How to kick start your Career in Digital Marketing

3,739,698,500

is the slightly impressive number of internet users across the globe and it is only getting higher. 

With increased internet usage over the last few years, the digital and social media landscape is evolving and technology is changing the way we work, live, act and interact.

And with that change, companies need to adopt quickly to stay relevant for their customers. To put these journey into numbers: these days, about 87% of brands leverage digital and 38% of them allocate a whopping 1/3rd of their budget to digital marketing. 

This only mirrors the fact that more and more businesses are embracing digital to attract, engage and transact with their customers and whilst better internet connectivity and growth in internet and social media usage are key for this massive trend, its the people in the end who can make or break the success of a business.

Whilst technology is replacing many jobs, it only makes the ones obsolete that can be automated because they don't require any human traits, like creativity or emotions. Hence highly skilled talents with expertise in those up and coming and ever evolving areas are and will always be in demand.

Digital is not a job, it's a lifestyle.

Digital Marketing often is categorised as one discipline but in facts, I think it is one of the most demanding and complex professions and industry as it combines and requires:

  • creativity
  • innovation
  • entrepreneurial thinking
  • data & analytics
  • psychology
  • design 
  • journey mapping
  • technology 
  • sales 
  • market research & customer insights
  • product, project and brand development

Google only loves you when everyone loves you first. 

So how can you get started to make your (future) employer or customers love you first before conquering the big world?

Here are my top 10 tips for you to kick start your journey into the world of digital

 

1) Change is the only constant

The digital marketing industry is fast and furious and constantly changing and evolving, so it is key to consistently learn hands on about the latest and greatest. Because of the constant changes, a consistent appetite to learn, develop, revisit and learn again to stay up to date with the latest is a non-negotiable either. So you can see already, this industry is far away from a 9-5 job, it requires passion and a genuine desire to succeed.

 

2) Yesterday’s news is today’s toilet paper

It is not uncommon for things to change and evolve literally overnight, so to keep on top of industry news you need to know what changes happen and ideally as soon as they happen. Follow influencers and authorities in that space on social media, subscribe to blogs, attend conferences, webinars and MeetUps to learn from the best and first hand.

Here are some recommendations on websites to get started:

Digital Marketing:

SEO:

 

PPC:

 

Social Media:

 

Content:

 

3) Mix & Mingle

If you want to learn something in an area, you would usually go to the (perceived) expert in that field. And it is no difference in that case: surround yourself with people more talented, mature and experienced than yourself and this is not restricted to age or status. It’s also your network that is your net worth – most jobs are happening through referrals and there is nothing more powerful than a word-out-of-mouth recommendation. Not to mention the opportunities that will present themselves and you might not have otherwise found.

Attend industry MeetUps, seminars and conferences in your area to start building and developing relationships with other digital marketers and don’t be shy to put your hands up for volunteering work at industry bodies like chamber of commerce, etc where you can not only connect with new people but also enhance your skill set through learning by doing.

 

4) Get up close & personal

Whilst a certificate or an official recognition of formal training is nice, having the hands on experience is more important. It doesn’t necessarily need to be commercial experience. It can be anything from doing your auntie’s social media for her jewellery store, developing a website for a friend or starting your own blog. This way you get practical and real-world experience, can learn best practice and what can actually get results for a business before you need to implement it professionally (ie in an actual role).

And even once you landed your dream job, DO NOT stop working on personal projects to keep developing your skills and test out theories, not just in areas you are already familiar with but branch out and see how that impacts your key area of expertise. An example could be that your specialization is social media content and organic search but don’t steer away from giving SEM and paid search a go and see what it does to your blog results.

 

5) Talk the talk

No matter your specialization, you need to be comfortable with acronyms such as PPC, SEM and SEO, even when they are not directly related to your specialization but are working hand in hand with overall digital marketing efforts. A good digital marketer doesn’t only know the industry terms and what they mean but also understands how the various aspects can affect the can affect the overall marketing efforts.

 

6) Build your personal brand

You want to land this dream gig of a Social Media Manager for your favorite brand but you don’t have any visible online presence? Well… this is not going to happen. If you want to show to an employer that you can build their brand and profile, then you need to show that you can firstly build your own personal brand. Because who knows you better than yourself. Plus: especially when you just start out in your career and don’t have all the commercial experience to show your skills, this is the way in and can (and should be) your ‘signature CV’.

A strong online presence can be the deciding factor between two candidates who have applied for the same position. And let me tell you – this has been the case more than just once in my recruitment career.

 

7) Be T-Shaped or get pear-shaped

Sounds pretty fancy but it really is not … the term T-Sgape is commonly used by Rand Fishkin of Moz and refers to having a basic understanding of multiple marketing disciplines whilst specializing in one or two particular skills.

With all aspects of marketing – online & offline – going hand in hand with each other and no campaign or trigger can be handled as separate effort, a good marketer has a broad understanding of all things digital marketing, can liaise with other specialists in their field whilst still being an expert in only one or two areas.

 

8) Data is your friend – if not your best friend

The beauty of digital marketing is that everything can be measured and assessed pretty much in real time whereas back in the days, ads on TV, billboards and Co were analysed a week, a fortnight or even a month later. So having access to all the data doesn’t only make it possible to adjust quicker and making changes to live campaigns to deliver a good ROI but also gives you objective arguments and grounds for recommendations as to what needs to be tweaked or changed when liaising with other experts like developers or designers who have a responsibility for incorporating your recommendations.

As a marketer you don’t need to be able to develop a website from scratch but you should have a basic knowledge of HTML and graphic design to make it easier for you to stand out among the less technically minded creatives but also to liaise more efficiently with the real technicians when needed.

 

9) Data however is nothing without Metrics

Do you know your CPC from your CPA? Companies are all about making profit and investing money where they see results. So if you want to set yourself apart in an interview, talk about the return on ad spend for a campaign you’ve run yourself or how you would go about reducing their CPC after you’ve done your research on the company’s current ad spend and returns.

 

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10) Play your strengths

Digital Marketing comes in many shapes and forms and the roles in demand constantly evolve, depending on what’s trending with new technologies or what changed customer behaviour demands.

So whilst your dream role may be in demand at the moment, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be in a couple of years - it potentially might not even exist anymore. The only thing you can rely on is your strength and passion and once you are clear about your values, motivations and aspirations and what skills and approaches you take to solve problems make you unique, you will be able to find your niche in any industry or role and can easily transfer your expertise and knowledge to wherever the trend is then.

If you are not quite sure where your strengths, passions and skills lie and how to use them to make a living, a career coach can help you making the blurred lines more clear. 

Petra ZinkComment