Honing the Necessary Skills to Become a Digital Specialist
January 9, 2023
The job market is ever-changing—as the world evolves, the careers and specialties that are most prominent evolve, too. Over the past few decades, the technology and digital marketing atmosphere have grown exponentially, and will only continue to grow as media becomes more prominent.
For those seeking jobs in digital marketing, the skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic need to be paired with new and innovative skills to remain competitive. One of the most sought-after employee roles by high-ranking tech companies is that of a Digital Specialist. Digital Specialists, often called digital marketers, are a special niche of tech with particular skills.
What Does a Digital Specialist Do?
Digital Specialists are usually hired by marketing firms and agencies that need creative branding and advertising solutions. Their work falls under the marketing umbrella, with the objective of spreading the company’s brand message to drive sales. When a company hires a digital marketing specialist, they are looking for someone who knows how to use online tools to their advantage for organizational promotion and client engagement.
A Digital Specialist creates marketing content using media and software programs. They write and publish flyers, emails, websites, and blogs. As well as perform extensive market research, strategize with other digital marketers and professionals, and work to establish successful marketing campaigns. Their duties also include ensuring projects are completed on time and remain effective in the long run. Oftentimes Digital Specialists are employed by larger corporations, but they could also freelance for or do contracted work.
The goal for a digital marketing specialist is to compare a company’s advertising and marketing techniques with that of competing businesses. It is important that they determine the strengths and the challenges a company faces. A Digital Specialist must not only recognize the need for change but be able to create and implement a plan for success going forward.
Essentially, it’s a Digital Specialist’s job to put forth marketing materials that keep the company ahead of the competition. It’s crucial to emphasize the value of the company or product to current and potential clients. It’s also important that Digital Specialists utilize their efforts on social media platforms that their brand-specific demographics spend time on. The ads they put out must connect to the individual’s interest factors.
A Digital Specialist can differ from other more specialized positions, such as an SEO specialist. They have a more broad range of job responsibilities, although some of those might overlap with other specialized roles. However, they work closely with other company colleagues to create and implement all forms of digital media as well as strategies and plans that effectively promote the company’s online presence.
A digital specialist works on a variety of platforms, including:
- Social media channels
- Company or client websites
- Mobile apps
- Email marketing campaigns
- Ad campaigns
You can understand how the exponentially developing technological landscape will also call for more and more numbers of Digital Specialists; every company probably needs at least one (or significantly more) Digital Specialists, depending on the size of each company.
Duties of a Digital Specialist
When looking for a career as a Digital Specialist, one might find job descriptions similar to the following as listed below:
- Brainstorm and carry out advertising experiments and lead-conversion tests
- Conduct market research and advertising trends for current and future campaigns
- Determine what types of content will deliver the intended message
- Develop content projects to deliver the company’s message
- Develop and implement email marketing campaigns
- Monitor the budget and status of projects, adjusting where necessary
- Measure amounts of digital traffic and where it came from
- Monitor social media platforms, including Google Analytics
- Optimize campaigns and ads for SEO
- Report campaign successes, struggles, and data to stakeholders
- Research and analyze competing businesses, products, and prices
- Scale campaigns for improved ROI
- Write and publish online marketing content
Specialized digital marketers also present deep financial literacy and assist their clients or company with creating and implementing marketing budgets and pricing strategies for their goods or services. They help to ensure a solid ROI and make it feasible for a company to bring in increased profit each year while staying within set financial limits.
What Education is Needed to Become a Digital Specialist?
At a minimum, a Digital Specialist needs a high school diploma or a GED; however, many companies, especially in today’s educational and career climate, prefer a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Degrees that a company looks for might include business, communications, digital media, or marketing. Much of a Digital Specialist’s training is on-the-job however, previous experience in a related position is always beneficial. Most potential employers will want to see several years of experience, as well as a portfolio of pieces that show a variety of skills, such as data analysis, research, copywriting, graphic design, and project management.
Certifications and qualifications that will help be a more competitive candidate include, a Digital Specialist position with digital marketing certification courses, programming language experience, or networking skills. A Digital Specialist must, be well-versed in digital content, social media, and all aspects of website creation and writing. Since social media platforms are always evolving, they need to understand how to navigate each of the platforms that are currently used and be willing to learn new ones as they arise.
Digital Specialists must have a deep and detailed understanding of how SEO, paid searches, and ads work and how they are related to each other. It is necessary for a potential Digital Specialist to be confident in their ability to produce original, creative content relevant to the business and the branding message.
Interpersonal and communication skills are a large part of this career, too. A good Digital Specialist should communicate easily with many types of people. (Sales and customer service experience are extremely helpful). They should also have exceptional problem-solving skills as well as be a self-motivated, creative individual with a vision for the end goal of a project.
When a potential employer looks at an applicant’s experience, they will look for evidence that the applicant has researched and promoted various companies, products, and services over multiple platforms. They’ll look for experience with email campaigns and sales research as well. They’ll look for someone who works well with others, knows how to take, and give direction, and can show that they can successfully delegate and manage tasks on large projects.
Digital Specialists need to be well-versed in a variety of other fields, too, such as:
- Affiliate marketing
- Content marketing
- Digital public relations
- Email marketing
- Inbound marketing
- Marketing automation
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Social media marketing
- Sponsored content
- Pay-per-click (paid search marketing)
Sometimes, digital marketers will advertise themselves as a specialist in a particular area of the digital field. For example, some might have niche experience as copywriters or have years of work analyzing SEO. Others might intuitively understand PPC advertising on Google ads, social media platforms, and email campaigns. Those with an advanced business degree might offer extensive skills in research or data analysis. The more skills and experience that can be offered as a Digital Specialist, the better off you are to land that perfect job and be of service to your clients or company.
Checking Off the List Toward Becoming a Digital Specialist
Breaking down the necessary steps can be beneficial especially if you are at the beginning of your career. This guide can assist in visualizing a path to set appropriate short-and long-term goals. This guide can help whether you start at the beginning or, you have already completed some of these steps.
Step 1 – Complete a Bachelor’s Degree Program
Although some people may have moved up in the ranks of a marketing company through lower-level positions, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics says that all marketing positions require a bachelor’s degree.
Related fields include:
However, if skills and resumé show competence, an unrelated major doesn’t automatically disqualify the applicant. If it is possible to add some additional courses on things in the following fields, it will help in the job search significantly.
- Business law
- Computer science
Step 2 – Add to Your Digital Marketing Skill Portfolio
On the surface, a digital marketing career consists of creating ads and copy that produce sales. But it goes so much deeper than that. A good Digital Specialist must have a large range of skills that help them make informed decisions and create effective marketing campaigns that are likely to turn leads into loyal customers (and into profit). Digital Specialists know that their learning is never complete and there are always opportunities to advance their knowledge in the field.
It is exceptionally helpful to put together portfolio pieces or references that show capabilities in the following areas:
- Data analysis
- Content creation and copywriting
- Interpersonal communication
- Creativity and problem-solving
Many of these skills gain crucial theory and knowledge from education courses, but often, real-world knowledge is even more valuable. It is important keep a running portfolio of every project that’s been worked on, whether it’s an intern, an entry-level runner, or if it was as a promoter for a university club, sports team, or philanthropic organization. You can gain experience in these skills in any number of ways, and everyone must start somewhere.
Step 3 – Look into Specialized Courses and Certifications
Every employer wants to see an applicant that has taken their development into their own hands. If you’ve chosen to attend a digital marketing boot camp or completed an online course while you were in school studying a related field, that has proven to be beneficial when taking the applicant into consideration for a job. These courses are often fast-paced or self-paced, so you can get them completed quickly and move on to the next one in due time. Likewise, they’re often focused on niche skills, which gives your application a leg up over people who don’t have any focused education or experience. Many times, they also include hands-on projects that you can use to add to your portfolio, making them even more useful.
Step 4 – Take that First Entry-Level Job
Don’t shy away from something that seems like it isn’t necessarily the end goal or dream job. Everyone must start somewhere, and you never know what you’ll learn once you’ve got your foot in the door. One of the best pieces of advice for someone looking to climb the ranks, though, work for the job you want, not for the job you have. If you simply show up each day and do your assigned tasks, you’ll never be noticed or chosen for more intensive projects that can showcase your responsibility and creativity. However, if from Day 1 you’re able to prove your capabilities as, driven, respectful, and innovative, opportunities will continue to come your way.
Step 5 – Begin Work on a Master’s Degree Right Away
Today, a bachelor’s degree is often seen as the new high school diploma, and a master’s is the new bachelor’s degree. To stay ahead of the competition and keep skills up to par, a master’s degree is an essential part of your career long term. To keep up interests and motivation, choose a program that caters to the desired specialty. Or ask your company what types of skills would be the most beneficial to them overall and propose financial assistance for the desired program that is agreed upon.
Master’s degrees that are highly sought after include:
- Digital marketing and design
- Digital and social marketing
- Digital marketing communication
- Digital marketing strategy
- Global digital marketing
- Marketing analytics
A Day in the Life of a Digital Specialist
Usually, a Digital Specialist will come into the office and review the current campaign data from the previous day. They will balance the overall campaign data and determine if things are continuing the success of a company or if they need adjustments. They’ll organize the new data in conjunction with the previous collections from the campaign, comparing different elements and recording views, clicks, reads, and shares from all appropriate platforms.
Much of their day might be taken up with meetings as part of the larger advertising and sales teams. They will often be called upon to give presentations and deliver data analysis, as well as ideas for necessary implementations of the current campaign and ideas for how to structure projects in the future.
In between these meetings, they’ll respond to emails from colleagues and spend any available time working on creating and publishing digital content (i.e., blogs, infographics, websites, etc.) to attract organic traffic and leads. They will attend to their marketing funnels to bring customers and profits through to the end. Digital Specialists may also write extensive copy for their marketing campaigns, as all the text that is used to make a sale is a large part of their role. Spending significant time creating content marketing, which converts leads into sales is a part of their role as well.
Since the digital Specialist is a part of the sales and advertising team, they report to a superior under this umbrella. Usually, this will be some type of digital marketing manager or director. The digital marketing managers lead the marketing teams, overseeing projects and delegating tasks. Sometimes, higher-level marketing specialists will begin reporting to the VP of Marketing or someone in a similar role.
How a Digital Specialist Stays Sharp
A Digital Specialist’s work is constantly evolving. Since companies are always adjusting their marketing campaigns, Digital Specialists must stay well-informed of changing trends. They need to collect and analyze current data, both for their company and the competition. A digital marketer that is up to date in the industry will keep current clients satisfied and continue to bring in new leads.
Skills that a Digital Specialist Should Hone
Someone pursuing a career as a Digital Specialist can begin practicing the following skills and building their portfolio to show their abilities in each area.
Business Savvy Attitude
A Digital Specialist that excels can interact with people from varying backgrounds. They are able to adjust to many different situations and hold a conversation with various types of colleagues. It is understood what it takes to make a profit and what it takes to hold onto a customer. They create and nurture strong networking relationships because they recognize that the key to a successful business partnership is people skills—even in a digital age. Accountable for themselves and other team members, both giving support and receiving it readily from colleagues.
Much of a Digital Specialist’s day is spent collecting and analyzing data. That data is always changing, so they continue to seek new information as campaigns are launched. They know how to find true, solid, useful facts and how to interpret them for the benefit of the company. A Digital Specialist gets their information from varied sources and actively seeks out data from multiple platforms so that they get a well-rounded picture of the information. Solid research skills are often a benefit of higher education.
The Internet, social media, and the digital landscape are growing and changing faster than anything else in business. Another changes or updates as soon as someone has a handle on a specific platform, technology, or skill. Therefore, a successful Digital Specialist must always be learning. They must stay ahead of the evolving landscape by keeping up their digital literacy skills. This is best done through practice while working on current campaigns and research surrounding the competition.
Digital marketers are organized in each area of their work. Literally, they keep an organized desk and computer files so that they can easily access and compare data from past projects and different sources. Their schedule is organized, allowing them to balance multiple projects at the same time and prioritize what needs to happen and when. They are also organized in their creative mind, understanding the different types of research and how each can be applied to multiple situations.
Marketing is also about sales, at the foundational level. A Digital Specialist with sales experience is a valuable one. Whether it was retail, car dealerships, ad sales, or direct sales, every sales position offers valuable lessons for working with people, closing deals, and delivering a branding message that hits home.
Innovation and Creativity
A successful Digital Specialist knows how to create something from nothing. They also know how to take a branding message and ripple out many different pieces of content that get the message across effectively and profitably. Problem-solving, creating and applying unique solutions are also a large part of being a digital media specialist. Successful specialists use their knowledge of people and the field to stay ahead of the power curve. With the end goal in mind, they continue quality work until it’s completed.
Design and Publishing Skills
All aspects of a campaign need written words and meaningful images. A Digital Specialist should be skilled in both areas. It’s important for them know how to get their message across concisely and powerfully. They must also know how to create and alter images so that the company’s branding is clear and that the message comes across effectively. Fundamentally, a Digital Specialist should be an excellent storyteller—one who weaves a tale of need and fulfillment as well as value.
Some education is better than none, and more is better than some. Anyone pursuing a career in digital marketing would benefit from higher education in a related field or certificate programs that focused on necessary digital skills. A program doesn’t have to be completed before putting it on a resumé, to show the intent and interest in continuing education.
How Much Does a Digital Specialist Make?
Everyone wants to know what their hard work is going to turn into once payday arrives. In the United States, the average Digital Specialist makes around $60,000. Entry-level positions in areas where the cost of living is lower might start around $14,000, while very experienced professionals working in highly technological bubbles might make well over six figures.
Internships are always available, and while they may not pay very much if anything at all, there’s no better way to get your foot in the door at a successful marketing company than by interning. Digital marketers who are able to train and precept entry-level specialists are likely to earn more as well.
The more education and experience you have, the more you’ll probably be offered to begin with. Those with higher levels of education have a better chance of becoming a digital marketing manager, too, so if you have the opportunity to continue your education and certify you in managerial skills, take advantage.
If your company also offers programs that will cover your education while you work, that’s another opportunity that should be greatly considered. You’ll learn valuable skills, such as sales, consumer behavior, marketing research, communication, and technology development. Some specialized programs also offer niche classes in visual arts, history, and photography—if you have an interest in any of these and you can find a program that offers those classes. When you show ambition and the desire to grow for the betterment of the company, you’ll often be rewarded in more ways than one.
Many Digital Specialists begin work under this role and then are offered executive positions at their respective marketing agencies, such as team leads, consultants, or potentially running their own freelance Digital Specialist company.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that careers in this field will see a 10% increase between now and 2030. This number is higher than that of all other occupational fields combined. As Digital Specialists are more necessary for companies, those who move up the ladder are able to train, lead teams, and manage large projects as well. Giving you the skills and experience to climb that ladder and have a successful, fulfilling career.
Landing the Job
If you’re looking for a career as a Digital Specialist, you should now understand what is necessary to do to be competitive in today’s market. You’ll have a fast-paced, exciting job where sales, communication, and tech-savvy skills can be applied effectively.
Although likely starting at an entry-level position or with an internship, Digital Specialists who work hard, show innovation, and problem-solve creatively can have more opportunities to work with the top levels of marketers in their company. Successful digital marketers are high in demand in today’s technological landscape, so staying up to date on your skills and adding to your experience is well worth your time as you search for that perfect Digital Specialist position.
USIM’s digital marketing teams have found success executing campaigns for multiple brands. Our team takes into consideration all best practices while applying a creative and unique approach to your marketing strategy.
When working with USIM, our digital marketing specialists are constantly up to date on the best marketing strategies while comparing previous campaigns to the success of current ones.
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