How to Better Leverage Marketing Automation Expertise in a Gig Economy

Got a side hustle? You’re not alone. Welcome to the gig economy.

Today’s on-demand workforce is changing the way we work and the way employers hire.  Instead of hiring, companies are tapping into the extensive talent pool of side hustlers and short-term contractors to get work done. Thanks to our devices, freelance websites, and social media channels, contract talent connects with opportunities faster than ever before. To companies, its simply more cost-effective to pay only for the project work needed. There are no strings attached – no commitment, no employment benefits, no overhead expense.

For the marketing pro looking to keep their skills current between jobs, or the stay-at-home parent who is looking for some extra income and flexibility, the gig economy sure sounds like a match made in heaven. Forbes says that more than 1/3 of American workers (57m) are considered part of the gig economy. It is a surprising number, until you realize the names of the companies that thrive on this population of side hustlers, from the student who drives for Lyft to the hobby crafter who sells wares on Etsy. And that’s before you consider the number of online marketers who provide support for companies around the world, all from the comfort of their own homes or from within the occasional Starbucks.

So, what’s not to love about the gig economy? Supply meets demand, right? We agree, it sounds great. But here’s where it also gets tricky.

How do you really know you are hiring someone who is an expert in their field? Answer is that in this digital day and age, you don’t. And hiring the wrong freelancer can be more expensive in the long run.

For example, take marketing automation. Although email has been around for quite a while, marketing automation is a relatively newer field. You will find many entry-level marketers who occasionally send email using Marketo, Hubspot or Pardot who also would describe themselves as being a marketing automation expert on LinkedIn. But are they really? The last time I checked, there’s a whole lot more to marketing automation than sending email.

In this first of a two-part series, let’s talk about how to sort through the noise to get the right marketing automation agency or freelancer working for you.


Step 1: Knowing what to look for in a marketing automation freelancer

I’ve found a few consistent traits that the most experienced marketing automation pros possess. Let’s walk through a few of them and why they should matter to you.

They’re inquisitive: They don’t just want to know how something works, but they want to know why it works that way. They are also most likely to then tell you 5 different ways to achieve the same goal. They are always going to look for better, faster, and more streamlined ways to accomplish a task. Not finding a solution to a problem will likely keep them up at night. These process-oriented people are well suited to handle the advanced logic that often goes behind integrating a lead scoring model or a triggered engagement program. They consistently question the “what if’s” before programs go live, which helps to minimize errors when programs launch.

They’re analytical: The basis of any marketing automation program is data. Often, you’re working with data between a marketing automation platform like Pardot and a CRM such as, or you are working within a Hubspot platform with an integrated CRM of its own. In any case, data is the product of your marketing automation efforts. When you get into the logistics of managing a marketing automation program, the success of the program is only as good as the data it provides. Whether evaluating email open rates or determining program ROI across channels, a marketing automation freelancer needs to not only produce the data required, but they also know how to use data to continuously improve results.

They get the big picture: All roads in marketing travel through the marketing automation platform. I have worked with marketers in the past who possess a very limited view of their product, what it does and how to sell it. In the case of finding the best marketing automation freelancer though, you will need to make sure that they can speak to both the details as well as the big picture. The more that your marketing automation consultant knows about the overall goals of the program you want to run, the more likely that they are going to leverage the functionality of these platforms for your benefit. They also have visibility across multiple projects and initiatives, keep all marketers in compliance with laws and regulations, and implement integrations with 3rd party systems. The best marketing automation professionals become evangelists of ROI in an organization.


Step 2: What to ask a marketing automation freelancer

To find out if your potential marketing automation freelancer is going to be successful on your project, try starting with a few of these questions:

Please describe a marketing program that you helped improve, and what were your results?

You are looking for a few things in the answer to this question. First, you want to see if they can quantify their results.  An experienced marketing automation professional can cite a specific use case metric from a program they ran. It could be a split test that yielded an increase of 10% in open rate, or it could be a savings of $42,000 by leveraging marketing automation instead of print advertising. Second, you are looking to evaluate how inquisitive they are. Did they suggest new ideas to help, or did they implement exactly what they were told to do? This will be the difference between an expert and a novice.


How would you go about building a scoring model?

I love a good scoring model that’s based on the level of engagement the prospect is taking, giving an increased number of points for the highest-engaging activities and sometimes even negating points for undesirable characteristics or activities. A good marketing automation freelancer should be well familiar not only with the value that a scoring model can provide to a lead management process, but also should have had experience setting scoring for some or all actions.


Please share how you have integrated your marketing automation platform (Marketo/Hubspot/Pardot/etc.) with a 3rd party system. How do you leverage that integration?

Handling 3rd party integrations is typically a function that a more experienced marketing automation freelancer has done. This will help you to sort out the experts from the newbies. This is also going to give you a glimpse into how technical and analytical this potential freelancer is, as integrations tend to be somewhat more technical by nature. If the freelancer can explain how they leveraged the integration to save time or money, they have likely proven successful for this question.


What is the one feature about your marketing automation platform that you would change and why?

The more experienced a freelancer is with marketing automation, the more likely they are going to give you more than one feature. They will probably give you several, and then tell you how it makes doing their task harder.  The reality is that there is not a perfect marketing automation platform on the market. Each has its pros and cons, so if they have a hard time answering this question in detail, you will want to keep looking.


Step 3: Hire the right marketing automation freelancer

You’ve vetted, you’ve interviewed, and you’ve found the ideal marketing automation pro for your project. Congratulations! Hurry up though. In today’s gig economy, you’ll want to get them started before they get offered another project that then delays yours. The best freelancers are often also the most in demand. Be fair and reasonable, offering competitive hourly rates and clear timelines. Setting written expectations up front for project deliverables sets up your project for success.  Besides, any marketing automation freelancer worth the effort will expect nothing less.

Now is the time for companies to benefit from the power of telework to extend their team and gain skills they don’t otherwise have internally, like marketing automation experts for example. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions and determine if the answers meet the criteria you need for your project. In no time at all, you’ll sort through the wannabes and will find the right marketing automation freelancer to drive your project to successful completion.

If you’ve got a project in mind that you know you need help with, get in touch with us for additional insights and tips by filling out the form below and one of our digital marketers will be in touch with you!