Is there a Digital Marketing Career in Your Future?

Picture of Hafiz M. Ali

Hafiz M. Ali

future of marketing

Digital jobs were practically non-existent in the year 2000, but these days, there are so many jobs that fit beneath the digital marketing job umbrella, your choices may seem unlimited.

How do you position yourself so you’re successful in the digital marketing arena? By preparing properly. And you’ll be happy to learn that while a university degree may help you climb the promotion ladder faster, plenty of people with a few years of college–or who have been re-trained after another career–can find employment.

How many Digital Marketing job categories are there?

According to The Balance, the field of digital marketing can be divided into three sub-categories for practical purposes: mainstream, multi-channel and e-commerce digital marketing.


Jobs that fit into the mainline digital field include marketing specialists and managers, creative types–copywriters, designers, public relations and media wonks—big-picture digital minds who excel at project management and analysis.

This area also requires project managers able to handle the nuts and bolts of research, sourcing, logistics and fulfilment. At the heart of mainline digital businesses are mobile marketing specialists, app developers and social media experts capable of driving opinion, sales, social attitudes and behavioural change.


If multi-channel digital marketing is your career goal, having a razor sharp mind and the ability to juggle more balls than a circus professional will pay off. As the liaison between manufacturers, marketers, consultants, retailers and other players, the responsibility of a multi-channeler is best described by an Eddie Bauer marketer who joked that anyone working in multi-channel must to be able to bounce between bricks (stores), clicks (online) and flips (catalogs). A large number of multi-channel job opportunities are in management.


Ask old school marketers to define E-commerce digital marketing and you may not get a reaction. E-commerce didn’t exist 15 years ago, but the growth of consumer online purchasing has been explosive, so you’ll now find the term in dictionaries and glossaries.

E-commerce professionals understand that consumers don’t merely shop online retailers; they also engage in comparative research. It is incumbent upon e-commerce marketers to produce data that is current, relevant and comprehensive.

E-commerce is also an appealing niche for creatives skilled at talking directly to both consumer and commercial shoppers.

6 traits of a great Digital Marketer

It takes someone with insights into human behaviour to probe minds in order to figure out what message, product or price point appeals to distinct groups of shoppers. Honing one’s intuitive skills could be the greatest qualification of all for future digital marketers. has published criteria you can use to decide if this field is a good match for you. See how closely these characteristics match your personality as you move forward with your career selection. If it tells you that digital marketing is good for you then you have to find out which career in digital marketing is right for you according to your personality. Take this test:

1. Willingness to become known as a “shoestring thought-leader.” Translation? You’re an insightful marketer skilled at blogging, communicating and pontificating on red hot platforms like Quora, LinkedIn and Instagram, but your goal isn’t passing along gossip; it’s influencing shoppers in such subtle ways, they don’t know they’re targeted. To pull this off, digital marketers must be passionate, knowledgeable and innovative to achieve success.

2.Determination. The obstinacy that your mom described as frustrating can take you far in the field of digital marketing because this industry can be a perpetual exercise in experimentation filled with starts, stops and frustration as uncharted territory is explored. Says Simply Hired, practice makes perfect, so if you tend to be impatient and don’t deal with disappointment well, you may want to seek another career path.

3. Focus. Once upon a time, marketing welcomed generalists with open arms because professionals received a broad-based education that allowed one to find his or her place quickly. These days, digital marketers are urged by educators and professionals alike to specialize early. Does that mean you won’t have to pay your dues? Unlikely. But identifying and focusing on areas that feel right is a process that takes less time these days than it did a decade ago. And because the field is speciality rich, you can switch roles frequently without worrying about being perceived as a job hopper.

4. Eagerness to pursue varied educational paths throughout one’s career. Nobody interested in becoming a digital marketer can afford to ignore basic foundations of marketing that have been around since cave men offered to decorate neighbour’s caves in exchange for a few fish. Truly creative minds require more than pedantic theories to grow. The sheer volume of digital marketing-specific webinars, online forums, workshops and industry-specific courses available to digital marketers is expansive and picks up the educational journey where college and/or graduate school ends.

5. Nimble to Decide A willingness to be nimble when deciding where to fit into the scheme of things. Conduct a random survey of people in your sphere. Ask where they began their education and where they landed after graduation. You are likely to find impressive numbers of people who, for example, started as accounting majors and wound up entrenched in a digital accounting career, arts and sciences folks who became content copywriters or web designers and a math whiz or two who discovered their passions as e-commerce market strategists or analysts.

6. A talent for understanding “what makes people tick.” This is particularly critical, say marketers at the Sales Lion, because motivation, inspiration and out-of-the-box thinking skills can’t be underestimated in this meteoric field where bets are placed on creative projects that may sink or swim fast. Further, a talent for organizing and compartmentalizing are invaluable tools for digital marketers.

Where to go to do what you want to do

Claire Adkins, writing for “Advertising Age” magazine in 2008, profiled institutions of higher learning that produce the best of the best graduates in the field of digital media. Each retains a great reputation and represents a wide geographic spread as well:

1. Virginia Commonwealth University; Brandcenter
2. New York University; Tisch School of the Arts Interactive Telecommunications Program
3. Art Center College of Design; Pasadena, California; Undergraduate Advertising Program
4. The University of Texas at Austin Department of Advertising
5. The Miami Ad School; Miami, Florida

By 2015, so many universities had developed their own digital marketing programs, Ad Age stopped ranking them, but that hasn’t stopped other resources, like Search Engine Journal (SEJ), from doing just that. Of the 15 digital marketing programs that were identified by SEJ as being the best training programs in the U.S., all five of the original Ad Age picks remain on the list, so if you’re looking for your program, this makes a good starting point.

Become a trend tracker to excel at your trade

Smart Insights is just one of the many resources marketers use to try to project what’s on the horizon for digital marketers, and it’s incumbent upon you to add this skill set to your repertoire.

Can you be trained to spot trends? Yes, and no. But if you read, listen and pay attention to what’s going on around you, you can develop a pretty good sense of what’s about to start trending. It’s equally important to know which trends are waning so you don’t expend time or money on digital trends that have become obsolete.

The good news is that trend tracking is a skill and business in its own right, and you can depend upon these experts to buoy your own investigative work, keeping in mind that trends are always in flux. Additionally, you may ultimately need to do your own legwork if you seek industry-specific trends that may not be routinely reported.

Where were the jobs in 2016?

The folks at Smart Insights asked 1500 digital marketing professionals for feedback on the eight top jobs that topped 2016 employment reports and the results of their survey may surprise you if you’ve got preconceived notions about what’s hot and what’s not in the realm of digital marketing employment. These are rank ordered by response numbers:

1. Content marketing
2. Big data (predictive analysis)
3. Marketing automation
4. Mobile marketing (app and site development; mobile advertising)
5. Social media marketing
6. Wearables (activity trackers; augmented reality)
7. Conversion rate optimization
8. Search engine optimization

Factors that could alter this list in the future

Amanda Rendle, HSBC global head of marketing for commercial and global banking markets, has summarily banned the word “digital” from the vocabularies of her staff because she’s eager to develop intuitive minds in which her direct reports “think beyond the digital silo.”

She advocates going back to the true roots of marketing, eschewing what Daria Kelly Uhlig describes as “standing alone to deliver on one specific task” in her tutorial on silo marketing.

What path will your career in digital marketing take? Will you become an island (silo) or part of a team that pursues a more integrated road? This digital transformation model has become a hotly debated topic within the digital marketing community.

Post-digital thinking in a post-digital marketing world led Jeff Dodds, the CEO of Tele 2 Netherlands, to decry silos and urge future marketers to pursue a more team-based approach. “There is too much talk about roles: digital job titles, digital strategies. Digital is not something that needs a job title.”

Confused? No need to be. What all of these movers and shakers are saying is that the digital marketing world is moving at warp speed and if you intend to pursue a career in the industry, you’ll need to develop a thick skin that’s also flexible, because this is no career path for the faint of heart or risk-averse!

The future is bright in terms of benefits and perks

According to the Digital Marketing Institute, you can look forward to a digital marketing career in the next few years that include these four major benefits:

1. You’ll almost always be in demand. Think of yourself as a plumber whose skills will always be needed as long as infrastructure exists, but you won’t be required to don waders or sleuth out sewer blocks. By 2020, modest projections by digital marketing job seers predict 150,000 job openings. This translates to a rise in demand of about 38-percent in the next year alone.

2. You can brag to your friends about how many career choices are open to you. Some of them may come with a ticket to see the world. Political wrangling notwithstanding, the fact remains that Dublin is home to the big three digital marketing giants (LinkedIn, Google, Twitter) so your dream of world travel could come with a tidy paycheck, and Dublin’s not the only commercial hub for U.S. businesses on the planet.

3. You can expect a healthy paycheck, driven in part by demand, but especially by experience. In an economy that has come up short since the catastrophic 2008 financial crisis, the future looks bright for marketers in general, says the quintessential Department of Labor publication, “The Occupational Outlook Handbook” (OOH). Projected growth is expected to hit 19-percent, a faster-than-average increase. In terms of marketing job openings, the OOH projects 92,300 positions will be added by 2024, and a large number of these are expected to be in digital.

4. You can carve out a unique career rather than acquire a job. Creative types can fill digital portfolios with live samples of campaigns, projects and video resumes that give immediate insights into the breadth and depth of one’s talents so potential employers or clients can see first-hand what you’re capable of producing. Further, the concept of creative license has never been more aptly applied to a product that’s digital. In sum, given the world wide web, the old adage that one must “pay their dues” before exercising entrepreneurial wings no longer applies.

What does that mean for you? Succinctly, the future and scope of digital marketing look bright and your role within the field can be customized for a perfect fit. Match your aspirations with the education you choose and keep options open because you never know in which direction your interests may take you after you’ve been exposed to a teacher, class or influencer you meet along the way. What will you do to pursue your ambitions and dreams in the lucrative, ever-changing field of digital marketing?

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