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How to Put Your Best Foot Forward to Break into Digital Marketing

Published: January 6, 2014

Author: Monica Madrigal

Digital marketing is a hot field. Most companies (yes, even mom-and-pop shops) can benefit hugely from some digital marketing expertise, so there’s high demand – which means positions are opening all the time, and hungry new applicants are waiting to pounce.
So you want to be a digital marketer, you say. How can you stand out?
Sharpen up your Excel skills (keyboard shortcuts, pivot tables, vlookup)
The amount of time spent working in Excel in the digital marketing world is intense.  Staring at spreadsheets with thousands of rows of data and making sense of it all isn’t for everyone.  Picking up a few simple keyboard shortcuts saves tons of time and allows for more focus to go to optimization, which is what we data nerds love!
A good excerise it to explore pivot tables with data that you find interesting. Do you like the NFL?  Download player stats and run them through a pivot table to get the hang of everything it’s capable of, this will make your life so much easier when you start analyzing client data.
DictionaryFamiliarize yourself with the language and acronyms (e.g. CTR, CVR, CPA)
Digital marketing as an industry has been around for a relatively short time.  The vocabulary used to explain data, metrics, and goals can be completely new to most people.  Start looking at commonly used online advertising terms and their high-level definitions.  The sooner you learn what CVR and SSL mean the sooner you start understanding why we do what we do instead of focusing on learning the new language.
Know the company you’re interviewing for: clients, positions, mission statement
Take the time to look into a company.  Read through their website; look through their clients: find out what services they offer, where their offices are located, and what positions they have. The more you know about the company the better prepared you are for the interview, not only to answer their questions but to come up with your own.
Stay current with digital advertising blogs
The amount of knowledge available to the digital marketing world online is vast; take advantage of it!  There are numerous blogs available to anyone looking for beginner to expert knowledge surrounding the space.  Read through some blogs and leave a comment, start a discussion, ask questions, and get involved.  Here’s a list of some top ppc blogs, (note #13)!
Build an understanding of 3rd-party tools
At a high level, you should be able to recognize the names of 3rd-party bidding tools, ad copy tools, landing page optimizer tools, and so on.  Don’t get lost in the conversation because you’re not sure which tool the account team is currently referencing.  Have a general understanding of why agencies and companies use 3rd-party tools when running their campaigns.
Build a basic understanding of Social, Display, SEM, and SEO (know the difference between paid ad, banner, promoted story, etc.)
Be aware that online marketing and digital advertising encompass various specific online marketing channels like Social, Display, SEO, and SEM.  At a basic level, know which ads appear on what channel (for instance, Facebook uses sponsored story likes, while display uses banner ads).  Note their differences and start thinking about why a specific company would use one channel over another. It doesn’t matter if you’re wrong, thinking it through will go a long way.
Lastly, be able to honestly answer why you want to get into the spaceThinking Man
In my experience marketers in this space are wildly enthusiastic and love the ever-changing field in which we work.  After you’ve learned things to set you apart, think about why you want to dig your head in spreadsheets, crunch numbers, write ad copy, and make landing page suggestions.  What is it about digital marketing that makes you want it so badly? If you can articulate that, you’ll have a huge leg up on other applicants – and you’ll already have taken steps towards succeeding in your first position. 

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