The world of digital marketing is an ever-changing space. With so many channels out there for marketers to choose from, it can be overwhelming: What are the latest new tools? What channels are popular right not? What skills do I need for a particular campaign?
But while digital marketing trends may change like the seasons, certain versatile skills will always be relevant to digital marketing. Developing these six essential digital marketing skills will ensure you're prepared, no matter how the landscape evolves.
1. Analytical Skills
With the advent of better tracking capabilities, interpreting and understanding data has become a necessity; especially in a landscape dictated by information. As a digital marketer, part of your job is to read through and interpret information. You need to be able to explain what the data means, and how it affects your company and your efforts.
Having analytical skills means you also need to know what to do with your data; how to improve upon what is working and adjust what isn’t. The better you understand data, the easier it is to understand marketing issues, discover new KPIs and improve your overall marketing strategy and ROI.
To help develop your analytical mindset, you need practice. Challenge yourself by diving deep into analytics, keyword research, search results...anywhere that data can be mined. Manipulate and dissect the data by experimenting with various analytics tools and courses (i.e. Google Analytics and their Analytics Academy).
Explore how the data connects things, and practice explaining it to your peers. What stories can you draw out of the numbers? What insights are there to be found? The more you work with data, the more comfortable you'll be analyzing it.
2. Research Experience
Another critical skill is the ability to perform different types of research (both qualitative and quantitative). Having strong research skills will help you uncover new opportunities, identify looming challenges and provide fodder for new, innovative marketing campaigns. In order to be an effective researcher, you need to be resourceful, inquisitive, and have a strong ability to communicate.
To strengthen your research chops keep an open mind, be curious and ask lots of questions. Keep an eye out for courses and seminars (like this one from LinkedIn Learning) that can help hone your research skills.
Asking questions can be a skill of its own. With practice, you can better learn how to ask the right questions for your brand to conduct even more effective research. With strong research skills, you’ll be able to create smarter, more effective campaigns for your brand.
3. Digital Acumen
This one sort of goes without saying (but we'll say it anyway): Having a strong digital acumen is imperative to your success as a digital marketing professional.
More specifically, it is important to have a familiarity with all of the avenues available to you as a digital marketer. That can mean learning the rudimentary principles of how websites work or how digital ads are developed and served or even understanding the intricacies of a pay-per-click bidding system.
Don’t fret. You don't have to be a master of all. Instead, strive to gain a basic understanding of each of the most common tactics and tools at your disposal. Being able to speak the language will help you better communicate with partners and colleagues and more easily make necessary updates to your efforts.
You can develop this skill in the same way you’d keep up with your research skills: be curious. Read articles and take courses on digital marketing. Never stop educating yourself. The most consistent thing in digital marketing is change. This makes it all the more important that you stay up on the latest trends.
Because change is inevitable in the digital marketing world, it is imperative that digital marketers be flexible and adaptable to change. Tactics, best-practices, technology, channels...it's all constantly changing. Even if you're currently running an effective campaign, you can't afford complacency. And even if those items were to stay the same (they won't) your own marketing strategies will likely evolve.
Changes in your competitive landscape, new product lines, shifting priorities and much more will facilitate changes in your marketing tactics throughout your career as a digital marketer. And when they do, you’ll need to be flexible in your approach to marketing; shifting, reassessing, and reprioritizing goals and strategies.
The best way to build flexibility is to avoid being too invested in any one tactic or strategy. Be open to other ideas and suggestions and welcome outside perspectives. Give yourself room to breathe and be agile as you work. Remember, that not every campaign you run will always be the best thing you've ever done. In fact, most times you'll need to tweak and adjust your efforts before it really starts humming.
5. Storytelling Ability
In order to connect with your audience, you'll need to have a strong ability to tell stories. This ability, when paired with the other skills listed, really helps you connect with your target audience.
Messaging is vital to any digital marketing effort, so whether you're running a social media campaign, developing a content marketing piece, creating a digital ad, or employing any other digital marketing tactic, you should be able to clearly and effectively communicate your value to your audience.
To build your storytelling skills, start by getting to know your target audience. Really understand their needs and their challenges, and how your brand's story speaks to them. Getting yourself into their mindset can help you determine the value and the story that you need to convey. Consider how you might present information that resonates with your customer and stays true to your brand.
Regardless of whether you’re performing data analysis or in the midst of content creation, you need to know your audience. By empathizing, you better understand the needs of your audience. This is crucial to your success as a digital marketer. The more your audience identifies with your brand, the more likely they are to choose you over your competitors.
As you delve into audience research, learn to put yourself in their shoes. Think about how you might act if you were searching for your company’s goods and services. An effective way to help build empathy is to build personas around your customers. Personas force you to think about your customer’s mindset, background, and perspective as you construct them.
More than anything, the best way to build empathy is to listen. Listen to what your audience wants and address these issues. If you listen and take action based on what you hear, you’ll build not just your audience, but their loyalty as well.
While there is no magic formula to being a strong digital marketer, having these six skills will heighten your chances for success in the digital marketing world. Like anything else, developing (and maintaining) these skills requires hard work, discipline, and patience. You have to put time, effort, and grit into your craft. Understand that your development as a digital marketer is never finished, but working on these skills is a great place to start.
A Few Extra Insights
At BrandExtract, our mission is to inspire people to create, transform and grow. So if you're a digital marketer, seek out ways to hone these six skills. If you want any additional guidance, feel free to reach out to our team. Plus, here are a few more tips to help:
- Social media can be a critical avenue for digital marketing. Find out if social media has a place in your B2B marketing strategy.
- Just starting your brand strategy? Learn the basics of building a brand in today's world.