On the surface, marketing and digital marketing look and act the same. They require the same attention to detail, the same visual and textual prowess, and the same thought into their placement. The difference is, by far, the amount of data that is automatically connected to every piece of digital marketing content that you put out. Online is just faster. It is bigger. It has more competition for attention.
Paying for a billboard in a prominent location is, at the end of the day, still fairly consistent. You know that on average, so many people will be walking by, and therefore it is a matter of making the right message stand out to the right people.
Online is not just making the right message, it’s posting at the right time. It’s paying for sponsored posts to show up to the right people. There is a significant amount more consideration to make to manage a successful digital marketing campaign than an OOH marketing campaign.
There are ways to make it easier for you to track the ROI and results of an OOH marketing campaign, such as special discount codes, links attached only to your OOH posters, and advertisements, but these still don’t allow you to really understand the reach.
Online, you can understand that reach and the sheer volume of data accrued can be daunting. However, if you know how to handle it, then that volume can easily become a goldmine of insight that would otherwise have been unknown to you.
So while marketers and digital marketers do many of the same jobs, there are inherent differences that you need to be aware of when you start your career in marketing – especially in digital marketing.
There are some out there that believe you should never approach your marketing and your digital marketing with separate lenses. This approach might make it seem like a good way to offer customers a more seamless experience, but it is also disingenuous to each medium. Each medium deserves to have its own custom approach to your campaign, including how you intend to track it.
This means that it isn’t just possible to start a career with a digital market focus, but companies around the world need your expertise. It will be a long journey, yes, but with this guide, you can guide and direct your career with confidence.
What Should I Do in University?
Marketing is one of the most ubiquitous career paths that you can get involved in. It is one of the most in-demand and one that requires a truly diverse range of skills. Therefore the options for your education are wide open. You could focus on the visual side of marketing, on pure marketing, on English and literature, on business, and so on.
Of course, when it comes to digital marketing, there are a few options available for you that will truly help you stand out from the crowd. Digital marketing – in fact, the entire digital business world – runs on data. Far too few people know how to handle, understand, and extract meaning from data.
Data science is becoming increasingly popular, as Big Data and other large data collections are becoming commonplace – even amongst small and medium businesses.
There are even specialized degrees that allow you to learn data science strictly in relation to marketing, like the Emerson College’s Master of Arts in Digital Marketing and Data Analytics (DMDA) online program. These master programs are an excellent way to combine your education efforts, as it works to teach you digital marketing practices as well as analytics knowledge.
Marketing is a humanities-based subject, but digital marketing has one foot firmly in both fields. You need a dual approach when it comes to your education so that you can stand on top of others and build your career with a solid foundation.
These types of degrees often allow you to customize or further your credentials with certifications as well, so make the most out of your degree, and you can prepare yourself for roles like marketing specialist, marketing research analyst, marketing manager, and even marketing director.
Certifications to Consider for Your Career
There are multiple certifications beyond your degrees that you can and should consider for the sake of your career. These look great on your resume, and they look great when sourcing clients. Some are free; others are paid. When you are just starting out, they can help you get into the door of multiple job roles, so consider getting certified in:
Google Analytics is the go-to analytics solution for online marketing. The tool itself is free to use but can be very complicated. Thankfully, there are online learning tools available to you for free.
The courses are free for anyone who has a Google Analytics Academy account. You will need to graduate from Google Analytics for Beginners and Advanced Google Analytics to prepare for the exam. Once you are finished, you take the exam, and then you will earn The Google Analytics Individual Qualification. The final exam is 70 questions, and you can retake it as many times as you need. The overall time to finish the courses and take the exam is between four to six hours.
Google Ads Certification
Google Ads is another big tool used almost every day by digital marketers. A good way to get into the business is, therefore, to also become certified in Google Ads. This certification allows you to learn how to make a successful Google Ads campaign. You will be taught concepts like value propositions of online advertising, how to set up a campaign, manage it, measure it, and optimize it. To pass, you will need to take the course, then pass with at least 80%. Like the Google Analytics certification, the good news is that the Google Ads Certification is free and takes between four to six hours to complete.
HubSpot’s Content Marketing Certification
Another free certification that you can do either during your Digital Marketing Master’s or while you are working is HubSpot’s content marketing certification, which is free and takes around 4 hours to complete. It covers twelve categories to help you stay up to date on the best practices and research.
Fundamentals of Digital Marketing Certification
Google offers this free course through Digital Garage. This covers multiple topics, from analytics to data insights to display advertising. However, it is more for beginners, though as it is free, it can be useful to brush up on your skills as time goes on, as the tools and resources available to digital marketers change frequently. This way, you can keep what you learned during your digital marketing degree sharp, even as the years go by.
The final free certification on our list is YouTube’s certification. This certification is only available for YouTube and Google Advertising partners. If you know someone who is a partner manager, or someone who has a Content ID, then all you need is a valid google account. Once you have that, you can then take the YouTube course, complete it, and then take the exam. If you don’t pass, you can try again in 24 hours. You must earn at least 75% to pass.
It is important to remember that many of these certifications have expiry dates. This means you’ll need to refresh yourself and retake the exam in order to keep your certifications valid, but it also means you’ll be consistently brought up to speed on the latest changes and trends in marketing, so it’s a great way to keep the solid foundations you learned with your digital marketing degree.
Getting Your First Job in Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is something that every business needs, which means that you can find a job or make a position for yourself with relative ease, but it can be hard to get your foot in the door. Here are some ways you can find that role to begin your journey in this career.
Use Your University Network
The best place to start is your university and alumni network. You can either go through the careers department, or you can go online and get in touch with alumni. There is even a dedicated alumni community where you can find a mentor who will help you through your career and can even offer insights you won’t find anywhere else.
You will need to reach out, you will need to know how to sell yourself, and you will need to be prepared to do the same for others. This is how networking works, and if you have been to university or are currently enrolled, then you have a powerful community already at your disposal to get started
Use Your Own Social Media and Digital Presence
Building your own personal brand, which we talk about later on, is another great way to get your foot in the door. If you have even just a moderately successful following online, you can show your ability to market, manage, and grow an online community. This can be just what you need to get started as a digital marketer, and also how you can start earning money as an influencer, giving you a healthy income from two fronts.
Internship to Career
If you are currently in university, either in an undergraduate or graduate degree, then consider internships. Internships are only acceptable when you are in university or college, as you can take them as part of your education. You can then use that position to apply to job roles or even to petition to have a career waiting for you when you graduate.
Of course, you can apply for internships after you graduate and do the same thing, but this, in most cases, is actually doing yourself a disservice. You can get a job right after graduating from that master’s in digital marketing, and you deserve to get paid. If you have a specific company you want to work for, interning first can be essential to getting your foot in the door.
Create a Brand Identity for Yourself
One thing that is great about going into digital marketing as a career is that you can use all of those skills to launch your own personal brand. You can then hyper-focus your passion with your expertise and, if you are lucky and dedicated enough, can grow enough of a following that you can then work for yourself full-time. Marketers can work as influencers, take on clients, and offer various services both live and passively that will allow you to earn a healthy income, work for yourself, and direct your future no matter where you want it to go.
Your Options in the Future
Networking, building up credentials and creating a brand out of yourself give you so many great options for your future. You can easily become an influencer, or start your own marketing firm. The sky is the limit when you have an audience, and you know how to communicate with them, and you should never doubt the power that you have.
As someone who works in digital marketing, you understand the front and back-end process of what makes the entire world run. That is a very lucrative place to be because it allows you to work almost everywhere, both for yourself and for others. You can use that audience and that expertise to get you your dream job in a big company, or you can go freelance and use your platform to gain clients.
Those clients can either pay you to advertise your products directly to your audience, or they can hire you to manage their digital marketing campaigns.
This gives you the ability to work remotely, independently, or anywhere in the world. The sky is the limit; you just need to be aware of your position and be ready and willing to take on the opportunities available to you that can help you become a success within digital marketing.