The Digital Marketing Skills You Need to Succeed in Today’s World: An Ultimate Guide

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Julia McCoy

Creator and Co-founder

digital marketing skills

Confused about which digital marketing skills you need to make it in today’s almost-fully-remote pandemic-crazed world?

I hear you.

First, deep breath. You’re not the only one.

“Work from home” as a search term by itself went from 300,000 searches/month to 1.8 million from February to March.

The problem when searching for advice on digital marketing skills to build? You might have already seen it.

There is a ton of contradicting advice out there.

“You need a marketing degree.”

“You need to be a tech-savvy, HTML-spouting, coding god.”

“You need experience using Google Analytics.”

“You need to know Javascript and Pardot.”

“You need marketing experience.”

All that is whizzing through your head, and you have no idea which digital marketing skills you REALLY need to get started.

But don’t worry.

If you’re a newbie at digital marketing, I’ve got you covered.

In today’s blog, I’ve compiled:

  • The top 10 (no more) digital marketing skills you absolutely need for success
  • How to develop and improve your digital marketing skills
  • A huge list of resources you can use on your journey from total newbie to savvy expert
  • Great examples to inspire you

Ready to get started?

Let’s dive in right away!

digital marketing skills

The Digital Marketing Skills You Need to Succeed: Navigational Guide

What Are the Skills Required for Digital Marketing?

What Skills Do You Need for Digital Marketing?

What Digital Marketing Skills Are in Demand?

How to Develop Digital Marketing Skills

How Can I Improve My Digital Marketing Skills?

The 10 Top Digital Marketing Skills You Need (And How to Get Them)

Learning Today’s Top Digital Marketing Skills: Moving Forward

What Are the Skills Required for Digital Marketing?

Excited to begin your career in digital marketing?

Of course, the first question to ask is, “What skills are employers looking for when they hire digital marketers?”

Here’s an idea of an actual job posting on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn job post

And this one on Glassdoor.

Glassdoor job post

I know, it can grow mindboggling. 🤷‍♀️

Where do you start?

Do these lists mean you need to go back to college and earn your bachelor’s degree?

Or start experimenting with SEMrush and Pardot?

To be honest, you don’t need to worry too much about the requirements in job postings. These postings are crafted to achieve one goal: to hire a savvy, skillful person who can get results for the company.

And if you can show your interviewer you can do this?

It won’t matter whether or not you have a bachelor’s degree or a paid SEMrush subscription.

The key is to develop digital marketing skills that WILL get results for your boss or client (even if they’re not specifically the skills listed in job postings).

free content hacker class

Let’s look at some of these digital marketing skills.

What Skills Do You Need for Digital Marketing?

As a digital marketer, you’ll need a set of soft as well as hard skills.

We’ll go into greater detail on both later, but here’s a general idea of what you need:

  • A deep understanding of how digital marketing works. Imagine yourself starting out as a rookie soccer player. Of course, you need practical skills like dribbling to get on a team. But if you don’t understand how the game works, there’s no way you’ll be able to score and achieve your team’s #1 goal: to win games. The same is true in digital marketing.
  • Creative thinking and empathy. I know, there’s nothing that says “vague and generic” more than these two words. But in the digital marketing world, they specifically mean the ability to understand problems from a user’s point-of-view.
  • The willingness to learn digital marketing tools. No, this doesn’t mean you need to have 10 years’ JavaScript experience under your belt. It simply means you’re open to learning the basic digital marketing tech. Honestly, “tech” is a scary word. But it isn’t only for brainy protegees laboring on their brand-new prototype brainchildren. It’s simply a tool used to achieve faster, better results. (Think Instagram DMs vs. handwritten letters.)

What Digital Marketing Skills Are in Demand?

Digital marketing isn’t complex.

It’s simply marketing taken to digital channels such as websites, blogs, or social media.

Here’s how HubSpot puts it.

HubSpot what is digital marketing

So naturally, the in-demand digital marketing skills of today are those which put a brand in front of its online audience.

Here are four:

  • Content creation and curation. The digital world is built around content. Content takes the place of face-to-face interactions and educates, encourages, informs, and inspires. Content is the #1 vehicle between brands and online consumers.
  • SEO. Because there are six billion searches on Google per day, SEO skills are a must for digital marketers. But remember, learning how SEO works doesn’t mean you need to transform into a hyper-technical brainiac. You need to learn the mechanics of ranking highly on search engines so your audience can see you. That’s it.
  • Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). Don’t worry about how scary this term sounds! This simply means you’re compelling people to do what you want them to do on all your pages.
  • Data Analytics. Data analytics help digital marketers figure out what’s working and what’s not in their marketing campaigns. Using data is the simple, fast way to optimize sales funnels for better conversions.

Clear as mud?

Don’t worry.

We’ll go deeper into the details of each skill (and how to easily pick it up) later.

For now, let’s get into what you need (and don’t) on your journey to developing your digital marketing skills.

How to Develop Digital Marketing Skills

Thinking of enrolling in a university to earn a marketing degree?

Stop right there. ✋

I’m not saying ABSOLUTELY DON’T get a marketing degree.

I’m saying it’s expensive, and can land you with $40,000 in student loan debt…

…but without REAL digital marketing skills to compete in today’s fast-paced, technology-obsessed world.

My recommendation for developing digital marketing skills?

Start with learning how it works.

Follow successful marketing blogs. Read top-notch books. Listen to podcasts by digital marketing experts.

To start, download my list of the top resources I use to sharpen my own digital marketing skills.

digital marketing skills quote

How Can I Improve My Digital Marketing Skills?

By now, you have a list of the top digital marketing skills that will make you an in-demand marketer.

You also have a basic roadmap towards getting there.

But how do you improve the digital marketing skills you already have?

The answer is simple.

By practice.

The easiest way to start is to do it for yourself. Step-by-step.

First, go through my list of resources and learn how experts think.

Then, try some hands-on practice. 

Create your own brand. Write amazing content for your homepage, landing pages, and blog. Craft a bunch of stellar social media posts. Practice using SEO and analytics tools to gauge your progress. Step into your audience’s shoes and design your website so they always know what to do next.

This doesn’t have to be scary at all. You don’t even have to actually sell anything. Simply use your “brand” as practice. You’ll find out you need content, so you’ll learn how to create it. You’ll find you need an audience for the content, so you’ll learn SEO. You’ll want your visitors to know what to do when they land on your site, so you’ll learn UX design.

Remember, learning any skill isn’t a linear process. You don’t have to have everything figured out before you start.

Just start.

As J. P. Morgan said, “Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you’ll be able to see farther.”

It’s really that simple.

profitable content marketer skills cheat sheet

The Top 10 Digital Marketing Skills You Need (And How to Get Them)

First, we’ll get into the digital marketing “hard skills,” which simply means skills that can be taught.

Next, we’ll take a look at the digital marketing “soft skills,” which means innate skills and attitudes that’ll make you a spectacular digital marketer.

Let’s go!

4 Hard Skills You Need to Become an Excellent Digital Marketer

You don’t need to worry when you hear the term “hard skills.”

In reality, hard skills are much more linear and easier to learn than soft skills.

Here are four you should start developing today.

digital marketing skills quote

Skill #1: Content Marketing

Content marketing is a lot like courting the girl of your dreams. 💑

You don’t go straight up to her and ask her to be your girlfriend the first time you meet. 

Instead, you get to know her as a friend first. You take her out to lunch. Talk about her dreams. Listen to her problems. Offer her advice when she needs it. Add value to her life.

When the right time comes and you pop the question, she’ll immediately say yes (unless she asks you first, of course 💃).

As a content marketer, you’re the heart-in-eyes boy and your audience is your dream girl.

Which means, content marketing is about building your audience’s trust FIRST, and asking them to buy SECOND.

For instance, let’s say you offer landscaping services.

You create a value-rich blog packed with secret tips and tricks for maintaining a beautiful, luxurious lawn.

You send your audience email newsletters with lists of all the gardening tools, chemical-free pesticides, and time-saving hacks you know they will love.

You create DIY videos on how they can build their own lawn from scratch. 

If ever they think of hiring a landscaping service?

That’s right.

You’ll be the one they call.  

Here’s how Content Marketing Institute puts it:

explain content marketing to your family

So, how do you learn content marketing?

Step 1: Learn the basics of crafting stellar content across formats.

You need to know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to creating blogs, web pages, email, ebooks for lead magnets, whitepapers, video scripts, infographics, and any kind of content you use to build your audience’s trust.

Of course, you can learn all this for free through reading content by top-notch content marketers. Start by going through the list of resources I absolutely love.

Don’t want to spend a ton of time sifting through a long list of resources? Check out The Unlearn Essay Writing Course, where I teach you everything you need to become a profitable content creator in only seven days.

Step 2: Learn content strategy.

Content strategy is the engine in your content marketing vehicle.

It’s the blueprint, or map, that’ll take you to your destination (your content marketing goals).

Having a content strategy isn’t different from having a plan for your toddler’s birthday party.

When you plan a birthday party, you take a bird’s eye view and see how all the small moving parts (cake, party hats, doodle of a donkey, chairs, kiddie pool) work together to achieve a successful birthday party.

With content strategy, you see how all the small pieces of content (blogs, emails, webpages, videos) work together to achieve your content marketing success.

To help you nail content strategy, I created The Content Strategy and Marketing Course. This course isn’t a bunch of lists filled with mumbo-jumbo and jargon. It’s a step-by-step guide to building your own content strategy from the ground up. When you “graduate” you’ll have your own content strategy, polished, perfected, and ready to implement!

Skill #2: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

A ton of people hear the words “SEO” and immediately cringe.

Or maintain a poker face, because they have no idea what it means. 😶

But the concept behind SEO is actually super simple.

It’s built around the mission to help people find what they’re looking for on search engines.

And SEO optimization means the right people (the people who can benefit from your content, products, or services) won’t have a hard time finding you.

So yes, SEO does involve keywords, a clear site map, bounce rate, time on page, domain authority, and so on.

But it all boils down to helping searchers find you (if you’re what they need).

The fantastic news is SEO is pretty much data driven. It’s not a shot in the dark or a never-ending guessing game.

Plus, there are excellent tools you can use to ensure you’re strategically planning your way to the top of the SERPs. (Again, tools exist to make your life easier, not harder.)

To help you understand how these tools work and how to use them, I’ve put together a free mega guide: 23+ FREE DIY SEO Tools: All You Need To Strategically Plan Your Way to #1 Position on Google’s SERPs.

Skill #3: Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Another scary term which is absolutely friendly when you get to know it is CRO.

CRO is a lot like designing your storefront.

Let’s say you own a flower and gift shop.

You have a corner for bouquets, a corner for cute teddies, and a corner for your party service brochures.

Now, when a customer walks in, you want her to take specific action in whichever corner attracts her (for instance, if she checks out the brochure corner, you want her to pick up a brochure).

If she doesn’t, you need to find out why and what you can do to make her pick one up next time. (For instance, you can change your boring “Party Services Brochures” label to “Pick Me Up and Plan the Party of Your Dreams.”)

CRO is exactly that, but done on your digital space.

You want visitors to perform certain actions (download a lead magnet, sign up for a free course, click through to another page on your site, or buy something). If they don’t do it, you need to find out what’s wrong, and optimize your page so they’ll do it next time.

So, what do you need to learn to boost your CRO skills?

A/B Testing

In A/B testing, you create two versions of one piece of content and find out which one works better.

For example, you change words on a CTA button and test if it works better than the original button.

It goes like this.

a/b testing

Source: HubSpot

Want to learn how to A/B test?

Check out the resources I’ve collected for you:

Data Analysis

To know which version of your marketing asset is working, you’ll need to analyze data.

To get started, I recommend learning how to use Google Analytics. This simple tool will show you how many people are buying your product or signing up for your email lists.

If you learn by exploring, simply sign up for a free Google Analytics account and start playing around with it.

Or you can read these guides for a more detailed introduction to the tool.

UX Design

UX simply means user experience.

Being great at UX design doesn’t mean you need to be a talented graphic designer or creative arts graduate.

It simply means you can step into users’ shoes and ensures they have a simple, painless journey through your brand’s digital platform.

For instance, take a look at Grab’s simple, succinct page. Users know immediately where to go and what to do. No confusion, no second guessing, no frustration.

grab ux design

No idea how to do UX design?

No worries.

You can always take a short course to learn the basics.

A great one is User Experience Design Fundamentals on Udemy.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

Udemy UX course

Source: Udemy

Skill #4: Data Analysis

We talked about data analysis earlier, and how it helps you with CRO.

This skill can be used across the board to analyze key performance indicators (KPIs) like time on page and bounce rate.

You can even use data to find out who’s visiting your digital platforms so you can target your message to fit them.

If you read the Google Analytics guides I mentioned above, you’ll understand how it’s an amazing tool to use for all your data analysis needs.

Want to learn ALL the hard skills to you need to become a growth-focused, skilled content marketer? Want to go even further and learn how to build your business around content? Get in my free training.

6 Soft Skills You Need to Become a Savvy Digital Marketer

Soft skills don’t require financial investment to build, because they’re already in you. 💪

Here are six to take note of.

digital marketing skills quote

Skill #1: The Art of Persuasion

Ever convince a friend to dine out at your favorite restaurant?

Or buy the book that has changed your life?

If yes, you have killer persuasion skills.

The amazing news is persuasion in digital marketing isn’t much different.

You have a product you passionately believe in, and you know it will change people’s lives. So, you go ahead and convince them to get it.

For instance, look how mouthwatering the copy selling Serious Bloggers Only is.

Serious Bloggers Only copy

Source: SmartBlogger

It’s nothing super complex or mind-boggling. It’s simply based on the belief that this course is what people need if they want to build their own popular blog.

Skill #2: Curiosity

No, curiosity didn’t kill the cat. 🙀

I bet it led him to a warm bowl of creamy milk.

Because yes, curiosity is what helps you think outside of the box and constantly ask, “Why?” and “What if?” Often, these questions lead to stunning discoveries.

For example, check out how a Google engineer’s curiosity about typos led to a helpful spell checker.

Google spell checker

Source: Google

Skill #3: Tenacity

I’ll be clear with you.

Digital marketing isn’t a boring, repetitive job.

You won’t be a mailroom clerk stuffing flyers into thousands of envelopes. (Not that that’s a bad job, if it’s what you like to do.)

What you’ll be doing is exploring. Testing. Pitching ideas. Creating.

And there will be bad days. There will be days when your tests fail. When your boss won’t like your ideas. When your creativity runs dry.

But instead of giving up and walking away, you’ll hit failure right in the face by coming back and trying again (after crying a little, of course, because that’s OK too).

Like the ancient Japanese proverb says, “Nana korobi, ya oki.” “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”

If you’re tenacious like this, you will make it in digital marketing.

Skill #4: Empathy

I know, I know.

Empathy is a generic term you see on a ton of job postings. It’s vague and you have no idea what it really means.

But it’s simple, actually.

It means seeing the world with someone else’s eyes. Stepping into their shoes. Feeling what they feel.

As an example, check out the landing page for Meera Kothand’s Email Marketing Template Pack. Notice how Meera steps into her audience’s shoes and feels their pain points.

Meera Kothand email marketing starter pack

When you empathize with your audience, they’ll know you get them. They’ll see you understand what they’re going through, and that you care.  

From there, it’s easy to help them and change their lives with your product.

Skill #5: Humility

Who would you rather be…

…a person with 100 skills…

…or a person who could learn anything?

Aside from a few trolls, we’d all pick the second option.

Because what if none of your 100 skills match the job you want?

Plus, jobs are always changing, and we need to adapt our skills to what’s new.

So, how do you become a desirable skill chameleon? 🦎

The answer might surprise you: humility.

But it’s true.

You can’t enter digital marketing and believe you know everything. You can’t storm out of the room whenever your boss or client talks to you about areas you need to improve.

You need to listen. To learn. To adapt and be flexible. To grow. To say, “I don’t know,” and “Please help me.”

All this takes humility.

Skill #6: The Ability to Multi-Task

Like I said earlier, you’ll never be bored as a digital marketer.

You’ll always be reading updates on marketing trends. Testing a new CTA button. Crafting a compelling piece of content. Sending off emails to your list. Tweaking your content strategy.

If this leaves you feeling nervous, don’t let it.

I bet you multi-task a ton of the time, when you switch from email, to Google, to Insta DMs, to the pot of macaroni on the stove, with lightning speed.⚡️

Learning Today’s Top Digital Marketing Skills: Moving Forward

Ready to dive into the lucrative, exciting, ever-evolving world of digital marketing?

Don’t forget to take today’s top digital marketing skills with you.

Remember, you don’t need a specific bachelor’s degree and 10 years of experience coding.

All you need right at this moment are the desire to learn and the determination to try.

Then, start learning the digital marketing skills I mention in this blog.

You’ll be amazed how fast you get to the top!

…and if you want to get there even quicker, consider mentorship with me in my Content Transformation System.

My team of expert coaches and I will work with you 1:1 to build your biz without burnout, constructing it from the ground up with strategy, skills, and systems.

If you want to be a digital marketer at the helm of your own brand, now’s the time to buckle down with this 12-month coaching program.

Apply today to get started achieving the impact you crave. 💥

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