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 data analytics tools to mastering SEO and content marketing, there can be a lot to grapple with if you don’t focus your attention on the areas that matter to a business.
A great digital marketer will have the ability to adapt quickly and learn on their own, even being ready to pivot into different digital careers if old skills become less in-demand. They will be working with diverse teams and clients, so will have to know how to communicate and build strong teams.
The great news is that there is global demand for marketers with agile digital skills. According to DMI’s research paper ‘Perpetual Evolution’, it’s talent and technology that are driving the future of digital marketing with companies keen to hire marketers with digital know-how. And never forget that it’s important to leverage and improve your hard and soft skills as you move forward into exciting new positions.
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 7 essential niche skills to keep you relevant in the ever-changing digital industry.
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 Promo and Camtasia. 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.
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 certainly 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.
Both SEO and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) inform your entire digital strategy on a data and content level. So you need to be able to communicate to other teammates about this and won’t get far without learning the basics and understanding how SEO and SEM can work together.
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.
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. Get some inspiration from six global brands that know how to do content marketing successfully.
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.
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) centred 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 that in some instances you may get to the testing phase and then come back to the middle phase, for instance, 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.
Because the industry is technology-driven, you need 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 as a digital native, but older generations may want to take some time to learn not only specific technologies, but also get familiar with commonly used software and tools such as audience listening or SEM.
It can also be beneficial to understand the technical skills needed for marketing such as the basics of web coding, as well as having a clear idea of how to use Content Management Systems (CMS). For example, a CMS like Wordpress - used by a third of websites - can be tweaked to boost SEO if you know the right steps and help you land that dream job.
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.
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 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.
Digital marketing is fast-paced and demanding. Understanding the fundamentals will help you to hit the ground running in whatever role you choose. Our Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing will give you the digital marketing and soft skills that matter. From SEO to social media, content marketing and strategy, you will gain up-to-date and relevant knowledge that will help you become an awesome digital marketer.
First published April 2018, Updated November 2021