Digital Marketing Careers: Q&A with Matt Bailey

Matt Bailey is a bestselling author, digital marketing expert, and global corporate trainer. The owner of Site Logic Marketing, Matt recently sat down for a podcast interview to offer his advice on starting a career in digital marketing.

Q: Digital marketing is a popular career field right now. Should someone just starting in this industry focus on being a specialist or generalist?

A: I encourage a mixture of both. Find an area where you can focus and develop, but make sure it’s one that allows you to develop complementary skills. For example, people who understand keyword research well can use those same skills in SEO, paid search, or content development. Doing this can help you look at things from a business perspective rather than a channel performance perspective, and it can help you better understand where data is coming from and where it can be applied. It can also enable you to adopt new information and technologies more quickly.

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Q: There seems to be a lot of bleedthrough with other marketing specialties, whether it’s SEO, analytics, or email. Would you say it’s important to be a specialist in what you’re really good at, but be open to other aspects, so you’re developing the skills to succeed?

A: Absolutely. There have been times when newer technology has come out, and I have to make the decision to let someone else specialize in it. It's usually because it's not something I see as a complementary or stackable skill, and I know it will take a significant amount of time to understand it truly. With digital marketing, it's ideal for developing complementary skills.

Q: This also can make you less susceptible to sudden isolation within your field, like artificial intelligence (AI) and keyword research. Machine learning is replacing many aspects of digital marketing, so it’s nice to be able to diversify so you’re not hinging on a singular aspect that could go away one day.

A: A good way to diversify is to get a good base of data analytics experience. If you understand data and analytics, you will always be able to grow and more easily adapt to new channels and technologies. My background is in website building and SEO, but I knew analytics would help me better see the big business picture. It has helped me more easily adopt new technologies as they come along.

Q: They say content is king, but data will always be there.

A: Data is there to help you understand which content is king.

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Q: What are the most important skills a digital marketing manager should have?

A: Other than having the skill to develop new skills, understanding data is crucial. As a manager, you will be actively involved in campaigns and will be given targets to hit. To succeed, you need to know how KPIs work, ask the right questions to understand the goal of each campaign, recognize what needs to change, and anticipate expected results. Managers who take the time to understand data analytics and educate themselves get promoted to directors pretty quickly because they understand accountability and how to work with it.

Q: What are some visual considerations digital marketers should keep in mind?

A: Use them! Don’t get trapped into thinking that text is the only way to communicate. When developing visuals, though, consider whether an image will merely look good, be related, or be part of the content. If it’s decorative, it doesn’t add to or help communicate content but is merely there as decoration. If it’s relative, it may enhance the delivery but not the actual content, like using color to communicate or adding a road as an image while talking about a customer’s journey. If it’s functional, the image is the content, whether it’s an infographic or how-to guide.

Q: If you were to go back and look at what makes a good print ad, what seems to be most important is when the visual complements the text or gives an answer to a headline.

A: There’s a great book on this concept called Convergence Marketing by Jane and Richard Rosen, who spent decades in the traditional agency world. When digital marketing began taking over, it became possible to measure the effectiveness of ads. In the book, they break down iterations of typical brand ads and measure their effectiveness by integrating images and words. It explains in detail how to converge these elements for effective digital marketing.

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Want to get in touch with Matt Bailey? Email matt@sitelogic.com or find him on Twitter at @mattbaileysays.

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