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Seven Skills You Need to Land a High-Paying Digital Marketing Job

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Marketing has undergone substantial changes in recent years, and digital marketing has come out on top. Across the world, developers, data and insight analysts, and digital marketing managers are in high demand, often raking in salaries well over the six-figure mark. In fact, US News and World Report ranked marketing manager as the third-paying job of 2015, only behind physician and dentist. However, many digital marketing roles are going unfilled.


A talent gap exists right now in digital marketing. A whopping 90% of marketers report suffering from a shortage of digital skills, and only 8% of surveyed companies feel strong in the area of digital marketing, according to "The Future-Proof Marketer in 2015" [email required] whitepaper by digital technology training company Grovo.

Job seekers looking to enter the field need to build skills that make them competitive now.

In training digital marketing professionals, building corporate training programs, and connecting employers with digital talent, I've developed a solid understanding of the top skills professionals need to land lucrative digital jobs this year.

Moreover, my colleagues at Digital Professional Institute and I studied hundreds of job postings for digital talent, and we ended up with numbers to prove how valuable digital skills are in the current job market.

Must-Have Areas of Expertise for Today's Marketer

Here's a look at the different areas in which marketers need skills (and what skills are needed).

1. Search engine optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization has been around for a while, but it's more necessary than ever for digital marketers to build proficiency. Ranked fifth on LinkedIn's 25 Hottest Skills That Got People Hired in 2014, SEO was also cited as a required skill for 14% of the companies we looked at in the Digital Professional Institute study.

The best digital marketers know SEO is more than just understanding keywords and getting them on their sites. It's about optimizing websites at a page and server level to generate traffic and conversion.

To compete as a candidate for a high-paying digital marketing job, it's imperative to have technical SEO skills, including server-side settings, sitemaps, and server response codes. Moreover, competitive candidates should have experience using Moz, SEMRush, and other tools to identify customers' search behaviors and the competitive landscape.

2. Pay-per-click (PPC)

Some 7% of the companies we looked at in the study listed Search Engine Marketing (SEM) as a required skill in their job descriptions—and one of the most important and growing facets of SEM is pay-per-click (PPC).

In theory, PPC strategy is simple: increase traffic to a company's website by buying ads on search engines that charge based on the number of clicks to the website.

In practice, however, PPC is a lot more complicated.

To develop a modern PPC strategy, today's digital marketer needs to identify and group promising keywords for ad campaigns, draft compelling ads positioned to optimize click rates, and measure the results of online advertising campaigns to gain insights on how to increase ROI.

To demonstrate your abilities in this area, you need to show that you have the research and analytical skills required to create and execute a strong PPC plan that aligns with an overarching marketing strategy.

3. Mobile

Smartphones have become an omnipresent element of our daily lives, so marketers should be taking advantage of mobile opportunities. However, mobile marketing is still a relatively new field, and most businesses are behind the curve in terms of optimizing their marketing for mobile.

To demonstrate value in this area, you need to understand how mobile marketing differs from desktop marketing and communicate why that matters to the rest of the business.

Moreover, a digital marketer should have general familiarity with mobile development to best communicate with the design team and create a cohesive mobile marketing strategy that aligns with other online and offline efforts.

You don't need to go learn iOS and Android development right away, but you should get familiar with its vocabulary, such as SMS marketing and responsive design.

4. Email marketing

There's a reason we still get so much email: Email marketing has a proven track record.

To be a strong digital marketer, you must do more than send out regular communication. You must know how to optimize your email marketing by crafting a compelling strategy, testing relentlessly, and refining content based on what work best.

Moreover, today's marketers must understand the best ways to harvest new email addresses, develop distribution lists, and use email nurturing to create more business opportunities.

5. Social Media

Think you can just post any #ThrowbackThursday tweet and start raking in new followers?

Some 10% of the businesses we looked at in the Digital Professional Institute study cite a requirement for social media experience among applicants, and that doesn't mean they just want someone with an active personal Twitter account.

Digital marketers need to understand how to develop a strong social media presence for a business that bolsters their brand and furthers their marketing goals. A social media-savvy digital marketer should have knowledge of the different platforms the company uses, their ad opportunities, and their targeting options to develop a social media strategy capable of affecting business growth.

Also, digital marketers must know the latest digital marketing trends, from the popularity of images on Twitter to hashtags to changes in Facebook's news feed algorithm.

In this role, a digital marketer should be able to educate a social media audience on a brand, engage with audience members through the creation of value-driven content, and eventually turn them from leads into conversions.

6. Content management

The ability to create quality content is integral to every other aspect of a company's marketing operation. Your SEO, email marketing, and social media skills are useless if you don't back your technical skills with excellent writing for multiple platforms.

The ability to flow easily between writing emails, press releases, website copy, proposals, social posts, and even code is crucial for success in today's digital marketing field.

When applying for a high-paying digital marketing job, make sure you demonstrate your ability to write across media and to guide and polish the content of others on your team.

7. Analytics

An applicant for a digital marketing job may have all the skills above, but they aren't much help without the analytic skills to interpret and report the efficacy of digital marketing efforts.

In the Digital Professional Institute study, a whopping 13% of businesses listed analytics background and experience as a required skill in their job descriptions, meaning applicants need to demonstrate their comfort with analytics tools, evaluation, and comparison.

To be a great digital marketer, you'll need to not only implement strong inbound and outbound digital strategies, but analyze them regularly, and use those insights to constantly improve. Without the ability to crunch the data received from social media, email campaigns, SEO, PPC and content, digital marketers have no way to prove their value to a company.

If you want to land a high-paying digital marketing job and keep it, make ROI your middle name.

* * *

Job seekers, close the digital marketing talent gap and work to gain the skills you need to land a high-paying job in this growing field. Prove that you have these uber-important digital marketing skills, and you’ll be in high demand from employers who want to get ahead in the digital space.

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Avi Levine is executive director of the Digital Professional Institute (DPI), a Chicago-based programming and digital marketing school affiliated with Tribeca Flashpoint College.

LinkedIn: Avi Levine 

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  • by doug shaw Fri Jun 12, 2015 via web

    I believe these fields are so broad and dynamic and require so much continuous re-certification that it is impossible to have operating level knowledge of all of them. Perhaps you could have currency in 2-3 of them, and 5000 foot level knowledge of others. That is if you also plan on having some semblance of life outside of your profession.

  • by Steve Lubahn Fri Jul 3, 2015 via web

    doug shaw, I understand where you are coming from, but I also believe that if someone stays current on industry trends and tries to do some ongoing work in all of these areas it is possible an individual to stay current.

    It is probably somewhat easier for marketers in very small firms to stay current, since they have to apply all the areas in the article in their jobs.

    In my case, working for an a marketing agency with hundreds of clients that specializes in website development and internet marketing, we have to be knowledgeable in all the areas to be successful helping clients set their marketing strategies and have a solid ROI on their digital marketing projects.

    I do agree that getting the certifications forces you to understand both the concepts and the application. In my own situation, I have also found that being an instructor for workshops, and now also teaching an adjunct course in internet marketing and social media at a local university has been a way for me to both keep current, and get exposed to new ideas from students and workshop attendees.

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