Launch Your Digital Marketing Career: How to Stand Out as a Candidate
With the rise of digital marketing specialist jobs, there's never been a better time to launch a digital marketing career. But how do you stand out from the competition? Here are 3 surefire ways to shine.
So you want a digital marketing career. That’s awesome! Now’s the perfect time to launch or grow a career in digital marketing.
In a 2021 report by LinkedIn, “digital marketing professionals” was ranked the sixth most in-demand job, with hiring for digital marketing roles growing almost 33% year-over-year.
The demand for roles in digital marketing is at an all-time high. And the opportunities are varied. Here are just a few examples of jobs related to digital marketing:
- content marketer
- digital marketing specialist
- email marketing manager
- marketing automation manager
- growth marketing manager
- marketing representative
- mobile marketing specialist
- search engine optimization specialist
- social media manager
- web developer
- web designer
The bad news is, according to the same report, 94% of candidates hired for those roles have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
But don’t let that discourage you. Even if you’re just starting out without any formal training or experience, you can still stand out and beat the competition.
3 Ways to Stand Out as a Digital Marketing Candidate
If you’re just launching your digital marketing career, there are a number of ways you can stand out among the competition.
1. Create an impressive online presence.
A digital marketing career is all about helping businesses and organizations to reach their audiences online. And so those who are looking for people to work on their digital marketing are conscious about the online presence of the candidates they’re considering. You can be sure one of the first things they’ll do is to check you out online.
And when a potential employer were to Google your name, what will they find? Will they find someone they’d be proud to add to their team? Or will they find embarrassing photos? Or will they find only folks who have the same name as you?
Try searching for yourself online and look at the results from the point-of-view of a prospective employer. Now, be your own digital marketing client! Create an online presence for yourself with as much thought and care as you would a paying client.
To create the most impressive online presence, you may want to focus on:
This can be a one-page site, if that’s all you can manage. But if you’re trying to launch a career in digital marketing and you don’t have experience or formal training, you’ll get better results by adding a blog to your site. That way, you can showcase your digital marketing knowledge through your blog posts. Your blog can make a better impression than any college or university degree.
Optimize your website for your name as well as the specific areas of digital marketing you want to break into. For example, if you want to become an email marketing manager, optimize your website for “[YOUR NAME] email marketing.”
Social Media Accounts
Public social media accounts are easily found by search engines, so make sure you’ve created your accounts. You don’t have to be active in all of them; it’s enough to have profiles at least on the biggest social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. LinkedIn isn’t as big as those platforms but it is the leading social media for professionals, so it’s worthwhile to have a profile there as well.
Again, optimize your profiles for your target keywords. Use only the most professional photos, and link all your social media accounts to your personal website. Do this well and you may find potential employers and headhunters reaching out to you through your social media profiles.
An online professional portfolio is where an aspiring digital marketer can truly shine. You can build your online portfolio on your personal website. Or, you can use an app like Mural, which is dedicated to building digital professional portfolios. Either way, give enough detail about the digital marketing problem or challenge you tackled, the strategies you implemented, and the results you obtained.
2. Demonstrate the Trifecta of Digital Marketing Skills
Another way to stand out as a digital marketing candidate is by acquiring an unusual combination of skills. Due to the nature of online marketing, never before have marketers needed this unique blend of abilities.
If you can show a potential employer that you have these, then you’ll be a very desirable digital marketer, indeed! These skills are:
The internet is built on content. And the vast majority of that content is written content. Website pages, blog posts, social media posts, text-based ads, emails—all that is made up of the written word.
What about online video and audio? Most videos are produced from scripts or, at the very least, written bullet points or show notes. Audio content, such as podcasts, may also start out from scripts, interview questions, or an outline.
Besides all that, images, audio, and video need written descriptions, titles, and meta data. Without these, audio-visual content can’t be crawled by search engines, and you won’t have an audience for your content.
As a marketer, you’ll also want to learn a specialized type of writing called copywriting. Writing effective copy is what distinguishes a writer from one who merely entertains, to one that actually gets the results. Hint: Employers want the latter.
Since I’ve just made the point that the internet is made up mostly of words, it may seem contradictory for me to now say that another digital marketing skill you need is visual communication or the use of images to convey ideas and concepts. Let me explain.
The web does rely heavily on text, yet humans are visual communicators and learners. It takes us only 1/10 of a second to comprehend a visual, but 60 seconds to read 250-250 words. Effective visuals increase our understanding.
And so, to have maximum impact, your text content needs equally compelling images. On a blog post, for example, the featured image (along with the title) is one of the first things that catches your attention before you decide to read the post. And then, supporting images draw you further into the post. They also help reinforce the ideas in the post and to make it more memorable.
On social media platforms, posts with images out-perform those without. Tweets with images get 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites, and 150% more retweets than plain text tweets. Similarly, on Facebook, posts with images get 2.3X more engagement than those without.
Visual communication skills for digital marketing don’t require you to be an artist or graphic designer. You do have to be able to identify relevant images and think in terms of visual metaphors (for example, how do you visualize an abstract concept?). You also need to learn the basics of good design.
Finally, a skill that will set you apart as a digital marketer is data analytics. One great thing about digital marketing campaigns is that most of the results are measurable. You can track visits, clicks, opens, shares, and sales. You can find out how much time people are spending on your website, as well as how far into a video they watch. You can see where they’re located and even what kind of devices they use to browse your site.
That’s great, but data is useful only if you know how to interpret what they all mean. Why is it significant, for example, that a single blog post draws 30% of your website’s monthly organic visitors? Or, what does it mean that 44% of the people who land on your registration page actually complete the sign-up process?
You don’t have to be a mathematician to have meaningful data analytics skills. You do have to know:
(1) which metrics are important to track vis-a-vis the marketing goals;
(2) how to interpret the data you have; and,
(3) how to translate those insights into strategies, tactics, and activities that get you closer to the marketing targets.
This brings us to the third thing that will help you stand out as a digital marketer….
3. Build A Track Record of Getting Results
You’ll stand out from other digital marketing job candidates if you can demonstrate that you’ve been able to deliver measurable results. This is another reason why it’s important to monitor and document data from digital marketing efforts.
Now you may find yourself in a dilemma here. If you don’t have work experience in digital marketing in the first place, how do you build a track record?
One way is, as mentioned above, making yourself your first digital marketing client. Implement your own campaigns to, say, increase organic traffic to your website or increase your newsletter subscribers. Try a strategy to grow your followers on Instagram, or make a YouTube or TikTok video go viral. Track and record your successes. Even better, blog about everything—even the failures—because digital marketing often involves trial and error.
Another terrific way to start building your track record is through a digital marketing apprenticeship. During an apprenticeship, you get to work on campaigns for real businesses. You also get training and guidance from a mentor who’s in the trenches of running a business. And you build relationships with your mentors, which can be the most valuable benefit of all.
Outshine the Competition with Your Practical Competence
If you’re wondering how to get a job in digital marketing, I hope this article has enlightened you on the skills you need. Demonstrate applied digital marketing skills and knowledge, and you’ll be way ahead of the competition.
But how do you gain experience when you haven’t gotten your first digital marketing job yet? You can do this by first being your own digital marketing client. Another great way to get real-world experience is by making the most of digital marketing apprenticeships. Do these two things, and you’ll be on your way to a rewarding digital marketing career.
Lexi Rodrigo is the former Content Manager at Acadium. As a marketing and communications professional and course creator, she helps remarkable brands get seen, heard, and known. She has been a digital marketer and copywriter since 2008. She's also the co-author of "Blog Post Ideas: 21 Proven Ways to Create Compelling Content and Kiss Writer's Block Goodbye." When she's not reading or writing, Lexi bakes bread, grows food, and takes long walks. Connect with Lexi on LinkedIn.
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