Digital marketing trends are changing every year, and to be a digital marketing specialist one must continue updating their skills in order to stay ahead of the competition. With COVID-19 throwing a wrench into every company’s practices, agility and flexibility are becoming more valuable than ever. On the other hand, some skills are so fundamental to the field that they are unlikely to ever lose their relevance.
In this article, we’ll take a look at ten of the most important skills for digital marketing specialists to develop in 2021 and beyond. Improving your skills will help you deliver better results for you and/or your clients while making yourself a more attractive candidate to future clients or employers.
Copywriting involves communicating information while writing in a style that reflects your brand’s image and values. Effective copywriters understand how to draw customers in without relying on generic, sales-y language that will turn readers away.
Copy is involved in nearly every type of digital marketing including web design, promotional emails, social media posts, and more. With that in mind, outstanding writing skills are indispensable for any digital marketer in 2021. A strong portfolio will demonstrate your creativity along with your writing chops.
One of the most common mistakes copywriters make is using too many words to communicate a simple point. Contemporary consumers expect brands to get right to the point, and they’ll move onto the next option if you don’t catch their attention in the first few words.
When you’re working on lead generation, you might only have a few seconds to make a strong initial impression and get new users interested in your brand—don’t waste that time on anything that isn’t directly related to your unique value. You can always provide more details later on once you already have the lead’s attention.
2. Data Analytics is Essential for A Digital Marketing Specialist
Data analysis used to be too resource- and cost-intensive for many smaller businesses, but with the evolution of the SEO software market, the tools involved are now more accessible than ever. As a marketer, it’s critical to understand how data can inform your digital marketing campaigns and help you optimize your strategies over time.
For example, the data you collect allows you to segment according to customers’ behavior for more relevant targeting. Data, when used and analyzed correctly, can refine each part of your marketing strategy.
For each of the marketing channels you use, take the time to define your KPIs (or key performance indicators) and measure them regularly. Use them to test and make decisions about in-progress or future campaigns, and measure again. No matter what your focus is, there’s a good chance that data will be heavily involved in your day-to-day responsibilities.
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engines are one of the most common sources of visits for all kinds of websites. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is all about crafting your website in ways that will make it more visible on Google and other search engines.
While keywords are obviously a vital element of effective SEO, it’s important to be aware of all the factors that may be affecting your position on the search engine results page. Criteria like backlink profiles, content length, and site metrics such as bounce rate and average length of visit play a significant role in SEO rankings.
Competitor research is a great place to start if you’re new to search engine optimization. Understanding how similar sites approached the same problems will give you more context for your own SEO decisions. You’ll also have the opportunity to capitalize on any weak points or popular keywords that aren’t being targeted by other sites in your niche.
One of the most important challenges in SEO is balancing keyword optimization with the overall strength of your content. Keyword stuffing is no longer effective in the current digital marketing landscape—keywords need to be naturally integrated into high-quality content that provides genuine value to your readers.
Even if you have experience with budgeting in your own life, you’ll have to learn some new skills in order to use your marketing budget efficiently. Cost-effective marketing depends on an ROI (return on investment) above 0—in other words, you should always make more from each campaign than you spent to run the campaign. Of course, bringing your ROI higher and higher is always a good thing.
Skilled marketers understand how to make quick decisions based on a wide range of factors and figures. You’ll need to know metrics like CPL (cost per lead), CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions), and CPA (cost per acquisition) and what they mean for your results in the context of a given campaign.
5. Media Buying
Closely related to the concept of marketing budgets is the process of media buying. Paying for ads is one of the main uses of a marketing budget, and weighing your options can be incredibly complicated when there are so many marketing platforms out there.
With more brands moving to an omnichannel approach, most marketers are buying ads on numerous channels instead of focusing on a select few platforms. Gaining familiarity with a wide range of channels will differentiate you from other brands and make it easier to adapt your strategies to the needs of each campaign.
Remember that effective media buying is closely related to the concept of data analysis. If you’re buying ads on several different channels, it can be extraordinarily complex to synthesize that information and use it to make a more informed decision. You’ll need to be comfortable with common marketing metrics in order to steer your paid ad campaigns in the right direction.
6. Social Media Marketing
Social media became a routine part of life over the last ten or fifteen years, and it’s now one of the most important opportunities for digital marketers. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms give marketers the chance to engage with consumers in their daily lives through both organic and paid interactions.
Proficiency in social media marketing requires a deep understanding of social media algorithms and how they can affect your brand’s visibility. You should be keeping up with changes to privacy policies, advertising algorithms, and other important elements of social media marketing. Of course, effective social media advertising also depends on other skills such as copywriting, data analysis, and communication.
As you spend more time working on social media campaigns, you’ll naturally pick up ideas that work on specific platforms. Facebook, for example, tends to have a different style compared to more casual channels like Twitter and Instagram. On the other hand, LinkedIn posts focus on topics that are more relevant to workers and business owners as opposed to typical consumers.
7. Visual Design
Visual content is involved in nearly every form of digital marketing, and even basic design skills will help set you apart from other marketers. You’ll end up slowing down your workflow significantly if you’re forced to ask someone else to handle all of the design tasks related to your campaigns.
While more advanced knowledge will go a long way, you should start with standard design programs like Canva and Photoshop. You don’t need to be a graphic design professional to succeed in digital marketing—simply being able to create and modify a variety of assets will come in handy throughout your marketing career.
Visual design also encompasses the broader field of UX design, which can have a significant effect on your engagement metrics. Your products aren’t everything—consumers want to interact with brands that give them the tools they need to engage conveniently and smoothly. Optimizing the UX also shows your audience that you’re invested in their experience.
Fortunately, tools like website builders and email marketing services are making visual design more accessible to marketers who don’t have as much technical expertise. So, whether you are preparing SaaS Free Trial start email templates for an outreach campaign, or a simple “Happy Holidays” email, you need to be aware of what types of visuals would work best. At the very least, you should be proficient in common marketing platforms so that you have what it takes to create campaigns for a variety of clients.
Regardless of what you’re working on in digital marketing, you’ll need creativity to stay on top of your game and continue developing unique campaigns that will connect with your audience. With internet users receiving more emails than they can read, marketers have to do more than ever to make a real impression.
The von Restorff effect tells us that consumers—and human beings in general—are more likely to respond to material that stands out from what they’re used to or what they’re expecting. When it comes to digital marketing, creativity is all about finding ways to continue differentiating your content in an increasingly crowded landscape.
While innate creativity can be incredibly helpful, you’ll also gain a better sense of digital marketing tactics as you spend more time in the industry. Make sure to note the pros and cons of each campaign so that you can at least carry something with you to the next project. Remember that even your most successful campaign wasn’t perfect, and your least successful campaign still offers valuable insights that could help you later on.
Keep in mind that the right use of creativity also depends on the specific context of a given campaign and audience. You might be an incredibly creative sci-fi writer, but you’ll need to understand your readers in order to produce engaging content that’s unique to their desires and tendencies.
Customers are often drawn in by narratives rather than facts and figures, so building an engaging story is one of the best ways to make your brand more approachable. All things considered, creativity is one of the most important and versatile skills a marketer can have in 2021. One way of doing this is learning how to make an explainer video for your brand that communicates your core values. Customers are often drawn in by narratives rather than facts and figures, so building an engaging story is one of the best ways to make your brand more approachable. One way of doing this is learning how to make an explainer video for your brand that communicates your core values.
Individual marketers are responsible for certain tasks on their own, but communication is involved in nearly every aspect of marketing campaigns. Even if you’re a great individual worker, poor communication skills will make you difficult to work with and turn clients away from your services.
Collaboration obviously starts with basic reliability, including things like responding to emails and regularly meeting deadlines. With that being said, you’ll also need to develop more complex communication skills such as problem-solving, adaptability, and putting yourself in others’ shoes.
If you’re working at the head of a campaign or department, you should be equipped with robust project management skills to keep each part of your team on track. Even with the same overall team, an effective project manager can make all the difference between a resounding success and a disappointing failure.
Regardless of what steps you take to improve your skill set as a marketer, the reality is that perfection is an unattainable goal. No marketer is bulletproof, and understanding your own strengths and weaknesses is crucial for finding your niche and building a sustainable career in this (or any) field.
When you know your limitations, you’ll be able to fill your team with people who compliment your talents and can account for your weaknesses or blind spots. With that in mind, it’s clear that self-knowledge is one of the most underrated aspects of collaboration.
10. Perseverance = A Great Digital Marketing Specialist
No matter what niche you’re working in, there are likely tens, hundreds, or thousands of other brands targeting the same audience with a similar set of products or services. Without a commitment to ongoing improvement, you’ll quickly find yourself falling behind brands that put even more effort into staying ahead of other sellers.
Given the marketing tools available in 2021, marketers should always be looking for ways to optimize their tactics and continue adapting to the latest trends and best practices. A/B testing, for example, is a simple function that leads to reliable improvement when used consistently over a long period of time.
Marketing is a learning process, and professionals who are driven to keep learning will have no trouble separating themselves from the rest of the pack. Wherever you are now, you can always go one step further by putting in the time and effort necessary to become the best in your field.