Mobile, voice search, augmented reality, and the blending of in-store and online experiences have changed the face of digital marketing dramatically. And this shift necessitates an entirely new role inside your organization.
Enter the Digital Knowledge Manager.
Not too long ago, you could grow your career quite nicely by focusing on a core discipline of digital marketing — search engine optimization, paid per click advertising, or social media management. And you can certainly still enjoy solid career paths in most, if not all, of these specialized areas as the need for that work continues to grow.
If you’re the one running the business, you definitely need every area to get its due focus — which usually means creating career paths that reach to the highest levels of the organization (Vice President, Director, and so on). But over time, it’s become clear that marketing needs a new role — one capable of reaching across various internal groups within your company. You need a role capable of arbitrating internal sources of customer-facing digital facts about your brand, people, products, and locations. You need a role capable of managing all the digital assets a company has (or has yet to build) in a way that extracts the most value from each and every element. You need a Digital Knowledge Manager.
The payoff for this role can be large. They can help control overlap and save time as teams work together — instead of in parallel. A Digital Knowledge Manager identifies new trends, technologies, and techniques that position your business as a leader, not a follower. They can help reduce wasted marketing spend by syncing up internal resources and avoiding situations in which separate teams purchase similar resources for different projects. The person in this job can make the difference between a project moving forward quickly, because everyone knows where they are in the playbook, or people being confused as missteps take over and dominate the march forward.
What does the Digital Knowledge Manager do, exactly?
Your Digital Knowledge Manager should be seen as a senior-level position (the “manager” here denotes an action, rather than a title). This person will be truly cross-functional, and will likely have a deep, varied career that has spanned many, if not all, of the traditional core digital marketing competencies. They need to be able to speak to designers, programmers, marketers, executives, IT folks, store-level managers, and operations teams. And they must be able to do so in each person’s own language.
In addition to being a skilled negotiator, the Digital Knowledge Manager should also be skilled at persuasion, since much of their time will be invested in convincing different groups to take on specific tasks and execute on part of a plan that fits into a larger picture. They need to be excellent at getting buy-in across diverse groups, all of which have their own goals to reach.
Maybe this is beginning to sound like a mythical job — some pie-in-the-sky thing that exists only on paper and would be so massively complex to execute that it would never actually get off the ground. Except businesses are already beginning to invest in this role.
The music education company School of Rock has a person dedicated to managing its digital knowledge. T-Mobile has a person who recently stepped into a similar role. And just recently, Michigan-based healthcare provider IHA posted for a position with the exact title, “Digital Knowledge Manager.” These companies understand the need to have an empowered owner leading the management of their digital knowledge to ensure that the facts about their brand, people, products, and locations are accurate and updated consistently across the ever-expanding universe of intelligent services that consumers use to discover businesses today.
Should every business have a Digital Knowledge Manager?
Larger companies will likely reap the most benefits from having a Digital Knowledge Manager, simply because they have more groups and more moving parts to align. But smaller companies can also benefit by adopting the Digital Knowledge Manager mindset. If your business is on the smaller side, start by tracking every asset that could be used online — including company bio information, product lists, images, videos, TV interviews of company employees, awards won, certifications achieved, etc. The benefits from knowing which assets you have in these areas, where they are, how to leverage them, which elements to link together to support a specific story, and so on, will bring benefits to a company of any size.
We’ve entered a complex stage for businesses in today’s era of intelligent services. Map search, mobile-friendly results, voice search, visual search, and more are changing the landscape quickly and eclipsing a brand’s website as the center of digital brand activity. In fact, according to a recent Yext study, brands receive 2.7 times more traffic across these third-party services than their own website. You must have someone who can properly align your programs, processes, and people to ensure the information about your business is accurate on every device, service, and platform consumers use today.
So who is your Digital Knowledge Manager? If you don’t have an answer, then it’s time to name one because you’re undoubtedly missing opportunities to drive more customers through your front doors.
Duane Forrester, VP, Yext.