The field of marketing is diverse and dynamic, regularly changing with the advent of new technologies. Learn about popular marketing specializations that can help you succeed.

Marketing 3.0: The Future of Marketing Careers


  • Marketing is a dynamic field that benefits from many of the latest technological advances.
  • Focusing on a specific marketing specialization helps prepare workers for success.
  • A marketing degree and experience can qualify professionals for many lucrative positions.

Marketing is a broad career category, and the role of a marketing manager or director can vary widely depending on the company you're working for and the business industry you're working in.

If you ask 100 different marketing managers what they do at work, they'll each give you a different answer. Marketing is no longer a one-size-fits-all job description, and the role is continuously changing as new technologies emerge.

In 2005, digital advertising spending in the U.S. was about $12.5 billion. Today, that number has swelled to well over $100 billion.

Just 15 years ago, social media was still in its infancy. LinkedIn had just reached 1 million users and was still somewhat of a novelty. Facebook had just dropped "The" from its domain name and was still primarily a college campus platform. Twitter was still a year away from being launched, and YouTube was brand new.

Advanced mobile technology was beginning to take shape 15 years ago, but it was still a far cry from where it is today. Cell phones had only recently begun to feature built-in cameras and mobile Wi-Fi was sketchy at best. The iPhone wouldn't be introduced until a couple of years later. Mobile marketing was essentially nonexistent. And, back in 2005, people were still buying newspapers and magazines!

Fast forward to today and the marketing landscape has completely changed. Marketing has evolved from a targeted brick-and-mortar approach to a full-on digital onslaught. Back in 2005, the Interactive Advertising Bureau reported digital advertising spending in the U.S. at $12.5 billion. Today, that number has swelled to well over $100 billion.

There's no doubt that technology has dramatically impacted the marketing landscape, forever altering the way marketing managers go about their jobs. For example, tools utilized to acquire and retain customers are getting more sophisticated. Information is now gathered in real time and strategies and tactics are adjusted accordingly. Marketing teams are more responsive because they have to be.

Marketing Career Specializations

In the role of marketing manager, you will be tasked with marketing products and/or services to other businesses (B2B), consumers (B2C), or both. You can work directly for an organization that is selling goods and services, or you can work in an agency setting where you'll have the opportunity to impact several accounts. There are also organizations that offer marketing consultancy services.

While there are still some positions available for traditional, one-size-fits-all marketing managers, more businesses are starting to demand candidates with specific skill sets, particularly in the B2B environment. As marketing technology changes, so too does the need for businesses to hire people who understand new and emerging marketing tools.

The specialized marketing roles described below are becoming increasingly popular.

Channel Marketing Manager

Channel marketing managers are generally responsible for revenue growth and lead generation through various reseller or intermediary B2B channels, such as wholesalers, retail buyers, and affiliates. It is their job to effectively market their company's product or services to other businesses who would ultimately sell those products and services.

In addition to lead generation marketing efforts, channel marketing managers help build and manage distributor product launch plans, develop and manage sales incentive campaigns and loyalty programs, and ensure that all product standards are adhered to. Channel marketing managers must have a strong understanding of the sales process and the various target distribution markets.

Product Marketing Manager

Product marketing managers are responsible for driving customer demand, adoption, and growth for specific products within an organization's portfolio. This includes developing and executing the go-to-market strategy and overall product positioning during pre-launch and launch phases.

Once a product is launched, product marketing managers develop campaigns and programs to help create demand, drive product adoption, and ensure that sales are meeting or exceeding expectations. They must have a deep understanding of the product they are marketing, the competitive landscape they are working in, and the customer buying cycle.

E-Commerce Manager

E-commerce managers are primarily responsible for driving sales through online e-commerce channels. This includes developing marketing plans and online merchandising strategies that can be effectively executed through digital storefronts and online marketplaces where products are sold on a direct-to-consumer basis.

Day-to-day work includes managing product listings and updates; working on conversion rate optimization tactics; overseeing the online transaction functional process; auditing product sales performance; and managing the overall online user experience, which includes follow-up communications at various stages of the product purchasing cycle.

Lifecycle Marketing Manager

Lifecycle marketing managers are responsible for managing the entire customer process, from acquisition to conversion to retention. The role isn't much different from a traditional marketing manager role, except that this position is more focused on marketing automation and customer relationship management.

Specific tasks include lead generation and nurturing, email campaign management, customer journey mapping, social media engagement, marketing campaign development and execution, and content development.

Marketing Operations Manager

The primary role of marketing operations managers is to help optimize the overall marketing process in large organizations. As marketing automation becomes more prevalent, businesses find themselves needing professionals who can serve as links between marketing and information technology to ensure that marketing technology tools are producing the desired business outcomes in the most efficient manner.

Marketing operations managers are generally more technically inclined individuals who also understand the marketing process. Although it's good to have some creative skills, it's more important to possess a strong understanding of analytics and software technology in this position.

Demand Generation Marketing Manager

Demand generation marketing managers build interest and demand for a company's products and/or services through the use of marketing technology tools and platforms. These professionals develop and execute marketing strategies and tactics designed to generate leads for the sales team, mostly in B2B environments.

Demand generation touches every part of the sales funnel and bridges the gap between marketing and sales efforts to drive revenue. It also helps ensure exceptional customer experiences.

Growth Marketing Manager

Another role that is still being defined, but is prevalent at many organizations, is that of the growth marketing manager. In most companies, this position is responsible for improving overall revenue gains made through the development of specific growth strategies aimed at both acquisition and retention.

Growth marketing managers rely heavily on data and performance analytics to look for short-term and long-term sales growth opportunities in specific target areas needing improvement. These professionals also conduct campaign tests and experiments to optimize the marketing process and maximize the return on investment.

Marketing Career Outlook

Generally, you're not going to step into the role of marketing manager fresh out of college. Most marketing careers start at the coordinator level. After gaining some experience, workers can assume a specialist role or become a manager. Managers can then move further up the ladder to director or C-level positions, such as chief marketing officer.

Cities like Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago tend to pay marketing managers especially well.

According to the job site Indeed, the average base salary for a marketing manager in the U.S. with 3-5 years of experience and a bachelor's degree is about $76,000 per year.

As with most occupations, salaries vary widely by industry and geographical region. Most high-paying marketing jobs are located in larger cities where Fortune 500 companies are based or where there is a significant presence of high-tech and software-as-a-service companies. Cities like Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago tend to pay marketing managers especially well.

Many organizations are also experimenting with remote or virtual marketing positions, giving them the ability to hire talent from all over the country. Working remotely is the future for many companies. Because marketing is so heavily focused on the digital realm, it's a perfect fit for the telecommuting environment.

Ideal Skills to Have for Pursuing a Marketing Career

  • Highly organized
  • Able to build strong relationships
  • Technically savvy
  • Self-motivated
  • Able to multitask
  • Good at leading and motivating a team
  • Adept at communicating with diverse audiences
  • Results-oriented

Where to Get More Information on Marketing Degrees

There are many great schools that offer marketing degrees and concentrations in marketing, including several accredited online schools. For a complete rundown of bachelor's degree requirements and programs, check out BestColleges' guide to the best online bachelor's in marketing programs.


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