operations team and ensures that anyone new can jump right in and flow with the team.

Then a new hire will move to team-specific training led by their manager. This will include team-specific tools and requirements. Our web team lives in a different technical world than our SEO team, and all of that has to be introduced. We have many of our workflow processes documented in SOPs, and those are next – after the onboarding and training a new hire can get right to work running the playbooks we have written to guide how the jobs should be done.

Nick Beske, Point Click Pro

I’m a big fan of learning-by-doing. Many of our team members work remotely so on-site training is not an option. We use recorded screencasts to teach people how to perform the tasks that need to be done which keeps their attention much better than written documentation and really helps with audio/visual learners.

We have new team members go through these mini training modules to learn the basics and then we have them jump right in and start applying the things that they’ve learned. By putting things into action right after training it helps them really grasp the ideas and concepts. They get to see how it work in the real world. We don’t expect them to get everything right the first time but we do expect them to learn and improve as they go along. This hands-on approach has been really successful for us so far.

New trainees always report back to a senior team member to review everything and get approval before things are moved along to the next stage. In my experience, people pick things up quickly this way and feel like a valued member of the team early on because they get to be involved in real projects.

Jonny Platt, SEOscout

I’ve found the best way to onboard team members is to block out significant one on one time. This really helps them understand the approach you want them to take – not to mention the level of quality your expect from their work. While it’s true that this clearly doesn’t scale well, spending a few hours a day pairing up on a project can really help set expectations.

Not to mention, you can often pass a lot more nuance, as well as little tips on efficiency and productivity you may assume everyone already knows.

Once you’ve established a way of workign together these sessions need not be so frequent. That said, I still find a period of 1-to-1 work every month or two to be extremely helpful in ensuring you’re on the same page. It can also really help with morale and enthusiasm, particularly when working in a remote context.

Michael Costin, Local Digital

To train our team we use four key principles – books, courses, paired production and a knowledgbase.

There are a multitude of courses relevant for the digital marketing world. We’ll assess most of them, and buy the ones we think are worthwhile. Login details are shared with the team so that they can futrher their training in their own time or slower periods.

Paired production is where a newer team member will work over the shoulder of a more experienced team member. They can watch the work as it is actually done, ask questions and see how tactics are applied in the real world.

For certain parts of the business we have a knowledgebase with step by step instructions on how to perform specific tasks. This can be accessed any time and is ever growing, meaning the need to answer the same questions over and over is reduced.

We also regularly buy books and make them available for the team to read at any time. There are a stack of great sales, marketing, copywriting, business operations books out there for pretty cheap. We’lla ccumulate over time and keep them in a “library” at the office.

Kevin Hilton, Multi Layer Media

My suggestion is quite a simple one – hold the training session away from the office.

When it comes to team training its important that information is understood and absorbed, so that afterwards there was a genuine benefit to all staff that attended.

To achieve this, I’d say the first rule is you do not want distractions for your team, taking the easy option and training onsite can lead to interruptions such as calls and emails coming in during training.

Stepping away from the office to another environment will help your team stay focused on the training and create a different dynamic for them to learn in. Being fully focused on the training schedule means your investment is worthwhile for both your staff and the company.

Staff also buy into the training more as they feel steps have been taken to ensure their development is being taken seriously and carefully thought out.

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Shaurya Jain

Shaurya Jain

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