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How To Become A Digital Marketer: 7 Practical Steps

WVU Online | Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Digital marketing is a rapidly growing field and it is more important than ever. There is a lot of career potential with new jobs being created daily. So, how do you join this industry? We outline a few steps you should take to find your niche in digital marketing, as well as how to enter the industry.

What is Digital Marketing?

First, you need to understand what digital marketing is and what it includes. Digital Marketing is creating a dialogue with today’s modern audience that builds a community around a brand or organization.

It’s all about building trust and providing customers with long-term value so that they become advocates who bring you more customers. It’s one of the fastest-growing areas of marketing.

A digital marketer may specialize in one or more of the following types of online marketing:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Organic and paid search
  • Display marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Marketing automation
  • Multi-channel analytics
  • Always-on campaigns
  • Desktop and mobile user experiences
  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing

These pieces combine to get the right messages to the right people in the right places. Now, you don’t have to be an expert in all of these types of marketing yourself. It is often the case that you'll work on a team and focus on aspects of your expertise.

Understanding the Digital Marketing Job Market

The digital marketing field is an exciting industry that is growing quickly. With this growth, there are many job opportunities in both creative and technical aspects of digital marketing. On average, those working in Digital Marketing Communications have an annual salary of $63,920. Several professions in this industry have the opportunity to earn more than $100,000 annually.

Digital marketing is shaping the way we consume information, make our purchase decisions and interact with brands. Are you a digital enthusiast able to adapt to change and innovate? If so, digital marketing might be for you. Jobs in this industry are:

  • Digital Marketing Manager
  • Marketing Communications Specialist
  • Digital Marketing Strategist
  • Social Media Manager
  • Marketing Communications Manager
  • Social Media Specialist
  • Marketing Coordinator
  • Content Director

These roles exist in every industry worldwide, and more and more companies are offering remote work options. LinkedIn reports that remote marketing roles have increased by 177% recently.

Digital marketing is one of the most rapidly growing industries as technology continues to evolve and thrive. According to the latest projections, digital advertising revenue will surpass 700 billion U.S. dollars by 2025. That is a major increase from 2022, when the industry was valued at $153 billion.

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Digital Marketer?

Digital marketers need to have an understanding of digital platforms, but also have some additional soft skills. You have to adapt to new technologies, work well under pressure and combine that technical side with creativity.

Digital Marketing Hard Skills

  • SEO
  • Content strategy
  • Brand management
  • Social media strategy
  • UX and UI

Digital Marketing Soft Skills

  • Tech savvy
  • Adaptable
  • Problem solvers
  • Curious
  • Strategic
  • Tactful
  • Creative
  • Persuasive
  • Passionate

In a typical day, a digital marketer could have any of these responsibilities:

  • Planning and posting social media content
  • Planning and creating email campaigns for different audiences
  • Approving marketing copy that fits the brand
  • Managing relationships with influencers
  • Update website language and coding
  • Reviewing and reporting analytics on digital platforms
  • Researching the latest digital marketing trends

Depending on your industry and the size of your marketing team, you may need to perform several types of digital marketing tasks. Combining the hard and soft skills listed above will help you be ready for completing all of the various tasks in digital marketing.

How To Become a Digital Marketer: 7 Steps to Get Started

Now that you understand what digital marketing is and what kind of roles you can have, we’ve outlined 7 steps for you to complete to get started in becoming a digital marketer.

1. Pick a specialty area in digital marketing

You've likely been a digital media consumer for years. You know how quickly we've moved from static to responsive websites; from Facebook to Instagram to TikTok; from cable television to Hulu.

But there are so many different avenues of digital marketing and you should pick one you are passionate about to specialize your knowledge.

Maybe you’re passionate social media, maybe it’s more on the technical end of websites. Experiment on your own digital presence by building your own brand on social media or your own website to see which area of digital marketing interests you the most.

And do some research and look at job descriptions. Make sure the jobs you want to do sound interesting to your goals and passions in marketing.

2. Build foundational knowledge through certifications and degrees

Did you know that 31% of those in digital marketing communications roles have an advanced degree?

Digital marketing is ever-changing, so an advanced degree is one way to stay ahead of trends and set yourself apart in the job market. And, as companies add digital marketing roles, they are often looking for people with higher degrees.

Make yourself more competitive in the job market. WVU Online’s Digital Marketing Communications master’s degree features built-in certifications to not only have you stand out with a master’s degree but also show you’re certified in specific areas of digital marketing.

And don’t stop at a degree. We said digital marketing is ever-changing.

You’ll want to continue earning those certifications in specific platforms or subject areas of digital marketing. Plus, you’ll want to know if the latest trend will work with your marketing plan and if those new channels will be good for the customer base.

3. Start applying for internships and freelance opportunities

While companies are adding new digital roles, it doesn’t mean it is easy to be hired. They want someone who has some experience. Having internship experience or freelance experience will allow you to get started in digital marketing at an entry-level position.

And you could even consider volunteering for community organizations or charities. You can support a good cause by also building up examples of your work to use in that portfolio we’re going to talk about next.

4. Build a portfolio

Utilizing the work you do for internships or freelance opportunities, build out your portfolio. Make sure your email address is simple, and your website or blog highlights your skills and the areas you want to work in digital marketing.

If you don’t have a lot of examples, be sure to keep looking for internships and freelance opportunities, but you can also start your own blog and build up your own social media presence. Learn how you can build up your own audience and learn some basic tactics while creating examples of why an employer should hire you.

5. Network

If there is one thing digital marketers should be good at and should prioritize, it’s networking. Digital marketing has a perfectly built social nature to it already.

Remember, you’re building a community through digital marketing. Discuss digital marketing practices and expand your own network. As you build relationships, you’ll meet people who can recommend jobs and let you know about the latest algorithm changes.

WVU also offers some networking opportunities. From Integrate Online to social media and online communities, we’ve got your networking covered. Connect with fellow peers and classmates on LinkedIn or the social platform of your choice. Learn from them and find a mentor.

6. Begin the Job Hunt

Ok, your portfolio is together, you’ve built your presence and network and you’ve expanded your education. Now, you need to begin job hunting.

Look for jobs you’d love to do, but also be realistic. You don’t have to be the perfect candidate based on experience, but if you have 2 years of experience, you likely will just be disappointed if you don’t hear back from a lot of jobs wanting 10+ years of experience.

7. Tailor your Resume and Interview Practice

Most of the time, your first impression is your resume. Emphasize your marketing skills and experience, but also tailor them to the job you’re applying for.

Are you applying for a job focused on SEO? Then they won’t want to know detailed examples of how you used traditional marketing, they are going to want to know your knowledge of SEO and how it will benefit them.

Plus, most resumes go through a digital screener, meaning keywords from the job description will be noted as a good thing.

A few tips for your resume:

  • Keep it clear and concise
  • Use numbers to emphasize the impact you’ve made
  • Tailor your resume to every job application
  • Show off your creativity and personality
  • Match the company’s tone and brand

And when it comes time to interview, make sure you’re on time and dressed professionally. You’ll also want to make sure you’ve viewed the company’s social media, website, and other digital assets.

Talk about the work you’ve done and tell them what you’d do to improve their digital marketing.

Tips for Landing Your First Digital Marketing Job

So, you’ve explored digital marketing, and you’re ready to land your first digital marketing job. First, you want to make sure you’ve followed the steps outlined in the section above.

But what else?

You’ll want to make sure digital marketing is a good fit for you. You’ll also want to work on your own online presence but most importantly, invest in your learning. Digital marketing requires knowing the latest tech, trends, but also the strategy and tactics behind it. Some alumni from WVU Online’s Digital Marketing Communications online program outline their journey, which can help you find yours:

For Adam Payne, Digital Marketing Communications ‘22, grad school was never part of the plan. While getting his undergraduate degree in journalism at the Reed College of Media, Covid-19 hit and changed his plans. After some input from other students and professors, Adam took the leap.

With his interest in creative and visual media and his journalistic background, Adam knew he had the creative chops but didn’t have a grasp on some of the strategies, analytics, and tools to enhance his work. This is where the built-in certifications from the program came into play and changed the game for him. Now, he can back up his creative work with proven success and an understanding of KPIs.

"If someone is interested in the program, I would definitely just tell them that it is as flexible as you want it to be and as accommodating. I think what's really great about it is there was such a diversity of people in my courses,” he said. “I could tell that some were full-time employees going back to school to get their masters, some like me that just completed undergrad but they were able to fit it in, so you have to make it work for you. I think the program is really designed to help as many people as possible because you don't have to be sitting in a classroom the whole time to get it done."

Following the completion of his degree, Adam co-founded and began serving as the editor-in-chief of YNST Magazine, which just launched its first edition.

Julia Aloisi, Digital Marketing Communications ‘23, always knew she wanted to get a master’s degree. While completing her bachelor’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications, Julia began the search for a master’s program to fit her needs. When she stumbled upon the Digital Marketing Communications program at WVU, she knew she found what she was looking for.

"The program was perfect because it allowed me to continue to build on my career but also continue to further my education at the same time and apply exactly what I was learning in the classroom to my daily work," Julia said. "My favorite aspect was all of the professors being so compassionate about the lifestyle that it takes to be a graduate student."

As a student with a full-time position as she entered graduate school, Julia had a lot on her plate when it came to time management, but the faculty and staff within the program were understanding of the situation she shared with many of her classmates. Her best tactic in tackling the program? She took it one day at a time and didn’t look too far ahead so she would not overwhelm herself.

Make sure you’re passionate about digital marketing and make sure you’re interested in the jobs you can have with a marketing communications degree.

Start Your Digital Marketing Journey at WVU Online

Understanding these digital marketing platforms, and using the consumer insights they provide to develop more impactful marketing campaigns is central to the WVU Digital Marketing Communications degree.

Why WVU Digital?

  • Built-In Certifications. Employers want to know that you have both the strategy and the skill. Certifications from major platforms like Google and SEMrush are built into the Digital curriculum. It's an added layer of proof that you have the skills to execute a digital marketing strategy.
  • One-Year Option. A structured, accelerated option allows you to complete the ten required courses in just one year. Or spread courses out to balance life, work and family. Either way, there are zero in-person commitments and you have the flexibility to make a change to your schedule on the fly.
  • The Capstone. You’ll use all that you’ve learned in a rigorous and comprehensive capstone course where you will develop a thoughtful and professional digital marketing communications campaign for a real-world client.
  • The Faculty. WVU's Digital faculty are leading teams at major agencies and for national clients. They understand the importance of a digital strategy and how to implement one because they do it every day.

Learn the skills all digital marketers need, plus the knowledge and certifications that fit your specific interests in the field. If you’re ready to take the leap, don’t hesitate to explore everything WVU Online has to offer and how they can help you reach your career goals.

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