In our first instalment of posts of advice on how to get into digital marketing, we discussed the relevant experience which is searched for in job applicants for prospective employers. This second piece will go into the digital marketing key skills that employers look for in job seekers.
We spoke to Chloe and Pete, who are responsible for recruiting the talent for Impression’s Graduate Programme, again to see what skills are required and highly regarded when considering applicants for a digital marketing role.
5 Desirable skills to get into digital marketing
Of course, each respective company will seek certain different personality traits or characteristics and this will vary depending on the company culture, industry and job role. However, these are the top five digital marketing key skills that will undoubtedly be on most digital marketing job application you come across.
1. Commercial awareness
“Prospective employees should know basic business definitions,” Chloe told us, clearly differentiating terms that are used in conversations daily in business environments from marketing jargon. “An understanding of commercial goals and being performance-based is necessary too,” said Pete.
There might be a perception that digital marketers simply create lovely content all day, but without being aware that the work aligns with KPIs (key performance indicators) and the overarching goals of a business, the people scrutinising your job application and what you’re saying in the interview might fear that you’ve missed the point.
Commercial awareness is the ability to understand what makes a business profitable, through either selling products or supplying services to a market. In the context of this particular industry, it’s about having a strong understanding of the market your clients and company operate in. Not only did Chloe and Pete regard this as one of the digital marketing key skills needed to work in this industry, but the Institute of Student Employers found commercial awareness to be one of the most common skills gaps in graduates.
2. Soft skills
Soft skills refer to the skills that are easily transferable across different disciplines. These are the type of skills that most employers, no matter what the industry, will look for in applicants but will vary depending on the specific role you are applying for. However, this doesn’t mean that they are overlooked or on the job listing to fill white space. Soft skills are highly valued and the examples you give to how you have demonstrated these skills in the past will make you stand out.
Because it is such a valuable asset future digital marketers, Chloe reminded us that it’s vital that applicants “go above and beyond” to show their soft skills. Saying that you’re good at teamwork because you worked with a difficult person in a group project, or saying that you are a perfectionist and hate making mistakes, are very generic statements that get thrown around a lot in interviews and applications. Avoid these if you want to get your foot in the door.
As digital marketing is a constantly changing discipline, you need to be comfortable with problem-solving and able to communicate clearly with your team. Your future employers want to know how you will react when Google launch their latest algorithm and it affects the project you’ve been working on for weeks.
On that same note, a keen attention to detail is also an ideal digital marketing skill. After all, the work that you hope to be producing will be online for the whole world to see. This attention to detail should extend to understanding any rules or good practices in your department of digital marketing in order for your content or ads to not be penalised.
Self-motivation is another sought-after skill needed for digital marketing. Aspiring digital marketers need to be motivated to do or achieve positive results in their work because of their own interest or enthusiasm, without needing pressure from their team or line manager.
3. An understanding of relevant software and tools
It’s a wise idea to look out for any software or tools mentioned within the job application for a digital marketing role and gain a solid understanding of them before applying or attending the interview. It’s also incredibly favourable if people who are looking for jobs in digital marketing are familiar with basic HTML/CSS skills.
No matter what discipline you choose to apply for, it is good practice to have a solid understanding of Google Analytics. Luckily, Google offers free online courses and certifications that look great on your CV.
These are some of the basic platforms and tools you should be familiar with:
- Social media: Hootsuite, TweetDeck, Sprout Social
- Email marketing: MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit
- CMS (Content Management Systems): WordPress, Magento, Drupal
- SEO: SEMrush, Ahrefs, STAT,
- PPC: Adwords/Adwords Editor, Bing Ads/Bing Editor, Google Merchant Center, Google Tag Manager
There are numerous publications, magazines, forums and influencers that provide commentary and guidance on different software and relevant tools. As Pete told us “it’s all available online.” Don’t be afraid to just Google it and have a read.
4. Adaptability and agility
Digital marketing thrives on the basis that everything regularly changes. Every month, a new platform will push its way into relevancy, or a major platform will adjust its algorithm. Digital marketers must always keep themselves relevant to the industry. Not only does this mean that they have the ability to adapt and change, but it also means they have a willingness to train and develop their important digital marketing skills no matter how much experience they have. If you were an SEO expert in 2008 and haven’t learned anything since you would no longer be considered an expert in this discipline as your knowledge would be extremely outdated. If you want to get into digital marketing, you need to be able to work flexibly or react appropriately to changes in the industry.
From personal experience, your ability to adapt and change is incredibly beneficial when working in an agency because the nature of the work means that you will be working on several different clients at once. As someone who has spent the early part of her career working in PR and digital marketing agencies, understanding that all your clients have different expectations will get you very far in terms of learning how to prioritise and time management. Adaptability is so important when writing copy or creating content as well, as all your clients will have different brand identities that you have to adhere to and cannot create all your work in the same way.
5. Social skills
“Building relationships is such an important digital marketing skill, and having a likeable personality can go a long way,” Chloe told us. With so many people trying to connect with journalists, editors, bloggers and influencers, someone that is pleasant to work with and has a great personality find work a lot easier. For example, if you’re an editor for an online publication and you are being pitched by lots of PRs (which they inevitably are), editors will more likely give their time to those who are easy to get on with or already have a relationship with.
Similarly, in digital marketing companies, every team member in different departments must work together to meet overall objectives. Ultimately, the best results are achieved by communicating and not being afraid to ask questions.
Above all, the best marketing campaigns stem from content that many people can relate to. By having a good grasp of how individuals communicate with each other, digital marketers can create engaging content that’s emotive and speaks to potential customers.
To get a job in digital marketing, job seekers are required to be able to think creatively and analytically. The very nature of digital marketing allows us to be quantifiable, meaning that we can use analytics to inform future strategies and even the most beautifully creative campaigns. Analytical skills range from being able to set up and comprehend the output of campaigns, Google Analytics and other programs. If you don’t currently consider your analytical skills to be up to par, you can easily acquire them with free online certifications like those mentioned above.
Good written or visual storytelling abilities are finally one of the important digital marketing skills needed for digital marketing. Digital marketing is a written and visual driven medium where consumers are won over by words or images that pull on their heartstrings. Being able to show examples of any of these abilities in your application or interview will be looked at fondly and prospective employers will think about how you could apply these important digital marketing skills to current or new campaigns.