Importance of Digital Marketing in Business Leadership Positions

Key Takeaways 

  • Growth reliant on digital marketing
  • Decision making more reliant on analytics
  • Commerce is shifting more toward digital

A new skill that will be required by business leaders moving forward is strong knowledge on technology, which brings both opportunity and threat [source].

Most CEOs don’t come from technology or marketing backgrounds. According to Forbes, only 13 percent of Fortune 100 CEOs started their careers in sales/marketing. IT/technology didn’t even make the list. 

If you’re wondering why managers, CEOs and business owners need a strong digital marketing knowledge, look no further than recent trends in commerce and everyday life. COVID-19 has accelerated e-commerce growth four to six years in a matter of months [source]. More people are working from home, shopping online and spending more time on their smartphones due to the COVID-19 landscape.

Even B2B companies, which often relied on trade shows and more traditional channels to acquire new customers, are now turning to digital [source].

If you are interested in running a company or being in a leadership role, having a strong digital marketing background can help you get there. Digital marketing allows a view into analytics and trends to be able to make predictions based on crucial data that guide a company in the right direction.


In the aftermath of the last recession in 2008, ad spending in the U.S. dropped by 13 percent [source].

I started my digital marketing agency, The Media Captain, in 2010. I had the fortune of working in an economy that went north for the better part of a decade. That was until March of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic.

At first, I was panicked about clients dropping off. I had always heard about businesses scaling back on advertising during recessions and tough economic times. While there were some clients lost along the way, most clients stayed the course with their digital programs and even invested more.

I came to the realization that reliance on digital marketing is only going to become more prominent moving forward. My theory was supported by Facebook reporting 11 percent revenue growth even amid pandemic slowdown [source].

When people can’t leave their homes, businesses will market on the channels where consumers are spending the most time, which includes Google, Facebook and Amazon (to name a few).

As a popular adage says, “When times are good you should advertise. When times are bad you must advertise.” This is true now more than ever. Businesses wanting to grow are depending on digital marketing to do so.


There’s no better way to lead in the business world than being able to predict the future based on analytical trends. This is why Fortune 1000s are urgently investing in analytics and big data [source].

If you are knowledgeable in digital marketing, you can detect trends that will set your company up for future success.

For example, if there’s a Google algorithm update and your keywords drastically improved on Google, this could mean more future orders or customers. On the contrary, if your keywords dropped on Google, this could mean you lose customers and have to plan accordingly by scaling back.

If you start to see a low cost per acquisition in Google Ads, you can make the decision to invest more money into advertising to acquire more customers and scale the company.

When you have a keen eye for Google Analytics, you can look for ways to improve your user experience to provide a more seamless overall process on your site.

When you have a deep grasp in the digital marketing space, you have a full understanding of how customers are engaging and converting on your website along with the pain points. This has immense value for any business and can catapult your growth in the corporate world.


E-commerce revenue as a whole is up 37 percent and orders up 54 percent [source]. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected phone usage with large increases in app usage, texting and calling. [source].

Commerce is shifting more towards digital. There is more of an effort from brands to increase their online presence. Whether that’s improving the look and feel of a website for a local B2B plumbing company or generating more e-commerce revenue to offset a drop in foot traffic, digital marketing has become an initiative that’s important companywide.

This is great news for anyone interested in a digital marketing career. Wayne Gretzky famously said, ““Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” The puck is definitely headed in the direction of digital.


Getting your hands dirty and starting your own e-commerce shop is one of the best ways to truly understand the online marketing world. When you’re investing your own money into advertising and marketing, there’s a unique perspective and lessons that can’t be taught in the classroom.

The beauty of digital marketing is you don’t need to get a fancy degree or work your way up the corporate ladder. If you are skilled, you’ll shine in the workplace or in running your own business. This is exactly how I was able to start a business in my 20s [read more about this story].

Getting certified with as many Google Certifications is a plus [see all different certifications offered by Google]. The same holds true for Facebook [source]. It’s also good to learn how to become an SEO expert. There are a lot of skills and niches within digital marketing. Getting your hands dirty will help you determine which area you like the best. Whether you prefer to start your own company, get internships or work your way up the ladder, there are plenty of avenues to begin.


It wouldn’t be a surprise to see more Fortune 100 CEOs coming from a digital marketing background in the not-so-distant future. As more businesses rely heavily on digital marketing, there will be more importance placed on this skillset among businesses.


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Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.