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Digital marketing management is a timely career choice for innovative thinkers who want to work on the cutting edge of their field.

As print advertising declines, digital marketing channels have emerged as crucial avenues for customer outreach and retention. Specialists in digital marketing help businesses use these powerful channels effectively.

Our guide offers an in-depth look at how to become a digital marketing manager. Find out more about what these managers do, discover job outlook in the field and explore the steps to this career.

What Is a Digital Marketing Manager?

Role and Responsibilities

Digital marketing managers oversee their employers’ or clients’ electronic media marketing strategies, including channels like email, social media, blogs, websites and SMS.

Digital marketing managers leverage creativity, data analysis and leadership skills to promote products and services, focus on customer needs and industry trends, enhance brand awareness and help companies grow.

These professionals often lead teams of professionals who specialize in areas such as search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), content creation, email marketing, pay-per-click advertising (PPC) and influencer marketing.

Work Environment

Some digital marketing managers work for individual companies, where they gain deep knowledge of customer needs in specific industries. Others work for marketing and advertising agencies with multiple clients in different industries. Major marketing firms like Accenture and Deloitte Digital hire digital marketing managers, as do digital marketing pioneers like Razorfish.

Marketing careers offer widespread remote work opportunities, particularly in the tech industry and among companies that primarily make sales online. About 40% of the 2023 CMO Survey respondents reported that their teams worked exclusively from home, and 57% stated that they worked from home some of the time. Remote work means many digital marketing specialists can accept jobs anywhere without relocating.

How To Become a Digital Marketing Manager

Consider Courses or a Degree in Digital Marketing

If you’re planning a digital marketing career, start by studying the field to build your skills and knowledge. How you choose to learn depends on your background and personal strengths.

For example, a recent high school graduate might pursue a traditional bachelor’s in marketing or a bachelor’s in business. On the other hand, a career-changer who already has a bachelor’s in another field may prefer to supplement their existing degree with a digital marketing bootcamp or opt for a short certificate program from an academic institution like UCLA or Oregon State University.

Many employers prefer digital marketing management candidates with bachelor’s degrees or higher—often in marketing or business. Marketing and business majors often offer digital marketing concentrations. However, specialists in digital marketing can come from diverse educational backgrounds.

If you lack a related degree, you can still learn job-relevant skills through bootcamps, certificate programs and low-cost or free online courses. You can also pursue an online digital marketing degree if you need more scheduling flexibility.

Look into Certifications

People often confuse certifications with certificates. Both credentials can help advance your career, but academic institutions issue certificates, while industry leaders like businesses and professional organizations issue certifications. Certification requirements may include coursework, exams, previous degrees and professional experience.

Earning a certification can help you showcase the skills and knowledge employers are looking for. Digital marketing certifications often focus on key industry software, tools and practices like SEO and PPC marketing. Popular digital marketing certification providers include the American Marketing Association, HubSpot, Google and Meta.

Develop a Digital Marketing Portfolio

A strong portfolio can help you stand out among candidates with similar backgrounds. Think of your portfolio as an opportunity to market one of your most important clients—yourself.

A digital marketing portfolio typically includes several components:

  • An “About” section that reflects your personality and describes your experience and credentials
  • Work samples that highlight your favorite campaigns and show off your strengths
  • Contact information, including your email, phone number and relevant social media accounts
  • Your résumé

Some professionals also may include blogs, client testimonials and a list of their rates and services.

Build Your Network

Networking is one of the most effective job search practices. A 2022 report from Aptitude Research showed that 54% of new hires found their jobs through employee referrals. If you’re a student, your class cohort may be one of the first places you develop network connections, along with your professors and internships.

As you progress toward your goals, connect with potential allies and mentors by attending marketing-focused events and conferences. Also, follow industry leaders, companies and professionals you admire on social media. Maintain your network, even when you’re not looking for a job.

Salary and Job Outlook for Digital Marketing Managers

Digital marketing managers are part of a fast-growing, forward-thinking field. According to Expert Market Research, the global digital marketing industry value stood at $363.05 billion as of 2023, and is projected to grow to $1.1 trillion by 2032.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the marketing industry’s shift toward digital channels and increased overall marketing budgets. While marketing budgets have dropped back toward pre-2020 levels as the pandemic has receded, the increasing digitization of daily life continues to push more and more commerce activities online. According to the 2023 CMO survey, digital marketing efforts make up about 54% of companies’ marketing budgets on average, making now a great time to consider becoming a digital marketer.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a 2023 median salary of $157,620 for all marketing managers, including digital marketing managers and those in other marketing specializations. The BLS also projects job growth of 7% (double the national average) for these professionals from 2022 to 2032.

Payscale data from April 2024 shows an average annual salary of about $74,300 for individuals with the digital marketing manager job title. However, as marketing professionals gain experience and rise through the ranks, their job titles may change as their earning power increases. A director of digital marketing earns about $112,000 a year, while marketing VPs average nearly $154,000.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Becoming a Digital Marketing Manager

What skills does a digital marketing manager need?

Digital marketing managers need a mix of soft and hard skills. They should be creative, flexible thinkers with strong communication, project management and leadership abilities. On the hard skills side, they need proficiency in SEO, SEM, PPC and data analytics.

How long does it take to become a digital marketing manager?

There’s no set timeline for becoming a digital marketing manager. Earning a bachelor’s degree in a related field usually takes about four years, and some professionals also earn M.B.A.s or master’s degrees in marketing, typically adding another two years. Timelines vary for individuals learning through non-degree formats. After completing your education, you may spend several years in junior roles before landing a managerial position.

Do I need a degree to be a digital marketer?

You don’t need a degree to become a digital marketer, although many people in this career hold bachelor’s degrees in marketing and business. Aspiring digital marketing specialists without related degrees can break into the profession through bootcamps, online courses and self-study.

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