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Role Of Specialization In Digital Marketing

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People who are interested in starting a career in digital marketing often want to know whether they should specialize in a particular discipline or should they remain generalists. This is a very common question in online platforms like Quora or LinkedIn. In this article, we try and understand the role of specialization in digital marketing.

Real world analogy: Healthcare servicesReal world analogy - healtchare

To start off, let’s understand this question with a real world example of healthcare services. When it comes to choosing a healthcare service provider, we have a choice between specialists and generalists. For example, when it comes to choosing a doctor, for minor ailments most people prefer a general practitioner. However, if things are serious, the generalist may refer us to a specialist, or sometime people, on their own, decide to visit a specialist. The same holds true for digital marketing. Let’s understand the roles of the generalist and the specialist digital marketer.

The generalist digital marketer:Generalist

The generalist digital marketer knows something about all aspects of digital marketing – SEO, SEM, social media marketing, email marketing. They can handle basic tasks like:

  • Creating and maintaining Facebook pages for a business
  • Doing some quick keyword research for search engine optimization
  • Growing the number of followers on Twitter

These and other similar tasks can be handled by anyone who has a basic understanding of digital marketing, and has around 1 to 2 years of work experience. Note however, they should have experience in carrying out important tasks. However, they don’t need to have detailed knowledge and experience in any one discipline.

Advantages of a generalist digital marketer:
  • A single person can carry out multiple digital marketing tasks
  • For organizations, a generalist can be more cost-effective than hiring multiple specialists
  • After gaining some years of work experience, the generalist can get some advanced training and become a specialist in one of the disciplines of digital marketing
Disadvantages of a generalist digital marketer:
  • The world of digital marketing moves at a very fast pace. For example, in the context of search engine optimization, Google releases a new update every few months, and SEO professionals are constantly on their toes to respond to these updates to maintain the website rankings of their employers/clients. Given the pace of changes, it becomes difficult for a single person to keep track of changes in each of the disciplines.
  • A generalist digital marketer can provide only basic SEO or SEM services, which will have a limited impact on the business. As more and more businesses are increasing their investments in digital marketing, businesses relying on generalists will find it hard to compete. At some point, they will face a need to involve specialist digital marketers with advanced knowledge in their respective domains.
Ideal for:

A generalist digital marketer is ideal for:

  • Small businesses with limited budgets for digital marketing
  • Businesses where the online competition is minimal

The specialist digital marketer:Specialist

For most businesses, moving to specialist digital marketers is a logical course after starting out with generalists. For example, if a business wants to get aggressive with its social media campaigning, it will want seasoned social media professionals. Or when a business is planning to increase its paid advertising budgets, it will want to engage an experience SEM specialist. Typically, a specialist digital marketers should have a minimum of 3 years of experience working in a single discipline.

Advantages of specialist digital marketers:
  • Dedicated specialists can take the digital marketing initiatives of an organization to another level. They can offer up-to-date strategies and use the latest techniques to get maximum results. For example, if someone has vast experience in SEM, they will have much more knowledge of how much budgets to set aside, when to pause campaigns, and how much time to give to each campaign before making any major changes. They will also know a lots of tips and shortcuts, which may not be known to a generalist.
  • By using dedicated specialists, organizations are highly likely to see good results in the respective areas. For example, a dedicated email marketing specialist can generate much more leads than a generalist. These positive results often have an impact on other channels as well, thus boosting the overall digital marketing presence of an organization.
Disadvantages of specialist digital marketers:
  • Specialist digital marketers have extensive experience and deep knowledge, which makes them expensive. This makes it a challenge for organizations with limited online marketing budgets.
  • Specialist digital marketers are too focused on their own disciplines, which sometimes prevents them for taking a holistic view of the entire digital marketing landscape of an organization.
Ideal for:

Specialist digital marketers are ideal for:

  • Organizations who already have a basic digital marketing structure in place, and want to take it to an advanced level
  • Organizations with adequate digital marketing budgets
  • Organizations facing intense online competition

So which option to choose:SpecialistvsGeneralist

Both generalist and specialist have a role to play in the digital marketing ecosystem. Given the huge demand, there’s enough opportunities for both of them. For organizations, the choice between the two depends on factors such as their online marketing budgets, the state of competition, etc. Continuing with the analogy of healthcare professionals, if someone had to do a heart surgery, they would not only want a specialist heart surgeon, but someone who’s performed at least 100 heart surgeries. The same goes for digital marketing. If a business has a serious and critical need of digital marketing, it will prefer to go to an experienced and specialist digital marketer.

For people wanting to start out their careers in digital marketing, the first step is becoming a generalist. People need to know the fundamentals of all aspects of digital marketing, before they choose their specialization.

Image Credits: clipartpanda.com, www.sitepoint.com, architecting.it, mageegammon.com

  • Digital-Marketing


  • There are 3 comments


    • 2 years ago

      Esfera   /   Reply

      Nice blog i have read blog and See the Advantages and Disadvantages of digitel marketer. I have gain many new things thanks for sharing.

    • 2 years ago

      digitalvision   /   Reply

      Nice information Digital Vidya Editorial Team ,
      This is an excellent to read! In simplistic terms, digital marketing is the promotion of products or brands via one or more forms of electronic media. today i learned lot of things about digital marketing and Thanks for the post!

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