If TV was all you had to go by, then envisioning a career in marketing might see you channelling Don Draper from Mad Men. But this iconic show was set in an advertising agency in the 1960s – and a lot has changed since then! Possibly the biggest shift has been the onset of the digital age – which means data, and lots of it. The result? Digital marketing jobs are less about hunches and more about interpreting real numbers to figure out what buyers want and how to sell it to them.
Today, the face of digital marketing jobs is less Don Draper and more someone like Jessica Hill – who has a Bachelor of Science majoring in maths from the University of Sydney. Jessica started out with her own maths tutoring business, which she marketed herself. That experience combined with her maths background was enough to land her a gig as a marketing analyst, and that’s what she’s been doing ever since. She now runs her own data science and analytics company, DataMinds, which she co-founded with another data scientist, Karina Samsonova.
“Analysing data is like mining for diamonds,” says Jessica. “There are highly valuable insights hidden in huge volumes of data and we need to find them, extract them, and turn them into sparkly insights.”
Jessica says she applies maths everyday in her job. “Sometimes the calculations are fairly simple, but understanding whether the approach we’re taking is valid involves a deeper understanding of maths and stats.” DataMinds also develops machine-learning algorithms to predict if a customer has a high probability of cancelling their subscription to an app, for example, which is handy info to have.
Positioning yourself at the intersection of marketing and maths equals career gold, says Jessica. “Data scientists with knowledge of marketing, and marketers with analytical skills are difficult to come by and highly valued,” she says. And the numbers back her up. The 2017 Institute of Analytics Professionals of Australia report on skills and salaries, found that data scientists with business know-how are earning the big bucks.
Now universities are catching up. Jason Pallant, a lecturer in marketing at Swinburne University of Technology, teaches a new unit called Data Empowered Marketing. “So much of what we do in marketing now is data-based,” he says. “Which doesn’t mean we are no longer creative, it just means we have a really strong base for how we can be creative.”
Jason graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Commerce, and worked as a marketing consultant before returning to academia. “The ability to be comfortable with numbers, to be able to explain them, and to tell a story and translate that to people who aren’t numbers-based, is a hugely valuable skill,” he says. “It’s what companies are looking for and what they’re needing.”
While Jason doesn’t have a pure maths background like Jessica, he says he did all the maths subjects he could through high school and focused on statistics at uni. “They’ve been so valuable to me in both starting and continuing my career,” he says.
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Bachelor of Mathematics/Computer Science (Data Science major), the University of Queensland
Bachelor of Science (Data Science major), Curtin University
Bachelor of Science in Information Technology/ Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation, University of Technology, Sydney
Marketing analyst: $50K–$98K
Data analyst: $49K–$98K
Digital marketing specialist: $47K–$83K
Social media marketing manager: $34K–$95K*
*Source: Salaries according to payscale.com
Author: Gemma Chilton
Gemma has a degree in journalism from the University of Technology, Sydney and spent a semester studying environmental journalism in Denmark. She has been writing about science and engineering for over a decade.