Business Team

TechieGen Career Guide

How To Become A Digital Marketer

TechieGen's Digital Marketing career guide is intended to help you take the first steps toward a lucrative career in digital marketing. The guide provides an in-depth overview of the data skills you should learn, the best data training options, career paths in digital marketing, how to become a Digital marketer, and more.

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15 Minute Read

What Is Digital Marketing?

Digital Marketing involves all marketing efforts that use digital media (or “electronic devices” and “digital channels”) to reach customers and promote brands and services, including websites, social media, search engines, mobile apps, email, text messages, and more.

Digital Marketers’ goals can be just as varied: establishing brand or corporate identity, customer outreach, information campaigns, boosting user engagement, converting browsers into shoppers, and so on.

Examples of digital marketing include:

  • Websites, which are ground zero for digital marketing—both your own corporate site and the sites of others – offering an endless array of places to advertise. These include sponsored posts on Facebook and Instagram, Google ads, banner ads, and any other social channel that accepts paid advertising.

  • Email marketing, used by companies to reach out to current customers to encourage higher engagement, as well as reach out to potential customers to entice them to join your community. Email marketing is an excellent low-cost way to keep an audience engaged and your brand top of mind.

  • Social Media, now a key way for users to interact directly with brands. This refers not to the paid placement of ads mentioned above, but to native original content as it appears on the brand’s own Twitter feed, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Quora, LinkedIn, or TikTok—all places that a brand can connect to an audience, showcase its products, and encourage word of mouth.

  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) represent the first line of offense in getting your content in front of potential viewers, specifically those conducting online searches. Together, they represent the process of leveraging search engines like Google to increase the probability that your content ranks on the first few pages of someone’s search results. This final, crucial component of content marketing ensures your blog posts and other written assets effectively improve your rank on Google, so they can draw in and educate new customers.

At a high level, digital marketing refers to advertising delivered through digital channels such as search engines, websites, social media, email, and mobile apps. Using these online media channels, digital marketing is the method by which companies endorse goods, services, and brands. Consumers heavily rely on digital means to research products. For example, Think with Google marketing insights found that 48% of consumers start their inquiries on search engines, while 33% look to brand websites and 26% search within mobile applications.

While modern-day digital marketing is an enormous system of channels to which marketers simply must onboard their brands, advertising online is much more complex than the channels alone. In order to achieve the true potential of digital marketing, marketers have to dig deep into today’s vast and intricate cross-channel world to discover strategies that make an impact through engagement marketing. Engagement marketing is the method of forming meaningful interactions with potential and returning customers based on the data you collect over time. By engaging customers in a digital landscape, you build brand awareness, set yourself as an industry thought leader, and place your business at the forefront when the customer is ready to buy.

What Does A Digital Marketer Do?

A Digital Marketer can be responsible for all aspects of a company's digital marketing strategy or just focus on one. A smaller company would tend to have one general digital marketing specialist or marketing manager while corporations can spread the responsibilities around to an entire team or even across several different departments.

From a broader perspective, digital marketing refers to any marketing that takes place in an online space, as opposed to traditional marketing, which might exist in print advertisements, TV commercials, phone communication, or physical marketing (like flyers).

Spending on digital marketing has skyrocketed in recent years, and the industry is expected to be worth an estimated $400 million by 2021. That’s not a surprising number, given how many of us are living our lives online. In fact, "constant" internet usage among adults increased by 5 percent in just the last three years, according to Pew Research. Reaching those potential customers is crucial for businesses, and that’s where online marketing comes in. A Digital Marketer is a marketing professional responsible for using digital channels to generate leads and build brand awareness for a company or client while also creating and adhering to a digital marketing strategy. Examples of digital channels used by Digital Marketers include social-media accounts, company websites, search engine rankings, email marketing, online ads, and corporate blogs.

Digital Marketers must also use measurable analytics to identify weaknesses and opportunities and find ways to improve performance across these channels.

Since it’s a relatively new field – or at least it’s only been in recent years that businesses have started to fully understand how crucial it is that they optimize their digital marketing efforts – digital marketing professionals tend to find many different pathways to entry. In other words, there are lots of different ways to become a Digital Marketer.

You will rarely see a job posting insist that a candidate have a degree in digital marketing, however many will require a bachelor’s degree or equivalent diploma (few seem to even insist on a marketing degree specifically, perhaps since most four-year bachelor’s degree programs in marketing tend to focus on the theory and history of traditional marketing, rather than the specific digital marketing tactics and skills necessary for a career).  If you have a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field or no degree at all but you’re determined to become a Digital Marketer, there are other pathways to gain the necessary digital marketing skills you’ll need to land a job.

Digital marketing bootcamp or certification courses are increasingly popular -- after all, it was influential digital marketing mind Justin Emig who said: “Certifications are the new degree.” Completing a course like that is a way to show employers that you’re not only serious about pursuing a career in the field, but also that you’ve learned industry best practices while mastering the fundamentals of SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing), analytics, social media marketing, and advertising, digital marketing strategies, enhancing brand awareness, and measuring the success of marketing campaigns.

Even if you have a degree in marketing, it’s unlikely that your education necessarily checked all of those boxes, which is why Digital Marketers tend to be lifelong learners. BrainStation’s 2020 Digital Skills Survey found that a huge 89 percent of Digital Marketers polled said that they would benefit from further digital skills training, while 78 percent of respondents ranked the digital literacy in their organization as intermediate or low, further illustrating the widespread need for upskilling.

Digital Marketers oversee social media marketing (where they must figure out how to create compelling content across all social media platforms and strategize how best to deploy that content across social media channels including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn), inbound marketing (which means leveraging a company website by posting compelling content, articles, blog posts, and videos), content marketing, and email marketing, all guided by smart and meticulous marketing strategies.

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What Skills Do You Need to Be a Digital Marketer?

The following list represents the skills a top-tier Digital Marketer should have, beginning with the must-have hard skills, and ending with the attributes the very best Digital Marketers develop over time—often in unrelated fields.

SEO and SEM

None of the work you do as a Digital Marketer matters unless people see it! Driving traffic to your online properties, particularly your landing pages, is the first and arguably most vital step in connecting with your audience. To succeed as a Digital Marketer, you’ll need to be an expert at using SEO and SEM to their utmost.

Data Analysis

While they don’t typically need to be able to work with data analytics at the same level as, say, a Data Scientist, Digital Marketers do need to know how to use Google Analytics and other analysis tools. Their detailed information about where your traffic comes from—the most attractive keywords, the most popular times of day, and invaluable data on your audience’s age, gender, and location breakdown, as well as their interests and the devices they’re using to reach you—is perhaps the Digital Marketer’s most valuable source of audience insight.

Social Media

It should go without saying that Digital Marketers need to have a good feel for all the social media platforms they use to post content and reach out to an audience. And each platform has its own quirks; you’ll need to know what works and what doesn’t, when and what to post, and how to adjust the tone of your posts to resonate with the different segments of your audience that use different platforms. Even within the realm of social media marketing, there are different techniques Digital Marketers can prioritize, including social listening, live-streaming, direct messaging, and hashtagging.

Pay-Per-Click and Social Media Advertising

If a Digital Marketer’s budget includes money for advertising, they’ll need to know what and where to spend it for maximum impact. This includes both ad placement in various sites around the web—through direct advertising or platforms like Google Ads—as well as social media ads and sponsored posts.

Email Marketing

We’ve explained how valuable it can be to reach your customer base through their inbox. Sending out email campaigns is easy; sending out effective email campaigns is much, much harder. And while newsletters aren’t the sexiest tool at Digital Marketers’ disposal, nearly 80 percent of them report seeing an increase in email engagement over the previous 12 months, according to Hubspot’s 2020 State of Marketing report.

Storytelling

Whether you’re captioning an Instagram post or writing a thousand-word thought leadership article for your company blog, excellent storytelling skills (including writing, editing, and visual storytelling) are always an asset for a Digital Marketer. Especially when it comes to content marketing—longer articles on topics relevant to your audience, which are a key tool in SEO—it’s important to be able to communicate your ideas not just clearly, but also in a way that feels compelling to the people you want to attract. Related: the odds are very high you’ll need to be able to navigate the backend of WordPress or a similar CMS.

Basic Design Skills

While larger teams often have a dedicated art department staffed with Graphic Designers or even UI/UX Designers, it often falls to the Digital Marketer to perform everyday tasks like selecting and manipulating the images that will appear on the company social media feeds, or putting together the layout for an email newsletter. Here, a grasp of basic design skills—including how to organize information for legibility—is a huge asset. This often begins with an intuitive understanding of the customer’s experience.

Creative Problem Solving

Whatever you’re trying to accomplish as a Digital Marketer, your competitors are likely trying to achieve the same thing. Your edge lies in your ability to innovate and out-think them—not to mention find creative solutions to all the other challenges that come up over the course of a day, from discovering novel pathways to your users to devising new ways to grab and hold their attention.

Sales and Persuasion

As a Marketer, your job is to change people’s minds. Obviously, mastering the art of selling is to your advantage! But this isn’t limited to the hard sell; arguably, the power of persuasion is just as important when constructing a strong brand image slowly over time, or even trying to bring your colleagues on-side for a new campaign idea.

Project Leadership

Given their involvement in multifaceted digital campaigns, Digital Marketers need to know how to shepherd these projects through multiple phases, across various channels with diverse deliverables, involving the contributions of many other people. This takes both leadership skills and a high level of organization. At least when it comes to efficiency and organizing, there are tools to help automate different tasks and keep you on top of things; in a recent survey by Hubspot, 68 percent of Digital Marketers said they rely on automation in some way.

Agility and Adaptability

Digital Marketers always have many irons in the fire; knowing how to prioritize them while also responding to urgent matters as they pop up—and they will—requires the agility of an acrobat. But this ability to be responsive isn’t only tested hour-to-hour. Long-term changes to the digital landscape also mean that a Digital Marketer needs to be able to adapt to new and unexpected developments, always think in terms of contingencies, and be prepared for anything.

Strategic Planning

All of these skills come together when a Digital Marketer lays out a multi-phase plan to be deployed over weeks or even months. This, of course, demands intense planning and a forward-looking attitude, as well as an eye for emerging trends. Successful Digital Marketers have an insatiable curiosity for the way things work, and the way things are changing—both within their own industry and globally. To stay abreast of these trends calls for perpetual learning.

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Is Digital Marketing A Good Career?

Yes, digital marketing is a good career. In fact, there are quite a few benefits to a career as a Digital Marketer. More companies are seeing the value of investing in digital marketing, including digital marketing skills training. In fact, according to a 2018 digital trends study conducted by Adobe and Econsultancy, top companies are spending significantly more on digital marketing skills training and education.

This increased demand and increased investment translate into more opportunities and perks for Digital Marketers, including better job security, an ability to travel and work abroad or from home, better possibilities for advancement, and even higher pay; thanks to their specialized skill set, Digital Marketers typically earn a significant premium on their salaries when compared with their peers in more traditional marketing roles.

Yes, Digital Marketers are heavily in demand across all industries. While marketing per se is a well-established field, there’s a pronounced skills gap when it comes to the digital realm. Year-over-year growth in the demand for digital marketing professionals is high; a recent study by Bullhorn, for instance, reported that 71 percent of responding hiring managers struggled to find marketing and creative professionals skilled enough to fill their job openings.

That growing demand for Digital Marketers is also reflected in the money companies are looking to invest in digital marketing. According to Hubspot’s 2020 state of marketing report, 70 percent of companies now actively invest in content marketing—and 74 percent in social marketing—with well over half calling content marketing “very important” or “extremely important” to their overall strategy. Over half of all companies also report investing in SEO updates for their website and 64 percent of Marketers said their marketing budget increased for 2020.

 

Can I Learn Digital Marketing Myself?

Yes, you can learn the basics of digital marketing on your own, but because the digital marketing landscape never stops evolving, self-guided learning may not be the best route. In fact, digital marketing courses and boot camps have become increasingly popular over the last few years, helping aspiring marketers keep pace with the industry and understand how the latest fads and technologies can lead to organizational success.

After all, getting a handle on a particular piece of software may take just days, but getting a feel for what resonates with your followers on Twitter versus Instagram, for example, will take much longer. Three of the slipperiest areas for a new Digital Marketer are how to effectively use content marketing to drive traffic, how to use technology to build more efficient and impactful campaigns, and how to best tailor the content you’re producing to the platform on which it appears.

Getting a Feel for Effective Content Creation

While content marketing isn’t one of the newest trends, it continues to be one of the most popular. According to data from BrainStation’s Digital Skills Survey, content marketing is Digital Marketers’ most widely used channel, with 79 percent of marketing professionals incorporating content into their strategy. Survey respondents also listed content strategy as one of their primary focuses. When it’s done correctly, content marketing’s impact is hard to ignore. Research shows that 70 percent of consumers would rather learn about a company through content than from an advertisement. Content should engage customers in a way that adds value, which in turn creates relationships that are built on more than just one-way sales communication. But while content marketing can be effective, developing a content strategy can be more labor-intensive than other marketing efforts. And, not only does it take time to generate original content, it can also take anywhere from six to nine months before you start to see results. For these reasons, companies looking to create a robust strategy that delivers consistently often look to outsource content creation—62 percent of the time, according to one source. So although it can be a tricky skill to master, a feel for what makes content marketing work—whether you’re generating it yourself or overseeing its commission—will make you invaluable to virtually any company.

Knowing How to Leverage User Data

The reams of user data that analytics tools produce are a priceless source of actionable insights, but it can be time consuming to sort through, and difficult to know what you’re looking for. So it should come as no surprise that, according to BrainStation’s Digital Skills Survey, Digital Marketers are eyeing artificial intelligence as the trend that will have the greatest impact on their field in the coming years. There seems to be nonstop talk about AI no matter what industry you’re in, but now, research is beginning to illustrate just how AI will make a difference in the marketing world. A recent report from IBM states that 94 percent of companies believe personalization is the key to future success; another study, this one from Accenture, found that 73 percent of customers prefer to buy from retailers that offer a personalized experience, and 86 percent of customers report that personalization plays a part in their purchasing decisions. This certainly bolsters the idea that, when done correctly, AI-driven personalization can improve marketing spend ROI.

Much of AI’s value to Digital Marketers lies in the vast amounts of data available to companies, which allow Marketers to go beyond basic segmentation and create highly personalized campaigns. This degree of targeting makes for more efficient, effective campaigns, but it also requires a more specific skill set—and a lot of time.

Tailoring Native Content for Social Media

We’ve already hinted at the fact that every social media platform has its quirks. How formal a tone you should use, whether to foreground text or image, and even how much customer interaction is appropriate will vary from platform to platform. To fully acclimate to different social media platforms and “find your voice” takes careful listening and a lot of time. The stakes are perhaps highest when it comes to video—which can be the most impactful, but is also the most labor-intensive type of content to create. And while video is often considered a subset of content marketing, it is in many ways its own animal.

YouTube is now the most widely used social media platform in the United States. According to Pew Research, 73 percent of American adults are using Youtube, and 94 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24. That’s a segment of the population you can’t afford to ignore. And video is a powerful force on other social media as well—in fact, across social media (including TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram Stories), video gets shared roughly 1,200 percent more often than text and images. All to say that creating social media content is far from simple. It may require a bit of investment, and always requires a deep knowledge of how to pair medium and message.

These are just three of the most challenging areas within digital marketing today—tomorrow, they will no doubt be different.

As with many creative industries, therefore, there’s no simple answer to how difficult digital marketing is to learn. For most people, it’s possible to learn the fundamentals in as little as a few months; dedicated online bootcamps like BrainStation’s are able to impart the core technical skills needed to begin working in digital marketing in 12 weeks. But it’s also a field that allows you to continue to learn over time—gaining new soft skills and a deeper understanding of your audience, and evolving with the digital landscape.

For this reason, even established Digital Marketers continue to update their skills periodically, to feel confident that the ways they invest their time and their company’s money are making the biggest possible impact.

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Job Opportunities In Digital Marketing

We have created a list of major areas that provide career opportunities in the digital marketing field and some areas that are going to provide new job opportunities in the coming decade: (It’s worth noting that almost every position offers the roles (depending on base to higher-level duties) of Executive, Associate, Manager and Head/VP)

1. Digital Marketing Manager:

Digital marketing managers strategize and implement a brand’s complete digital presence.  They leverage every channel under digital marketing to promote a business’ product/services with the key goal of increasing their sales cost-effectively. 

2. Search Engine Optimizer:

Search Engine Optimization refers to making the website or a web page rank on the search engine’s results. Anyone dealing with SEO has to work on analyzing, reviewing, and optimizing websites using organic SEO techniques. One also needs to develop content with powerful keywords for increasing website traffic. 

3. Social Media Marketer:

As the name implies, social media marketing is all about managing a company’s presence across social networks that include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, etc. Social Media Marketing Specialists also design and execute a complete social media strategy for a company.

4. Content Marketer:

As the role suggests, content is a key part of this job. Content marketing involves creating content for the online world. This can be done in the form of blog articles, videos, email newsletters, social media content, etc.

5. Email Marketer:

Email is one form of marketing that all of us have been using for ages, and yet it still remains one of the most valuable marketing strategies out there. Statistics states that email marketing has a return on investment (ROI) of $42 for every $1 spent, which makes it a higher return than you can expect from any other form of marketing be it digital or otherwise.

6. SEM:

Search Engine Marketing Specialists are responsible for paid ads across all search engines and display networks. If numbers don’t intimidate you and have great analytical skills, search engine marketing could be a great choice for you.

7. Content Creator for AR- VR

Augmented reality adds digital elements to a live view often by using the camera on a smartphone. Virtual reality offers a completely immersive experience that shuts out the physical world and makes the virtual world feel real.

8. SEO Specialist for Voice Assistants

More and more people are using Voice Assistants today and their use going to keep on increasing. Google Assistant, Alexa, Cortana, and Bixby have a wide range of capabilities. If a user is looking for a product or a service using these assistants, it is imperative that your business gets suggested. 

9. Video Production for newer social media platforms

Video production and marketing have quickly become the central focus of every marketing strategy. Every business pushes video content as they grab the attention of the users quickly.

10. Automation Expert

Digital Marketing automation is all about using software and AI to automate digital marketing activities.  Many companies will move towards automating repetitive tasks such as email marketing, social media marketing, and even ad campaigns.

This helps them to be efficient as well as helps them provide a more personalized experience for their customers.  As the technology of marketing automation improves, digital marketers who are skilled in these tasks will command a high pay package.

11. Paid Media Specialist

A paid media specialist is responsible for bringing in traffic to your web portals via online advertising on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Google, etc. As a paid media specialist, you need to have the best of both worlds – a mix of a creative and analytical mind.

12. Data Analyst

A Data Analyst interprets data and turns it into information that offers ways to improve business, thus affecting business decisions. Data Analysts collect information from various sources and interpret patterns and trends. Analytics is one of the main parts of a digital marketing team and one of the most technical digital marketing skills.

13. Web Developer

A web developer is expected to be updated with the various coding languages used, and have a flair to create a functional and attractive website for the business.

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Learn Digital Marketing With Our Meme Based Learning Path 

TechieGen's Digital Marketing career guide is intended to help you take the first steps toward a lucrative career in digital marketing. The guide provides an in-depth overview of the data skills you should learn, the best data training options, career paths in digital marketing, how to become a Digital marketer, and more.

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