By Heather Baker, Founder & CEO, TopLine Communications.
Henry Ford is considered a pioneer of the automotive industry, Mark Zuckerberg forged the way for social media and Bill Gates is certainly one of the most celebrated innovators in computing. Yet who is the definitive forerunner in the digital marketing sphere? The answer is no one…yet. And that’s because this industry is still emerging, which makes it an exciting career choice for any graduate.
But digital marketing is a very broad term and, from the graduates I’ve spoken to, it’s rather hard to understand what a career in digital marketing entails, what skills they’ll need, and how to land that important first role.
What to expect from a career in digital marketing
The great thing about this industry is that it is still possible to forge your own career path. Digital marketing covers online PR, social media, search engine optimisation, online advertising, video production, copywriting, website and app development and email marketing.
As a digital marketing specialist, you will help companies grow by helping them generate leads and make sales. Your typical day could involve researching target audiences to understand where they hang out online and what they care about; developing ideas for campaigns that will really catch their attention; implementing campaigns by designing online ads, writing blog posts, sending out emails; dealing with the media; analysing the success of each campaign and making adjustments.
It’s a great time to choose this career path – you can be really creative in this industry. While some best practices have been developed, there is huge opportunity to try new things and see if they work, which means you can be genuinely part of the evolution of an entirely new discipline. And if you can get good enough at digital marketing, you will climb the career ladder quickly. There really is a shortage of good people who understand the principles of digital marketing and if you can generate leads online you will be invaluable to any employer.
What skills will I need?
If you are creative and can write that’s a good start. You’ll also need to love technology, as you’ll be using new software tools as they enter the market. While it’s not a firm requirement, if you can use Excel you will be one step ahead of most people in the industry and the ability to analyse data will be invaluable.
To demonstrate your writing potential, I would recommend you get published. Write a blog, contribute to your university newspaper or offer your services as a writer to a student publication. If you can prove that your writing is good enough to be published, you’ll be one step ahead of most people going for the few digital marketing jobs out there.
Secondly, and this is the fun part, get social – use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram. Show that you love social media and are comfortable using social networks.
If you’re really keen, then you can get yourself Google Analytics and Google Adwords certified. These are self-taught courses, and the exams, offered by Google cost $50 each. As an employer, if I saw a graduate had taken the initiative to pass one of these exams, I would immediately be interested! If you’ve taught yourself to code (you can do this for free on Code Academy) you’ll be gold dust!
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