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Want a career in marketing but unsure which role is right for you? In today’s blog, we’ll discuss what it means to be a successful digital project manager. This role combines marketing knowledge with account management, strategy and execution skills to create the perfect mix for individuals who are extremely organized, motivated and enjoy directing others and meeting deadlines.
A Digital Project Manager by Any Other Name
According to the DigitalProjectManager.com, the title digital project manager (DPM) can also be called a web project manager, digital marketing project manager, web producer or digital producer. According to Glassdoor.com, the national average salary for DPMs is $63,174 in the United States, with salaries going up to as much as $93,000 annually, with salaries depending on location and experience.
Digital project managers, in the simplest sense, ensure things get done in a digital world. They make sure that the digital plan of action is executed according to the plan they have laid out. A digital project manager often combines a brand’s online resources (including content such as eBooks, videos, social media, etc.) and human resources (designers, copywriters, email marketers,etc.) to create effective marketing campaigns. DPMs convert raw digital marketing ideas into an actionable plan based on the company’s strategic objective(s).The idea is to break down the complex ideas into clear and well-defined tasks. Some general duties for DPMs, according to Wrike.com, include:
- Draft meeting agendas and meeting notes
- Assign and schedule project tasks
- Schedule & lead project meetings
- Lead and direct project team members
- Prepare and monitor project schedules and budgets
- Manage project scope
- QA all project deliverables
- Contribute to client proposals & quotes
- Build project reports
- Assess and evaluate project success
What Skills Do Digital Project Marketers Need?
We’ve briefly mentioned a few of the general skills that digital project managers use on a regular basis, but there are many other proficiencies that will help individuals succeed in this position, including the seventeen listed below.
1. Copywriting & Editing
Almost every marketing position requires writing and editing skills in today’s “content is king” environment, and digital project marketers are no exception. No matter how many people are on the team you’re project managing, time will be of the essence, and it’s likely that you’ll need to at least take a quick proofread of some content. You may even need to do a bit of copywriting. You’ll also need to communicate efficiently with clients and vendors, so the ability to write clear and concise emails that people can easily understand is important. Finally, you’ll need at least some understanding of good design and content practices to connect writers and designers. Let them stick to their strengths--you’ll keep everyone on track and help when you need to.
Problem-solving is a key part of a DPM’s everyday activities. This role includes tasks that are typical of most project management jobs, such as timeline planning, budget tracking and scope management but also features responsibilities that sometimes sit with product managers, such as feature planning and testing. There are plenty of problems to solve, and no day will be the same!
HTML/CSS are the two languages of the internet. The ability to write in HTML allows DPMs to help designers or developers in a pinch. Many times, simple tasks such as adding text, formatting text and adding embedded videos can help take the pressure off of busy developers. If you don’t currently know HTML, try lynda.com or Codeacademy.com to get started.
4. Social Media
It’s arguable that everyone working in marketing needs to have some degree of social media knowledge. Digital project managers, specifically, need to understand the content limitations of each social media platform and how to use social media tools such as publishing platforms like Hootsuite and analytics platforms like Simply Measured.
Many companies use file transfer protocol (FTP) to connect to file systems and servers locally and online. Most people understand how to use public cloud sharing services such as Dropbox, but knowledge of FTP is crucial as an effective project manager. Even if your company doesn’t use an FTP service to share files, it’s likely that some of the vendors you work with will. Some popular FTP programs include File Zilla, Cyberduck and transmit.
6. Negotiation Skills
Deadlines are the bread and butter of DPMs. A great project manager knows how to work with their internal teams, external vendors and clients to control deadlines and manage scope changes. DPMs need to be able to successfully negotiate timelines, rates, contracts and expectations.
7. Reporting & Analytics
All digital project managers must be able to collect data and interpret it. The first platform DPMs should learn to navigate is Google Analytics. Google’s step-by-step guide and free online course make it easy. You can even become certified for more industry credibility. You’ll also need to learn how to use any of the analytics tools your company uses.
8. Attention to Detail
It might seem obvious, but an eye for detail is incredibly important for project managers. Without a last look from these individuals, many campaigns go out with obvious issues such as spelling errors, links that don’t work or flawed user journeys.
9. SEO Knowledge
All companies want their content to be in the first page of Google. Being able to help your company achieve better rankings is an excellent skill to have. Search engine optimization helps connect your customers to great content. Sometimes copywriters and other marketing team members forget to include SEO as part of their process, but with your help--they won't!
SEOmoz is a great site and software as a service (SaaS) tool to get started learning and optimizing your company’s content for SEO.
10. Understanding Formal Project Management Methodologies
Typically, project managers use specific methodologies to manage projects from a lifecycle perspective. It’s a great idea to get experience in such methodologies as Agile, Scrum and Waterfall if you don’t have it already. All projects are different in terms of their needs and complexity, but an understanding of at least one of two methodologies are necessary for most project management positions. Understanding how to use popular project management tools like Basecamp and Liquid Planner will also increase your value as a project manager.
11. Relationship Building
Do you enjoy working with many different types of people and cultivating relationships? As a DPM, you'll serve as the client lead and the advocate for your internal team. It's not unusual to be handling client communication, internal feedback and hands-on work in applications and programs. Through this process, you’ll be exposed to people many creative, passionate, and talented people, and you’ll work with every type of personality and communication style.
12. Content Management Systems Knowledge
Drupal, Wordpress and ExpressionEngine are three popular content management systems that DPMs should understand. They’re very similar, so once you get the theory behind one of them, you’ll be set. You should be able to create, edit and publish content and insert images to help save developers long hours.
13. Ability to Adapt
Are you comfortable with change? Though you might want to create the “perfect” project plan and see it to completion, this rarely happens. Deadlines change, new ideas appears, technology poses problems and requirements change. You need the ability to face emerging issues with a positive attitude and get your team on board.
14. Presentation Skills
Great DPMs separate themselves from their more average colleagues with their excellent storytelling and presentation skills. While it’s important to be somewhat skilled at designing Powerpoint slides, it’s more important to be a great communicator. That’s what people remember, and when you’re leading a team on a project, you need to be able to do it with confidence.
15. Fiscal Responsibility
Companies don’t run on great words or enticing design. They run on the sales that those marketing methods bring in. A digital project manager must understand the company’s profit margin and marketing budget and the impact that the time employees spend on internal projects has on the bottom-line. They must keep these ideas in mind on a daily basis and when scoping and resourcing specific campaigns and projects.
16. A Positive Outlook
Positive outlook is a very important part of being a digital project manager. DPMs are the glue that holds teams and projects together. When the project goes as planned, people might pile on the praise to other members of the team, and when things go badly, you’ll be the first one to get reprimanded. You need to be able to smile in even the most difficult of situations.
17. Tech & Marketing Lingo
Speaking the right “language” (usually marketing and technology lingo for DPMs) will help you comprehend more of what your contacts say so you can contribute to the conversation and effectively communicate messages to others.
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