Digital marketing encompasses any kind of marketing that’s done online. It’s essential for brand-building, connecting with your audience, and driving sales.
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing is a broad umbrella term used to describe any kind of marketing that’s carried out online. Companies use digital marketing to connect with their target audience in different ways—be it to establish their brand, to build credibility and authority within a certain industry, or to promote their products and services. It’s all about engaging the right people with the right content via different channels—such as search engines (like Google), social media platforms, email, or a company’s own website or blog.
There are many different types of digital marketing, and each subset of this broad (and sometimes complex) discipline relies on different formats and techniques. You’ll often hear of multi-channel marketing—a strategy or approach used to engage with users across a mixture of channels, as opposed to focusing on just one. In a similar vein, cross-channel marketing is all about aligning a company’s marketing efforts across all these different channels to create a consistent and logical experience for the user as they move from one channel to the next.
The great thing about digital marketing is that, unlike offline marketing, you can continuously track and measure performance. For example, you can see how many people opened an email, engaged with a social media post, or read a blog article. Over time, this enables you to see what works well and what doesn’t across your mix of channels—giving you the insights you need to optimize and improve your marketing for maximum impact. In today’s ever-connected world, digital marketing is crucial to a company’s success. A career in digital marketing offers variety, a constant learning curve, and the chance to make an impact. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of digital marketing and what it takes to start a career in this exciting field.
What are the different types of digital marketing?
When it comes to digital marketing, it’s essential to adapt the content you create for its intended channel. There are lots of different types of digital marketing, and you’ll find that many marketers specialize in just one or two areas. Here, we’ve outlined some of the key types of digital marketing with a brief explanation of each.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization focuses on improving both the quantity and the quality of traffic a website receives from search engines. The goal of SEO is to ensure that a website or a piece of content can easily be found if a user searches online for something around that topic. For example, if you publish a guide explaining what SEO is, you’ll want to optimize it so that it appears in the search results when a user types “What is SEO?” into Google. It’s important to note that SEO focuses on organic methods of driving traffic—that is, helping the user to find your content naturally, without paying or advertising.
Search engine marketing (SEM)
Search engine marketing uses paid methods to ensure that content appears in search results. For example, a dog walking business might pay for their website to appear as an ad at the very top of the page whenever people in a certain area search for “dog walkers near me.”
Content marketing is another broad term that encompasses the creation and distribution of all different kinds of content. It includes things like blog posts, YouTube videos, downloadable e-books, and infographics—essentially any kind of content you might read, watch, or listen to online. Content marketing helps to build brand awareness, to grow a following or an audience base, to establish authority around a certain topic, and to drive sales.
Social media marketing
As the name suggests, social media marketing covers any kind of marketing you do on social platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. This includes sharing links to content, posting photos, responding to follower comments or customer queries, and running ads on social media.
Email marketing allows you to communicate directly with your audience in a highly personalized way. Email marketers segment their users into groups based on different attributes or behaviors, ensuring that each segment receives the most relevant content.
We’ve only scratched the surface here. Keep exploring to learn more about the different types of digital marketing and what they entail.
What does a digital marketer do?
Digital marketers can work in any industry, in all different kinds of settings and organizations. The role of the digital marketer can therefore be extremely varied, and it will differ from company to company. Broadly speaking, digital marketers are responsible for coordinating marketing efforts across a variety of channels and using data to monitor campaign performance. Some digital marketers will oversee—and get involved in—all different types of marketing, while others will specialize and focus on one particular area, such as social media or paid advertising.
Given the broad and varied nature of digital marketing, it’s difficult to pin down a hard-and-fast list of tasks and responsibilities. However, common aspects of the role include:
- Developing a multi-channel marketing strategy for the company or brand
- Creating and distributing content in various formats (e.g. blog posts, infographics, videos, emails)
- Conducting research in order to understand the target audience (e.g. creating user personas)
- Conducting keyword research in order to identify relevant content topics
- Running tests to see which formats or versions of content perform better
- Working with external stakeholders to establish content partnerships
- Working with internal stakeholders such as designers and product managers to align on branding
- Utilizing data analytics tools to monitor performance across different channels
As you can see, digital marketing spans a broad range of tasks and skills—and it’s a field that’s always evolving. You’ll never be short of things to learn and discover!
What skills do you need to work in digital marketing?
A broad and varied field like digital marketing requires a mixture of skills—many of which you’ll already have acquired from other career paths or fields of study. In terms of soft skills, digital marketers should be curious, empathetic, adaptable, and organized. You’ll also need to be an effective communicator and a willing collaborator, as there’s lots of teamwork involved. And, depending on the type of marketing you focus on, you’ll need varying degrees of creativity and analytical thinking.
At the same time, you’ll need to master certain hard skills. These will depend on your area of focus and the nature of the role, but all digital marketers must be familiar with a range of tools; for example, content management systems like WordPress, analytics tools and dashboards such as Google Analytics, social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube, and email marketing software such as HubSpot—to name just a few. If you’re focusing on written content, you’ll need to hone your copywriting skills. If you’re specializing in SEO, you’ll need to get to grips with the technicalities and principles of that particular discipline. If you choose to be a T-shaped marketer, you’ll have a broad understanding of all the sub-disciplines within digital marketing, and some of the skills they require. On the other hand, if you choose to specialize, you’ll focus on mastering a narrower set of skills on a deeper level.
The great thing about digital marketing is that you’ll learn many of the skills you need on the job. Once you have an understanding of key channels and digital marketing principles, you can pick up specific tools and techniques as you go—all while getting creative and making your own mark!
How to start your career in digital marketing
If you’re thinking about a career in digital marketing, you may be pleased to hear that you don’t need a degree in the field—nor do you need any specific type of experience. As long as you possess some of those core intrinsic qualities like curiosity, adaptability, and creativity, together with a passion for communications and the digital world, there’s nothing to stop you.
If you’re new to the field, start by reading digital marketing blogs and getting familiar with all the different types of digital marketing, as well as the techniques and approaches they use. From there, delve deeper into the topic, or topics, that interest you the most—whether it’s social media, blogging, SEO, or paid ads. Anything that sparks your curiosity and keeps you learning about the field.
After the initial exploration phase, you may want to consider formalizing your learning with a digital marketing certification. A good course will teach you the key principles of digital marketing, introduce you to the most popular tools and platforms, and show you how to devise an effective digital marketing strategy. The most effective programs will also see you getting hands-on with practical exercises, ensuring you know how to apply what you learn.
As with any kind of career change, starting your career in digital marketing is a case of exploring the field, mastering industry-standard tools and approaches, and gaining hands-on experience—be it through a digital marketing certification, an internship, or your first digital marketing job. Whichever route you choose, you can be sure that an exciting, varied, and rewarding career path awaits you.