Digital marketing is no longer a niche industry. It has become an integral part of marketing activities across industries to engage prospects, drive traffic, and generate quality leads.
Brands that want to succeed in today’s fast-moving digital world need marketers with digital expertise that can ensure their products and services are visible online. Skilled digital marketers require knowledge and qualifications that go beyond basic marketing strategies and creativity skills. If you’re considering a top digital marketing career, a good place to begin is by understanding the skills required and what digital marketers do.
In general terms, a digital marketer is responsible for using a variety of digital channels to generate leads and build brand awareness. Digital channels include:
Beyond this, a digital marketer must also use measurable analytics to identify weaknesses and find ways to improve performance across these channels. In this role, you can be responsible for all aspects of a company's digital strategy or just focus on one.
There are pros and cons to becoming a digital marketer or specialist. Smaller companies tend to have one general specialist or manager while corporations can spread the responsibilities around to an entire team or across several different departments.
As you can see from the graph above, the most in-demand skills of the future include technology, creativity and analytical thinking.
The beauty of a career in digital marketing is that you can choose to be a jack-of-all-trades or focus on one or two core skills to set you apart. It’s a field where experience or a good internship speaks volumes. Certifications are the new degree and are a great way to demonstrate skills and add to your credibility. A digital marketing certification as a generalist or in one key area will not only boost your employability but help you create promotional opportunities so you can demand a higher salary.
The flip side is that there’s also things to avoid doing when it comes to your career. Check out our article ‘11 Things Everyone Gets Wrong in their Digital Marketing Career’ to make sure you know what not to do!
Let’s take a look at the top overall skills and areas of expertise for a digital marketer.
It’s hard to catch people’s attention online. Stats show that video increases engagement while ranking higher on Google. You don't have to become a video producer but instead, focus on the basics of creating a video. Having an understanding of how to write a video script, use platforms and apps to create videos, and what works in videos will add to your appeal when applying for digital marketing jobs. With video marketing now an integral part of social media, make sure you understand how to use it effectively on the platforms that engage your audience. Remember, there’s always the possibility of going viral with a video, so make sure you know the key attributes that will help increase your chances.
Online searches drive traffic to a website, ad or landing page. You have to understand Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to work in digital marketing. You don't have to worry about the back-end techy stuff here. It's more about understanding the importance and mechanics of SEO and the best practices used in the industry. That is the 101 of any digital marketing campaign or content management initiative. Understanding how SEO and SEM work together and impact your online efforts will allow you to work with the rest of a digital team without looking like you’re in the wrong business.
Content is what is used to attract and engage customers - this can be videos, blogs, articles, podcasts, whitepapers, case studies, how-to booklets, and more: basically anything that people can access online on your website or social channels. Understanding all aspects of content, how it is created, how it is effective, and how best to use it across different platforms and to different demographics will provide the information needed for just about any digital marketing role. You’ll have to understand how best to use content to help a business meet its goals, especially the key social media platforms. Depending on what level of work you are seeking within the digital marketing industry, you will also have to understand content strategy and analysis. If this is a role that interests you, check out this
Analytics is central to many facets of digital marketing. You can track reports, but what is more important is how to use the information you find. Monitoring campaigns and applying findings based on consumer behavior will allow you to come up with better data driven solutions that will increase conversions and drive traffic. Ultimately, analytics will help you plan the optimum consumer journey. Gathering and using data is essential in a digital marketing role as the information collected by today's businesses is a gold mine to be used in innovative ways to attract and retain customers. If you’re interested in specializing in this area, have a listen to our expert podcast that describes life as an analyst.
The user experience is key to digital marketing success. Design thinking is crucial as it teaches companies how best to engage customers, but beyond that, it ensures that their online experiences are simple and effective. That can include using ecommerce sites, accessing information, and other things your company might offer to customers, including customized apps.
You also need to have the ability to see beyond the ideas presented and look at the potential challenges it might cause. You must be able to suggest improvements based on instincts and ensure your ideas are feasible. Here are the types of skills that will help you achieve that.
Technology is the driving force in the digital world, so you have to understand what the latest technology is and how it is being used. Many organizations have been slow to progress digital transformation but as a marketer, you need to adapt quickly to changes in the industry and know what's coming so that your digital marketing plans are up to date. Using technology has to come easy to you, and you cannot be intimidated by change. No matter where you want to begin (or end up) in your career, some knowledge of web coding and Content Management (CMS) systems is a must as experts predict that the future of marketing is a combination of technology and talent.
More than ever you’ll need an understanding of how to engage a customer. You will need great persuasion skills to implement innovative campaigns that will help grow the business. In addition, you have to understand what gets today’s consumers to make the commitment and convert to making a purchase.
It’s not enough to just get people to follow your social media networks. You also have to persuade from within. Your team, other departments, and leaders will need to be convinced that your spending recommendations are on the right digital channels propped up with the right digital strategy. Understanding all aspects of digital marketing from SEO to content and the latest technology to what people respond to is the best way to keep people on board with your plans.
If you want to get more specific and explore the types of digital marketing jobs available, there are many paths you can choose including:
There’s no better or faster way to break into the digital industry than with a digital marketing certification. DMI’s Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing will teach you the fundamentals of digital marketing including sought-after soft skills. You will also understand email marketing, social media, SEO, content marketing, display and video advertising to develop and execute successful marketing campaigns in any industry.
(First published January 2019, updated January 2022)