Almost 4.54 billion people were active internet users as of January 2020.
A world without the internet is now inconceivable, with so many people now connected to it. This presents an opportunity for businesses to get their products and services in front of people who may find them interesting.
What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is using various methods on the internet to grow awareness of a company’s brand and ultimately increase sales and revenue. Just like with offline marketing, there are numerous methods that a business can use to market their products.
If you are considering a career in digital marketing, then there are a few disciplines that you can move into.
In this blog post, I will look at what I consider to be the five main digital marketing channels that businesses recruit for.
The article will also discuss some of the necessary skills required to do each type of digital marketing and give some tips on how you can learn the specific form of digital marketing.
3 General Skills Required for Digital Marketing
Before we look at each of the individual digital marketing disciplines, there are a few skills that are required by all digital marketing disciplines. This is not an exhaustive list but should be enough to give you a flavor of what digital marketing requires.
a) General Marketing
While each digital marketing channel is slightly different, you are still essentially a marketer. You are just using the specific digital marketing discipline as a tool to market your products or services. This means that basic marketing best practices still apply.
You need to be aware of your target audience and then put together a strategy on how you are going to make them want to buy your products or services using the digital marketing channel that you specialize in.
b) Google Analytics
Whatever marketing channel you choose, you are going to need to measure your results. Many businesses use Google Analytics to track the quality of their advertising efforts. Google Analytics can give information on your traffic levels, how many sales you have had, and which channel the sales have come from. Google Analytics is free, and there is a wealth of information out there on what can be done with Google Analytics. This means you already have the resources to learn what can be done with Google Analytics.
c) Reporting and Data Analysis
All advertising efforts require analysis of the performance and putting together reports for the people that you are responsible for. This often requires knowledge of Microsoft Excel and if you are going to be doing a presentation, Microsoft PowerPoint.
Some digital marketing disciplines are more data-focused than others and will require more in-depth knowledge of Microsoft Excel.
1) Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization involves getting more traffic to your website from search engines. This is typically done by trying to get your business’s listings higher up the search results pages on a search engine.
Seeing as though the leading search engine is Google when people talk about improving search engine ranking, they usually are talking about their ranking on Google’s search engine.
Listings that appear in this way are called organic listings. Organic listings appear below the paid listings and can be spotted by the fact that they don’t start with the word ‘Ad’.
Search engine optimization has a technical and creative aspect. The technical aspect consists of knowing how the internet works. You may be looking at HTTP Status codes, the basics of HTML, and generally focusing on beneficially structuring a website.
You do not need to have expert knowledge in web development, but you will develop an excellent understanding of it.
The other side of SEO is writing content to host either on your website or on other websites.
Here are some important skills that an SEO expert needs to have:
a) Speaking and Writing
SEO experts are involved in writing a lot of content, both for the actual websites, they work on and to host on other websites.
If you can quickly write high-quality content, then SEO could be for you. In addition to this, an SEO expert needs to be able to speak convincingly to get buy-in from other departments. Implementing a change on the website will often have an impact on other departments which means they will need to be convinced.
You may also require a developer’s time to implement the change. This will require you to be able to confidently get the benefits of what you want to implement across in meetings.
b) Basic Understanding of HTML, XML, and How Websites Work
The more technical aspect of SEO involves understanding the theory of how websites work. You will use this knowledge to improve the general flow of a website and ensure that all relevant content is on the website to ensure that the user can find what they need.
Understanding some HTML is beneficial as you will be making recommendations on adding content to various places of the website.
Knowledge of things like title tags, the meta description tags, and some XML knowledge can be beneficial when it comes to looking at Schema markup.
c) Investigative Skills
Why did traffic drop? Why did it increase? What changes were made for the change to occur and what should we do next?
An SEO expert needs to be aware of what is happening on the website so that they can diagnose any shifts in traffic. This will also require being up to date with Google search engine algorithm updates.
Often an SEO person will need to use Google Analytics or similar tool to diagnose changes in traffic.
d) Microsoft Excel
Perhaps while this is not as important as the other skills, an SEO expert will be looking at data such as keyword volume data and landing page traffic data to help them produce a strategy going forward.
Knowledge of Microsoft Excel can be beneficial for this.
There are also several tools and reports that SEO experts can build to enhance their optimization capabilities. These often require some knowledge in Microsoft Excel formulas.
How to Learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
If you’re interested in learning more about SEO, then the Search Engine Land blog is an excellent blog to read. You can also start applying what you learn by creating a website and doing SEO on it.
A website can be set up on blogger.com for free. Or, for a small cost, you can set up a blog on WordPress. This can be done with no development experience. You can start implementing what you learn straight away and then monitor the keyword ranking improvements on your website. This is the best way to learn SEO if you are very new to it.
Additional Reading — Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
- Is SEO a Good Career Choice?
- What is an SEO Manager, and How to Become One?
- 10 Top Challenges SEO Professionals Face in Their Career
- How to Build a Career as an SEO Specialist
2) Pay Per Click (PPC)
PPC is an advertising method that also allows advertisers to show their website listing on Google’s search engine.
However, unlike with SEO where the advertiser tries to influence the search engine to show their website’s listing, with PPC, the advertiser pays to show their ad on the search engine.
The advertiser chooses what keywords they want to show for and the ad copy that they want to display. They only pay when someone clicks on their ad. Hence the name Pay Per Click. PPC works off an auction system. This means that the amount that an advertiser bids influence where they appear on the search engine results page.
Paid listings appear both above and sometimes below organic listings. Paid listings can be spotted by the fact that they start with the word ‘Ad’.
Here are some top-level skills that a PPC expert needs to have:
a) Data Analysis
A substantial amount of time is spent on analyzing performance and making recommendations on what to do next.
For example, you may be looking at the difference in performance between males and females, age groups or locations. You may find that females based in Leeds perform the best and decide to put more budget in that area. This will require strong knowledge in Microsoft Excel or a similar spreadsheet tool.
PPC is probably the most ‘data heavy’ of all the digital marketing disciplines.
b) Data Manipulation and Reporting
Before any data analysis can take place, the reports need to be created. The format and level of detail used in reports are important depending on who will be seeing the reports.
If a senior manager is going to see the report, then they probably just want to see how PPC is doing compared to top-level goals. If a more technically minded person is going to see the report, then they will probably want to dig deeper into the data to determine what should be done next.
c) Attention to Detail
PPC requires creating keywords, ad copy, bidding and various forms of targeting en-mass. Therefore, there must be no mistakes. If a mistake is made, it probably will not get caught until your boss notices it on Google’s search engine. Attention to detail is critical when it comes to preventing things like spelling errors in the ad copy or accidentally bidding far too much for a keyword and blowing the budget.
While PPC experts are data-focused, they do need to have some creative skills. PPC experts need to create ad copy that is enticing and engaging. They also need to be creative when thinking.
Learn PPC Marketing
If you are considering a career in PPC, the leading advertising platform to look into is Google Ads.
There are some free certifications that you can achieve at the Google Skillshop.
Google Skillshop also includes some beneficial material to help you pass the certifications. The exams are free to take, multiple-choice and you can take them as many times as you like.
You can also learn about PPC by reading online blogs. There are several PPC blogs out there, including the PPC blog that is maintained by the company that I work for: Pepper PPC Agency — a good article o read for beginners is my blog on the 25 PPC formulas that every PPC expert should know.
3) Social Media Marketing
A decade ago, a social media manager was not a job that many people took seriously. However, the sheer number of people on at least one social media platform means that many businesses now utilize some form of serious social media marketing.
This requires a professional to monitor and continually update the content on a business’s various social media accounts. To name a few things, you could be publishing videos on YouTube, tweeting on Twitter or responding to a customer complaint on Facebook.
Social Media Marketing Skills
Here are some of the key skills required to be a social media manager:
a) Ability To Be ‘Always on’
Monitoring a social media account is almost a 24/7 job. This is because you cannot choose when someone messages you on social media. Responding to people on social media goes a long way for a business’s reputation.
It is not realistic for a person to necessarily be available to respond on social media all the time. However, occasionally an urgent complaint may need to be responded to faster than normal.
b) Writing Skills
Images and memes do very well on social media, especially when timed correctly. However, you still need to have excellent writing skills to be able to orchestrate the perfect tweet or Facebook post. There is a skill in being able to say what you need to say engagingly. You will be able to construct headlines and tweets that instantly catch a user’s attention.
C) Managing a Community and People Skills
Aside from responding to people, a social media manager needs to create and put out regular content.
The social media manager will then observe how people are responding to the content and will engage with people accordingly. This involves knowing how to respond to people giving good feedback, but it also involves knowing how to respond to trolls and negative feedback.
As a social media manager, you are the face of the brand on social media. An inadequate response can very quickly go viral and negatively impact your brand image.
d) Ability to Embrace Change
While the leading social media channels are still Facebook and Twitter, a social media marketer’s job is continually evolving as new social media sites become available. With Snapchat and TikTok becoming a lot more popular, a social media marketer needs to be aware of all the channels available to them so that they can make an informed decision on where best to push their message.
For example, if your target market is young people then perhaps, Instagram or TikTok is the best option. If you are targeting a slightly older generation, then maybe Facebook is the place to focus your attention. You also need to be aware of what kind of content resonates best on each social media platform. This allows you to tailor your content to that channel.
How to Learn Social Media Marketing?
There are several blogs out there that you can read, but the best way to learn social media marketing is to see someone else do it. Seeing as though social media marketing involves a lot of creativity, the best way to learn is to follow the social media account of some of the larger businesses that engage in it. When they post on their social media channels, you can look at their content and see the kind of tactics that are used.
Another great tactic is to just be on social media yourself. This way, you automatically gain an understanding of the type of content that gets put out on each social media channel, what generally gets good feedback and what type of content generally gets poor feedback.
Additional Reading — Social Media Marketing:
- 6 Skills That A Social Media Manager Should Have on His/Her Resume
- 12 Skills That Make You Stand Out While Applying For A Job in Social Media
4) Paid Social
Paid social often gets grouped into PPC. It is essentially the paid advertising version of social media marketing. With social media marketing, you can only advertise to people who follow you. With paid social marketing, you pay to put your ads in front of people who may not have heard of you before while they are browsing a social media site.
Several social media platforms have a paid social advertising platform; however, by far, the most popular ones are Facebook and Instagram. Other paid social media platforms to keep an eye on are; Snapchat Ads, TikTok Ads, and Quora Ads.
Paid social media advertising involves targeting an audience of people and showing each audience an ad that will resonate well with them. So, for example, if you know that your business’s target market is women, then you may choose not to target men. Similarly, you may choose to show a different message and image to older and younger women.
Paid Social Skills
Here are some of the skills required for paid social marketing
a) Similar Skills to Social Media Marketing
As paid social is essentially the PPC version of social media marketing, it requires very similar skills to social media marketing in terms of being creative with the ad copy that you use.
b) Similar Skills to PPC
As paid social is essentially the social media version of PPC, it requires very similar skills to PPC in terms of data analysis and targeting the right audience.
One of the most significant differences between PPC and paid social is that the success of a paid social campaign is more dependent on having good ad copy.
d) Image or Video Creation
Paid social advertising requires putting relevant images and videos in front of the right audiences. There is something called ‘ad fatigue’, where customers can get bored of seeing the same ad.
One of the ways around this is to regularly update ads to advertise, which may require a designer. While it is not essential to have image/video designing skills, it is beneficial in this way; another person does not need to be employed to create images or videos.
How to Learn Paid Social Media Marketing?
Similar to social media marketing, a good way to learn about paid social media marketing is to look at what kind of ads other businesses are putting out there. This will help you to understand the general format of ads, and you can start thinking about what you like or do not like on each ad.
You can download a free chrome extension called Turbo Ad Finder which will remove all non-sponsored Facebook ads on your feed. You will then be left with only sponsored ads on your Facebook feed.
5) Affiliate Marketing Manager
If you scroll to the bottom of several websites, you may see a link that says, ‘become an affiliate’. Unlike PPC where the advertiser pays every time their ad gets clicked, an affiliate marketer gets paid whenever they sell the advertiser’s product. The affiliate marketer will often be given information on a product or service to sell and will agree on a commission amount for each sale that they secure. It is then up to the affiliate marketer to advertise the product and sell it.
If you have ever seen an influencer on Instagram or a vlogger on YouTube tell you about an ‘amazing’ product that they just happen to be testing. They then continue to mention that they can offer you a discount on the product if you use their coupon code when you buy it. They are engaging in affiliate marketing.
Also, if you’ve ever seen a ‘refer a friend’ message where you get paid if you get someone to sign up to a service, then this is also an affiliate scheme
When businesses recruit affiliate marketers, most of the time, they are looking for someone to manage other affiliate marketers. This could be by finding people to sell their products or by managing an affiliate network.
Affiliate Marketing Manager Skills
Here are some of the skills required to be an affiliate marketing manager:
a) Organizational and Time Management skills
as an affiliate manager, you need to be making your affiliates aware of any promotional offers that you are going to be pushing, the start dates and end dates. Offers must not overrun as this could lead to angry customers using an expired discount code and then calling the customer services department to complain. An affiliate manager needs to be organized and have processes in place to be able to monitor precisely what offers are currently being pushed by each affiliate.
b) Negotiation Skills
An affiliate manager will need to negotiate commission rates with their affiliates to try to get the best rate. This requires excellent communication skills and a level of charm to get the best rate while also leaving the affiliate motivated to push your product or services.
c) Strong Communication Skills
A chunk of an affiliate manager’s job is finding and reaching out to potential affiliates. The affiliate manager will need to catch the affiliate’s attention and convince them that they can make a good return on investment if they join your affiliate program.
How to Learn Affiliate Marketing?
There are several affiliate networks, but Affiliate Window (AWIN) and Trade Doubler are among the more popular ones. AWIN has some good informational material on their site that can help you get started.
The best way to learn affiliate marketing is to keep an eye out for people on social media engaging in affiliate marketing and analyzing the kind of tactics that they’re using.
Another way is to become aware of, and regularly browse coupon/discount voucher sites like vouchercodes.co.uk, Groupon.co.uk, and myvouchercodes.co.uk. These are mainly affiliate networks. If you become an affiliate marketer, you will most likely be engaging with these sites quite often.
Start Your Career in Digital Marketing Today
With the internet becoming an ever more essential part of our life, the need for businesses to adopt some form of digital marketing is becoming more critical. I have discussed five of the more common forms of digital marketing that businesses recruit for. Each digital marketing channel is slightly different.
So, if you are thinking of going into a career in digital marketing, then the next step is to familiarise yourself with each digital marketing channel.
You can then start to think about which digital marketing channel is right for you.