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"Variety is the spice of life." - William Cowper
Whether you’re talking Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay-Per-Click (PPC), content creation, social media marketing, mobile strategy or multi-channel analytics - digital marketing skills are in huge demand right now.
With the average business's main priorities being lead generation (63%), proving the ROI of their various marketing activities (40%) and securing ample budgets (28%) for their promotional activities, many modern brands are turning to digital agencies to enhance their efforts in a number of key areas.
Working with digital marketing agencies offers a business the opportunity to evolve their brand by gaining access to a wealth of niche skills, resources, and talent that aligns with their commercial goals. And if you’re a budding digital marketer looking for a rewarding, varied and potentially lucrative career path, working for a forward-thinking digital agency could be the answer.
But, what is working for a digital agency really like? In this article, we explore the benefits of working as part of a fast-paced marketing collective, as well as career progression within a dynamic digital agency.
The benefits of working for a digital agency
Working as part of a specialist digital marketing agency offers a host of potential benefits for any marketer looking to expand their skill set while working with an exciting mix of different clients:
A constant challenge
While digital marketers working for one brand might find that their role stagnates at times, working as a marketer in a digital agency will present a constant challenge, keeping you on your toes at all times.
Studies suggest that agencies between 10 - 20 active clients enjoy maximum profits with minimal operational issues. That’s a lot of different projects to sink your teeth into.
By working with a multitude of different clients, all with differing values, ideas, and business objectives, you'll need to morph your approach, mindset and tone of voice depending on the project.
In doing so, your role remains a constant challenge and as no two days will ever be exactly the same, you’re unlikely to become bored or complacent.
An ever-expanding skillset
We are living in the midst of a gaping digital skills gap. In fact, this particular deficit in skills could cost the UK economy alone up to £141 billion in incremental growth.
By upskilling your digital marketing abilities on a continuous basis, you stand to enjoy a long and rewarding career in the field - and working in a digital agency is an effective way of honing your existing talents while acquiring fresh practical knowledge on a weekly basis.
Many modern agencies place a great deal of emphasis on driving digital innovation, and as such, many offer continuous learning opportunities as part of the job.
Moreover, by working with an eclectic mix of clients and wearing a multitude of hats on a regular basis, you’re likely to expand your skillset organically over time. Not only will this keep you motivated, but it will increase the likelihood of boosting your career prospects.
Naturally, the level of creative freedom or the autonomy you’re given to do your job is largely dependant on company culture - and that applies to every brand, business or organization the world over.
But, due to the tight-knit and varied nature of being a digital marketer at an agency, your mix of clients will often look to you to come up with ideas and lead on campaigns or projects.
As such, most agencies offer digital marketers more job autonomy and creative freedom than they might enjoy at other companies.
If you’re trusted to use your skills and creative talents in a way that best suits the need your clients without too much micromanagement or scrutiny, you’re likely to remain engaged, motivated and flourish in your role.
The key qualities of an agency-based digital marketer
As a digital marketer working at a fast-paced digital agency, alongside a solid fundamental knowledge of digital marketing and ample experience in your field of expertise, you’ll need to work with to incredibly tight deadlines and wear a number of hats.
As such there are core attributes that you will need to work as a digital marketer in an agency setting which includes:
- Self-motivated and are comfortable working to tight and often changing project or campaign deadlines.
- A strong communicator that knows how to address different clients based on their outlook, values and organizational style.
- Open to learning new skills and acquiring fresh practical knowledge often while on the job.
- Run on creativity; strategic and you enjoy collaborating on campaigns, projects and initiatives with a broad mix of different personalities.
The dynamics of working at a digital agency
It’s clear that working in a digital agency setting is varied, challenging and at times, high-pressured.
Most agencies will require their staff to have a comprehensive working knowledge of all of the key digital marketing disciplines, including SEO and SEM, PPC, content marketing, video production and data analytics.
That said, to even entertain working as part of a dynamic digital agency, you must gain experience and certification in all of these fundamental areas to stand a chance of survival.
Armed with a solid base knowledge of digital marketing, you will set solid foundations for career progression.
In addition, by choosing to specialize in a particular branch of digital marketing, you will thrive in a digital agency setting. Many agencies want their new recruits to jump in and start building client relationships as well as achieving results from day one. If you have an area of specialism, you’ll be able to delve deep into new projects and start making a difference straight off the bat.
If you’re able to make your mark, foster solid client relationships, and you make a distinct effort to hone and expand your skills both inside and outside the workplace, you stand to progress up the digital agency career ladder, working your way up to a lead account manager in your field of expertise, or even a strategic head of team.
Also, if you focus on gaining ample experience in managing budgets and creating data-driven strategies both for the agency and its clients, you could accelerate your career progression even further, rising to the status of a senior executive, decision-maker or in some cases, partner.
Unlike more formal work environments, there’s no 100% set career path or set remuneration package for a given role - these factors often depend on the size, success and model of the digital agency. But, to give you a rough guide of earnings, here’s an overview of some of the career options available in digital marketing and the average salaries.
"Once people reach that glass ceiling of ‘Director’ or ‘Head of’, the next objective is to work on other areas of digital marketing. The wish is easily granted, but this is often done myopically. " - Clarke Boyd
Potentially one of the greatest rewards of working as a digital marketer in an agency setting is that once you do progress to the top of the ladder the hands-on and entirely eclectic nature of the job will allow you the opportunity to evolve your skillset beyond your existing grasp.
As inherently, an agency must remain innovative, cutting-edge, forward-thinking and chameleon-like to survive, so must its staff. That said, if you do excel in an agency setting and reach ‘the top’, there will always be an opportunity to explore brave new areas of digital marketing or become an industry thought leader.
Also, as digital agencies are typically tight-knit and come with an ‘all hands on deck’ mentality, as an experienced agency professional with a wealth of tangible knowledge, your seniority will give you the chance to help others hone their craft and make their role more purposeful.
Working as a digital marketer in an agency setting comes with its share of potential rewards and opportunities. If you feel this is the path for you, by gaining a rounded fundamental skill set, gaining expertise in your preferred niche and asking yourself the right questions, you’re likely to enjoy a long and rewarding career.
If you’re still unsure which direction to take as a digital marketer, read Digital Marketing Agency or Brand? How to Choose a Job You’ll Love.