5 Essential Soft Skills Needed to
Make it in Digital Marketing

See also: Strategic Marketing

The digital marketing world offers a broad spectrum of career opportunities, from technical SEO to content marketing, but a successful career in the online marketing sphere doesn't only require you to have the relevant technical skills.

In this article, we'll look beyond technical ability, exploring a number of soft skills needed in order to carve out a successful career within the digital marketing sector, so you know exactly what’s needed in order to maximise your chances of making a significant impact in the world of online marketing.

Two people working on computers in an office.

Have a Thirst for Knowledge

In a sector that’s grown exponentially through new technologies and innovations, one skill that every successful digital marketer should possess is a natural thirst for knowledge and the eternal search for the next ‘big thing’.

This isn’t exclusive to digital marketing, as traditional marketers also need to possess this drive - but in an industry that’s always evolving rapidly, an insatiable curiosity and a desire to learn more will always be a sought-after skill in the eyes of potential employers.

As the online marketing world is made up of so many smaller niches, it’s almost impossible to be an expert at everything. However, finding a niche that interests you and demanding to know more about every facet of it could be the way to hone your expertise in a particular field. It’s this ambition to learn more that separates the average and exceptional marketeers, as this is an industry that definitely doesn’t stay still for long.

Master data analysis

The modern world is positively saturated with data, and being able to understand and use this valuable information is a fundamental part of being successful in online marketing. While being able to navigate core online marketing tools such as Google Analytics to gather data is one thing, the more important skill is how to interpret and apply this data to gain a greater insight into the behaviour of consumers. This insight will allow you to create effective strategies that positively impact on your online marketing objectives.

Whether data analysis comes naturally to you or not, demonstrating that you not only know how to read the data but also use it to your advantage as part of an impactful online marketing strategy is a highly valuable asset - and one that could put you head and shoulders above the rest.

Take every opportunity given to you to expose yourself to data and gain a greater understanding overall, putting forward new ideas and tactics to measure the results. While your approaches may not work every time, it’s a vital learning process that will help you take a meaningful step towards mastering your data analysis skills.

Be customer-focused

Working on a work flow diagram.

Whether you’re planning some conversion rate optimisation experiments or brainstorming a content marketing strategy, it’s essential to keep the emphasis on the needs of the user throughout. Much of this is to do with the evolution of the ‘on demand economy’, as user expectations are now higher than ever before due to ever more prevalent instant gratification - whether they’re searching for information or buying products online.

For this reason, the savvy digital marketers of today must continually keep the end user’s needs in mind. From the usability of a website to highly relevant website content, ensure every element of your online marketing tactics is tailored to optimising the user experience - whether in terms of satisfying their search queries or anticipating their needs at every stage of the customer journey.

Be adaptable

As discussed above, the digital marketing landscape is continually changing, which means that a key soft skill required in this field is adaptability.

Many digital marketers start out working across multiple disciplines until they find their specialism, which can be a great way to learn new skills, and, more importantly, cultivate an adaptable and flexible work ethic.

In digital marketing agencies, it’s not uncommon for employees to work across a variety of sectors, client accounts and even job roles - particularly in the early stages of their career - so, rather than feel flustered with the continuous switching from one to the other, rise to the challenge and get stuck in.

Whether this involves reactively updating strategies mid-way through a campaign to yield better results or stepping in to help out when team members are on holiday, being prepared to adapt and pitch in where necessary is a highly attractive trait for employers and can contribute to the effective prioritisation of work, too.

Be a People Person

Great communications skills aren’t just for the higher echelons of digital marketing management. From the ground level up, possessing the ability to build rapport with colleagues, clients and consumers is a subtle yet significant aspect of mastering online marketing.

Having the ability to get along with others and communicate your visions or ideas in a constructive and personable way is a valuable asset in any career path - especially in digital marketing, where it’s highly likely you’ll be required to collaborate with others in some way or another. However, it isn’t just about being able to put forward your point of view - top-notch communications skills also involve being prepared to listen and take other opinions on board.

From a commercial point of view, you’ll also need to be able to apply your communication skills in order for your messaging to resonate with the end user. Fine-tuning your tone of voice and being persuasive when speaking directly to the consumer will form the foundations for an effective online marketing strategy - whether success for you means increased traffic and conversions or fruitful link building campaigns.

As with most careers, experience and technical ability will always play a vital role in your success - but it’s also important not to overlook the fundamental soft skills that could give you a much-needed edge in this competitive sector. With a winning combination of technical skills and key soft skills, we’re sure you’ll be well on your way to building a solid skill set for a thriving career in the world of online marketing.

The Skills You Need Guide to Getting a Job

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Getting a Job

Develop the skills you need to get that job.

This eBook is essential reading for potential job-seekers. Not only does it cover identifying your skills but also the mechanics of applying for a job, writing a CV or resume and attending interviews.

About the Author

Jon Leighton is the Director of Land Digital, a full-service digital agency providing made-to-measure marketing, design and development solutions to help businesses in the UK solve their commercial problems.