How to Become a Digital Marketer

Digital marketers sit at the crossroads of advertising and tech. They must be creative and strategic, business-savvy and technically skilled. Today, digital marketing is becoming so dominant that any marketing professional should have some measure of digital fluency. There is a range of more specific roles that a digital marketer might fill. These include social media marketers, digital strategists, digital marketing analysts, and more! We’ll dive into these below, along with 8 concrete steps you can take to become a pro digital marketer. The steps that we’ll outline are:

  1. Learn to use a platform.
  2. Learn about KPIs.
  3. Get comfortable working with data.
  4. Stay up-to-date with industry trends.
  5. Analyze your favorite brands.
  6. Practice marketing in a non-professional setting.
  7. Research agencies.
  8. Connect with digital marketers on LinkedIn.

 

Read on to learn more about how you can execute these steps!

What is the Job Description for a Digital Marketer?

The role of digital marketer encompasses a number of different titles, which we’ll cover in depth in a moment. Generally, digital marketers work for ad agencies. However, some digital marketers may offer their skills for hire as a freelancer and others may work in-house on the marketing team of an organization that is not an ad agency.

The digital space is expansive. It encompasses websites, social media, email, instant messaging, mobile apps, software, video games, electronic devices, and even VR – basically anything outside the realm of ‘traditional’ media. For this reason, many digital marketers specialize. They may be an expert in one particular digital channel or they may focus on planning strategy, managing accounts, creating assets, or allocating budgets.

A strategy-oriented digital marketer likely spends their days hashing out brand identity, planning campaigns, doing audience research, analyzing competitors, and working with clients to determine goals.

Digital marketing creatives work closely with strategists to create assets (images, signage, websites, text, videos, etc.) that support campaigns and align with clients’ goals.

Other digital marketers may focus on the day-to-day management of campaigns. Whereas traditional ad campaigns that use billboards and magazine ads are sent to market and largely left alone, digital marketing campaigns require near-daily optimization. Digital marketing account managers spend their days reading data and making adjustments to digital campaigns so that their best ads serve the most users and budgets are spent effectively.

Whichever route you take in digital marketing, it’s a good idea to be trained in several digital platforms. It is also important to work skillfully with data to help drive strategy and daily optimizations. We’ll cover more qualifications and skills below.

Digital Marketer Qualifications

Digital marketers need to be able to think both creatively and analytically to develop digital campaigns that are unique and interesting, but also effective at driving results. Many digital marketers work closely with clients or company executives so client management skills are useful. Below we’ve outlined a few qualifications that make an excellent digital marketer:

  • Be digitally savvy – skills in Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Email marketing, Google Analytics, and any other digital platforms are key.
  • Be comfortable working with performance data and metrics.
  • Communicate clearly and listen empathetically.
  • Be able to adapt your marketing skills for a range of brands or products.
  • Think strategically.
  • Work well on a team.
  • Be creative, think outside the box!

 

Digital Marketer Education Requirements

Most digital marketing roles seek candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree. However, since digital marketers use such a wide range of skill sets, you don’t necessarily need a degree in marketing to excel in this career. A master’s degree can improve your prospects for more senior roles.

For media management roles, many companies will consider candidates without a degree if they have demonstrated experience managing accounts for themself or as part of a bootcamp project.

 

How Long Does it Take to Become a Digital Marketer?

You can become a digital marketer relatively quickly. While it takes time to become an expert with digital marketing platforms you can learn the essential functions in a few weeks if you put the time in. The time it takes to land your first role in the industry depends on the state of the labor market and on the type of job you seek. However, with the right qualifications, you should be able to land a job in digital marketing within a few months of searching.

To give your digital marketing career a jump start, check out our comprehensive guide to digital marketing bootcamps. If you feel confident in your marketing skills but need a boost when it comes to analytics, you might consider a data analytics bootcamp instead. And for a deeper dive into specific analytics tools check out these Top 10 Marketing Analytics Tools.

How to Become a Digital Marketer

  1. Learn to use a platform. Then, expand your skill set by learning more! Digital platforms that you may leverage in a digital marketing job include Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, Bing, Google Analytics, Snapchat, and Twitter. Learn about the platform as a whole and also learn about it’s advertising features. Using Facebook as a consumer provides a good background, but advertising on Facebook requires an additional skill set. Many digital platforms offer their own training programs for free online, like Google’s Skillshop and Facebook Certifications.
  2. Learn about KPIs. Digital marketing is highly data-driven. Agencies read the success of campaigns using KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Understanding common KPIs – what they measure, how they’re calculated, what represents a ‘good’ value – will give you a great starting point for a career in digital marketing. The following is a list of common KPIs to understand:
  • Leads
  • Qualified Leads
  • Cost Per Lead
  • Spend
  • Conversions
  • Cost Per Conversion
  • Conversion Rate
  • Impressions
  • Reach
  • Impression Share
  • Churn Rate/Attrition Rate
  • Traffic
  • Click-Through Rate
  • Clicks
  • Cost Per Click
  • Bounce Rate
  • Page Rank
  • Engagement Rate
  • ROI
  1. Get comfortable working with data. Data and KPIs go hand-in-hand when it comes to reading campaign performance in digital marketing. In order to calculate KPIs, digital marketers gather data from platforms. They must be able to do this frequently and at scale in order to strategize with the most reliable data. To break into digital marketing, get hands-on experience working with data and analytics tools. Browse our Top 10 Marketing Analytics Tools to see which tools are popular in the industry.
  2. Stay up-to-date with industry trends. The digital marketing industry is constantly producing new platforms, tools, and updates. Digital marketers don’t need to adopt every new trend but they should at least know what’s out there so they can make educated decisions about their marketing campaigns and avoid being left in the dust behind other agencies. Interviewers for digital marketer jobs will sometimes ask about your thoughts on recent  developments so it’s a good idea to read up on industry news beforehand. A few great sites to put on your reading list for digital marketing news are Ad AgeMarketing DiveSearch Engine Land, and Digiday.
  3. Analyze your favorite brands. A great exercise to develop your strategic mind is to analyze the marketing of one of your favorite brands. Find out which digital platforms they advertise on and compare the content they post across platforms. Where applicable, take a look back through time (by scrolling back through their Instagram page, for example) and try to figure out how their strategy has changed. For bonus points, think of what changes you might recommend to improve their digital marketing efforts. Anything new they could try? Anything that doesn’t seem right?
  4. Practice marketing in a non-professional setting. If you are part of a club or organization outside of work, you have an excellent opportunity to flex your marketing skills and get hands-on practice. Try starting a social media presence to promote your group or an event you’re holding. If you really want to get in the weeds you can experiment with paid advertising with a tiny budget – just $20 to $50 is enough to get a taste of what you can do in the platforms.
  5. Research agencies. Look up what digital marketing agencies are hiring in your area. Read about the work they do and they clients they work with. Many digital agencies host blogs on their websites where you can learn more about the industry from an agency P.O.V.
  6. Connect with digital marketers on LinkedIn. Digital marketers are great at promoting things on social media – that means, when they are trying to fill roles on their team, they are very likely to share job announcements with their personal LinkedIn connections. Browse LinkedIn to find digital marketers who have a connection in common with you or who attended your university. You can even try reaching out by message to ask if they have advice for someone starting in the industry. Most people are happy to give tips and talk about their experiences as long as you ask politely!

Explore schools offering Digital Marketer Bootcamps.

Job Outlook for a Digital Marketer

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an expected 10% increase in marketing jobs between 2020 and 2030, with the majority of this growth in digital marketing. As consumers spend more of their time interacting with digital media – be it TikTok, Facebook, messenger apps, etc. – advertisers must focus more efforts in these spaces too. Additionally, as the digital space diversifies, there is a need for digital marketers who specialize in new platforms and technologies. For instance, TikTok advertising is quickly heating up, creating a demand for skilled digital marketers who know how to leverage the platform.

 

Best jobs for Digital Marketers

Digital marketer is a generic title that covers many different industry roles. Below are a few specific digital marketing jobs that might interest you.

  • Social Media Marketer

A social media marketer is in charge of paid ad campaigns on social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, or LinkedIn. They are in charge of creating content that fits well with each platform and choosing audiences to target. They also need to plan around budgets provided by their clients so that they spend enough to be effective but don’t blow out a monthly allotment in a single day. This role may sometimes be called a paid social marketer.  A similar social media role that deals with non-paid (organic) posts is a social media manager.

  • Digital Marketing Analyst

A digital marketing analyst is skilled in all of the core areas of digital marketing and is also great at data analytics. They collect large amounts of data from digital campaigns and create visualizations that can help highlight trends over time. They use analytics skills to figure out which campaigns are most successful and which should be put on pause. This role also works closely with budgets to make sure campaigns are spending the right amount of money each day.

  • Email Marketing Specialist

As the name suggests, an email marketing specialist is in charge of marketing campaigns run over email. Oftentimes, these roles leverage scripting languages like APMScript and handlebars to create and send large amounts of emails very quickly and so, reach a wide audience. In other cases, they may use a tool like MailChimp to do this.

  • Digital Strategist

A digital strategist focuses on high-level planning for a marketing project. They may oversee multiple channels and help allocate budget effectively across these. They can consider branching out into new types of digital marketing when they see opportunity for it. A digital strategist spends a good deal of time working with clients to solidify a brand message that the rest of the team can use as a guiding point.

  • Digital Marketing Media Manager

A media manager is someone who manages specific ad accounts and makes daily optimization decisions on a granular level. This may involve increasing spend on specific ads that are performing well, removing a particular location from a campaign’s targets, and monitoring daily spend. Media managers are not usually a managerial position – that is they don’t usually manage a team, but they do manage specific accounts.

  • Digital Marketing Manager

In contrast to media managers, digital marketing managers do serve as part of the management team. They likely oversee a team of media managers, analysts, and/or social media marketers. While media managers focus on granular performance of specific ad accounts, digital marketing managers monitor the performance of a full portfolio of accounts. They are in charge of making sure that the decisions being made across the portfolio are all made with the same goals in mind and that the overall impact of these decisions is positive.

  • Digital Marketing Software Developer

A digital marketing software developer creates the tools that digital marketers use to do their jobs. The software they create may be used to advertise, to analyze campaigns, or to create marketing assets. This is a technically advanced role that requires knowledge of coding languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. You can learn more about breaking into software development from our post here.

  • Digital Marketing Data Scientist

We mentioned that digital marketers love to gather and use large amounts of data. Most digital marketers have general data skills but they may need advanced support if their data ‘stack’ is especially large or complex. That’s where digital marketing data scientists come in. They help devise programs that collect business data from many different sources and compile it in a way that is usable for others in the agency. SQLPython, and R are useful skills for this role. You can learn more about being a data scientist from our post about it here.

Digital Marketer Salary

The average salary for a digital marketer in the U.S. is $60,176. However, that varies quite a bit depending on your location, the type of company you work for and the specific responsibilities of your role. Below we’ve broken down the average salary by the digital marketing roles we’ve discussed.

 
Job TitleAverage Yearly Salary (2021)
Social Media Marketer$49,749
Digital Marketing Analyst$71,918
Email Marketing Specialist$66,381
Digital Strategist$80,251
Digital Marketing Media Manager$69,111
Digital Marketing Manager$123,899
Digital Marketing Software Developer$86,335
Digital Marketing Data Scientist$102,516

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