Two graduates of Emerson's online digital marketing and data analytics master’s program review data.
Two graduates of Emerson's online digital marketing and data analytics master’s program review data.

I’m a Marketing Specialist. What’s My Next Step?

Since this blog was initially published, the curriculum has been updated to be even more relevant to the modern marketer. As of Fall 2022, Emerson College is proud to offer our reimagined Master of Arts in Marketing, previously known as the Master’s of Digital Marketing and Data Analytics (DMDA).


If you are a marketing specialist, you are on a great path. But when you’re on a path, you’re always looking to take the next step, right? Your next step may be an online digital marketing and data analytics master’s.

As a marketing specialist your pay probably isn’t that bad, your work is probably pretty interesting, and your field is definitely growing. That puts you in a great position for a challenging, rewarding, and lucrative career. But how exactly are you going to get there?

From Tactics to Strategy

On a marketing team, there are people who determine the strategy, and there are people who execute the strategy. A good marketing specialist is highly skilled at executing marketing strategy through the effective use of tactics. But who really drives the work and leads the team, those who devise the strategy or those who carry it out? Who gets paid more?

“Moving up” in the marketing world means moving into the role of strategist. You want to be the person who understands the big picture enough to help the tacticians know which tactics to execute.

There was a time, perhaps, when marketing professionals could “pick up” strategic expertise just by putting in time on a marketing team. But those days are gone. Modern marketing is highly technical, precise, and data-driven.

The most reliable, efficient way to get the expertise you need is to pursue an online degree in digital marketing and data analytics. Combining the skills of a “traditional” online digital marketing master’s with the specific, technical skills of data analytics, this degree will give you the tools you need to make that jump to a strategic, insight-driven marketer.

Why Digital Marketing?

If you are in the marketing business, at least some of your work has almost certainly been in the digital space. You already have a certain amount of digital marketing knowledge. When you look toward the future, do you think you’ll need more expertise in digital marketing, or less?

Sure, print marketing, direct mail, billboards, and radio and television ads probably aren’t going away completely any time soon. But you don’t need a crystal ball to see that the future of marketing is digital marketing.

Not long ago, marketing was largely a matter of throwing everything you could at the wall and seeing what would stick. There was a lot of waste, a lot of excess. Marketers paid a lot of money to put their messages in front of people who just weren’t in the market.

The key to digital marketing, on the other hand, is using data to more precisely, more efficiently get messages to potential customers. It’s about telling the right story to the right people. The digital world, in other words, is a lot more than a new medium.

If you can master the skills of insight-driven marketing, you will be prepared for the next step in your marketing career. But those skills don’t come “naturally.” They come as the result of a focused course of study—the course of study you would find in an online digital marketing and data analytics master’s program.

For those with this specialized degree, job prospects are incredibly bright.

What Does an Online Degree in Digital Marketing and Data Analytics Look Like?

An online degree in digital marketing and data analytics develops a wide ranging set of skills. A digital marketer must be able to plan and implement digital campaigns. That includes:

  • deciding which media to use

  • deciding which customers to target

  • deciding which stories to tell

  • other skills

All of those digital-centric skills rely on research and data-collection skills. Digital storytelling, after all, isn’t about finding a story with broad, general appeal. It’s about telling stories that connect intensely with smaller, laser-targeted groups of consumers who are ready to buy.

Storytelling may not seem an obvious fit with data collection, but that connection is at the heart of digital marketing. In an online digital marketing and data analytics master’s program, you will learn how to set messaging goals and use reporting data to evaluate and improve your storytelling in relation to those goals.

Equally important in an online degree in digital marketing and data analytics is a grasp on online consumer behavior:

  • What do consumers expect on a website or social media site? How do they act and react?

  • What are the psychological, emotional, logical, and sociological facts that shape users’ behavior online?

  • How can marketers use this knowledge to help the right consumers find their products and services in the vast sea that is the internet?

As you pursue an online digital marketing and data analytics master’s, you will gain the specialized skills to answer these and similar questions.

Data Analytics: The Special Sauce in Digital Marketing

Great storytelling is vital to all excellent marketing. But data is what sets digital marketing apart from all other marketing. Data analytics transforms the insurmountable mountain of information produced by Big Data into forms that can actually shape informed, insightful decisions.

The value of a degree in online digital marketing and data analytics is multiplied when it is joined to a strong background in:

  • Descriptive analytics

  • Market segmentation

  • Predictive analytics

  • Web analytics

  • Social media analytics

  • Voice of the consumer analytics

Descriptive and Predictive Analytics

The goal of descriptive analytics is to look back and give an account of what has historically happened in the market. Market segmentation has traditionally been the most important subfield of descriptive analytics. In market segmentation, a marketer divides and subdivides consumers by different variables (demographic, psychographic, geographic, etc) in order to determine which groups are most likely to buy particular products and services.

Predictive analytics builds on the historical findings of descriptive analytics in order to make forecasts about the future. These predictions are where you will really earn your money if you have an online degree in digital marketing and data analytics.

Web Analytics

For a digital marketer, web analytics is the most important subfield of data analytics. And Google Analytics is by far the most important of all web analytics tools. An online digital marketing and data analytics master’s should include certification in Google Analytics.

Web analytics provides detailed insights into how users interact with a website. How do they find it? Which pages do they visit? How long do they stay?

Are your consumers using computers or tablets or smartphones? Web analytics can tell you, and you can design accordingly. Are your consumers more likely to click on a big, flashy button or something more subtle? Web analytics can tell you that too.

Web analytics can also tell you how many website visitors convert into buyers. It can tell you how fast your pages are loading — a very important aspect of the user experience.

No matter what your role in a marketing team, certification in Google Analytics will improve your performance. If you are looking to move up the ladder from marketing specialist to a new role with more responsibility, Google Analytics is absolutely vital.

If you want to move into the role of digital strategist, for instance, you absolutely have to become an expert in Google Analytics. You might say that Google Analytics is the job if you’re a digital strategist or a web analyst.

But even if you want to work on the more creative side of the marketing world, Google Analytics gives you the insights you need to do that work better. What kind of copy do your users respond to? Which images or colors or buttons get clicks?

When it comes to online marketing, there’s more to creative work than just artsiness and creative instinct. Web analytics adds a quantifiable dimension to the whole process.

Social Media and Voice-of-the-Consumer Analytics

Social media has taken on a more and more central role in life and culture. In 2019, Twitter had over 150 million active daily users. Facebook had 1.66 billion active daily users. Instagram has more than a billion active users as well.

It is more important than ever that marketers understand how their brands and products are perceived on social media, and what people are saying about them. But how do you listen to a billion people?

Social media analytics and voice-of-the-consumer analytics are growing subfields of data analytics. Now, more than ever, consumers expect to be heard. Platforms like Brandwatch give marketers the ability to listen to the “voice of the consumer” on social media. An online digital marketing and data analytics master’s focus will include certification in social media and voice-of-the-consumer platforms.

What All This Means for You

If you are already a marketing specialist, you probably have some familiarity with messaging and media spending, with market segmentation and web analytics. But taking the next step in your career is going to require more than familiarity with these concepts.

Marketing in the digital age has become so specialized and technical that it is really hard to “absorb” enough knowledge on the job to get ahead. If you want to get to the next level in your marketing career, you need to take the time and make the effort to gain this specialized knowledge. You need an online degree in digital marketing and data analytics.

The work you’re doing as a marketing specialist is vitally important to your team. There is a ton of work to do, and somebody has to do it. Somebody has to implement all those ideas that the strategists and team leaders are coming up with.

Implementation of other people’s ideas: in most teams, that’s the value that marketing specialists bring to the table. But imagine how much more value you could bring if you had the tools and the knowledge to provide real insights. Your insights that could lead to better ideas, better plans, better strategies — and better tactics for the marketing specialists on your team to implement.

A Better Way of Keeping Score

One of the greatest things about digital marketing and data analytics is that they provide new ways of keeping score, almost in real time. The turnaround is so quick that you often know in days — maybe even hours — whether or not your marketing ideas are working. That means that, more than ever, the value you’re bringing to the table is measurable and obvious — obvious to you, and obvious to the people you report to at work.

In that competition, a degree in online digital marketing and data analytics is a huge advantage. Even before you’ve finished your degree, you can start implementing the concepts you learn to improve the numbers of your marketing team.

Promotions and raises have too often been tied to “who you know” and other factors that seem out of your control. A degree in online digital marketing and data analytics puts you in a position to produce the kind of measurable results that employers can’t ignore.

This degree isn’t just another impressive line on your resume (though it’s that too). It gives you real, valuable skills that will make a huge difference in the value you bring to whatever work setting you choose.

The Nitty-Gritty: What Kind of Salary Bump Can You Expect?

It is no surprise that, on average, marketers with a master’s degree make more money than marketers who only have a bachelor’s degree. But how much more?

According to, employees with a Master of Arts in Marketing earn 10% more per year than employees with a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing. For Advertising and Marketing Communications majors, the salary difference between a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts is 19%. For the Business and Marketing major, the difference is more than 25%.

These percentages represent a direct comparison between the same major at different degree levels. If you are a marketing specialist with a non-marketing degree, an online degree in digital marketing and data analytics might make an even bigger difference in your salary. Obviously, results will vary.

Adding top in-demand skills to your resume also boosts earning potential. Professionals skilled in digital marketing earn an average salary of almost $70,000. Skills in big data analytics command an average salary of more than $110,000.

Better Pay for Your Position

Much of the pay increase from an online digital marketing and data analytics master’s derives from the fact that the degree qualifies you for better-paying jobs. Consider the median salaries for various marketing professionals, according to

  • Marketing specialist: $51,000 per year

  • Digital strategist: $61,000 per year

  • Data analyst: $61,000 per year

  • Web analyst: $66,000 per year

  • Marketing manager: $66,000 per year

  • Marketing director: $88,000 per year

That’s not to say you’ll be a marketing director making $88,000 a year as soon as you have completed your education. But a degree in online digital marketing and data analytics is an important step in that direction.

Important Certifications

Important certifications will be rolled into a good online digital marketing and data analytics master’s program. In other words, by the time you have finished the degree, you will be certified in Google Analytics and other important digital marketing applications, such as Hootsuite, Brandwatch, SAS Studio and Enterprise Miner.

Some employers give extra compensation to employees who earn these certifications. But whether your employer does or doesn’t pay extra, these certifications will open up new job possibilities for you. Every company, it seems, needs somebody who truly understands Google Analytics and other online marketing tools.

Don’t Forget About Bonuses

For many companies, bonuses are an important part of the compensation package. And those bonuses are typically tied to meeting certain productivity goals. A degree in online digital marketing and data analytics will equip you to meet and exceed sales goals.

In other words, don’t just think of an online digital marketing and data analytics master’s as a resume builder. You will be gaining actual skills that will make a difference in how well you do your job. And if you decide someday that you want to go into business for yourself rather than working for somebody else, those skills will be even more important.

Take the Next Step

For a person with a master’s in digital marketing and data analytics, job prospects are fabulous. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, marketing research analyst jobs are expected to grow by 18% between now and 2029. That’s significantly faster growth than average.

Are you ready to get serious about moving ahead on this dynamic career path? An online degree in digital marketing and data analytics from Emerson College is a one-of-kind program that prepares you for the future of marketing.

Learn more about Emerson College’s Master’s in Digital Marketing and Data Analytics program.