The digital industry is vast, and it can be tough to navigate for newcomers or marketers looking to find their niche. From knowing the best digital marketing KPIs to mastering SEO and content marketing, there can be a lot to grapple with if you don’t focus on the areas that matter to a business.
The great news is that there is a global demand for marketers with agile digital skills, but the bad news is that there’s a shortage worldwide. According to our research ‘The Marketing Evolution: Leadership, Transformation, Skills, Challenges & the Future’ senior and mid-level marketers reported significant shortages in digital skills with the top three being data analysts (47%), general digital marketing skills (37%), and UX designers (34%).
So, how do you fast-track your way up the corporate ladder or set yourself apart from the competition, particularly if you’re a digital nomad or looking to become a successful freelancer? Check out these 10 essential skills to keep you relevant in the ever-changing digital industry:
- Video Marketing
- SEO & SEM
- Content Marketing
- Data & Analytics
- Design Thinking & Planning
- Social Media
- Be Tech Savvy
- The Unusual!
1. Video Marketing
Video continues to take the internet by storm and this isn’t about to stop. Customers love videos, particularly on social media, and 8 out of 10 people have purchased after watching a brand’s video. For marketers, 93% who use video say it’s an important part of their strategy and 87% report it gives them a positive Return on Investment (ROI) according to The State of Video Marketing research.
Bear in mind that these are loose statistics that will vary depending on who you ask, but the point is that most statistics point to much higher conversion, engagement, and higher SEO rankings when it comes to video.
What makes it so engaging? Because it’s personal and relevant. When people can see your face (or the face of the person promoting the brand), they are more likely to trust your business. It’s also wonderfully versatile content to use across different platforms. Just think about the success of Instagram and the rapid rise of TikTok!
Digital marketing professionals don’t have to know everything about video production. But knowing how to make videos without hiring a professional is a good place to start. There are some great tools to help you do that such as Camtasia or an AI tool like CapCut. And if you have some training in this area and love it, your skills will never be wasted as video will always be in demand.
If you want to learn more on your own, you can try out video editing tools like Apple Final Cut Pro X or Adobe Premiere Pro.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key to all levels of digital marketing and anyone going into the field must have a basic handle on it. You can leave the highly technical, back-end stuff to the more technical people on the team, but knowing how SEO really works and a solid understanding of best practices and content optimization are crucial for running a successful digital marketing campaign. This is even more true as AI technology, such as Google’s Search Generative Experience, change the landscape.
3. Content Marketing
Content is at the core of digital marketing and content marketing will continue to be a crucial part of the game no matter what happens. But content marketing is a huge job in itself. You have to be able to create high quality, SEO-friendly content for many channels and understand how to create an effective content strategy to engage and convert audiences, including knowing the best ways to use ChatGPT and other AI technologies.
And to make things a little more challenging, it’s important to note that content can take many forms, from video to social, emails, web content, blogs, e-books, videos, whitepapers…the list goes on. You also have to have a firm grasp of social media marketing as content is crucial on social platforms.
4. Data & Analytics
No matter what facet of digital marketing you go into, analytics will be central to your strategy and help you make better data-driven decisions for campaigns. Monitoring and reporting via tools such as Google Analytics is pretty straightforward, but the tricky part is how to gather and use that information to learn more about consumer behavior and apply it to solutions that boost traffic and conversions.
Most businesses (even small ones) have huge amounts of data to track, and great digital marketers need to understand how to gather and use this to their advantage. Companies will always be on the lookout for people who not only know how to “read” data using their marketing technical skills but to extract value from customer data to improve future strategies. If you can show that you can do this in innovative ways that result in campaign success, you will be a valuable asset in the industry.
Bear in mind that you don’t have to stick to one platform for your analytics, check out some alternatives to Google Analytics to see if they would work better for you.
5. Understand Design Thinking & Planning
Design thinking is a term that refers to a way of approaching problems from a user-centred perspective. The approach essentially encourages us to think in a human-centred way when solving large-scale complex problems.
According to The Interaction Design Foundation, there are 5 key phases to this process: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. The reason why this works well is that so much of it is (or should be) centered on the user experience, which is key to digital marketing success.
Another interesting thing about this approach is that it can be used in a non-linear way: so you may find yourself getting to the testing phase and then coming back to the middle phase to reconsider ideas.
Designers and developers are likely to use this type of approach, so it’s a good idea to at least have a solid understanding of it to pump up your marketing resume and apply it when feasible.
6. Social Media
As a marketer, it’s essential to have some understanding of social media marketing. You need to understand that it’s not as simple as creating a post and putting it out there. The content you create needs to be relevant, targeted and stand out so people will stop scrolling and click. It’s also about understanding the strengths of each platform and if it will suit your audience.
For example, if you’re a fitness brand with a customer base of 20-30 year olds then TikTok may help drive brand awareness. You could post a video of customers at a fitness class or a promo video showing what you have to offer. Conversely, if you supply computers to the B2B sector then LinkedIn could help to make connections and engage in niche groups that drum up business.
It’s about knowing your audience base, creating content that will resonate, and using the right social platforms.
7. Email marketing
Email is an essential tool for any marketer, espeically as first-party data is more important than ever, since the demise of cookies. It helps you to communicate with, and influence, a captive audience and deliver personalized messaging through segmentation and workflows.
There are a lot of great tools out there that can help with email (e.g. MailChimp, Marketo) so it’s important to familiarize yourself with them. It’s also important to have lists to keep your contacts in order. For example, if you run a paid campaign on social media, collate your contacts into a list so you can target them with similar information or messaging. Triggered workflows are also important, as you can use automation to send relevant messages at regular intervals to re-engage prospects or customers.
According to Litmus, for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $36 so it’s worth putting time and energy into your email strategy to stay front of mind across your database.
8. Be Tech Savvy
As the digital marketing industry is technology-driven, you need a decent grip on Martech as well as be able to learn it quickly.
If you’re a digital native or Gen-Zer, this is probably going to be second nature, but older generations may want to take some time to learn not only specific technologies but also get familiar with commonly-used software and tactics such as audience listening tools or SEM.
It can also be beneficial to understand the technical skills needed for marketing such as the basics of web coding, using Content Management Systems (CMS), as well as AI tools and data privacy issues.
9. Be Persuasive
A great digital marketing leader will not only possess great people skills, they’ll also be able to combine analytical thinking with creative problem solving. This will help their teams come up with innovative marketing campaign ideas to drive businesses forward.
A big part of this is having great persuading and influencing skills. Can you convince someone to purchase a product? What about persuading other team leaders that your idea is the best?
This isn’t about arguing, it’s having the confidence that you know what you’re doing and demonstrating it.
10. Highlight Your Unusual Skills
As far as soft skills go, great digital marketers should be curious, enjoy versatility, forward-thinking, business-focused and strategy-centered. But there is plenty of room in this field for all kinds of personalities and skillsets. So, you should leverage your unique personality to stay competitive in the industry.
It may, for instance, be unusual to find someone talented in SEO strategy as well as management, or it may be unique to find someone with a computing science degree that also loves social media. Never be afraid to use your strengths to your advantage.