Do you know what it takes to make it as a digital marketer today? Whether you’re just curious about digital marketing as a career or already working within a corporate marketing team, the information in this Simplilearn webinar, "7 Skills Every Digital Marketer Needs to Succeed", can help push you ahead. In this webinar, Brad Geddes, author of Advanced Google AdWords, Co-Founder of AdAlysis and the Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Curriculum Chair for Simplilearn, revealed the top key competencies every digital marketer needs to possess in today's digital economy.
You’re invited to watch the recording below or read the following highlights. Doing both is the best way to discover what you really need to survive in the digital world of marketing, both now and in the years to come. This includes hard skills (in digital tools and best practices) and soft skills (like teamwork and communication).
Here’s a summary of what the webinar discussed:
1. Know How Digital Marketing Fits Together
When you have a job in digital marketing, you’re rarely a silo. You're usually working on a team, so you need to know how to interact with other people in the company and how your role affects and blends with everyone else’s functions.
When you look at an overall digital marketing funnel, it starts with traffic drivers. These include paid and organic search, organic, social media, emails. Each one of these is a separate discipline, working to funnel visitors to your site. The goal is to convert users. That's where conversion optimization comes into place. Visitors then go into your Customer Relations Management (CRM) system, and from there, Analytics comes into play, measuring and showing how things actually went. Finally comes fine-tuning everything for conversion rate optimization (CRO).
So it’s a big circle. In large companies, each part of this funnel may be handled by a completely different person. In small companies, one person may be doing everything. While these are often multiple disciplines with their own specializations, there are always interactions that occur between the groups.
2. Find Your Marketing Passion
You can get trained in any digital marketing skill (SEO, social, email marketing, etc.) but what’s really important to think about is which one is best for you. What do you really, really care
about and actually enjoy doing? Here’s what various jobs entail:
- Pay-per-click (PPC) and Paid Social involve a lot of math and analytics. Setting bids are math. Counting conversions are math. Doing revenue is math. They also have a lot of creativity and strategy involved in the ad copy. You’ll also work with most other departments in some fashion. So if you really like the combination of math, creativity and working with others, handling PPC or social ads make a good fit.
- Social Media is completely different. Social is much more about communication. It involves community engagement. You might work with PR, branding support and even customer service. You might work some with the PPC team and SEO but not nearly as much as you will with PR and support systems. This is a great role if you are an extrovert, like talking to people and being part of a community.
- SEO is broken down into three departments. It involves technical SEO (looking at server performance and page speed), development departments (including reading the code and doing some coding) and on-site SEO (creating content and making things shareable). So if you like the technical side as well as writing and talking to other coders, SEO might be really good for you.
- CRO means your goal is to increase conversion rates from traffic coming to the site. You’ll be working with people on the PPC, SEO, Email and CRM teams. Therefore, math and analytics will be important. Creativity helps—not so much writing, but coming up with ideas to test. Coding knowledge or skills are also helpful, at least enough where you could spot or fix errors or make recommendations.
- Analytics is obviously full of math and analysis, but that's only part of this job. Storytelling is becoming an essential aspect of analytics. A big data set or Excel sheet tells you nothing about the story behind them or what story would make the numbers improve. You don’t have to come up with the story, but the story is there in the math. So you’ll need to be able to communicate your interpretations to the storytellers who write the ads.
Once you know what aspect of digital marketing you like most, pick one and specialize. Then look at the required skills and develop them, through learning and practice.
3. Learn the Basics of Complementary Roles
Knowing your own role is not enough. As mentioned before, interactions between groups parts of the sales funnel are not only common but essential. That’s why it’s important to familiarize yourself with the basic “101-level” skills that will be used by the other specialties on your team, so you know how to communicate with them. Everyone should be talking with each other. This makes collaboration better and the whole digital marketing effort better.
4. Excel at Using Excel
It doesn't matter what you do—you will use this program called Excel. Everybody in marketing needs to know basic sorting, filtering, conditional formatting, and how to make a pivot table. Everybody's going to use those skills. If your position uses a lot of math, like PPC, then you also need to know pivot charts, regular charts, VLOOKUP, nested arguments and advanced formulas. If your job is CRO or analytics, then knowing data visualization tools like Power BI and Tableau is also useful.
5. Get Solid on Soft Skills
There are some skills that you are going to use regardless of your job type. Here are the key softs skills everyone in digital marketing needs.
- Organization. You don't need to be an OMCP-certified project manager, but you should have an idea of how project management works. Gain familiarity with the project management systems commonly used in digital marketing, whether it's Basecamp, Trello or JIRA. They know how to stay organized from an asset standpoint. Know where to find the assets needed by you and everyone on your team.
- Logical Thinking. If you can’t flowchart it, you can’t repeat the process. Have an ability to think through things logically about how users flow through your department and then how decisions are made. This is essential for keeping your processes consistent, manageable and repeatable. Knowing how to flowchart is also essential if you want to explain to your development team how to build a program to automate some the boring and repetitive digital functions you don’t want to do every day.
- Data Visualization. If you're in analytics, CRO or PPC, the ability to visualize and graphically represent data is really important. However, in any digital marketing job, you’re going to have to understand how to create visual charts, and also how to interpret them. This is also why it’s also useful to understand the basics of Excel and Excel charts, so if you don't understand a chart, you can reverse-engineer it.
- Empathy. This is a human emotion that artificial intelligence (AI) cannot duplicate. Empathy is necessary across several aspects of any digital marketing job, from ads to landing pages to client communication to interpersonal relations. When you think about talking with customers, getting stuff done in different teams, explaining to your boss why you need more funding for a new project or thinking about what people want or what they want to avoid, human empathy is going to be incredibly important.
As time goes on, soft skills are going to be increasingly important because a lot of basic things like math are going to become increasingly automated. You still have to understand the math in order to change the automation, but when it comes to storytelling and team communication, that’s where humans have the edge.
6. Stay Adaptable to Change
Platforms change all the time. Google AdWords has a brand new interface which wasn't there a year and a half ago and is still changing. Google Analytics updates its UI every six
months. If you just learn how to push buttons you're not going to have a job when the buttons change. Instead, you want to know the concepts of why we push the buttons. If you understand those nuances, no matter what changes, you can either decide which new button to push or explain to someone else in the company. Understanding the concept and the context behind them is necessary to adapt as platforms change.
7. Improve Communication
During business hours we spend 70 to 80 percent of our day communicating with other people. The vast majority is listening. Communication is going to be one of the top skills going forward. The average office worker receives 121 business emails and sends 40 business emails per day.
A subset of communication is persuasion. Persuasion is how we how we get someone to take some sort of action, and positioning is how do we show our product against a different product or a competitor. These are involved in every part of the digital marketing ecosystem. Many experts believe the top three skills in digital marketing will be storytelling, creativity, and persuasion. Studies by LinkedIn and McKinsey boiled all these skills down into one thing: communication.
To succeed in digital marketing a requires a broad range of skills, both hard and soft. Brad Geddes recommends that the best approach comes in three phases: pick a specialty (what are
you passionate about), enhance your skills (in technology, organization, and communication) and finally, grow to learn complementary basics of specialties outside of—but related to—your own.
To get the overall expertise you need to succeed in any digital marketing skills, Simplilearn offers the Digital Marketing Specialist Master’s Program. This comprehensive online course provides an industry-recommended learning path that includes more than 250 hours of high-quality eLearning, covering more than 40 digital marketing tools and preparation for at least 12 industry certifications.
Digital marketing is one of the most integrated and fastest-changing fields in business. It’s also an early adopter and testbed of many new and emerging technologies, from augmented reality (AR) to AI and machine learning. Every skill you gain or certification you earn is really just a license to learn. That’s why continuous learning (by taking additional courses and staying current with the latest research, news and best practices (through blogs and other expert resources) can inspire, refresh and even future-proof your digital marketing career.