What Skills Do You Need to Be a Digital Marketer? (2021 Guide)

Digital Marketers need a large and diverse range of skills, both hard and soft. Some require deep and comprehensive knowledge, others may be less critical or easy to pick up—and, as always, the full list of skills you’ll need as a Digital Marketer is somewhat dependent on where you’ll be working and what you’ll be doing.

What Makes a Great Digital Marketer?

The following list represents the skills a top-tier Digital Marketer should have, beginning with the must-have hard skills, and ending with the attributes the very best Digital Marketers develop over time—often in unrelated fields.


None of the work you do as a Digital Marketer matters unless people see it! Driving traffic to your online properties, particularly your landing pages, is the first and arguably most vital step in connecting with your audience. To succeed as a Digital Marketer, you’ll need to be an expert at using SEO and SEM to their utmost.

Data Analysis

While they don’t typically need to be able to work with data analytics at the same level as, say, a Data Scientist, Digital Marketers do need to know how to use Google Analytics and other analysis tools. Their detailed information about where your traffic comes from—the most attractive keywords, the most popular times of day, and invaluable data on your audience’s age, gender, and location breakdown, as well as their interests and the devices they’re using to reach you—is perhaps the Digital Marketer’s most valuable source of audience insight.

Social Media

It should go without saying that Digital Marketers need to have a good feel for all the social media platforms they use to post content and reach out to an audience. And each platform has its own quirks; you’ll need to know what works and what doesn’t, when and what to post, and how to adjust the tone of your posts to resonate with the different segments of your audience that use different platforms. Even within the realm of social media marketing, there are different techniques Digital Marketers can prioritize, including social listening, live-streaming, direct messaging, and hashtagging.

Pay-Per-Click and Social Media Advertising

If a Digital Marketer’s budget includes money for advertising, they’ll need to know what and where to spend it for maximum impact. This includes both ad placement in various sites around the web—through direct advertising or platforms like Google Ads—as well as social media ads and sponsored posts.

Email Marketing

We’ve explained how valuable it can be to reach your customer base through their inbox. Sending out email campaigns is easy; sending out effective email campaigns is much, much harder. And while newsletters aren’t the sexiest tool at Digital Marketers’ disposal, nearly 80 percent of them report seeing an increase in email engagement over the previous 12 months, according to Hubspot’s 2020 State of Marketing report.


Whether you’re captioning an Instagram post or writing a thousand-word thought leadership article for your company blog, excellent storytelling skills (including writing, editing, and visual storytelling) are always an asset for a Digital Marketer. Especially when it comes to content marketing—longer articles on topics relevant to your audience, which are a key tool in SEO—it’s important to be able to communicate your ideas not just clearly, but also in a way that feels compelling to the people you want to attract. Related: the odds are very high you’ll need to be able to navigate the backend of WordPress or a similar CMS.

Basic Design Skills

While larger teams often have a dedicated art department staffed with Graphic Designers or even UI/UX Designers, it often falls to the Digital Marketer to perform everyday tasks like selecting and manipulating the images that will appear on the company social media feeds, or putting together the layout for an email newsletter. Here, a grasp of basic design skills—including how to organize information for legibility—is a huge asset. This often begins with an intuitive understanding of the customer’s experience.

Creative Problem Solving

Whatever you’re trying to accomplish as a Digital Marketer, your competitors are likely trying to achieve the same thing. Your edge lies in your ability to innovate and out-think them—not to mention find creative solutions to all the other challenges that come up over the course of a day, from discovering novel pathways to your users to devising new ways to grab and hold their attention.

Sales and Persuasion

As a Marketer, your job is to change people’s minds. Obviously, mastering the art of selling is to your advantage! But this isn’t limited to the hard sell; arguably, the power of persuasion is just as important when constructing a strong brand image slowly over time, or even trying to bring your colleagues on-side for a new campaign idea.

Project Leadership

Given their involvement in multifaceted digital campaigns, Digital Marketers need to know how to shepherd these projects through multiple phases, across various channels with diverse deliverables, involving the contributions of many other people. This takes both leadership skills and a high level of organization. At least when it comes to efficiency and organizing, there are tools to help automate different tasks and keep you on top of things; in a recent survey by Hubspot, 68 percent of Digital Marketers said they rely on automation in some way.

Agility and Adaptability

Digital Marketers always have many irons in the fire; knowing how to prioritize them while also responding to urgent matters as they pop up—and they will—requires the agility of an acrobat. But this ability to be responsive isn’t only tested hour-to-hour. Long-term changes to the digital landscape also mean that a Digital Marketer needs to be able to adapt to new and unexpected developments, always think in terms of contingencies, and be prepared for anything.

Strategic Planning

All of these skills come together when a Digital Marketer lays out a multi-phase plan to be deployed over weeks or even months. This, of course, demands intense planning and a forward-looking attitude, as well as an eye for emerging trends. Successful Digital Marketers have an insatiable curiosity for the way things work, and the way things are changing—both within their own industry and globally. To stay abreast of these trends calls for perpetual learning.

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