Online Marketing & SEM – The Right Career Choice for You?

This post is a result of the following question I was sent on LinkedIn.


·         “Hi, I’m curious about your work as a web marketing manager and wondered if you had any advice for someone just joining the online advertising sector re where/how to begin one’s job search? Where does such a path eventually lead? How much of the work is mathematical and how much creative (generally speaking)?.. [a bit more].”


Usually I don’t answer these types of contacts, especially from complete strangers, but for some reason this one made me think. I checked out the chap who asked it, and he’s one clever dude – totally out of the remit of internet marketing of any kind, but probably far more intelligent and business savvy than I could ever be. SO I decided to get back to him – with some minor changes and pictures added for fun here.


This is what I wrote, and I thought it would be of interest to folks who have ever been wondering the same thing.


INTERESTING QUESTIONS! These are some quick thoughts…


1. Where does such a path eventually lead?

Depending on your level of experience and any qualifications you may have in marketing – creative agency project management, content or copywriting, analytics, web design and/or web development (in general) – the web marketing path can both open to you and lead you to a position of Online Marketing Director, Operations Director, Senior Project Manager, Senior Web Analyst, Usability Professional and higher to VP, COO, CMO etc..



As with any career it depends on ability, enthusiasm, dedication and – more than most – on flexibility and willingness to learn fast, adapt to change, and deal with multiple personality types.


2. How much of the work is mathematical and how much creative?

a. If you are more figures based, then getting into project management in a web based company may be a good bet based on any management training – this can lead to operations management if you fit the bill. Alternatively, getting deeper into coding and working with statistical information might open the door to development (code), search engine optimization (SEO) and/or web analytics.


b. if you are a creative, you can silo into design, online advertising (banner and email advertising), social networking or/and PPC (pay per click is the other half of SEM [search engine marketing, which = SEO + PPC + Analytics]




c. If you thrive on research and application, then you can go for usability, analytics, SEM, social or a combination thereof.


It’s a great industry with many applications, facets, opportunities and potential areas of specialization.


3. Where/how to begin one’s job search?

Based on the above (very brief and incomplete) intro, I would suggest you search job boards for positions that may interest you and read the job descriptions and requirements. I recommend checking out


It remains a ‘relatively’ new field, but it is highly competitive and while there are few targeted degrees or qualifications, ability is more important and is easily and quickly seen. Enthusiasm is a must, and in most cases implementation/practical experience will count.




Some additional tid-bits:

1. The best way to really get some basic experience – if it’s totally new to you – is to set up a website, play with basic html and experiment with basic PPC, and SEO, and social while reading as much as you can about the area of the industry that interests you most. If you can add a web site to your CV, even if it’s just a personalized blog, that may help in some cases provided it is well conceived, designed, maintained and has good original content applicable to your new ‘area of interest’.


2. I’m not sure if it’s of interest to you, but I loved maths and statistics (quantitative methods), included both in my BCom., and the latter in my MBA. I love data and the ability to research and apply my learnings, while contributing to usability best practice – and I’m a relatively successful search marketer. Online advertising is a bit different as it targets purchasing flight times on advertiser sites (sometimes a year in advance) utilizing multimedia ads including Flash and driving to campaign dedicated pages that are marked for analytics – and much, much more than I can include in this supposedly short, quick answer.


Concluding thoughts

As with any form of marketing, online marketing (be it advertising or optimization) has the onus upon it to prove success. This is usually in the form of ROAS (return on ad spend), and there is a whole financial/analytical strategic discipline behind determining online marketing goals and their measurement for stake and shareholders. That’s where analytics becomes vital as the measurement tool, and where planning, negotiation, process, management and more raise their heads as vital disciplines.


The origin of marketing hasn’t changed – and we need to be the folks with the real deal, in the front and well ahead of the scammers…


The Whonk

The Whonk


I hope that helps to a certain extent. If I can help you with more specific information on anything that interests you, please let me know…


My very best to you, and God bless – Laura”


BUT! That’s not the end… I got a really nice reply that I’ll include here in part (not all of it due to the fact that some personal info was shared, and yes we are now buds. I think I may have the better end of that deal J)


·         Well Laura,

·         I think you must get a prize for one of the most informative messages! …[]


·         So strangely enough, your great knowledge on this subject steered me quite a bit away from it – in fact, back to   my original line of work, from which I had veered and wanted to explore ecommerce opportunities – from there online advertising had seemed a natural choice, and now I get the same queasy feeling that I did once I discovered what SQL entailed.


·         That was cool of you to advise me on this, I am certain that if this had been my calling, you would have set me in the right direction – you already did by showing that I’m probably better off elsewhere[]. Still glad to have talked and feel fortunate that we met here. []


·         Take care,



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