We all have strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps you’re great at writing emails that generate leads, but don’t know your Twitter from your TikTok. Maybe you’re a whizz with words but you’ve never opened Photoshop in your life.
That’s all well and good, but if you want to be successful in the ever-evolving world of digital marketing, you need to be the full package. This means working on your weaknesses and continually bolstering your strengths.
Whether you’re launching a new business, or applying for your next digital marketing job — hell, even if you were King of the Social Media Marketing World 2019 — developing your skill set in these five key areas will help you achieve digital marketing success in 2020.
Five Essential Digital Marketing Skills
From website landing pages to blog posts, email marketing campaigns to Facebook statuses, copy is everywhere you look. The ability to use the written word to engage your audience, generates leads and drive conversions is one of the most important digital marketing skills you can learn.
Digital marketing revolves around content. In order to get potential customers to absorb your message and consider your product or service, you need to create content that engages, entertains and inspires. Aim to write content that does all three. If you want to minimise the amount of time you spend writing, blog about subjects that are relatively evergreen. That way you’ll reap the rewards of your efforts for years to come.
Keep search engine optimization (SEO) in mind as you write — there’s no point writing awesome articles if no one can find them. There are plenty of marketing automation tools available that will help you identify relevant keywords. Include these in your copy to give your pages a boost in search results, but remember —readability comes first! After all, it’s not the search engines that buy your products.
Even if you’re not churning out content for your website (you should be), your copywriting ability can make or break your sales emails. Without a tantalising subject line, your recipients won’t open them. Without engaging body copy, they’ll get distracted halfway through reading, and without a compelling CTA, they’ll never convert.
Yes, you can pay a copywriter to write everything for you. But their services don’t come cheap, and you’ll still end up writing some stuff yourself.
Copywriting is a a vital skill to add to your social media marketing resume.
The quick sales pitch to a new connection on LinkedIn, or the Facebook status about a trending subject — when you’re in a time sensitive situation, your own ability to string a few words together can make the difference between success and failure.
Take an online course or read a book, install software to check your grammar, and above all — practise, practise, practise.
Data Analysis and Data Management
Digital marketing is neither an ‘art’ nor a ‘science’ — it’s a blend of both, and this is the science part. Your digital marketing channels provide you with a barrage of data, but unless you’ve taken the time to develop your understanding of analytics tools, you’ll never be able to make sense of what’s in front of you. This is a huge missed opportunity.
Spend time getting to know Google Analytics and the insight tools native to each of your social media platforms. Which channels are successfully driving traffic to your website? How long do readers spend on your blog pages? How many of them convert? If you can objectively identify what works and what doesn’t, you can adjust your marketing strategies accordingly and optimise ROI. Otherwise you’re essentially working in the dark.
Data management is a related skill. You’ll collect a lot of consumer data — from website visits, mailing list sign ups, booking and purchases. This can all be analysed and leveraged to inform your digital marketing activity, such as targeted advertising. You need to manage this data in a way that is easy for you and your team to navigate, and compliant with all data protection regulations. It’s not glamorous, but a little time spent implementing efficient and secure data management systems will allow your more creative digital marketing skills to shine.
We’ve mentioned the importance of well-written blogs and other copy, but so much of digital marketing comes down to visual communication. Stunning product photos, cohesive design across your websites and email marketing, engaging social media video content and more — the visuals you publish on digital channels don’t contribute to your brand image. They are your brand image.
Even if you delegate the bulk of your visual content creation to professional photographers, designers and video producers, most digital marketers (particularly small business owners) end up doing some of it themselves.
A phone with a decent camera may be the only equipment you need to populate your Instagram feed with photos and video — particularly if you’re going for a rough around the edges ‘behind-the-scenes’ content style. But if you’re taking photos for your website, e-commerce platforms or for distribution to digital press, it’s worth learning to use a DSLR camera and lighting setup.
Likewise, every digital marketer should develop rudimentary design skills. You don’t need to master the entire Abobe Creative Suite, but knowing your way around Photoshop (or even developing your drawing skills) will help you communicate your ideas more effectively — whether that’s to your audience, or to the designer who’s going to turn your rough idea into a finished design.
There are many types of online advertising, and digital marketers should be familiar with as many as possible. Do you know the difference between PPC (pay-per-click) advertising and a boosted post? Knowing the ins and outs of each will help you allocate your advertising budget most effectively.
Get to know the major advertising platforms such as Google Ads and Facebook Ads, as well as any that are specifically relevant to your industry, for example Google Hotel Ads. Look into the relative merits of advertising on the different social networks — is LinkedIn likely to yield a better ROI for you than Twitter?
All the skills on this list are interconnected. Clearly, your data analysis skills will allow you to constantly monitor and adapt your advertising strategy, and your communication skills will help you craft adverts that drive conversions. But there are also plenty of established best practices to brush up on. Chief among these is remarketing — a form of targeted advertising aimed at people who have prior awareness of your brand and are therefore much more likely to convert.
If you’ve experimented with targeting custom audiences on Facebook but haven’t yet defined one to remarket to recent website visitors, make this your top priority in 2020. We bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the sudden spike in conversions.
Social Media Marketing
We’ve put this one last because it’s not so much a single skill as it as a fundamental strand of your digital marketing plan. Many would argue that it’s the most important strand. True, email marketing tends to outperform social media marketing when it comes to lead generation (social media ROI is notoriously tricky to prove), but social media is far and away the best place to build brand awareness and interact with audiences.
Success on social media requires digital marketers to implement all of the aforementioned skills — your ability to make improvements informed by data, your ability to maximise paid advertising campaigns and above all, your ability to create compelling visual and written content.
Social media users are bombarded with content from every angle, and it’s increasingly difficult to win their attention. Combine this with algorithms that exponentially reward or punish content dependent on its performance in the first few minutes of going ‘live’, and the need to create irresistible content is more apparent than ever. Meanwhile, marketers who use social media to post dull, pushy sales messages fail, because audiences will never actively choose to engage with those. So how can you make social media content that audiences want to engage with? By providing entertainment.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No – it's news! Coming up on your essential breakfast briefing:
● Daleks invade Yorkshire
● Giant Jaffa Cake goes viral
● Gerbils enjoy tiny paintings pic.twitter.com/Isf8Nfi8Gs
Comedy is a tried-and-tested way of combining brand messages with entertainment — television advertisers have been doing it for decades. The biggest brands on social media know that posting funny content keeps their audience coming back for more. This means that when they occasionally post content with a more overt sales message, their audience is present, primed and ready to convert. Even better, social media users love to share things that make them laugh — which means branded comedy content spreads far and wide, for free.
Not every digital marketer is brave enough to develop their comedy content creation skills, but those who do are frequently rewarded with increased brand awareness, better ROI and more sales.
Which areas of digital marketing are you already strong in? Has this article highlighted any weaknesses that you plan to work on in 2020?