What is a Digital Marketing Strategist? Job Description, Salary, Skills, & More
If you're looking for a career in marketing, you may have come across the term "digital marketing strategist." But what does the job entail? What skills do you need to do it? How much can you expect to earn? In this blog post, we'll answer all those questions and more. So if you're curious about what a digital marketing strategist does, keep reading!
Thanks to the rapid growth of the digital sector, our world is changing faster than ever before.
This has, in turn, made being human our best advantage… which is why those who can determine how to use the internet best for business purposes are essential. They are known as Digital Marketing Strategists.
Almost all aspects of advertising and marketing are being influenced by the digital movement. With the rise of digital marketing, traditional marketing is becoming more and more obsolete.
The number of related strategies and industry spending shows how influential it has become. As reported by PRNewswire, the global digital advertising and marketing market is set to reach $786.2 billion by 2026. Meanwhile, the U.S. digital advertising market is estimated to be worth $460 billion.
With this field becoming increasingly digital and data-driven, digital marketing will take over, and digital marketing strategists will be at the forefront. This makes this job one of the most in-demand digital marketing roles for businesses, earning around US$63,437.
But what is a digital marketing strategist, anyway? What makes it different from other marketing jobs like digital marketing managers or brand strategists? What skills and requirements do you need to become one? We’ll find out in this blog.
We’ll also talk about how Acadium’s digital marketing apprenticeship program can help you dominate this competitive field.
What is a digital marketing strategist?
Also known as a digital strategist, Quora.com defines a Digital Marketing Strategist as someone who works within a company to identify unmet needs, goals, opportunities, and challenges in departments and business aspects. Following that, they develop and oversee the implementation of a plan via specific initiatives to achieve the strategy’s objectives.
Also, the Digital Marketing Strategist will be responsible for providing cross-functional teams with ideas that bring together brand goals, retailer objectives, and consumer needs.
Digital strategist Brett McDonald, of Zulu Alpha Kilo in Toronto, told Marketing magazine that the role of a digital marketing strategist:
“…could change depending on whom you ask but I believe a digital marketing strategist is more of a connections strategist. Through a deep understanding of the strategy, we develop a plan that connects the brand to the online consumer.”
In essence, a digital marketing strategist is responsible for the company’s web presence. To develop an effective digital marketing strategy, they analyze trending topics, consumer interests, and market competition. Following implementation, they constantly evaluate the strategy’s effectiveness.
A digital marketing strategist’s job doesn’t end with the launch of the campaign, unlike a traditional marketing strategist. As the campaign progresses, they review the response and make necessary revisions.
And in order to make the campaign a success, they maintain close contact with a number of teams within the company.
What does a digital marketing strategist do?
A digital marketing strategist can have a lot of responsibilities within a company’s marketing team.
Read a sample job description template for this role, and you will find terms and phrases, such as:
- ‘steer the company’s digital narrative’
- ‘firm grasp of digital marketing tools’
- ‘coordinate various digital mediums’, and
- ‘leverage digital touchpoints’ to accomplish specific goals.
These are a rather high-concept description of what a digital marketing strategist does, so let’s break it down into some more specific responsibilities.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Plan and implement an online content strategy
- Manage social media channels
- Setting up email marketing campaigns
- Create guidelines for digital media branding and marketing to increase brand awareness
- Work with clients, sales teams, and marketing managers
- Review existing digital marketing strategy and identify weaknesses and potential improvements
- Analyze paid media campaigns, and implement new ad campaigns across a variety of digital channels, including PPC and Adwords
- Use Google Analytics for digital campaign analysis and reporting
Accordingly, Digital Marketing Strategists are also responsible for developing solutions to meet brand objectives based on data and consumer insight. This position requires an understanding of SEM/SEO strategies, as well as the ability to spot trends and technologies that influence consumer behavior.
In addition, they help cross-functional teams blend brand goals, retailer objectives, and consumer needs. For future marketing efforts to succeed, they must be adept at analyzing the results of their own campaigns and those of their competitors.
Harvard University’s Chief Digital Officer, Perry Hewitt, describes the diversity of this job as follows:
“Digital is part technology, part content strategy, part marketing art – and science. People who very strongly identify with only one piece of the equation will struggle on a high-performing digital team.”
However, the role of a Digital Marketing Strategist goes beyond just using these tools and skills to showcase your company’s products and services. Seth Godin, one of the best well-known digital marketing experts, put it this way;
“Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell”.
Digital marketing strategist job description
Using this sample Digital Marketing Strategist job description from ZipRecruiter, you can get an idea of what employers seek when hiring for this position. Keep in mind that every employer has different requirements when hiring for a Digital Marketing Strategist position.
In some cases, however, listing requirements like this may be misleading. How do you even measure or know what a ‘form a high-level view of market topography’ actually looks like?
Yes, digital strategists need both hard and soft skills to succeed. But for your marketing team to really become effective, ticking a box won’t cut it – you’ve got to do a lot more.
To help you achieve that, here are some of the requirements and skills for becoming a good digital marketing strategist.
What skills and requirements does a digital marketing strategist need?
The Digital Marketing Strategist must be well-versed in digital and other content delivery platforms. They think outside the box and use different digital media to reach specific target markets.
They understand people’s behavior when it comes to digital media and how they interact with it. They keep an eye on what’s hot in the digital world ahead of the competition. They also closely follow trends related to how consumers are accessing information.
As part of their role, they are often collaborating with businesses on marketing campaigns that span all media outlets. As interactive media professionals, they build brands strategically and extend customer loyalty cycles by leveraging digital media.
Their strengths include brainstorming, being deadline-driven, organized, and detail-oriented. Their interpersonal and communication skills are also top-notch.
As digital methods used by brands to connect with customers continue to evolve, digital marketing strategists also need to update their skills.
To maintain a successful digital marketing career, professionals will often need to commit to continuous learning.
From search engine optimization to social media advertising, digital marketing strategists must be skilled in various aspects of digital marketing. To build brand awareness and capture leads, they’ll have to analyze the competition and the company’s target audience.
Recruiters usually look for candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree in communications, marketing, or a related field. Additionally, digital marketing strategists may be expected to:
- Be an expert and have a certification in Google Adwords and Analytics
- Have an understanding of common marketing analytics and marketing tools
- Has the ability to plan, strategize, and solve problems
- Know how to use search engine tools and perform SEO
- Has experience in public relations, journalism, and brand building
- Be social media savvy (in both marketing campaigns and social media strategies)
- Have an understanding of the basic principles of email marketing and lead nurturing
The commitment to constantly updating your knowledge about marketing trends and digital strategies will also be crucial.
Related roles for digital marketing strategists
As you can see, the digital strategist role is not limited to one function. Taking part in it requires a holistic skill set that spans multiple marketing roles and teams.
An assessment of the state of digital marketing conducted by the 2018 General Assembly found a 33% market gap in digital marketing strategy skills, which means 33% of employers cannot find candidates with sufficient digital marketing strategy skills.
In line with this, Digital Marketing Institute reports that:
“Some key findings from the study include a serious lag time in digital marketers’ efforts to support video and mobile, despite indications of a voracious appetite from consumers for these mediums. Some companies struggle with adopting new technologies and testing.”
This study was then called Talent Revolution which was commissioned by Google Skills Academy to measure the progress in closing the digital marketing skills gap.
This opens up an opportunity for those who know their way around digital marketing, particularly digital marketing strategists.
Therefore, those skilled or trained in digital marketing strategy may choose to pursue or enter the following careers:
1. Digital marketing specialist
Job overview: Also known as digital marketers, digital marketing specialists are basically responsible for maintaining brands through marketing campaigns. Among their duties are conducting market research, strategizing with other professionals, and developing content for marketing campaigns.
Average salary: US$55093 per year
2. Marketing analyst
Job overview: The role of a marketing analyst is to analyze data in support of a company’s marketing efforts. They can use their insights to help a company make better business decisions, such as maximizing revenue or optimizing marketing campaigns.
Average salary: US$65,229 per year
3. Analytics manager
Job overview: An analytics manager turns raw data into business insights for strategic planning and decision-making. Their in-depth industry knowledge helps them draw relevant insights and develop strategies for effective data analysis.
Average salary: US$109,824 per year
4. Content strategist
Job overview: Content Strategists come up with innovative ideas for content that will be published online and in digital channels.
Average salary: US$68,291 per year
5. Communications manager
Job overview: Communication managers ensure a company’s message is consistent and engaging through internal and external communications. These professionals are often known as communications directors and are responsible for preparing press releases, media reports, and marketing materials.
Average salary: US$68,133 per year
6. Digital marketing manager
Job overview: A digital marketing manager implements, oversees, and manages digital marketing strategies aimed at reaching a wide audience and gaining greater exposure for an organization. Their efforts lead to increased sales, donations, or community involvement.
Average salary: US$83,479 per year
7. CRM manager
Job overview: CRM (Customer Relationship Management) managers are responsible for implementing and advancing CRM strategies, plans, and systems to improve business-customer relationships. They put the pieces together that help a business gain new customers and retain existing ones.
Average salary: US$103,942 per year
8. Email marketing manager
Job overview: The role of an Email Marketer is to increase the brand awareness of a company using email communication tools. By using email communications effectively, they develop marketing strategies and distribution techniques to successfully engage consumers and ultimately increase profits.
Average salary: US$85,582 per year
9. Director of public relations
Job overview: Often referred to as the Public Relations Director, the Director of Public Relations directs and implements a company’s public relations strategy, and handles media relations, announcements, editorial placement, and speaking engagements. Public Relations Directors are responsible for evaluating and authorizing all public communication regarding the organization.
Average salary: US$117,513 per year
Job overview: To sell products, educate, and engage consumers, copywriters produce persuasive content for websites, blogs, product descriptions, email blasts, banner ads, newsletters, white papers, PSAs, social media platforms, such as Twitter and Instagram, and other marketing communication platforms.
Average salary: US$69,667 per year
11. Web manager
Job overview: As the name suggests, a web manager manages an organization’s website. They are responsible for managing website upgrades, testing website performance, implementing strategies to increase web traffic and subscribers, troubleshooting website issues, and responding to security breaches.
Average salary: US$90,615 per year
12. SEO manager
Job overview: An SEO manager considers all aspects of a search and develops strategies for finding target visitors for companies. SEO helps convert visitors into customers. With billions of websites available, the SEO Manager helps target the right content to attract the right audience.
Average salary: US$73,757 per year
13. PPC manager
Job overview: Also known as a Paid Search Manager, a PPC (Pay-Per-Click) manager implements Pay Per Click media strategies for clients. Having a deep understanding of managing, and supporting initiatives that contribute to client campaign goals is a key characteristic of their roles.
Average salary: US$63,205 per year
14. Social media manager
Job overview: A social media manager is typically responsible for growing a company’s social following, overseeing social campaigns, producing content, analyzing metrics, and communicating with key stakeholders.
Average salary: US$59,608 per year
15. Brand strategist
Job overview: Brand Strategists develop position recommendations to help companies strengthen their brands. They also assist with market research analyses and define a company’s tone so that everything aligns with campaign goals.
Average salary: US$65,628 per year
16. Marketing director
Job overview: Marketing directors provide direction, guidance, and leadership to marketing departments. Their job is to manage marketing for a company, organization, product, or group of products.
Average salary: US$166,987 per year
17. Brand strategy consultant
Job overview: Brand Strategy consultants help assess, evaluate, and analyze clients’ brands, performance, and strategy. They provide expert recommendations and insights into ways to revitalize brands.
Average salary: US$104,883 per year
Digital marketing strategist salary
Every individual brings a unique set of skills and abilities to their work. No two jobs are the same. Occupational pay varies from one job to another. Often, the greater the variation, the larger the wage gap.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, some of the factors that can affect this variation include:
- The candidate’s credentials (higher degree, professional certification, or licensures)
- Years of experience
- In-demand skills
- Success and performance at work
- The industry
- Employment setting
- Job tasks
- Geographical location
There is also a variation among talent recruitment sites when it comes to estimating salary ranges.
As a result, the figures below are based on salaries reported to talent recruitment sites for digital marketing strategist openings only and are presented here in this guide to give you a picture of how salaries vary per country and experience level.
Digital marketing strategist salary in Canada
The data from this table comes from 216 salaries collected by Payscale, 152 salaries submitted anonymously to Glassdoor, 104 salaries reported to Indeed CA, and 45 salaries posted on Talent. No profile data was reported to Jobted but the site did share some demographics showing that the majority of the candidates were females living in Toronto.
In terms of experience, Payscale defines entry level as having one to four years of experience, average as four to five years, and experienced level as over 20 years.
Digital marketing strategist salary in the US
The numbers in this table are based on 250 salary profiles submitted to Payscale, 1,149 salaries entered into the system of Talent, and 516 salaries reported to Indeed US. While Glassdoor and ZipRecruiter did not share profile data, both shared locations with the highest-paying cities; the former is in New York, the latter in Atkinson, Nebraska.
Digital marketing strategist salary in the UK
The figures in this table came from 84 salary profiles provided to Payscale, 814 salaries submitted anonymously to Glassdoor, 239 salaries posted on Talent, and 168 salaries reported to Indeed UK. The data shared by Reed was specifically for London.
How to become a digital marketing strategist
1. Complete a relevant bachelor’s degree or certification
While not all companies looking for digital strategists will demand a bachelor’s degree, the right education will improve your chances.
With a bachelor’s degree in communications, marketing, or journalism, you can demonstrate your ability to build brands and connect them with their customers.
You can also pursue a business science degree in marketing or advertising. Invest in qualifications that provide insight into digital marketing channels so you can develop your skills online.
Alternatively, you can earn a certification. Professionals in digital marketing can earn a variety of certifications.
In particular, SEO strategists can benefit from earning certifications in specific areas of SEO strategy and fundamentals. A certification in marketing analytics or advertising can also help you advance your career.
2. Get a better understanding of the digital marketing domain
The next step is to focus your education specifically on digital marketing. Starting with courses that provide an overview of digital marketing and how it works is a good idea. A digital marketing certification is particularly useful when trying to attract the attention of potential employers.
Look for digital marketing courses that cover the following topics:
- Video marketing
- Graphic design
- Affiliate marketing
- Influencer Marketing
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- Website and content marketing
- Search engine marketing (both SEO and PPC)
Your role as a digital marketing strategist will involve knowing how each channel works as part of a comprehensive online advertising strategy, and which campaigns are most effective.
3. Develop your SEM knowledge
As a digital marketing strategist, you’ll be tasked with helping your clients become visible online. To do this, you need to show them how to take advantage of search engines.
A search engine marketing campaign (SEM) combines organic (like SEO strategies and content creation) and paid (like PPC) campaigns.
In order to build a strong online presence, a good online marketing strategist will need a solid understanding of SEO, keywords, and content campaigns.
In addition, you’ll need to learn how to use Google Ads and PPC to draw attention to specific client promotions.
4. Get a handle on social media marketing
Creating marketing plans for clients through all of the most successful digital channels, including social media platforms, is part of the responsibilities of a digital strategist.
Based on the kind of audience they are trying to reach, a successful strategist will also know which social media platform is best for their client’s promotional needs. Additionally, you’ll need to be able to cross-promote on multiple social media sites.
Make sure you know how to use Facebook audience targeting and paid ads as well as organic Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram campaigns.
Also, don’t forget to measure and understand the success of your campaigns with the help of social media analytics tools.
5. Master the art of content marketing
Digital marketing strategists may not be responsible for creating content, but they need copywriting skills to guide content marketing teams.
In order to drive the best results from your client’s campaigns, you must learn how to use content at different stages of the buyer journey. It’s important to understand how to optimize for different platforms, and how to identify “intent” for your target audience.
Analyzing competitors’ content is also crucial to determine if your company should create similar campaigns.
6. Get to know the basics of email marketing
One of the top tools businesses use to nurture and convert leads is email marketing.
The majority of companies will need an email strategy to succeed with their online advertising. As a result, any great digital strategist should be familiar with email marketing.
As an email marketer, you’ll need a thorough understanding of how to produce and plan “drip campaigns” to nurture and convert your audience at different stages.
As a digital strategist, you might also help your clients segment their audiences for email marketing campaigns. In order to do this, you’ll need to know how to sort email subscribers based on demographic data and customer history.
Additionally, digital strategists will use email marketing analytics tools regularly to track campaign performance and suggest changes.
7. Study affiliate marketing
To improve a client or brand’s image online, digital strategists need to consider the various types of online advertising methods. For affiliate marketing campaigns, this might mean working with influential figures or other external marketers.
Your job as a digital strategist is to advise your clients on how to use affiliates to promote various products and services. You might also help manage affiliate groups your team works with.
8. Develop your branding and earned media skills
A digital strategist works with companies to ensure they’re positioned as effectively as possible online.
Strategists should also consider the unique brand image they’re trying to establish when helping clients and companies promote their products online. The ability to protect your customer’s identity online requires a basic understanding of “brand building”, as well as how to preserve a company’s reputation.
Learn how companies use things like tone of voice and image to generate a specific response online, and how to use them to your advantage.
9. Learn how to manage a team
As the driving force behind a company’s digital marketing strategy, online strategists need to know how to work with other digital marketers and manage teams effectively.
In addition to offering advice on how to improve the company’s image, you’ll need to advise your team on how to utilize various marketing channels and methodologies.
To be a successful team leader, you need excellent communication skills, as well as the ability to use project management tools and set team goals.
An effective digital strategist needs to be able to describe a digital marketing plan in easy-to-understand terms so that the rest of their team can follow along.
10. Master data analysis
An effective digital strategist builds an entire marketing campaign around data and insights.
Understanding how to position a company in the digital market requires knowledge of everything from market research to competitor analysis tools.
Digital marketing strategists are also responsible for creating reports and using those insights to determine whether their campaigns are effective. Thus, you will need to master the following tools:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Google Data Studio
- Ahrefs (or similar tools such as SEMRush, Moz, or Hubspot)
- Facebook Ads Reporting
11. Sign up for a digital marketing apprenticeship
If being a digital marketing strategist sounds exciting to you, there’s never been a better time to get into the game and make your mark in this competitive industry than now.
If you’re new to digital marketing, you should first learn the foundations of the field. You’ll never be able to take full advantage of your marketing budget without knowing the basics. Luckily, we have a free course that will teach you all about digital advertising and how it works in tandem with other aspects like SEO or social media strategy!
Working as a digital marketing apprentice allows people from all walks of life the chance to get practical experience. You will be able to build your resume with a tangible skill, and it’s great if want more than just theory. No matter what your background or skillset, there’ll be something for you here!
Get started by joining Acadium, completing your profile, and applying for a digital marketing apprenticeship. You can take advantage of it to land the job of your dreams, just like our successful students:
Become one of our 54% of apprentices who found employment and are earning more after their apprenticeship!
Princess “Ji” Kang is a staff content writer at Acadium who unveils complicated topics about digital marketing. She's been wordsmithing for various brands and industries for nearly 6 years, after earning her Master's Degree in English Language and Literature along with her Digital Marketing certification. Her work has appeared on sites such as asksebby.com, wellpetcoach.com, Ready Home Singapore, ThePerfectMedia Group, and more. You can find her at her home mini-library reading, sipping hot coffee, or playing with her cats in her downtime.
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