SEO, PPC or Social Media – What Should I Specialise in as a Digital Marketer?
The digital marketing industry is experiencing tremendous growth and with this growth comes a vast demand and opportunity for individuals with the right skills. There are many areas to choose from in the digital marketing space with the biggest and most in demand skills being SEO, PPC and social media marketing.
So the big question is whether it’s most advantageous to be a specialist in one of the areas in question or to take a more general approach and upskill in all three.
Many individuals call themselves PPC, SEO or social media marketing specialists but with companies increasingly looking for individuals with a varied skillset, what is the wise thing to do? Let’s have a closer look at each digital marketing area in order to make an informed decision starting with SEO:
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO is the process whereby a company optimises different elements of their website (e.g. content) in order to achieve higher rankings in the Google search results and get free (or very cheap) traffic. While the benefits of SEO are vast, the biggest potential lies in reaching a large amount of traffic at a relatively low cost. The only cost here being the investment in talent to do the work, with no need to pay per click.
As more and more companies have realised the potential of SEO, the industry and demand for skilled talent has skyrocketed. A staggering 61% of marketers say improving SEO is their top inbound marketing priority (Hubspot) which means that hiring the right people with the right skills is vital.
SEO is perhaps the most technical out of the three areas with Google making regular changes to the algorithm and in doing so keeping digital marketers on their feet. It is a fairly complex and ever-evolving skillset to learn and maintain, involving a basic understanding of web design principles known as HTML coding for example.
Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)
Before the birth of paid advertising in the 90s, SEO was the main way for companies to take control of their online presence and attract potential customers. Since then Google have monetised their search engine now offering Pay Per Click advertising (PPC).
With 140,000+ websites being launched every day (Netcraft), it can be very difficult for businesses to get to the top of the search results with SEO efforts alone. This is where PPC comes in: PPC represents a fantastic opportunity for companies to pay their way to the top of the Google search results.
The market growth is huge. The majority of Google’s $75+ billion revenue comes from AdWords, namely PPC advertising:
Businesses and startups are realising the potential of PPC and hiring people to take care of their company’s PPC activities.
Is it difficult to learn? Like all digital marketing skills it can get technical. However, even though Pay Per Click campaigns do have some very advanced features, it is easier to learn than SEO with it being possible to gain a good basic understanding of key principles within a short period of time.
Social Media Marketing
Facebook offers businesses the fantastic opportunity to sell their products and services on the social media network which was first introduced in 2012. Advertising with social media has in that short space of time become a must-have digital marketing tool with a study conducted by the Content Factory revealing that business spend on average $7,000 a month on social media marketing efforts.
“More and more of these businesses are becoming advertisers with over four million advertising on Facebook and over 500,000 on Instagram.” Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook
Facebook advertising has in that short timespan experienced tremendous growth as an industry with profits generated from their advertising solution increasing by 57% from $17bn in 2015 to $26bn in 2016 (campaignlive).
In terms of difficulty social media marketing comes third, with both SEO and PPC difficulty ranking higher and being more difficult. As the platform has matured, the functionality and therefore difficulty have also increased but there are still less variables and less available functionality to consider when comparing it to PPC and SEO. In the future, as the platform matures the difficulty-level is expected to increase.
So Finally, to Specialise or to Be a Generalist?
As we have seen PPC, SEO and social media are all experiencing tremendous industry growth and all of them come with many job opportunities for individuals with the right education and experience.
The success of a company’s digital marketing efforts lies in the marketing mix. SEO, PPC and social media advertising complement each-other and therefore used in conjunction with each other form part of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. A company e.g. may be dominating the google search results when a user types in a certain product name that they are looking for (also known as keyword) but may not come up on the first pages for other keywords on which they can then chose to bid on using Pay Per Click advertising to drive additional sales.
When you’re considering whether to specialise or to keep your skills more general, keep in mind that having the full package of skills will be advantageous. If you do a quick search on job sites you will find that companies are often looking for all three skill areas, or at least two out of three of the skills combined. By knowing SEO, PPC and social media you will increase your chances of getting the job you want!
Additionally, even though the areas in itself are vast and there is a lot to learn, over time it is achievable to be a specialist in all three areas. So our advice to you is to gain knowledge in all three areas, develop your skills & knowledge with experience and in the long-run become a complete specialist in all three of these major digital marketing areas. You will be very much in demand in doing so.
Nabeena Mali is the head of marketing at AppInstitute a DIY app builder for small businesses and passionate about sharing her knowledge and insights on design strategy, UI/UX trends and driving digital growth through content marketing.