How to Become a Successful Digital Marketer: A Guide

How to Become a Digital Marketer
Created by CakeResume

With 71% of hiring managers struggling to find enough skilled professionals in digital marketing, there’s never been a better time to become a digital marketer. Not only can becoming a digital marketer ensure application success, it’s also a field that can provide a fairly lucrative salary.

In 2022, the average annual salary for a fresher digital marketer in the US was $50,000. For the average Digital Marketing Manager, it was $70,000. Senior-level positions even started hitting near or above six-figure annual salaries. Not bad, right?

With prospects like these, it’s hard not to want to become a digital marketer. But what exactly is digital marketing, and what do digital marketers do?

What Is Digital Marketing?

Digital Marketing, also known as internet marketing, is the use of digital channels (like email, social media, and websites) to connect customers with marketing campaigns.

There are a variety of different areas in which digital marketers and online marketers specialize in, including:

  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Pay-per-click Marketing (PPC)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Email Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Mobile Marketing
  • Marketing Analytics

Although digital marketers in each of these areas are likely to have different abilities, there are a few digital marketing requirements that you need to become a digital marketer.

What You Need to Become a Digital Marketer

A Bachelor’s Degree

Since essentially all you need to become a digital marketer is a laptop, internet connection, and creativity, a degree for digital marketing is not a digital marketing requirement. In theory.

In reality, most marketing management positions in the US require you to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a business-related subject. This could mean a degree in: Finance, Statistics, Economics, Management, or Marketing, with additional welcome degree subjects including Advertising, Journalism, Computer Science, and Math.

Though there are master’s programs in digital marketing available, again, this is not a digital marketing requirement.

Basic Marketing Knowledge

Digital marketers also need to know the basics about marketing, including its purpose, landscape, and impact. There are plenty of online resources for learning marketing basics that you could access on platforms such as Hubspot or Simplilearn. 

Proficiency in Marketing Tools

With the variety of digital marketing tools on the market, it’s never been easier to become a digital marketer. That said, prospective digital marketers still have to become proficient in these tools, and learn how to apply them.

Below is a list of 10 popular marketing tools on the market (paid* and free), for beginners as well as seasoned professionals.

  • Google Analytics (Data analysis)
  • Google Ads (SEM)
  • Moz (SEO)
  • Ahrefs (SEO)
  • Hubspot (CRM)
  • Salesforce* (CRM)
  • Canva (Design)
  • MailChimp* (Email marketing)
  • Buffer* (Social media marketing)
  • BuzzSumo* (Content marketing)

Digital Marketing Certifications

Whether you have a degree related to marketing or not, it’s always helpful to have a nice hardcopy proof of your skills for employers. It’s therefore worth enrolling in a course or program that awards a digital marketing certificate or a diploma in digital marketing. 

While there are many free digital marketing courses, some of them require payment* to award certificates (e.g. Coursera). Though not all certificates require tuition, it’s still worth making an investment in your digital marketing education to further your career as a digital marketer.

Digital marketing certificate examples.

Digital Marketing Skills

All jobs require a certain set of basic hard and soft skills, and digital marketing is no exception.

Though mastering all 5 soft skills is likely to take time, you can still accelerate your learning in the 5 hard skills by taking digital marketing courses or pursuing a diploma in digital marketing.

Here are the 5 hard skills a digital marketer should have:

Data Analysis 

This is key to understanding your customer. As a digital marketer, you should be comfortable collecting, organizing, and analyzing data so as to better produce marketing campaigns. It’s worth taking a course in the analysis tools that are available - like Google Analytics - to show employers that you know your stuff.

SEO & SEM

SEO and SEM are methods used to generate traffic on the internet. An easy way to think about this is organic traffic (Search Engine Optimization) vs paid traffic (Search Engine Marketing). Essentially the bread-and-butter of digital marketing for beginners courses, understanding SEO and SEM is a must for any digital marketer.

CRM

Customer Relationship Management is the integration of customer data to better understand how to deliver value. For the digital marketer, CRM improves data organization, ultimately reducing the waste of time (and money). This skill can be demonstrated through tools like Hubspot.

Basic Design Skills

Although design is not a digital marketing requirement, content still needs to be attractive. This means that digital marketers need to have basic design skills both for organization of content and for manipulating images.

Social Media

With Instagram and Tiktok both exceeding 1 billion active monthly users, understanding social media is a vital skill, so digital marketers need to know how best to utilize the features and form of each platform to better attract an audience.

Here are 5 soft skills a digital marketing should have.

Communication Skills

Effective communication with both the intended audience and your team/client(s) is compulsory for any digital marketers. A way to demonstrate this skill to an employer would be to show work samples that generated traffic, and/or previous work experience in a team environment.

Curiosity

Research from Harvard Business Review suggests that curiosity enables greater creativity and is linked with better job performance. It is therefore essential that digital marketers are curious enough to continue growing and harnessing skills in this field.

Adaptability

With Google frequently changing their SEO criteria, adaptability is among one of the most important digital marketing requirements. Curiosity expands your knowledge, but adaptability enables you to change techniques and content accordingly to better perform in this environment. 

Persuasion

As a digital marketer, it is your job to persuade people to look at your content, whether it’s through language or design. While this is a tough skill to learn, once mastered it is incredibly useful in generating traffic (and money) to your site.

Creativity

In both digital marketing and traditional marketing, creativity is key to generating new ideas that will attract consumers.

How to Become a Digital Marketer with or without a Degree

Now that you’ve learned what the digital marketing requirements are, it’s time to find out how to get a digital marketing job. This process may differ slightly depending on if you have a degree/certification, but there are still 5 universal steps that every digital marketer goes through.  

STEP 1: Search for jobs on job portals.

Before crafting your resume and portfolio, you should first check popular job portals like Indeed and Glassdoor to see what positions are out there and what they’re looking for. Though it’s already been established that a bachelor’s degree is often a digital marketing requirement, this isn’t always the case, so you should check before preparing your application.

STEP 2: Write a good resume.

Writing a strong resume is a must to become a digital marketer. Unfortunately, it’s common for people to find this task challenging. With CakeResume’s resume builder, this process becomes much easier and less time consuming. Just don’t forget to add any courses or qualifications you’ve achieved, and remember to update your list of skills and knowledge of different tools too.

STEP 3: Prepare a killer digital marketing portfolio.

Digital marketing education or not, it is essential that you create a digital marketing portfolio. Potential employers want to see examples of your past work and your expertise, so give them something to look at!If you’ve already undertaken a certification, course, or degree, it’s likely that you would have completed a project that can be used in your portfolio. 

Can’t think of what to highlight? The Portfolio Community on CakeResume has plenty of content posted by agencies and freelancers that make for excellent inspiration. It’s also a great place to showcase your own portfolio too.

STEP 4: Prepare for common interview questions.

It’s likely that somewhere down the line you’ll get called in (or online) to have an interview for a digital marketing position. This is a common part of the process in becoming a digital marketer, so don’t worry. There are many digital marketing interview questions you could be asked, but the most common ones will be looking to see how well you understand the field and its key areas. 

Tips for Getting into Digital Marketing

Okay, so you’ve mastered the tools and skills required to become a digital marketer, but how to get into digital marketing? If you follow the next 7 tips, entering the digital marketing scene is sure to be a breeze.

💡 Join networking events.

These events offer you the opportunity to gain better knowledge of the industry, as well as the chance to introduce yourself to the professionals. Mingle with like-minded individuals and network your way to the top!

💡 Sign up for bootcamps or courses.

Often the cheaper version of digital marketing certificates and diplomas in digital marketing, bootcamps and courses are both still recommended additions to your journey in becoming a digital marketer.

Here are some bootcamp recommendations:

Some online digital marketing courses recommendations:

💡 Make the most of free online resources.

There’s a load of free resources on the internet, but what should you spend your time looking at, or listening to?

Here are a few ideas on how to find relevant information on how to get into digital marketing:

  • Read blogs.
  • Listen to podcasts.
  • Participate in webinars.
  • Read online articles.
  • Read e-books.

💡 Learn from industry leaders.

Individual industry leaders love sharing their process, so there’s a lot of resources online at your disposal. Whether it's podcasts, TED Talks, blogs, or even news interviews, digital marketing leaders (including companies) are bound to offer significant insight into how to enter the digital marketing world. 

What if I don’t have a degree for digital marketing? There’s no need to panic and do a U-turn if you don’t have a relevant business-related degree or even a degree at all - you can still follow the above 4 tips. However, in addition to these steps, it would be wise if you:

💡 Highlight your transferable skills.

Just because you don’t have a degree, doesn’t mean you don’t have the relevant skills. Are you curious and creative? Do you communicate well? Check out the list of hard and soft skills in this article and see where you can apply your past experience to these digital marketing requirements.

💡 Consider taking an internship.

If you can find an internship - paid or unpaid - it’s worth applying. Many digital marketing positions require some form of work experience related to the field, especially if you don’t have a digital marketing certificate or diploma in a relevant degree. 

💡 Start creating content.

Even if you haven’t completed a digital marketing course, content creation is a key indicator to employers that you are a serious digital marketer. Ideally this is a sample of a paid work project, but it still counts if it’s your own work. Build a website, start a Youtube channel, just create something that will make you stand out!

With CakeResume, you can easily create a resume online, free download your resume’s PDF formats, and utilize ATS-compliant templates to create a resume. Land your dream job, create your resume online (free download) now!

--- Originally written by Eva O’Mara ---

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