It’s March 2020.
If you live in Ontario, Canada (home to seoplus+) this month marks the beginning of the COVID era with its lockdowns, workplace shifts, “Great Resignation,” video meetings, and the rest.
Fast forward to November 2021, and many of the massive, routine-shattering changes we experienced throughout 2020 are beginning to feel more and more normal.
As businesses and people alike continue to respond and adapt to the changing environment, digital marketing agencies are reporting a marked increase in demand for their services, an industry that was already booming pre-pandemic.
Along with this increase in demand comes a rising need for top talent. Companies and agencies around the world are looking to bolster their teams with seasoned veterans and green hires alike.
If you’re looking to start a career in digital marketing, know that there is plenty of opportunity out there. But where do you begin? Like any field, a successful career in digital marketing starts with knowing how to succeed.
Read on to learn about the key habits you’ll need to build to have a successful career in digital marketing.
Build and Maintain Healthy Personal Habits
Let’s get the low-hanging fruit out of the way first. To be successful in any career, you need to build and maintain healthy personal habits.
When you’re a student, you may be able to make it through by consistently burning the candle at both ends, but doing so in a professional occupation will undoubtedly lead to poor performance and issues in your personal life.
Start by taking stock — determine what are your must-do daily/weekly habits, and go from there. Do you need to wake up early, read a chapter of your current book, and have a healthy breakfast before work? Great. Do you need to ensure you earmark time to go to the gym four times a week? Excellent. Need to shut off all screens an hour before bedtime? Super. Don’t do this exercise with a mindset of thinking how you can arrange your life around your job — do this because it will ensure you have an enjoyable day-to-day routine that will allow you to succeed in your professional life.
After this, you’re not done yet. Work hard every day to maintain your must-do activities. The better you stick to your routines, the more natural they will become, and soon, they will be second nature.
Once you are in the workforce, it’s crucial to challenge yourself to not fall into the trap of letting your personal life slide. Avoid excuses like having too hard of a day at work, being too tired, or otherwise, and do not let those get in the way of taking care of yourself in your personal life. While it’s okay to take breaks and rest every so often, beware of doing this so often that you lose your baseline routines and need to work to get them back again. Your body and mind will thank you, and your manager will too!
Be an Active & Engaged Listener
When you’re working in the digital marketing industry, specifically in an agency setting, a huge portion of your work boils down to consuming and relaying information.
When you work in an agency, you will have clients, and every client you have will be different. They will have different goals, needs, target markets, selling strategies, personalities, and the like. Depending on your role, it will be your job to know all these things about your clients and use this information to plan and execute campaigns meant to achieve their goals.
So, how do you manage all of this information?
The best way to do so is by perfecting your ability to listen actively to your clients and colleagues and retain the information that comes in.
While I won’t cover specific active listening strategies here (I found this article to be particularly helpful), what you do with the information you take in is the most important part.
No matter what specific tools you use, I recommend keeping all your client/project notes in specific places, accurately titled and marked/tagged/sorted so that you can easily find all the information you need when you need it — not organizing your meeting notes and information properly can cause headaches down the line. You never know what you’ll need to refer back to!
Take the best, most easily accessible and consumable notes in the company? Watch as you find yourself become invaluable.
No matter what your role in digital marketing is, you will need to be a master of organization to ensure your success.
With your role will come specific processes, action items, tools, and team members to collaborate with. Then, factor in the fact that you will have multiple clients, and you can see how the need for solid organizational skills is imperative.
The good news is that organizational skills are a habit like any other that can be worked on and improved as you grow in your role. The more experience you build, the more opportunities you will find within your daily processes to improve things and become better organized.
There is also no one-size-fits-all approach to becoming well-organized. A smart way to start is to ask your more senior colleagues in similar areas what tactics and tools they use. That will give you a starting point that is proven to function well, and you can layer on and customize your methods as you evolve.
Understanding and knowing how to respond to your clients’ and colleagues’ emotions and personality types is a key skill in any workplace.
Empathy in a nutshell is understanding how to recognize and understand other people’s perspectives. In digital marketing, this is key to understanding your client’s goals and needs, as well as how to communicate with them and build strong relationships.
In order to practice empathy, you need to be able to set your own viewpoints aside and see things through your counterparts’ eyes. Listen to the tone of their voice, their body language, and try to read in between the lines to understand what they are saying or asking for — dig deeper than just hearing the words they are saying.
The next step to practicing empathy is to take action. There is no specific right or wrong way to demonstrate empathy, but taking action is always the first step.
Remember, being empathetic is about deeply understanding the other person’s perspective and needs. Therefore, in order to respond empathetically, you need to:
Doing this will allow you to build a connection with the other person and do your best work together, whether that is a colleague or client.
In addition to your personality and drive to succeed, perhaps the most important aspect of a successful career in digital marketing is your drive to improve your skills.
This is particularly important in the digital marketing world, as tactics, skills, tools, and channels are constantly evolving.
First, focus on gaining a deep understanding of your specific knowledge area — while there are often needs for generalists, the most successful digital marketers are individuals who have specialized knowledge — whether that is SEO, paid ads, social media, and so on.
As you continue to grow in your career, you will naturally begin to soak up information in other areas. While this will happen naturally to some extent, actively deepening your understanding of areas outside of your specific specialization will benefit you in numerous ways.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of information out there. You can choose to read books and listen to audiobooks, subscribe to online publications, follow industry experts, attend courses and classes, and so much more.
Showing that you are passionate about digital marketing as a whole will do wonders for your career prospects and can only benefit your skills as a professional.
Working with Purpose
Finally, to be a successful digital marketer, you need to work with purpose.
While the vast majority of us may be able to say that we work so that we can get paid (and therefore live in modern society), the only way that you will be able to build and maintain a meaningful and rewarding career in digital marketing is by working with purpose.
This is different for everyone. For some, their purpose for working may be something more tangible or straightforward — perhaps your purpose is to be able to save enough money for a down payment within the next five years. Perhaps your purpose is to be able to provide stability for your family. Perhaps your purpose is to help others. Perhaps your purpose is to become a thought-leader in your field.
No matter what your purpose is, it should be something that is deeply important and motivating to you. For this, you’ll need to search within yourself — while you can get help from others, no one can determine this for you.
Try to avoid superficial purposes as much as possible — while being able to purchase a sports car may be rewarding in the moment, it is likely not something in and of itself that is conducive to a full and satisfying life.
When you have found your purpose, and remember it regularly, you will be able to find meaning, motivation, and drive to succeed and do your best each and every day.
I truly believe that these six core habits, when practiced and mastered, will be the core of any successful digital marketer’s career.
If you would like to learn more about working in digital marketing or seoplus+ as an agency, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].
I also encourage you to follow us on LinkedIn where we post regular updates, job postings, and more.