Everything you wanted to know about a career in digital marketing
By: Kaleigh Bulford
November 17, 2021 | Reading Time: 8 mins
As more and more businesses take their products and offerings online, the demand for digital unicorns and strategy gurus goes up. As a result, digital marketing as an industry is exploding. But is it the right industry for you?
If you’re considering a career in digital marketing, you’re in the right place. Read on to learn about the ideal skillsets, how you can get started, and more.
What makes a great digital marketer?
More than any particular degree or prior experience, there are core personality traits and soft skills that can predict a successful future in digital marketing.
I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.
For me, this tops the list as the most important trait for digital marketers. As talked about by marketing giants like Seth Godin, a great digital marketer is naturally curious. They search for answers. They go beyond the superficial to dig deeper into data, customer mindsets, and brand offerings to discover valuable insights that frame opportunities, fuel strategies, and propel businesses forward.
Love for lifelong learning
It’s going to be a common theme, but digital marketing is a dynamic field. To keep up, you’ll have to be dedicated to continuous learning. At Stryve, each team member is given an education fund to make this happen. With that, we’re encouraged to attend conferences, enroll in programs, and pick up the latest books to expand our knowledge and stay on the cutting edge.
Attention to detail
Just one typo in your ad copy can make the most professional ad look amateur. Just one transposition error on a report can make the data tell a completely different story. Attention to detail is critical. While digital marketers may have the luxury of being able to update campaigns and fix the majority of errors on the fly, it takes a sharp eye to catch these mistakes in order to fix them.
Project & people management
Digital marketers need to be able to stay on top of things—budgets, timelines, due dates, scope, team members, and, oh yeah…the actual work itself. Whether you’re executing on a website, a PPC campaign, or a content marketing piece, you’ll likely be working with a variety of people–copywriters, graphic designers, developers, salespeople–to get your project to the finish line. You’re responsible for setting them up for success, so you better be organized and clear in your directions.
That brings us to communication. From communicating with customers and your internal team to communicating the benefits of a product and the values of a brand, communication is at the core of digital marketing.
What is a full-stack digital marketer?
First coined by Marcelo Calbuccia in 2013, a full-stack digital marketer is someone who is proficient at many or most aspects of digital marketing. They can launch a PPC campaign, create a content marketing strategy, then quickly pivot to wireframing a website all in a day’s work. Basically, they can do it all without specializing in any one thing.
Similar to the full-stack marketer is the “T-shaped” marketer, which is someone with a very deep understanding of one skillset, such as SEM, and then a general understanding of everything else.
Both of these types of marketers thrive in start-ups and SMBs where they’re either the lone marketer or part of a very small team. To make up for small headcounts, they wear several different hats to fuel the growth of the business.
How do I become a full-stack marketer?
At the core of a full-stack digital marketer is a person who is technical, strategic, analytical, and creative. Armed with these skills and a commitment to continuous learning, they’re unafraid of diving into uncharted waters and figuring out how to swim to ensure their work doesn’t sink.
At Stryve, we take the full-stack approach. With each employee possessing a broad skill set and a knack for figuring things out, we’re able to work efficiently and keep our project teams lean. With that, we never have too many cooks in the kitchen.
Staying on top of everything in digital marketing is pretty hard, to say the least. That’s why our team of digital marketers depends on each other to share tips and tricks as we move from one project to the next. We communicate our wins and losses so others can benefit from our own experiences. We recommend books, podcasts, and other resources. Keeping up with an always-changing industry is a lot easier when you approach it this way.
Is digital marketing hard?
Sure, digital marketing can be hard at times. Recently, one of the biggest challenges has been the move towards more privacy regulations that limit our access to third-party data and view of user activity, such as the iOS 15 email privacy feature. Meanwhile, the expectations of digital marketing have not changed, with stakeholders still expecting the same level of performance and reporting.
Other than regulatory changes, unpredictable technology means that digital marketing is constantly changing, often with no heads up.
Why marketing keeps getting harder (and isn’t going to ever get easier)
Is digital marketing a stressful job?
I won’t lie to you. There are definitely days where I feel like I’m sprinting from one thing to the next with no time to catch my breath. Sometimes I feel totally overwhelmed by just how much there is to know about digital marketing. Sometimes it seems like as soon as I get comfortable with a platform, I’ll log in to find it’s been completely redesigned and I don’t know where anything is anymore. And sometimes I’ll conquer a huge challenge and it makes it all worthwhile.
Digital marketing can definitely be stressful. It can be challenging and unpredictable but the wins are extremely rewarding. The days usually speed by as I put my analytical and creative brain hemispheres to work solving new and novel challenges. If you’re a natural problem solver, then digital marketing might be for you.
Check out this article to dive deeper into more of the specific stressors you may face in digital marketing and how to deal with them.
Is digital marketing a good career?
If being a digital nomad appeals to you, there are few better careers than digital marketing. With just a laptop and the internet, you can work from anywhere in the world.
But what about the impending threat of robots taking all our jobs? While we’re seeing a big increase in the utilization of AI in digital marketing, it definitely won’t be replacing us humans any time soon. In fact, we depend on technology and AI to bring efficiency while we bring the empathy, creativity, and humanization that’s needed to connect with consumers. For the foreseeable future at least, robots are on our side.
Of course, a good career usually involves good compensation. To find out what digital marketers earn for their efforts, try researching on LinkedIn Salary or Glassdoor as rates can vary by location, title, industry, and company.
Is digital marketing a good career for introverts?
Absolutely! Fellow introvert checking in and I can say that digital marketing has been a very satisfying career. Now, you will need to interact with people on occasion, especially as your responsibilities grow, but it’s balanced with plenty of independent work. Personally, I find that introverts excel in digital marketing, due to their excellent listening skills, empathy, curiosity, and attention to detail. With more and more companies going 100% remote, the talents of introverts have shined brighter, as WFH situations have reduced interruptions and face time while giving introverts the quiet they crave.
What’s it like working at a digital marketing agency?
If you’re the kind of person who thinks that variety is the spice of life, agency life may be the perfect fit.
At an agency, you’ll work with a revolving door of clients spanning across different industries. Juggling several projects at once, no two days are the same. There are new faces, new objectives, new audiences, new tactics. Even if your clients stick around for years under a retainer, that extended relationship will get deeper over time and reveal new opportunities along the way. If you get tired of the same thing day in and day out, you’ll never be bored at an agency.
Variety isn’t always a good thing, though. With so many clients and projects on the go at once, navigating priorities is a never-ending battle. To each of your clients, they’re the most important, so you’ll have to manage workloads and deadlines with conflicting priorities.
You’ll also need to be highly adaptable, using different software and platforms depending on your client’s workflows. One client might be using Trello to project manage, one might be using Jira, and one might be on Asana. Now apply this to everything: CRMs, website platforms, communication platforms, etc. If learning new technology is difficult for you, you will struggle at an agency.
But, if all this sounds exciting to you, head on over to our careers page and sign up to be notified of any positions that become available at Stryve.
How can I start a career in digital marketing?
Digital marketing is one of the most accessible careers to get started in. You can find tons and tons of free resources online that will introduce you to the basics of digital marketing. You can also get first-hand experience without spending much money at all. Here are some things that will give you a great foundation to build on:
- Creating a website or blog and learning how to track performance with Google Analytics
- Creating a podcast or YouTube channel and growing your audience
- Volunteering to run PPC campaigns for a local business
- Getting certifications from Google Ads, Hubspot, Moz, etc.
How can I stand out when applying for a digital marketing job?
Start with a solid foundation–a well-designed resume and well-written cover letter. I know cover letters are falling out of fashion, but we read every single one. They give great insight into the applicant’s personality (and if it doesn’t, it should!), writing style, and command of the language. On that note, please, please use a tool like Grammarly to avoid making typos! Nothing takes down a resume quite like, “strong attention to detal.”
Within your cover letter and resume, show us how you’re all the things that make a great digital marketer. Even if you’re fresh out of school with no experience, or transitioning from a totally different career, there are plenty of ways to show how you’d be a great fit. Load up on the free courses mentioned in the previous section. Turn your hobbies into something you can market online. Volunteer for a non-profit. Many of us here at Stryve had side hustles and passion projects that gave us an opportunity to practice digital marketing even before we started working in the field.
If you’ve got the basics down but you really want to go that extra mile you can do something creative like the applicants who:
- Made us a TikTok about why they’d be a great fit
- Made a video cover letter
- Sent us a pizza after their interview (referencing our job posting about loving pizza)
While these things helped the candidates get their feet in the door, pizza isn’t going to make up for a resume full of typos.
Digital marketing is in demand
I don’t think digital marketing has ever been more in demand. At the time of writing this, we’re nearly 2 years into the pandemic which has kicked off a new era of digital transformation. Businesses that had previously shrugged off digital marketing are now wholeheartedly embracing it. There has been a growing shift towards self-directed research–even in B2B–with salespeople the very last touchpoint (if at all) in the buyer’s journey, rather than the gatekeeper of it.
The pandemic has also pushed people to reevaluate their careers and lifestyle. If you’re looking for something fast-paced but stable, stressful but rewarding, demanding but flexible, digital marketing might be exactly what you’re looking for.