The 5 Key Steps to Starting a Sales Career in Digital Marketing

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Jay Fuchs
Jay Fuchs


Digital marketing is one of the hottest fields for young professionals entering the workforce. The practice — leveraging digital mediums like email, video, and social media to facilitate customer acquisition — has multiple facets, including elements related to sales.

Some sales roles lean heavily on the tactics and strategies that characterize digital marketing, and if you're interested in pursuing one, it helps to have some specific skills, knowledge, and experience under your belt.

Here, we'll cover some of the fundamental tenets you need to address when preparing yourself for a sales career in digital marketing.

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1. Familiarize yourself with the concept of the buyer's journey.

Digital marketing, as a field, is guided by the concept of the buyer's journey — the progression a potential customer moves through from first learning about a product or service to finally purchasing it. It's separated into three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision. Here's a helpful diagram that explains each stage a bit further.

How to start a sales career in digital marketing buyer's journey

Image Source: HubSpot

Digital marketing helps facilitate each stage of that process. Mediums like search engines, email, and social media are all touchpoints that have a place in each of the progressions detailed above. If you want to know how to leverage those kinds of strategies, you need to understand the different contexts you'll be expected to apply them in.

Familiarize yourself with every stage of the buyer's journey — as best you can. Get a feel for what kinds of methods and forums will best suit prospects as they maneuver through each phase.

Know how to garner attention in the awareness stage through blog posts, videos, or infographics. Understand how to foster any initial interest you've generated with Ebooks, research reports, or webinars through the consideration stage. And help prospects commit in the decision stage with content like case studies and testimonials.

The buyer's journey is the cornerstone for all digital marketing. If you're interested in pursuing a sales career in the field, understanding it is the best place to start.

2. Learn the fundamentals of campaign analytics.

Digital marketing is unique in its trackability — meaning there are resources available that can give you a relatively clear picture of many digital marketing efforts' ROI. The tools you need to leverage these kinds of strategies often come with ways to measure their efficacy.

If you're interested in pursuing a career in the field, it helps to have a grasp on the different analytics methods, metrics, and platforms you might wind up using. But understanding what those figures, tools, and strategies are isn't enough, you need to know how to apply the data you gather from them.

Virtually anyone can use some sort of analytics software to produce measurable results of a campaign — the tough part is translating that information into achievable goals, actionable solutions, and viable next steps.

Part of the process is understanding which aspects of your data you want to report and the sources you want to zero in on. It helps to know how to configure reports based on factors like web traffic by original source or first conversion by persona. If you're interested in a sales career in digital marketing, it helps to have a feel for the different kinds of reports you can construct and what they can tell you.

Once you have that down, you'll be in a good position to establish and reference the types of milestones you'll need to frame reasonable objectives to help keep your team on track.

3. Establish and maintain an online presence.

It might go without saying, but successfully pursuing a career in digital marketing leans pretty heavily on a strong digital presence. Remember, you're trying to convince companies that you're capable of helping manage their online marketing and sales efforts. If your online identity is virtually nonexistent, you're not exactly putting your best foot forward.

Make sure your social media profiles are fully fleshed out. Consider maintaining a blog to demonstrate that you're actively interested in the field. And, if you really want to stand out, create a personal website that consolidates and links to the different elements of your digital presence.

One way or another, make sure potential employers can easily find you online, and have some examples of your work on hand to wow them and pique their interest. This point is a matter of showing — not telling. It's one thing to tout accomplishments on a resume. It's another to sleekly and effectively showcase them online.

4. Look into different digital marketing certifications.

Pursuing relevant certifications is always a good idea for job seekers in any field — and digital marketing is no exception. There's a good chance your education didn't include a thorough dive into digital marketing.

If that's the case, having some digital marketing-related certifications on your resume can be a big help — with both capturing potential employers' attention and kickstarting your professional development.

That kind of coursework can often be found for free and can be done relatively flexibly. HubSpot has a range of different certificates available that can help you bolster your applications and hit the ground running once you get hired.

Taking the time to get digital marketing certifications shows initiative — that you're willing to take your own time to more thoroughly understand the field and build out your skillset. It gives you a clearer understanding of what to expect out of one of these careers, letting you better understand whether the field is for you.

Beyond that — and perhaps most importantly — it makes you a more capable candidate. If you accrue relevant certifications, you're better equipped to assume the responsibilities of a digital marketing position quickly and effectively. And finding employees that fit that bill is a — if not the — main priority for literally every company when recruiting any kind of new hire.

5. Accrue any experience you can.

Addressing this point is central to delivering on some others on this list. For one, it's hard to have an online presence showcasing an impressive body of work if you don't actually have a body of work to showcase.

A solid portfolio can be a big-time asset for any aspiring digital marketing professional — but how can you get the materials to flesh one out? Well, in many cases, you'll have to lean on some good, old-fashioned creativity and tenacity.

Offer some free assistance to people you know personally. Do you know someone starting a small business who could use some help establishing a social media presence? Take some initiative, help them out, and be able to reference the excellent work you do for them.

If you choose to go this road, make sure you collect some testimonials from the people you help and incorporate them into your portfolio. It can't hurt to have some satisfied customers speaking to your skills and work ethic on the record when potential employers vet you.

If you can't find anyone in your immediate network to help, consider drumming up some mock projects. That might mean creating a hypothetical brand or trying to create a following using your own personal social media profiles.

The big takeaway here is this — do something. If you're pursuing a sales career in digital marketing, you have to demonstrate some familiarity with the field. Employers generally aren't inclined to just "take your word for it."

They want to see skill and enthusiasm, if you can show that you're willing to actively take these tasks and responsibilities on, the skills you tout on your resume will be that much more convincing.

Pursuing a sales career in digital marketing isn't always straightforward, and your education might not have totally prepared you for the practice. If you take the time to understand these concepts and tactics as best you can and accrue relevant experience, you'll put yourself in the best possible position to land one of these jobs.

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