Changing careers is not something anyone does hastily. There are a few factors to compute least of all being the longevity of said career and the financial benefits and pitfalls of chasing it. However, digital marketing is one of the newer careers in the tech industry – pivoting off traditional marketing and giving marketers reach into the digital sphere. If you're considering a career move, particularly if you are already a traditional marketer, then digital marketing could be right up your alley. Not only does it seem like it will grow in tandem with current trends such as virtual reality, machine learning and AI – but it could potentially have its own industry verticals and niches within the next five to ten years.
How to Start Your Digital Marketing Career
Research is always the best place to start whenever you are making a life-altering decision. Find out not only how much digital marketers make on average (this will differ from country to country, and even further by region), but also what will be expected of you. If you feel like you can't fulfil the needs of the job with your current skillset, then it's time to research how to upskill yourself. You will probably want to do this part-time, without quitting your current 9-to-5. At the least because you don't want to lose your current income but also because it just makes more sense to ease yourself into your new career, than to dive headfirst.
You'll come to find that there are many online courses in digital marketing which teach you the basics of how you should conduct yourself as a professional digital marketer. You will need to understand the business of aligning with a client's marketing strategy, from content, SEO, email marketing and more. This also includes learning about project management, management of teams and how to benchmark project milestones so that you deliver on time and with the highest possible level of success.
Additionally, you may want to contact people who are currently doing the same work you're interested in, either by reaching out to them via LinkedIn or forums on sites such as Reddit or Quora. These people are useful because they can give you a crash course in the industry from first-hand experience. They will tell you about challenges they've encountered, how they've managed them and even where they see the industry growing in the short term. This could help you focus your proposal efforts towards businesses when you start being a freelancer or consultant.
The Practical Skills You'll Need as A Digital Marketer
As mentioned above, you will need to understand project management to a high degree. Leading a successful project not only reflects well on you but it also reflects well on the client who is paying you. They want to know that they have employed someone who is capable and willing to meet deadlines and communicate any obstacles in a timely and professional manner. Also, it is extremely difficult to gauge a project's success without any metrics and that will be one of the skillsets in your arsenal. You will be someone who can manage a project, delegate tasks, communicate efficiently and be able to produce data and reports showing progress based on facts. Nobody likes hard facts more than a business, especially where its bottom-line is concerned.
The Fundamentals of Managing Digital Marketing Projects
Although there are upwards of a hundred tools you can use to complete your tasks, from time-management apps, to communication platforms, password vaults etc.; the tasks you will be asked to perform fall across a narrow spectrum. You will be expected to know SEO; how to audit content; analytics, data visualisation and data-gathering; how to conduct online adverts from PPC to social media; how to audit social media content, social media presence and conduct social listening; and how to work with bulk email marketing and other inbound marketing methods. As you can tell, this is quite a lot, and this is why project management is so important in your daily conduct.
Depending on the client, you may be expected to assist with only a few of these functions. But if you are selling yourself as a turnkey consultant, you may be expected to fulfil all the roles and complete each and every strategy. At the end of the day, such oversight could be great because it unifies all the marketing into a single vision: one brand voice, one style sheet, one CI – the list goes on. But sometimes there is a risk of your vision becoming myopic and you focusing on either one area for too long or with too much detail and allowing the other areas to atrophy in the meantime. Of course, nobody wants this to happen, let alone you, as it will mar your reputation. This is why delegation is key, project milestones should be communicated clearly and in advance, and each project stream (from SEO to a content audit), should be granulated accordingly.
Still Considering Making the Career Move?
If you're still considering making the career move after reading about all that it entails, then you should take the first steps today. It takes only a few minutes to post a relevant question on a forum or Google how much digital marketers make in your area. In fact, you might find that there are remote-working opportunities open to you as well, since digital marketing is not a location-dependent form of employment. Furthermore, one last bit of research should be to try and see how many competitors are around you. This could give you the necessary edge to either jump in or make a more calculated decision, where you approach clients with those competitors in mind. You must always consider your unique selling points and make sure that any potential clients know that your skillset is backed by a formal, theoretical framework.