What do Digital Marketers Do?
The interest in digital marketing, as a career, has skyrocketed in recent years. This is an intuitive trend, given the growth of digital commerce in the same amount of time. But is digital marketing a promising career path? Is it an over saturated market ready to turn stale as economics progress to something new? Or is it a new path to the middle class?
First, digital marketing goes beyond the traditional marketing of yore. It encompasses analytics, social media strategy, and big data in addition to branding, ad campaign development, and writing jingles, among many other tasks that might be expected in the realm of more traditional marketing.
Depending on a digital marketer’s job title, he or she might do very different things. Broadly speaking, a digital marketer is someone who works to promote a brand, product, company, or other interest, and who applies marketing principles or engages in marketing analysis in the digital space. In contrast to the more traditional iterations of marketing, digital marketers are often highly specialized to the channel or medium they market to; they may also work with interdisciplinary fields like statistics and technology to coordinate advertising in an online space.
Some titles a digital marketer might have on their LinkedIn or business card could be Search Engine Marketer, Email Marketer, Analytics Marketer or Digital Analyst, Content Marketer, Social Media Marketer, or simply a strategist. These titles reflect the degree of specificity that is needed in this field. As these names would imply, specialization is critical in the field of digital marketing.
The plurality of sales and advertising channels that exist nowadays require specialization in each channel. These titles range from the specific to the broader, from high-level strategy to social media campaign management.
Yet at the same time, digital marketing is a field with many different types of opportunities. A digital marketer might begin at a lower and more specific level, and then pivot to a higher-level position after experience and success. However, this is hardly a career that is likely to land you in the C-suite or command a BMW. The median salary for a Digital Marketer is $48,974; public data does note some other concerning trends. First, very few people in this field have more than ten years of experience, which suggests a high level of burnout. Second, the role of experience as related to income is modest in this job, suggesting that digital marketing is neither a career nor a springboard to long-term financial stability or even satisfying career growth. At a median wage of less than $20 per hour, perhaps this field of marketing is not as promising as it might have originally seemed.
Digital marketing is nonetheless a job reflecting valuable skills. Few four-year institutions offer degrees in this field, though many online institutes (including for-profit ones) offer certificates and even self-study. Digital marketing therefore does not require a significant educational investment. This is good news to those who might be looking for entry into a career that does not require years of study or mountains of loans. Given the modest expectations for salary and the short tenure of most digital marketers, digital marketing could be a good career for those looking to pursue a higher education, but who want to gain work experience and save money first.
At the same time, the broader-level job roles in this field, such as strategy, may be boosted with four-year courses of study in business, big data, marketing, or a combination of the three.
The future of digital marketing may be difficult to foretell. On the one hand, it seems difficult to argue against the inevitable and continued growth of digital marketing. There is no reason to believe that the world is going to go back to an analog economy. Yet there are some alarming indicators for the future. The first is that the unprecedented growth of the economy and the booming stock market is going to stop at some point. There is likely to be a recession and even a stock market crash. At that point, economic sectors that rely on discretionary purchases may experience slowed economic growth and hence, less hiring.
Second, it is beyond a cliché to say at this point that technology is ever-changing. Nevertheless, it is important to observe that digital marketers tend to be rather specialized in a field in which some specializations will no longer be relevant in only a few years.
Marketing has been an important part of life for centuries: Even ancient Roman ruins retain mosaics and evidence of other advertisements, while gladiators were often pressed into service promoting certain products. The need for marketing is not going to go away, but the context of a booming digital economy may not always be present. The specialization inherent in most contemporary marketing may not always serve people well as they inevitably evolve into other things. Unfortunately, it does seem that the field of digital marketing has become slightly oversaturated. Digital marketing may be an excellent entry-level or early career, but it may not have the potential for long-term career growth, and this field may not be stable or permanent.
Ultimately, digital marketing is a field with both enormous promise as well as serious challenges. Becoming a digital marketer may be a wonderful path for one person, but a regrettable decision for another. The person who specializes in email marketing may find their skills less marketable in only a few years. However, it is important to reassert that the future cannot be known. For those who are interested in digital marketing, there are many opportunities at present and developing skills in this field is affordable and relatively fast. Despite a mixed outlook, the field of digital marketing is a strong one at present and will likely continue for some time to come.