Published: 19 November 2019

Getting the most from your in-house digital marketing team

Regardless of whether you have an in-house team, are looking to build one or are working on a hybrid basis with an agency, every charity needs to get the most out of their marketing activity.

The key is to create a working environment where the importance of digital is universally understood, the entire charity is aligned on the digital strategy and your marketing team feels empowered and engaged.

Creating your in-house digital marketing team naturally relies heavily on recruiting the right people, effectively upskilling your existing staff or a mixture of both. With a team in place or at least starting to take shape, you’ll want to make sure they can excel in terms of productivity and results.

Claire Coussins, head of engagement at Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity, says: “As a charity with a lean in-house digital marketing team, we can’t do everything, even though there’s so much we’d like to. But we’ve learned to be bolder and braver with the things we do have time for.

“Having an agency to keep us on the job, upskill our team and help us empower other teams to take ownership of tasks has been crucial. We have established the role of digital within the charity, refined our KPIs, and gained a better understanding of the value of the different segments of our audience.“

From our experience of helping charities like Rainbow Trust upskill and transform their digital teams, we believe these are the four must-haves to maximise the performance of your in-house marketing talent.

  1. A clear digital marketing strategy and plan
    You can’t get the most out of people unless they know what they’re supposed to be doing. Having a strong digital strategy and plan in place will keep things on track.

    There’s nothing more demoralising or confusing than a team completing tasks with no cohesive direction. This only ends up with inefficiencies, and people focussed on the wrong things at the wrong time.

    With a strategy and plan that everyone is onboard with, aligned to your overall marketing and charity objectives, all digital activity can be managed and executed to a higher degree of confidence and efficiency.

    This encourages collaboration, by letting colleagues understand each other’s roles and capabilities, and increases engagement, because activity is more effective and valuable. It’s vital to refer back to your plan regularly until it is a natural part of the charity’s day-to-day operation.

  2. A central point of digital governance and excellence
    Your team must be built and developed with the aim of becoming a digital authority within the charity. When it comes to online, what your team says goes.

    While other teams should be empowered to take on digital tasks, they should always be governed by the digital marketing team as the most educated source of information.

    Ensure regular, effective communication takes place with key senior stakeholders and the wider team around marketing activity and performance. This will give everyone a clear understanding of what the digital marketing team do, and build trust in their capability.

    This starts with sharing the overarching digital plan and your team’s mission, and continues with project updates and measurement reports. Remember to set and manage expectations along the way, and use the benchmarks defined in your plan to guide the structure of your reporting meetings.

  3. A focus on doing the right work
    Time is a currency in digital marketing; spent incorrectly, it’s a waste. In order to maximise the value and efficiency of the work that the digital team carries out, time must be spent and tasks prioritised in the right way.

    Time accounting will help you understand where time is spent, and timesheets are a great way to uncover time drains that need to be addressed with improved process, technology or training. They are not a witch-hunting tool; they can help build a business case for more team resource, by showing the range of work and requirements.

    When time seems to be lacking, you can use these timesheets to see where you can make your available  capacity stretch further, by analysing your tasks and prioritising them. You’ll never reach the impossible level of 100% productivity in your team, but people will feel more motivated when they know they’re focusing on the right things.

  4. A digital-first culture
    If you’re not integrating, or at least considering digital as part of every process, you are not yet digital first. But the world is becoming increasingly so.

    Whether they are seeking information, wanting to donate or volunteer, your audience’s behaviour is becoming instinctively digital first, and so it follows that digital needs to become an extension of your business DNA.

    In a charity that has upped its digital game, processes like fundraising and donating online are made as easy and frictionless as possible.

    Keep your eye on trends and changes in audience behaviour, and work on deepening digital knowledge across the charity until everyone operates digital-first.

While this is a great first run that will see you a long way in terms of getting the most from your team, there is a lot more to consider. Taking control of digital can be incredibly rewarding and effective, but it needs constant work.

Download Fresh Egg’s guide to in-housing and creating a digital centre of excellence to learn more about managing and developing your team or have a chat with them at tomorrow’s Digital Conference where they will be sponsoring the drinks reception. 

Photo: Annie Spratt on Unsplash


Nate Wood, strategy director, Fresh Egg

Nate is skilled in search, paid media and in building integrated cross-channel strategies and has detailed specialist knowledge of the retail and charity sectors. Nate consults with organisations to help build and maximise the potential of their in-house capability and helps Fresh Egg clients take multiple areas of activity in-house.