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Digital marketing jobs are hot right now, and this trend isn’t expected to go away anytime soon. Part of the reason for this is that companies of all shapes and sizes are looking for people with various digital marketing skills.
Read on for an overview about what’s needed to pursue a career in digital marketing today.
The Digital Marketing Careers Employment Gap
Digital marketing skills are so in-demand right now that many people in the industry claim there's a skills gap — in other words, there are a lot of jobs available, but not enough readily-skilled people to fill them.
According to this research report from Burning Glass:
- Both small and large digital media businesses list social media as a top required skill
- 40% of marketing job openings now require digital skills
- There are twice as many job postings with a digital focus than there were five years ago
- Digital marketing will make up 35% of marketing spending by 2019
- In 2016, there were 174,141 digital-marketing focused job postings
- Digital marketing jobs offer, on average, $7000 more a year than other types of marketing jobs
- Digital marketing jobs, on average, take 16% longer to fill than regular marketing positions.
Another interesting thing that digital marketing experts should note is that, according to the same Burning Glass report, “unicorn” companies (high-value digital startups like Pinterest and Snapchat) are looking for employees with strengths in areas like digital analytics and advertising, as well as content marketing. Fortune 100 companies, on the other hand, tend to seek people with more traditional marketing and business backgrounds as well as mobile marketing skills.
Why Choose a Career in Digital Marketing?
When it comes to formal education, most university business and marketing programs simply aren't up to speed when it comes to teaching the technical skills people need when pursuing a career in digital marketing. For this reason, it's important to make sure that you find other ways to learn, such as taking reputable courses online and doing self-paced courses.
These types of jobs are also flexible, not only in what you can specialize in but location-wise. More and more businesses have the option to work remotely, and many companies don’t even have an office dedicated to staff. And if you choose the freelancing route, you can work from anywhere in the world.
Digital marketing professionals can expect to earn an above average salary. While the exact amount will depend on your speciality and background, the mere fact that there are a lot of jobs available means that you as an employee or freelancer have the opportunity to set a value on yourself.
According to Glassdoor, digital marketing managers in the U.S. can expect to earn somewhere in the range of $86,930. While this isn't exactly a starting wage, it does show the earnings potential of this career in general.
Anyone with a video production or graphics background can undoubtedly find a place in the digital marketing world. From web development to video production, and even illustration, there's always room for creative and innovative content that is often handled by art professionals. Your fine arts degree doesn’t have to go to waste as long as you complement it with some training in production, new media, or web design.
Skills You Need to Know to Become a Digital Marketer
Now, let's go over a few key areas that you can expect to know (and continuously learn) about when heading into a job or career as a digital marketing professional.
PPC (pay-per-click) specialists are well-versed in advertising, and their specialty is to get traffic flowing over to a website. A specialist in this tactic would manage PPC ad campaigns. They are in charge of establishing and running these campaigns for their own company and various clients. They must understand SEO and keyword basics for optimization.
Typically, these people must have a clear understanding of marketing trends, be able to crunch numbers and be able to work under stress.
Content Creation and Marketing
Because content marketing is key to pretty much every aspect of digital marketing campaigns, specialists in this arena are always in demand. And content marketing specialists do more than just write blog posts or post on social media. This job title is quite general, so your skills should be just as varied. You should have a speciality plus a mid-level knowledge of multi-media marketing strategies if your goal is to become a content marketing manager.
Digital content marketers should be able to understand how to use a range of media types for engagement and conversion. Text, video, images, and even audio are all in demand. A content marketer must ensure that they are offering on-brand, quality content and be able to show that it's effective in the context of a company's marketing and business goals.
Content specialists may be in charge of a range of activities, including:
- Act as a content editor, where they curate existing content and coordinate writers
- Be in charge of email marketing campaigns
- Develop and implement a content calendar and strategy
- Use Photoshop or video editing software to edit and publish visual content
- Write and publish relevant blogs, social, and web content
Social Media Specialists
As noted above, many digital marketing jobs require a decent (if not in-depth) knowledge of social media as well as how to understand and interpret related analytics.
Business Strategy and Planning
People who have a background in business, an aptitude for business, leadership skills, and have a decent grasp of the skills listed above may want to consider taking on a leadership role either in a speciality area (e.g., content marketing manager) or as a digital marketing manager.
There is an ever-increasing requirement for talented people who understand not only how to access big data but also how to analyze and report on it. And with advancements in AI technology that allow us to access and synthesize greater amounts of data (for instance, with the Internet of Things), we need these people more than ever before.
People who are well-versed in analytics will always be in-demand and highly paid in the digital marketing sphere, in part because university marketing programs aren't necessarily integrating technological or mathematical skills into their programs. Many marketers have a business or creative background, which is also essential in some roles, but analysts get paid big bucks because these skills come from more advanced education.
Digital marketing professionals use analytics to:
- Assess sales processes
- Target lists for email marketing
- Evaluate new technology
- Generate business reports about digital campaigns
- Understand trends in digital marketing
Even if you aren't particularly adept at math or statistics, it's still worthwhile to note that even some training in specific types of software and some knowledge of how to "crunch" numbers, is beneficial across the board.
SEO experts have a keen understanding of how traffic gets to your website and how search engines find and sort websites. People who are good at this typically have a background in math, statistics, and have a pretty technical background, such as web development and UX or UI. They are generally quite knowledgeable about analytics tools as well.
If you're a little more technically oriented and this feels like it could be your thing, you need to get to know data, but not just the numbers end of things. You're going to have to understand how the numbers relate to qualitative aspects of a business, its goals, and its marketing strategy.
While it wouldn't be an SEO specialist's job to apply these things necessarily, they must be able to communicate what the numbers mean to the other people on their team who aren't experts. Thus, having a good understanding of how to translate and report data in a way that is understandable is critical for being a high-level SEO specialist.
That being said, anyone going into digital marketing should at least have a basic understanding of how SEO works because it will be one of the main topics of conversation.
Communications and Leadership Skills
Soft skills or people skills are also highly in demand for most positions in the digital marketing sphere. These are personal attributes that help you communicate, lead, and follow through with various tasks.
While it’s true that people on the technical side are more likely to be at their computer all day, they still need to be able to communicate the business numbers. And people who are looking at taking on management roles should always be honing and refining their team-building and leadership expertise.
Digital Marketing is a Versatile and Rewarding Career
Anyone thinking of going into digital marketing should be selective about the route they take, finding a specialty that suits them and getting to know that area very well to be competitive in the job niche. Once you have the skills, you will then be able to work almost anywhere you want and in virtually any way you want.
From freelancing to agencies to in-house professionals, companies will always be looking for people who are specialized in digital marketing, from content creation to email marketing to analytics. And when you do pursue a digital marketing career, you’ll probably work with many departments and even industries, if you work for an agency. Once you’re in a given company or agency, you may find yourself moving up the ladder — and the earnings scale — surprisingly quickly.
Either way, it's important that you learn how to promote yourself, that you are adept at new digital tools, that you understand the basics of content marketing and SEO, and that you continually get training from reputable institutions.