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The digital industry is vast, and it can be difficult to navigate for newcomers or those looking to find their niche. So, how do you set yourself apart from the competition and fast-track your way up the corporate ladder?
Check out these 7 essential skills to keep you relevant in the ever-changing digital industry.
Video is taking the internet by storm and this isn’t about to stop. According to MarTech, videos have the potential to hold customer’s attention on retail sites for two minutes longer than average (which is really like a lifetime in the digital world) and a well-optimized video can boost your chances of being in a top Google ranking position by at least 50. In addition, more than 80% of customers are more likely to purchase a product after seeing it detailed in a video.
Bear in mind that these are just loose statistics are going to 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. When people can see your face (or the face of the person promoting the brand), they are more likely to trust the entire enterprise. It’s also a wonderfully versatile content to use through different platforms.
Digital marketing professionals don’t have to know everything about video production, of course, but knowing how to create a quick intro video from your laptop is a good place to start. And if you have some training in this area and you love it, your skills and talents will not be wasted as video will continue to be in demand.
2. SEO & SEM
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key to all levels of digital marketing and as such, anyone going into the field must have at least a basic handle on it. You can certainly leave the highly technical, back-end stuff to the more technically-oriented people on the team, having a solid understanding of best practices and how to optimize all forms of content is crucial for running a successful digital marketing campaign.
Both SEO and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) inform your entire digital strategy on both a data and content level, and you need to be able to communicate to other teammates about this, so you just won’t get far if you don’t make a point of learning the basics.
3. Content Marketing
Content is 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 understand how to not only create high quality, SEO-friendly content of various sorts, you also have to understand how to effectively get audiences to engage.
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 on social media marketing as this will tie in to most content marketing type of work. You’ll need to be able to strategize based on a given client’s overarching business goals, develop a campaign that involves an effective strategy, and monitor analytics as well
3. Data / Analytics
No matter what facet of digital marketing you are going into, Google Analytics will probably be central to your strategy. Monitoring and reporting via such tools is pretty straightforward, but the tricky part is how to gather and use that information to help you learn more about consumer behaviour and apply it to new 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. Most companies will always be looking for people who to only know how to “read” this data, but to know exactly which data to use towards improving business strategy in the future. If you can show that you can do this in innovative ways and that the way you do it ends with important results, you’re going to be a valuable asset in the industry.
4. Understand Design-Based Thinking & Planning
Design Thinking is a term that basically 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 so well in the digital marketing sphere is that so much of it is (or should be) centred on the user experience. Another interesting thing about this approach is that it can be used in a non-linear way – so that in some instances you may get to the testing phase and then come back to the middle phase, for instance, to re-consider ideas.
Designers and developers are likely to use an approach like this, so even if you’re not one, it’s a good idea to at least have a solid understanding of it and apply it when feasible.
5. Be Tech Savvy
Because the industry is really technology driven, you have to have a decent grip on technology as well as be able to learn it quickly. If you’re millennial-age or younger, this is probably going to be second-nature, but older generations may want to put a bit of elbow grease into teaching themselves not only specific technologies but also just getting familiar with the most commonly used software and tools in their focus area.
Generally, if you understand the basics of web coding, as well as having a clear idea of how to use the basic Content Management (CMS) systems like WordPress, you’re likely well on your way to landing that dream job.
6. Be Persuasive
A great digital marketing leader will not only show up with great people skills; but they’ll also be able to combine analytical thinking with creative-problem solving to help teams come up with innovative campaign ideas to drive businesses forward.
And a big part of this is being persuasive. Can you convince someone else to purchase? What about convincing other team leaders that your idea is the best? This isn’t about arguing as much as having the confidence that you know what you’re doing and showing this in detail.
7. Highlight Unusual Skill Sets
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 skills sets. To this end, it’s important that you leverage your own unique blend in order to stay competitive in the industry.
It may, for instance, be unusual to find someone well-versed in both back-end SEO strategy as well as be able to take on a managerial role, or it may be unusual to find someone with a computing science degree that also loves social media.
A great digital marketing professional will have the ability to adapt quickly and learn on their own, even being ready to pivot into different digital careers as they choose or as needed should old skills become less in-demand. They will be working with diverse teams and clients, so they will have to know how to communicate well and build strong teams.
While there are a number of things that you will have to do in order to be competitive in the digital marketing career field, it’s important not to forget about leveraging and improving your hard and soft skills as you move forward into exciting new positions. Having a solid breadth of basic knowledge alongside depth in a few areas (what Rand Fishkin calls a T-Shaped Marketer) will help you get further than if you try to be a jack-of-all-trades.