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Career Guide

How to Become a Digital Marketer

BrainStation’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 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.

How to Become a Digital Marketer

How Do I Become a Digital Marketer?

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 field 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, a strong writing voice, and a 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 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.

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. 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.

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.

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? 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.

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 resume’s 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), and 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.

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, 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.

How Much Can You Make in Digital Marketing?

Salaries in digital marketing depend on your location, level of seniority, and experience. A Digital Marketing Specialist, for example, has an average salary of $50,000 according to Glassdoor. Digital Marketing Managers, on the other hand, can expect an average salary above $75,000.

At the high end of the spectrum, VP of Digital Marketing can earn between $135,000 and $200,000, while a Director of Digital Marketing can earn between $105,000 and $140,000.

Is Digital Marketing a Growing Field?

Yes, digital marketing is one of the fastest growing fields in technology, with demand for digital marketing skills increasingly rapidly. In fact, according to Bullhorn, 71 percent of hiring managers struggled to find marketing professionals skilled enough to fill their job openings.

HubSport, 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 do I Become a Digital Marketer With No Experience?

It’s possible to become a Digital Marketer even if you don’t currently have work experience in marketing, but first, you’ll need to develop the right skills – and be able to demonstrate them. There are a few core technical competencies every Digital Marketer needs – in SEO and SEM, analytics, social media marketing and advertising, email marketing, and customer relationship management tools.

To gain 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. 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. 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.

Alongside your technical digital marketing skills, try to find ways to demonstrate that you have the many soft and transferable skills a Digital Marketer should possess, including leadership, a strong writing voice, and a feel for the online landscape.

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. 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.

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