Career Advice / Career Growth

Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing

. 20 min read . Written by Vanshika Goenka
Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing

Last updated: 29 December 2020

Times are a-changin’. The internet, which was once a thing of curiosity, has now become a thing of infinite possibilities. Given the pandemic and its devastating effects on our professional and personal lives, it has been our sole support system. It only makes sense, then, that the internet has given rise to career paths that were non-existent just a few decades ago! Here’s when Digital Marketing comes to play, especially in 2020, as it is a vast world in itself.

So, what is digital marketing? Let’s find out!

Career in Digital marketing has seen a boom in the last decade. Because the internet is integrating with our daily lives at lightning speed, digital marketing is considered a lucrative career option with immense potential.

I’ve tried to answer all your questions on what is digital marketing, scope of digital marketing and digital marketing salaries at various levels of experience.  

I spoke to two digital marketing experts – Medhavi Khanna and Ashutosh Bharadwaj – to get detailed insights into what it takes to become a digital marketer in India.

Medhavi Khanna is a performance marketing specialist at Google with over 6 years of experience in the domain, who has previously worked with Amazon and HDFC Bank in similar roles. 

Ashutosh Bharadwaj is a digital marketer with over a decade of experience. His experience involves working with start-ups and corporates across industries such as fashion, home services, filmmaking and education. He is also a visiting faculty at Delhi University and has taught students, interns, and employees among others.

So, without further ado, let’s get into how you can make it as a successful digital marketer in India!

Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing
Medhavi Khanna, Performance Marketing Specialist, Google

Table Of Contents

What Is Digital Marketing?

In simple terms, digital marketing (or online marketing, or internet marketing) is a form of marketing that makes use of electronic devices – social media, e-mail, mobile devices, apps, search engines – to reach consumers.

Digital marketing entails:

  • Creating and posting content on social media channels
  • Devising an effective digital media strategy to attract consumers on to the platform
  • Devising ‘viral’ video or content ideas
  • Generating leads to find new customers to use your digital product
  • Tracking consumer activity and behaviour to understand the impact of the campaign

As a digital marketer, your work would involve a lot of coordination with different teams – copy, content, design, and tech.

“Digital marketing and tech go hand-in-hand,” says Ashutosh. You would spend your time planning and executing in a high-pressure environment that would involve data and numbers. Most importantly, you would have to keep track of changing trends and modify your plan of action accordingly. This career path is exciting for people who are results-driven and love working in a fast-paced environment.

The common understanding is that digital marketing is different from traditional marketing, but Ashutosh disagrees. “Digital marketing is simply marketing on the digital platform. Just like we have billboards, flyers, and TV ads to target an audience offline, we have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media to target an audience online.” 

The only differing factor that makes digital marketing more challenging and interesting is the level of engagement and interaction of the brand with its audience.

Since digital marketing is carried out on electronic devices, it thrives on a consumer’s response. Thus, the consumer and the brand have to interact with each other for the brand to make its mark in the consumer’s mind.

This means that brands have to be more accessible and conversational with their consumers. This also makes it easier for the consumer to express concerns, ask questions, and show their loyalty to the brand.

Digital marketing is the next big thing in the world of marketing, and the possibilities are endless.

Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing
Ashutosh Bharadwaj, Head of Marketing, Kool Kanya

Is Digital Marketing A Good Career Path In India?

The demand of digital marketing in India is growing exponentially. The hiring trends of various companies indicate the growing need in hiring professionals with expertise in Digital Marketing. 

According to marketing trends 2018 conducted by McKinley,  69% of companies are planning to hire more marketers. The most in-demand expertise was digital advertising (45%), content creation and curation (42%) and content strategy (39%)

Research says Indians are spending 4 to 5 hours on the internet every day. We’re making use of the internet for everything – ordering groceries and food, booking movie tickets, finding homes to buy and rent, and entertaining ourselves.

By 2025, about 65% of internet users in India are going to be 25 years or older, making it a platform for the youth.

With all these statistics in mind, it’s safe to say that digital marketing is a lucrative career option in India.

The average time spent on the internet has naturally shot up since the COVID-19 pandemic. As more businesses have had to pivot and shift online, the need for skilled digital marketing professionals has only grown more urgent. 

Here’s our detailed video to guide you through digital marketing as a career in India:

Here’s a list of reasons why digital marketing is a great career option in India:

It Caters To Digital Media, An Ever-Evolving Platform

Digital media is an ever-evolving platform with endless possibilities. In a country like India, where several markets remain largely unexplored, digital marketing can truly be leveraged and expanded. 

Ashutosh believes that India’s booming start-up culture and e-commerce markets are particularly lucrative, as they require advertising and do not always have enough funds for offline marketing. With so many opportunities in sight, digital marketing is only bound to evolve.

Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing
Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing

It Is A Dynamic, Exciting, And Results-Driven Field

One of the things both Ashutosh and Medhavi enjoy about working in digital marketing is the result-driven nature of the field. Says Medhavi,

Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing
Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing

Since brands are more accessible than ever, there is more awareness around the consumer’s needs. Apart from that, the myriad tools and softwares such as Google Analytics, SEMrush, and HotJar, just to name a few, are dedicated to record and analyse a consumer’s buying behaviour, which can help the brand understand what is working and what isn’t. This can further help them modify their communication strategy among other things. The quick, fast-paced and action-oriented nature of this industry makes it an exciting domain to explore.

There Are Multiple Opportunities For Growth And Advancement

Because digital marketing is dynamic and ever-changing, there are several specialisations and opportunities to explore.

From SEO to SEM, and from content marketing to social media strategy, the avenues are numerous.

Given the many opportunities for advancement, digital marketing is a well-paying field. The more time one spends learning the different tricks of the trade, the more one can earn.

There’s Immense Scope To Learn On The Job

Medhavi and Ashutosh, though not without management degrees, stress on the importance of learning on the job. “I would rather hire someone who has the ability to learn quickly than hire someone with just a degree,” says Ashutosh. Medhavi, who started as a media manager, started pursuing more marketing roles and learned many skills on the job and considers that to be a plus point of working in a dynamic industry.

Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing
Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing

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Career Opportunities In Various Types of Digital Marketing

As you can see, the world of digital marketing is vast. If you’re considering to become a digital marketer, there are many avenues to choose from.

That said, there are several different types of digital marketing roles that you can pursue:

  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 
  2. Pay-per-click Advertising (PPC)
  3. Search Engine Marketing
  4. Content Marketing 
  5. Social Media Marketing
  6. Email Marketing
  7. Influencer (Affiliate) Marketing
  8. Video Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – the process of optimising the brand website so that it is easily visible on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing. 
  • Pay-per-click Advertising (PPC) – the process of advertising on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing to get more visibility. This usually goes hand-in-hand with SEO.
  • Search Engine Marketing – the process of using the right keywords to bring more traffic on to the brand website. This usually goes hand-in-hand with SEO.
  • Content Marketing – the process of using content to drive traffic to the brand website. This involves writing high-value, enriching content that will turn users into loyal customers.
  • Social Media Marketing – the process of growing the brand’s business using social media channels such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, etc.
  • Email Marketing – the process of growing the brand’s business through information sent directly in the person’s inbox.This could include newsletters, blogs, information and offers sent to the user’s email ID.
  • Influencer (Affiliate) Marketing – The process of using influential social media personalities to sell your products or services. This is a new, sophisticated version of native advertising – an influencer collaborates with a brand for monetary compensation to promote the brand to their audience.
  • Video Marketing – Also known as viral marketing, it is a process where a brand teams up with viral video content to promote their brand. The content may not be directly related to the brand, but it catches the attention of the viewer as entertainment. These videos are often funny, silly, and entertaining to watch.

These are some digital marketing examples for you to consider when opting for this career path.

As a digital marketer, you will be at an advantage as you will know how to grow a brand’s business online.

Apply this knowledge to different brands and you’ll find yourself with a new and interesting challenge at work every day.

Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing
Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing Career Growth

The above-mentioned digital marketing roles work in tandem with each other. Most of the roles are intertwined with each other – there’s a chance you’ll be working on multiple forms of digital marketing in your job, and it is recommended that you do. This makes the digital marketing career path enticing and interesting. 

Medhavi believes there is an immense digital marketing scope in the future, both horizontally and vertically.

As a digital marketer, you can start with executive roles and later venture into strategy. There are instances where companies have created titles – such as CMO, Digital Marketing – for professionals specifically.

For more horizontal growth, one can venture into spaces such as category management or switch sectors for more creatively challenging work. 

Both Medhavi and Ashutosh suggest that starting out in executive roles is the best way to move forward, as there is immense scope for learning and figuring out your strengths. Says Medhavi, “Executives know the core of the role really well.” 

Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing
Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing Career Paths In 2021

So, what can one expect to see more of in the field of digital marketing in 2021?

Digital Content Writing And Content Marketing 

Given that smartphones are now becoming more of a staple and efforts are being taken to make the internet cheaper and more accessible,

Medhavi believes that the scope of digital marketing lies in content. “Once that grows, the power of digital marketing stretches to content.”

Ashutosh states that content marketing is one of the most high-paying digital marketing jobs in India at the moment.

Whether it’s well-researched articles, SEO content or video content, how creatively you communicate the idea with your words will get your audience to take notice. High-value, entertaining content has immense scope for growth in India in 2021.

If you’re looking to make it as a content writer, digital marketing is a lucrative domain.

Now is the time to hone your writing skills, and upskill to incorporate different formats of content (scripts, SEO, etc.) and build a portfolio showcasing the kind of content you can produce.

It would also benefit you to take a basic digital marketing course to understand the basics of SEO, PPC, keyword search, and SEM to improve your job prospects.

Virtual Reality And Machine Learning

Virtual reality has been making the buzz for years now, and Ashutosh believes it is on the brink of becoming commonplace. Machine learning is also growing at lightning speed, which, Ashutosh thinks, is something that digital marketing enthusiasts should be wary of – it can turn some digital marketing jobs obsolete in the near future, as machines would learn how to place ads and find the right target audience.

He stresses on the importance of having working knowledge and some experience in every aspect of digital marketing to be able to stay afloat, come rain or shine.

Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing
Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing

Highly Specialised Roles And Product Development

Having specialised experience in specific domains while having a strong grasp on all aspects of digital marketing would be extremely beneficial in the coming year. Google Adwords and Ad Manager, for example, are two of the highest-paid digital marketing specialisations at the moment.

Knowing the different digital platforms in and out can be very helpful as it can help you modify your strategy and leverage the platform to its fullest potential.

Medhavi and Ashutosh both speak of product development as intrinsic to digital marketing. Owing to the development of apps and other tools, it is essential for the digital product to be of quality. Says Medhavi, “a powerful product is a huge part of digital marketing.”

If you have a solid foundation in engineering and consider yourself capable of making a good digital product, digital marketing may just be the right career path for you!

Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing
Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing Salary In India

The growth prospects of the field also reflect in the digital marketing salary earned by freshers and experienced alike. According to research done by UpGrad for 2020, here are the average starting annual salaries for the different branches of digital marketing, which are subject to change as per work experience:

 Digital Marketing ManagerUpto INR 4,00,000
Pay Per Click AnalystUpto INR 2,50,000
SEO AnalystUpto INR 2,20,000
Social Media ExecutiveUpto INR 3,50,000
Content Marketing ExecutiveUpto INR 2,50,000

Digital Marketing Salary For Freshers

If you’re just starting out in executive roles (0-2 years of work experience), As a digital marketing executive Your salary would most likely be up to Rs. 30,000 a month. 

Digital Marketing Salary For The Experienced 

At the Intermediate stage (4-5 years of work experience), you should ideally be able to handle a small team. Your salary, then, would be between Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 60,000 a month. 

A few more years in the domain would lead you to the role of a manager which would make your salary as Digital marketing manager about Rs. 1,00,000 a month. Further increase in salary would depend on how specialized your skillset is.

These are the approximate figures of digital marketing salaries in India. It’s lucrative and has scope to grow.

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How To Start A Career In Digital Marketing In India

Now that you’re well aware of the digital marketing roles and responsibilities, digital marketing salary and scope of digital marketing in India, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to start digital marketing and become a digital marketer:

  1. Enroll In A Good Digital Marketing Course
  2. Gain Experience Through Internships 
  3. Work On Your Portfolio
  4. Build A Strong Online Presence
  5. Build An Impressive Resume
  6. Set The Right Expectations For Your First Job

Enroll In A Good Digital Marketing Course

In order to start a career in digital marketing, you’re going to need a bit of technical knowledge – how to sell to a customer, what mediums to use, how best to communicate the idea, how to calculate the impact of your campaign, etc. A digital marketing course can help you get quality knowledge on the subject. 

Ashutosh suggests getting a degree in business if you want to get into hardcore digital marketing.

However, at the end of the day, your willingness to learn on the job is what can truly get you ahead. But to understand the technicalities of marketing, a BBA or an MBA is helpful. 

Enrolling in a course is beneficial for many reasons – besides gaining knowledge, you would also be surrounded by like-minded people who will help you get those creative juices flowing. Enrolling in a reputed university can also open up the possibility of getting a job, as most universities have a placement system.

Medhavi says, “I think it’s important to start somewhere. There are online courses on Google AdWords or managing campaigns that one can take up. A basic understanding of a customer’s journey on the internet is also a good starting point.”

Gain Experience Through Internships 

If you’re someone who’s looking to get a digital marketing job and has no experience then the best place to begin from would be an internship experience. There’s nothing that can substitute on-ground experience, and an internship can help you with that. You don’t have to be enrolled in a university to fulfil an internship requirement; you can choose to do a part-time internship even if you’re working. Doing an internship is beneficial because it teaches you more about the digital marketing industry growth in India and helps you pick up skills that a theoretical course won’t impart. 

Ashutosh encourages getting internships in start-ups. The teams are smaller, the workload is often high, and the lack of a hierarchy allows the person to don multiple hats at the same time, providing experience in varied domains.

As a fresher, an internship will play a significant role in your job search – recruiters would want to be impressed with your list of internships and the role you’ve played. Here’s our detailed, expert-validated guide that will help you land a great paid internship in India. 

Work On Your Portfolio

As is with all creative fields, digital marketing freshers would require more than just coursework to get hired. Recruiters would want to know if you’ve really got what it takes, so you must present a portfolio.

In your portfolio, you’ll have to record all the work you’ve done in the field of digital marketing. The likes, shares, impressions, engagement rate, ranking – all of it counts.

Your internship and college projects should ideally help you build it a little, but it’s important to get your hands dirty and work on your own projects.

There’s nothing that can give you satisfactory first-hand experience as a passion project can. Start your own blog about something you’re passionate about and try to get it to rank on Google. Practice keyword research to get more traffic on your blog. Start an Instagram page and read up on the tips and tricks to increase engagement and followers. Make use of low-cost or free tools at your disposal to build your personal project. Practising using these tools can help you apply your knowledge practically. As you succeed and get better results, you can add your passion project in your portfolio.

Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing
Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing

Build A Strong Online Presence

Ashutosh stresses on this aspect – you can’t be social media savvy if you’re not present on it! To kickstart your career in digital marketing, you’ll have to be present in two different capacities – one, to know and analyse digital trends, and two, to build your own brand to land a job and network.

It’s important for you to know the nitty-gritty of social media as a digital marketer. You must be aware of new digital media trends and how to leverage them to make a brand grow. It’s helpful to subscribe to tech, digital media and social media publications so you can stay up-to-date. Ashutosh states that reading consistently is essential to stay ahead of the curve.

You also must network and build your personal brand as a digital marketer, and LinkedIn is the best site for this purpose.

You can not only get hired by updating your profile in a way that impresses and also make yourself more visible by regularly posting about your thoughts and ideas. Now is a great time to leverage LinkedIn, so clean up your profile and get to it!

Build An Impressive Resume

You have internships and a solid portfolio at your disposal – now is the time for it to reflect in your resume.

A resume is, needless to say, an important part of getting your dream digital marketing job. If you’re wondering how to find a  job in digital marketing, your resume must reflect all the relevant experience you have in the field – whether it’s theoretical knowledge, certifications, or internships. Since you’re going to need numbers to showcase your skills, you can specify them in your resume

For example, if you’ve successfully handled an Instagram page of a big brand during your internship, you can write about it under the ‘internships’ section of your resume along with the impact you made. It can look something like this:

Was in charge of Pepsi’s Instagram account for a period of 2 months. During this period, I ideated the campaign #EkPepsiPlease, which garnered over 1 lakh impressions. 

An impressive resume for digital marketing freshers must have the impact of the campaign mentioned clearly, as that can give the recruiter an idea of your skills.

Wondering how to make a resume to get you hired instantly? Read our expert-validated guide here.

Set The Right Expectations For Your First Job

Scope of digital marketing in India is incredibly high. Choosing this field is a great decision – start off on the right foot!

As mentioned above, Medhavi thinks it’s good to start with executive roles. Ashutosh suggests donning as many hats as you can on the job, as it can help you develop skills across domains. 

Spend some time doing research on the overall scopes of digital marketing which industry you’d like to work in, basis your interest and the potential of the industry itself. Read about the organization’s culture, try getting in touch with former employees to understand more about the organization. That way, you’ll also inevitably end up preparing for a potential job interview and a career in digital marketing.

Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing
Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing

In-Demand Digital Marketing Skills

Technical skillsNon- technical skills
Social commerceGood communication skills
Augmented realityCreativity
Machine learningAcumen to understand the consumer
Automated & smart bidding AdsAn analytical mind
Visual searchThe ability to understand the product & the industry
Interactive contentA good aesthetic sense

Technical Skills

Social Commerce

Having a social presence on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter boosts social commerce for a business. Interaction between the company and its users can be measured in the form of retweets, likes, and shares.

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) is an emerging user-centric technology that lets the users interact with your brand before purchasing your services. It encourages businesses to keep up with the ever-changing demand of the consumers. 

Machine Learning

Machine Learning is a dynamic study of algorithms that keeps on improving to further improve the experience. It is also a subset of Artificial Intelligence.

Automated & smart bidding Ads

Gone are the days of bidding hassles in digital marketing. Google now, automatically bids on your ads in order to achieve the highest possible clicks, conversion, or reach for you!

Visual Search

Visual Search allows you to conduct an online search without typing in keywords but simply, using an image for reference. The most common example would be Google Lens!

Interactive Content

Digital Marketing becomes 10x more interesting with user/consumer participation and that’s when interactive content comes to play!

Non- Technical Skills

Technical knowledge aside, there are specific skills required for digital marketing which you need to develop in order to become a successful digital marketeer. Here’s what Medhavi and Ashutosh believe to be the most in-demand digital marketing skills in 2021:

Good Communication Skills

You don’t have to be a great writer to be a digital marketer; you just need to be able to communicate an idea well.

You don’t have to be a great writer to be a digital marketer; you just need to be able to communicate an idea well.

In 2021, your communication skills should be malleable to fit the desired platform – whether it’s social networking sites, search engines, apps, e-mail, or messages. Things are changing rapidly, so your communication skills should be on point. You should be able to explain the whys and the hows of your ideas, along with data to match it.


This goes without saying. Marketing is a creative field, even though it is highly data-driven – that’s what makes it challenging and exciting.

It is essential for a good digital marketer to know what type of ad, copy, format, and content would work best on a particular platform.

To be in the know of what trends are working and have the most potential in 2021 is essential. Play around with form and content; try to figure out what catches the consumer’s attention the most and why. Try to move beyond the formats that have saturated the market and find ways to branch out.

The Acumen To Understand The Consumer

The most basic tenet of marketing is being able to understand the consumer. It’s important to have the skills to know what the consumer wants and how they go about purchasing it. 

In 2021, where the digital consumer is easier to read than ever, you must have the ability to not just help them buy a product, but to also know the value of the product so they can come back to it. You should have the ability to build a relationship with the consumer that goes below the surface level.

An Analytical Mind

Marketing is a mix of creativity and data – digital, even more so. Digital marketing is a highly result-oriented field that gives real-time results – that’s why it’s a fast-paced environment that requires making decisions quickly. It’s not enough to just understand the consumer – it’s important to be able to analyse exactly what they want. An analytical marketer would be able to understand how a consumer spends their time on the internet, and how best to leverage it. 

In 2021, you must be proficient at using tools and softwares to analyse consumer behaviour. You don’t have to love mathematics, but you must be comfortable with it. 

Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing
Your 2021 Guide To A Career In Digital Marketing

The Ability To Understand The Product And The Industry

In 2021, you should not just be able to use the product you’re selling to the consumer – you must also be happy with it.

Contrary to popular belief, a digital marketer doesn’t just sell a product point-blank; they help build it too. By analysing data and understanding the consumer, they are also gaining valuable insights into what is and isn’t working for a product and report this to the organisation. A good digital marketer should know the product inside out, along with the industry they’re a part of.

A Good Aesthetic Sense

Roles and responsibilities are getting integrated amongst teams today, so it’s not just a graphic designer’s job to bring aesthetic value to a product.

In 2021, a digital marketer must have an aesthetic sense that combines art with functionality to make the most of the design that’s being made to attract the consumer. 

The field holds immense scope and potential for Digital Marketing growth in India. With our booming markets that show no signs of slowing down, there’s a bigger need for digital marketing than ever. This guide is here to help you navigate a possible career in digital marketing – how to start, where to look, and what skills to develop. We hope this helps!

Additional contribution: Shayri Bhattacharya, Siddhesh Suman & Ramsha Dutta

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