How to become a digital marketer

February 24, 2022 · 10 min read · By ASU Online
Interested in learning about how to become a digital marketer? Here’s what you need to know about necessary education, job experience and related skills.

Opportunities for careers in digital marketing are on the rise as businesses continue to use their customers’ preferred online channels for engagement, outreach, advertising and sales. This field incorporates a variety of positions and career paths, from multimedia content creation to analysis of key marketing data and the development of future strategies.

Digital marketing professionals turn challenges into opportunities, driving business growth and raising brand awareness as they craft campaigns that resonate with their target audience. Digital marketing can effectively drive business growth opportunities by engaging prospects where they already spend so much of their time.

Keep reading to learn about how you can build your own career in digital marketing.


What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing incorporates two broad concepts to create a distinct area of professional focus:

  • Digital references the use of the internet and the networks, platforms and websites that it enables, as well as technology such as smartphones and computers. 
  • Marketing refers to promotion of a company’s products or services.

As digital experiences became more prevalent in recent decades, businesses realized the need to connect with their customers and prospects through these channels.

In the past, companies focused on avenues like mass media because they presented an opportunity to connect with many customers at once. The digital ecosystem can offer that same benefit while also allowing for much higher degrees of personalization, demographic targeting and campaign testing. Now, companies regularly reach out to customers through social media, search engine results pages, digital display advertising, email and many other methods.

On a more individual level, digital marketing can be an exciting and challenging career path. The combination of strategy development, response to customer sentiment, creative efforts and use of objective metrics to inform that work creates a uniquely engaging atmosphere for aspiring and experienced marketers alike.

This highly customizable environment requires professionals who have the deep knowledge and specialized skills necessary to leverage the opportunities present in digital marketing.


What do digital marketers do?

Digital marketers primarily use online channels to raise awareness among current and potential customers. They may plan digital marketing campaigns, develop content, analyze metrics and complete a number of tasks that support effective, relevant and engaging marketing efforts. 

Professionals in this field serve in a variety of roles with distinct duties, from social media marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) specialists to digital marketing managers and departmental leaders.


Responsibilities and characteristics of a digital marketer

If you’re wondering how to become a digital marketer, you should be familiar with some key, broadly relevant concepts in the industry, including: 

  • Content creation and distribution, including text, video and imagery.
  • Data analytics.
  • Digital advertising techniques, such as pay-per-click (PPC).
  • Email marketing.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM).
  • Social media marketing.

At the same time, you should hone certain characteristics and abilities that align with your individual career objectives and can enable your success in digital marketing:

  • Adaptability, as digital marketing can be an especially fast-paced environment.
  • Analysis, to generate relevant reporting to share with colleagues, leaders or clients.
  • Collaboration, to best support the entirety of a marketing campaign.
  • Creativity, both for content development and to build engaging and unique campaigns.
  • Persuasiveness, with the ultimate goal of convincing a customer to take a desired action.
  • Prioritization, to align creative and analytical work with a campaign’s goals and needs.
  • Strategic thinking, to focus on development by linking individual pieces of marketing with a broader theme and purpose.
  • Strong time management, in order to consistently meet deadlines.
An ASU Online student speaks to another while sitting at a table in a conference room.

Required education and work experience

While some entry-level positions in the field don’t explicitly require advanced education, many careers in digital marketing begin with an undergraduate degree that builds a clearly defined foundation of relevant skills and knowledge. Completing a program in communication or digital media can be an especially effective starting point.

Whether you’re an aspiring professional or a tenured marketer, you can complete a program that builds your experience and expertise in digital marketing. There are options for aspiring and current professionals at every level that align with existing experience and common career goals related to this profession.

You might pursue a degree that covers many relevant topics, such as a Bachelor of Science in marketing, or focus on a speciality, such as a digital audience strategy graduate certificate.

Consider where you are in your career as a digital marketer, then review the options that best align with your current position:


Aspiring marketers

Marketers at the very beginning of their careers often take on frontline creative or analytical duties. They build valuable experience in effectively engaging an audience and measuring responses to either the individual elements of a campaign or the overall effort.

Without past work experience in marketing, whether digital or in another form, it’s vital to build foundational skills and knowledge that support the beginning of a career and future professional growth. Addressing these areas of focus can empower you to become a digital marketer:

  • Compliance, ethics and laws related to digital marketing.
  • Digital content creation.
  • Organic and paid social media campaigns.
  • SEO and SEM.

Pursuing a bachelor’s degree can prepare you with the knowledge and background needed to enter into a digital marketing career. The online Bachelor of Science in digital audiences program emphasizes foundational concepts necessary for a variety of digital marketer jobs. Through the program’s data-focused and hands-on curriculum, you can hone the audience analysis and measurement skills that support relevant, timely and attractive digital campaigns and messaging. At the same time, you can learn how to create effective and engaging content.

If you’re interested in content management, consider a degree that emphasizes the digital content lifecycle, from generating content to tracking its distribution and audience sentiment toward it. The online Bachelor of Arts in digital media literacy can further develop your skills in this area by exploring the effective use of digital technologies, how to create content for those environments and communicate effectively within them.

Aspiring marketers should also learn to use key digital tools to create, manage and track campaigns, including:

  • Google AdWords.
  • Google Analytics.
  • Social media management platforms (such as Hootsuite).
  • Inbound marketing (through platforms such as Hubspot).

Potential careers in digital marketing you can pursue with a bachelor’s degree include:

  • Audience analyst.
  • Content creator.
  • Digital analyst.
  • Media manager.


Current professionals seeking development opportunities

Whether you already work in digital marketing or want to shift your existing career toward it, there are certain abilities and knowledge areas that can support professional development.

A focus on analysis and strategy may be a key component of career growth, empowering you to develop the intricate and methodical plans that drive campaigns and inform the work of frontline employees. Similarly, building additional familiarity with these tools and concepts can support success in higher-level digital marketing roles:

  • Current marketing tools, such as Facebook Audience Insights and Google Analytics.
  • Organic and paid social media campaign deployment.
  • SEO and SEM.

Earning an online certificate can allow you to build upon your current skills and quickly grow your career as a digital marketing professional. The online graduate certificate in digital audience strategy curriculum emphasizes practical experience through the use of industry-grade tools throughout your courses. Similarly, you can build familiarity with leading digital marketing practices and learn how to build campaigns designed to reach target audiences. A focus on audience and content analytics can enable you to effectively execute digital campaigns after completing the program.

Students who complete this certificate go on to a variety of careers in digital marketing, such as:

  • Content strategist.
  • Market research analyst.
  • SEO specialist.
  • Social media strategist.


Experienced digital marketers targeting more senior roles

Effective digital campaigns require strong oversight, from planning efforts through execution and reviews of overall performance. Large-scale digital audience strategy is complex, requiring a careful approach based on data, analysis and advanced knowledge and talents for positive results.

Senior careers in digital marketing center on these high-level concerns, with managers, directors and those in similar positions carefully crafting a strategy to be implemented by junior members of their teams.

Completing a master’s degree related to digital marketing can signal your advanced knowledge in strategy and ability to lead digital marketing efforts. As a student in the online Master of Science in digital audience strategy program, you can build the high-level skills required to plan and oversee large-scale digital campaigns. The data-driven, multidisciplinary and hands-on curriculum goes a step beyond theory to offer opportunities for enrichment through practical exercises.

Graduates are prepared to go on to a variety of advanced roles in digital marketing, including:

  • Communications director.
  • Digital content director.
  • Marketing director.
  • Social media director.


How long does it take to become a digital marketer?

You can build valuable, highly applicable knowledge and skills on a timeline that makes sense for you. When you complete a bachelor’s degree through ASU Online, you can finish the program in four years. Certificates and master’s degrees can be completed within one to two years.

What is a double major?

Is a double major worth it? Learn what a double major is, some popular combinations and the benefits of pursuing two majors as you complete your degree.

Job outlook: Career opportunities

Digital marketing keeps growing as people spend more time on their devices and new channels for engagement emerge. A report from eMarketer indicated that digital ad spending alone jumped by nearly $111 billion from 2020 to 2021. When you include the many other aspects of digital marketing, such as online content and organic social media strategy, it’s clear there are a variety of opportunities for current and aspiring professionals.

All digital marketers focus on digital audience engagement and the use of data to inform and improve their efforts. However, their specific duties, areas of expertise and opportunities for career advancement can vary significantly, which means there are many different specialities you can pursue based on your interests.

Once you obtain the necessary education and knowledge for a career in digital marketing, you can compete for numerous roles. Popular roles within this discipline include, but are not limited to:

  • Digital content creator.
  • Public relations specialist.
  • Social media strategist.


Digital content creator

A digital content specialist may also be called a content marketing specialist or SEO content specialist, among other titles. These professionals focus on developing appropriate, engaging and targeted content, taking technical considerations like SEO and their diverse audiences into account. They may work collaboratively with strategists who supply relevant analytics about audience interests and past content performance to build a content marketing strategy.

Falling under the broader U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) category of writers and authors, this profession can be attractive to digital marketers with a knack for writing, editing and researching. The median annual pay for the profession is $67,120, according to the BLS. That’s significantly higher than the median annual pay for all occupations, $41,950. Job growth is projected to be steady through 2030.


Public relations specialist

While public relations and marketing are distinct disciplines, they can share similar intents, tactics, processes and desired outcomes. Because digital audiences are unique, a background in effectively understanding and engaging with them can be especially valuable for applying the principles of public relations to digital engagement.

Public relations specialists earn median annual pay of $62,810, according to the BLS, significantly higher than the median for all occupations. Professionals in this role can also benefit from higher-than-average projected job growth of 11% through 2030.


Social media strategist

Social media strategists develop detailed plans for connecting with audiences through a variety of social networks. They have to take the interests, preferences and other defining factors of their audience into account, as well as the purpose, features and limitations of the social networks they use to drive engagement.


Why should you consider a career in digital marketing?

Careers in digital marketing have a very positive outlook. Consider these indications of opportunities for growth across several professions that fall under the digital marketing category:

  • A 10% projected increase in employment through 2030 for advertising, promotions and marketing managers, according to the BLS.
  • Projected job growth of at least 15% for search marketing strategists through 2030, according to O*NET OnLine.
  • Six-figure growth in total new jobs for market research analysts — an additional 163,600 positions through the end of the decade — estimated by the BLS.

ASU Online offers a variety of programs that set the stage for effective professional growth among all types of aspiring and current digital marketers. You have the power to build a career in this fast-growing and broadly influential industry. Learn more about earning an online communication and digital media degree to build the crucial talents needed to become a leader in digital marketing.

ASU Online's student success services

ASU Online offers a wide range of student success services, empowering you from enrollment to graduation. Learn more about the many services available to students.


Step 1 of 2

Get started today

To learn more about ASU Online or a specific program, fill out the form below and check your email for information on next steps.

Select a degree type
Select an interest area
Find a program
This is a required field.