6 Steps to Get a Job in Digital Marketing
What do you get when you combine innovative marketing strategies rooted in data and behavior with cutting edge internet tools and technology? Simply put: digital marketing (DM), one of the most exciting and fastest growing sectors of the marketing industry.
According to the latest statistics, digital marketing worldwide will make up 46% of the total global ad spend in 2021. And for professionals with a passion for marketing, technology, or even those who are curious about this industry, there is boundless potential when it comes to making digital marketing a viable career. According to a 2021 LinkedIn report, the “Digital Marketing Specialist” role is among the top 10 most in-demand jobs, with 860,000 job openings listed on their site.
So are you ready to dip a toe — or take the leap — into a DM career? Here are our best tips for getting a job in digital marketing.
Digital vs. Traditional Marketing Careers
For simplicity’s sake, marketing careers have been roughly separated into two distinct categories — digital marketing vs. traditional marketing careers. While there is certainly some overlap, working in either one of these disciplines will have its own set of mediums and concepts.
A digital marketing career requires leveraging strictly online channels, such as the internet, social media, email marketing and pay-per-click (PPC) for all marketing campaigns.
Traditional marketing, and thus a traditional marketing career, refers to the usage of non-digital media for all marketing initiatives. This includes print, broadcast, phone, radio, and even direct mail.
Another way to think of it is to use the other terminology associated with traditional and digital marketing, inbound vs. outbound. Digital marketing, which is considered inbound, uses marketing and content that draws the audience in. Outbound marketing, which is associated with traditional marketing, is any marketing that is proactively pushed out to the intended audience.
6 Steps to Getting a Job in Marketing
While pursuing a marketing career isn’t the same linear path for everyone, there are a few things you can do to set yourself up for success.
1. Figure out what type of role you want
Digital marketing is such a diverse industry, so there are a number of different roles within the industry that you can pursue depending on your interests and skills. If you’re a strong writer, consider a job as a content strategist, or if you’re good with numbers and analytics, look into DM strategy positions. The good news is, there is likely a digital marketing job that suits your strengths.
2. Research, research, research
Once you have a rough idea of the type of marketing role you want to land, now the fun part begins — research. Having an area of interest is great, such as social media, PPC, SEO and more, but doing research will be critical to understanding and identifying specific jobs and job titles that you think will be a good fit.
3. Review potential employers
A critical step in the pursuit of a marketing job — and an extension of the research process — calls for looking into potential employers and the way they structure their DM organization. Look at their job descriptions, benefits, examples of their work and their blog to get an idea of their culture and how they operate. Also, always make sure you read reviews of the company both on Google and on employer review sites like Glassdoor. This will give you a good idea of what working there would be like and give you some insight into their interview process.
4. Network AHEAD of time
It’s no secret that the marketing industry is incredibly competitive, so building and fostering your professional network is critically important. Because you’re interested in digital marketing, leverage digital tools like Twitter, LinkedIn and even Slack to build connections in the marketing space. There is a large online community of professional marketers who are eager to lend advice to up and comers, so use this to your advantage.
5. Refine your application materials
If you’re trying to move into the marketing world, you’ll want to revisit your application materials to make sure they position you in a way that will catch employers' eyes. Even if you’ve worked in marketing before, it’s always wise to refresh your resume, cover letter and references before pressing send to make sure you have tailored your application materials to each employer you’re contacting. The smallest details can go a long way.
This is the fun but nerve wracking part, but if you do it right you can set yourself up for success. Some important things to do before, during and after you apply include doing your homework on the company you’re applying to, being extra active on social and digital marketing threads and groups, and demonstrating that you are a self-starter who is passionate about marketing.
Getting Experience: Internships
There is no substitute for experience, so many aspiring digital marketers seek out internship opportunities to learn more about the profession and get real, hands-on experience.
In an internship, you will be (or at least should be) exposed to the many different areas of a digital marketing operation, gaining insights you wouldn’t get from a Google search or textbook. This experience will also expose you to seasoned professionals who can share some of their wisdom and help you grow your professional network. Beyond those two benefits, a marketing internship also allows you to:
Learn more about the latest DM tools
Learn about the latest DM strategies
Learn from other professional marketers
Getting Experience: Freelancing
Another, less common option to gain experience in marketing is to offer your services as a freelancer. Freelancing — where you work as an independent contractor on a project basis for an organization — allows you to gain exposure to different marketing roles and different marketing companies. It’s also arguably one of the best ways to get paid to learn more about the marketing profession.
The good news is that, especially in today’s market, nearly everyone needs support in some area of their operation, so you’ll likely be able to find work that aligns with your aspirational role. Some online resources to help you find freelance work include:
Getting Experience: Side Projects & Passion Projects
A third and equally effective means of gaining marketing experience is to pursue your own side or passion project that allows you to practice your digital marketing skills. Do you have an organization you’re passionate about, or have you put off building your own website for job applications? These are just a couple of the many great projects you can take on that allow you to leverage digital marketing strategies for your own gain.
Some potential projects to consider include:
Create a mock UX/UI design for a brand of your creation.
Create and execute a content marketing strategy for a nonprofit or organization you care about.
Start your own blog/vlog to collect and act on data around pageviews, reads, followers and more.
These projects will not only help you refine your marketing skills, but they will also create demonstrable “experience” to show employers when applying for jobs.
Resources for Digital Marketing Jobs
So where do you begin? There are seemingly endless resources out there to help you find a digital marketing job (Google is definitely you’re friend), but some of the most reputable and frequently used by applicants and employers include:
Invest in Your Education to Get Ahead
Digital marketing as a whole is continually evolving, so that makes staying up-to-date and even ahead of industry trends and tactics critically important for your career. At a minimum you should be subscribing to regular newsletter and blogs from industry leaders such as Moz, HubSpot and Marketo, and following and interacting with digital marketers on social media channels.
There are also more formal ways you can broaden your marketing knowledge, and that is by pursuing formal marketing education opportunities. This can take the form of conferences, webinars and even college degrees, but one of the more accessible options is a digital marketing certificate. Offered by accredited institutions, a digital marketing certification gives you the comprehensive education you would obtain in a long-term program, but in a shorter, more convenient online format. At the University of San Diego Division of Professional and Continuing Education, we proudly offer a Strategic Online Marketing Certificate program that covers all facets of digital marketing in a way that prepares students to successfully hold their own in this exciting and competitive field.
Q: What is digital marketing?
A: According to digital marketing leader HubSpot, digital marketing is “any marketing a company conducts online, such as paid social media ads, email marketing, and PPC advertising.”
Q: What are some common digital marketing jobs/titles?
A: There are literally hundreds of different job titles in the digital marketing world, because different agencies and organizations apply slightly different names to many similar roles. However, some very common digital marketing titles — and jobs you might want to consider — include:
Q: How can I further my education about digital marketing?
A: There are many digital marketing educational opportunities available both online and in person. If you're interested in a less formal education, online webinars, industry publications, and even blogs are a great place to start. For formal education opportunities, a college degree or certificate program is the ideal solution for someone looking to pursue a digital marketing career.