Just thirty years ago, digital marketing didn’t even exist, and now it’s one of the most global, innovative and fastest-growing professions. Right now, demand for digital marketing professionals has way outstripped supply, leaving a significant digital skills gap that’s just waiting to be filled.
Because of this shortage of skilled marketers, digital marketing is an excellent career choice with lots of opportunity. In Australia, digital marketers earn an average salary of AU$80,000, and the role is in big demand with a huge projected job growth rate of 25% over the next five years.
Digital marketing is potentially a great career choice if you’re digitally savvy and already broadly using social media.
However, keep in mind that digital marketing involves more than being good at using TikTok or Instagram. Actually, digital marketing encompasses lots of different channels, and some surprising skills that you may not have heard of or ever considered.
Here’s your seven-step expert guide on kick-starting your digital marketing career from Torrens University.
Follow these steps and do all the groundwork, and you’ll be landing your first entry-level digital marketing job in less than a year.
1. Learn the basics about marketing channels, data analytics and SEO
Digital marketing is any advertising delivered through digital channels, such as search engines, websites, blogs, affiliate or influencer promotions, social media, email, video streaming platforms and mobile apps. Digital marketing campaigns are part of a company's broader marketing strategy, and even in 2022 they are still often run in tandem with traditional marketing campaigns using television, print and billboard advertising.
Data analytics is the process by which the data you collect via all the various digital channels can be interpreted and put to use, helping you understand and reach your audiences. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is how you draw people to your distribution channels using terms and keywords on popular search engines. These are two of the core elements of digital marketing, and you need to understand how they work before you can run any successful campaign.
Of course, that’s just a tiny fraction of what you need to know. There are a lot of complex concepts and skills you must learn to become an expert digital marketer.
To get into a senior digital marketing role you will certainly at some point need to complete a bachelor course in marketing. There are key elements of business and marketing theory and strategy that do require committed study, if you want to get a full grasp on them, and formal study will give you the broad business context necessary to be a truly strategic and valued professional marketer.
2. Explore the essential digital marketing tools and platforms
We’ve already mentioned some of the different channels that make up digital marketing, which include social media, search engines and video streaming platforms. It’s important to develop a familiarity with these platforms, and the best way to do that is through using them. In particular, you should focus on the platforms that are most often used by marketers to reach the biggest audiences:
- Google Search
However, as we said before: digital marketing is about far more than social media. Digital marketers also use a lot of back-end tools and software in order to collect and analyse data, measure reach, test SEO relevance, review, monitor and report on campaigns, schedule posts and integrate multiple platforms. Some of the most popular of these kinds of back-end tools include:
- Google Data Studio, Google Analytics and Google Adwords
- Survey Anyplace
- All in One SEO
- Apache Spark
Many entry-level digital marketing positions also require you to create content and build, evaluate or edit websites. That means you will need to have some experience with website building, digital design, photo and video editing software.
Squarespace, Wix and Wordpress are among the most popular website builders. For image, design and video editing, the most popular are the Adobe creative suite, including Photoshop and InDesign, although there are cheaper alternatives.
When you interview for digital marketing positions, you’ll be asked about your familiarity with at least some of these platforms. Of course, you can’t expect to become an expert at using all these programs and platforms overnight. So, invest some time familiarizing yourself. You can watch video tutorials or roll your sleeves up and start playing around to learn how they operate. This insight will help you in an interview.
3. Do some volunteer work to boost your experience
Digital marketing is one area where it’s really easy to get experience for your resume simply by volunteering your time. There are lots of small businesses, charities, social enterprises and nonprofit organisations out there who need help reaching a broader audience online, but who don’t have a budget to pay for additional staff.
As a volunteer, not only do you get to try out diverse roles that might be out of your reach in paid employment, you also get to do something positive for society while learning on the job. Plus, working for charities makes your resume stand out. It’s a win-win for everyone.
You can look for volunteer digital marketing, content creation and social media roles on listing sites such as Indeed, EthicalJobs or Seek Volunteer. Or, you can contact a local charity, small business or organisation directly, and ask them if they need a volunteer to develop and run a digital marketing campaign. If you’ve learned some basic digital marketing principles and know how to use the right platforms, your time will be valuable to them even if you’re new to the field.
As mentioned before, a bachelor’s degree in marketing is essential, and the most valuable bachelor’s degrees include a work placement component. As part of the placement, you will gain real-world, relevant experience with an established organisation.
4. Develop your soft skills
Marketing is fundamentally an exercise in persuasion. As a profession, it is built around knowledge that developed within the field of psychology and consumer behaviour. As a digital marketer, your job is to persuade your audience that your product is better suited to their needs, values or the expression of their identity than anything else on the market.
To do so, you need to understand people, empathise with their perspective, as well as effectively communicate, connect and build ongoing relationships with them. More than digital tech skills, that requires soft skills, such as:
- Communication and writing
- Visual literacy
- Active listening
- Problem solving
- Attention to detail
- Cultural literacy and awareness of digital memes and trends
- Cross-cultural communication
Just like digital platforms, all these soft skills can be learned through practise. You will develop them on the job, particularly in any position that requires you to work with customers or on a team. Here are a few more tips on how you can improve your soft skills through self-teaching.
5. Create your own digital marketing project with goals and timelines
The beauty of digital marketing is that you can learn so much just by doing. Most of the platforms and programs you need to run a digital marketing campaign are free or fairly cheap, and available easily online. In your spare time you can run your own project and learn a lot by doing, without the pressure of having to produce results for an employer. Here’s how:
- Pick a concept for a website or social media account that interests you. Whether it’s cat memes, humour, bird pictures, life hacks, tutorials or home cooking, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s going to be interesting and fairly easy to make content for.
- Write a digital marketing strategy and a digital marketing plan for your concept. During this process, you will choose several channels and a range of KPIs that will allow you to measure performance.
- Build a website, social media account or other digital platforms around your concept, choosing channels and programs that allow you to monitor traffic.
- Now, you can get to work implementing your strategy and running and monitoring your own digital marketing campaign, keeping track of the clicks and audience response you get as you work along a timeline.
- Review the performance of your project at the end of the timeline and write up some key results in a report. You can then use these on your resume to demonstrate your actual successes, for example: July 2021: Cat video project, gained 7000 followers within 6 weeks.
6. Build an impressive online profile
As a digital marketing professional, you are naturally going to be held to a high standard when it comes to selling your own skills online. You will need to develop a solid presence on LinkedIn and any other professional social media you choose to use, as well as a great looking website and online portfolio. Here are some tips on how to build an impressive presence online as a digital marketer.
7. Apply for entry level jobs
At this stage, you will have enough in your online portfolio to be able to confidently walk into an interview and talk about the skills you have to offer. Luckily for you, the digital skills shortage means there are quite a few entry-level positions in the job market currently. According to job listing site Seek, there are more than 8000 digital marketing positions being advertised in Australia right now. You can target entry-level jobs, such as:
- Junior Social Media Manager
- Digital Marketing Junior Officer
- Digital Content Management Trainee
With all the projects, volunteer work, skills, experience and platform knowledge you now have listed on your resume, you’ll be on your way to your first digital marketing job in no-time.