What Does a Digital Marketer Really Do? [Skills Guide 2023]
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There’s never been a better time to jump into a career as a digital marketer. Last year, digital marketing jobs accounted for half of LinkedIn’s most in-demand jobs in the marketing sector, with the role of digital marketing specialist topping the list. LinkedIn also reported a growing demand for these roles, which will remain critical for businesses as the world’s population spends more and more time online.
But what does a digital marketer actually do?
In this post, you’ll learn what digital marketing entails, and how to learn its most in-demand skills, so that you can join this ever-expanding field. If you’re interested in this dynamic career, read on.
What Is Digital Marketing?
The American Marketing Association defines digital marketing as “the use of digital or social channels to promote a brand or reach consumers.” This includes a variety of specialties, such as social media marketing, search engine marketing, and video marketing.
Related Read: What Does a Social Media Marketer Do?
What Is a Digital Marketer?
A digital marketer is a marketing professional who uses online media to communicate. They understand the potential and best practices of the major digital channels, though they may specialize in one or two subsets.
What Does a Digital Marketer Do?
A digital marketer is responsible for reaching a company’s target audience online. To do that, they have to develop a comprehensive strategy. That strategy needs to identify the right channels and schedule campaigns for each channel.
Before they dive into a campaign, digital marketing directors, managers, and analysts start by strategizing. This entails considering revenue trends, evaluating audience engagement patterns, and monitoring online traffic. Digital marketers do this to set goals based on the strengths and weaknesses of their company’s online platforms. For instance, if a retail clothing company has a poorly performing men’s department, they might set a goal of increasing their number of male newsletter subscribers.
Digital marketing specialists do the same kind of work within their own domain. For example, an SEO specialist would set a goal to rank higher than their competitors.
The next step is to formulate a plan that will help accomplish those goals. These will usually be set by a digital marketing manager who will determine how to best reach their target audience. Then, they’ll create a calendar that details how and when to launch this campaign.
Digital marketers will then design, edit and launch each campaign. These tasks will vary by channel. For a social media manager, executing a campaign entails scheduling organic posts and creating ads within a platform’s ad manager tool. For a content marketing specialist, execution involves writing or producing content and formatting it for each platform.
Once a campaign has been executed, digital marketers will then evaluate its success. One way to do this is with key performance indicators (KPIs)—quantifiable measurements linked to specific objectives. Digital marketers need to choose the KPIs that reflect what success looks like.
For example, a digital marketer who works with multiple campaigns might use a marketing channel return-on-investment metric, which compares the revenue earned from each channel. On the other hand, a social media manager would focus more narrowly on audience building. They might use KPIs such as the number of followers or a social account’s engagement rate.
Digital marketers then communicate these results to various parties, including potential clients, marketing team members, and financial departments. Managers and analysts typically use platforms that gather and visualize data. Google Analytics, possibly the most popular of these platforms, also features advanced reporting capabilities that can create readable, actionable graphs to share with other teams.
Unlike more traditional forms of marketing, the data provided by online channels allows digital marketers to quickly improve upon their campaign results. For example, if your team creates an ad that isn’t meeting its goal for clicks or conversions, a digital marketer might tinker with the content or target different audiences to see if these metrics improve.
Digital marketers often do this with A/B testing. This involves simultaneously running two different versions of the same campaign and seeing which performs better.
Digital Marketing Generalist vs. Specialist
Digital marketers often have to choose whether they want to specialize or be a generalist. Specialists have specific digital marketing job titles, such as:
- Content marketing strategist
- Email marketing specialist
- Social media specialist
- Search engine optimization (SEO) specialist
- PPC specialist
Generalist digital marketers have a working knowledge of all of these specialties. According to StrategiCMO founder, Matt Schachter, this often makes them more useful in the long-term, as generalists can pivot as priorities shift.
Digital Marketing Skills To Master
New professionals can easily become overwhelmed by the sheer number of digital marketing skills involved. If you’re new to the field, it’s best to start by getting an overview of these different skills, and then going more in-depth according to your interests.
Digital Marketing Channels
All digital marketers should have some familiarity with all of the different digital marketing channels. These include:
- Organic search
- Paid search
- Social media
Digital Marketing Hard Skills
Digital marketing specialists should possess the following hard skills:
- Subject matter expertise with at least one channel
- Writing and editing
- Keyword research
- Customer management systems (CMS)
- Data analysis
Bootcamps and certificate programs can teach you most or all of these skills.
Digital Marketing Soft Skills
Digital marketers should also possess the following soft skills:
- Verbal and written communication
- Time management
- Project management
Digital Marketing Salaries
Digital marketing salaries depend on the candidate’s experience, skills, and location. Some large companies pay six-figure salaries for high-performing digital marketers, but the typical pay range tends to be slightly more modest.
Entry-Level Digital Marketer
According to PayScale, entry-level digital marketing positions pay an average of $41,722 per year. But salaries are often dependent upon location and the responsibilities of the role. This generalist job in Arkansas pays in the $30,000 range:
Meanwhile, this social media and marketing job in Minnesota pays about $10,000 more:
The second job pays more because the role is slightly more specialized, though the location may also be a factor.
Mid-Level Digital Marketer
PayScale places the average salary for a mid-level digital marketing specialist at $57,906 per year. Professionals at this level may also choose to go into management, which tends to pay more.
And this PPC advertising specialist job offers more:
For marketers with more experience, specialized skills make a difference.
Senior-Level Digital Marketer
PayScale places the average salary for an experienced digital marketing professional at $62,954 per year. However, this senior digital marketing analyst job may pay up to $102,000 per year, according to Glassdoor:
If you pursue a leadership track, you can earn even more:
These kinds of directorial jobs require a broad range of skills and the ability to make informed decisions around strategy.
How To Become a Digital Marketer
To start your digital marketing career, you need to learn how to reach audiences online. That means familiarizing yourself with the available channels, and learning how to use each one.
Build Your Foundation
You don’t need a degree in marketing to become a digital marketer, but you do need to learn some hard skills. The quickest and most efficient route is through an intensive course like Springboard’s digital marketing certification program.
Grow Your Skills
The more skills you have, the easier it’ll be to get hired. During your foundational coursework, consider which digital marketing skills you enjoy most. Then, start looking for opportunities to finetune those skills.
Create a Portfolio
Employers hiring digital marketers often ask for a portfolio. Don’t be intimidated by this if you haven’t been paid for your digital marketing work yet. Entry-level candidates often present student or personal projects. Build a portfolio website with a user-friendly platform like Squarespace or Wix to show your best work.
Apply for Entry Level or Complementary Jobs
Many digital marketers enter the industry as apprentices, learning from more experienced marketers and working their way up. Others go straight into a traditional entry-level job. Unlike apprenticeships, entry-level positions don’t include formal training and require that you be more independent. Consider what you want in the future and choose a position that will help you develop those skills.
Related Read: Is digital marketing hard to learn?
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