Sponsored posts in your Facebook feed, the promotional emails you receive from your favorite clothing store, the YouTube video you watched to figure out how to program your Roku box, and those hilarious Tweets from Wendy’s all have one thing in common. They are the work of digital marketers. Also known as growth hackers, content marketers, or social media marketers, digital marketers work to promote companies via the Internet.
Does all of those things sound fun to you? Well, the digital marketing field is certainly growing quickly. In the past several years, there has been an increase of 350% in the number of content marketing or related job listings. Depending on the specific niche that you pick, you could make 84K per year on average and over six-figures as you “grow” to an executive position.
Still, growth and salary aren’t the only considerations. I’ve started working in this domain straight out of college, just out of pure curiosity. The niche wasn’t as hot at that time and most of my friends didn’t quite get what I was doing and why.
Today, however, some family and friends feel way more interested in this whole “Internet advertising” kind-of-thing and tend to ask if that’s a good career choice. Mostly, I say perhaps. There are certainly pros and cons worth considering. And here are some of them.
Most organizations know that they want to use online marketing. Unfortunately, they don’t always know how they want to use it. They don’t understand how to budget for it. They don’t understand how to properly estimate the resources they’re going to need, or how to measure the results. In addition to this, many businesses start by trying to engage in digital marketing without any strategy. They just want to hire an “expert” that will do everything - from SEO to copywriting, to social media and email marketing - preferably for cheap.
As an inbound marketing professional, this can leave you in a tough position. You may find yourself of juggling a lot of roles at once, fixing existing campaigns with no budgets and,otherwise dealing with a lot of disorganization. Sometimes, when those that control the company purse strings aren’t convinced of the value of digital marketing you may find that you are expected to accomplish quite a bit on a shoestring budget. That’s not cool for sure.
While each company has its own policies regarding telecommuting, and there are times that you may be required to meet clients face to face even as an independent, this is an ideal job for some who prefers location independence. Nearly every aspect of the job can be done from any place that has a decent internet connection.
If you work as a freelancer, you may find yourself pitching your services to clients who don’t understand digital marketing or any of its subfields, and simply don’t see the need for it. This is especially true for boomers who have less exposure to content marketing, and more exposure to traditional marketing.
This leaves you with two challenges. First, you have to sell potential clients on the value of content marketing in order to get them on board. Then, once you’re working for them, you’ll have to educate them in terms of what a successful campaign looks like, and the amount of time and resources required to plan and execute these campaigns.
It can be frustrating to deal with expectations from clients that aren’t based in reality.
This isn’t a field that requires you to invest in loads of equipment or spread out into a vast office space. As long as you have the required experience and (self-)education, getting started doesn’t cost much at all. You simply need a computer, internet connection, and a reasonable workspace. There are some tools and apps that you may need as well. However, most of these digital marketing tools are free or very low cost; others may be more expensive, but pay-off themselves well.
Chances are, your highest cost is going to be in marketing yourself and your business. Just like you will do for your clients, you’ll have to set up a social media presence, create a portfolio of your products and services, and engage in outreach such as email marketing and online advertising.
If you opt for paid options, you will have to lay out some cash. Still, this is a pretty low cost line of work.
To put it simply, you don’t only have to learn your client’s needs and expectations, you have to understand their client’s needs and expectations. Every business that you work with is going to have a different target customer persona. Many of them will have several. These personas will have different values, interests, concerns, priorities, and fears. Because of this, each of these personas will respond differently depending on your content marketing or email marketing approach.
According to Webgator, “In order to be of value to your clients, you must be able to quickly learn about their customers, and plan campaigns that will reach them with the intended message. This knowledge must be applied to content creation, SEO, and other important elements. Then, you’ll need to use data analytics to help determine whether or not you were successful, and be prepared to pivot your approach quickly. In general, you are expected to always stay on top of the latest industry trends, experiment and be open to continuous learning through trial and errors”
As an online marketer, you aren’t bound by location. Neither are your potential clients. As long as you are willing to work on a very flexible time schedule, there’s no need to limit yourself to clients within a specific time zone or location. This allows you to cast a wider net as you look for clients or employers.
Because you aren’t limited by distance and can widen your search, these things combined with the overall growth in this field may allow you to be more selective in the jobs you search for and the clients you pursue. For example, you may choose to seek out work in the sports and entertainment industry, higher education, or in the not for profit space.
There are so many different career paths in digital marketing. Because of this, you can be in possession of any portion of a wide array of talents and find a place in this field.
If you love numbers and data and have a logical brain, there are positions available in data analytics and areas such as A/B testing changes to landing pages. If you’re a creative type, digital marketing requires the creation of lots of content. This includes visual content such as infographics and video as well as blogs, articles, social media posts, and digital advertising copy.
You don’t need to be a super outgoing, type a personality to be a successful online marketer either. Since so much of this work is done online, you don’t necessarily have to have a salesperson’s personality. This is especially true if you choose to work as an employee in the marketing department of a company. This way, you won’t need to do the marketing and promotional work required if you operate your own digital agency or work as a freelancer. Likewise, an outgoing personality can help you choose a role where sales and promotion are part of your duties.
It was mentioned above that the field of digital marketing has been growing for years. In the future, that will increase even more. In fact, it’s predicted that by 2021 US spending in digital marketing will increase to 120 billion dollars.
One of the primary reasons for this is that members of Gen Z are now becoming consumers. We already know that this form of marketing works when Millennials are the target. Add Gen Z, a generation who has been raised to be constantly connected, who relies on the internet as a primary source of information on products and services, and who prefers creating relationships with brands through social media, and this is sure to become the primary if not sole source of marketing.
Whether or not digital marketing is the career for you depends on a variety of factor. However, there are many more positives than negatives. This is a growing field with great earning potential, and there are roles for nearly anyone no matter where your talents may lie or your personality type. On the other hand, it’s a relatively new field. You may be frustrated at the disorganized and inconsistent way many businesses approach this. Getting clients to understand the ins and outs of this relatively new approach to marketing can be a challenge when it comes to making sales and managing expectations.