Top 10 Direct and Digital Marketing Jobs In Demand for 2013

In Winterberry Group’s “Global Outlook 2013” report, released in October, digital was forecast to capture almost all new marketing spend in 2013. That’s good news for those with digital marketing know-how, especially in fast growing areas like mobile, social media, display advertising and email, so it’s no surprise that these specialties have been moving up the charts. As I look into my crystal ball, and analyse the results of the latest Bernhart Associates Hiring Survey, here’s my list of the top 10 direct and digital marketing positions that I think will be in greatest need in 2013:

10. Merchandising
Back in the old days when we talked about merchandising, we talked about selling stuff in a catalog. Many of those “traditional” merchants have evolved into the merchant superheroes of the Internet. Merchandising has ranked both high and low in my own quarterly hiring surveys over the years, but high enough to claim the entry level spot on this year’s top 10.

9. Technical
If wasn’t for the techies, we’d all be staring at empty screens. Digital and direct marketers traditionally have had something of a love-hate relationship with their IT colleagues, but at the end of the day, they’re both there to work together to help solve business problems. Although IT positions are not, technically, part of the marketing department, they get frequent mention in my hiring surveys, enough of a mention to put them at No. 9.

8. Project Management
In the digital world, the one thing you can always expect is the unexpected. Digital marketing campaigns can have a dizzying number of moving parts. Timelines, budgets, project scope, creative design, pretty much anything can change on a dime. Someone needs to make sure that all of the pieces of this complex digital jigsaw puzzle stay together and that the project stays on track—kind of like juggling three bowling pins while directing traffic. No wonder the best project managers in digital and direct are all employed or working successfully as freelancers.

7. SEO/SEM Specialists
You can’t have a crack e-commerce team without good SEO. Job prospects in SEO brighten each time someone shifts a retail purchase to an e-commerce website. I see this job category gaining even more traction in 2013, and I would put search engine marketing right along next to it.

6. Account Management/Client Services
I’m using these as catch-all categories to include Account Executives, Account Supervisors, Account Directors and the like. Agencies and service providers are in constant need of strong client-facing talent, both to replace those who leave and to expand head count when they win new pieces of business. These sectors are sensitive to the business cycle—they prosper when the economy grows and they contract when the economy slows. Although when it comes to cutting staff they’re “stickier” on the downside—that is, they’re usually quick to hire and slower to lay off. My own survey shows that layoffs among agencies and service providers are at multi-year lows, and, barring any unforeseen economic shocks, hiring for these positions should continue at healthy levels in 2013.

5. Social Media Manager
Five short years ago, the title of social media manager, or any other title with social media in it, couldn’t be found on an organizational chart anywhere. This year, it appeared among the top five positions for the first time. I’m keeping it at number five, but with a bullet. I see this climbing the charts in 2013.

4. Creative
There’s an old adage in direct marketing: The key elements that will determine the success or failure of your direct mail campaign are the list, the offer and the creative. Digital marketing hasn’t been around long enough to have its own old adage, but if it had one, creative would probably be in it. Behind every great digital and direct marketing campaign are the inspired and inventive minds that created it. Some believe that the golden age of direct marketing creative is past, but if you ask me, creative is now as fresh and as unabashed as ever.

3. Sales
Nothing happens until something is sold. That may be a worn out cliche, but it’s certainly true, and I guess that’s why sales positions regularly appear in the top three jobs on my hiring survey. The Pareto Principle says that 20 percent of your sales force will produce 80 percent of your sales, so if that’s true, you’ve got built in turnover. That’s good for sales reps who need a job, not so good for digital and direct marketers who have to train them. Suffice it to say that I know very few long-term, experienced and accomplished sales reps in digital or direct marketing who are unemployed.

2. Marketing
I know what you’re thinking: Does he mean senior positions, entry level positions, multichannel marketing, e-commerce marketing, email marketing? All of the above, and much more. And contrary to what some may think, demand for direct mail marketers has not gone the way of the blacksmith. I’ve placed several high level direct mail leadership positions in recent years. Even Google spends millions of dollars each year on direct mail. Marketing positions in digital and direct, in all of its forms, is in need and will offer countless new opportunities in the year to come.

1. Marketing Analysts
Marketing analysts have unequivocally earned their place at the head of the direct marketing jobs table. Analytic jobs appear routinely on lists of the “Best Careers”, and they’ve dominated my own employment studies for more than a decade. In fact, analytic-related positions have held the top spot more than any other category in the 12 year history of my survey. Neither Great Recession, the Iraq War nor the 911 terrorist attacks could put a perceptible dent in the insatiable demand for analytic talent. Marketers are awash in an ocean of data and it takes highly skilled experts to not only mine and parse this data, but to help marketers make sense of it all to help drive their businesses. Anyone with these skills is imminently employable. They are commanding bigger salaries and receiving more multiple job offers than any other job function in digital or direct marketing. If you’re an experienced analyst with both quantitative and business skills, and you love your work, go ahead and take out a nice, big, long-term loan. You’ll have no trouble making payments.

Jerry Bernhart, principal of Owatonna, Minn.-based Bernhart Associates Executive Search. Reach him at