Tech is booming, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for organizations of all sizes to move away from traditional marketing and establish a competitive online presence as swiftly as possible. This need fuels the demand for skilled digital marketing professionals worldwide.
In fact, at this very moment, there are over 150K digital marketing jobs available on LinkedIn alone, which makes digital marketing a perfect opportunity for young professionals and career changers to enter the tech industry and future-proof their job prospects for the years to come. But what is digital marketing? What are the digital marketing skills needed to get started? Is digital marketing a technical or creative skill?
First of all, digital marketing is not a monolith, but rather a collection of skills and competencies. As a senior digital marketer, you need to combine creative analytical and technical skills to communicate the right message at the right time to the right audience. At the same time, you need to understand the nuances of how various digital channels work to be able to track, analyse, and optimise your marketing plans.
Digital marketers come in many shapes and sizes. As a digital marketer, you will be required to wear many hats and work on a diverse range of projects and challenges during your career. In principal, there are two broad types of digital marketing:
- Performance Marketing
- Content Marketing
Each type requires digital professionals with a different set of skills to succeed. However, there are some digital marketing skills that both types need to “check” as prerequisites for the role. Here’s a digital marketing skills list that every digital marketer needs to master:
Digital Marketing Foundational Skills
Required for performance, content, and social media marketing roles.
1. Search Engine Marketing and SEO
Understanding how search engines index websites and rank pages will not only enable you to grasp one of the most sought-after digital marketing skills in the market, but also provide you with all the foundational knowledge required to project manage web development and content marketing projects. Moreover, SEO skills are essential for optimising product pages within e-commerce ecosystems such as Amazon, Lazada, and eBay.
Copywriting is an absolute essential skill for every digital marketing professional. Digital marketing is all about communicating the right message to the right audience at the right time. The art of crafting compelling messages is at the heart of everything a digital professional does. Whether it’s for social media advertising, building landing pages, developing banner ads, or crafting paid search ads, there is always an element of copywriting involved.
3. Data Analytics and Visualization
Data-driven marketing is not only a recent buzzword but an essential digital marketing skill. Every digital marketing activity comes with data, so at minimum, digital marketing professionals ought to know how to work with and visualize data using tools like Excel or Google Analytics. In today’s digital marketing industry, every role comes with a wealth of data to be collected and analysed. For example, a social media marketer will need to report on the effectiveness of social media campaigns, the same way a pay-per-click (PPC) executive is required to report on paid media performance.
4. Basics of Business and Finance
Understanding the basics of business and finance is an absolute must-have to succeed in the digital marketing industry. The end objective of digital marketing is to generate profit for the business. Upon entering the digital marketing space, you will be bombarded with jargon such as CPA (cost per acquisition), CPL (cost per lead), CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) and more! The ability to understand these metrics and connect them with the “big picture” is one of the very first skills you will need to master.
Performance Marketing Skills
Required for media buying and analytical roles.
1. Pay-per-Click Fundamentals
Pay-per-click or PPC covers the most popular kinds of digital advertising such as Paid Search, Facebook Advertising, Amazon advertising, etc. Every digital marketer needs to understand the PPC advertising auction logic as well as some platform fundamentals to be able to set up and optimise PPC campaigns successfully on various digital marketing channels.
2. Media Planning and Buying
Media planning and buying are some of the oldest advertising skills that are still relevant in the market. Understanding how to purchase media inventory directly or via programmatic advertising, the targeting options, as well as the pros and cons of each approach, is essential for every marketer who wants to build a career in the numerical side of digital marketing. Lastly, being able to deliver a complete media plan is an absolute must for both agency and in-house digital marketing roles.
3. Digital Tracking and Analytics
Performance marketers need to be experts in digital tracking — meaning they should be able to put together and implement a digital measurement plan. Moreover, they should understand how to set up conversion tracking on various platforms, make use of UTM tags or various tracking codes effectively, and how to take advantage of third-party tracking tools if necessary.
Content Marketing Skills
Required for content marketing and social media roles.
1. Social Media Marketing Know-How
Social media has become an integral part of our lives. At the same time, the social media marketing landscape is constantly expanding and evolving. Every content marketing professional should understand the basics of how social media algorithms operate to be able to conceptualise and develop impactful, relevant, and attention-grabbing social media content. Moreover, as a social media professional you should be the first to embrace and explore new social media channels and tactics.
2. Intermediate Design Skills
In an ever-expanding digital marketing ecosystem, the need for marketing visuals is greater than ever. The ability to ideate, develop, and modify marketing assets and collateral on the fly is a must-have skill for every content marketing professional. Experience with tools like Photoshop and online platforms such as Canva or equivalent will give you a competitive advantage in the digital recruitment market.
3. Endless Creativity
Marketing and creativity go hand in hand! As a digital content marketer, you should be able to conceptualise, project manage, and implement creative digital marketing campaigns as needed. Furthermore, you should familiarise yourself with concepts such as marketing seasonality and campaign-thinking, as well as being able to deliver click-worthy creatives for various advertising purposes. Experience with video production and editing will be a huge plus in the years to come.
How can I improve my digital marketing skills?
Digital marketing is evolving fast! No matter how senior you may become, always remember that every digital marketer needs to upskill and reskill on a yearly basis to stay relevant in an ever-changing industry. On this note, it’s worth pointing out the skills required to improve your digital marketing know-how for future trends:
1. Project Management and Collaboration
Digital marketing is a fast-paced and multi-faceted job. You’ll need to be on top of various projects, channels, and marketing initiatives at the same time. Moreover, you’ll have to communicate effectively with a diverse range of internal and external stakeholders. Consider actively investing in and growing “soft skills” such as teamwork, empathy, adaptability, and problem solving.
2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
As mentioned, data is at the heart of every digital marketing initiative. The ever-growing data protectionism and the rise of marketing automation means that the internet will be a safer place for all of us, but it also fuels the need for customer relationship management (CRM) as a key skill within the digital marketing space. Understanding how to work with first-party data, the media opportunities they open, and the fundamentals of marketing automation, is an essential skill for all senior digital marketers.
3. Email Marketing
Email is still the number one most effective digital marketing channel. Why? There is a lot more than meets the eye to strategizing and implementing an effective email marketing campaign. Crafting an intriguing subject line, writing an engaging click-worthy email, and leveraging marketing automation in the context of email marketing are extremely valuable skills in the digital marketing industry.
4. User Experience Design (UX)
UX or user experience design is a relatively new entry in the long list of digital marketing skills to master. UX is the area of digital marketing or product design that ensures intuitive, meaningful, and positive interactions throughout a customer’s journey. Think of UXers as the architects of the digital space. Understanding how to best structure a website or mobile app, the empathetic design thinking involved, and what a good user experience entails is a very practical must-have skill for any senior digital marketer, product manager, or project manager.
5. Presentation and Communication Skills
Last but not least, whether you end up working in-house, within an agency environment, or running your own business, you will always have to present your ideas to various stakeholders, teammates, clients, or investors. The ability to deliver clean, clear, and impactful presentation documents, as well as being able to communicate with confidence, are key skills you should aim to master.
Digital marketing includes a diverse collection of skills and competencies you should aim to develop depending on which part of the industry you’d like to build your career on. Assuming you are a beginner in the space, the safest way to land your dream digital marketing role is to invest in a structured course, launch your own side-hustle to gain practical experience in the above areas, or both! As an experienced digital marketer, you should aim to regularly upskill yourself through credible workshops, seminars, and industry-specific events.