BrainStation’s Digital Marketing career guide can help start a career in marketing, including content creation, social media marketing, email marketing, and more. The guide provides an overview of the skills you should learn, how to become a Digital Marketer, and more.
What Is a Digital Marketer?
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 be adept at understanding data analytics and how to apply the insights unearthed in data in a digital marketing space to identify opportunities and weaknesses in their results and strategies around all of these channels.
A Digital Marketer will also likely either be in charge of a brand or company’s digital marketing strategies or expected to work within the framework of an existing digital marketing strategy or content marketing strategy.
What Does a Digital Marketer Do?
A Digital Marketer’s job is to drive brand awareness and lead generation through digital channels, and that means that Digital Marketers spend their days creating, posting, or updating content, monitoring or handling social interactions and campaigns, or performing other work in an attempt to bolster a company’s digital channels.
Depending on the company, industry, and seniority of a role, a Digital Marketer could be responsible for channels including a company website, social media, search engine rankings or search engine marketing efforts, email campaigns, and a company blog.
Each channel would have different KPIs to determine success. For instance, a Digital Marketer might measure the success of a social media campaign by impressions or how often a video was shared, while a focused SEO campaign would of course seek to lift the search engine rankings of a company website.
Depending on the size of a business, digital marketing could be carried out across many different marketing roles with many different titles. In a smaller company, one digital marketing generalist could steer all digital marketing strategy and content strategy while creating and distributing content across multiple channels.
In a larger business or company, a digital marketing team could encompass many niche specialist positions. There could be jobs so specialized they focus specifically on mobile or search marketing, the creation of certain types of content.
Click here to find out more about what a Digital Marketer does.
Benefits of Digital Marketing
There are many reasons digital marketing spend is increasing so rapidly at pretty much every major business around the world. Here are some of the benefits of investing in digital marketing:
Cost-effective. Traditional advertising methods can be expensive and time-consuming for brands – consider the time and budget, for example, required to shoot a compelling TV commercial, not to mention the cost of buying a prominent advertising slot on a highly rated TV show. Digital marketing methods like pay per click (PPC) allow companies to be more selective, deliberate, and targeted in their paid advertising strategies.
Even the playing field. Where traditional advertising methods will always tend to favor giant, well-established companies with major budgets, in the digital marketing sphere it’s possible for any business with enough cleverness and savvy to create viral content or posts and win the attention of a massive audience with a focus on their target customers.
Measurable results. Businesses can invest in digital marketing with a clear conscience because they know they’ll find out their ROI in detail. As effective as traditional marketing methods can be, those results just aren’t anywhere near as easy-to-prove. From search engine optimization (SEO) to social media marketing campaigns, every type of digital marketing campaign has a detailed tracking system to monitor and report performance.
Focus on your target audience. Another advantage of digital marketing is that companies can focus exactly on their ideal customer, consumer, or audience for a particular product, service or campaign. With PPC or social media ads, you can be as detailed as you want with the demographic or other attributes of your ideal audiences (for instance, whether they favor LinkedIn or Facebook), which can create more valuable leads. You can also ensure you’re reaching customers and consumers at the right stage of their buying journey.
Highly adaptable and customizable. Unlike traditional marketing methods, digital marketing efforts will be highly agile and can be changed, shifted, or refocused on the go. Digital marketing is nimble in a way that traditional marketing – say, a billboard or magazine ad, for instance – could never be. Digital marketing offers the opportunity to tweak your SEO campaigns, shift the social media channels of your campaign or swap out your PPC content entirely as needed to drive the best results.
Types of Digital Marketing
Digital Marketing is a massive field that encompasses many different specializations and niches, including:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the art of boosting the ranking of a website on Google and other search engines to ultimately result in heightened traffic to that website. In the simplest terms, digital marketers who specialize in SEO research the words and phrases that might be used by customers looking for info online, and then they reshape their content around those queries while also keeping in mind things like content indexing and link structure.
Pay Per Click (PPC) Ads. Just buying ads on Facebook or Google sounds simple, but determining the right strategy to direct precious ad dollars to reach the right people in the right places on the Internet requires extensive strategy and research.
Social Media Marketing. Reaching the vast audiences of people using social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit and LinkedIn requires masterminding smart and relevant content campaigns. Social Media Marketers also have to be mindful of their interactions with the public (in a way, there's a customer service aspect to the role) as well as opportunities to court prominent influencers.
Email Marketing. Nurture relationships online with target customers and persuade them to re-engage with your business or brands through smart, highly targeted and cost-effective email campaigns.
Content Marketing. This could span anything from a compelling podcast, blog post or video posted to your company, brand or business website that will be relevant to your existing customers and could lead to organic shares and traffic growth. Content marketing is tricky in part because any content that is too overtly promotional won’t be shared as much.
Marketing Analytics. A strength of digital marketing is that it’s much easier to prove the ROI of campaigns by providing post-mortem analysis with highly detailed breakdowns on the flow of digital traffic and the success of a campaign to shape that traffic.
Digital Marketer Responsibilities
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.
It doesn’t stop there. Digital Marketers are also responsible for search engine optimization – which means using different SEO tactics to ensure a company’s website is consistently ranked among the top results on search engines – search engine marketing, which involves pay per click (PPC) ads, and affiliate marketing, where an affiliate earns a commission for marketing another company’s products and services.
Finally, Digital Marketers must also be adept at analytics and reporting. Not only will creating highly detailed breakdowns of the nature of your traffic and the efficacy of your marketing campaigns help you get a better sense of how effective your marketing plan is, but it will also help you make a compelling case to stakeholders about your value. Digital Marketers may also be the first point of contact with customers across some of the digital channels we’ve mentioned. They might communicate directly with customers, and managing those relationships is a huge part of a Digital Marketer’s job and will have a big effect on a company's online presence.
It’s also an effective way to learn more about a company or client’s target audience and to review the user experience of your web products or services. This is key in creating brand awareness and loyalty. Since the role of Digital Marketer requires such a unique combination of planning, creativity, and strategy, Digital Marketers must master a diverse range of skills, techniques, and tools in to stay on top of the ever-changing digital media and social media channels they use to create, deploy, manage, and track marketing campaigns.
Characteristics of a Successful Digital Marketer
Even though there’s a significant amount of variability in the specific job descriptions of Digital Marketers, there are some characteristics that the best in the business seem to share.
In terms of hard skills, SEO and SEM are close to the top. You could be developing compelling, creative, and persuasive content, but it won’t matter if no one sees it. Learning how to conduct keyword research and drive traffic to your site by arranging your content in such a way that search engines push it straight to the top of their rankings is key. So is finding the right opportunities to place paid ads in search engines.
Web analytics is another area that could be classified as a hard skill needed for Digital Marketers. You don’t need to go as in-depth on web analytics as other job roles in tech, but you’ll need to know your way around Google Analytics and other web analytics tools to find out more about where your traffic is coming from and the demographics of your target market.
Whether you want to classify them as hard or soft skills, Digital Marketers also need to be skilled at posting compelling social media content and understanding the benefits and drawbacks of various social media platforms. Email marketing is similarly important; anyone can send out an email, but it takes talent and, likely, experience to send out effective campaigns that people actually read.
Another area to consider? Content. Above all else, the strength of your content and your content marketing strategy will likely determine your success as a Digital Marketer. Learning how to develop unique, creative, and compelling content takes time and talent, but your work won’t be seen until you do.
The other characteristics that great Digital Marketers tend to share are more intangible. Creativity is huge – the Internet is absolutely saturated with content competing for the attention of consumers and getting people to notice your online presence will require that you stand out from the pack.
A good Digital Marketer will also be persuasive – both where your target audience is concerned and when it comes to getting buy-in from clients or key stakeholders – organized, and adaptable. In the realm of social media and the Internet in general, everything is constantly changing. You must be constantly aware of what’s trending, where your consumers or potential consumers are living on social media, and what a competing company might be having success with.
Finally, a Digital Marketer must have a way with marketing strategy. The strength of your social media strategy and digital marketing strategies overall will likely determine their success, and when a campaign isn’t as effective as you thought it would be, you should go back and reassess these approaches to see where you went wrong.
What Tools Do Digital Marketers Use?
Given the broad range of duties within digital marketing, the tools used by digital marketers vary:
SEO tools. To drive traffic by smartly using the right keywords favored by search engine algorithms, digital marketing professionals turn to SEO tools like Ahrefs, Moz, and SEMrush for tips on optimizing their content and web pages. They’ll also check backlinks to your pages and analyze the competition.
Data analytics tools. One of the major selling points of digital marketing is its capacity to deliver detailed results through data analytics. Google Analytics and Google Ads are two of many tools that will provide data on the traffic coming to your site (organic or paid) as well as insight into customer behavior and tips on boosting traffic and generating leads.
Email marketing tools. To carry out successful email marketing campaigns, tools like SendGrid and MailChimp are essential. They’ll let you customize your mailing list, carry out A/B tests and gain detailed insights into the outcome of your campaign.
Social media marketing tools. Digital marketing professionals turn to free tools including Buffer, Hootsuite, and Later to control multiple accounts across multiple social media platforms, schedule content posts, and explore detailed data breakdowns.
Content creation tools. There are countless free tools available now to improve the quality of your digital marketing content. Whether you’re looking to refine your text (Grammarly as just one example of many), create images (apps like Canva), or assemble infographics (Piktochart as one popular example), you’ll have no shortage of tools at your disposal.
Click here to find out more about what tools a Digital Marketer uses.
What Skills Do Digital Marketers Need?
There are a few marketing skills that seem to be universally desired among digital marketing professionals:
SEO skills. With the role that search plays in determining overall traffic, SEO will be a crucial part of any digital marketing plan.
Data analysis skills. Google Analytics and other tools – including the robust analytics offered by nearly all social media platforms – are useful to gain insight about a company’s consumers and customers (and overall consumer behavior), as well as the performance of current digital marketing campaigns.
Social media skills. All digital marketing professionals should have an expert-level understanding of social media content, platforms and audiences, and how they relate to the overall marketing strategies of a brand.
Email marketing skills. Creating engaging email campaigns – in other words, figuring out how to craft emails that a target audience might actually open – is an important part of a digital marketing professional’s skill set.
Learn more about the skills a Digital Marketer needs to succeed.
Digital Marketing Career Paths
For a digital marketing professional, a linear career path might be to move from an entry-level role such as Digital Marketing Coordinator to a Digital Marketing Specialist (with an average salary of around $50,000) or Digital Marketing Manager (an average salary around $75,000). At an executive level, someone with a title such as VP of Digital Marketing or a Director of Digital Marketing could expect a salary of anywhere from $135,000 to $200,000. Salaries also vary based on location, with New York paying the most.
But other digital marketing professionals could choose to specialize in a field within digital marketing such as SEO, social media, or content marketing.
Jobs and Roles in Digital Marketing
There are many types of marketing roles that fall under the digital marketing umbrella. Let’s take a closer look at some of the marketing jobs you might be a candidate for as a digital marketing professional:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Manager: In this position, you will use your skills as an SEO expert to help drive traffic and improve content. Your input would be used to keep content creators on target with valuable insight into the content strategy required to enhance performance on Google as well as social media.
Content Marketing Specialist: In this role, you will be the creator of content as well as the owner of a content strategy plan to ensure you increase traffic as well as Google rankings. You would create a plan for what material to use from print to video to blogging and social media. You might report to an SEO Manager or work in the marketing department using the SEO team's keywords to improve your content's effectiveness.
Social Media Manager: A social media manager would be focused on creating effective social media content across all platforms, scheduling that content strategically so that your target market will interact with it, and drive website traffic to your company website. In this role, you would likely also be responsible for handling all interactions from consumers with your brand.
Marketing Automation Coordinator: This position focuses on the effects and results of a marketing campaign. It is also a more technical position in which you would be finding the best software to help discover important customer behaviors. You would be also involved in measurement, web analytics, and statistics while tracking campaign performance.
Digital Marketing Manager: In this position, you would oversee developing the overall content strategy as well as marketing campaigns. As a Digital Marketing Manager, you’ll be responsible for enhancing brand awareness and brand recognition while driving traffic with the goal of acquiring new customers. You will often be responsible for keeping up with new technology to optimize your digital marketing efforts. Analysis of your marketing efforts will also be required.
UX Designer. User Experience (UX) Designers are responsible for the end-to-end development of websites and digital marketing applications. UX Designers must understand the website from a whole marketing experience, and to that end, they need to understand audiences as well as have an in-depth knowledge of the product or service a given client offers.
Email Marketing Specialist. This is a specialized area of content development and marketing. Email continues to be one of the strongest methods of reaching a committed target audience. It's primarily a lead-generating activity and thus specialists would likely be working in tandem with Digital Marketing Managers and/or Content Managers on targeted campaigns.
Chances are, if you manage a long career in digital marketing, you will at least dip your toes in all of those specializations. BrainStation’s survey found that in terms of the breakdown of marketing activities, 66 percent of Digital Marketers reported working in content creation, followed by campaign implementation (63 percent), research and strategy (60 percent), and content or campaign optimization (59 percent).
Who Do Digital Marketers Work With?
Most digital marketing teams are relatively small. In our survey, 64 percent of digital marketing respondents reported working on a marketing team of 10 or fewer people. But digital marketers would work with many other departments within a company, including sales, IT, web development, and product teams.
And many digital marketing teams are growing. Digital Marketers are in heavy demand across all industries right now, with one study recently showing that roughly 70 percent of hiring managers say they’re having a hard time filling digital marketing positions.
That can only increase as businesses get increasingly wise to the benefits they could reap from investing in digital marketing. Hubspot’s 2020 state of marketing report found that more than 70 percent of companies are now investing in content marketing and social media marketing, and more than half are putting more money in search engine optimization.
Reasons to Become a Digital Marketer
The job security that comes with having an in-demand skill set is one reason so many people want to become a Digital Marketer. Another is that you can attain a high salary, although there’s a wide degree of variance in terms of how much you can make depending on your area of specialty, location, experience, and education.
With a title like Director of Digital Marketing or VP of Digital Marketing, you’re certain to be well north of the $100,000 mark in annual salary. A position like Social Media Manager has an annual salary closer to $50,000, although again it can vary greatly depending on the size of the company and the location of the job.
Average Salaries for a Digital Marketer
According to Glassdoor, the average Digital Marketing Manager makes $73,000 in the United States. However, the site shows that companies like Wells Fargo, Walt Disney, Verizon, IBM, and Accenture all pay well over $100,000 for this position, while a smaller company might pay as little as $50,000.
The degree of variance is a good example of how much salaries can vary in this field. For example, Indeed reports that the average base salary for a Digital Marketer in the United States is actually just over $56,000. Indeed shows that the figures vary dramatically based on location, industry, and the size of the business, with major organizations like Deloitte paying as much as $150,000 for the Digital Marketer role.
So while it might not be realistic to expect a six-figure salary as you’re starting out in digital marketing, it certainly is possible after you’ve got some experience under your belt.
Demand for Digital Marketers
There’s a high demand for Digital Marketers and a major lack of supply.
Recent studies by Mondo and Bullhorn have highlighted a major skills gap in digital marketing, and it’s only becoming more pronounced as businesses realize the value of digital marketing and invest accordingly. By 2020, eMarketer forecast digital ad spending to reach 44.9 percent of all U.S. advertising, up from just 28.3 percent in 2014.
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