IN THIS ARTICLE
- What Skills Do You Need To Excel in Digital Marketing?
- Digital Marketing Soft Skills
- How To Gain Digital Marketing Skills
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With the explosive growth in digital content consumption over the last few years, the number of jobs in the digital marketing sector has also skyrocketed. But the sheer variety of hard and soft skills required to succeed in the sector can be daunting to newcomers.
In this article, we’ll take some of the unknowns out of digital marketing, and show you the key skill sets you can learn to succeed in this rewarding, varied, and cutting edge industry.
By the end, you’ll understand the skills that digital marketers need to succeed, and the variety of positions available in digital marketing for every kind of talent and passion, from content production and curation to analysis and optimization. We’ll also show you how to learn these sought-after skills, so you can start building your new career today.
Ready to learn more about skills in digital marketing? Then let’s get started!
What Skills Do You Need To Excel in Digital Marketing?
Digital Marketing Hard Skills
Copywriting and content creation are essential to a number of digital marketing roles, from the copywriter role itself, to content management, content strategy, social media specialization, and SEO. Whether you’re persuading, educating, informing, or entertaining, copywriting helps convert a wide range of users into customers, and promotes the authority and reputation of a brand within the wider industry.
Copywriting entails more than just producing great content for the digital marketing team. You’ll also need to understand the value of good copy, produce clear and coherent copy briefs, and edit content—such as blog posts or landing pages—to the specifications of both the business and the marketing team.
How to start in copywriting: Consider starting your own blog that charts your experience breaking into digital marketing. It’ll impress future employers, and give you the chance to help others who are launching their careers at the same time.
For a successful career in digital marketing, it is fundamental to understand user behavior. Data analysis is key to this. It’s important to gather data on your users and analyze their behavior on your site, or with your app or product.
Combining psychology and UX design, data analysis produces insights that inform strategic decisions, tone, content output, and digital campaigns. It also informs more fundamental business decisions, such as which products to sell and which audience to target. Working in data analysis requires fantastic communication skills, as you’ll frequently have to explain complex findings to those with non-analytical backgrounds, such as management or other team members. A love of finding statistical patterns and trends will also be a huge benefit to those considering this career.
Lucky for those who want to grow their data analytical skill sets, there are numerous digital tools which help gather and analyze data sets. Whether you’re comparing two campaigns, studying a user’s journey from a sponsored post to a website CTA, or tracking a user as they navigate web pages, there are plenty of tools to manage each process.
Take a look at some of these analytics tools:
How to start in data analytics: Take a short course in data analytics to learn some of the fundamentals and best practices. While you’re learning, start your own practice projects, so that you can build a portfolio of work to show in job interviews.
For any company or brand looking to succeed in their industry, competitive analysis is an absolute must. A competitive analysis collects data that reveals the strengths and weaknesses of direct competitors. From this, one can draw conclusions that inform and strengthen your own marketing campaigns or business strategy.
Within digital marketing, a competitive analysis (also sometimes referred to as competitor analysis) will typically focus on the following elements:
- Identifying direct and indirect competitors, as well as potential or future competitors
- Pinpointing your own business’s strengths and weaknesses, as compared to your competitor’s
- Gaining an overview of the market as a whole
- Observing and forecasting industry trends
With many businesses offering competing products and services, competitive analysis is an effective method of finding a gap in the market not being addressed by the competition. When your company addresses these issues, it can boost its market share, and gain an edge over competitors. In digital marketing, a competitive analysis helps identify the pieces of content, or types of campaigns, that audiences respond positively to. With this knowledge, you can boost your own efforts and win over those users.
How to start in competitive analysis: Make a simple spreadsheet comparing the content output of two well-known competitors. By comparing social media posts, blogs, landing pages, and advertising, you’ll begin to see the strengths and weaknesses of each brand.
Understanding SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has become increasingly important in digital marketing, because of its impact on website traffic, conversion, and growth. SEO is the process of optimizing and improving a website’s content, in order to make it more easily findable to relevant users when they search specific terms. When content is curated and created with this in mind, the website ranks higher in search results, and relevant traffic via search engines increases.
Although all members of a digital marketing team should have some familiarity with SEO, it’s up to the SEO specialist to research and identify the keyword strings that a brand’s content producers should target. The SEO specialist then writes SEO-focused briefs, which advise how these keywords should be implemented for a website landing page, blog, or social media platform.
In addition to a love of analysis and research, an SEO specialist needs to monitor user search trends, changes in search engine algorithms, and developments with their competitor’s content.
How to start in SEO: To learn about SEO, start with Google itself. The search engine giant has produced its own guide to SEO for beginners: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide. You can learn some of the best practices here by launching your own simple website or blog.
To build trust and reach new audiences, any digital marketing team needs to have deep knowledge and awareness of social media marketing. When creating your own social media campaigns, it’s important to understand the different engagement styles used in different digital channels and to understand where your brand’s target users spend their time. Tracking the performance of your own social posts and creating content comparisons with direct competitors will help with strategy and campaign planning. It will also reveal greater insights into the right messaging, tone, and voice to use in social media copy.
Some highly-rated social media scheduling and analytics tools include:
How to start in social media: The best way to learn about social media marketing is to start building simple campaigns for business or brand profiles on popular social media platforms. Then, you can create a report tracking engagement, likes, shares, and comments, whether they’re organic or paid.
Content marketing is a form of inbound marketing that attracts customers through text, video, audio, or image-based content that’s useful in some way. This content can generate interest, solve a problem, inform, educate, or entertain. In contrast to the more traditional outbound marketing—which involves explicit promotion and advertising such as pop-up advertisements or cold emailing—content marketing is the publication of relevant, high-quality content that offers value to users while demonstrating the authenticity and authority of a brand.
A content marketer is responsible for planning, creating, and publishing content across a brand’s different channels, with the hopes of attracting and converting target users. In addition to steering the overall strategy, the content marketer will delegate content production tasks to in-house content producers and freelancers. They also research the competition’s content output and evaluate their own campaigns, to ensure the content being produced meets the needs of the user and the goals of the business.
How to start in content marketing: Build a simple campaign schedule for a brand that you admire. Consider the different channels where you might publish content, and style each post to make the biggest impact on each platform.
Email marketing is a direct method of digital marketing, whereby email marketers promote products, special offers, content, services, events, or features by sending their customers engaging text and image-based emails. Email marketing is a great way to increase website traffic, communicate with target consumers, engage customers between purchases, and announce new updates and product launches.
The email marketer creates email funnels that align with the customer journey. This helps address common pain points, access gated content, interact with chatbots and potentially consider a purchase.
The email marketer will select appropriate topics for their emails and define a voice that speaks to their target user. Within a smaller organization, the email marketer might write the copy for the emails themselves. Whereas in larger teams, copywriters and graphic designers will collaborate with the email marketer to craft the right text and visuals for the emails.
How to start in email marketing: Create a “welcome” email sequence for a brand you like. Consider what the user might want to know at each phase in their customer journey, and how your emails can meet their needs.
Conversion Rate Optimization
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is the employment of digital marketing strategies to increase the number of visitors who perform a specific action on a webpage. That action could be inputting an email address, attending a webinar, or downloading a whitepaper. Companies are concerned with the conversion rate of a website because retaining and converting existing users costs less than attracting and converting new users.
Because of the CRO’s measurable and proven return on investment, CRO specialists have increasingly gained importance in digital marketing teams. The CRO specialist ensures that users can make informed purchasing decisions. To do this, customers need clear links and sensical site navigation, high-quality blog content, up-to-date product descriptions, and helpful FAQs. This all lowers barriers that prevent users from becoming customers and boosts conversion rates. To excel in this role, a CRO specialist needs to have competent technical skills, in addition to experience in analytics, statistics, and UI design. A deep interest in human psychology helps too.
How to start in conversion rate optimization: Check out Hubspot’s guide to conversion rate optimization. With 8 different techniques to apply, you’ll soon see tangible results from learning this digital marketing technique.
Related Read: How To Learn Digital Marketing
Digital Marketing Soft Skills
In addition to the hard skills required of digital marketing team members, there are numerous soft skills required for a successful career in digital marketing. Many of these skills are transferable from previous positions you’ve had in other sectors.
Prioritization is a key skill in digital marketing. In such a changing and dynamic landscape, priorities can change quickly, depending on external events, digital trends, and consumer behavior.
You’ll need to optimize your time, quickly re-prioritize, and align the priorities of the team to ensure everyone is working towards the same goals. You’ll also need to know which outcomes are most important to the overall company, so you can prioritize your own work accordingly.
Ensuring that the right tasks land in the right hands is its own job. If you want to grow a career in this field, the ability to delegate will be invaluable. This requires diplomacy, tact, interpersonal skills, and deep knowledge of each team member’s strengths and weaknesses. Delegating will allow you to assign activities to those who can best perform them while maintaining healthy and respectful workplace relationships.
Presenting your work to teammates and senior management is an important aspect of digital marketing. Any recruiter will value communication, as it’s essential that you clearly express your ideas, insights, and assessments when reporting on a campaign. With good presentation skills, you’ll progress more quickly from entry-level digital marketing jobs to managerial roles. This skill set demonstrates leadership and confidence, and it’s important to communicate your ideas to those of all backgrounds and experiences. Start learning how to build eye-catching and engaging presentations with the following tools: Google Slides, Canva, Keynote, Beautiful.ai, Prezi, and Microsoft PowerPoint.
Long Term Planning
Many roles on a digital marketing team require strategic thinking, campaign creation, and long-term planning. Proactive, long-term planning allows a company to plot the future of the business, rather than simply reacting to events or circumstances. Planning also provides team members with a sense of direction and clear goals to work towards. Finally, when all team members are aligned towards meeting one goal, operations become more seamless.
With one team responsible for so many different projects, campaigns, publishing schedules, and platforms, the digital marketing department is a fast-paced and dynamic work environment. Those who thrive here can stay cool in a crisis, manage their time, and organize both their own tasks and those of more junior members. It’s also crucial to maintain a focus on the team’s overall goals, as big picture thinking keeps a brand ahead of its competitors.
Luckily, there are numerous tools and techniques that help digital marketers keep track of their tasks, team, progress, and goals. If you don’t know them already, make yourself familiar with:
To keep track of your calendar and appointments, use:
How To Gain Digital Marketing Skills
With so many rewarding and lucrative positions available, how do you gain the skills needed to launch a career in digital marketing? Here are some simple steps you can take to start your journey.
To build the skills you need to launch a digital marketing career, focus on what you can learn while still in your current position. Hone soft skills like planning and presentation, and when possible, volunteer for research tasks, copywriting, or basic analytics.
Demonstrating your passion to learn will impress your employer. If an internship or junior position becomes available, you’ll be the first person they ask to interview. If you’re unable to build your skills in your current company, apply for work experience or internships elsewhere. With so many businesses providing remote opportunities, you can retain your paid job and volunteer for a digital marketing team in the evenings or on weekends.
When embarking on a new career, the value of a mentor cannot be understated. A mentor can answer your questions about what it’s like to work in digital marketing, give you feedback on your portfolio, and even help you practice interview techniques.
To find a mentor, consider approaching a colleague you admire, a former teacher you enjoyed, or an acquaintance with specific industry experience. You’ll find that a mentor can open doors to new professional networks and keep you motivated on your professional journey.
Courses or Certificates
With the boom in digital marketing positions, an increasing number of in-person and online courses can teach you the digital marketing techniques you’ll need to launch a career in this sector. You’ll learn the tools of the trade, different specializations, and best practices, while also getting the chance to grow your professional network with like-minded individuals.
Whether you pursue a part-time evening course, a college degree, or an online bootcamp, your choice to dedicate yourself to a new career will impress employers and recruiters.
Self Study and Practice
As an alternative to more traditional educational routes, some career changers build their skill sets in a less formal learning setting. This involves studying recommended reading material, listening to podcasts of respected marketers, following blogs and social media channels of marketing experts, watching educational videos, and practicing these skills in digital marketing campaigns.
By choosing to study in this way, you can build your skills, learn how to use different tools and platforms, and gain insights into the audience and consumer behavior. A self-study route costs less than a more formal study path and demonstrates a student’s commitment to their chosen career.