Digital Marketing – What Do You Actually Do?

8 years ago

If you’ve worked in SEO, PPC or at a digital marketing agency for any length of time you’ve probably had to explain what you actually do as a job, and most likely struggled. Given the growth of digital marketing and the undeniable truth that it’s only getting bigger, shouldn’t more people know what we actually do - it’s pretty important to businesses of the future, right? So what does a digital marketer do?

But let’s go back a step first.

I’ve worked in marketing for a number of years, starting off in-house as a product marketing assistant, moving into category manager position after a year. With product marketing, if you can call it marketing, I always felt it was more of a sales analysis role – running the weekly reports first thing on a Monday morning, compiling your category’s sales analysis and feeding back to the board by lunchtime, devising promotional plans for your products, briefing POS and requesting website banners. It’s definitely a job the more analytical marketers enjoy!

I then moved on to pastures new and started work at a smaller company that imported and supplied shelving to the DIY stores (yes I know I didn’t move very far). The company was much smaller and instead of a marketing team of over 100, I went to a marketing team of… 2. The role was much more general, looking after all aspects of in-house marketing such as the company websites, product descriptions and packaging, advertising both online and offline and email and direct mail campaigns. I then moved into the fierce world of recruitment doing the same role, but for three companies on a much bigger, faster scale, chucking event management in there too for good measure.

You may by now be questioning why I’ve given you my previous marketing employment history, however, from just over 200 words, I was able to explain what I did in my previous roles and you were able to understand it. Pretty simple. So every time I was asked “So what do you do for work?”, within a couple of sentences, I was able to easily explain what I did and people were able to understand and envisage the types of tasks my role involved.

Fast forward to my current role as a Digital Marketing Consultant working agency side, things get a little more awkward to explain. As I’m relatively new to Aira, I find I frequently get asked “What are you up to work wise now?” from people I used to work with right up to family members and friends.

Below is a typical dialogue I have had many times when people have asked me what I now do for a living, and it always ends with the exact same line.

Friend / new acquaintance / family member: So, what do you do?
Me: Oh I work in digital marketing.
Friend: (slightly confused expression) What’s that?
Me: Basically, I manage the SEO, PPC and Social Media for my clients as well as writing link worthy content.
Friend: (almost always) What’s SEO and PPC?
Me: You know the things you do to websites to make them rank better for selected keywords suited to their business. PPC is the adverts you see when you search for things online.
Friend: (totally blank expression)
Me: Basically, I help companies climb to the top of Google
Friend: Ahhh, Google.
Me: (that will do)

It’s really difficult to quickly explain to a non-digital person exactly what is it that a SEO or PPC account manager does within a couple of sentences, without sounding pompous or using my last resort ‘Google’ sentence!

When you think about it, it’s actually quite surprising considering how long websites have been around for and how long Google’s ranking algorithms have been evolving. It does, however, highlight how we as agencies can help businesses, as business owners may not be fully aware of or understand all the digital marketing services that would help in driving brand awareness and sales.

I speak to a lot of business owners as part of my job and in social interactions, and everyone knows about the traditional marketing methods. Everyone knows you could place an advert for your business in the local or even national papers. Everyone knows you could print a thousand flyers and post them door to door.

Not everyone knows that a Facebook campaign can deliver your adverts to 1000 specifically targeted potential customers for just £3 on average, or that 75% of brands are already using Facebook to advertise. Not everyone knows that using Google Ads easily and instantly allows you to show your products or services in the best places to ensure they get the best reach and ROI. Not everyone knows all the tweaks you can make to your website to help it show on the first pages of search engine results. A digital agency knows all of this and often have teams of individuals that specialise in each channel to help deliver optimal results.

What does this mean for us?

If you work for an in-house marketing team, it shows why it’s useful to learn about digital aspects of marketing as there is an ocean of opportunity that you may not be fully utilising yet. I’m not suggesting that you retrain as a digital marketer if you’re more traditional or general marketing trained, however having a broad understanding of digital channels can really benefit you, your work and your employers. You may have already heard of the T-Shaped Marketer concept; this basically means having a broad range of knowledge in lots of marketing aspects whilst having a main focus / in-depth knowledge in one or two areas. It also helps you understand what your agency (if you already work with one) are up to and how you can work better together, so I definitely recommend it. This blog post by Neil Pursey explains the advantages of being a T Shaped Marketer and is well worth a read.

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