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Advancing Your Career in Digital Marketing

5-second Summary

There’s high demand for digital marketers. Learn what it’s like to work and advance in digital marketing and the education you need to get there.

digital marketing agency working on a project

Total digital media advertising spending in the U.S. grew 38.3% in 2021. It’s projected to rise almost 50% between 2021 and 2025, amounting to over 75% of all digital marketing spending by 2025. Those figures are from the Insider Intelligence Inc. report, published in October 2021.

That level of industry growth requires a lot of digital marketing specialists now and in the foreseeable future, says Ged King, Academic Director for Wake Forest University’s School of Professional Studies (SPS).

“As we all experienced, the pandemic shifted consumer buying behavior from in-store, brick-and-mortar to online digital. Everyone looked online for everything they needed, and businesses were racing to meet that need,” says King, who also serves as CEO of Sales Factory, a Greensboro, North Carolina-based marketing agency.

King formerly taught in Wake Forest University’s undergraduate and graduate programs in marketing, consumer behavior, brand management, product development, and marketing research.

Today, the customer journey is primarily online and via apps, driving the need for digital strategy marketing. As a result, the need for people specializing in digital marketing is rising fast, he says.

Factors Driving the Demand for Digital Marketers


There are several factors creating a high demand for digital marketers. Advances in technology, more and more time spent online, and evolving consumer behavior all play a role in making digital marketing a dynamic, sought-after field.

A key factor, says King, is the fast rate at which the internet continues to grow and expand.

“It’s in a constant state of innovation and change, and there’s a need for experts to keep up with it. It’s also driven by improvements and enhancements in digital platforms and our technological devices, which include apps and voice activation,” he says.

Consumers’ increasing reliance on digital search functions is also spotlighting the importance of digital strategies, such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization). On top of that, “Voice search is becoming an important trend among retailers and consumer-facing brands,” King says.

What Is It Like to Keep Up in the Digital Marketing Industry?


Digital marketing is a fast-paced, high-pressure field, says King. “That’s because you’re responsible for maintaining, growing, and tracking success with key performance indicators and tangible metrics.”

“There’s also a need and pressure to innovate—practice digital innovation—and stay on trend and ahead of the curve,” he adds.

Who Is a Good Fit for This Career?


A good fit for digital marketing, King says, is someone who has strong communication skills, is open to continual learning, and who can function in many capacities daily.

Digital marketing requires an interesting blend of strategic, creative, and analytical skills, says King. “Skill-wise, you have to be both creative and analytical all at once. That can be hard to flip between those ‘sides’ of your brain.”

It also requires someone who can work autonomously and collaboratively with a team on large campaigns and initiatives, he says.

“With that said, as fast-paced and high-growth as digital marketing is, it’s also incredibly practical. You need to be strategic and visionary but also intuitive about how consumers navigate the internet for what they need or what they’re looking for,” he explains.

Digital Marketing and Artificial Intelligence


Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the world of digital marketing. AI now often plays a role in predicting user actions and personalizing their experiences. It helps identify previous behavior and uses that information to improve and enhance an audience’s journey.

“Keep in mind that digital marketing is a line of work where humans and AI must work together,” says King. “You’re constantly balancing how to create and activate information for both ‘audiences.’ As hard as that is, I love it for the unique combination that is creativity combined with machine learning and actual learning.”

Digital Marketing Career Outlook


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the job growth for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers at 10% between 2021 and 2031, but it doesn’t specifically address digital marketers.

Nevertheless, the digital marketing field offers good opportunities for those considering joining the ranks of digital marketers and possible advancements for those already working in it, King says.

“Digital marketing roles are increasing at the brand, retailer, and agency level, so there are opportunities to advance your career trajectory within team or management roles in the field,” says King.

“For example, you can begin as an analyst and then go on to become a strategist, supervisor, or manager.”

Digital Marketing Jobs and Roles


A digital marketer has a keen understanding of how brands connect with their audiences, and their expertise can span several channels, such as digital advertising, social media, email marketing, and blog content.

Here are some of the common areas of expertise in the digital marketing arena:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Content marketing
  • Inbound marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Display advertising
  • Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)

What Employers Are Looking for in Digital Marketing Job Candidates


“The field is looking for candidates who are eager and ready to hit the ground running. They’re also looking for individuals who can utilize their current skill set, whatever it is—from logistics to journalism to engineering—in an entirely new way,” says King.

Digital marketing provides businesses and organizations a great opportunity to hire people who align with their business culture. That’s because it’s something that people can be trained to be successful in, King says.

In the early 2000s, digital marketers were left with having to learn the field as they went by trial and error and just “figuring it out,” King says.

However, that mode of operation has become increasingly difficult amid rapid technological advancements and the expectation for those in the field to analyze and deliver KPIs and other metrics, he notes.

“The fast-paced nature of the field is making deeper education necessary to understand the art and science behind the strategy and creativity,” says King.

“Keep in mind that the pursuit of digital marketing degrees is a relatively new career advancement move coming at an unprecedented time in cultural history.”

Digital Marketing Education


“It’s an exciting time to be in digital marketing. It moves fast, and you have to keep up with it. The key to maintaining that pace is upleveling your education and skill set,” says King. “Wake Forest’s School of Professional Studies is a great place for tangible skills and resources.”

King says he’s excited about candidates who are drawn to digital marketing because they’re all there to become better at what they do.

“That love of learning, paired with the economy and need today, means that Wake Forest is positioning interested and eager students to be qualified and ready for the opportunities to come—the next generation of marketing.”

The online digital marketing master’s degree from Wake Forest is a great opportunity for those individuals who aspire to grow brands and lead teams comprised of a diverse talent base and set of skills. This program is “designed to help you advance in your digital marketing career,” King says.

Is a Digital Marketing Degree Worth It?


“A lot of times, prospective students are thinking about whether they want to pursue a general graduate degree, like an MBA, or a degree in a subject more specific, like digital marketing,” says King.

“They’re very different experiences for me as a teacher and for students. The key to knowing which to pursue requires being clear on your respective objectives for these programs. The personal approach of WFU SPS meets you where you are and helps you find the path that’s right for you and your career goals.”

King suggests determining what you want out of the degree. “An MBA offers a broad view because it often fills holes in your professional experience or learning, and you have more flexibility career wise,” he says.

“A digital marketing degree is very focused. You don’t pursue it and then start a career in finance. This specialized degree prepares you for a specific line of work or career in digital marketing.”

Making Your Mark in Digital Marketing


“I cannot say enough about the power of communication, collaboration, and innovation when it comes to how you make your mark in this industry,” advises King. “Learning and practicing those skills daily in your respective career before, during, and after Wake Forest’s School of Professional Studies program will be critical to your success in this industry.” Your love of learning, as well as your experience in the field, will help set you on the right course in the field of digital marketing.

Further Your Digital Marketing Career


It is an excellent time to advance in the growing digital marketing industry. Arm yourself with the skills and education that can help you succeed. Learn more about the Master of Digital Marketing (MDM) program through Wake Forest University today.


Job Growth: Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers, National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

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