From changes in consumer behaviour to evolving social media algorithms, the marketing world is constantly progressing. To be successful, today's marketers need to have an advanced skill set that covers everything from content creation and social media to web behaviour and analytics.
It isn’t about becoming an expert in all of these topics. Yes, some digital marketers will become experts in one area or another, but most need a general understanding of all these skills to boost their value.
So, what skills do a digital marketing professional need to succeed?
Marketers should fully understand content’s pivotal role at the heart of a digital strategy. Content needs images, blog posts, video, infographics, eBooks, and the list goes on. When done well, the benefits of content marketing include increased engagement, improved SEO, leads and sales.
Digital media is a copy and visual-driven medium; our heart is won over by copy that is relevant and visuals that pull on our emotional strings. The native understanding and ability to manipulate those two elements is critical in today's digital marketing landscape.
Furthermore, it’s important to understand the relationship between content and PR, as well as between content and sales. Content helps shape the reputation of brands, impacting brand reach, share of voice and public perception.
Not only does this overlap with the goals of PR, but considering that well over three-quarters of people search online before making purchases, content also will impact how many customers enter the sales funnel for a particular brand.
Companies, however, must first gain the attention of their prospects. A Microsoft study found that people now have an average attention span of about eight seconds. Not only do people have short attention spans, but the internet offers them seemingly limitless information.
Content remains the cornerstone of any effective online marketing strategy, but brands must be able to take their content to the next level. They need to be able to create highly engaging, valuable content that people want to read.
The ability to write (or judge good writing) — along with the skills involved in understanding content and context — is now necessary.
With this incredible growth of digital, brands cannot rely on gut feelings or guesses when it comes to creating an effective marketing strategy. Data is the source of digital marketing truth, and this is key to understanding audience and customer experience from the topics covered in articles to the distribution strategy used for a particular type of content. Agile marketers will feel confident measuring and interpreting data sets, so they can modify their strategies accordingly.
Now, more than ever, being able to quantify the value of investing in marketing and advertising is vital. The battle for supremacy is about making the right choices and moving the needle slightly forward at every opportunity. Digital marketers need to possess the competencies and the general knowledge required to provide actionable metrics, and prove their value with real data. In-page tracking, coupled with analytics and metrics software are the tools of the day and marketers should be able to leverage those tools to ensure accuracy and efficacy.
The analytical scientist is invading the art of marketing, with access to technology tools and platforms. It requires a new breed of team member, a ‘numbers person’ (the data analyst). The days of marketing being left to the advertising creative are over; the creative marketer needs a new partner.
Learning the basics of search engine optimization (SEO) is yet another important skill for digital marketers. Not every marketer is expected to become an SEO expert, but it is important to understand how SEO works so you can leverage its benefit for your organisation.
This means you need to know about things like title tags, meta descriptions, keyword density, and link anchor text and how they affect your organic search rankings.
There are two parts to the SEM equation here:
Optimising your content, website, and blog for organic earned search.
Pay per click using Google’s AdWords or other search engine’s PPC ads.
Building earned authority to rank high on search engines takes time and it is no quick fix. But you can't neglect this, as it ends up driving the majority of your traffic over time. It will take years of content creation and constant tactical activity.
Marketers who want to improve their sophistication in search should focus on developing their SEO skills. They should understand topic and keyword research, as well as how to perform basic optimisation.
Externally, marketers need to understand how to communicate effectively with the customers they interact with online. They must adopt a customer-centric system that helps them create an excellent user experience from the first moment that new prospects interact with the brand.
Content, social media, search and digital marketing all work together to promote and drive traffic and engagement towards websites.
Social media marketing involves many moving parts. It is complex and you need to understand the various social networks and social media marketing tools that allow you to leverage your efforts. Questions need to be asked such as which ones are you going to focus on. For example a B2B campaign on LinkedIn will require very different content to a B2C campaign on Facebook.
When you further leverage the power of social media by promoting your material across your own platforms, you will increase the audience for your pieces and drive traffic towards your content. This contributes to more readers and more backlinks.
Digital marketers also have to be well-versed in paid social media advertising, especially through Facebook or a similar social platform regularly used. They need to be able to understand and implement Facebook analytics and insights, create "lookalike" and custom audiences, experiment and test creative campaign and images, and be secure in their knowledge of the overall social media landscape.
The importance of technology in modern marketing is clear everywhere and drives everything from content management to email automation.
With so many platforms now built on WordPress, it is a vital technical tool to add to your knowledge. If you want to create and manage a blog or even a website, WordPress has become the go-to platform for digital marketers. It also helps to continually educate yourself on new plug-ins and functionality because WordPress is always offering something new and useful that speeds up content production.
Marketers should be proficient with the digital technology stack that their organisation uses. Often this will include platforms such as a content management system, customer relationship management software, optimisation or SEO platforms, marketing automation and analytics. Depending on the size of the business and complexity of their marketing some of the the most popular tools to familiarise yourself with are: Hootsuite, Mailchimp, Hubspot, Survey Monkey and Canva - there are many more to choose from.
The mobile explosion and the rise of smart phones caught many marketers unprepared. Many brands have a website that is not mobile ready and have no apps to make it easy for customers to engage with the business. This marketing skill needs to be learnt — fast!
Conversion rate optimisation I another skill in demand. This is the art and science of testing different versions of a page or pages to see which version convinces the most people to take the action you want them to take. Essentially, you create two versions for a single page, and then run a scientific A/B test to see which version is the most effective.
By doing so you need to understand both your customers and basic principles of web design, user experience, and copywriting. In addition, you also need to know how to learn more about your actual customers by conducting surveys - using on-site surveys, and utilising user tests and customer interviews.
As a digital marketer within a digital team and as part of a larger organisation you must collaborate with team members and other departments to ensure you are providing the best possible service to connected customers. The key to success is to operate in an inclusive manner which means being open and transparent in your work. You cannot become a silo working in isolation.
Marketing professionals who demonstrate cross-channel knowledge will be able to guide their team to develop integrated strategies and campaigns. With their contributions, the brand’s presence on the different platforms will be more consistent and more successful.
Today's hybrid marketers are thinkers and doers. For digital marketers to succeed in this fast moving, competitive, converged media environment we must be prepared to change course depending on results whilst being faithful to the brand's positioning and values.
Our career takes up a big part of our lives so enjoying what we do is important; being in a a team and learning from others will make us more knowledgeable and hopefully we can have fun while doing it. In my experience the desire to learn is the key characteristic for someone who wants to become a successful digital marketer.
If you would like to find out how to improve your digital marketing skills contact me firstname.lastname@example.org