Digital marketers create and manage advertising campaigns on non-traditional media platforms like social media, Google, and YouTube. Their work can be both strategic and creative and also requires a strong technical tool kit. To find out more about what it’s like to be a digital marketer we spoke with two professionals in the field, Katya Salas and Laurel Wind. Both Katya and Laurel work at KLIK, a digital marketing agency in Arlington, Virginia.
Q: What is your job title?
Laurel: Currently, I am an Associate Performance Marketing Manager working on 3 clients in EdTech.
Katya: I am an Associate Director at KLIK, specializing in Performance Marketing. I have worked across three of our largest clients on the search side of marketing but have more recently begun to dive into the social side as well.
Q: Where do you work?
Laurel: I work at KLIK based in Arlington, VA. I’ve worked at KLIK for over two years.
Katya: I have been working remotely in the DC area for three years at KLIK and recently moved to Texas.
Q: Did you have a different job before this and, if so, what was it?
Laurel: Before this role, I was a Digital Marketing Coordinator and then a Search Marketing Lead here at KLIK so I’ve had the opportunity to work in a couple different sides of the business.
Katya: I transitioned to KLIK three years ago from an accounting role at PwC. I specialized in Private Company audits across a portfolio of clients in a variety of industries including marketing.
Q: How did you get to be in the position you are currently in?
Katya: I was the first DC employee at KLIK, so I have grown organically here as the company has scaled significantly over the past few years.
Laurel: A lot of mentorship and a lot of guidance. When I was in my undergrad, I started as a graphic design major and wanted to go the creative route. I had to take a statistics class for my Gen Eds and my stats professor at the time sat me down and said, “you need to do something with math. Your brain is very data and logically oriented.” The rest is history, I switched my major to analytics, studied statistics, and spent the rest of my undergrad exploring how data and creativity go hand in hand. If it wasn’t for that, I definitely would not have been here.
Q: What are your main responsibilities in your digital marketing role?
Katya: My role is transitioning next week actually, but I am currently leading three of our teams across different industries. My largest client is a portfolio of over 60 accounts in the education space. I am responsible for hitting performance and client goals, along with working with the client and addressing any questions/issues that come up across teams.
Laurel: I’d say they’re bucketed into two groups. One would be the client side: I manage performance for client accounts—anything from setting budgets, working to hit client goals, and business strategy. On the internal side, I manage a team as we work towards those client goals.
Q: What do you like about your job?
Katya: I like that I have learned a lot and grown tremendously since starting at KLIK. No day is completely the same and it has been a unique experience joining a company that has scaled as rapidly as we have over the past three years.
Laurel: It’s really rewarding overall, especially in the role that I’m in now. I get to work with people who are in the same shoes I was in two years ago. It’s really rewarding to see them develop—whether it’s a technical skill or a business concept—and working on developing skills with them to the point we both recognize how far everyone has come.
Also, I like how things are always changing. You never quite get comfortable in digital marketing, which I think a good place to be in. In the digital industry, there’s always something new to learn and add to existing strategy, especially now with the conversations surrounding data privacy.
Q: What is hard about digital marketing?
Katya: The hardest part about my job is tackling new challenges that come our way and having to problem solve how to best move forward. Projects also move very quickly, so you have to be very good at time management and getting things done as efficiently as possible.
Laurel: It’s always changing. Also, you really only have so much control. When working with data, it’s very easy to think that all of your decisions are actually going to make a big impact. And at the end of the day, everything is based on people and their actions. You can take the best creative, the best audience, the best product, the best market, and put your best foot forward and at the end of the day, if you’re on the other end of the ad and you might not want to buy a product that day. There also could be a competitor that comes in the market and totally changes everything about your account that’s been in a steady state for three months or a year. So, it’s a double-edged sword. It’s always changing, which keeps things exciting but also creates some challenges.
Q: What skills are important for digital marketing?
Katya: Curiosity, being able to manage your time, analytical skills, strong communication, and the ability to work with numbers and manipulate data.
Laurel: A data-first mindset, curiosity, creativity, and communication. As I mentioned earlier, you’re working with people at the end of the day so the soft skills go a long way. The ability to roll with the punches and some humility are also extremely important. Again, things are always changing. Every day is different, so you can’t expect things to be stable. That’s kind of our thing at KLIK, being “hungry and humble.” I think those are critical skills, especially when we work with big clients and budgets—we need to be willing to collaborate and share knowledge.
Q: What advice would you give someone who wanted to start a career in digital marketing?
Katya: Network with others and also leverage your existing network. It is also important to evaluate your current skill set and figure out how you can leverage your strengths to transfer into this industry. There are also a lot of online resources and short courses you can take to further enhance your skills, which will help you stand out when looking to transition into this industry.
Laurel: Don’t take anything personally. Nothing about the performance of an account or a client is solely about you. Paired with the humility piece, if something is going well, it’s not just because you did something. If something is going poorly, it’s not just because you did something. When starting out, you’ll rarely see the big picture and all of the teams involved running an account- everything from the creative team, legal team, marketing team, and everything in between. It takes a village. I’d also say always have a level of skepticism on everything. Explain the “why” with data and then immediately question why and if that’s true. I think that will serve you well anywhere.
Q: Anything else you want people to know about digital marketing?
Katya: This is an exciting industry to be in at the moment, as it is growing tremendously and constantly evolving. There are always new challenges that present themselves, and I am grateful to be working with an incredibly talented team that pushes me to excel each day.
Laurel: There are a lot of different ways you can go with it. Even in digital marketing, I started on the creative side of it. There are so many different routes. You can go in-house versus agency. You can do the creative side or the data side. Even within our agency, you have people doing SEO, client management, data analysis, creative and data stacks. There are so many different realms within digital marketing. If people start with something and if they don’t like it, there’s probably another option.
Bonus Q: What else do you like to do outside of work?
Katya: I have many hobbies outside of work, which includes traveling, fitness classes (I was a yoga sculpt instructor at CorePower Yoga before the pandemic), cooking, reading, playing tennis, hanging out with friends, and trying out new restaurants!
Laurel: I love to cook and bake. I’m fairly outdoorsy. I love to run and hike and bike. I’m a huge fan of music. Since what we do is so technical, I try to find a creative outlet or anything a little less in that realm. Of course, I love hanging out with friends and family. I took up embroidery recently, and that’s been my pandemic hobby.
To learn more about how you can embark on a career in digital marketing, check out our digital marketing hub!