What does it take to be a digital marketing expert?

What does it take to be a digital marketing expert
It's easy for people to claim they are experts at digital marketing, but how do you know for sure? Photo: Macdongtran, Pixabay

Many people have traditionally found marketing a hard skill to master and this isn’t made any easier by the prevalence of digital media in today’s society. While there are certainly plenty of capable digital marketing practitioners, at what point can someone be considered an expert?

Many high profile marketers have struggled being labelled as digital marketing experts or gurus because of the implications that come with it. Kris herself explained that those who describe themselves as digital marketing magicians are big red flags for anyone pursuing consultancy in the field.

But there must be some way to verify the best of the best, right? Not necessarily, since digital marketing is a constantly evolving field there is no one size fits all approach that will be viable forever.

The devil is in the details

Strategies that worked 2 years ago won’t necessarily be as effective as they were when they were cutting edge. This means that practitioners who sell consultancy are always learning new things and educating themselves on the best practises.

While there are certain unassailable truths to how marketing should be performed that are always relevant in a broad context, the specific actions that are taken are always being tested and re-evaluated based on analytical metrics.

Digital marketing is, as the name implies, highly measurable through computerised means. The meticulous data collected by search engines and online aggregators is easy to graph and demonstrate visually to clients.

This high volume of data, useful or otherwise can be presented by unethical marketers to fool clients into making bigger investments. The measurability of digital marketing is easily exploited by those who are dishonest about the risk that the data helps reduce.

Marketing by default has an inherent risk associated with it. While not stabbing in the dark, marketing is a serious of well-informed guesses about how an audience will respond to your messages. While there are certain targets that we can be very confident in reaching, guaranteed results are something that is often too good to be true.

No rest for marketing experts

Let me think. Doubtful pensive woman with thoughtful expression presses lips together keeps hand under chin plans something or makes choice poses against pink background with copy space for text
Digital marketing experts know that success requires continual work and adaptation. Photo: REDPIXEL, Bigstock

Success in marketing is not always paired with a specific numeric achievement but in its ability to work towards those targets in a gradual way. The best kind of marketing campaigns are ones that work back to back and continue the success that’s been achieved thus far.

Therefore, marketing practitioners need to constantly be thinking ahead and making predictions that inform future strategy. A digital marketing expert would draw on their past experience, analytical data and there entrepreneurial instinct when making strategic decisions.

As much as we prepare and make educated guesses, digital marketing will always have that element of risk that clients look to marketers to minimise. In many ways digital marketing is about tailoring traditional marketing strategies so that they can thrive online.

Specific skillsets

A large part of this tailoring process comes in the form of search engine optimisation (SEO) which specifically works to increase the organic search visibility of a client’s website. With websites becoming a powerful POS for many businesses, driving organic traffic to those domains has been correlated with increased conversions.

SEO falls under the umbrella of search engine marketing (SEM). SEM uses other tactics like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising via tools like Google AdWords.

The best SEO practitioners could be considered digital marketing experts as their responsibilities can often include work on social media, copywriting, backlinking and keyword research. These practitioners are digital marketing experts within the context of their subdivision known as SEO although they are often talented with broader marketing as well.

Who qualifies as a digital marketing expert?

To summarise, a digital marketing expert would be a professional who has a proven track record of success behind them with several different clients, big and small. The expert would also acknowledge that they don’t know everything and shouldn’t present themselves as an all-knowing digital marketing wizard.

A digital marketing expert would be someone who appreciates the need to be dynamic with their approaches to fit changing trends in social media, search engine algorithms and the internet in general. Unlike the real world, the internet is a system with 1’s, 0’s and rules that govern the behaviour of things featured on it.

This means that digital marketing is both couched in uncertainty while still being able to be informed by hard data. It’s certainly true that to declare yourself a digital marketing expert without being able to back it up will do you more harm than good as a professional.