The role of digital marketing specialist has made it to LinkedIn’s latest list of 10 most sought-after job roles in India.

This is excellent news for aspiring digital marketing professionals in India. But how do you carve a successful career in this field? First of all, there isn’t a formal degree or a specialization that Indian universities offer.

For many professionals, digital marketing is a field where they have landed by chance — it’s rather common to find SEO executives who are computer science graduates or have an engineering background. Still now, the common perception of a social media marketer is of someone who spends their entire day on social media sites posting pictures with catchy captions.

Due to the lack of a formal course, the interested ones end up enrolling in online marketing programs or take the route of self-learning to become a digital marketer. Either way, there’s a high chance of being misguided and misinformed because it all boils down to where you’re getting your knowledge from.

There’s way too much information on the internet — but not all of it comes from trusted sources. So you have to look into all the right places. As you can see, the path to becoming an effective digital marketer is pretty sketchy. And, that’s also a reason why many people doubt the future and sustainability of this career. Honestly, they couldn’t be more wrong. Let’s see why.

The growth of digital in India

As reported by Kstart and YourStory, the digital marketing industry has been witnessing a 40% year-on-year growth as compared to 5-6% growth in many other industries.

Even if you leave statistics aside, the mere fact that people’s interest in the term ‘digital marketing’ has been progressively increasing in India over the last five years (see below) is a proof that it has entered the popular lexicon. In other words, people are increasingly talking about digital marketing.

But what’s driving this growth?

Besides providing an effective way to promote a product or service, digital marketing allows businesses to do so even on a limited budget. Because of this, businesses of all sizes are trying to leverage digital marketing.

Not only that. With 480 million (and growing) internet users, India is estimated to become one of the largest e-commerce markets in the world. This, along with the government’s push for the cashless economy and schemes like Digital India program, is further boosting the role of digital marketing. According to McKinsey, 90% of all marketing jobs require some knowledge of digital marketing.

Now, here’s the problem

 While there’s high demand for skilled digital marketers, there isn’t enough reliable talent in the market. The lion’s share of the problem lies in the fact that a majority of marketers transition into the digital arena without being equipped with the right digital skills. A lot of marketing graduates are making their way into the digital landscape with inadequate (or even flawed) understanding of how digital works.

No wonder, 54% of businesses consider digital skills gap as a significant bottleneck in their way to digital transformation. As a digital marketing consultant who has worked closely with small startups as well as Fortune 500 companies, I can tell you there’s an awful lot of truth in this statistics. I’ve seen most of the companies I’ve worked with either struggle at hiring talented digital marketers or suffer due to sub-par marketing.

So the question is — how do you break the mold? You can give your digital marketing career a decent start with a few simple steps and practices. Here’s how.
1.Read marketing books
We may be well into 2018, but there is still a plethora of information available offline that can help your digital marketing skills. Some of these books helped kick off the trend of digital marketing and can be considered important precursors and introductions into digital marketing for beginners. Again, there are dozens of great books on digital marketing, but we recommend these five as a good starting point:

  • Permission Marketing by Seth Godin
  • The Social Media Bible by Lon Safko and David Brake
  • The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period! By Stoney Degeyter
  • Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi
  • YOUtility by Jay Bear

2.Follow the right influencers
Influencers are those people who have a lot of clout in the digital world. They’ve gained an authentic reputation over the years and are essential people to follow if you’re looking for a career in digital marketing.
For anyone stepping into digital marketing, Neil Patel (Quicksprout), Rand Fishkin (formerly Moz blog), Gary Vaynerchuk, Chris Sherman (Search Engine Land), Jeff Bullas and Michael Stelzner (Social Media Examiner) are some amazing people to follow online and on social media. In fact, their blogs are veritable goldmines of valuable information that can help spurt your digital marketing career growth.

3.Understand the digital media ecosystem using online resources
Step deep into all the online libraries. This means consuming blogs, YouTube videos and basically reading up on digital marketing tips, trends and all the resources available online. This can be overwhelming at first and even time-consuming. We recommend you spend an hour every day reading up and you’ll gradually start getting the hang of things. The most important bit: Don’t give up and be consistent in your efforts.

4.Build your Personal Brand
In today’s digital world, a strong personal brand is imperative for a successful digital marketing career. Cultivate a brand that effectively communicates about you, your core strengths and skills as well as the value you can bring to potential clients.
Building and nurturing your social media presence is the first step towards effectively positioning yourself as an authority in your domain. Plus, you can network with your peers and influencers in the industry. This will open up massive opportunities, ultimately resulting in your career growth.

5. Attend offline digital marketing events
These are great ways to meet people in the field and build a network. Attending events also helps marketers keep up with trends, know their competitors and feel more connected and less isolated in the real world.

6. Join relevant Facebook groups and forums
Online forums are a great way to keep up on a regular basis, or if you’re unable to frequently attend offline events. They can help provide answers to questions, give you an idea about others’ strategies as well as issues, and help you build an online community

7.Self-awareness is key
How are you influenced by digital marketers yourself? Start to pay attention to your own engagement with advertisements — when do you click on an ad, what persuaded you to purchase something online, you can then use that information in your campaigns or advertisements for clients.

8.Be tech savvy
This is important for anyone in the industry. Build up your own website, learn a coding language and just be open to learning new things. This will help you go a long way and is a great investment for your future career as a digital marketer.

9.Find a mentor
Having a mentor is incredibly important. Use online as well as offline resources to find the right mentor. This should be someone reputable in the industry, but it should also be someone that you can personally get along with, and someone you enjoy learning from

10.Enroll for paid courses 
If your mentor offers paid courses and you trust their competency levels, give them a try. There is no better way to learn than through a course delivered by a reputed digital marketing expert. Plus, this is the perfect platform to ask questions, broaden your horizons, and to explore the field.

Final Words

The 10 steps outlined above are some of most effective ways you can embark on a journey to become a successful digital marketer. The last two steps, in particular, can really make a difference and encourage you to think and strategize like an expert digital marketer.

If you’re looking for sound advice and a practical approach to digital marketing training, Digitechniks led by Sharan Kulkarni can help you, just like we’ve helped thousands of other aspiring online marketers.
Here’s what one of them had to say about us:
“Mr.Sharan is a 360 degree digital marketing strategist, with thorough knowledge across all digital platforms, he has a unique approach towards business understanding which enables him to come up with successful omnichannel digital campaigns, whether you’re a business looking to scale up or an individual who wants to become a digital expert I would highly recommend you to get in touch with Sharan!”
–  Aditya Mudugal (CEO & Founder at Brandsynergi)

Learn the exact fail-proof system that we use for our clients to convert their social media contacts to contracts without playing the guesswork game or spending a ton of money