Tier I cities including Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai (in that order) are the most preferred job locations for digital marketing students and professionals in India, revealed a survey conducted by PixelTrack, a digital marketing company. Hyderabad and Pune followed the top three in the survey results, reflecting the fact that the digital marketing talent pool is still eyeing big cities, even when there’s a growing chatter about Tier II and III cities—dubbed ‘Bharat’—nowadays, being the next big thing.

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This is because, despite a promising growth trend in Tier II and III towns—places supposedly yielding the next 500 million users—it has not yet grown to a point where people have enough opportunities and higher salaries.

“People have a desire to move to the big cities. Tier 1 cities provide opportunities for a better quality of living,” Deepak Kanakaraju, a prominent voice in the digital marketing space, and Co-founder of PixelTrack, tells YourStory. “As the opportunities in Tier II cities grow, Tier I will grow tenfold. I believe that the job growth is going to take place across all the cities with the highest concentration in Tier I cities,” he adds.

Source: PixelTrack

The preference of job location aside, the survey also spotlighted several other trends in thedigital marketing sector. For instance, people’s language proficiency and whether or not they utilise online tools like blogs to interact with others in this space. As it turns out, over 62 percent of the participants don’t write or maintain a regular blog. However, English as a language and the communication was still a huge focus point for most digital marketing professionals, with maximum people (27.6 percent) rating their language skills an eight on a scale of zero to 10.

Source: PixelTrack

“English proficiency helps because most of the digital marketing tools that we use today are in English,” explains Deepak. “We are yet to see massive growth of digital marketing in Tier II and Tier III cities. Although the internet penetration has already come to a saturation point, marketing has not penetrated to all the regions that have internet access.”

If and when that happens, however, the focus is bound to shift from English to vernacular languages. Let’s say you are focusing on creating marketing campaigns for Tier II cities and beyond, then proficiency in vernacular languages will help more than proficiency in English, Deepak says, adding, “Marketing is all about the right communication and English proficiency is not necessarily a factor in the effectiveness of digital marketing campaigns in itself.”

A majority of people taking part in the survey, which aptly reflects the state of digital marketing talent in India, stated their highest educational qualification as “undergraduate”, with only 43.1 percent ticking the “postgraduate” box. Usually, in every sector, the level of academic education tends to have an impact on the expected salary scale, and in this case it was no different. Over 31 percent said their expected cost to company (CTC) was between Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh per annum. While 23.1 percent went for Rs 2 lakh and Rs 3 lakh, 15.2 percent suggested Rs 5 lakh and 7 lakh CTC annually.

A reason why the salary expectation is low compared to the ask of professionals in other sectors could be because of the years of experience a digital marketing professional in India claims to have. Around 55.5 percent of people taking the survey (also the maximum percentage) claimed to have less than one year of experience as a digital marketing professional, with the most preferred areas of expertise being social media marketing, followed by search engine optimisation (SEO). Mobile or app marketing was the least preferred, with only 11.9 percent choosing this as their area of expertise.

Source: PixelTrack

Explaining this trend, Deepak says,

“Mobile or app marketing talent is rare to find because not everyone can create their own mobile app like they would make a social media page or a website. The expertise and talent in app marketing is low and hence it will have a higher demand and companies will be ready to pay more for good mobile / app marketers.”