So You Want to Be a Digital Marketer?

I admit, this post should have come earlier, probably right after my first blog post detailing some of my past digital marketing experience. With it, I’ll try to roundup some of the main areas in digital marketing that you could specialize in, and some of the most popular tools that could help you master the skills necessary for your digital marketing career.


The basics

Display advertising

Perhaps the most popular display advertising network is Google Adwords. In a nutshell, Google Ads are displayed across websites, videos or even apps, to the targeted audience of users based on keywords and bids placed on them, with the actual ad placement going to the highest bidder. Managing the bids and keywords requires constant and careful attention to the performance of the ads, the websites they appear on, and the number of clicks they get. Google Adwords has a wide array of different sizes and types of ads one can use, and it is equally important to pay attention to the quality of the ads themselves in order to be able to achieve good results – or in professional terms, click through rates. Mastering Google Adwords can help you and your marketing department achieve very sizable (and measurable!) results in a very short period of time. Google also provides tons of educational tools that can help you streamline your online advertising efforts, or you could even go further and get Google Adwords certification. Companies with larger marketing departments often have employees dedicated to managing just this aspect of their online marketing channel, and successful experience managing Adwords campaigns is highly valued on the job market.


SEO Search Engine Optimization, Ranking algorithmSearch Engine Optimization is a technique used by marketers to ensure that the website
has the correct page titles, key words and “invisible” meta tags
that help it appear in the search engine when someone is looking for a specific keyword. For example, if your company sells cat food, appropriately naming your page as “The Best Cat Food”, mentioning “cat food” on the page and in the meta tags would make sure that when a user searches for “buy cat food”, your website is displayed among the results – and the higher it is displayed, the better (because who goes to the second page of Google Search results anyway?). SEO has always been viewed as “part art, part science”, since overdoing it can cause your website to be penalized by the search engines, and in addition to that, search engines like Google constantly keep changing their algorithms specifically to make it more difficult for “non-organic” results for pages that use clever SEO techniques to appear higher on the page. Nevertheless, SEO is a requirement for any website or online business that is looking to be successful.

Unlike SEO, Search Engine Marketing is used for displaying “Sponsored” results in a user’s search engine when they look for cat food. The search engine would display a link to your website whenever someone searches for the term “cat food”, or a similar keyword or a particular brand (even if it’s a different one from yours). Most display ad networks, like Google and Bing have the option of setting up search engine ads along display ads as well, so you generally wouldn’t need to learn additional tools for mastering SEM.


Social Media Marketing

SMM is an important tool for any company or brand, and a personal favorite of mine. SMM may involve a full scope of the company’s activities on Social Media – from creating and posting content, to promoting it, to managing all the interactions with other users on each SM channel. To be a successful SM marketer, you would first need to choose the soxial media channels that your company or brand would be present and active on. Then, you would need to create a content strategy, outlining the types of posts you would be posting, as well as the general tone of communication, and their number throughout the day/week. While some people just define the types of posts and resort to creating content on the go, some like to create the actual posts in advance (of course, this strategy is not applicable to every situation, but preparation is often times the key to success). Then, you would need to schedule your posts or publish them in real time, occasionally promoting strategic posts as well. Promoted posts can be organic or paid – with organic promotion, the more likes and shares and retweets you get, the more people would see your post, attracting new followers to your brand. Paid promotion tools, on the other hand, are offered by most social networks, and will automatically display your post to people in your selected audiences, even if the don’t follow your brand page. Most importantly, you would also need to monitor all the replies and reactions to your posts, and manage them accordingly – it is important to maintain two-way communication with the followers and fans of your company or brand.smm-campaignWhile you don’t necessarily need to re-learn how to use the social networks that you already use for managing your company’s social media channels, a lot of the SM networks like Facebook and Twitter offer special tools for “Business” pages, which include more advanced posting and scheduling options, paid promotion and advertising options, as well as detailed insights that can help you manage and adjust your SM strategy accordingly. Familiarizing yourself with capabilities of such business accounts can give you a significant advantage in terms of knowledge and SM management skills.


Content Marketing

Content marketing is used to educate potential customers about your product or industry. The most common tool used in content marketing is a blog. While becoming a good blog writer is an entirely separate subject, in terms of the tools, it is useful to get acquainted with most popular blogging platforms like WordPress (luckily, we have already mastered this one), Joomla or even Tumblr. Some companies use their own CMS, or Content Management Systems, to place content on their website. In addition to the blogs, content marketing can take any shape from ebooks, slideshows, to whitepapers, or any other marketing collateral. To create these, just writing content is not enough – you will either need to have advanced graphic design skills of your own or will need a partner designer on your team. As for the content, you always need to keep the end goal of getting the user to try out or purchase your product in mind – however, stir clear of making it a hard sell.


Blurred Lines

ma-report-cover1It is important to remember that none of the tools listed above function alone. In fact, a successful digital marketing strategy utilizes all of these channels (and others, like e-mail, as well), linking them together in order to arrive at the desired outcome. At the same time, each of the tools you use should be self-sufficient, as you never know what part of your marketing campaign the user will interact with first. If it sounds complicated, do not worry – there are Marketing Automation Tools like Marketo and Hubspot, or Eloqua and Adobe Marketing Cloud, that can help you link all the elements of your digital strategy together, helping you run complete, connected and tactical digital marketing campaigns.

Have more questions? I will be more than happy to answer them below!


  1. Fantastic post! I think you did a great job summing up some of the key tools for digital marketing. Your key point at the conclusion of the post about having a strong and consistent strategy across tools is often a critical piece that most marketing departments leave out. The world of marketing has clearly changed in the past 15 years with the growth of digital, now allowing teams to accurately measure and quantify successful campaigns. Companies can even use multivariate testing to go beyond simple A/B testing and optimize multiple criteria at one time. All in all, digital has made it a very exciting time to be in the field of marketing.

  2. Great post! We spend a lot of time in class discussing the implications of social media and events that occur on it, but don’t delve to deeply into mechanics. You did a great job of explaining the skills required to be a digital marketer.

    While the increased popularity of SEO and SEM is great for businesses with a full marketing team, it must be difficult for smaller businesses to design their site in the optimal way to appear higher on search engines. It would be an interesting blog post for you, or anyone else, to talk about how strategy differs for corporations vs small businesses.

    Great way to link information about Google AdWords, definitely something we all can look into!

    1. ItsUlker · ·

      Glad you found it helpful! I ran out of word limit before I could get to things like email marketing, but I feel like I got the main parts covered.

      As for SEO, larger corporations have the teams and resources to streamline SEO efforts, constantly tweaking their content and tracking the results on daily basis. For smaller businesses, Marketing Automation tools like Hubspot have the tools to set up the page titles and metatags. Beyond that, they just tend to rely on organic and paid promotion tools (SEM often is included as a part of diplay ad networks).

  3. Awesome post! Thanks for outlining the differences between all of these–I knew most of the basics, but it was really helpful to have them all laid out like this! There are definitely a lot of intricacies involved with all of the different types, but I’m glad you also spoke about how important it is to have the various different strategies work together. How have you preferred to use each channel? Do you prefer one method over another, or do you see the most successful companies as using all of the different tactics? Which do you think is the most powerful/important?

    1. ItsUlker · ·

      My favorite is definitely Social Media, I have mostly specialized in it and I just find it more fun as it allows you to do so many creative things.

      The importance of the tool will depend on the company/industry. A lot of tech and software companies rely on content marketing, while consumer goods pay a lot of attention to their SM, which makes sense – they don’t need to build the brand or educate the consumer, they just need to maintain awareness. I think it is definitely important to use the tools I have listed (as they are the most common ones), and have them link to each other when running a successful campaign. Your website needs to be up to date with correct keywords, your banners and Search Ads will need to lead to it, and SM will allow you to build additional support and awareness, as well as help you drive more traffic.

  4. lenskubal · ·

    I really enjoyed this post. For a person that knows very little aside from the consumer side of digital marketing, I thought you did a great job summarizing the tools and tactics for digital marketing. Marketing seems to be an extremely difficult field. You have to understand your target market in a way that you can portray a message exactly how they wish to. This is not an easy task, and I am impressed with your background in digital marketing. Your end to this blog was the most impactful for me. It seems like the best marketing campaigns do in fact have a strong strategy and set of tools to generate successful campaigns. In your opinion, what company drives the best digital marketing content to their targeted market?

  5. clinecapen · ·

    Thanks for the post, lots of great information in here and I loved your visuals they were well done. Great point about integrated different components of digital marketing to create a unified well thought out strategy. I had never heard of some of the companies you sited so always good to learn something new and I really liked the links you shared about Google Ad Words.

  6. Nice post! Would be interested to know if someone with strong digital experience still finds this class helpful. I really try to push beyond what is happening in many companies to what could be happening. Thx for sharing.

  7. cjprall · ·

    Great post. Having gone through the job search process for today’s marketing associate roles, you’re definitely right about how the lines get blurred. Resumes definitely have to touch on more than one area you mentioned above in order to stand out. Honestly, I’m not sure I’d want a role that specialized 100% in something like display ads, as that seems pretty tedious to me. I’ve had better luck with content marketing roles that get some creativity flowing telling a brand or product’s story, but it’s impossible to do that job well without embracing social media or SEO to ultimately succeed.

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