- Every job requires a certain set of skills, usually a combination of “hard” and “soft”. Digital marketing is no different.
- Hard skills vary depending on the specific specialty, but can include knowing how to use social media and SEO tools, in addition to video conferencing and collaboration software.
- Important soft skills include communication, collaboration, and muti-tasking.
- Beyond hard and soft skills, the best digital marketers also possess a certain set of characteristics that help them work together to get great results.
Digital marketing is one of the most exciting, diverse, and dynamic fields to be working in today. Covering an impressive range of skills and interests, it’s an industry in which there’s truly a role for everyone. From introverts and extraverts to numbers people and creatives, digital marketers are a diverse bunch of talented individuals who work together every day to get awesome products and content onto the world’s screens.
If that piques your interest, you might be wondering, what does it take to join this circus? Digital marketing is vast, complex, and oriented around technology, so it can be an intimidating career to consider. But with vastness and complexity comes diversity, and that means almost anyone with drive and a good head on their shoulders could potentially be a good fit – with the right skills and traits.
So whether you’re a student considering a future in marketing or a seasoned professional looking for a career change, evaluating your fitness for the field based on your personality and know-how is a great place to start. Or maybe you’re looking to hire a digital marketer, in which case you likely want to know what criteria your potential hire should meet. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the skills and traits a good digital marketer needs for success.
Luckily, there are so many types of work to be done in digital marketing that someone doesn’t need to have every skill or trait on the list to be a great digital marketer. When you come across something that’s not in your wheelhouse, you’ll ideally have an awesome teammate who can give you guidance or lend a hand.
15 essential skills and traits of a digital marketer
Every job requires a certain set of skills, usually a combination of “hard” (think Excel fluency in accounting) and “soft” (think bedside manner in medicine). Digital marketing is no different. Since “digital” is right in the name, you can be sure the majority of hard skills revolve around technology, while many of the soft skills relate to communication and collaboration. Almost every type of skill you can think of comes in handy in digital marketing in some role or at some point.
The great thing about skills is they can be learned, so don’t worry if you don’t have all (or any) of these skills just yet. It’s unlikely that you’ll need all of them anyway, as most jobs revolve around a specific set of related skills applicable to the role – e.g., SEO specialists can probably get away with more typos than content writers can.
So, what hard and soft skills are most useful for digital marketers?
The most important hard skills for digital marketing:
These skills will be essential no matter your role.
1. Spreadsheets – You might not need to be an Excel expert, but you should know your way around a spreadsheet or Google sheet. Sheets come in handy for everything from organizing analytics data to creating content calendars, and you’ll likely use them internally and as client deliverables. Make sure you know the basics!
2. Workplace collaboration tools – It’s hard to imagine a digital marketing firm that doesn’t use digital work collaboration tools to get things done. From the messaging app Slack to project management tools like Trello, Monday, and Asana, prepare to learn your way around these tools so you can work efficiently with your teammates.
3. Video conferencing – Once the domain of remote and WFH (work-from-home) employees, video conferencing tools – namely Zoom – are now a staple in the workplace. You’ll likely be hopping on video calls frequently throughout the week, if not every day, to communicate with teammates and clients, so make sure to get familiar with the technical skills and etiquette required.
SEO and SEM
If you plan to work in search engine optimization (SEO) or paid search/search engine marketing (SEM), you’ll need to get familiar with the following.
4. Google search tools – Google dominates search, so Google’s search tools are staples for digital marketers. The two you’ll hear about (and use) the most are Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Together, these analytics tools provide digital marketers with insights into how a site shows up in search results pages (SERPs) and how users interact with it. For paid search, you’ll also need to know your way around Google Ads.
5. Other search tools – Besides Google’s tools, most digital marketers use a robust platform like SEMRush or Ahrefs daily to perform keyword research, monitor rankings and page authority, perform site audits, and more. Unlike Google Analytics and Search Console, in which you’re analyzing your own or your clients’ sites, these other tools provide a picture of the SERPs in general, allowing you to compare your (or your clients’) performance to competitors, understand what search terms are the most popular across the web, and just generally get a bird’s eye view of the SERPs so you can optimize your place in them.
If you’re interested in a social media marketing position, prepare to become an expert in:
6. Social media platforms – Today, any business worth its salt has a profile on the major social media platforms: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Depending on the vertical and target audience of the brand, they might also be on platforms like TikTok or Pinterest. Social media marketers need to be fluent in these platforms – e.g., how to create a post or story, character limits, hashtags, the different features and user bases of each – and they need to be ready to keep up with trends and changes in each platform.
Even if you’re not planning to work specifically in social media, you’d do well to become familiar with its role in digital marketing, as it’s a central part of the landscape.
7. Social media tools – Like SEO and SEM specialists, social media marketers use specialized tools to streamline their work, from creating and scheduling posts and stories to monitoring performance and social engagement.
The most important soft skills for digital marketing:
Digital marketing isn’t just about technical know-how. Great digital marketers have also mastered the following soft skills:
8. Communication – Digital marketing is a relational field at its core. Your job is to use the web to get the right message to the right people at the right time, so everything you do is essentially helping clients to communicate with their target audience. At the professional level, you’ll also be in constant communication with your clients and teammates. Knowing how to communicate clearly and respectfully via email, messaging apps, virtual and in-person meetings, and even deliverables is a must.
9. Collaboration – Digital marketing is a team effort. You’ll work closely with your teammates and clients to create awesome content or ads together. Even the most self-directed, introverted content writer can’t do great work without direction and input from their colleagues and clients. Collaboration is one of the fundamental soft skills of digital marketing.
10. Multi-tasking – We did say digital marketing is dynamic, didn’t we? To be successful, you’ll need to be able to work on lots of projects at once, meaning you’ll need to be organized about timelines and due dates, and good with time management and prioritization.
The most important traits of a digital marketer:
Beyond the hard and soft skills described above, the best digital marketers also possess a certain set of characteristics that help them work together to get great results.
11. Flexibility and adaptability – Okay, so these are technically two traits, but they go hand in hand. As a tech-oriented field, digital marketing is constantly evolving. Whether it’s a Google algorithm update or a change in the SERP layout, the best digital marketers are always ready to adjust to a new development in order to do great work.
12. Empathy – Again, digital marketing is fundamentally relational. Successful digital marketers are great listeners and can see things from the perspective of the client or the customer whenever necessary (hint: most of the time!).
13. Creativity – When the field is always evolving and your job involves satisfying the sometimes conflicting needs of your teammates, clients, and their audiences, a little dose of creative problem-solving goes a long way. The best digital marketers think outside the box when an old solution just isn’t working.
14. Love of learning – You don’t have to know everything to be successful in digital marketing – you just have to be willing to learn. In fact, this is one of the best things about digital marketing as a career. It never gets boring!
15. Love of a challenge – If you feel defeated every time an algorithm update shakes up a client’s rankings or a client needs you to re-write that blog you worked so hard on, you probably won’t have a very fun time as a digital marketer. Successful digital marketers welcome these kinds of challenges because their creativity, love of learning, and collaboration skills give them the tools they need to overcome them.
Take it from a pro
If you’re considering a career in digital marketing, we hope this list has you feeling like you’re on the right track. Or, if you’re in the market for a digital marketing professional and are wondering what you should be looking for, keep this handy guide in your pocket as you vet potential partners.
But here’s a little secret: Redefine Marketing Group has put together a team of professionals that possess all these skills and more. Want to see for yourself? Reach out to us today – we’d love to get to know you!