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How to become Head of Digital Marketing

4 minute read

Do you love the idea of helping brands to get noticed online? If you’re analytical yet creative, digital marketing could be the perfect career for you. And if that’s the path you take, you may be able to work your way up the ranks to the position of Head of Digital Marketing – but what does it take to reach the top job in digital marketing?

What is Head of Digital Marketing?

This career is all about helping businesses grow online, whether that’s organically (such as through search engine optimisation) or through paid advertising. Other forms of marketing include social media or video content. ‘Head of Digital Marketing’ is the top job title to aim for if you’re interested in pursuing what’s also known as online marketing.

The Head of Digital Marketing leads the digital marketing team, supervising all aspects of online marketing either for one brand or in an agency managing numerous clients. There’s big demand for this job role, and it’s always evolving thanks to the emergence of new platforms. A case in point: where was TikTok a few years ago?

How much does Head of Digital Marketing earn?

Once you’ve gained a bit of experience early in your career, you can expect to earn around £28,000 as a Digital Marketing Executive in the UK. As a Digital Marketing Manager you’d be on around £40,000, and once you’ve reached the position of Head of Digital Marketing, you can look forward to a salary of £60,000 or more (figures accurate as of August 2021).

What does Head of Digital Marketing do in a typical day?

In this role, you’ll oversee the digital marketing team, typically in more of a strategy role than the hands-on digital marketing work you did when you first started out. You’ll help dream up campaign ideas and shape how they’re implemented, supervising more junior members of the team to make sure they’re carried out effectively.

Digital marketing encompasses a variety of online marketing activities, so there’s likely to be plenty of variety in your work. Many digital marketers work in agencies, and if that’s you then you’ll likely work on clients from a diverse range of industries, planning marketing activities that reach people from all walks of life.

Skills you need to become Head of Digital Marketing

As a Head of Digital Marketing, you should be well-versed and experienced in all forms of online marketing, including search engine optimisation (SEO), pay-per-click advertising (PPC), social media, video and other forms of content marketing. You’ll need to be proactive in keeping up with the latest trends and best practices across this industry.

Of course, good IT skills are essential for a career in digital marketing, and you’ll also need to have sound knowledge of other aspects of building brands online, such as copywriting, web design, user experience, analytics and a variety of social media tools, software and monitoring methods.

As a Head of Digital Marketing, you will ideally need to be able to liaise effectively with clients, senior management teams and colleagues. That means you’ll possess excellent communication skills (both written and verbal) and plenty of management experience, which you’ll have picked up as you work your way up the career ladder.

Part of your role as Head of Digital Marketing will involve monitoring the performance of you and your team’s marketing efforts, so you’ll need an analytical brain to assess data and figure out what it tells you about what you’ve been doing right and wrong. Project and time management skills will also be crucial for juggling multiple clients and campaigns at any given time.

How do you become Head of Digital Marketing?

While many Heads of Digital Marketing have undergraduate degrees in marketing, PR or a related area, digital marketing is a line of work best learned ‘on the job’ by starting out as a junior digital marketing executive and working your way up.

In the beginning, you can boost your knowledge and skills by taking courses, such as this free accredited course offered by Google, Reed’s Diploma in Digital Marketing or courses from the Institute of Data and Marketing. It’s also a good idea to experiment with online marketing on your own social media channels and website.

However, to attain the senior rank of Head of Digital Marketing, there’s no substitute for spending years working your way up and dreaming up effective campaign ideas for your employer or clients.

Career expectations for Head of Digital Marketing

As with many digital jobs, you’ll have the option of working ‘in-house’ for one brand or in an agency working on a variety of digital marketing clients. Many also choose to go freelance.

Digital marketing is a relatively new career path, but one that’s always changing as new platforms emerge and old ones fall out of favour. If you like the idea of working with a variety of brands and dreaming up campaigns that connect with a variety of audiences, ‘Head of Digital Marketing’ could be your perfect job title.

Feeling inspired? Take the THIS IS HOW quiz to find out more about what you’re good at and possible job roles that could be a match for you.