What skills do you need for digital marketing?
The answer is primarily contingent upon your desired marketing role within a company or agency. While many marketing positions tend to require overlapping skills, you will benefit from learning and mastering the talents that are intrinsic to that station.
Let's analyze the key positions in a marketing team and determine the best skills for digital marketing you can acquire to give yourself an advantage over rival applicants.
Digital Marketing Skills You Need by Marketing Position
Paid Media Marketers
Paid media marketers are the individuals responsible for creating and managing advertising campaigns online. They are the experts that oversee the company's Facebook, Google, and Bing ads as well as manage the monthly campaign budget. Paid media marketers are invaluable as they're the ones that make your advertising dollars work and can help even small businesses gain attention in paid search.
Here are some of the skills you'll need if you want to succeed in PPC advertising:
1. Graphic Design Skills
Several aspects go into creating a high-quality paid advertisement, but graphic design is one of the more important skills you'll need to grab the user's attention. You don't need to necessarily be a master at this - that's why there are dedicated graphic designers - but a sufficient level of knowledge in using tools like Photoshop or Canva will go a long way.
Having the ability to rapidly respond to company or client requests and provide several ad creatives for the same ad will automatically help you stand out from others with the same job title. The more knowledge you have to bolster ad creatives on your own, the more effective your campaigns will be overall.
Strong writing ability is a skill that's fairly essential in every aspect of digital marketing. Content is king and being able to deliver your message effectively and succinctly is key. While you won't need to outline and write 3,000+ word articles, you'll still want to make sure those ad copy lines pack a punch. For some, creating great paid ad copy can prove to be more of a challenge as you need to communicate more with less.
Armed with the knowledge of what makes great copy, you'll be able to identify writing mistakes that lower ad quality and hurt your conversion rate. You'll be able to create several copy alternatives for similar ads to provide your company and client with equally effective options.
3. Ad Account Management
This skill is one of the most crucial for a paid media marketer and it is mandatory. While Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and the like contain similar features and functionality, they each require active participation and knowledge to make effective use of its tools.
4. Webpage Design
You've done the heavy lifting and created an engaging ad that earned the click from a new lead. However, you now need to provide them with a powerful landing page that can secure the lead's contact information. This is why having a decent level of web design can bolster your paid ad campaign efforts.
Fortunately, much of this is alleviated as numerous platforms allow you to build elegant landing pages with very little coding or IT knowledge. However, understanding the aspects that make up an effective landing page design will allow you to create a seamless transition between the ad and the final destination. Otherwise, you're simply generating some traffic without delivering any tangible results.
5. Mastery of Marketing Statistics
Digital marketing is entirely driven by data and metrics gathered from every customer interaction. However, it's not enough to simply understand what a metric represents. You need the working knowledge to understand how those statistics factor into your bottom line so that you can use that knowledge to guide your campaign efforts as they progress.
1. High-quality Writing Capabilities
Content marketers generate leads and sales with their words. Few things are as immediately off-putting as a website or landing page copy that's grammatically incorrect, improperly formatted, and filled with blatant errors. Technical marketing knowledge will amount to little for content writers if they are unable to translate those ideas into engaging material.
Writing for marketing is also much different than writing an essay or a novel. The presentation of your words is highly dependent upon the audience you're attempting to reach.
2. Communication / Understanding of the Audience
This second skill builds off the back of the prior one. A major component in being able to create effective copy is to be able to quickly identify and understand the target audience. In short, you don't want to write the same way for an everyday plumbing service as you would for a doctor working in specialized medicine. The success of your content depends upon the tone, vocabulary, and delivery just as much as the actual message.
The better you are at asking the right questions of clients and nailing down the demographics you're trying to reach, the better you will fare in the copywriting world.
A strong marketing team will feature dedicated search engine, optimization specialists. They ensure that websites rank well by diagnosing webpage health issues, building links between relevant content, and effectively mapping target keywords for each new page. For this reason, an SEO may supply content writers with guidelines or preliminary research to guide the writing process.
Because these aspects of SEO are so essential for high-performing copy, you would do well to gain a solid understanding of SEO principles. You'll have a greater understanding of what search engines like Google look for in content so that you can pinpoint the best result in the first couple of drafts and avoid unnecessary rewrites.
4. Diverse Content Writing Experience
There are several types of content writing in marketing, but the two you may be most concerned about are informational content and promotional content. Having knowledge and experience in working with both of these will make you a more well-rounded asset to your team.
Informational content is the type of material that you'll often see posted to a website's blog to improve rankings. Users are encouraged to subscribe or follow this type of content which educates or serves the user without overtly calling them to spend their money with the brand. Your focus is to generate brand recognition, build traffic numbers, and provide a worthwhile experience when visiting the site.
Conversely, promotional content requires a different approach. You're attempting to sell either the brand or a specific product to a very specific group of individuals. You'll need the ability to dissect the ideal customer's pain points and leverage them into your copy.
Both are very different approaches, but equally necessary to build a strong digital marketing strategy.
5. Script Writing
While text-based content will always have its place in organic search, more companies are turning to new media such as infographics, custom images, or videos for their content. Video, in particular, is hugely effective at driving conversion rates and can easily replace a landing page worth of content when done correctly.
For this reason, you'll want to sharpen your writing skills for yet another type of format. Writing for a script that someone will read aloud requires some finesse and understanding of what makes for a natural way of speaking. Being able to translate your copy ideas for a vocal vehicle is yet another skill that will make you an invaluable asset to your team.
1. Excellent Research Skills
Marketing research makes up a significant component of an SEO's role. You'll be spending hours researching the most effective keywords to implement. You'll then need to determine how to map them throughout the site as well as what type of content will best support the goal of ranking for that word or phrase.
You'll also be regularly researching the competitor's SEO strategies. You will want to remain aware of the top-ranking sites in your niche, assess what's working for them, and be able to use this knowledge to imitate where necessary and differentiate your brand wherever you can.
Finally, Google is known to regularly revise and change its search algorithm, making your job an ever-evolving one. Being able to effectively research and uncover the best SEO practices is crucial even when Google won't provide a definitive answer.
2. Data Analysis
Equally important to your research, you'll need to be able to review the data and ask the right questions once you start putting your SEO efforts into action. Even effective SEO strategies can take weeks or months to take effect for a new site, so it is imperative to diagnose issues early and get yourself on the correct path.
You'll need to be comfortable in regularly analyzing where you stand in rankings, fluctuations in traffic, and be able to pinpoint what's causing success or failure quickly with your chosen SEO strategy if you want your brand to have a chance in duking it out with the top-ranking competitors.
3. Web Design and Coding
While you by no means need to be a web dev expert, you'll need to understand the principles of page design and how it impacts a site's SEO value. While you won't be responsible for making major design changes, you'll want to identify and remedy common presentation errors and look for ways to improve the user experience where you can.
Furthermore, SEO-specific aspects of web design such as metadata and schema markup will be your responsibility. While these are not overly complicated tasks, they do require some basic HTML knowledge to implement correctly.
4. Knowledge and Experience with Third-Party SEO Tools
Thankfully, an SEO's job is not performed blindly. There are countless recommended tools that an SEO should have in their arsenal including Google Analytics, Google Search Console, or Google Trends. Beyond these obvious recommendations, countless tools serve as keyword planners, link-building assistants, and mobile optimization helpers.
Experienced SEOs are all going to have their preferred program for getting the best results. It benefits an SEO to remain up-to-date and aware of the latest technology and make the best choice as to what tools can best bolster your SEO strategy. Familiarity with a powerful platform can greatly expedite keyword research and help you stay one step ahead of your competitors.
5. Content Marketing
As discussed among our skills for the content marketing role, SEO and content are undeniably intertwined. While high-quality SEO offers far more than the copy on a page, that same text serves as the vehicle for providing a strong UX and ensuring that your pages rank for the correct keywords.
While you may not be creating this content yourself as an SEO, having a strong knowledge of what makes great content will make you a better asset to your team. You can not only ensure that articles work in the right direction but can greatly expedite the time it takes for a copywriter to complete a piece by arming them with solid SEO research before they begin.
Of course, it's always beneficial to have content marketing skills firsthand, so that you can always help out and deliver great content to coincide with your SEO efforts at any time.
Social Media Managers
1. Knowledge of Social Platforms and Audiences
Perhaps no one has a harder time gaining the respect they deserve than social media marketing managers. Too many brands find it acceptable to simply post whatever comes to mind on any social media timeline and then question why they aren't getting results.
Successful social media marketing requires extensive knowledge of the platforms you use. Each website tends to feature different demographics that can vary greatly by age, gender, geographic location, and income levels. Furthermore, the way those users communicate can also vary greatly either by deliberate choice or due to platform restrictions (i.e. Twitter's character limit).
You'll need to be someone who's in the know when it comes to the tricks and trades of fostering engagement on each platform. It's no small feat and you'll be juggling your efforts across multiple websites at all times.
2. Impeccable Communication Skills
You need to be a social butterfly to succeed on social media (it's in the name). Simply creating a customized account for your brand and posting any old content throughout the day is going to result in one thing - zero engagement.
What truly generates those coveted likes and shares is actively pursuing new connections with your target audience and fellow industry members. That doesn't mean mindlessly promoting your business or products. Users are looking for genuine interactions and will be able to sniff out anything that's not immediately.
You need to truly embrace your role as the voice of your brand and start getting social. You'll want to think about the people you're interacting with and come up with creative ways to incorporate your brand into conversations in a way that speaks to people personally.
The importance of content marketing reveals itself once more. Though social media content tends to be short and sweet when compared to blog articles, it's equally important for grabbing attention and inviting users to join the conversation. It's arguably more important than ever to be able to create content that actively incentivizes users to participate.
However, knowledge of social platforms can help you instantly make your copy more dynamic. Experts will be able to not simply post, but effectively utilize popular features such as Instagram Reels, Facebook groups, or various third-party media creation tools. Social media managers are less concerned about dumping loads of information, but packing a punch in a short, concise message.
4. Customer Service
Due to the conversational nature of social media, you can and should expect to use your brand's accounts to provide customer support. Not only will users frequently message you directly, but they will also comfortably see fit to tag your brand with any messages - positive or negative as they deem fit.
For this reason, an exceptionalĀ social media manager will not only be able to identify these scenarios but carefully navigate these encounters. Successful interactions can not only remedy a poor experience a customer had, but can also boost brand integrity by offering social proof to all other users that might witness your public interactions.
5. Project Management and Planning Skills
Effective social media strategies do not work in isolation. Instead, an effective social media manager will be tuned in to what other departments are working on regarding content and devise a strategy that helps all departments succeed.
For example, your SEO team decides to pursue keywords directly related to a major industry event. Then, your content writing team moves quickly to create engaging material that's valuable to your audience and supports those ranking efforts.
Rather than allow these events to happen separately, a social media manager will have strong project management skills to coordinate scheduling for these types of events alongside their regularly scheduled postings. This not only applies to industry events, but can apply to company-wide promotions, holidays, and topics that start trending naturally on various social media platforms.
Strong social media management requires a proactive approach, not a reactive one. With a content calendar in place, you then have more agility when it comes to those times when you simply must pivot and react to the tumultuous landscape that is social media.
Arm Yourself with the Best Digital Marketing Skills for Your Position
Digital marketing will likely always be a viable career choice and it only continues to evolve with technology. However, that same viability makes this field a highly competitive one, so you need to sharpen your skills to stand out and help your company get the results it requires from you.
Not only should you take away the five skills you need based on your desired marketing position, but you should take additional care to acquire those valuable crossover skills that are consistently required everywhere.
Lastly, understand that what you learn today can become quickly outdated a month from now. To truly be the best marketer in your role, you need to actively participate in the industry, stay up-to-date with the latest changes and occurrences, and work toward where the marketing industry is going, not where it's at. Otherwise, you'll find yourself becoming stagnant and falling behind those who are gunning for your ideal marketing role.