How to Become a Successful Digital Marketer

How to become successful digital marketer

Digital marketing skill is in high demand for past several years and demand for digital marketers has doubled.

There couldn’t be any better time to start your career as a digital marketer than now.

Statistics show that 39% of companies hired a new digital marketer in 2015.

hiring digital marketers by expertise

It is predicted that there will be 150K digital marketing jobs by 2020 and there won’t be enough professionals to fill them. Companies, big and small, need digital marketers to help them with several things such as SEO, reputation management, advertising, social media marketing, digital PR, and more.

Here is the thing.

Getting on the digital marketing bandwagon will help you excel in your career because digital marketing isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. As long as we have the internet, brands will need digital marketers.

Companies will need you.

Top 3 reasons why demand for digital marketers is expected to increase

So what makes digital marketing a great skill for the future? Here are a few reasons that clearly indicate why businesses cannot resist hiring new digital marketers.

1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that marketing jobs will rise 7% by 2024. You cannot ignore what BLS says, right?

2. Digital marketing spending has already surpassed traditional marketing spending. US retail industry digital ad spending is expected to cross $23 billion by 2020 and the total digital marketing spend in the US will cross $120 billion by 2021.

percent change in digital marketing vs traditional advertising

3. Global internet users have increased to 3.58 billion up from 3.39 billion in the previous year. These internet users will persuade brick-and-mortar businesses to switch to e-commerce.

Businesses are well aware of all these and many other statistics and changes that are taking place all over the world. They need digital marketers and they need a lot of them.

What makes a digital marketer successful?

Not all digital marketers are created equal. To be a successful digital marketer, you’ve to equip yourself with right skills, must have access to right tools and resources, must have ample experience, and you must be technically smart.

Let’s see what makes an ordinary digital marketer successful.

#1. Analytical and creative thinking

Among other skills, analytical thinking and creativity are the two core competencies that you should possess.

Analytical thinking is an ability to solve problems quickly and effectively. You’ve to develop the ability to gather information, identify problems, and come up with solutions immediately.

As a digital marketer, your job isn’t just to set up campaigns rather a major portion is related to analyzing results, tweaking campaigns, and making every campaign work.

Creative thinking, on the other hand, is an ability to solve problems uniquely by looking at them from a new angle. It helps you create novel solutions for traditional digital marketing problems.

In reality, creative and analytical thinking are two extremes and as a digital marketer, you’ve to possess both. According to Kayla Wagner of Revel Interactive:

“Digital marketing requires both creative thinking and analytical thinking, so we look for a candidate capable of and excited about both. Many new candidates want to focus purely on one or the other, but it’s important to bring “art and science” to each digital program.”

Here is a great resource that will help you enhance both types of skills at the same time.

#2. Technical expertise

Are you technically sound? Do you know how to use latest digital marketing tools?

You’ve to have this amazing ability to find and use the right tool for any given task at hand. You cannot equip yourself with all the digital marketing tools but you should have this ability to learn and adopt new tools quickly.

There is a right marketing tool for everything you’ve to do. If you use the right tool for the right purpose, your life will become easier as a digital marketer.

For instance, if you’ve to run a PPC campaign for a client, you’ve to use a tracking tool to track conversions and sales. Most of the advertisers don’t use tracking tools because they don’t know how to use one.

Start equipping yourself with technical expertise as well as experience so that you can serve your clients better.

#3. Other skills

Here is a list of other skills and abilities that will make you a successful digital marketer.

  1. Sales skills
  2. Expertise in marketing channels
  3. Objective thinking
  4. Data analysis
  5. Storytelling abilities
  6. Likable personality
  7. Agility
  8. Listening skills
  9. Design skills
  10. Ability to self-promote

Qualification and entry requirements

Becoming a digital marketer has certain requirements both in terms of education and specialization. All the leading business schools in the US offer full-time undergraduate programs in digital marketing so getting started isn’t hard. You need to be on the right path.

Required education

A bachelor’s degree in marketing or a similar field is required to become a digital marketer. An analysis of digital marketing specialist job advertisements on CareerBuilder reveals that candidates have to have a bachelor’s degree in marketing, communications, or graphic design.

Before anything else, you need to get yourself enrolled in a relevant program.

Here is a list of 40+ institutes that offer digital marketing degrees. Here is another list of 15 colleges.

Certification and courses

Digital marketing certifications and professional courses don’t require previous schooling or experience. Certifications and courses are a great option for those who don’t have relevant marketing college degree.

Even if you’ve a bachelor’s degree in marketing or a related field, digital marketing certifications will supercharge your resume and skills. These courses equip you with relevant skills (remember we talked about analytical and creative thinking skills).

Digital marketing certifications aren’t necessary rather just an add-on. The best part, you can get these certifications and courses online from your home.

This makes it easier for those with an irrelevant degree to become a digital marketer. This course at Udemy is one of the best that will teach you everything about digital marketing and is best for those with no relevant education or experience.

Here is a list of 20 online digital marketing certificates that you can choose from.


Digital marketing is a huge industry with several fields. It is best if you can choose a specific field and master it.

Specialization oppurtunities in digital marketing field

Specialization isn’t necessary but it will help you become a pro at your selected field. We will talk about digital marketing fields to specialize in the next section along with an awesome alternative.

T-shaped marketer

Specialization, as discussed above, isn’t necessary. Instead, you can choose to specialize in one or more digital marketing areas. For instance, you can specialize in SEO, social media marketing, and blogging.

When a marketer has broad knowledge covering a wide range of digital marketing tactics with specialization in one or two areas, he is known as a T-shaped marketer. This type of marketer is equipped with a range of different marketing skills.

 T-shaped marketer skills range

Becoming a T-shaped marketer has several benefits as compared to a traditional digital marketing with in-depth knowledge of one core area.

According to Buffer, there are three major components of a T-shaped marketer:

  1. Base knowledge
  2. Marketing foundation
  3. Channel expertise

three major components of a T-shaped marketer

According to Mike, you cannot master everything so your best bet is to become a T-shaped marketer so that you can handle diverse digital marketing projects with creativity while maintaining effectiveness.

As a T-shaped marketer, you know everything about digital marketing, you know everything about your chosen area, and you develop cross-discipline skills too. This makes you a successful digital marketer.

Components of digital marketing

Whether you decide to specialize in a specific digital marketing area or you intend to become a T-shaped marketer, you must have an understanding of the major digital marketing components so that you can choose the right areas based on your interest.

Here is a brief overview of digital marketing components that you can choose from.

Content marketing

It is one of the most used digital marketing types that involves creating and distributing valuable content to attract and retain target audience.

If you wish to pursue your career as a content marketer, here are a few additional skills that you should have:

  • Copywriting
  • Storytelling
  • Collaboration and communication
  • Ability to network and socialize

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Being an SEO, your job is to improve search engine ranking and to increase the quality as well as the quantity of organic traffic to a website.

You can choose to become an off-page SEO, on-page SEO, or a technical SEO specialist as these three are quite different and require different skills.

Here are primary skills that an SEO specialist needs to have:

  • Basic programming
  • HTML coding
  • Web hosting knowledge
  • MS Excel
  • Latest trends and news in digital marketing
  • Quick learner
  • Flexibility
  • Adaptability

Pay Per Click (PPC)

It is an online advertising model where an advertiser pays every time an ad is clicked. It includes search PPC, social PPC, and display PPC. As a PPC expert, your job will be to create, manage, and optimize PPC campaigns with different ad networks like AdWords and Facebook.

Skills needed to become a PPC expert include:

  • Analytical skills
  • MS Excel
  • Design skills
  • Copywriting
  • Sales
  • HTML and CSS

Email marketing

Marketing done via email is known as email marketing. Email marketers are required to generate leads, build relationships with new and existing customers, and manage autoresponders.

Skills needed to succeed as an email marketer are:

  • Copywriting
  • Customer relationship management
  • Lead generation and nurturing
  • Sales
  • Automation
  • Analytical skills

Social media marketing

It is a rapidly growing marketing type where you use social networks to engage, interact, and send visitors to a website. Social media marketing isn’t just restricted to managing social media accounts but it goes beyond it.

Interested in becoming a social media marketer? These are the skills you should have:

  • Knowledge of leading social networks
  • Community management
  • Copywriting
  • Design skills
  • Public speaking
  • Customer relationship management skills
  • Customer services
  • MS Excel
  • Adaptability

Digital PR

Traditional PR, when done on the internet, is called digital PR. It is used to build relationships with journalists and let them talk with your target audience.

Becoming an expert and successful digital PR calls for the following skills:

  • Copywriting
  • Media analysis
  • Communication and collaboration skills
  • Sociable nature
  • Creativity
  • International mindset
  • Global mindset
  • Technical flexibility

Web analytics and reporting

This is the technical side of digital marketing that relates to measurement, analysis, and reporting of data that is used for decision-making and optimizing digital marketing campaigns. Needless to say, web analytics and reporting sits at the center of digital marketing and is a very crucial area.

Mastering this digital marketing component needs a whole lot of technical skills such as:

  • Data visualization skills
  • Big data knowledge
  • Big data analytics
  • MS Excel
  • Problem solving
  • Analytical thinking
  • Statistical inference
  • Experience with several analytic tools
  • Ability to learn and adapt quickly

Mobile marketing

Marketing done via cellphones and smartphones is another growing digital marketing area. It includes everything ranging from apps to mobile optimization to text marketing to mobile SERPs and more.

Here are a few major skills that a mobile marketing expert should have:

  • Mobile-friendly personality
  • Design skills
  • HTML and CSS
  • Copywriting


It shouldn’t be surprising. The design is a digital marketing area that’s closely related to CSS. As an expert designer, you’d not just be creating infographics, images, and GIFs, but you’ll work with website design, mobile optimization, landing page design, logo and icon development, and more.

Here are a few skills you’d need to be successful in this specific area:

  • Creativity
  • Typography
  • Communication
  • Design software
  • Color theory
  • Problem solving
  • HTML and CSS

Marketing automation

Automating marketing processes with the help of tools and advanced software is the need of time. As a marketing automation expert, you’ll mostly deal with automated marketing tools. This is another rapidly growing digital marketing area.

The skills that a marketing automation expert requires are:

  • Technically sound
  • Analytical thinking
  • Advanced analytics
  • In-depth understanding of marketing tools
  • Creativity
  • Quick learner
  • Flexibility

Which field to specialize

There aren’t any hard and fast rules as to which digital marketing field you should specialize in. Choose the one that you think you’re exceptionally good at.

The field that interests you should be your top priority.

You don’t necessarily have to choose a single field instead choose more fields and try becoming a T-shaped marketer.

Digital marketer salary

Digital marketers earn some serious money. The average salary of a digital marketing manager in the US ranges from $51K per year to $114K per year.

The average salary of a marketing manager is $72K a year while a strategy manager earns well over $114K a year.

average salary of a marketing manager

The salary is associated with your field. Social media managers earn less than content managers.

 salary is associated with your marketing field

According to United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary of a digital marketer is $62,150. This is the average salary of a marketing specialist. Salaries for other jobs are different.

You should choose your specialization field carefully as it is linked to your salary.

Best resources for digital marketers

A part of digital marketer’s job is to stay updated and current. There are certain digital marketing areas such as SEO that change too quickly. You cannot stay ahead of your competitors if you don’t have access to right resources.

Here is a list of sites and blogs that you should subscribe to based on your area of interest.

SEO: Google Official Blog, Moz, Search Engine Land, Backlinko, Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Journal

PPC: AdWords Blog, PPC Hero, WordStream, PPC Chat, Tenscores

Content marketing: CMI, HubSpot, Copyblogger, BuzzSumo

Social media marketing: Social Media Examiner, Buffer, Convince and Convert, Seth Godin

Email marketing: Econsultancy, Pure360, Drip, Marketo

Network with digital marketers

College, certificates, and blogs don’t teach you everything. You’ve to build relationships with the top digital marketers who shape and control digital marketing industry.

Follow some of the best digital marketers you know. Here is what you’ll get in return.

  • You’ll be able to build relationships with them.
  • You’ll never miss a new update or latest trends in your field because all the big guns will talk about them.
  • You’ll be able to find and connect with fellow digital marketers easily.

You don’t just have to follow influencers in your field but you’ve to connect and build relationships with fellow digital marketers. These networks go a long way and at the same time, you learn a lot.

Here are a few top digital marketers to follow.

  1. Neil Patel
  2. Oli Gardner
  3. Jeff Bullas
  4. Rand Fishkin
  5. Larry Kim


There couldn’t be any better time than now to start your career as a digital marketer. I’m sure if you’ll stick to this guide, nothing can stop you from becoming a successful marketing professional.

Digital marketing is a massive industry that has a lot to offer you with. There are several alternative career choices that are closely related to digital marketing such as media planner, public relations account executive, public affairs consultant, etc.

Choose your field and get started today.

All the best.

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  • Nice reading, though my salary is little lower than 72k as a Marketing Manager, and I am located in Ohio!


    • Hey Ilijah,

      Keep up the good work and I think/hope your salary will increase time to time !