If you are considering a career in digital marketing and want to know what skills you need, you’ve come to the right place.
The extensive network of digital marketing covers many different tasks, all of which require slightly different skills. In general, you need to be a good broker and be creative, analytical, and technical.
Here are the most critical skills for me, having my own experience developing a digital marketing career.
Fitness doesn’t matter.
Understanding the principles of marketing is excellent, but do you need a degree? Not. I did not have a degree in anything related to Marketing before I delved into digital Marketing. I had an Engineering degree.
Digital marketing is fast. So if you start the course at the beginning of the year, many things have likely changed. There are tons of great resources online, and you need to stay tuned to make sure you don’t run into common issues.
However, before posting, most employers want to ensure that you have a certificate such as Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GAIQ) or a Google Ads certificate. Here, too, you can complete this assessment online in your time.
Of course, if you want to pursue a career that supports a marketing career, you have to – it was never my personal goal.
It’s probably more important to show a real interest in digital marketing. Personal chores like building a website, following strong social media, running a successful Amazon shop – and learning about them – can sometimes do a lot more than just qualification.
General or expert?
There are several different roles in digital marketing, each of which requires specific skills.
For example, if you want to become a technical SEO expert, here are some of the necessary skills you will need:
- A good understanding of how search engine algorithms work
Ability to identify, analyze, and resolve technical issues that may affect website performance using various SEO tools and review content and recommendations for search engine optimization (on-page SEO)
- You can perform backlink audits; recommend link building strategies and link removal (off-page SEO).
- In-depth knowledge of HTML and back-end website management, including .htaccess, robots.txt, metadata, and website speed optimization
This is very different from an SEO writer, but there is a crossover:
- You can review the content and make recommendations for optimization for search engines
- The ability to write optimized content
- Understand basic HTML (metadata, site structure)
If you feel like you are incredibly strong and a specialist in one area, remember that you still need to have at least some idea of how and why other digital marketing disciplines work together to get the best possible results for you to achieve the customers. It rarely makes sense to work on projects in isolation as there is usually a common goal of increasing traffic, conversions, or sales.
I would very much fall into the generalist category. My last real Digital Marketing role was in a publishing firm where I initially managed Google Ads (PPC), Facebook Ads, and a relatively large number of SEO optimization as a Web Developer/Digital Marketing Lead. While practicing with SEO, I had the opportunity to write down my experience and skills gathered as an SEO Specialist in a book I titled “SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION: THE ART OF MASTERING SEO AND DRIVING TARGETED TRAFFIC TO YOUR WEBSITE.” This was published on Amazon, and it has helped many businesses drive targeted traffic to their business.
In short, in addition to reporting, my job was to act as a daily point of contact for clients, managing projects, and developing marketing strategies. However, sometimes it was crazy to juggle many clients at the same time while they were working together and coordinating tasks across the team. As search engines evolved, that fragmented approach to the customer care didn’t stop as effectively.
Although it wasn’t technically for me to roll up my sleeves and stick in them, I mostly made sure that the projects were delivered on time – otherwise, I got it on the back of my neck from customers.
Most of what I learned was recorded while working. Was it an ideal way of working? No. Did I know a lot out of necessity? Yes. It was incredibly stressful, but if I hadn’t seen such a chaotic and reactive environment, often doing 10-hour days without a lunch break and crying quietly at my desk, I probably wouldn’t have gained much of the knowledge I had today, let alone be able to understand or apply it. Note that I don’t recommend this unless you enjoy teasing every day right before a nervous breakdown. Happy with the coverage that working for the largest publishing firm in Nigeria is an entirely different experience than my previous experiences!
If you want to go the same way as me, it is useful if you have a little pressure to learn new things. If you can, set your own pace to learn new skills and focus on improving one area at a time. I still know new things every day.
Put your hands up
No, I’m not talking about persuading people or singing Reef. The way I learned almost everything is by doing work. Reading or following other people is great, and some know better. But I think the practical experience is invaluable.
Whether you’re learning to create a new Google Ads campaign or upload content to a CMS, do your best to understand how each platform works.
Don’t try to do it alone.
Because there are so many different specialties in digital marketing, it takes years to master them all. I still have a gap in my knowledge of, among other things, conversion rate optimization (CRO) and Google ad codes because I’ve never had to work directly with them.
Some great people are willing to share their great brains to help you learn new skills. Don’t be afraid to ask. It is impossible to know everything. It’s better to admit that you don’t know than to make an offer and risk doing something that negatively affects the customer.
I hate “the three Rs” because it’s silly, given that two of them don’t start with the letter R, but whatever. The necessary skills learned in schools: reading, writing, and rhythm (UGH) are essential in any business, but because your daily role as a digital marketer can vary so much, you need to be strong in all three.
Reading and writing are more important than ever before, mostly as so much marketing is now focused on producing content. I also firmly believe that you need a little creative sense if you want a digital marketing career. Writing an engaging, informative copy is crucial if you’re going to reach and engage your audience.
I like writing, but I have to feel like it. Time isn’t always on your side, though, especially when you’re delivering content to publishers with deadlines. I recommend espressos and music that you can dance to even though I am not moved by music myself in those scenarios. Content is a big part of my job. But it’s not a matter of “um, I think I’ll write about this” and whispers 500 words.
So I add a fourth major “R”: research.
You need to have a deep understanding of what a client has to offer when writing for them and who their target audience is. What are their pain points? What do they love and hate? What tone and language do they use? What keywords and phrases do they search for online? And what message does the customer want to convey to him? All this research must be done with an end goal in mind.
The Gift of the Gap
Not all digital marketing roles require you to be a gobshite, but in my experience, it helps. I’m not saying you should spend your entire time letting go of a rant of verbal diarrhea, but being a confident communicator is a huge plus.
Coming back to the fact that many roles are customer-centric and that there are many strategies around content being planned, I’m afraid you’ll have to talk to people at some point. Whether it’s able to go through a client’s monthly report so they understand, pitch a fun article idea to a journalist, or communicate with a development team to beg them to implement technical recommendations, you need to adapt how you communicate.
Honestly, when I first started at my previous firm, I had absolutely no confidence on the phone when I had to pitch content to publishers. I’m over it now and will happily talk to anyone, and if they are rude, it won’t bother me.
Like all the skills required being a digital marketer, you have strengths and weaknesses. Overcoming barriers to personal growth also feels great.
So to summarize:
- You do not need a diploma to do this work
- Immerse yourself in work and get your hands dirty
- Learn new skills at your own pace – you can’t possibly know everything – and you probably never will, no matter how brilliant you are
- Ask for help if you need it
- Develop your skills in the 4 “R’s.”
- Build your confidence to become a strong communicator
I’m sure many people will disagree with this post, so if you feel like arguing about it, come to me in the comments.