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Digital marketing has its own industry niche where the required qualifications go beyond basic marketing strategies and creative skills.
If you are considering entering the digital marketing industry, understanding the skills required and what digital marketers do is a good place to begin.
The Digital Marketer Defined
In general terms, a digital marketer is responsible for using digital channels to generate leads and build brand awareness. Digital channels include:
- Company websites
- Social media
- Search engine rankings
- Email marketing
- Online display ads
- Corporate blogs
Beyond this, the digital marketer must also use measurable analytics to identify weaknesses and find ways to improve performance across these channels. In this role, you can be responsible for all aspects of a company's digital strategy or just focus on one.
Smaller companies tend to have one general specialist or manager while corporations can spread the responsibilities around to an entire team or even across several different departments.
This (general specialist) is responsible for driving relevant consumers with the goal of improving brand recognition [and] trust and ultimately drive purchase intent - Justin Emig, VP of Marketing & Innovation, Web Talent Marketing
The Many Facets of Digital Marketing
In digital marketing, you can choose to be a jack-of-all-trades or focus on one or two skills to set you apart. For example, being a strong creative individual who also understands coding or a techy person who gets how important content is to social media.
It is a field where experience or a good internship speaks volumes. “Certifications are the new degree,” continues Justin Emig. There are many online certifications you can get to add to your credibility, not to mention building your own online presence and social media pages with plenty of followers. That is often the best way to draw attention to yourself if you want a career in digital marketing.
The overall skills and areas of expertise for a digital marketer include:
- Video: It’s hard to catch people’s attention online. Stats show that video increases engagement while ranking higher on Google. You don't have to become a video producer but instead, focus on the basics of creating a video. Having an understanding of how to write scripts, use the platforms and apps to create videos, and what works in videos will add to your appeal when applying for digital marketing jobs.
- SEO & SEM: Online searches drive digital ads. You have to understand search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) in order to work in the field. You don't have to worry about the back-end techy stuff here. It's more about understanding the importance of SEO and the best practices used in the industry. That is the 101 of any digital marketing campaign or content management initiative. Understanding how SEO and SEM affect your online efforts will allow you to work with the rest of a digital team without looking like you are in the wrong business.
- Content Marketing: Content is what is used to attract and engage customers whether it is a website, video, social media or blogging. It can also entail anything people can access online such as whitepapers, case studies, how-to booklets, and more. Understanding the aspects of content, how it is created, how it is effective, and how best to use it will provide the wealth of information needed for just about any digital marketing role. You will have to understand how best to use content to help a business meet their goals including social media. Depending on what level of work you are seeking within the digital marketing industry you will also have to understand content strategy and analysis.
- Data & Analytics: Google Analytics is central to many facets of digital marketing. You can track reports, but what is more important is how to use the information you find. Monitoring campaigns and applying findings based on consumer behavior will allow you to come up with better solutions that will increase conversions and drive traffic. Gathering and using data is also essential as the data collected by today's businesses is like a gold mine that has to be used in innovative ways to collect and retain new customers.
- Design Thinking: The user experience is the key to successful digital marketing. Design thinking is crucial as it teaches companies how best to engage customers, but beyond that, it ensures that their online experiences are simple and effective. That can include using online shopping sites, accessing information, and other things your company might offer to customers including customized apps.
You have to learn to see beyond the ideas presented to you and be able to look ahead at the potential issues it might cause. You must be able to suggest improvements based on these instincts and ensure your ideas are feasible.
- Tech Knowledge: Technology is the driving force in the digital world, so you will have to understand what the latest technology is and how it is being used. You have to adapt quickly to changes in the industry and know what's coming so that your digital marketing plans are up to date. Using technology has to come easy to you, and you cannot be intimidated by change. No matter where you want to begin (or end up) in your career, some knowledge of web coding and Content Management (CMS) systems are a must.
- Understand Engagement: More than ever before you will need an understanding of how best to engage a customer. You will need great powers of persuasion in order to conceive innovative campaigns that will help grow the business. You have to understand what gets today’s consumer to make the commitment and convert to making a purchase.
It is not enough to just get people to follow your social media pages. You also have to persuade from within. Your team, fellow departments, and leaders will have to be convinced that where you want to put the money is the right thing to do. Understanding all aspects from SEO to content and the latest technology to what people respond to is the best way to keep people on board with your plans.
Common Digital Marketing Positions
If you want to get more specific and explore the types of positions available in digital marketing, there are many career paths you can choose including:
- SEO Manager: In this position, you will use your skills as an SEO expert to help drive content and improve a company's content. Your input would be used to keep content creators on target with valuable insight into the 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 coming up with a plan and often a strategy to ensure you increase traffic as well as Google rankings. You would create a plan for what material to use from 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 focus on social media creating an effective schedule for posts and overseeing or, in some cases, creating the posts. Again, a crossover is always possible in which case you might work with a content marketing specialist, SEO people, and other digital marketers as part of an overall digital marketing strategy.
- Marketing Automation Coordinator: This position would deal with the effects and results of a marketing campaign. It is also a more technology-focused position in which you would be finding the best software to help discover important customer behaviors. You would be involved in measurement 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. Your job will involve enhancing brand awareness 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 in order to track the results of your campaigns.
Leadership in Digital Marketing
Digital marketing sees constant change and requires a forward-thinking mind. You have to be a pioneer, continually championing the latest industry changes. You also have to have a collaborative spirit and be willing to work with other departments.
An appreciation for branding is also essential as you will have to build an online presence that reflects the brand. An analytical mind is helpful as you will have to look at data and learn how to extract the pertinent information that will keep your strategy strong. In a nutshell, you have to be tried and true in your beliefs that digital marketing reigns supreme, keep up to date to support your opinions, but also work well with others, so people want to help see your ideas come to fruition.
Digital marketing leadership requires you to influence others and drive results through collaboration. You must be able to work with colleagues and contacts at all levels of an organization to develop compelling offers and drive growth - Sandra Rand, Director of Marketing at OrionCKB