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The difference between a good and a great digital marketer can sometimes be hard to determine. While certifications, education, and training look great on a resume, soft skills are also an important way to differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack. Many necessary digital marketing qualities aren’t learned in a set amount of time; instead, they’re innate or cultivated through years of hard work and experience. Here are nine soft skills you need to drive your digital marketing career forward. If you don’t have these skills now, don’t be discouraged; we’ll provide tips on how to cultivate them over time.
You may be thinking, “OK, you either have intuition or you don’t.” But fear not, great intuition can be gained through experience! As a marketer, you won’t always have the data you need. And when you don’t have the information you need to support your decisions, you often have to make quick decisions based on your gut. In these situations, it doesn’t benefit you to fear the unknown; you must trust your intuition. If you have a deep understanding of your industry and your customers, your “intuition” becomes more than just a guess - it’s based on real knowledge. Don’t worry if your ideas fail a few times; it happens. Instead, learn from your mistakes, and know that your intuition will grow over time.
Perhaps the most important soft skill for digital marketers, curiosity is not a “nice-to-have;” it’s a necessity. Marketing as a discipline is constantly changing, and every digital marketer needs to have the interest, passion, and hunger to ask questions and learn more about new marketing techniques, tools, and methods. For example, if you were an SEO expert in 2007 and you haven’t learned anything new since then, you would no longer be considered brilliant in this field. Your knowledge would be extremely outdated. The same would be true whether it's social media or content marketing. To stay up-to-date on all the latest marketing news and trends, use a new aggregator application such as Feedly (shown below) to track your favorite online marketing publications. Then take ten minutes a day to read the articles you find most interesting.
3. Social Skills
Working within a digital marketing team without solid social skills can be a disaster. It’s important that every team member, from content marketing to social media, lead generation, product marketing and design, works together to meet overarching goals. Working alone without communicating well with others won’t lead to the best results for you or your company. In addition, if you work with social media in any capacity, you need special social skills to understand how individuals communicate with one another so you can create the most engaging content.
4. Persuasion Skills
Marketing is all about persuading people to buy a product, so it makes sense that great marketers would have this skill in abundance. Persuasion means you have the ability to align yourself with executive goals without compromising on what you think is right for the brand. You need the ability to persuade your boss to run experiments and invest in technology to help you achieve your personal goals. Don’t give up if you fail; remember that marketing is about experimentation, and not everything you try will work the first time. When you persuade others, be sure to base your arguments on logic - not just on your feelings alone.
5. Analytical Skills
Intuition and persuasion skills are important, but backing up what you’re saying is also crucial. When you can, leveraging analytics can really help you make your case. Analytical skills can range from being able to set up and understand the output of social media campaigns, lead management systems, Google Analytics, and many other programs. But from a “soft skill” perspective, you should also be able to interpret these analytics, a skill that doesn’t come naturally for some people. If you don’t currently have analytical skills, you can easily acquire them with practice. There are also training programs available if you want to go beyond the “soft skills” level.
6. Comfort with Technology
Digital marketers must be comfortable with technology; it’s a crucial part of the job description. It would be difficult to run any digital campaign without a good understanding of technology. From analytics tools discussed above), to social media, Microsoft Office, project collaboration tools, and more, technology is an inescapable part of digital marketing. Fine-tune your skills with practice and helpful tutorials.
7. Ability to Adapt
Fantastic digital marketers always keep themselves relevant in the industry. This means they have the ability to adapt and change - even if that means editing some strongly-held beliefs. The end result of any change should be to better meet the needs of your customers and prospects, and these needs may change year-over-year. Holding onto the same strategies, tactics, and beliefs doesn’t serve any marketer or business well. Be willing to unlearn what you “know” and to make new mistakes, then remember to learn from them! Don’t be afraid of change, and keep moving.
8. Multitasking Skills
As a digital marketer, it’s unlikely you’re ever working on just one project at at time. This job is all about multitasking, so practice building your skills in this area. Many marketers wear a lot of hats, especially on small teams. In addition to multitasking, you’ll need to prioritize the most important duties. Ask yourself what will make the largest impact on the business, and do that first. You will be judged on the value you add, so make that your priority.
What’s a marketer without creativity? Just because the Mad Men days of advertising are over doesn’t mean it’s not important to truly connect with potential customers via creative copy and images that shine. Just sending any message or sharing any stock image isn’t enough to differentiate your brand from its competitors. Online competition is fierce, and great creative is what makes the difference between your content being ignored and being clicked on. Practice being more creative by brainstorming ideas and images and putting them into action.
If you’re not in the copywriting or design side of digital marketing, partner with these individuals to understand how they get their creative juices flowing, then try a few of their ideas and a few of your own.
Complement your soft skills with a digital marketing certification, our Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing will equip you with the skills necessary to understand and implement digital marketing campaigns with confidence.