How to Become a Digital Marketing Analyst: Your Step-by-Step Career Guide

Marissa Sapega, contributor to the CareerFoundry blog

If you’re fascinated by data and are an excellent communicator, you may want to consider a career as a digital marketing analyst. As companies continue to pour money into digital marketing (to the tune of over $450 billion in 2021), this coveted position is becoming more and more and more essential. 

So how do you become a digital marketing analyst? This article will tell you everything you need to know about getting into the field and what you need to be successful. 

We’ll cover:

  1. What does a digital marketing analyst do? (Job description)
  2. What do you need to be a digital marketing analyst? (Skills, background, and requirements)
  3. Are you a good fit for a career in digital marketing?
  4. What is the average digital marketing analyst salary?
  5. How to become a digital marketing analyst: Step-by-step plan
  6. Digital marketing analyst career FAQs
  7. Key takeaways

Let’s begin!

1. What does a digital marketing analyst do?

A digital marketing analyst looking at graphs on a computer screen

A digital marketing analyst evaluates campaign performance, creates reports with insights on optimization and presents them to stakeholders, and runs the campaigns in some companies (depending on the size of the marketing department). They also need to keep their finger on the pulse of general digital marketing trends and monitor their brand’s online presence. It’s a challenging and rewarding role that requires both hard and soft skills.

You can learn more about what a digital marketing analyst does in this dedicated guide. For now, let’s focus on what you’ll need to get into the field.

2. What do you need to be a digital marketing analyst?

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that you need excellent critical thinking skills to be a superior digital marketing analyst, but other traits will serve you well in this role that may not be as obvious. Here are a few of the most important:

Top skills required for a career as a digital marketing analyst:

  • Analytical thinking. Great digital marketing analysts never take anything at face value. They always want to know what caused the results so they can replicate the success elsewhere (if the results are positive) or improve them (if they’re not so hot). 
  • Excellent communication. Just because you can interpret the data you’re seeing doesn’t mean everyone else can. Digital marketing analysts need to be able to create actionable insights from the information they gather to share with their team and other stakeholders that everyone can understand. Otherwise, your valuable recommendations won’t necessarily translate into actions!
  • Affinity for numbers. Thanks to a wealth of attribution methods and tracking software, digital marketing results are highly quantifiable. This means you’ll be using Excel and your math skills to pull together reports with hard numbers that will influence future marketing efforts. 
  • Detail-oriented. The best digital marketing analysts are incredibly meticulous when it comes to double-checking data and running numbers. A simple misplaced period can turn a 5% decrease into 50%—which could cause an unnecessary uproar. 
  • Proficiency in data visualization, business intelligence, and calculation software. You’ll be using programs like Excel, Tableau, Data Studio, Google Analytics, and RJ Metrics on a daily basis. Even if you aren’t using them regularly right now, having an idea of what they can do and how to use them will help you land a job as a digital marketing analyst. 
  • Organizational skills. Digital marketing analysts are expected to monitor multiple campaigns at all times and juggle several projects. The ability to stay on track and project-manage is critical!

You can learn more about the top digital marketing analyst skills here.

What backgrounds do digital marketing analysts typically have?

Most, if not all, digital marketing analysts have a background in marketing or at least a degree or qualification in marketing. Digital marketing analysts need to understand how various digital marketing channels will best serve their company’s business objectives. While hands-on experience as a digital marketing manager, digital marketing specialist, or even something more specialized like a paid search or SEO manager is quite advantageous, it’s not necessary as long as you possess the skills required by this role. 

While someone with incredible data analysis skills and no marketing experience or knowledge could potentially make a great digital marketing analyst, they would need to quickly get up to speed on digital marketing channels, tactics, and strategies to be successful. 

Keep in mind that if you don’t have a marketing job title on your resume, it won’t preclude you from snagging a job as a digital marketing analyst. If you have relevant experience as part of your past or current job, you’ll be able to prove you have the skills to make a top-notch performer! 

Do you need a degree to become a digital marketing analyst?

The short answer is no; you do not need a degree to become a digital marketing analyst. While having a degree in marketing is undoubtedly helpful, there are many other ways to acquire the skills and experience you’ll need.  

Getting a certification or attending a relevant marketing bootcamp or intensive online program can also set you on the path to a career as a digital marketing analyst. One benefit of these options is that you’ll learn skills that are directly relevant to whatever role you want to pursue. A full-blown degree often includes courses that contribute to a “breadth” of knowledge that may not necessarily be relevant to your future jobs. 

In addition, hands-on experience often takes priority over a degree in a hiring manager’s mind. There are many digital marketers out there with degrees that have little to no relevance to the field of marketing, but they might make excellent digital marketing analysts either because they have learned skills on the job or on their own time.   

Two aspiring digital marketing analysts sitting at a desk, one holding a cup of coffee and smiling

3. Are you a good fit for a career as a digital marketing analyst?

While a job may sound great on paper, before you decide if the role of digital marketing analyst could be a good fit for you, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I like presenting to people? Or, at the very least, do you mind doing it and can you do it reasonably well? As a digital marketing analyst, you’ll be expected to frequently present your findings to stakeholders (who can range from team members to the C-suite), which can be unnerving for some people.
  • Am I a curious person? Part of what separates the “good” analysts from the great ones is an inquisitive mindset. Why are you getting the results you’re seeing? What factors influence how people react to your advertising campaigns and how can you harness them in your favor? Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it’s a critical trait for a digital marketing analyst.
  • Do I like marketing? It may seem obvious, but as a digital marketing analyst, you’ll be steeped in marketing campaigns all day, every day. If you don’t actually like marketing, this job could get old pretty quickly.
  • Do I enjoy evaluating data? Many digital marketing jobs have more emphasis on other marketing elements like design and communications. While you may get to do some of these tasks as a digital marketing analyst (depending on how your company defines the role), most of your time will most likely be taken up by analyzing and creating reports. 
  • Am I organized? Are you the person who can always be counted on to remember the passports/tickets/snacks on vacations, or are you more likely to need multiple reminders to get to the dentist on time? Digital marketing analysts need to be meticulously organized and detail-oriented. 

Answering these questions should help you gauge whether or not you and digital marketing analytics are a great match.

4. What is the average digital marketing analyst salary?

If you feel like you might be a great fit for the role of digital marketing analyst, you’re probably wondering what you might be able to earn. Here’s some good news: it’s a pretty lucrative (and in-demand!) position, with estimated yearly U.S. salaries ranging from around $45,000 to $70,000, on average. 

Digital marketing analysts work worldwide. Here are some examples of what you can expect to earn outside the United States (as calculated by various sources):

Of course, compensation for any role is contingent on several factors, including experience, company size, geography, and more. Check out our comprehensive digital marketing analyst salary guide to learn more about salaries worldwide. 

A digital marketing analyst in side profile, sipping a cup of coffee and looking at a graph on a computer screen

5. How to become a digital marketing analyst: Your step-by-step plan of action

If you’re on board with the salary expectations and think you’d make a terrific digital marketing analyst based on your skills and personality, now’s the time to plan how to make the leap. It may seem intimidating, but our step-by-step guide will help you transition into this exciting career!

Step 1: Get comfortable with the basics

Perhaps you have a long, storied career as a digital marketer and are already well-acquainted with popular marketing channels and how to run, monitor, and optimize campaigns. Excellent start. However, if this is not the case, it’s time to educate yourself! At the very least, you’ll need to start familiarizing yourself with Google Adwords, Excel, and Google Analytics (you can begin learning Google Analytics through their free online Analytics Academy.

This is also the time to start reading up on key marketing fundamentals, like how to do a SWOT analysis, craft a unique value proposition (UVP), and segment target audiences. A solid understanding of marketing principles is a must for the best digital marketing analysts. 

We know it’s not always easy to find reliable information you can use to teach yourself the fundamentals, but that’s okay. During this stage, your goal should simply be to dip your toe into the world of digital marketing, so you are better prepared for a more structured education.

Step 2: Test the waters with a certification program, bootcamp, or other more comprehensive course

Now it’s time to build on what you learned in step one. A structured program will further your education, provide hands-on experience, and help you acquire the skills and confidence you need to be a successful digital marketing analyst.

When considering programs, keep in mind the following:

  • Cost: Online education is often less expensive than in-person learning (and more flexible). Bootcamps and certifications, in particular, can provide terrific value, as they have shorter durations than a traditional degree (so will cost less) and frequently zero in on exactly what you’d like to learn.
  • Job-finding assistance or placement: If you’re looking to expand your skills so you can find a new job, programs that offer a guaranteed job upon completion of your coursework—or at least promise to support your search—are incredibly valuable.
  • Hands-on assignments: While learning marketing principles and strategies you’ll be able to employ at your new job is essential, so is a hands-on curriculum. Look for courses that immerse you in the activities you’ll be doing as a digital marketing analyst, so you can learn by doing. 
  • Mentoring: Having someone who can help guide you through the choppy waters of a new career will certainly help make any transition easier!

Step 3: Practice, practice, practice

Try to put whatever skills you’ve learned in the first two steps into use in your daily life. Whether that’s taking on a freelance project with the expectation that it will be a learning experience for you, or setting up your own website so you can become more comfortable with Google Analytics, the more you engage your newfound knowledge, the more confident and capable you’ll become.

This is also the perfect time to improve any soft skills you may be lacking. Not as meticulously detail-oriented as you’d like? Practice re-reading emails before you hit send and double-checking figures when you’re doing your monthly budget. Make a concerted effort to view the world with more curiosity and ask yourself why things happen. The whole point of these exercises is to ensure that when you land a job as a digital marketing analyst, these characteristics will come naturally to you.

Step 4: Update your resume and build your portfolio

Don’t underestimate this critical step. Here are some strategies you can use to make your resume stand out from the crowd: 

  • Research digital marketing analyst job postings and make sure you include the same keywords in your resume. 
  • Look at the LinkedIn profiles of digital marketing analysts and note what skills and achievements they highlight, then try to incorporate similar experiences in your resume. 
  • Get feedback from peers, mentors, and instructors in your program.
  • Contact your college alumni office for support—they often have career advisors who will help you refine your resume.

You can find more tips for creating an outstanding marketing resume in this guide

In addition to an optimized resume, you’ll need a solid portfolio. A portfolio is essentially a personal website that showcases your skills through case studies and projects you’ve worked on. We show you how to build an awesome marketing portfolio here

Step 5: Build your network and seek opportunities in the field

As you begin to think seriously about making a career move, it’s time to start networking with zeal. Before you groan internally (not NETWORKING!), understand that networking doesn’t have to be a tedious and exhausting activity. Think of it as a way to get to know new people, learn new things, and get advice from seasoned veterans who have been in your shoes before. 

Start by looking on social media sites like LinkedIn for people you already know or who are connected to an acquaintance who fit the following criteria:

  • They are employed as a digital marketing analyst
  • They work at a company you want to work for
  • They know a digital marketing analyst
  • They work in digital marketing  

Reach out to people asking if they’d be willing to chat with you about their job (if they have a role you want), the company (if they work for the organization you’re keen to join), or if they’d be willing to introduce you to someone who would be open to speaking with you. 

People love talking about themselves, and most will be happy to give you advice about what it’s like to work at X company or how they found themselves working as a digital marketing analyst. 

Do the same thing with any other communities you’re part of—alumni networks, religious groups, sorority/fraternity connections, and so on. Take people to coffee or have a quick chat over the phone. 

When you speak with people, make it count. Ask them questions you’re genuinely interested in knowing the answers to. Get their input on ways to prepare for job interviews, feedback on your resume, or even ask what they dislike about their job. Networking is more than a potential way to hear about potential job opportunities; it’s a valuable source of information. 

Also, keep in mind that finding a job is a numbers game. Don’t apply for a job you would not actually want (you don’t want to waste your time or the interviewer’s should you land an interview), but the more jobs you apply for, the better your chances of landing one you genuinely enjoy.

A digital marketing analyst sitting on a sofa, working from home on a laptop

6. Digital marketing analyst career FAQs

Now that you’ve learned all about what a digital marketing analyst does, what you can expect in terms of salary, the traits that separate the so-so ones from the greats, and how to land your dream job, here are some final thoughts that may answer any lingering questions you have. 

1. Is digital marketing a good career?

Yes! Digital marketing is an excellent career path to follow. Digital ad spend has been steadily growing, and the job outlook is sunny, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Moreover, it can easily be performed remotely, which is terrific news for those looking for a flexible working situation.

2. Do I need a degree to work in digital marketing?

Not necessarily. While you do need to understand marketing principles and have comprehensive knowledge of various digital marketing channels and business intelligence software, you can learn it on your own or invest in a bootcamp, certification, or online program to get up to speed. We answer this question in more detail here: Do you need a digital marketing degree to start a career in the field?

3. I don’t have any prior experience in marketing. Can I still get a job as a digital marketing analyst?

Yes, as long as you have foundational knowledge about marketing principles and digital marketing channels. Plus, even if you don’t have any paid marketing experience, you can always get hands-on practice using methods described in Step 3 of the “how to become a digital marketing analyst” section in this article.

4. Do I need a portfolio if I want to work in digital marketing?

It’s not necessary to have a portfolio to work in digital marketing, but it can help you stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs. It proves that you possess the skills you describe in your resume and will give a future employer insight into the quality of your work. 

Learn how to create your own marketing portfolio.

5. What kinds of companies can I work for as a digital marketing analyst?

The sky’s the limit! From nonprofits to Fortune 500 corporations to fledgling startups, every business can potentially benefit from a skilled digital marketing analyst.

6. What are some other digital marketing career paths?

Several jobs fall under the umbrella of digital marketing, including digital marketing analyst. You can specialize in SEO, paid search, social media, content marketing, or email, or work as a generalist (specialist, manager, director, etc.). You can also offer consulting services.

7. Key takeaways and next steps

This guide should provide a good starting point for you to begin planning your next move. If you feel confident that a career in digital marketing is the right path for you, here are some next steps:

  1. Take some free online courses or start reading up on marketing principles and digital channels.
  2. Research programs, certifications, and bootcamps that will provide the education you need to make your next move.
  3. Begin reaching out to acquaintances and friends in digital marketing to learn more about how they reached this point in their career.

Good luck!

Want to learn more about digital marketing? Try out this free, self-paced course, which will give you a good insight into the field, and give you an idea of whether or not it’s something you’d like to take further. You may also be interested in these articles:

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