Winnie Chan
Winnie Chan 22 June 2016

6 Struggles Only Digital Marketers Would Know #TheStruggleIsReal

Digital Marketing is a new fast evolving profession, it requires marketers to be an expert in a range of things. After working as a specialist for several years, here’re the 6 struggles I'd would like to share with you.

Let me guess, you’re reading this because you’re working with digital marketers, or interested in becoming one of us. Well, you’ve come to the right place.

First of all, digital marketing - what is it?

According to SAS, digital marketing is the promotion of products or brands via one or more forms of electronic media. Digital Marketing is a new profession. Our job is to generate leads and to help businesses to grow via online channels.

There are 3 main aspects of digital marketing every marketer must perfect:

Google Paid Ads (SEM), Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Social Media Marketing.

A good digital marketer is required to understand the Pros and Cons of each channel, and create mixed strategies among those channels relevant to the product offering.

For example, for an Online Fashion retailer, I would be using SEM and Social Media strategies to boost online sales as most of the purchases are low impact & impulsive.

On the other hand, I would recommend using SEM & SEO for a homebuilding company as buying a house is a high impact purchase decision. Decision periods are therefore much longer than the purchase of a garment online, and the decision is made based on a lot of reliable research. SEM can drive potential clients to look at our product offering immediately, whereas SEO can assist the said customers to read information over a period of time before making a final purchase decision.

After being a digital marketer for several years, here’re the six struggles I’d like to share with you:

1.People don’t understand what I do

Unlike the traditional professional titles such as doctors, lawyers and accountants, it could be quite challenging when it comes to the explaining what it is that I do for a living.

Here’s an overview of typical reactions from different age levels I’ve gathered in the last few years, and the conversation goes:

Someone: “What do you do for a living?” me: “Oh, I’m a digital marketer.”

Gen Y: “Oh so it’s like Google?”

Gen Z: “You’re a social media expert? Add me on Snapchat/Instagram/Vine!”

My Mother: “Why are you on Facebook all day every day? When will you stop doing that and get a proper (see professional titles stated above) job instead?”

2. What does working for an Agency mean?

In the agency biz, we split the marketing industry into Client and Agency sides. Client side is those who are solely working for one brand. For example, the Digital Marketing Manager at a bank.

“Agency side” is those who are working for multiple brands/clients at the same time in a digital agency environment. For example, myself at Klyp.

I am a digital marketer working on the Agency side, looking after the interests of multiple clients across relevant digital channels.

Unfortunately that means that my job is a little more complicated to explain as outline above, I work for lots of brands, promoting them online across different channels as an expert. This means that I have to be on top of trends in technology, marketing and all the emerging platforms – and in exchange our “Client Side” counterparts get a group of industry expert on their team.

3. Abbreviations – We have our own language 


For some reason, we think saving that little bit of typing time by abbreviating absolutely everything is cool. But when I think about all the extra time I spend to translate the same conversation back into plain English, not so cool.

A typical conversation between our team could go like this: “New ad copy is doing well - we can see a higher CTR with more clicks, more Imp. lower CPC and the CPA is halved! It must be due to the improved Ad QS. Our ad ranking is so high in the SERP now. I think the client would be pleased with the impressive ROI!”

How many of those abbrev. can you recognise*?

4. Keeping up with Marketing Tools & Platforms

A good digital marketer is not only required to have a creative brain but also needs to be data driven. Data is our BFF. We must admit, we can’t do our job properly without the help of several marketing tools for data analysis.

Google Analytics is free & powerful, yet, for us to stay on top of our competition, GA is simply not enough.

We have SEMRush to track competitors’ activities, Crazyegg for heat mapping, Unbounce for testing landing pages,Hubspot for marketing automation, Buzzsumo for content ideas. There is a tool for everything. And these tools are not cheap, either. 

Part of our job is to identify which tools we need and be able to sell it to our bosses or clients (as they’re paying) to purchase for us. It is particularly hard to sell when the tools could potentially drive better ROI, but the customer is reluctant to invest. To overcome that, we need to make sure that extra investment is adding lots of value to our marketing campaigns and drive higher ROI as a result. Nope, no pressure. Not at all.

5. Staying up to speed with Google

...and technology in general.

First of all, we have to stay on top of the very frequent ‘Google Penguin’ updates.


Have you noticed that you are no longer required to type “NIKE Runners” in the search bar, but instead, typing “Ni” would do the job? Very smart, Google. How did you know that?

Google placed great emphasis to marketers in creating micro-moments. To achieve that, Google is continuously improving User Experience in the search. Good for the end users, but it means endless rounds of updates and new Google Algorithm rules for the marketers to obey. Each update is significant - it changes the way we do SEO, to existing site even how we build our websites.

For example, 5+ years ago you can “buy links” to trick Google into thinking that your site is “highly relevant” hence, giving you a higher organic position in the SERP. With the Google update back in 2012, no one is allowed to do that anymore. Also, you might see an increased number of mobile responsive websites recently; that was also part of the results of a Google update.

In this industry, if you snooze you lose.

Now, that’s just Google. Then we have Bing, Facebook, Instagram and so on.

Every update means new opportunities for our clients. It is the marketers’ job to stay on top of the update game and be able to interpret quickly what the update means for our customers. And most importantly, carry on the momentum by executing a campaign perfectly.

For example, as soon as Instagram Ads became available in the Australian market, while others were figuring out how to set up an Instagram campaign, we launched a brilliant Instagram campaign for our fitness client within the month! Our other customers saw what we did and requested for us to do the same for them. It sounds simple, but technology updates don't come with instruction manuals. It’s about understanding every digital channel available as fast as we can, and executing the right strategy for the right product at the right time.

6. Make sure you’re friends with at least a developer and a designer

We need other disciples to make sure that we can get the most out of our efforts.

Now you have all the tools you needed in the world to create a perfect marketing campaign for your client. But how do you know if the campaign is working?

To track conversions, you’ll need API Integration, pixel installation, bootstraps & possibly more – in other words a developer. These all need to be installed in the backend of your website. If you have a coding background, then you’ll be okay. If not, don't DIY. The last thing you want is to crash your client’s website. Leave the dirty work to the web developers.

You have successfully driven tones of traffic from Google to a landing page, but you noticed that conversion is not improving, and, to make it worse, the exit rate (bounce rate) is has gone through the roof. This is when a UX designercomes to the rescue. Our job is to go through all the data collected from tools like Google Analytics and heat maps and work with the designers to improve the user experience of the landing page.

It could mean moving that phone number to the top right-hand corner, or changing the call-to-action button. Every change should be based on data collected, and it is crucial for us to interpret the meaning of data, and communicate with the designers to complete landing page optimisation.

There is no black and white in our field. You have to breathe ‘Google’, and live ‘Social’. So throw textbook marketing theories out the window. You must be creative, able to keep up with technology pick it up quickly, having some marketing background, good at selling products on your client’s behalf, as well as selling your ideas to your customers – no pressure.

And most important of all, you have to hold a strong passion for marketing as Steve Job once said,

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

Keren Mulia
Keren Mulia

I totally agree Winnie! These pain points are true. Most of my friends say digital is vague, and they don't really know what I'm doing unless they are a digital marketer too. Another pain point is when you're in client side and trying to get management buy in, or educating the need of digital marketing.

Frank Viljoen
Frank Viljoen

Fantastic article, love the reference to all the acronyms and in particular throwing away the textbook marketing theories! I wouldn't say you've got all the tools for a perfect marketing campaign (is there such a thing) but certainly well on your way. With the rise in activity with mobile and people on the move, marketers need to look at the offline world just as closely as the online activity. There are new tools to increase CTR that take SEM & SEO offline and in the same way agencies have the struggle to ensure that they have the relevant listening tools, tech vendors are struggling to get agencies to see the value in using emerging tech. Change is the only constant in the digital world, and its definitely a case of 'adapt or die'

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