It's Time to Lose the Notion of Digital Marketing

CMO Spotlight: Paul D'Arcy, Indeed

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I'm here to report that the phrase "digital marketing" may soon go the way of the wind. No marketer I know can honestly say that his or her job operates only in the digital space, as marketing increasingly takes on the human psyche in more channels than you can count. There's much more to the equation than pixels, and indeed there always has been.

Paul D'Arcy
Paul D'Arcy

Speaking of Indeed, this "it's all marketing" idea comes from the company's senior VP-marketing, Paul D'Arcy, who has ranked among the "100 Most Innovative CMOs in the World" and recently picked up a Growth Award from The CMO Club for his work with Indeed.

Here are some of the factors that fuel Indeed's growth, beyond digital:

Bringing the human story to life

Here's a figure to give a better idea of Indeed's preeminence: the site currently has 180 million unique visitors per month. That's over half of the population of the United States, although the site's users and services are spread over more than 60 countries.

These are job hunters and talent seekers looking to better their own businesses, a fact which D'Arcy tells me is a source of pride and of course inspires and informs its own storytelling. "We're trying to tell our story of helping people get jobs through strong, authentic creative that features real people," he says.

Rather than focusing on digital versus print versus social versus you-name-it, D'Arcy and his team bring the human story across the board in the most effective way. "We focus on results -- and results for us means bringing job seekers and employers together to help people get jobs. We tell this story wherever we can engage people, whether that's TV, social, online video, or in a printed ad engaging someone on their commute," D'Arcy says.

Getting the right mix of talent

Marketing today, especially with data integration, requires a team with diverse skills that sometimes have nothing at all to do with marketing. Given its specialty, Indeed has no trouble tapping into talent, but getting the right mix for the marketing team has required careful curating.

"We have chosen to build a team that blends, in equal parts, highly technical marketers, highly creative professionals and people with deep functional expertise," says D'Arcy. In fact, he tells me that a large percentage of his team can code, and conversely, some have moved from marketing into core product software engineering. "I think these skills -- and the skills to lead and mentor these technical teams -- are absolutely essential to building a great marketing function and measuring the impact of marketing investments."

Setting high expectations for ROI

Given the company's rate of growth, you might assume that Indeed has discovered the next "it" channels and apps, building up the product for the future of talent matching. In one sense, this is true. D'Arcy tells me that his team is going full throttle into new marketing options -- but in the most cautious way. "We focus all of our teams on trying to test as many things as possible and measuring the impact," he says. "For us, this is complex because we're in 60-plus countries and it's important to understand not just what works, but where it works and doesn't work."

D'Arcy sets high expectations for his department's ROI. That said, he aims for a high mean and a median of zero, meaning he anticipates more than half of his team's ideas will fail. "We find that we rarely get a creative strategy or new engagement channel right the first time," he says. "We always test multiple approaches to deepen our understanding and find the right way to engage our constituents." And when it finds the right approach, it capitalizes on that. Says D'Arcy, "We scale investment on the things that work and see great results."

As more of his team's programs see success and scale, making time for the smaller, riskier ideas becomes more of a challenge. Not surprisingly, it's a priority for D'Arcy to maintain a steady level of innovation. "If we're not trying things that fail, then we're falling behind in a quickly shifting world," he says. To counter this, a dedicated "campaign lab" team focuses on "testing large quantities of ideas that start small and are likely to fail." Because in marketing and in job hunting, if at first you don't succeed, just keep on applying.