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IT career roadmap: The journey to digital marketing executive

Sharon Florentine | March 2, 2016
CIO.com's IT Career Roadmap series takes an in-depth look at the hottest roles available in tech today, exploring what it takes to prepare for, land and succeed in some of the most exciting jobs in the industry. This month, we examine digital marketing's past, present and future through the eyes of Kristine Spence.

"Social is now the big push from our clients and where we're seeing most of the demand right now. The 'paid social ' model is so hot right now, because it's hard to get around the Facebook and Twitter models of how they deliver content to viewers -- anyone who can do that is a rockstar." Taylor says.

Most of the demand for these specialized roles is coming from marketing, PR and advertising agencies, not from firms with in-house marketing departments, Taylor adds, though there is demand across all industries, not just IT.

"Five years ago there was a debate within client companies about whether or not to bring some of these aspects of digital marketing in-house. We see that the demand for online marketing managers, and for digital marketing generalists is constant for individual clients, but for more specialized folks -- like with paid social, or SEO -- that demand is mostly coming from agencies who will then offer those services to clients," Taylor says.

Bringing digital marketing in-house

For organizations, like compensation benchmarking software solutions company PayScale, that do bring digital marketing in-house, other roles and skills also are important, says Tim Low, PayScale's senior vice president of marketing.

"I'm looking for roles like a demand generation manager who's great at converting leads from the top of the 'funnel' and content marketing specialists to help craft content that will be easily searchable by Google, for example," Low says.

But these skills and roles can be hard to find, either because the education requirements aren't keeping pace or because there are so few people available with the skills and experience, says Taylor.

"This is the tricky part: Some universities do offer digital marketing programs; Rutgers University has one, and Boston University, and there are certificates in digital marketing you can get, but the educational foundation hasn't yet caught up with what the market needs, so as a recruiter, you're not really looking for those hard-and-fast credentials," Taylor says.

When Onward Search was tasked with finding entry-level digital marketing talent for a client in 2015, Taylor said he and his team looked for candidates with a solid background in statistics, analytics, Microsoft Excel and "people who were numbers- and data-driven in their thinking, with a dash of creativity and good content development skills," he says.

PayScale's Low says that when he's recruiting for digital marketing positions, he focuses on both the creative side, the data and analysis side as well as experience and mastery of marketing and analytics platforms like Marketo, Salesforce.com and emerging practices like firmographic scoring, which determines lead viability, and behavior scoring to gauge how potential customers respond to different campaigns.

 

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