2023 Guide

How to Become a Digital Marketer

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 in-depth overview of the marketing skills you should learn, the best available digital marketing training options, career paths in digital marketing, how to become a digital marketer, and more.

Become a Digital Marketer

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There are a number of ways to become a Digital Marketer. While many Digital Marketers begin in traditional marketing roles before specializing, that’s far from a hard-and-fast rule; there’s actually no specific background experience required for you to become a Digital Marketer—only a specific set of skills. In fact, many people enter the digital marketing industry from a range of different roles, including Copywriter, Webmaster, or even Influencer.

How to Become a Digital Marketer in Five Steps:

  1. Learn digital marketing fundamentals
  2. Learn how to use key digital marketing tools
  3. Build a portfolio of digital marketing projects
  4. Develop your digital marketing resume
  5. Network to make connections in marketing

1. Learn Digital Marketing Fundamentals

The first step toward beginning a career in digital marketing is to acquire core technical competencies in SEO and SEM, analytics, social media marketing and advertising, and email marketing.

Alongside these, try to find ways to demonstrate that you have the many soft and transferable skills a Digital Marketer should possess, including:

  • Leadership
  • Strong writing voice
  • Feel for the online landscape

If you’re trying to pick up experience with email marketing, SEO, analytics, and so forth in a piecemeal way, it may take months or even years for you to grow a passing familiarity into a coherent skill set.

Programs like BrainStation’s Digital Marketing bootcamp are specifically developed to immerse you in the most crucial aspects of digital marketing for efficient, accelerated learning.

2. Learn How to Use Key Digital Marketing Tools

The more digital marketing tools you have experience with, the easier it will be to become a Digital Marketer. Google Analytics and Google Ads, for example, allow Digital Marketers to measure and track the performance of digital marketing campaigns and initiatives.

SEO tools like Ahrefs, Moz, and SEMrush, are also essential, giving Marketers the ability to explore relevant keywords, check backlinks to your pages, identify related keywords, and analyze competitors’ SEO.

Important Digital Marketing Tools to Learn

  • Google Analytics

  • Google Ads

  • MailChimp

  • Ahrefs

  • Salesforce

  • Moz

  • Buffer

  • Canva

  • Hubspot

Experience with an email campaign tool, like MailChimp or SendGrid, can also be invaluable when looking to break into digital marketing. As can knowledge of a customer relationship management (CRM) program, such as Salesforce and Hubspot.

Perhaps the easiest way to dip your feet in, however, is in the social media realm. Digital Marketers increasingly rely on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, and more to drive traffic, generate leads, and build their brands.

To help develop standout content for your social media platforms, you should also experiment with free stock image sites, such as Unsplash or Pexels, and graphic design platforms like Canva.

Developing a following (or at least a visually cohesive style), and using social media management tools like Hootsuite, Later, and Buffer, can help you stand out from the crowd when applying for a job in digital marketing.

3. Build a Digital Marketing Portfolio

For Digital Marketers, putting together a portfolio presents an added challenge. Instead of simply showing a finished product, you’ll need to demonstrate your processes and outcomes in a way that showcases your teamwork, planning, and strategic thinking.

If you are able to include samples of published work such as newsletters, social media posts, or content marketing articles, clearly indicate your role in their creation—did you develop the strategic plan for a digital marketing campaign? Write the copy? Design the layout? Coordinate the ad-buying campaign?

Sharing credit is important; rather than hogging the spotlight, it’s to your benefit to demonstrate that you know how to work as part of a team, or even lead it.

When it comes to sharing the outcomes of your efforts, use as much data as you can. Digital Marketers traffic in hard numbers, so don’t be shy about listing them here to back up your claims—for instance, “I added 1,200 qualified leads via a targeted social media campaign in Q2 of 2020” or “I grew organic web traffic 18 percent year-over-year.”

Being data-forward is especially appropriate when it comes to SEM and SEO.

Not all companies measure ROI across all their digital marketing strategies, but SEM and SEO adhere to fairly straightforward metrics. One caveat: if you’re sharing work you performed for actual clients, be sure to obtain their consent before sharing any proprietary information.

If you have no work experience, your portfolio can feature the results of the hands-on exercises you conducted as part of your digital marketing coursework. Once you’ve got all your materials together, put them online in a glossy, well-organized package. Use this space to describe your process and the creative solutions you’ve devised at each step.

Your online presence is also a part of your portfolio, and so should demonstrate your creativity, voice, and professionalism. If you prefer to keep your social channels private, consider launching one for a passion project—an Instagram account for sharing your surfing photography, for instance, or a blog dedicated to cooking and recipes—and including this in your portfolio as well.

How to Make a Marketing Portfolio

  • Showcase your teamwork, planning, and understanding of digital marketing strategy
  • Include newsletters, social media posts, or content marketing articles you created
  • Use data to back up your claims
  • Obtain consent before publishing client work
  • Create an Instagram account for sharing your projects
  • Publish a blog dedicated to your passions

4. Develop Your Marketing Resume

In most cases, your resume is your first contact with a potential employer, so it pays to get it right. Here, it’s best to keep it simple.

Research shows that you have about six seconds to make your first impression, so keep your resumes’ layout clean and well-organized, and the information concise.

Use bullet points where appropriate. The emphasis should be on your marketing skills and experience, and hard numbers help (bearing in mind that your portfolio is the place to dive into details).

We also recommend that you tailor your resume to each application. Look at the job posting and at the company’s online presence; your cover letter and resume should match their tone. Show your personality and creativity in a way that reflects the personality of the company brand.

The job posting will also reveal the company’s hiring priorities—and these are the skills your resume should foreground.

These skills typically fall into three categories:

  • Marketing skills (including software skills and other technical requirements)
  • Transferable skills (like sales, design savvy, or writing experience)
  • Adaptable skills (like leadership or problem-solving)

That first category should get top billing on your resume—these skills should be the first thing your eye lands on. Transferable and adaptive skills can then be cited at the bottom of the page or woven throughout.

Tips for Developing Your Marketing Resume

  • Keep your resume clean and concise
  • Use hard numbers to emphasize marketing skills and experience
  • Tailor your resume to every application
  • Show off your personality and creativity
  • Display your marketing skills first, then your transferable and adaptive skills

5. Network to Make Connections in Marketing

Unsurprisingly, developing a wide network as a Digital Marketer begins online. In addition to the aforementioned social channels or blog, you might launch your own industry-related newsletter to showcase your own original content, demonstrate thought leadership as a digital marketing expert, and share your work while also growing your personal platform.

Building out a strong online presence is to one’s benefit in virtually any field, but particularly so in digital marketing, where the proof is in the pudding.

There are also several networking events for Digital Marketers in both the online and offline worlds, offering additional opportunities to network within the field.

Toronto, for instance, hosts an annual Digital Marketing Conference, while industry website MarketingTerms lists dozens of virtual networking events dedicated to a range of specializations and market sectors.

Is Digital Marketing in Demand?

Yes, digital marketing is in demand, as it is one of the fastest-growing fields in technology and demand for digital marketing skills is increasing rapidly. In fact, according to Bullhorn, 71 percent of Hiring Managers struggled to find digital marketing professionals skilled enough to fill their job openings.

A Digital Marketing Specialist makes an average salary of $50,000, while a Digital Marketing Manager earns over $75,000.

HubSpot, meanwhile, reports that 70 percent of companies now invest in content and social media marketing, with 64 percent of Marketers saying their marketing budgets increased this year.

How to Get Into Digital Marketing

To get into digital marketing, you should develop your marketing skills and experience through a digital marketing bootcamp or course, find opportunities to build your professional network in marketing, and begin looking for entry-level digital marketing jobs and internships.

It’s possible to get into digital marketing with no experience, but if you want to become a Digital Marketer, you will first need to develop the right skills – and be able to demonstrate them.

There are a few core technical competencies every Digital Marketer needs:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Marketing analytics
  • Social Media Marketing and Advertising
  • Email marketing
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

If you’re wondering how to get started in digital marketing, it’s worth noting that gaining piecemeal experience in all these areas could take months or even years, especially as you try to package passing familiarity with a handful of different strategies into a coherent skillset. And digital marketing degrees haven’t gained much popularity, in large part because the digital marketing landscape changes so rapidly.

Tips for Getting Into Digital Marketing

  • Enroll in a digital marketing bootcamp
  • Gather projects together into a professional portfolio
  • Develop and demonstrate transferable skills
  • Create a tailored resume and start networking at events and online

For up-to-date training focused specifically on the skills you’ll need as a Digital Marketer—covering all the fundamentals while avoiding misspent time—consider enrolling in a digital marketing course or bootcamp.

Your online presence will make up a big part of your professional profile, but you should also consider tapping directly into the digital marketing community via networking events both on- and offline.

As you hone these skills, you can begin putting together your own projects – newsletters, social media posts, content marketing campaigns, and even research, project management and strategy – that demonstrate your skills and showcase your work. These will form the basis for your professional portfolio, a powerful tool in your search for employment.

If you have no work experience, your portfolio can feature the results of the hands-on exercises you conducted as part of your digital marketing coursework.

Once you’ve got all your materials together, put them online in a glossy, well-organized package. Use this space to describe your process and the creative solutions you’ve devised at each step. Your online presence across all social media is a part of this package, so be sure to keep it creative yet professional.

With a strong body of work that you can show off, all the remains is to put together your resume – tailoring it for each job you apply to, to highlight the most relevant skills – and begin networking.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Digital Marketer?

Depending on your current experience, you may be able to acquire the skills you need to become a Digital Marketer in as little as 12 weeks.

However, mastering many of the techniques and skills—particularly soft skills learned on the job like leadership and communication—may take years.


Kickstart Your Digital Marketing Career

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