Digital marketing is the next big thing everybody is talking about. If you are contemplating a career in digital marketing, you may be wondering if it’s all it’s cracked up to be.
The industry is witnessing exponential growth, and a job as a digital marketer is one of the most potentially fruitful career choices you can pursue in this modern age — but why?
Every day, our world becomes more digital. It is extremely rare to see a medium-to-large company with no online presence. With every passing year, the number of businesses venturing into the online marketplace will only increase — and these companies will need the support of a digital marketing service.
In this blog post, we will discuss:
- How to pursue a career in digital marketing
- The current landscape of the digital marketing industry
- How to get your digital marketing career off to a great start
Why do you want a career in digital marketing?
Given the growing demand for digital marketers, this is a question many interviewers will find themselves asking prospective candidates over the coming years. You may have already heard of the “digital skills gap.” By 2020, the world will need 150,000 digital marketers. However, there simply aren’t enough skilled professionals to fill these roles.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 10% growth in the number of advertising, promotions, and marketing managers employed globally between 2016 and 2026.
According to Mondo, the demand for digital marketing professionals will rise by 38% this year. These facts and figures present a competitive advantage to those who choose the digital marketing career path — they are entering an industry where demand far exceeds supply.
In economics, when supply fails to meet demand, the value of the product increases, as does the price. Working in a fruitful industry with a shortage of relevant skills, you can think of yourself as a valuable commodity — and negotiate your salary accordingly.
To give you a rough idea, the average salary for a digital marketing manager ranges from $85,216 to $122,259 per annum.
What defines the future of digital marketing careers?
When deciding whether you want to pursue the digital marketing career path, you should educate yourself on the facts, figures, and trends that are shaping the future of the sector. Apart from macroeconomic factors, there are a few notable trends that continue to impact the future of the digital marketing industry, both in the short and longer term.
The internet continues to grow
Here are some helpful numbers to put this statement into perspective. The world is home to a population of 7.6 billion. The internet has 4.1 billion users, and of those 4.1 billion, over 2 billion regularly use at least one social media platform.
As the numbers continue to grow, more brands are finding that digital platforms are a better way to reach potential customers. Consequently, the demand for digital marketing skills is rising.
All marketing professionals, both new and experienced, are looking to change the way consumers interact with a business. With more consumers looking for easy access and instant gratification via online solutions, any marketer worth their salt cannot ignore this incredible source of growth for their business.
Digital advertising moves online
Digital advertising has undergone quite a transformation over the past decade. In the past, purchasing digital ads was a manual process. Advertising managers made deals directly, significantly limiting the scope and reach of marketing campaigns.
Digital advertising revenues have been steadily rising for several years, and advertisers continue to increase their investment in the digital landscape.
That growth will slow over time, but the industry will continue to grow through 2020. Global advertising spend is estimated to increase $77 billion, representing a growth of 4.3%. For now, digital advertising is driving almost all growth in the global market.
Zenith predicts digital advertising will grow 10% every year through 2020. Currently, the majority of digital video and social media advertising is consumed via a mobile device. Over the next three years, marketing funds spent on mobile advertising are set to grow at a CAGR of 19%, with the sector reaching a value of $180 billion.
Meanwhile, traditional marketing channels continue to decline. Network television ratings are falling, eroding television ad spend growth, which fell 3.9% in 2017 to $42 billion, according to Magna.
It has been forecast that TV will fall another 2% to $40 billion in 2019, with a U.S. market share of 21%. The global market share of TV advertising will drop to 31% in 2020 — the lowest percentage the sector has seen since 1981 — according to Zenith.
E-commerce versus bricks-and-mortar retail
E-commerce is growing at incredible rates, while sales at brick-and-mortar stores plummet further each year. E-commerce revenues came in at around $2.3 trilling in 2017, and analysts expect that figure to reach $4.5 trillion by 2021. E-commerce currently holds a 10% share of all retail sales in the U.S., and its share is expected to grow by around 15% annually.
U.S. shoppers spent $5 billion online during the Black Friday sales of 2017. Data for 2018 is not yet available, but we expect the numbers to be even more impressive.
Digital marketing continues to grow as more companies venture online and realize the power of technology. According to Forrester, U.S. companies will have spent nearly $120 billion on digital marketing by 2021.
All this means that companies are in dire need of online marketing professionals — and are willing to pay handsomely for the privilege.
How to get a career in digital marketing?
The trajectory of your career path and the digital marketing skills you will need to go professional depend on your specialization. There are a wide variety of digital marketing roles you can choose from to find your place in the industry. Here is a list of the main options available to you if you decide to pursue a career in digital marketing.
Search engine optimization (SEO) specialist
An SEO specialist is responsible for analyzing, reviewing, and optimizing websites, so they feature more prominently on relevant online searches. They will develop content to include specific keywords or phrases, with a view to significantly increase traffic to the website.
SEO specialists test various aspects of web design, content structure, and advertising methods to gain the most organic and paid traffic possible. They will have in-depth knowledge of SEO keyword research, copywriting, and search engine behaviors.
SEO is an ever-changing landscape. A specialist needs to keep up with developments so they can continue to evolve with the industry. Here are a few tips for becoming an SEO specialist:
- Create a website and optimize it for SEO.
- Produce a portfolio of well-researched and constructed SEO content.
- Read popular SEO-related blogs to stay ahead of the curve.
- Comment on blogs and solidify your position as a friendly expert in the community.
- Learn how to use Google webmaster tools.
- Study for and attain the Google Analytics Individual Qualification.
Inbound marketing is a method of attracting and engaging consumers as a way of growing a business while providing value and building trust.
As the industry shifts further toward the use of technology, inbound marketers continue to promote businesses in a human, helpful manner. Inbound is a better way to market, sell, and serve your customers. Here are several tips for those seeking a role as an inbound marketer:
- Start a blog to showcase your content and marketing skills.
- Build up an active presence on social media.
- Gain an understanding of SEO and improve your social media marketing skills.
- Learn about tools like Customer.io.
- Complete the HubSpot Inbound certification.
Search engine marketer
A search engine marketer is responsible for managing paid search campaigns on Google, Yahoo, and Bing, among others. They control the company’s advertising budget and work with the SEO and marketing teams to maximize return on investment (ROI), drive traffic to the website, and attract new customers.
Here is how you could become a successful search engine marketer:
- Attend PPC seminars and webinars.
- Reach out to industry influencers, build relationships, and learn from them.
- Sharpen your Microsoft Excel and mathematics skills.
- Create a sample search engine marketing strategy.
- Read informative blogs like Search Engine Watch.
- Take as many Google AdWords certifications as you can.
- Study for and attain the Google Analytics Individual Qualification.
Social media marketer
Social media marketing involves using social networks to increase brand exposure and broaden customer reach. The role of a social media marketer revolves around producing content that social media users will want to share with their friends and connections.
Having an in-depth knowledge of social media platforms and how they work is crucial to understanding how they fit into the overall landscape of digital marketing.
Here are a few pointers to prepare yourself for a career as a social media marketer:
- Build a social media community of your own.
- Start blogging and learn the basics of SEO.
- Teach yourself graphic design, at least to a basic level.
- Practice using automated posting tools like Buffer and Hootsuite.
- Learn how to optimize video descriptions, tags, and titles.
- Read up on how to make your headings stand out.
- Consult blogs like Social Media Examiner.
- Take Facebook BluePrint and YouTube certifications.
Email marketing manager
An email marketing manager is responsible for planning, developing, implementing, and maintaining the company's email marketing strategy. With the emergence of inbound recruiting and digital marketing, the role of email marketing manager has become crucial.
To kick off your career as an email marketing manager:
- Learn how to grow a client subscriber list.
- Study how to write email subject lines that attract readers’ attention.
- Read up on how to create a compelling call-to-action.
- Practice your copywriting skills.
- Learn how to optimize landing pages.
- Familiarize yourself with autoresponders like Aweber and MailChimp.
- Learn how to use A/B testing for digital marketing purposes.
- Read blogs like Emailmonday.
A web analyst is responsible for analysis, maintenance, and web development. They also make decisions regarding staffing, purchasing equipment, and securing new technologies related to the development and deployment of company websites.
If you want a career as a web analyst, you should:
- Learn about database structures.
- Comprehend online marketing — organic versus paid search, affiliates, etc.
- Become proficient in the use of Microsoft Excel.
- Practice using publicly available real-world data.
- Study for and attain the Google Analytics Individual Qualification
- Gain in-depth knowledge of Google Search Console and Bing Analytics.
A PPC marketer is in charge of implementing PPC media strategies for clients. They should understand, manage, and support initiatives that contribute to the success of their clients’ digital advertising campaigns.
Here are some tips for excelling as a PPC marketer:
- Familiarize yourself with Google Ads.
- Gain a thorough understanding of PPC’s most important metrics.
- Master the use of Microsoft Excel.
- Practice writing headlines and advertising copy.
- Learn how to test and analyze campaign outcomes with Google Analytics.
The salaries of digital marketing specialists are highly competitive. Here is a table of average digital marketing salaries, according to Glassdoor:
- SEO specialist: $65k/year
- Search engine marketer: $50k/year
- Inbound marketer: $50k/year
- Social media marketer: $81k/year
- Email marketer: $50k/year
- Web analyst: $109k/year
- PPC marketer: $50k/year
How to start your career in digital marketing
If you have decided to follow this path, you are probably wondering how to build a career in digital marketing. You could start by educating yourself, or you could jump in right away and gain the necessary experience and knowledge as you go along.
Another bonus of becoming a digital marketing professional is that you can start your career in digital marketing as a freelancer. You don’t need to spend time searching for the right position with a large, established company. Create a profile on one or more of the many “gig economy” job sites online and peruse the available freelance opportunities.
We recommend the following websites for freelance work:
- The Dots
- LinkedIn Jobs
- ClearVoice Marketplace
- Media Bistro
- People Per Hour
Freelancers who choose a digital marketing career must possess a range of skills, including search engine optimization, copywriting, content marketing, social media management, website building, and much more.
Here are a few tips for starting your digital marketing career path as a freelancer.
First, manage your expectations. Freelancers often end up multitasking.
Your day-to-day work will be unpredictable and chaotic — many a tweet will remain half-written as you jump onto another urgent task, all the while juggling a perpetual cycle of client meetings that always seems to be starting in the next two minutes.
As a freelancer, you will feel like you’re constantly playing catch-up. There’s a lot to learn, but with the right experience and a solid work ethic, you can become an expert in marketing by learning all the skills relevant to your chosen specialization — and then some.
Make sure you have a great description and a clear, professional headshot on your profile. In addition, taking the time to personalize any messages that you send out to prospective clients will increase your chances immeasurably.
If you want to start your digital marketing career by seeking formal education, there are a few options to choose from. You can attend on-campus digital marketing courses, get a degree, or you can take classes and certifications online. Each method has its pros and cons.
Benefits of online learning
So, what benefits does online learning have over a traditional classroom setting?
Flexibility: Most online courses allow you to work at your own pace. You can learn in the evening after work or while managing multiple activities during the day. You may have a deadline, but you likely won’t have a fixed schedule.
Time and cost savings: You won’t have to travel to a real-world location, saving you time and money. Additionally, online courses are often cheaper than classroom training.
No distractions: Many people learn better in the quiet comfort of their own surroundings, free of distractions from fellow students and other disruptive elements
Reusable materials: Some online course materials are available to download, enabling you to refer back to it in the future. You can even record Skype sessions to re-watch later.
Accessibility: The internet has made higher learning more accessible to people around the world. For example, a student in India can take a course delivered by a university in the U.S.
Benefits of traditional classroom training
Conversely, classroom training has advantages over online learning too.
Group learning: Students interact with instructors and each other to clarify doubts or partake in lively discussions, debates, and brainstorming sessions to get different perspectives on the material. These interactions create a synergetic environment for optimal learning.
Immense networking opportunities: Students can interact with people from various industries within their class and others. Opportunities for employment, freelance work, and business partnerships often spring up among a group of people who have come together for a shared learning experience.
Exposure to the latest updates: In a classroom environment, instructors can open discussions on new developments more easily. Updates are harder to incorporate into an online experience because of the time and effort involved in creating videos or supporting material.
Personalized interactions: Instructors are trained to identify when a student is struggling to follow a concept. This level of interaction ensures each student gets a personalized experience that leads to a better understanding and retention of the topic.
Long-term relationships: Organizations such as Web Marketing Academy pride themselves on building long-term relationships with students. Course alumni often return to host recruitment activities and provide case studies based on their industry experience, enriching the learning experience for students even further.
Online training works well for self-motivated learners who are willing to research and explore the topic beyond what they are taught in sessions to make the most of the learning experience. It takes discipline that not all learners have. Also, online learning is highly dependent on reliable internet connectivity, so it is not accessible to everyone.
Classroom learning works best if you do not have constraints like full-time work or other time-sensitive commitments. You will learn more simply by being taught as part of a larger group. You may also build beneficial personal and professional relationships with your peers.
Consider the pros and cons of both learning styles before you make your choice. Either way, there is a vast variety of educational organizations and courses available to you.
Here are five of the best classroom-based digital marketing courses in the US:
- MBA Electronic Commerce at the University of Maryland, Robert H. Smith School of Business
- MS Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University, Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications
- Professional MBA Electronic Commerce at the University of Rochester, Simon Business School
- Master in Internet Engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) E-Business Technology at Carnegie Mellon University, School of Computer Science
If you would prefer studying online to boost your career growth in digital marketing, here are some of the best online courses available today.
- Udemy – The Complete Digital Marketing Course: 12 Courses in 1
- Coursera – Digital Marketing Training Certification by University of Illinois
- Skillshare – Free Digital Marketing Training
- edX – Digital Marketing Professional Certification by Wharton
- LinkedIn Learning – Free Digital Marketing Course
So, if you want to pursue a career in digital marketing, you not only have a variety of specializations to choose from, but you also have several different ways of making it happen.
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