Digital Marketing Career Paths: What You Need to Know

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The use of consumer data has integrated into most aspects of marketing, and digital marketing is quickly becoming an operational staple in companies across many industries. As of July 2019, over 4.3 billion people actively use the internet, and Google receives more than 63,000 searches per second. Now more than ever, internet presence is a critical component in business, and a key responsibility for digital marketers is to help clients understand how they can best use the internet to increase their bottom line.

Careers in digital marketing carry room for growth and provide exciting and lucrative opportunities. Also, whether you’d like to work for a company or agency, or as a private consultant, you have the option to work in an industry that interests you most. Here we’ll explore the career path of a digital marketing strategist and how it can benefit you, your company and consumers.

What does a digital marketing strategist do?

A digital marketing strategist develops and manages marketing initiatives within a company in order to increase sales and meet business goals. One of the first steps a digital marketer takes is developing a solid digital marketing strategy. A digital marketing strategy includes researching and identifying a company’s target persona, which ensures that the right message is delivered to the customer. After an audit and review of existing marketing efforts, including pinpointing effectiveness and areas of improvement, a digital marketing strategist develops a plan to move forward with the identified revisions and enhancements.

Digital marketing strategists perform in a number of capacities and may focus on any of the following areas: * Social media * Digital marketing campaigns * Search engine optimization * Content marketing management * Ecommerce * Email marketing * Data analytics

A digital marketing strategist’s performance is often centered around inbound marketing tactics, such as creating meaningful experiences for the consumer. Inbound marketing is a business strategy that focuses on the creation of valuable content that targets a specific audience. The content delivers solutions and opportunities which have a positive impact on the consumer.

Outbound marketing Inbound marketing
Definition Interrupts consumers with widespread content. Distributes valuable content which the consumer seeks out independently.
Example Advertising a new health beverage on a city billboard. Writing a blog post about the health benefits of a new beverage.

In addition to attracting people to a company’s website and selling products and services that solve their problems, inbound marketing further focuses on the ongoing support and nurturing of customers. Therefore, digital marketing strategists are tasked with finding the best combination of marketing, sales and customer support.

Digital marketing strategists typically perform the following duties: * Evaluate and implement changes to a company’s digital marketing strategy. * Enhance content and grow Google search authority with search engine optimization. * Stay informed of the latest digital marketing tools and trends. * Analyze current marketing efforts and provide reports on performance. * Research the target persona and define the marketing team’s goals and objectives. * Work across multiple disciplines and with various stakeholders, including customers, sales employees and management.

Top digital marketing jobs and career paths

A career in digital marketing is both challenging and rewarding, and digital marketing salaries can be highly lucrative. If you’d like to advance your career as a digital marketer, a number of roles can get you started. While your specific career path will depend on your interests and preferred industry, most roles in digital marketing carry room for growth and point toward a future in leadership.

Digital marketing professionals often enter the field by working as a digital marketing assistant or specialist alongside marketing veterans. Digital marketing requires new and in-demand skills, such as data analysis, search engine optimization and social media management. Senior marketing professionals, however, who are grounded in the concepts and principles of traditional marketing still provide enormous value to the latest and most successful methods in digital marketing. While the digital aspect of marketing sheds a brighter light on consumer behavior, traditional marketing skills enhance this technology. These traditional skills include: writing and editing, relationship building, design, strategy and planning, public relations, event planning and customer service.

Building this experiential foundation, along with the right education—such as a master’s degree in digital marketing and media—will help you begin a successful career in digital marketing. Digital marketers often begin by earning a bachelor’s degree in marketing, although it’s common to have other degrees, such as data science, data analytics, economics or statistics.

After you begin your career in digital marketing, you can grow into a number of other related and more advanced roles. If you choose to hone your analytics and optimization skills, you could land a role as a search engine optimization specialist or digital marketing analyst. If you’re more interested in social media, you could explore how marketing campaigns are strengthened by a social media marketer. All of these roles then lead to higher management and leadership roles. Below is an outline of some of the most common digital marketing strategist roles.

Title Description Average annual salary Top 10 percent above Average annual bonuses Top paying cities Years of experience Important skills
Entry-level Digital Marketing Specialist Collaborate with members of the digital marketing team to create marketing materials, identify marketing trends and present findings. Learn and work with digital marketing software. $40,500 $53,000 $10,000 New York, NY
Seattle, WA
Early career: 67%
Mid career: 26%
Late career: 7%
  • Marketing communications
  • Content management
  • Email marketing
Digital Marketing Coordinator Develop and manage mailing lists, support marketing initiatives and proofread marketing material. Research market trends. Coordinate product and service launches. $44,100 $57,000 $4,900 New York, NY
San Diego, CA
Chicago, IL
Early career: 81%
Mid career: 15%
Late career: 4%
  • Web marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Digital marketing
SEO Specialist Research relevant keyword trends and incorporate them into either existing or original content. Analyze results to determine improvement in site traffic. $45,300 $65,000 $13,000 Minneapolis, MN
New York, NY
San Diego, CA
Early career: 80%
Mid career: 15%
Late career: 5%
  • Wordpress
  • Web marketing
  • Web analytics
Digital Marketing Associate Perform day-to-day administrative tasks and support the marketing team. Conduct market research, plan events, edit content and provide reports. $46,000 $64,000 $4,100 San Francisco, CA
New York, NY
Washington D.C.
Early career: 90%
Mid career: 19%
Late career: 0%
  • Strategic marketing
  • Data analysis
  • Digital marketing
Digital Marketing Specialist Create and implement marketing plans and conduct competitor research and analysis. Establish marketing goals and objectives for reaching customers through various marketing channels. $49,600 $67,000 $9,900 Boston, MA
New York, NY
Seattle, WA
Early career: 68%
Mid career: 25%
Late career: 7%
  • Email marketing
  • Digital marketing
  • Search engine marketing
Social Media Manager Run social media campaigns, including developing written and visual content. Build a social media presence which supports the overall brand and online presence. Manage online communities and respond to comments with excellent customer service. $50,000 $77,000 $6,000 San Francisco, CA
New York, NY
Washington, D.C.
Early career: 65%
Mid career: 28%
Late career: 7%
  • Strategic marketing
  • Marketing communications
  • Social media optimization
Digital Marketing Analyst Collect, organize and analyze marketing data and report findings to marketing executives. Identify and monitor target audiences. Design market surveys and determine future industry trends. $51,300 $71,000 $4,400 Seattle, WA
Minneapolis, MN
Boston, MA
Early career: 80%
Mid career: 17%
Late career: 3%
  • Web analytics
  • Online marketing
  • Data analysis
Email Marketing Specialist Conduct marketing research to understanding consumer behaviors. Evaluate email campaigns and develop a strategy to improve outcomes. Draft excellent email copy void of errors. Distribute emails through automation software. $53,400 $69,000 $4,500 New York, NY
Boston, MA
San Francisco, CA
Early career: 71%
Mid career: 24%
Late career: 5%
  • Salesforce
  • Data analysis
  • Cascading style sheets
Digital Marketing Manager Plan and oversee all aspects of the digital marketing department. Develop and monitor marketing budgets. Prepare performance reports. $65,600 $98,000 $13,600 San Francisco, CA
Seattle, WA
Boston, MA
Early career: 38%
Mid career: 42%
Late career: 20%
  • Strategic marketing
  • Search engine marketing
  • Digital marketing
Content Marketing Manager Develop digital content strategies across online platforms. Grow traffic and engagement, promote a brand and increase sales. Measure the results of marketing campaigns. Manage a team of writers. Implement an SEO strategy. $66,100 $96,000 $22,100 San Francisco, CA
Boston, MA
Seattle, WA
Early career: 41%
Mid career: 41%
Late career: 18%
  • Strategic marketing
  • Marketing management
  • Marketing communications
Analytics Manager Develop and oversee analytics strategies that will result in effective business solutions. Apply statistics and data modeling to extract customer data and discover business insights. $94,300 $126,000 $26,400 San Francisco, CA
Seattle, WA
Dallas, TX
Early career: 31%
Mid career: 44%
Late career: 25%
  • SQL
  • Business intelligence
  • Data analytics
Digital Marketing Director Oversee the marketing department and plan and oversee a marketing strategy. Communicate the marketing plan to employees and delegate responsibilities. Coordinate with the sales department and identify potential customers. Determine return-on-investments and manage a marketing budget. $97,000 $154,000 $25,300 Seattle, WA
New York, NY
Chicago, IL
Early career: 14%
Mid career: 34%
Late career: 52%
  • Strategic marketing
  • Online marketing
  • Digital marketing

Successful digital marketing comes when you stay informed of the latest trends and in-demand skills. Technology quickly shifts the demands of the market, so achieving the most competitive edge is vital. Become familiar with artificial intelligence and machine learning, analytics tools and software, marketing automation, mobile marketing and web development and design.

How to become a digital marketing strategist

Digital marketing is universal, which is what makes the profession so unique. Every company requires marketing in order to be successful and boost sales, so a digital marketer can work virtually anywhere. But how do you advance your marketing career?

Learn in-demand skills

As a digital marketing strategist, you must possess the most relevant industry skills and maintain a comprehensive knowledge of most marketing principles. Professionals with a marketing background should be able to explain how traditional marketing is applied to digital strategies.

In order to gain a full understanding of digital marketing, marketers should focus on becoming proficient in the following areas:

  • Social media marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Search engine optimization
  • Web analytics
  • Email marketing
  • Pay-per-click advertising
  • Marketing campaigns

Manage personal development

Ongoing training and personal development is the best way to maintain relevant skills. Read industry blog posts that reveal new approaches or tools. Sites like Moz, Medium and GrowthHackers share and promote reliable digital content. Attending conferences keeps you up-to-date on industry trends, and also help you network and team up with like-minded professionals who share common goals. Digital marketers also find ongoing training through digital marketing bootcamps or online courses that offer certificates.

Pursue higher education

Your choice of bachelor’s degree may depend on where you’d like to land in the digital marketing field. If you’d like to focus on content creation and management, you might benefit from a bachelor’s degree in English or journalism. However, if you’re more interested in the technical side of digital marketing, a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field may be more appropriate. A master’s degree in digital marketing media is a great way to gain the relevant skills you need in today’s workforce. Also, studies show that U.S. employers require more master’s degrees for advanced positions specializing in data science and analytics.

A master’s degree will certainly boost your digital marketing career, as long as it follows a rigorous curriculum. Your degree program should also include an opportunity for real-world experience, such as a capstone project or an internship.

The online Master of Science in Marketing and Media at Yeshiva University (YU) covers the following courses:

  • Marketing Management and Strategy
  • Communications
  • Brand Management
  • Consumer Behavior and Customer Relationship Management
  • Marketing Research Methods
  • Web Analytics and SEO
  • Analytics Programming
  • Visual Design and Storytelling
  • Predictive Analytics

Gain hands-on experience

Your education and training are fully mobilized once you can apply it to real-world experiences. While you can certainly learn about Google Analytics in a classroom, your knowledge will come full circle when you regularly track website traffic as a content strategist. Similarly, learning the theories of target persona will make the most sense once you begin running your own marketing campaigns as a digital marketing specialist.

Choose the best work environment and culture

The career potential for digital marketers is expanded even further when you decide upon the best work environment and culture. Do you want to work independently or as part of a large marketing powerhouse? Do you want to work in an office with specific hours or remotely with a flexible schedule?

Here are a few work environments and cultures to consider when planning your digital marketing career:

  • Agency. Working for an agency has a lot of benefits. If you’re a young professional entering the workforce, agencies inherently provide the support you need to get your feet wet because digital marketing is its sole function. You’ll gain a larger perspective on the industry, learn how to manage your time properly, and find readily available opportunities for a promotion.
  • Corporation. Most of the time, you’ll benefit from a lot of structure and organization while working for a large company. You’ll most likely experience travel perks, free lunches and bonuses in a corporation as well. Like an agency, corporations usually have large marketing departments, so it’ll be a great learning atmosphere, rich in support and resources.
  • Independent consultant. There are a lot of benefits to being an independent consultant. Freelance work allows for very flexible schedules and workflow—you can take (or turn down) as much work as you’d like. What you lose in support and resources is gained in having the ability to adjust your work to accommodate your lifestyle.
  • Entrepreneur. Once you gain the necessary skills and knowledge, digital marketers can even consider starting their own business. Digital marketing entrepreneurs can experience a large ROI because the overhead costs of the business are much lower than other professions. You just have to make sure you’re meticulously organized and motivated to run a company.

Digital marketing job market

The digital marketing career outlook is very promising and jobs are expected to grow in 2019 and beyond. Factors that influence this growth include a demand for specialized skills and a low supply of qualified candidates. The growth of the industry is also heavily influenced by the continued advancement of technology and the ability to implement new methods into a future strategy.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019 data reveals the career outlook for the following roles:

Career Description Number of jobs in 2018 10-year job outlook Job increase by 2028
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers Plan programs to generate interest in products or services. 286,800 8% (faster than average) 21,800
Market Research Analysts Study market conditions to examine potential sales of a product or service, and help companies understand what products people want, who will buy them and at what price. 681,900 20% (much faster than average) 139,200
Operations Research Analysts Use advanced mathematical and analytical methods to help organizations solve problems and make better decisions. 109,700 26% (much faster than average) 28,100

The following industries can anticipate continued growth in their digital marketing efforts:

  • Healthcare: The healthcare industry has benefited enormously from technology, with the roll-out of electronic health records, as well as increased use of telemedicine. Experts predict that healthcare will begin to rely more heavily on digital marketing efforts to manage online reviews, permit patients to conduct their own research and meet patients’ desire to increase digital communication.
  • Retail: While online shopping has caused some companies to close down walk-in stores, many are switching over to e-commerce business. Statista projections show a $6 trillion increase in global retail sales from 2016 to 2020.
  • Media and Entertainment: The media and entertainment industries have historically been known for influencing trends, and social media has become the most effective way to achieve this because of the large following most media companies and celebrities have. It’s become a great way to reach audiences and promote events, concerts and trailers.
  • Education: Universities now have the ability to tailor education content around the needs of potential students. Also, the use of social media improves brand awareness, strengthens the university’s reputation and promotes campus events, all at a fraction of the cost of traditional outbound marketing.

Invest in your digital marketing career

An investment in your career can be life changing. The Katz School of Science and Health at YU takes this possibility seriously and offers a world-class education in emerging disciplines so you’re receiving the most relevant curriculum. Based in the heart of NYC, Katz connects you with industry experts, top researchers and emerging entrepreneurs.

YU offers an online MS in Digital Marketing and Media, which aims to equip students with essential media marketing, communication and data analytics skills. The program is offered completely online, therefore providing maximum flexibility for you to balance your career and personal life. The program is designed for aspiring marketers and young professionals working in marketing-related fields.

Reach out today to learn more about how YU’s online MS in Digital Marketing and Media will help you kick-start your digital marketing career.

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