The realm of Digital Marketing is a vastly evolving one for brands in India. Its biggest strength is in its potential to reach out to customers to engage with a brand whenever and wherever they choose. For this, marketers need to define a strategy that drives them towards achieving what they want from their audience and that which links to their traditional marketing. Businesses have a lot to lose if they do not embrace the Digital Marketing realm at a time when more Indians are moving to ‘click the mouse’.
Digital Marketing encompasses a number of marketing techniques, which include Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Pay Per Click (PPC), Affiliate Marketing, E-mail Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Online PR and Mobile Marketing. In this post, we will focus on Search Engine Optimisation in particular; how the SEO industry has grown in India; and what it would entail to gain a foothold in the industry. The Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a broader term that incorporates both SEO as well as PPC.
Simply, an SEO is all about improving the visibility of a website or a specific web page on a search engine so that a business appears higher up on the search engine’s front page like Google, Yahoo or Bing whenever someone searches for terms relevant to that business.
The process involves using a number of techniques on the website so that the rules laid out by the search engines to rank content and maximise page visibility are observed and maintained. The basic premise behind working on the SEO of a website is that research has found that people tend to click more on a search engine’s listing that is higher than the lower ones; the first three positions of the results get more than 75% of the clicks. This means that a business stands to gain from a larger number of traffic if they are listed in the top positions and more traffic could mean a greater chance for the visitors to convert to their site.
Scope and Areas of Work
The SEO as a Digital Marketing technique functions within the broader realm of Marketing. Most businesses now have an online marketing, e-marketing or digital marketing division that is either in-house or outsourced to another agency that specialises in the sector. In the UK, the industry has grown in such a way that those web agencies that had been a partner of a business offering services in web development and management realised the growing importance of Search Engine Marketing (SEO, PPC) and started to branch out to offer these services too.
The SEM can have a number of goals and businesses differ in what they want from their SEM initiatives. These goals could be a generation of online leads to an actual generation of sales off the website; or for a non-ecommerce website it could simply mean online registrations for an e-mail sign-up or an enquiry generation.
The SEM as a field of study offers a wide scope for graduates from Business, Economics and Social Science’s educational background.
However, interestingly, in the UK, people working in this field come from a wide range of backgrounds and are mainly self-taught or trained at work by experimenting with several techniques. Although there does not seem to be one clear pathway for becoming a specialist in this sector, it can be helpful if one comes from some prior knowledge of Marketing, have an interest and passion in technology and the Internet, have a university degree in Traditional Marketing, and/or have a business background.
Nature of the Job
The role of a digital marketeer is extremely dynamic. Changes in the industry are continuous and new technologies and application platforms influence activities. An e-marketeer will need to be updated with knowledge and skills, learning and adapting to new techniques and legal requirements that dominate the online marketing area. A degree in Media Studies, specialising in Marketing, is an ideal gateway to a Digital Marketing job. Digital Marketing courses also provide good scope for these roles. Some key skills that one would need for these kinds of roles are:
- Basic knowledge of web design and how web pages work
- An understanding of search engines
- Knowledge of fundamentals and best practices in Marketing
- Some copywriting skills that will help in the creation of good content for websites.
The above skills would help the digital marketeer gain a strong foothold into the industry but can be gained on the job as well.
Where to Study and the Eligibility
At present, premier institutes in India offer courses in Digital Marketing, either as certifications or on a postgraduate level. IIM Kolkata offers a course in E-commerce which includes modules in strategic management of e-business and systems, electronic payment systems as well as e-finance. A one-year postgraduate diploma course is provided by Acharya Institute in E-commerce that covers quite relevant topics like fundamentals and infrastructure of e-commerce, mobile commerce and e-marketing. Another postgraduate diploma provided by Chhattisgarh University is in Internet System and E-business.
An MBA in International Business and E-commerce is available too with Alagappa University. While all of these are relevant courses for someone wanting to pursue a career in Digital Marketing, they are still quite generic. The reason behind this is that Search Engine Marketing is still quite a nascent, growing industry in India, though opportunities abound. In Europe and the USA, the SEM and e-business industry in general is heading towards maturity. There are a number of universities in the UK that deliver Digital Marketing programs including the Digital Marketing and Social Media BA degree and MSc in Digital Marketing. Many universities offer a specialised module on Digital Marketing within Marketing, Information Systems or E-commerce specialisation. For example, School of Management, Swansea University offers some Digital Marketing modules in both MSc Marketing and BSc (both within Marketing and E-business pathways) degree courses.
Where to Look for the Job
Job openings in Digital Marketing are mainly in marketing agencies and consultancies that provide these services to clients. These agencies may have started off in business by providing web design and development and then branched out to providing Search Engine Marketing and E-commerce solutions. Alternatively, some companies have established themselves as specialist agencies that only provide SEM solutions. Many such Digital Marketing hubs have come up in the last few years in New Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida.
Also, many e-commerce companies these days have realised the importance and benefit of having an in-house Digital Marketing department that takes care of the company’s branding and marketing initiatives on the Internet.
As mentioned earlier, SEM is yet an emerging field in India, thus salaries are not as high as one can command in the same field in the USA and UK, even considering Purchasing Power Parity. A fresher in the industry may be able to command Rs.12,000 to Rs.15,000 per month. With some experience behind, it could rise to Rs.20,000. Someone with over five years’ experience and moving on to mid-managerial roles should be able to reach Rs.30-40,000. A lot depends on how much knowledge and expertise the professional would have managed to gather in their years in the industry. A Master’s degree allied to the Marketing field along with several years’ managerial experience in Digital Marketing could lead to salary levels of Rs.50,000 to Rs.70,000 per month. Becoming an authority in digital media by regularly contributing to its knowledge through writing blogs and creating and sharing podcasts will also help enhance an SEO’s professionals profile.
Excelling your Skills
As the industry is ever changing and highly dynamic, it becomes essential to never stop learning in the digital world. New technologies appear on the forefront and unless a professional is able to understand it and make use of it, they are not much use to the workplace. A simple example is that of the evolution of the social media, where new platforms and applications are introduced all the time. Pinterest is a content-sharing service that allows, through social networking features, users to pin and share items of interest on their pinboards. Pinterest can be used by marketeers to create interest and shares for products. Unless a professional learns to adopt learning new techniques in their field, they wouldn’t be in a position to take advantage of the emerging avenues Digital Marketing offers.