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Get Familiar with a Few Common Digital Marketing Career Paths

Monday / August 09, 2021

There’re hundreds of reasons why you should pursue a career in digital marketing. First, it’s a flourishing industry – today, millions of consumers buy products, worth billions of dollars, online. They search for what they want to buy on the search engines, follow search engine result pages, online ads, buzz on social media, reviews, recommendations and testimonials, promotional emails and visit eCommerce sites through their purchase journey online.

In a blogpost carrying the heading ‘The Most Common Digital Marketing Career Paths’ on Austin Boot Camp Blog of the University of Texas, the different digital marketing career paths are illustrated in convincing detail. While it’s by no means comprehensive (it’s virtually impossible to plot comprehensive and definitive digital marketing career paths given the dynamic and evolving nature of the digital marketing field and overlapping of skills), we feel it gives a reasonable idea to the would-be digital marketers about the potential career paths before them. As we, at PACE Institute offer two main courses in digital marketing, namely, Diploma in Digital Marketing and Certificate in Digital Marketing, we know aspiring digital marketing students are keen to learn about the different career paths in digital marketing; hence we deem it appropriate to share these valuable facts and insights.

Digital dominates the marketing sector; as the findings of Deloitte and the American Marketing Associations’ annual CMO survey for 2020 indicate, digital marketing spend was projected to increase by 13% this year, while the spend on traditional marketing would likely decline by 0.4 percent. The report states summarising the results of the survey: “Growth in digital marketing greatly outpaces growth in traditional marketing, with consistent, strong growth in digital marketing and relatively steady traditional advertising spending.”

The crux of the matter is that the field of digital marketing abounds with opportunities for creative-minded professionals.

If you wonder where these opportunities will take you and what you’ll end up doing and how you could become specialised and advance in your digital marketing career, we hope this blogpost will be enlighten you.

Whereas a “digital marketer” can be broadly defined as a professional who works to promote brands and products through digital means, the trajectory of a digital marketer’s career is largely determined by their area of specialisation.

Here, we’ll map out the career paths for several specialised areas in digital marketing and explain how you can take your own digital marketing career path.

Please also note that the designations used here are generic in nature and won’t necessarily correspond to the real designations assigned to those who carry out a particular set of digital marketing responsibilities.

Discover where your digital marketing passion lies

Building expertise in one or more specialties can help you progress in your digital marketing career in a more focused way.

Still, you don’t have to limit yourself to one specialty. Many skills overlap, and having a strong base in multiple areas of marketing can significantly improve your chances of getting hired as a prospective candidate. Once you’re recognised as an expert in your specialty, you’ll be strongly favoured by the recruiters looking for an expert in the field ‘X’. Focusing mainly on one specialty needn’t preclude you from getting familiar with the others, either. If you dive deep into one carefully selected specialty and become a Jack of all trades or a little more with the rest of it, you’ll find yourself in great demand.

Here are a few specialties you may want to consider as you plot your digital marketing career path.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

SEO is one of the most demanded skills in the digital marketing world. To cut a long story short, SEO is all about designing and creating content to rank at the top of search engine result pages when consumers make brand-relevant queries and industry-applicable searches.

According to a recent 2020 Ahrefs study, as much as 90.6 percent of the content on the web receives no organic traffic from Google. This means that the lion’s share of search engine queries leads consumers to the same small pool of high-ranking results. If a brand’s content can achieve a discoverable spot in a search engine’s rankings, it may attract a torrent of organic customer interest. If it fails here, even the best and most original content will go unnoticed.

It’s the SEO professionals who’re entrusted with the challenging job of making your brand’s content visible on the search engines with a slew of related responsibilities through a repertoire of expert skills.

A digital marketing career path in SEO can include a range of entry-level, mid-level, and senior roles. Here are a few representative examples of those positions.

SEO Specialist

An SEO specialist is typically tasked with analysing and implementing changes to website code and content so as to drive more search engine traffic to the site. Typically, these roles call for one to three years of professional experience.

SEO Manager

Once you’re armed with skills and experience accumulated during a stint of a few years in a junior-level SEO job, you may be qualified to pick up the mantle as a SEO manager.

In this role, you’ll be responsible for managing all company activities concerning organic search and optimization, for setting SEO objectives to attain the overarching marketing goals by collaborating with the marketing team and for driving organic traffic and boosting search engine rankings.

Digital Marketing Director

As a Digital Marketing Director, you may lead an entire department for digital marketing -including all streams of content - to drive customer engagement. At this highest point of the digital marketing echelon, you will assume the ultimate responsibility for all digital marketing activities at your organisation. This senior role typically requires at least five years of managerial level SEO experience.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is a rapidly growing discipline within the realm of digital marketing and is deemed a powerful tool in a business’s marketing arsenal. In this specialty, you will produce content and craft advertising strategies that promote customer interest and engagement on a slew of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, and TikTok.

The importance of this specialty cannot be overemphasised. Research by eMarketer reveals that a whopping 90.4% of Millennials, 77.5% of Generation X, and 48.2% of Baby Boomers actively use social media. Considering these statistics, it’s small wonder that a 2019 Hubspot Research survey had found that nearly 3/4 of marketers worldwide are investing in social media.

The career path for a social media professional can include several steps. Here, we’ve listed a few roles that you may want to consider during your career progression.

Social Media Specialist

A social media specialist may develop and publish visual and written content across their clients’ social media profiles. They will also formulate social media strategies to accomplish the marketing department’s and company’s overarching goals. This role typically calls for strong digital communication skills and experience using analytics tools and interpreting the reports.

Social Media Manager

A social media manager is a mid-level role and may require a few years of campaigning experience as a social media specialist. Typically, professionals in this role make major decisions about a brand’s marketing and engagement strategies across multiple platforms. Social media managers often play a pivotal role in developing a brand’s unique voice, and are further responsible for mapping out and measuring the success of social campaigns.

Communications Director

A senior position, a communications director uses their extensive experience to develop long-term strategy and vision for the company to implement, introduce new ideas, and provide guidance to the entire team. They are also charged with handling PR.

Content Marketing

It’s content marketers who produce relevant, interesting, and timely content that appeals to and engages customers on all digital fronts, from a brand’s social media channels to its website and everything else in between. This content is rarely limited to promotional ad copy. Often, this kind of marketing will also include educational and informative articles, whitepapers, and other written work that set up a brand as a thought leader in its field.

Content marketing has a greater impact on a brand’s overarching digital campaigns than you might think. As Hubspot’s 2020 State of Marketing Report reveals, around 60% of marketing managers had identified content marketing as “very” or “extremely” important to their overall strategy.

Here are some entry-level, mid-level, and senior positions you might take on as you follow your digital marketing career path in content marketing.

Marketing Copywriter

A copywriter creates crispy, informative and educative content for a company’s website or blog, etc. As a professional in this role, you would use a company’s style guide and established brand voice to develop compelling, informative, and original content that engages customers, informs them, and drives sales.

Content Strategist

Content strategists are mid-level marketing professionals who are tasked with creating and maintaining editorial calendars, developing style guides, and researching content tactics. They may also be required to manage a team of in-house content writers and freelancers and ensuring the quality of all generated content.

Content Manager

As a senior-level content manager, you would take the lead on developing a brand’s online identity through the creation and publication of written and multimedia content. Content managers are team leaders; they are responsible for not only developing an overarching content strategy, but also for overseeing its execution by the content marketing team.

Other responsibilities may include brainstorming new content uses, tracking progress, and collaborating with other marketing leads.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is still a core profitable aspect of modern business. In fact, statistics from Litmus reveals that email marketing brings in $42 for every $1 spent by a company, which makes email marketing an amazingly lucrative aspect of digital marketing.

Email marketing fosters business relationships, providing value for customers and driving engagement for the company. It can step up sales by distributing targeted content designed to appeal to the needs and interests of a brand’s customers.

Your digital marketing career progression in email marketing may lead you through several roles throughout your career. Here are a few positions to consider.

Email Marketing Specialist

An entry-level email marketing specialist may build and run email marketing campaigns, design email messages, develop a company’s email database, and collaborate with other specialists on a marketing team to ensure that their strategies align with the team’s broader priorities and goals.

Marketing Research Analyst

As a marketing research analyst, you might dig more deeply into the analytics and outcomes generated by email marketing campaigns and A/B testing, that is, you’ll try out different messages to different customer subsets to determine which ones appeal to your customer base best.

Professionals in this role typically also assume responsibility for keeping a trained eye on industry trends and the competition.

Digital Marketing Lead

As a digital marketing lead, you’ll assume the responsibilities for ideating and planning, implementing, and managing marketing campaigns that promote a client’s brand or products. Beyond planning campaigns, these high-level professionals are responsible for spotting marketing trends and monitoring the success (or failure) of all attempted strategies.

A digital marketing lead must possess good interpersonal and analytical skills plus a talent for articulate communication.

Conversion Rate Optimization

Conversion rate optimization is in essence boosting the number of conversions - that is, the percentage of website visitors and potential customers who interact with the site whether it’s to fill a form, sign up for a subscription or buy some product.

A conversion rate optimization (CRO) professional may design the website flow and structure to improve interaction and conversion. In contrast to SEO, the primary focus of conversion optimization isn’t getting more eyes on the site; instead, CRO professionals want to make each interaction more valuable.

As a conversion optimization professional, you may take on different roles in your career progression, including the following.

Conversion Rate Optimization Specialist

As an entry-level professional, you may work with web designers and fellow marketers to boost customer engagement. You would use UX (user experience) design strategies, web analytics, and key metrics to enhance the conversion percentage for website and social media visitors.

Digital Marketing Specialist

In this mid-level role, you may develop critical insights about your customers, construct campaigns to increase customer engagement and brand awareness, and promote lead acquisition across digital channels.

Senior Marketing Manager

In a senior marketing manager role, you would direct your team to promote the company effectively, surveying metrics, encouraging creativity, and providing long-term strategic vision to drive engagement and interaction.

Pay-Per-Click Marketing

Many of the specialties discussed above involve driving organic traffic, visibility, and engagement from customers visiting your company’s website. Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing extends this mission into paid promotion. With PPC, a company may pay large ad vendors like Google or Facebook for text or visual ad placement, aiming to pique searcher attention and ultimately drive sales.

As your career in the field grows, you might progress through several positions, including those below.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Specialist

A search engine marketing specialist scrutinises and selects the topics and search queries that draw customers to the site. Then, they craft ads that they believe will appeal to these searchers’ interests and drive profitable traffic.

SEM specialists are also responsible for campaign metrics and evaluating the success - or failure - of any attempted SEM strategies.

Digital Marketing Specialist

In this mid-level role, you will meld your PPC know-how with SEO best practices to lay out search strategies to drive traffic to a client’s website or products. Digital marketing specialists may also have a hand in other marketing verticals including but not limited to content, email, and social media.

Digital Marketing Manager

If you choose to take on a senior management position, you will bear the overall responsibility for all paid digital advertising in your company’s digital strategy, direct a team of SEO, SEM, and PPC professionals, and assess the effectiveness of all attempted strategies.

Once again, we must emphasise that these designations don’t necessarily correspond to the designations that organisations offer to the professionals in these fields; neither do the hierarchies there necessarily correspond to what’s shown here; nor are the specific job responsibilities assigned to each professional there necessarily similar to these.

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