Let’s start from the conclusion and get this straight: a career in performance marketing might be the best choice for your future. Kind of weird and unusual to reveal the finale at the beginning of the story, right? 

Well, we are who we are: nerdy, techy data scientists, developers, mathematicians, PPC specialists and the like; with a thing for weirdness, and performance marketing done damn well (of course). Besides, we love to surprise you guys, or else… where’s the fun in it?

Brilliant, now – with the end of the story blown – let’s start afresh. Bet you didn’t expect that!

The main concern with running a career in performance marketing

Cool, let’s lay our cards on the table: we called it the “main” concern with having a career in performance marketing despite that we can’t find any other; but, if we claimed there’s only one concern, you would say we’re banging our bloody drum. 

Whatever, quite often people are afraid to start a career in performance marketing because they tend to think it’s something too narrow or too specific, which therefore draws a too small path for the future. This is probably the main reason people fear starting a career in performance marketing.

Reasonable, but sorry: we don’t agree with that. Allow us to show you why.

Digital ad spending is taking over the world

If being in the centre of the activities that actually matter in the marketing scenario isn’t a key reason to start a career in performance marketing, then we don’t know what is. A little too forward, we know; but we’re not just marketing machines. We have emotions and dreams!

One of the main points why a career in performance marketing is great is really because digital ad spending is taking over the world. ⅔ of the overall, global marketing budget is digital and that number is bound to increase. 

Put it this way, for every dollar spent on marketing, 66 cents are allocated to online advertising. And if we take into account that 70% of online advertising is actually represented by Google and Facebook, it means that Google and Facebook represent almost half of the entire spend – namely 46%. Given that when we think about performance marketing we often think of Google and Facebook, we can state that the Performance Marketing industry is the absolute core of Marketing.

We are good with logical, scientific, data-driven inferences, are we? To tell the truth…

The digital world is a role model

Now let’s think about the remainder of the marketing industry. It looks more and more like the online marketing one. A lot of traditional media has become more similar to the logic of digital media: offline platforms look more and more like digital platforms (think about smart TVs, digital outdoors…) and the fundamentals are actually the same: same languages, same KPIs, even the way brands are buying traditional and digital media is going in the same direction.

Performance marketing is the core of the core

Not only is the digital marketing industry getting bigger and bigger as time goes by, and the rate of change is ever-increasing (wait, wouldn’t that be enough?); but, if you put everything we just said together, being in the performance marketing industry means working on the core of the entire global scenario. 

It means working at the centre of activities that actually matter in the world, and mastering this means mastering the only thing that counts. Okay, we jumped the gun just a little bit and got carried away with the magnificence of performance marketing, but what can we say?

The digital gap

Have you ever heard of it? Sure you have. 

When you start a career in performance marketing, you’ll be among few skilled professionals, and that gives you a big advantage.

Over the past three years, employers have been urging governments to address the lack of digital skills because it’s very hard to find digital talent, meaning you can’t easily scout experienced professionals skilled across the core elements of performance marketing activities.

This may have to do with education systems, traditional university orientation, and resistance to change; but, regardless of what drove us to this point, the great news is there’s plenty of demand for digital talent. The shortage in  digital talent affects the ability of large, global organisations – specifically, their ability to compete.  Moreover, such organisations only think the skills gap will increase in the future. 

And guess what happens when in a professional field there’s more demand than supply for highly-desirable skilled professionals? No, really, guess: we’re not saying that. We’ll just say it’s probably a good indicator for a brilliant future.

Circles that matter and big shows

First things first: not everybody wants to be a C-level professional. Maybe people are looking for different kinds of progress – build their own companies, lead a team, be a manager – each to their own, fair enough.

Whatever it is, let’s say the majority want to unlock the next level in their career. For those who are a bit in-between – say, those who have from 3 to 5 years of experience hence not really junior, yet still not senior enough to lead a large team – what’s the trick to unlock the next level? This time we’ll tell you the answer. You don’t know how much we like to be unpredictable…

The best way to unlock a new path in your career is to start relationships with those who are more senior than you and already have a role of responsibility. We know we are the average people we are closer to and we tend to have characteristics of people in our network. So, if we start hanging out with the people we want to learn from… chances are we get inspired and fueled with the tricks of the trade.

So let’s cut to the chase: what’s that got to do with performance marketing? Given that performance marketing’s the pillar for companies’ growth, it’s not unusual to find young performance marketing professionals exposed to c-level environments in large international companies. Being really good in performance marketing means getting the keys to the right meetings, having conversations with c-level executives, managers, budget holders, people that have been managing teams and allocating resources for many years. 

Performance marketing is a vast land of opportunities, but technicalities lead

When we talk about performance marketing, we’re defining a huge spectrum of different disciplines, like paid search, paid social, SEO, email marketing, etc. Performance marketing is not only about how much money is spent on a campaign but also how effective that campaign is and how many conversions are generated by it. 

Be that as it may, within the bucket of performance marketing, analytical skills are Ariadne’s thread and the most desired ones. Data scientists, full stack developers, data engineers, data architects etc. top the list. 

The reality is: the more tech you go and the more you grasp analytical and technical skills, the more you’ll flourish. Whilst branding and strategic marketing are very charming and beautiful, they are also really hard to skill. Learning the analytical side and understanding the technical aspects of the core of the industry will pave the way for brilliant success.

Biggest challenges within a performance marketing career

Many will say the biggest challenge of starting a career in performance marketing is the constantly changing environment. Scenarios change every 6 months and the rate of change  is increasing – so you’ll need to think fast, be flexible, and have a strong problem-solving attitude. Being up for  constantly challenging yourself and getting out of your comfort zone are  crucial.

Also, often you will have to manage several campaigns at once and multitask, but at the same time you’ll become adaptable and really good at finding solutions for all kinds of issues. It’s quite challenging at the beginning, but with experience it becomes easier and more rewarding.

We’d rather say the biggest challenge now is automation. Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence are taking over the world, our job included. It’s likely and predictable that the first jobs to be taken over by automation won’t be hairdressers, waiters – yet jobs like ours: staring at the monitor throughout the day, clicking things and making decisions.

We didn’t just scare you off, did we? 

The final key

So did we write  this long dissertation on why to start a career in performance marketing just to say we’ll be overcome by machines? We said we’re weird, but not to such an extent!

In an ever more automated world, incremental technical skills are most important. Machines don’t allocate budgets, find alternative, genial solutions  to compete at an international level; neither do  machines come up with integrated market penetration strategies – to do all these things, you have to be on top of the situation.  

And, if you don’t know the core, if you don’t know what’s underneath, it will be really hard to be top-notch. So, master the core of the core!