How To Become a Digital Marketing Manager [2023 Guide]

Sakshi GuptaSakshi Gupta | 11 minute read | March 7, 2022
How To Become a Digital Marketing Manager [2022 Guide]

In this article

In recent years, digital marketing has emerged as an exciting and lucrative industry for creative, ambitious, and analytical professionals. It’s an industry with strong job growth and even stronger sector growth. Demand for digital marketing experts continues to rise, and the global digital advertising industry is projected to reach $786.2 billion by 2026. So there’s never been a better time to launch a career in digital marketing. 

What Is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing encompasses a variety of disciplines with the shared goal of increasing a company’s reach, promoting a company’s products and services, and improving sales and sign-up conversions.

Some of the disciplines that fall under the umbrella of digital marketing include search engine optimization (SEO), user experience (UX) design, email marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, content strategy, data analytics, pay per click (PPC), digital advertising, and other marketing efforts that use social media platforms and digital marketing campaigns to reach their target audience.

Related Read: Why Is Digital Marketing Important?

What Does a Digital Marketing Manager Do?

digital marketing manager: What Is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing managers help improve brand awareness, increase sales and boost sign-up conversions. Leaders on a digital marketing team are able to articulate the brand’s goals and vision, delegate tasks to digital marketing specialists with subject matter expertise, keep their team on track, and ultimately deliver brand and digital marketing campaigns.

To succeed in this role, digital marketing managers need to be strong communicators who are knowledgeable about the different disciplines that fall within their purview. Digital marketing professionals also need to possess analytical skills, understand the core tenets of social media and email campaigns, demonstrate familiarity with common SEO and advertising tools such as Google Analytics and Google Ads, and stay current with the latest trends and best practices for digital marketing campaigns.

Related Read: A Day in the Life of a Digital Marketer

Digital Marketing Manager: Everything You Need To Know

How do digital marketing managers differ from social media managers or other digital marketing experts? Keep reading to learn about the roles, responsibilities, and earning potential of digital marketing managers.

Digital Marketing Manager Job Description

The role of a digital marketing manager can vary from company to company, but most organizations require their digital marketing managers to increase brand awareness, drive traffic to their platforms, and improve conversions through various digital marketing campaigns. 

This job description from Slack is typical for a digital marketing manager:

digital marketing manager: Digital Marketing Manager Job Description

Digital Marketing Manager Responsibilities

Digital marketing roles typically require a mix of soft skills, such as communication and attention to detail, and more technical skills, such as in-depth knowledge of marketing and digital campaign development. Digital marketing managers are often responsible for:

  • Developing marketing strategies and digital marketing campaigns based on an organization’s needs and industry trends
  • Tracking consumer behavior and modifying digital marketing strategies to reach their target customers
  • Measuring and reporting the performance of digital campaigns
  • Overseeing campaigns across different disciplines such as SEO, social media, email, display advertising, etc.
  • Recruiting, orienting, and training new hires
  • Monitoring and responding to competition
  • Managing relationships with vendors, contractors, freelancers, and other departments
  • Collaborating with different teams to ensure consistency in messaging

Digital Marketing Manager Salary

digital marketing manager: Digital Marketing Manager Salary

Digital marketing manager salaries vary depending on the candidate’s level of education, years of experience, company size, and location. The average salary of a digital marketing manager in the United States is around $123,000, according to Glassdoor.

What’s It Like Working as a Digital Marketing Manager?

The work of a digital marketing manager can vary, depending on whether you work in-house for a company, at an agency, or freelance and have multiple clients. No matter the environment, the day-to-day of a digital marketing manager usually entails brainstorming ideas, corresponding with clients, monitoring the latest consumer behavior data, evaluating campaign performance, planning an editorial calendar, and following the direction of the industry.

Following the direction of the industry is particularly important for a digital marketing manager. Since digital marketing managers spearhead marketing campaigns and determine areas of focus for their teams, they are constantly evaluating performance data and duly making adjustments.

“The world of digital marketing is ever-changing,” according to content strategist Kristen Baker. “Businesses constantly need to ensure their digital strategy remains relevant to their target audience. For instance, if you’re targeting a group that’s primarily active on Instagram, focus on that platform…instead of spending too much time making YouTube videos. However, pay attention to if, and when, your audience’s preferences shift.”

What You Need To Become a Digital Marketing Manager

While there is no set path to becoming a digital marketing manager, here are some of the educational courses, skills, and qualifications that help digital marketers advance their careers.

Education

A college degree is not necessary for a career in digital marketing. In fact, many successful digital marketers have launched their careers with little more than an online course or bootcamp. However, some employers do expect candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree at a minimum.

Digital marketing managers often hold bachelor’s or master’s degrees in advertising, marketing, business, or psychology. But it’s not unusual for a digital marketing expert to come from a completely different background and develop relevant marketing skills after graduation.

Skills

digital marketing manager: Skills

Digital marketing managers need to possess a range of technical skills and soft skills. On the technical front, they should have a working knowledge of:

  • Data analytics
  • Social and digital platforms
  • SEO
  • PPC
  • Content strategy
  • Web development
  • Content management systems
  • Email marketing

A digital marketing manager should also have the following soft skills and attributes:

  • Organization
  • Storytelling
  • Curiosity
  • Communication
  • Project management
  • Attention to detail
  • An ability to be flexible and compromise
  • Collaboration

Qualification

Industry experience is often the best qualification. But if you’re new to the role, and don’t yet have experience as a digital marketing manager, there are ways to show that you’re qualified for the job. For example, if you’ve taken a leadership role on prior projects, then it’s worth highlighting those projects and your particular responsibilities. Or, if you have proficiency with any of the tools or technologies used by digital marketing managers, consider mentioning that on your CV. When looking at the qualifications listed in a job posting, think about any prior work experience that can demonstrate your aptitude with those skills. 

How To Become a Digital Marketing Manager

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  1. Opt for a Course

  2. Learn the Tools

  3. Acquire the Soft Skills

  4. Build a Portfolio

  5. Work on Relevant Digital Marketing Projects

  6. Network

  7. Understand the Marketing Landscape

  8. Master SEO Fundamentals

  9. Be a PPC (Pay per Click) Ninja

  10. Learn Social Media Marketing

  11. Conduct Content Marketing Campaigns

  12. Know the Nitty-Gritty of Email Marketing

  13. Be a Data Storyteller

  14. Keep Up With the Marketing Trends

  15. Get Certified

(Points To Help One Get Their Foot Inside the Door)

Ready to leap into a career as a digital marketing manager? Here are some steps others have taken to launch their digital marketing careers.

Opt for a Course

Whether you’re a newcomer or a seasoned expert, an online course or bootcamp will cover the basics of digital marketing and keep you abreast of the industry’s ever-evolving best practices.

One benefit of online courses and bootcamps, in comparison to a traditional university, is a more nimble and flexible education that’s quicker to meet the industry’s changing needs. The right online course can teach a digital marketing specialist the most relevant technologies, tools, and practices, while also offering industry guidance and mentorship. 

Learn the Tools

Though you might not think of digital marketing as being a technical job, in the same way as software engineering or data science, there is no shortage of digital marketing tools to help digital marketers succeed. From learning new content management systems and email tools, to understanding Google’s algorithms and analytics, digital marketing managers need to be familiar with a variety of platforms to give their teams a competitive edge.

Acquire the Soft Skills

digital marketing manager: Acquire the Soft Skills

As with any managerial or leadership role, soft skills are essential for any digital marketing manager wanting to effectively lead their team. Digital marketing managers should develop communication skills, interpersonal skills, an understanding of consumer behavior and the ability to collaborate with others.

Build a Portfolio

A solid portfolio is one of the most effective ways to advance your career, as it offers proof of both your experience and capabilities. Whether you’ve contributed to digital advertising or promotional campaigns in a previous role, assisted with social media campaigns, or even developed promotional campaigns and content strategy in your own time, showing proof of your personal and professional projects can set you apart from the competition. 

Work on Relevant Digital Marketing Projects

Whether or not you’re currently on a management career track, it’s essential that you work on relevant projects that can propel you towards the career of your dreams. If you’re employed in digital advertising or marketing, try to work on projects that entail all the different facets of digital marketing. If you specialize in online advertising, consider learning more about social media channels. If you usually focus on digital content, see what you can learn about email marketing campaigns. Don’t work in digital marketing? Then consider working on personal projects—like helping a friend or a local business with page views or sales conversions—to build experience.

Network

Networking is an essential part of career development. As job opportunities are increasingly shared by word-of-mouth and through networking events, anyone considering a digital marketing career should have a strong networking strategy. Try connecting with peers through industry events, creating an online presence, and engaging with mentors who can introduce you to others in their own networks. 

(Bonus Steps One Can Follow To Advance the Field)

If you’ve managed to land a digital marketing role, here are some additional tips to further advance your career and become a digital marketing manager.

Understand the Marketing Landscape

Understand the Marketing Landscape

The digital marketing landscape is constantly changing. With new digital channels and social media platforms constantly bubbling up, the most effective digital marketers stay updated on the latest platforms and channels and are quick to anticipate new developments in both the industry and consumer behavior. 

Master SEO Fundamentals

SEO can make or break a business. So it’s no surprise that digital marketing teams often have dedicated SEO specialists to ensure the organization’s content is optimized for search engines. Any digital marketing specialist hoping to manage a team should master SEO fundamentals and know-how to build an SEO strategy.

Be a PPC (Pay per Click) Ninja

PPC marketing is data-heavy and, when done right, offers a granular detailing of a campaign’s performance. Digital marketing specialists with a strong understanding of PPC can be incredibly valuable by helping their team read and understand data, make adjustments to ad campaigns, and measure the effectiveness of those changes. 

Learn Social Media Marketing

Marketers often use social media to reach their audience, build a brand voice, and establish trust with potential customers. Engaging an audience on social media, and having case studies of successful campaigns, is essential for any digital marketer. 

Conduct Content Marketing Campaigns

Content marketing campaigns build trust and position a business within their industry. Though it’s a long game, content marketing campaigns can ultimately lead to stronger brand identity, with increased sales and conversions. Whether you’re currently in a digital marketing role or working on personal projects from the outside, consider ways to incorporate content strategy and digital campaigns into your work. 

Know the Nitty-Gritty of Email Marketing

Email marketers need a relationship with their customers based upon trust (as customers have to volunteer their email addresses) and understanding (as customers want to receive content that’s relevant to their interests). Digital marketers looking to advance their careers need to understand this sensitive balance to develop effective email marketing campaigns. In addition to noticing digital trends and marketing best practices, digital marketing specialists need to anticipate what customers want and the kinds of content they wish to receive. 

Be a Data Storyteller

Effective digital marketing managers are also strong data storytellers. Marketers need to be proficient with marketing data analytics tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google Data Studio, HubSpot, SEMrush, and Ahrefs so that they can gather relevant data insights. But they also need to tease out stories from that data, to uncover insights that can be shared with their marketing team and other stakeholders. 

Keep Up With the Marketing Trends

Digital marketing is a rapidly evolving field. As new platforms and technologies emerge, digital marketers are developing new types of marketing campaigns and learning new skills to reach their audience. Staying current with marketing trends entails more than just following their audience; it also entails learning new tools, developing a new vocabulary, and knowing when to replace outdated methods with more relevant strategies. 

Get Certified

Get Certified

Certifications, such as the Google Analytics IQ Certification or the HootSuite Social Marketing Certification, are not necessary to land a role as a digital marketer. But in an increasingly competitive job market, certifications offer candidates an advantage. In addition to showing that you understand the nuances of a subject or tool, the completion of a digital marketing course also signals to recruiters that you’re eager to learn and committed to professional development.

Digital Marketing Manager FAQs

Still have questions about becoming a digital marketing manager? We have some answers to frequently asked questions.

How Hard Is It To Become a Digital Marketing Manager?

While there are many entry-level digital marketing jobs offering candidates with little or no experience a way into the industry, becoming a digital marketing manager requires a lot more work.

Although it is not strictly required, most digital marketing managers begin with a college degree, often majoring in marketing, advertising, business, or a related field. Following graduation, many digital marketing specialists choose a path that allows them to further develop a specific discipline, whether it’s SEO, PPC, content strategy, email marketing, public relations, influencer relations, or UX designer.

With enough experience and the help of continuing education through online courses and bootcamps, digital marketing specialists can become managers.

Related Read: Is digital marketing hard to learn?

How Long Does It Take To Become a Digital Marketing Manager?

There is no set path or timeline to becoming a digital marketing manager. The amount of time it takes to assume a managerial role is dependent upon the type of organization a digital marketing specialist joins, their drive and ambition, the types of mentorship and networking opportunities available, and the market in which they work.

Most online digital marketing courses and bootcamps can prepare an individual for a career in digital marketing in 3-6 months.

Related Read: How Long Does It Take to Become a Digital Marketer

Is Digital Marketing a Good Career?

Digital marketing is a great career path for anyone who thrives on creative and strategic thinking, who is organized and analytical, and who enjoys communicating and collaborating with both clients and creatives. With an abundance of entry-level opportunities, the digital marketing industry offers many different specialties to pair with an individual’s strengths. And most importantly, there is plenty of room for career growth.

Since you’re here…
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Sakshi Gupta

About Sakshi Gupta

Sakshi is a Senior Associate Editor at Springboard. She is a technology enthusiast who loves to read and write about emerging tech. She is a content marketer and has experience working in the Indian and US markets.