Where Should You Start Your Marketing Career?

Digital marketing is a complex discipline. Lead generation and demand generation, paid and organic search, the technical, the creative, the guerrilla, and everything in between, effectively marketing a brand is a symphony of big-picture strategy, detail-oriented execution, and data-driven analysis. What are the jobs in marketing, and where do you fit in? The students in our marketing course learn skills and tools for each of the roles below, then drill in deeper on the areas that interest them most in order to build their careers in marketing.

Read below for a basic overview of career opportunities in marketing, what each of these professionals does, and what it takes to succeed in a marketing career:[bctt tweet="Where Should You Start Your #Marketing Career? by @zimmerbugg"]

*Note that this list is not exhaustive. Titles differ from one company to the next, and lines between each of these roles become blurrier in smaller companies. Do you have a better definition of any of these roles, or others in the marketing field? We'd love to hear in the comments, below.

Marketing Job Titles List

The marketing roles that we'll outline here are:

  • SEO Specialist
  • Data Scientist
  • PPC Specialist
  • Content Marketer
  • Email Marketer
  • Social Media Marketer
  • Community Manager
  • Bonus: we'll touch on growth-hacking, inbound marketing, and paid acquisitions management

SEO Specialist

A company’s website might look great, with a beautiful, clean interface, great UX, and plenty of multimedia to engage visitors. But, if the site isn't consistently attracting a targeted audience and converting them into customers, it's not doing its job.

An search engine optimization (SEO) specialist’s role is to see that the website gets found, and that visitors to the site become leads.

Search engine optimization involves three main components, and an SEO specialist is tasked with the responsibility of factoring each of these perspectives into their overall strategy in order to maximize traffic and conversion rates on the website.

The three main components of search engine optimization are:

  1. Technical optimization: the architecture of a site can determine how easy it is for search engines to crawl and index your content
  2. On-page optimization: leveraging researched/ tested keywords and HTML tags in ways that help increase search engine traffic to your site
  3. Off-page optimization: such as link-building

This is a highly analytic and strategic, but also tactical role. These marketers are detail-oriented while also being able to visualize how all of these things come together to create a site that is fully-optimized for conversion.

Search engine optimizers are highly-integrated are between both marketing and product teams. They need to know how to communicate with a team of web developers in order to ensure the tech team correctly implements optimizations to the structure of the site. At the same time, they play an important role in content strategy and development.

Similar titles: Inbound marketer

You’d make a good SEO specialist if you are:

  • A highly technical marketer
  • Big-picture focused
  • A curious problem-solver

Resources for learning about search engine optimization:

Data Scientist

Data science is not necessarily fall under the category of digital marketing. Still, the most costly, creative, and well-executed marketing initiatives can fall flat if they aren’t strategically targeted to to the consumer. This is why, in the world of digital marketing, data scientists are power-players. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these experts averaged $102,190 per year in 2012, and the demand for these skills has only grown since.

Data scientists are responsible for collecting and storing rich, clean data about customers and leads, analyzing it to predict consumer behavior, and leveraging it to inform better marketing decisions. With countless opportunities and channels where you could potentially find leads, data scientists tie marketing decisions to the bottom-line—allowing brands to spend their budgets more wisely and efficiently. These marketers focus on paid user acquisition and analytics strategy, analyzing data to reduce the cost of marketing leads, grow databases, and increase engagement.

To learn more about our part-time data science class and the role of a data scientist, check out this interview with data scientist Tanya Cashorali.

Similar titles: Data analyst; *Growth-Hacker

You’d make a good data scientist if you are:

  • Strong with statistical reasoning
  • Highly detail-oriented
  • A gritty problem-solver

Resources for learning more about data science:

  • Top 50 Data Science Resources, including blogs, forums, videos, and tutorials
  • 5 Skills You Need to Build if You’re an Aspiring Data-Driven Marketer

*Growth Hacker: This title is very trendy right now but, in our opinion, it’s falls in the same category as someone calling themselves a “marketing ninja.” A growth-hacker is, simply, a marketer, usually at an early-stage company, who drives conversions using methods that are testable, scalable, and low-cost by mining and leveraging data.

To learn more about growth-hacking, take a look at Neil Patel of Quick Sprout’s Definitive Guide to Growth-Hacking.

Pay-Per-Click Specialist

Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing means you are, literally, paying for people to find your website. These marketers use search engine advertising (typically Google) to drive traffic to their company’s website, rather than “earning” clicks organically through good SEO (such as content and links to their site).

PPC specialists look for ways to a minimize the overall cost that the company is paying per click—driving traffic to the site for the lowest cost possible. During the course of a campaign, this marketer will research keywords, analyze the effectiveness of existing keywords being used, and make changes by adding or deleting new words or search terms, as necessary. They also build landing pages targeted to capture information from leads by drawing them to click on their advertisements. These marketers never stop testing in an effort to discover which strategies work best.

Key concepts for PPC specialists to understand are:

  • How the AdWords auction works
  • How to structure an AdWords account
  • Keyword match types
  • Negative keywords
  • Bidding on keywords and budgeting

Similar titles: *Paid Acquisitions Manager

You’d make a good pay-per-click specialist if you are:

  • Strong in analytics and mathematics (inclu. Excel)
  • Adaptable, and able to adjust quickly to change
  • A curious self-starter

Resources for learning more about pay-per-click advertising:

*While PPC can refer to any pay-per-click advertising, it’s not inclusive of paid ads on other platforms like Facebook where paying for all ads that show up on your viewer’s page (not just the ones they click on) is common.

Content Marketer

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on developing, curating, and distributing relevant and valuable content that is targeted to attract a specific audience, with the goal of driving these people to become customers.

Content marketing taps into the early stages of the buying cycle—addressing pain points, and raising awareness about solutions and products consumers may not have previously considered. These marketers also help to nurture leads down the marketing funnel until they’re ready to make the purchase, educating, entertaining, inspiring, and providing consistent value along the way. Content managers are key-players in increasing a brand’s search rankings with both on and off-page optimizations, such as strategic keyword placement, HTML tagging, and link-building with other sites.

While articles and blog posts are the most common forms of digital content, good marketers will work in a range of relevant mediums in order to expand the reach of the brand. There are a countless number of content types. Some of the common ones include:

  • Articles/ blog posts
  • Infographics
  • Books/ eBooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Presentations

Similar titles: Content specialist; Inbound marketer

You’d make a good content marketer if you are:

  • A creative and skillful writer
  • Metrics-driven
  • Able to think out-of-the-box

Resources for learning about content marketing:

  • Jay Acunzo—”defender of quality”—’s Sorry for Marketing blog chronicles lessons-learned from the trenches and musings on the content marketing’s greatest hits. Fun fact: Jay teaches our content marketing course in Boston.
  • 6 Steps to Building an Inbound Marketing Campaign from Scratch
  • Have You Kissed Your Content Marketer Today?

Email Marketer

Your website is optimized, and your excellent content and events are bringing in hoards of qualified leads. Great. Now, how do you move people through the buyer’s journey to the point of sale?

This is where a skilled email marketer comes in. These marketers have a deep understanding of customers at all stages of the buying cycle—whether they're just beginning to explore this product or they’ve got their wallet in-hand—so that each customer in the database receives an email that will help them to take the next step.

Email marketers are responsible for developing and maintaining lead nurturing programs and conceptualizing special campaigns to increase engagement and inspire leads to become customers. Successful marketers can create compelling subject lines, succinct body copy, and know how to create email content that coaxes readers to download a piece of content, register for an event, or make a purchase.  They work closely with content developers, event marketers, and the sales team to create an integrated strategy. They’re also highly test-driven—constantly experimenting and adjusting variables, then implementing solutions that will bring proven results.

You’d make a good email marketer if you are:

  • Detail-oriented
  • A strong, concise communicator
  • Highly empathetic

Resources for learning more about email marketing:

Social Media Marketer

There’s no question that social media is one of the most cost effective and personable ways to engage with consumers today. Brands use social media marketing for three main reasons:

  • To connect with customers and influencers
  • To gain visibility in the marketplace
  • To promote the company

Social media marketers leverage social media platforms to achieve marketing communication and branding goals—masterfully gauging the marketplace, driving website traffic through clickable content and captions, expanding the company’s reach, and engaging with audiences across a range of platforms. They are also responsible for conceptualizing, implementing, and managing social marketing campaigns to create added buzz. These marketers have in-depth knowledge of the various social platforms, and understand which ones are best suited for different brands and initiatives.

You’d make a good social media marketer if you are:

  • A strong written and visual communicator
  • Good at recognizing patterns
  • A creative thinker

Resources for learning more about social media marketing:

Community Manager

Community management and social media management often overlap, but the roles serve two different functions.

Community management lives at the intersection of customer service, marketing, and brand advocacy. While social media marketers leverage social channels to build brand awareness and drive customer acquisition, community managers are focused on engaging prospective and current customers with one another, keeping customers happy, and providing support. To this end, social media marketers post on social as a brand voice, while community managers tend to interact with their communities as themselves, rather than as the company (while still maintaining brand tone, content, and values). If you work in a smaller company, it’s possible that a community management or social media marketing role will be rolled into one job description—managing both sides of the spectrum through brand awareness and customer retention.

From the customer service and retention perspectives, community managers are key advocates for customers, and will proactively communicate with members of the team to anticipate and tend to customer needs. Community aficionado and instructor Trish Fontanilla also emphasizes the importance of brand advocacy outside of customer engagement:

Community managers reach out to communities that are parallel to the one being built... and many CM's have strong personal brands too, and can go out into the community to connect—online or offline, wherever their customers and advocates are.

You’d make a good community manager if you are:

  • A strong communicator—both internally and with customers
  • Personable and service-oriented
  • Passionate about the brand

Resources for learning more about community management:

Interested in adding one of these job titles to your own business cards? Download the course guide for our technical marketing training to learn more about the course.