Navigating A Career in Marketing Automation

As marketers, we spend a lot of time talking about the customer journey. We realize how important it is to understand the different stages a customer goes through before they purchase. But how often do we stop to think about a marketer’s journey — the path by which we learn and advance in our own careers?


The fact is, the trajectory of a marketer’s career has shifted dramatically in recent years. Advances in technology have made sending the right message to the right person at the right time possible, in a way it never was a decade ago. Those advancements have redefined what it means to be a data-driven marketer. And one byproduct of the rise of modern data-driven marketing is a new area of specialization: marketing automation.

There’s no question marketing automation is powerful, but it hasn’t caught on as quickly as you might think. So, what’s the holdup?

A recent survey from Ascend2 found that 32% of marketers say lack of employee skills is preventing them from taking full advantage of marketing automation. Meaning there is huge need for those with the right skillset to access and assess this data.

In addition to the fact that businesses are realizing they need these technical marketers, many are having a hard time deciding where they fit within their company. The marketers we spoke to mentioned how some of these roles reported to separate teams outside of marketing, like a data and analytics department.

With all that information, it may seem a bit unclear how to navigate a career in marketing automation.

That’s why we’ve created this guide– to help those looking to enter a marketing automation role understand what a career in marketing automation may look like. And for those already in a marketing automation role, what skills and information they need to advance in their careers. This ebook is focused on in-house roles and advancement as opposed to agency and consulting positions.

What is Marketing Automation?


Marketing automation refers to software platforms, applications, and technologies created for marketing departments and organizations to better market on multiple channels online, and to automate repetitive tasks.

What is a marketing automation marketer?

For the purposes of this ebook a marketing automation marketer refers to someone who works with these platforms and technologies to grow marketing strategies.

Advancing in Marketing Automation

Most careers operate more like a jungle gym and less like a ladder, and marketing automation is no exception. While surveying marketing automation marketers we found that there are four defined buckets into which a marketer could be placed.

Characteristics of Great Marketing Automation Marketers

In a sea of candidates, what makes a marketing automation marketer stand out? These are the most in-demand skills for marketing automation professionals:


Soft Skills

While often downplayed by job seekers, soft skills are still essential for success. You can be the biggest data quant around, but without these skills you might struggle to advance.

    Marketing leaders noted that top candidates have a strong sense of curiosity. Those leading the pack are on top of current trends, changes, and subcultures of SEO. They’re always looking for an opportunity to work outside of their swim lane.
    Roles in MA require communication across company-wide teams, from marketing to development and technology, all while having a grasp on the data.
    Self-motivation and smarts are essential, paired with the ability to push against the typical edges and analyze.


Technical Skills

A role in marketing automation heavily leans on the data side of marketing.

You must understand where your data is coming from and be unafraid of the details! By understanding where your data is coming from, how things are calculated and stored, you will be better equipped to personalize and trigger your marketing. Truly understanding your data can take your marketing from okay to sophisticated. A few great tools to know include Google Analytics and Excel.

Job Descriptions & Skills


AKA: Marketing Specialist, Campaign Coordinator, Email Marketing Associate, etc.
Salary Range: $30K – $72K

There are a variety of different operator roles and functions within marketing. The biggest determining factor for the type of operator needed is based on the industry and business model of a company. At it’s core, operator roles are the day-to-day users of marketing software. In this role duties will likely include responsibilities such as working with a marketing automation platform to build, test, distribute and report on marketing campaigns, reporting on the success of these programs, and coming up with ideas for campaigns.

What makes an exceptional candidate?

“A great marketing automation marketer is different than a good one in that once a series of automations is set up, a great marketing automation marketer will continue to improve on them by A/B testing the automations.” – Luiz Centenaro, VP of eCommerce at Hammock Town

Preferred skills

  • Customer Relationship Management
  • Marketing Automation Platform or Email Marketing experience
  • Exceptional written and oral communication
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Organized and detail-oriented
  • Ability to multitask


Nice to have skills

  • MAP Certification
  • Fundamental understanding of digital marketing strategy
  • Understanding of email fundamentals: CAN-SPAM requirements, segmentation, performance metrics, etc.
  • Bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, or related field


AKA: Ecommerce Manager, Ecommerce Web Analyst,
Customer Lifecycle Manager, Digital Marketing Analyst,
or Marketing Automation Manager
Salary Range: $39K – $82K

An analyst comes up with the results, makes suggestions, and determines what outcomes should be regarding marketing efforts. This person is responsible for reporting across different channels, including paid search, email marketing, and lead nurturing. They will be required to make data-driven decisions and know the ins-and-outs of search engines and modern SEO tactics.

What makes an exceptional candidate?
“A great marketing analyst understands all the business questions being asked, and where the business is trying to go in the future. This helps them not just answer questions today, but be ready to guide the team’s developments as the team grows.” – Brian Whalley, Director of Marketing at Klaviyo

Preferred Skills

  • Data analysis
  • SEO (Adwords)
  • Web Analytics (Google Analytics)
  • Web Marketing
  • Advanced proficiency with Excel
  • Experience developing and implementing keyword strategies


Nice to have skills

  • Front End Web development
  • Marketing Strategy


AKA: Director of Operations & Analytics, Director of Ecommerce, Director of Marketing
Salary Range: $62K-$175K


The Strategist within the marketing team, this role assess company-wide goals and determines projects to meet those goals. They organize and present findings regarding market trends, competitive intelligence, assess data available against project needs in order to determine requirements, and sometimes perform database queries. Typically this role is responsible for the company website and optimizing it to support lead generation. Often they will teach, instruct, and directly manage junior staff.

What makes an exceptional candidate?

“You need to be smarter than black and white numbers– know when to add the art of marketing back in.” – Heather Adams, VP of Marketing at Wistia

Must have skills

  • Advanced proficiency in Excel
  • Ability to handle large datasets
  • Comprehend statistical measurements and troubleshoot inconsistencies
  • Manage complex analytical projects
  • Deep familiarity with CRM and direct marketing channels
  • Demonstrated skills with marketing databases platform
  • 7-10 years of experience in digital marketing environment with data-operations oriented responsibility
  • Strong project management skills
  • Reporting and analytics of marketing activities, programs and go to market strategies
  • Supervisor/manager experience


AKA: Chief Marketing Officer, Vice President of Marketing
Salary Range: $94K-$342K


The Chief Marketing Office, or Vice President of Marketing, is expected to lead the company’s strategy and vision as it relates to its top line growth. A team leader at it’s core, a CMO/VP of Marketing role focuses on people management, hiring, and overseeing all functions of marketing. In this executive level role, the CMO/VP will report on the ROI of marketing efforts as well as define and present the marketing strategy to the company and board.

Must have skills

  • Strategic marketing experience
  • Act as a leader with both creative and analytical capabilities
  • Experience with performance and digital marketing
  • Demonstrable experience in developing efficient strategies and business plans for all marketing aspects (branding, product promotion etc.)
  • Solid understanding of market research and data analysis methods
  • Extensive management experience

Planning Your Career in Marketing Automation


Best Locations for Marketing Careers

Additional resources

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