How to Become a Digital Marketer

Social media feed on phone
April 26, 2024
7 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/26/24

Digital marketing has been on the rise in recent years. Read on to learn all about how to become a digital marketer. 

In today's tech-driven landscape, businesses must adapt their marketing strategies to the digital realm to stay competitive. With consumers increasingly spending time online and relying on mobile devices, digital platforms offer enhanced opportunities for businesses to connect with and engage their target audiences.

The shift to digital marketing is driven by its cost-effectiveness, adaptability, and superior engagement compared to traditional methods. Leading companies leverage digital marketing to gain a competitive edge, enhance audience engagement, and elevate brand recognition. If you’re interested in pursuing this exciting career path and wondering ‘how long does it take to become a digital marketer’ or the average digital marketing salary, this guide will answer your questions.

Steps in Becoming a Digital Marketer in 2024

You’ve come to the right place to learn how to become a digital marketer. Follow these steps, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving a successful career as a digital marketer. 

1. Assess Your Current Skillset

Digital marketing is a broad field that funnels down to many different specializations. As a digital marketer, your job is to be a jack-of-all-trades, though having a specialty sets you apart from the competition. Here is a list of the different areas of digital marketing:

  • Brand development
  • Competitive research
  • Content strategy
  • Conversion tactics
  • Paid search
  • Customer service
  • Social media management
  • And more

To meet the minimum expectations in a digital marketing profession, you must acquire skills in every one of these areas. However, we recommend going the extra step to master one or two of these categories. That way, you’ll set yourself up with a niche.

2. Grow Your Education

A bachelor’s degree program provides a comprehensive understanding of digital marketing. So, trying your best to get into a college or university that offers a marketing or digital marketing degree is a wise choice. 

Alternatively, many digital marketers have communications, journalism, and advertising BAs. A bachelor’s on your resume shows interviewees that you’re a critical thinker with a work ethic. 

If you opt for a digital marketing program, you’ll learn all about the different aspects of marketing, including the following. 

  • Social media marketing
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)
  • Email marketing
  • Content marketing

You can also take it one step further and acquire a master’s in digital marketing once you’ve completed your bachelor’s. Having a master’s adds to your growing list of credentials when applying for new jobs. You’ll learn how to develop and implement comprehensive marketing plans that align with business goals and drive results. 

person using tablet

You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with industry professionals and build your professional network, which can help you secure internships, jobs, and other opportunities in the future.

Growing your education in digital marketing provides you with the knowledge, skills, and credentials you need to succeed in the field. Do your best to find a university or college that offers a digital marketing or relevant program. 

3. Build a Portfolio

A portfolio lets you showcase your digital marketing skills and creative edge to potential employers or clients. It provides tangible evidence of your abilities, which can be more convincing than just listing them on a resume.

It’s always important to highlight your achievements, so build a portfolio showing your successful digital marketing campaigns and projects. This can demonstrate your ability to generate leads, increase website traffic, improve conversion rates, and achieve other business goals.

When becoming a digital marketer, it’s key to differentiate yourself from others. A portfolio can set you apart from the crowd and demonstrate your unique approach, creativity, and passion for digital marketing. It can also help you identify areas of strength and weaknesses and develop strategies for improvement. 

Building a personal brand can help you get ahead; a portfolio helps you do this. By exhibiting your work and accomplishments, you can establish yourself as an expert in the field and attract more clients or job opportunities. 

Overall, building a portfolio in digital marketing is a valuable tool that helps digital marketers put their best foot forward.

4. Earn Certifications

Earning a quality digital marketing certification can go a long way in your career as a digital marketer. They’re designed to test your knowledge and skills and demonstrate you have a solid understanding of digital marketing principles and practices. 

Certifications from organizations such as Google Ads, Google Analytics, Facebook Blueprint, and Hubspot, can add credibility to your professional profile. It shows you’re committed to staying up-to-date with industry trends and best practices.

Certification in a crowded job market can give you a competitive advantage over other candidates. It can demonstrate to employers that you have a specialized skill set that differentiates you from other applicants.

Certification programs often provide in-depth training and education in specific areas of digital marketing. This can expand your knowledge and skill set, allowing you to take on more complex projects and campaigns.

They can also provide valuable networking opportunities with other professionals in the industry. You may have the opportunity to connect with other certified digital marketers and build relationships that can lead to new job opportunities or collaborations.

Earning a certification in digital marketing can be a valuable investment in your career. It can demonstrate your skills and knowledge, add credibility to your profile, and provide professional development and networking opportunities.

5. Gain Experience

When applying for a digital marketing job, employers seek a blend of education and practical experience to gauge your expertise in the field. Demonstrating your knowledge and skills is vital, and the most effective way to achieve this is by gaining real-world experience through internships or volunteer positions. While securing a paid position is possible, your primary objective should be acquiring hands-on experience within the digital marketing industry during this phase.

Acquiring hands-on experience goes beyond just learning the ropes; it enables you to build a robust portfolio demonstrating your capabilities. A well-rounded portfolio not only bolsters your qualifications but also significantly increases your chances of catching the eye of potential employers. Therefore, whether through internships, volunteer work, or entry-level positions, actively seeking opportunities to apply your digital marketing knowledge and skills is the key to becoming a successful digital marketer.

6. Build a Network

Besides gaining practical experience, building a strong professional network is a critical step in the digital marketing industry. Attend industry events, conferences, and workshops to connect with fellow marketers, potential mentors, and employers. 

Engaging with digital marketing communities online, such as LinkedIn groups or industry forums, can also expand your network. Networking provides valuable insights and industry trends and can lead to job opportunities through referrals and recommendations.

7. Apply to Jobs

Once you've acquired the necessary education and hands-on experience and have cultivated a network of industry contacts, it's time to start applying for digital marketing positions. Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight your relevant skills and experiences, and don't forget to showcase your portfolio. 

Utilize job search platforms, company websites, and networking connections to find job openings. Be persistent, and consider starting with entry-level positions if necessary, as these can serve as stepping stones to more advanced roles. With determination, a well-rounded skill set, and a strong network, you'll be well-prepared to begin your successful digital marketing journey.

What Does a Digital Marketer Do?

team working together on table

A digital marketer is responsible for promoting a business, brand, product, or service through digital channels, such as social media, search engines, email, mobile apps, and websites. 

Their primary goal is to reach and engage with their brand's target audience. To do this effectively, digital marketers need to boost brand awareness, drive traffic, generate leads, and ultimately convert them into loyal customers.

Some specific tasks a digital marketer might be responsible for include:

  • Developing digital marketing strategies and campaigns
  • Creating content for digital channels (social media posts, blog articles, email newsletters, etc.)
  • Conducting market research to identify target audiences and analyze consumer behavior
  • Managing social media accounts and advertising campaigns
  • Implementing search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to improve website rankings
  • Running email marketing campaigns and analyzing their effectiveness
  • Creating and analyzing reports to track the performance of digital marketing efforts
  • Collaborating with other teams, such as UX designers and copywriters, to ensure the brand image and tone are consistent across all marketing channels.

A digital marketer's role is to use digital channels to connect with potential customers, build relationships with them, and ultimately drive business growth.

What Skills Do You Need to Be a Digital Marketer?

To be a successful digital marketer, you’ll need a combination of both hard and soft skills. The time it takes to become a digital marketer depends on your brand and industry; however, the following skills will help you. 

  • Marketing Knowledge: Understanding basic marketing concepts, consumer behavior, and market trends.
  • Digital Marketing Tools: Proficiency in using digital marketing tools such as Google Analytics, SEMrush, Hootsuite, and others.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Knowledge of SEO techniques and the ability to optimize website content and structure for search engines.
  • Content Creation: Ability to create engaging and relevant content such as blog posts, social media content, and email newsletters.
  • Data Analysis: Ability to analyze data and make data-driven decisions using tools like Google Analytics, heat maps, and user feedback.
  • Communication Skills: Strong communication skills, including writing and public speaking, and working well with a team.
  • Creativity: A strong ability to think creatively, develop new ideas, and keep up with the latest marketing trends.
  • Project Management: The ability to manage multiple projects at once, prioritize tasks, and meet deadlines.

Being a digital marketer requires a blend of technical, analytical, and creative skills and the ability to work well with a team and adapt to changing market conditions. Being creative, curious, and up-to-date with the latest marketing trends is also important.

Digital Marketer Salary & Job Outlook

Estimated salary range for digital marketing jobs in 2024:

Position Job Level Salary Range (USD)
Digital Marketing Manager Senior (8-10 years) $87,719
SEO Manager Mid (4-6 years) $86,206
Social Media Manager Entry (1-3 Years) $64,845
Content Strategist Mid (4-6 years) $93,586
Marketing Associate Entry (1-3 Years) $50,705
Marketing Coordinator Entry (1-3 years) $51,594

The digital marketing salary and job outlook in the US vary based on factors such as experience, industry, location, and specific job roles. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US's median annual wage for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers was $133,380 per year as of 2021. 

However, entry-level digital marketing positions, such as social media specialists or digital marketing assistants, can expect lower salaries starting around $40,000 to $50,000 per year. Senior-level digital marketing roles, such as Director of Digital Marketing, can earn over $150,000 annually.

The job outlook for digital marketers is generally positive, as businesses increasingly focus on digital channels to reach customers. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers is projected to grow 10% from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.

Digital marketing is a growing and dynamic field with many career growth opportunities, and salaries can vary widely depending on various factors. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in this exciting field, now is the time. There’s potential to earn a high salary, flex your creative muscles, and have a lot of fun. 

What Are Other Career Options in Digital Marketing?

As digital marketing is a wide field, the good news is there are a lot of options that you can explore. Even if you’ve grown your education in digital marketing, you can choose a digital marketing career path in these other options.

analytics on computer screen

1. Content Marketing

Content marketers focus on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, consistent content to attract and engage target audiences. They are critical in building brand authority, increasing website traffic, and nurturing customer relationships. 

Content marketing careers can involve content strategy, copywriting, content management, and SEO optimization. Professionals in this field must be skilled in storytelling, research, and understanding audience behavior to create compelling content that resonates with consumers.

2. Social Media Management

Social media managers are responsible for developing and implementing social media strategies to increase brand awareness, engagement, and customer loyalty. They create and curate content, analyze performance metrics, and manage social media advertising campaigns.

This role requires a deep understanding of various social platforms, audience demographics, and the ability to design captivating and shareable content. Social media management offers creative individuals opportunities to leverage social networks' power to achieve business goals.

3. Email Marketing

Email marketing specialists focus on crafting effective email campaigns to reach and nurture leads and customers. They design and execute email marketing strategies, segment audiences, create compelling content, and monitor campaign performance. 

Email marketing is known for its high ROI and is critical to digital marketing efforts. Professionals in this field need a keen eye for design, strong copywriting skills, and expertise in email marketing platforms and automation tools.

4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO specialists work on optimizing websites and content to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). They conduct keyword research, analyze website performance, and implement on-page and off-page SEO techniques. 

The goal is to increase organic traffic and visibility for websites. SEO careers demand a deep understanding of search engine algorithms, technical SEO, and a knack for staying updated with industry changes.

5. Paid Advertising (PPC) Management

Paid advertising managers focus on creating and managing pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns on platforms like Google Ads and social media advertising. They develop ad strategies, choose target keywords, set budgets, and analyze ad performance to maximize ROI. 

PPC specialists require strong analytical skills, knowledge of advertising platforms, and the ability to optimize ad campaigns for conversions.

6. Analytics and Data Analysis

Professionals in this field collect, analyze, and interpret data to inform digital marketing strategies. They use various tools and technologies to track website and campaign performance, measure KPIs, and generate insights. 

A career in data analysis within digital marketing requires a strong foundation in data analytics and statistics, and the ability to translate data into actionable recommendations for marketing teams.

7. E-commerce Marketing

E-commerce marketers specialize in promoting and optimizing online stores. They work on strategies to increase product visibility, drive online sales, and enhance the shopping experience. 

This career path involves understanding e-commerce platforms, customer behavior, and the use of various digital marketing channels to attract and convert shoppers.

Each digital marketing career path offers many opportunities for specialization and growth within the broader field. Depending on your interests and strengths, you can choose a path that aligns with your skills and goals, ultimately leading to a rewarding and fulfilling career in the digital marketing industry.

marketer looking at data on tablet

FAQs: Becoming a Digital Marketer

You’ve hopefully gained some clarity on how to become a digital marketer, including the amount of time and average salary. Here are some common questions people ask regarding becoming a digital marketer.

1. How Can I Start as a Digital Marketer?

The first step you can take is to take some time to develop your skills. Read up on digital marketing, and take free online courses, tutorials, or internships to get started. 

The next step is to browse marketing and digital marketing courses you can take. There are so many options out there. So, do your research and find a program that suits your needs. 

2. How Long Does It Take to Become a Digital Marketer?

The time it takes to become a digital marketer varies. It depends on your knowledge and experience, the specific area of digital marketing you’re interested in pursuing, and the intensity of your training.

So, it depends on what route you take. Some bachelor's degree programs span three to four years, while certifications can take months to one year. Becoming a digital marketer is a continuous learning process that requires ongoing dedication. 

3. Is It Hard to Become a Digital Marketer?

Becoming a digital marketer requires a combination of skills and knowledge, but it’s not necessarily hard. However, it does require effort, dedication, and a willingness to learn. Digital marketers must stay on their toes and up to date with the latest industry trends and best practices.

4. How Much Do Digital Marketers Make?

The average digital marketing salary for marketing managers is $87,679 per year as of 2024. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re thinking about how to become a digital marketer, staying ahead of the curve is vital. The best way to do this is to be continually eager to learn. Digital marketing is an ever-changing landscape that requires a multifaceted skill set and a commitment to ongoing learning. 

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