Digital marketing is essential to any 21st-century company’s business strategy. Everyone’s online these days, and modern businesses must keep up with the latest trends and direct their advertising efforts where most of their audience is found. One only needs to walk down any street in any big city worldwide to see large crowds using mobile devices, particularly smartphones.
So digital marketing is essential, and digital marketing skills are vital to any marketer’s skill set. However, you need the right digital marketing skills to do justice to a solid digital marketing campaign. There are dozens of different digital marketing skills that we could make a case to include. However, we’ll narrow down the extensive list to just the best twenty skills needed for digital marketing.
We’ll break down the skills needed for digital marketing into soft and hard skills, discuss why digital marketers are lifelong learners, and briefly look at the types of digital marketing tools available. Apart from that, you should also explore the essential digital marketing skills at our comprehensive Digital Marketing Bootcamp.
The Essential Digital Marketing Skills
When looking at the skills needed for digital marketing, we need to split them into technical and hard knowledge skills, things people learn in school or online courses, and the less definable or measurable skills, typically personal qualities one cultivates through time and experience.
Let’s lead off with the hard, tangible skills for digital marketing and wrap up with the soft, theoretical skills. Note that some hard skills may overlap. Don’t worry; many hard skills stem from the same sources or technologies, accounting for some similarities.
Additionally, one of the critical reasons that professionals should have a complete set of hard digital marketing skills is that they can eliminate a step or two in the process. For example, a digital marketer with working knowledge of HTML can make a few tweaks to a web page instead of waiting for a web page designer to have the time to do it. Although this certainly adds another task or two to the digital marketer’s plate, it’s a time-saving maneuver that may make the project more effortless in the long run.
Hard Skills for Digital Marketing
1) SEO/SEM. Search engines drive your business’s website traffic, especially your landing pages. The search result is the first and most essential step in connecting your audience with your company. Therefore, digital Marketers must become experts at using SEO and SEM to their maximum effectiveness. This skill includes learning “white hat” SEO tactics such as content marketing, guest blogging, and the process of link building via social marketing and publishing high-quality content. Additionally, digital marketers must understand how to research keywords embedded in blogs, PPC, and website copy.
2) Marketing Analytics. This skill covers tools like Google Analytics. Data analysis tools provide detailed information about where website traffic comes from, the most engaging keywords, the most popular times of the day, and valuable demographic data, including factors like age, gender, and location, as well as users’ interests and the devices they’re using.
3) Using Spreadsheets (e.g., Google Sheets, Excel, etc.). Digital marketers typically work with large amounts of data. Spreadsheets help sort and organize large data sets. Thus, digital marketers should be familiar with the basic functions of some popular spreadsheet programs.
4) Troubleshooting Experience. The company’s website traffic drops drastically, or the bounce rate plummets. What’s going on? A good troubleshooter knows how to track down potential causes and formulate a solution for the problem. Whether it’s a technical issue with a webpage or an unexplained decrease in lead conversion, an excellent digital marketer can analyze the situation and devise a workaround.
5) Design Skills. Today’s visual content offers businesses more exposure than written content. That’s why videos are dominating the Internet since it’s proven that they have higher conversion rates, engagement, and SEO rankings. Consequently, digital marketers should have basic knowledge of applications like Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, After Effects, Illustrator, InDesign, etc.), Canva, Inkscape, or any other program that helps marketers create visual content. In addition, digital marketers should know how to create and edit their visuals to generate their own banner ads, social media images in Photoshop, and email banners.
6) Research. When digital marketers create content, they often must cite sources. Source citation adds weight and credibility to ad copy. Content writers also must pull data from many disparate sources to create the text in the first place. So, digital marketers must know how to conduct research and be passingly familiar with a handful of research tools. Digital marketers must know their way around search engines and how to ask the right questions.
7) Coding or Understanding Code. In today’s IT-heavy world, it’s wise to have some basic coding or programming skills in your digital marketer skill set. Digital marketers occasionally need to use WordPress, update websites, write copy, employ marketing automation, or understand CRO. Therefore, a well-rounded digital marketer knows basic HTML and CSS. It also doesn’t hurt to become proficient in a programming language such as Python.
8) Email Marketing. Although many users just delete massive amounts of emails from their inboxes without even opening them, email marketing is still one of the m most cost-effective and successful means of digital marketing. Digital marketers must understand how to leverage content, develop mailing lists, create newsletters and promotional copy content, and generate email blasts.
9) Social Media Marketing. Social media attracts people from all walks of life, so digital marketers must ensure they direct their campaigns and promotions to this vast user audience. In addition, digital marketers must generate user engagement on every social media platform where the company has a presence, write copy, construct ads, create visuals, and analyze engagement and reach. Finally, this skill set covers understanding how paid advertisement works on various social media platforms.
10) Writing and Editing. People online often disparage “grammar police” (people who call out grammar and spelling mistakes in posts), yet many expect commercial sites to feature competent, professional content. To that end, digital marketing professionals need to be familiar with the basic rules of grammar and spelling.
Soft Skills for Digital Marketing
1) Project Management Skills. Project management skills include creating, leading, and directing teams to manage deliverables and projects. This skill consists of breaking down complex tasks into actionable steps. Digital marketers need solid project management skills to clearly communicate objectives and motivate their teams to create an effective, seamless, and pleasant experience.
2) Communication Skills. Like organizational skills, communication skills are one of the more vital soft skills. After all, what’s a digital marketer but someone who communicates with a broad audience and tries to sway them into becoming steady customers? Also, digital marketers must relay their ideas, concerns, and needs to their teams, managers, and stakeholders. Communication skills include writing and speaking effectively, establishing trust, building good relationships, making themselves understood, and disseminating effective messages.
3) The Willingness to Listen. While the communication skills mentioned above emphasize the marketer’s ability to get their point across, listening skills are valuable to hearing what other people are saying and understanding their point. And sometimes, the marketer may have to agree with the speaker and act accordingly.
4) Adaptability. A well-planned marketing campaign can sometimes change focus. The marketing workload may vary from month to month. Team members quit, only to be replaced by new blood. Advertising budgets shrink or grow. An excellent digital marketer knows how to roll with the punches, make mid-course corrections, and deal with unforeseen difficulties.
5) Multitasking Skills. Digital marketing professionals have a lot on their plates and are typically called upon to simultaneously keep many juggling balls in the air. A good multitasker knows how to allocate time, mindshare, and other resources to handle simultaneous responsibilities without diminishing quality or timely solutions.
6) Checking Your Ego at the Door. It’s one thing to have self-confidence; it’s another to think that you’re always right and that what you’re saying is more important than what anyone else says. Spoiler alert: you won’t always be correct. Self-confident people aren’t afraid of admitting mistakes, and marketing professionals must be self-confident. In addition, good marketers can’t afford to take criticism or failure personally. Lastly, there’s no sin in using the words “I don’t know” when asked a question. Rather than seeing those words as failing, confident, self-effacing professionals see it as an incentive to look for answers, increasing their knowledge base and skill set, so it’s a win for everyone involved!
7) Problem Solving Skills. Digital marketing presents a never-ending series of challenges, issues, problems, and glitches. A good digital marketing professional must find creative solutions to everyday marketing problems while outmaneuvering, out-thinking, and out-creating the competition. Problem-solving is a critical digital marketing skill that includes thinking outside the box and being willing to try an unorthodox solution to a persistent problem.
8) A Strong Work Ethic. Digital marketers have a tough job. Not only do they have to create compelling marketing initiatives and promotions, but they also need to shepherd them through their lifecycle while creating even more promotions.
9) Curiosity. We’ll add “the desire to learn more” into this skill. A healthy interest not only drives marketers to learn all there is to know about digital marketing (and there’s a lot!) but also to ask why certain people react to messages in a particular way and others don’t. The curious person wonders why things function as they do and how to best function in those environments.
10) Empathy. Empathy is defined as the ability to consider something from someone else’s point of view. For example, marketers are trying to reach people and appeal to them, and empathy helps these professionals understand how their potential target audience thinks.
Note: Looking to improve your digital marketing game? Check out our top tips and strategies to take your online presence to the next level.
Professional Digital Marketers Are Lifelong Learners
Digital marketing skill development will always be competitive and data-driven. Therefore, professional digital marketers who want to excel in their careers must continually produce creative content and nurture the digital marketing specialist skills and the tools to measure each effort’s level of success.
As the digital marketing field continues to expand, the best marketers will be those professionals who keep learning, fueled by a strong desire to develop and invest in the latest digital marketing skills.
If you want your marketing activities to yield results, you must continuously fortify your digital marketing skills. It would help if you ideally focused on popular areas such as creating marketing strategies, knowing how to integrate every piece of the funnel, and clearly and consistently reporting your results.
Skilled digital marketers have the most remarkable career potential. And all you must do to become a professional digital marketer is always keep learning.
Looking at the Types of Digital Marketing Tools
Digital marketing is challenging, but fortunately, digital marketers have countless tools available to help them perform their tasks better and more efficiently. Here are a few examples of practical digital marketing tools, classified by digital marketing type.
Design tools help marketers source photos, illustrations, animations, and videos externally. Digital marketing assets such as webpages, landing pages, social media posts, and newsletters frequently require stock images to jazz things up and attract users. Consider tools such as Getty Images or Stocksy for high-resolution stock images.
Email marketing tools
Email marketing is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to reach your audience, usually resulting in a high ROI (return on investment). Digital marketers can benefit from tools like SendGrid or MailChimp to create effective email campaigns. In addition, more extensive customer service management programs like Hubspot and Salesforce also have email marketing features.
Tools like search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) help digital marketers raise their company’s visibility in search results. In addition, Google Analytics and Google Ads provide marketers with detailed breakdowns of their company’s website traffic. When used together, these tools allow digital marketers to ascertain what approaches are working, discover new traffic sources, determine peak website traffic during the course of the day, and more.
Ahrefs, Moz, and SEMrush are three effective SEO tools that help marketers identify the most effective and relevant keywords, check page backlinks, identify related keywords based on searches, and analyze the competition’s SEO strategies. And lastly, Unbounce helps digital marketers design great landing pages for maximum conversion.
Social media marketing tools
Social media platforms such as Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are ideal for posting native content, developing a loyal customer following, and offering opportunities for tactics like pay-per-click advertising and sponsored posts. To that end, tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, and Later allow digital marketers to manage a selection of social media accounts from one platform while providing useful extra features such as analytics and moderation.
Also Read: What is the Future of Digital Marketing?
Are You Interested in Becoming a Digital Marketing Expert?
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Indeed.com shows that digital marketers working in the United States earn an annual salary of $60,434. The digital market expert’s salary range starts at $36,313 at the low end and ends at $100,579 at the top end. Naturally, these salary figures typically vary because of mitigating factors like the local job markets, the candidate’s experience, and the business hiring the marketer.