Growing Your Career with Digital Marketing

Growing Your Career with Digital Marketing

26th March 2014

letter to me

Who are you?? Think about that for a second.

What did you want to be when you grew up? 10 years ago, where did you expect to be at this point? I’ve faced a few situations recently that have shown me how my expectations 13 years ago are lining up nicely, but what I expected 4 years ago is not aligned at all. Are you prepared for digital marketing as it is now and will be in the future? 

Backstory: Career in Marketing

This came about because of a few things I’ve come across recently, a letter and emails from 2 years ago. The letter was one to myself from 2001, a freshman in college. Remember 2001? I didn’t know digital marketing was a career path back then. I learned about PPC almost 2 years after that point. I mentioned my career in marketing and how far along I should be.

This letter came to me for the first time almost 3 years ago, and I laughed. The career I had dreamed about was like Mad Men. It was about advertising and brand development. Much of my professional life in 2011 was SEO. While the greater marketing picture was something we kept in mind, there was still so much of my job that was technical search optimization.

This weekend, I read the letter again and smiled. I feel like search marketing, digital marketing, whatever term we use for it has taken it’s place in the larger marketing industry. We are seeing it in how we interact with clients at Distilled and in the demand for speakers at SearchLove. Our upcoming show in Boston has leaders in the search space, but a number of new faces from other industries as well. The talks are all on branding, user experience, content, creative, video and more. Clients and attendees are demanding to know more about these topics, and I feel like we all are having to dive into more that just the algorithm. I, for one, am so beyond pumped about that.

Growing and Learning

Below are the five different areas I think anyone interested in digital marketing should be exploring, soaking up, and trying to learn through osmosis.

Standard: PPC, SEO, Email, Social

If you are just getting going, or have only focused on one of the areas above in the past, it is imperative that you have a solid understanding of all the main sections of online marketing. If you are a specialist and want to stay in your specialty, more power to you, but if you want to really move up in digital marketing, knowing and being able to execute on all parts of online marketing is going to be very important.



I remember when I started in marketing –  PR was the most amazing part of marketing. I met a few at networking events. These were people that developed and maintained relationships with the really influential people, writers. This was a career that was all about relationships and making stories happen. This was how consumers found out about new products and companies.

I think we forgot about PR, how PR really is. I implore all of you to have a lunch date with a real PR professional. They are the ultimate badass link builders, the real content specialists. Not the press releases, but understanding the influencers and how to craft a story and find the data to back up the story.

Resource: (This is the best guide I have come across.)

Product Development/Management

Product Managers are the ultimate in idea generators and communicators. They are the glue that holds everything together in a company. These are the people that have to explain and track everything across the board. Want to know how to influence for a bigger piece of the marketing budget? Talk to a product manager, they know the whole picture and where that budget might come from. They talk about the same things we do in digital marketing, check out this list of things to do in the new year for product managers. Does some of that look familiar?


Customer Relations

The ability to listen and converse with customers is one of the unsung foundational functions of the marketing group. Customer relationship building is more than social media, more than call centers, it’s about identifying, storing and using customer data to make the right decisions for every customer. It’s about more than listening to ranting and giving away free product. It’s being able to define a process to help customers, getting feedback, using that feedback, and knowing when to let them go.  Every marketer should participate in talking with customers on a regular basis and conversing with the people that talk to customers everyday.

Be careful when learning about CRM, most will be about software – that’s just part of the puzzle, just like in search. I recommend checking out


The last, and my very favorite, is to learn more about psychology and sociology. I took a sociology class in undergrad at Texas, the professor went over everyone’s major, got to my Marketing major and said “oh, nice, Applied Psychology, nice to have you!” Psychology and sociology are the basis for all marketing. Understanding the human mind, why we make decisions, what motivates us is all a part of marketing. One of my favorite speakers is Nathalie Nahai. Check out her book and site:

I would love to hear what else this community thinks we also should be studying. Please share in the comments!

Written By
Kate Morris is the Director of Client Strategies with Outspoken Media. She is a well seasoned online marketer with a passion for teaching others. For the last 10+ years she has covered the paid, natural, and social sides of search.
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