Career Advice

The Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing Jobs: Essential Skills and Career Paths

Access our comprehensive guide to the key abilities you need to become a great digital marketer, with insights into career progression opportunities and the skills recruiters are looking for now.

Digital marketing has undoubtedly become one of the fastest-growing and highest-demand sectors in modern business – whether you’d like to become a top executive working in-house for a global brand or are keen to carve out a niche within a specific industry as a freelancer.

Today’s businesses across the spectrum of B2B, B2C and charitable organizations rely on digital marketing and the teams that manage their campaigns and public relations to share messaging, promote and advertise their products and services, and establish a loyal following or brand-based community.

The challenge for many applicants is that the vast diversity of jobs, careers, and skills needed within digital marketing can make it difficult to create a water-tight strategy or understand where to focus your studies to get ahead.

In this guide from the digital marketing pros at the Digital Marketing Jobs Board, we’ve outlined all you need to know, whether you’re fine-tuning your resume or working out how to create an on-spec job description.

Understanding the Demand for Professional Digital Marketers

Consumers and businesses conduct a huge proportion of their activities online, be that on a mobile or smart TV, a tablet, a laptop, or a good old-fashioned PC. From a business perspective, that means communications have to be fully digitized and optimized to ensure great visibility.

That could mean recruiting a digital marketer with expertise in social media marketing, reputation management, SEO ranking indicators, data analytics, website optimization, content creation, email marketing campaigns, and potentially thousands of other business-specific activities or objectives.

An added complexity is that everyone needs digital marketing, from multinational enterprises and global banking providers to start-ups, small local artisans, and charitable organizations who depend on their digital marketing to gain supporters or donors.

Our advice for aspiring digital marketers is to select a niche, area, or focus point that capitalizes on your skills, interests, and current professional experience. If you’re starting from scratch, it may help to think about the types of jobs you’d ideally love to do every day, whereas established marketers might choose to double down on the area of digital marketing they know inside out.

This same puzzle applies to recruiters, who all too often advertise for a ‘digital marketer’ without really knowing exactly who their ideal candidate might be or laying out the exact tasks, responsibilities, and duties that person will be assigned.

In this case, we’d point you towards our library of resources, including done-for-you job descriptions, which should clarify how these myriad roles vary and the types of experience and capabilities that will best match your needs.

Digital marketing team analyzing data on a laptop, focusing on essential skills such as SEO, content creation, and social media strategy in a modern office environment

What Are the Key Digital Marketing Skills in Highest Demand?

Let’s start by highlighting a few skill sets that you can’t go wrong with, whether as a specialist or to develop a well-rounded knowledge of digital marketing that you can apply to most scenarios, clients, or digital marketing agencies.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is fundamental since everything you publish online, from a guest post to a blog or website landing page, is subject to indexing and ranking by the relevant search engine (primarily Google). SEO expertise means you can use information architecture, website navigation, and content optimization to get higher on the search engine results page (SERP).

Content Marketing

Content remains king, ensuring that every snippet of content, whether an email, ad campaign, pay-per-click (PPC) promotion, or web page, is informative, relevant, useful, and encourages your reader or viewer to engage, stay on the page, or click on your call to action (CTA) button.

Social Media Marketing and Management

Social media is part and parcel of digital marketing since such a large proportion of consumers and business audiences use one channel or another, or more commonly several, to conduct research, learn about products or brands, or follow pages they enjoy or with which they share common values.

Pay Per Click (PPC), Paid Media Advertising

PPC marketing skills mean you can craft, structure, and circulate online paid media advertising campaigns, often following research into demographics to target your advertising to the right audiences. PPC marketers can also specialize in campaign performance analytics.

Digital Marketing Strategy and Data Analytics

Strategic digital marketing and data capture are often higher-end skills or added-value services. Marketers extract and analyze data to see how campaigns are performing, contribute to forward-thinking strategies, or deliver insights into brand perceptions.

Although these are far from the only skills you might need, depending on the digital marketing role you’re applying for, this concise list showcases the top abilities most recruiters and companies are looking for. If you can tick three or more boxes, you’re well on your way to a fantastic career!

Essential Soft Skills and Know-How for Digital Marketing Job Applicants

While professional experience is always valuable, it’s also well worth thinking about the personal abilities and traits a great digital marketer has – because if you are perfectly suited to a role in digital marketing but haven’t yet completed formal training, you’re far more likely to be a good candidate for an entry-level role.

Most digital marketers might start out with a marketing certification or even a degree, but many recruiters look for those who have the right skill sets and the potential to learn quickly or complete training while in the post.

Here are a few of the skills we see most often included in digital marketing recruitment ads:

  • The ability to adapt quickly under pressure – algorithms, trends, and ad responses can change rapidly, and digital marketers need to be able to pivot their campaigns or manage reputational damage without panicking or making mistakes.
  • Technical proficiency is important to ensure you can use various platforms, tools, and data analysis software within a business to manage campaigns or workflows.
  • Creativity is often overlooked, but the best digital marketers think a little differently and intuitively know how to match graphics and content or adjust their marketing strategies to maximize successful outcomes or improve poor metrics.
  • Analytical thinking goes alongside creativity, where you also need to be able to understand data, turn it into useful information, and use that knowledge to inform your work, such as looking at response rates or traffic and pinpointing problem areas that need attention.

If you’re looking to apply for a digital marketing role and are concerned about a lack of technical qualifications, you can also look at platforms like Google Analytics and HubSpot, which offer a ton of free and paid-for online courses you can complete.

a digital marketing professional working on a laptop, analyzing data and planning digital marketing strategies

Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Career Path

We appreciate that even the most qualified digital marketers with higher-level degrees can’t necessarily jump straight into their ideal role. It takes time to build a portfolio of work, network and make contacts, or demonstrate how your skills translate to real-world results.

The trick is to formulate a career path where you take your current position, find a role that will help you progress, and continue building on opportunities to take the next step up the career ladder.

Your career path is a strategy you design for yourself. You often start with entry-level digital marketing jobs, move on to mid-level and then senior roles, and use the combination of professional experience, qualifications, and reputation to keep moving forward.

Many people start as juniors, assistants or interns, depending on the type of digital marketing job and company they are aiming for, and might develop a specialty or niche area during that position. For example, a junior digital marketer tasked with writing social media content might then be assigned responsibility for crafting a campaign, researching performance metrics, or contributing to social media strategies.

As an idea, we’ve summarized the natural progression you might potentially follow, assuming you’re starting at the entry-level.

Entry-Level or Junior Digital Marketing Jobs

Beginner digital marketers often start with entry-level jobs, where they aren’t expected to have all the answers. They can usually learn as they go from more senior colleagues or supervisors who will oversee their work and help them develop essential skills and know-how.

Every job is different, but an entry-level marketer might:

  • Conduct research
  • Collate and organize data
  • Monitor campaigns
  • Help with content editing

After they have gained experience and can work independently or with more seniority, a digital marketer might apply for another role or an in-house promotion. They may also be offered a promotion based on the duration of their employment or the standard of work they have completed.

Example Entry-Level Role: Digital Marketing Assistant

A Digital Marketing Assistant could be fresh out of college or working in digital marketing for the first time. Assistants work to support the rest of the team or alongside a senior marketer and might be asked to manage calls and correspondence, prepare reports, or participate in planning meetings.

Assistants are often recruited based on their aptitude and enthusiasm for the role, where a recruiter sees that an applicant has a lot of potential and will pay dividends on the time spent contributing to their skills and on-the-job know-how.

Mid-Level Digital Marketing Positions

A mid-level role could have any number of job titles but could typically include a Digital Marketing Officer or a Digital Marketing Specialist—these tend to differ between industries, agencies, and locations.

At this stage, a digital marketer will still normally work as part of a larger team and report to a manager, supervisor, or executive, but they have greater autonomy over their marketing work and will often be able to make decisions of their own accord about how to execute a campaign or how to target a social media or PPC ad.

Example Mid-Level Job: Digital Marketing Specialist

A Digital Marketing Specialist will normally have at least two to four years of experience or a specific area of technical expertise relevant to the company, brand, or agency they work for. Their job could involve developing and leading whole digital marketing campaigns, liaising with clients or leadership teams, and reporting on performance against targets.

Specialists commonly concentrate on a marketing niche, such as PPC, email marketing, SEO, or social media management, to name but a few.

Senior Digital Marketing Roles

Senior digital marketers take the next step, usually managing other entry-level and mid-level marketers, liaising with departments such as sales and customer services teams, and monitoring the outcomes of campaigns to determine how they align with overarching brand and marketing strategies.

Example Senior Digital Marketing Job: Digital Marketing Director

A Digital Marketing Director or a Head of Digital Marketing is usually the most senior team member responsible for the performance and work of all the staff or freelancers who work underneath them. They are also responsible for making key decisions, overseeing marketing processes, and developing targets, strategies, and campaign goals that are consistent with the performance targets set for them.

Senior digital marketers are often given a set budget to manage or a remit to extract a minimum return on each dollar invested in digital marketing campaigns, promotions, and adverts.

Digital marketers collaborating on a marketing plan, reviewing and discussing notes from a brainstorming session

Exploring Your Digital Marketing Career Options

One of the unique aspects of a digital marketing career is that there isn’t any single defined career path. Although most people progress upward, as we’ve seen, it’s also possible to work for an agency, for one company, or as an independent freelancer. Each option has pros and cons – but you also aren’t tied to one avenue or the other if you decide to make a change.

In-House Digital Marketing Jobs

In-house digital marketers work for one business or brand, and most larger companies and corporations have in-house digital marketing teams rather than relying on external agencies who work as contractors.

The positive is that the scope for promotion may be higher, and in-house roles often command good salaries due to the size and nature of the organization. The negative could be that handling campaigns and projects for one company can become uninspiring, and it is more likely that you’ll have to repeat the same processes every day.

Agency-Based Digital Marketing Roles

Digital marketers who work for an agency will usually be asked to manage a few projects or brands at any one time, depending on the companies the agency works with and how busy they are. Digital Marketing Agencies often hire specialists in certain industries or sectors, so you might, for instance, be a digital marketer who works primarily with automotive, financial services, or beauty industry clients.

Agency work can be more varied and exciting since it can change every day. Equally, agencies tend to pay lower average work rates than in-house roles, and digital marketers can find that the pace and potential competition aren’t suited to them. Likewise, a digital agency may not commit to a specific number of hours or could offer a fixed salary—which may make a big difference.

Browse the latest Digital Marketing Agency Jobs

Freelance Digital Marketing Careers

Freelancers are independent professionals who work as self-employed contractors and can provide digital marketing services to businesses, agencies, or individual clients on any basis they choose. Some freelancers have specialisms or niches, as we’ve discussed, while others work as consultants and come on board to help clients with challenges such as change management or rebranding.

Working as a digital marketing freelancer allows you to have a great deal of freedom about who you work with – but it also requires a good degree of business acumen and organization since you’ll need to market your own services to establish a client base and there are rarely any income guarantees.

How to Navigate the Digital Marketing Jobs Market

Next, we’ll look at where to find these jobs we’ve discussed, whether you’ve decided to pursue mid-level digital marketing roles working for an agency or want to develop your skills as an in-house assistant for a company.

So much depends on your current position—whether you’re free to start work immediately, the minimum salary or pay rate you’re expecting, and your abilities, experience, and skills.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Don’t neglect your social media pages. Digital marketing recruiters are likely to research you, so make sure you have a professional, up-to-date LinkedIn profile and remove anything in the public domain you don’t wish to share.
  • Networking can put you directly in contact with your dream employer or agency, so look for industry events or networking opportunities that appeal to you.
  • Get your resume up to speed—and never send out generic applications. It’s essential that you read job descriptions in full, verify whether you can fulfill the brief, and customize your application, resume, and cover letter to show intent and clear interest in the role.
  • Stay in the know rather than relying on your qualifications to land you a job. Reading industry blogs, newsletters, magazines, and publications is a great way to ensure you can answer any tricky questions that come your way about updates to search engine algorithms or the use of AI in social media advertising.

Of course, we’d also advise you to review all the varied listings on Digital Marketing Jobs Board, where you’ll find remote and on-site jobs, freelance and full-time employment opportunities, and specialist or broader-scope digital marketing vacancies for everyone from juniors to experienced executives.

You can register your resume to ensure your credentials and experience are available to recruiters worldwide, compare digital marketing salaries and positions to see what captures your imagination, and browse jobs based on any filters or parameters that matter to you.

We hope the information in this guide has given you all you need to know to get started or revisit your digital marketing career path and make clear decisions about the right way forward.

If in doubt, it helps to see what’s out there and make sure you have the skills, knowledge, and approach that digital marketing recruiters are looking for.

Lauren Edwards-Fowle

Lauren Edwards-Fowle

Lauren is a copywriter and content writer at Digital Marketing Jobs Board, specialising in digital marketing for business and all things finance, having been a logistics MD and practice accountant before moving into digital! She loves to break down complex topics to make information accessible and produce content that is fun, entertaining, and genuinely useful, capturing data, stats, and trends and translating them into real-world terminology. As a writer, parent and crossfitter, Lauren's most treasured asset is free time, where you'll find her on the beach or walking her dogs to make the most of the fresh air.

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