The Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Head of Digital

Fraser Reeves 21.12.21

The digital marketing landscape is constantly changing, and it can be hard to keep up with the latest trends. As a business owner, leader or startup founder, you want to ensure that your business is positioned well for the future. One way to do this is through hiring a Virtual Head of Digital - someone who will look after all aspects of your digital marketing and online presence without the FTE price tag. In this article, we'll discuss some of the benefits of hiring a Virtual Head of Digital and how they can help grow your company.

What is a Virtual Head of Digital?

A Virtual Head of Digital is a flexible leadership resource responsible for identifying strategic opportunities and unlocking new business value where digital channels and customer interactions are concerned. This could be anything from leading the development of a new Go-To-Market Digital Strategy for product or service, to working collaboratively with sales, marketing, product and executive teams to improve performance, reporting, technology usage and build digital capabilities. At its core this is a strategic role but one that is invested in the further development of internal knowledge, reducing the reliance (and cost) on external, third parties.

Why you should hire one if you need to grow your business

A Head of Digital or Digital Lead doesn't necessarily have to be a full-time role. Often it can be hard to justify the investment due to a number of factors including lack of scope (what will this role actually be responsible for?) and fractured ownership of digital channels across multiple teams (i.e. there's a team structure problem to solve first). That's where a virtual resource is extremely beneficial when it comes to addressing any gaps in your digital activities. There are several benefits to hiring someone like this: It's cost effective. You're not paying a full-time salary plus the added costs associated with employing someone such as KiwiSaver, equipment, training and professional development. You can leverage expert knowledge that benefits your team immediately. Your Virtual Head of Digital brings with them knowledge and experience that's highly relevant, up-to-date and proven through interactions with multiple client organisations, across different industries and markets. It can provide you with new opportunities. Bringing in a fresh face, even if it's for a short period of time, can lead to new ideas and perspectives like surfacing new business models, identifying internal digital champions or future digital leaders, and connecting with or growing new customer segments. It's flexible. Hiring a virtual "employee" can be highly advantageous to a business whose needs can fluctuate over time. For example, seasonal or market realities mean that your business activities increase or decrease at certain times; you might have received new funding but aren't ready to commit investment to a full-time role; you have plans to hire someone full-time but need support and guidance in the interim to prepare for this eventuality.

Common misconceptions about hiring a Virtual Employee

Although the virtual employee is not a new concept, there's still some doubt as to their value as a flexible business resource or alternative to permanent staff. Let's tackle 3 the more common misconceptions: 1. Virtual = remote. Just because it's a "virtual" resource doesn't mean it's a remote resource. It's up to the business how they'd prefer to work with a virtual employee, whether that's as an in-house (physical) member of the team, as a 100% remote employee (especially if there's geographic boundaries), or a mix of the two for ultimate flexibility. 2. Virtual Employees are less productive Typically, you're hiring a virtual resource for their expertise, skills and knowledge, often within a specific timeframe (e.g. a 12-month contract or for a specific project) and under mutually agreed payment terms. It's a virtual employee's job to deliver on what's agreed at the beginning, set clear expectations and provide proof of value delivered. Because of this arrangement, virtual employees can be more productive than your permanent staff as they're accountable for more immediate outcomes and are motivated to deliver on what has been agreed - otherwise, they run the risk of losing money for failing to deliver on what was promised. 3. You can't track a Virtual Employee's work Similar to the productivity question, tracking work and delivery of your virtual resource is ultimately informed by your own systems and processes. If you're operating with a specific project management platform, your virtual employee should be using this just like your permanent staff would be. It's not uncommon for a virtual employee to receive a work email address from which they can then access (or be given access) to various delivery and business management platforms. If time-tracking is required, then can be agreed between the two parties - an established virtual consultant, for example, would likely have their own time-tracking tool to track their activity and inform their billing. Just like you engage an agency or external third party for work, the same "vetting" process can apply to selecting a virtual resource to bring into your business.

Deciding to work with a Virtual Head of Digital

No matter what motivations you have for hiring a Head of Digital resource, whether it's virtual or not, they should always be informed by your intrinsic business needs. A Virtual Head of Digital can be a fantastic alternative before making the commitment to hire a permanent member of the team - they can even help your business navigate this process to ensure succession is executed without losing momentum. If you're curious about how a Virtual Head of Digital can help your business or interested in working with a Virtual Head of Digital from Blank Space Strategy, then don't hesitate to get in touch below.

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