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Reaching out with technology

Published on Thursday, 11 Mar 2010
Illustration: Bay Leung

Have you ever wondered where the pop-ups and banner, and display ads that are part and parcel of your everyday web-surfing experience come from?

They are the products of digital marketing managers, hired by companies en masse to reach out to a young audience who spend their days surfing Facebook, YouTube and blogs. "The role of a digital marketing manager is to research, plan and execute marketing strategies that are interactive, including, but not limited to, the internet," says Connie Au, manager for sales and marketing recruitment at recruitment firm Ambition in Hong Kong.

Whereas a traditional marketing manager works alongside advertising agencies to develop television and print advertising campaigns, their younger cousins liaise with specialised digital vendors who deal with media, from internet banner and display ads to mobile phone text message marketing and digital outdoor signage.

The digital marketing manager has to use internet search engines to market products and services, and to track in real-time the effectiveness of marketing campaigns on the internet through click-through rates and pages views. They also need to analyse how users navigate a website.

It involves diverse tasks that centre on planning and executing online advertising, public relations, and electronic direct marketing campaigns, and liaising with social media platforms, such as Linkedin and Twitter, for joint promotions. Other tasks include dealing with alternative media, such as really simple syndication and podcasting. Digital marketing managers are paid HK$27,000 to HK$35,000 a month, while those in a regional position earn HK$40,000 to HK$50,000.

Career paths, courses and qualifications

  • Most digital marketing executives begin in a digital marketing agency as an account executive. Those with five or more years of experience may be promoted to project managers. There is also the option of moving into in-house roles for consumer brands and financial services providers.
  • Most companies do not require specific professional qualifications. However, a degree in business administration, with a focus on marketing, is an advantage.
  • In conjunction with the Institute of Direct Marketing in Britain, the Asia Digital Marketing Association offers digital marketing courses. The certificate is for executives who manage digital market campaigns.

Astute internet operators in demand
  • Such a role requires marketing executives who are technically astute on matters related to the internet, as they will be called on to conduct database and search-engine marketing, and use search engine optimisation tools. Basic internet webpage design and programming knowledge is an advantage.
  • As new tools are being continuously developed by internet giants, such as Google, to help consumers communicate in novel, efficient ways, a digital marketing manager needs to understand what their audience is using to connect, and has to be willing to try new digital methods to reach customers and be able to set trends.



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