Digital marketing is a relatively new industry, which means there is little in the way of uniform, established methods for improving your digital marketing career.

In general, that’s the case for any career in any field. Our careers depend on our individual personalities and capabilities. They develop at different paces according to a wide range of factors, some within our control and some not.

That said, there are a few golden rules you should keep in mind when pursuing a digital marketing career, no matter who you are:

1. Improve Your Skills Continuously

If you want customers or employers to choose you over your competitors, you need to prove you know what you’re doing. This is why you need to keep improving your skills over time.

One great way to do that is to invest in earning the right certifications. Apart from boosting your knowledge, these certifications will also help you position yourself as an authority in the field. Here are a few popular courses you should check out:

  1. HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Certification
  2. HubSpot’s Content Marketing Certification
  3. HubSpot’s Contextual Marketing Certification
  4. Hootsuite’s Social Marketing Certification
  5. Google Analytics Individual Qualification
  6. Google AdWords Fundamentals
  7. Content Marketing Institute’s Online Certification

2. Become a T-Shaped Marketer

Digital marketing is a massive field. Search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC), copywriting, content development, and social media marketing are just some of its major branches. Becoming an expert in each of these fields is impossible, but you can become a “T-shaped marketer”: someone who has a general knowledge of multiple marketing disciplines but specializes in one or two fields.

Let’s say you enjoy creative writing and conducting studies. In that case, the role of a content marketer is perfect for you. You should have some basic knowledge of link building, social media marketing, and influencer research, but your main specialization would be producing valuable, engaging, and informative content that stands out.

3. Stay on Top of Industry Trends

Digital marketing evolves quickly, and if you don’t keep pace, you will lag behind your competitors. To stay on top of the latest news and developments, you should follow authoritative digital marketing sites, such as:

  1. Search Engine Land
  2. Search Engine Journal
  3. Content Marketing Institute
  4. Digital Marketing Institute
  5. Distilled
  6. HubSpot

4. Track Your Metrics

Let’s say you’re running a PPC campaign for one of your clients. If your digital marketing team doesn’t include a data analyst, you need to keep track of your metrics yourself. This is important for a couple of reasons.

First, your clients want you to assess the effectiveness of your strategy and calculate the ROI for their campaigns. Second, by setting clear PPC benchmarks, you will be able to identify and address weaknesses in your strategy.

In short, to achieve the desired goals, you need to understand your metrics. If you’re not sure which ones to track and how, take a look at the courses provided by Google Analytics or HubSpot.

5. Build a Solid Personal Brand

Once you enter the digital marketing field, you need to find a way to rise above the competition. One of the most effective ways to do so is to brand yourself.

The first step in branding yourself is polishing your LinkedIn profile. As the main professional social network, LinkedIn allows you to get yourself noticed. It can even serve as your online resume, given that thousands of companies use the site to find candidates.

To reap the benefits of your LinkedIn profile, you should:

  1. Choose a professional-looking profile photo
  2. Write an attention-grabbing summary
  3. List the skills relevant to your digital marketing career, and make sure you get plenty of endorsements to boost your credibility
  4. Don’t limit yourself to connecting with people you know; build relationships with new connections who work in niches related to your own
  5. Engage your followers by sharing relevant content, as well as liking and commenting on their activities.

Having a killer LinkedIn profile is a necessity, but it’s not enough on its own to build a personal brand that stands out. Simply put, all LinkedIn accounts look alike, so you can’t truly express your uniqueness on the platform. That is why, in addition to a great LinkedIn profile, you need an engaging personal website.

Your site is all about you. It lets you present yourself however you want, emphasizing your positive client experiences and proving your credibility with high-quality content. Most importantly, it will skyrocket your visibility in the search engine results pages. Precisely because of that, it’s always a good idea to use your personal name as your domain name. This way, your site will likely be the first thing people find when they Google your name.

While all of the above will help you stand out as a digital marketer, keep in mind that becoming a leader in the field requires a long-term investment. To succeed, you need passion and commitment. Constantly improve your knowledge, keep track of trends, monitor your major key performance indicators, and build a solid personal brand. If you do those things, you’ll get ahead.

David Webb is a business consultant, marketing analyst, and a writer. He is an editor-in-chief at BizzmarkBlog. You can reach him on Twitter or Facebook.

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