In today’s connected world, every organization needs a digital strategy. How do you stand out in a saturated online market? How do you develop an effective inbound marketing plan? How do you cut through the distraction to deliver your message? Finally — and most important — how do you convert?
All these questions and more are the focus of digital strategists, the Swiss Army marketers in charge of leading an organization’s digital marketing long-term planning, creation, and implementation. Or, as Gene De Libero explains:
Digital strategists are the people that lead the problem solving charge, helping to connect the dots between the needs, wants, and desires of the customer and those often illusive business, brand, and marketing goals. . . . Of course, at any given time during the engagement, you can swap out “business” with “customer,” “creative”, “technology”, etc. Same strategic approach, different lens.
Sound like a job you’d be interested in? Below, we break down ways to become a digital strategist, including job prospects, salary, and the particular skills required. First though, let’s review the specific responsibilities of the role.
Digital Strategist Responsibilities and Job Description
Create strategy and content for web presence and outreach
Analyze and optimize web traffic performance
Identify new communities for lead generation
Research latest digital marketing tools and technologies
Monitor SEO/SEM, marketing, and sales metrics to forecast trends
Build strong clients relationships
Work across multiple teams (including creative, sales, and marketing) and organizations
Job prospects are particularly promising. Because digital fluency ranks among the most in-demand marketing skills, you’ll be in an excellent position to advance your career along multiple paths, many of which offer significant salary bumps and long-term job growth.
For instance, at the next step up, digital marketing directors earn $154k a year and carry more decision-making weight (depending on organizational structure). Maybe you decide to pivot toward a broadly-focused managerial position: the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers to grow 10% over the next decade, and median salary is $130k. Finally, at the top of the food chain, marketing executives can earn well over $200k a year.
Related roles and career paths include:
Digital Brand Manager
Senior Marketing Manager
Social Media Marketing Director
Marketing Communication Director
Internet Marketing Director
IoT Marketing Strategist
Chief Experience Officer
Using Your Education to Become a Digital Strategist
Depending on your career goals, a master’s track in marketing could be a good idea, as well, in which you’ll need to decide between a number of different programs and specializations.
If you want to stay within general marketing, it’s important to understand the difference between an MBA in Marketing vs. a traditional master’s. Aspiring digital strategists may want to stick to the latter, which features a skill-oriented, technical curriculum, but an MBA is a great option for those interested in managerial and C-suite roles further down the line.
Using Your Skills and Experience to Become a Digital Strategist
At the same time, because digital strategists’ responsibilities are constantly evolving, there aren’t any specific educational requirements. What really matter are skills and experience.
Half of working digital strategists have between 1-4 years of experience, and a third have 5-9. Generally speaking, employers ask for a minimum of 3 years on the job, but, again, the more you can demonstrate you have the requisite skills, the more your chances of employment increase.
That means that unlike broader marketing roles in areas like communication or management, digital strategists may need to prioritize hard and technical skills, such as:
Target segmentation, value proposition, positioning, and brand strategy
Working knowledge of web design and HTML
Proficiency in a CRM software, e.g., Salesforce, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, SAP
Proficiency in SEO and related platforms
Earning digital marketing certifications can also help you stand out against the competition and provide tangible skill demonstrations:
AMA Certified Professional Marketer
None of this is to say traditional soft skills are irrelevant. Digital strategists need excellent verbal and written communication skills to meet internal and client-side expectations, as well as a healthy balance of leadership skills, organization, project and operations management know-how, and more.