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7 Essential Skills of Professional Digital Marketers

Digital Skills for Africa

Here are some of the essential skills every professional digital marketer needs. Learn and master these to become a very good digital marketer. The demand for digital marketing professionals is rapidly increasing around the world. One of the beauties of the roles in the digital world is that the professionals can work from anywhere in the world.

But what exactly should a digital marketer be expected to know?Of course, there are levels of expertise and specialisation among digital marketers. However, there are key skills that each digital marketer needs to at least understand.

Even though professional digital marketers need to have an above average understanding of these skills, it is also very important that they become exceptionally good in one of the digital marketing disciplines. Such people are called T-shaped digital marketers.

Essential skills of professional digital marketers.

1. Website Management

The website is the only channel of interacting with customers that a marketer can have 100% control over. In many cases, the website is the place where the real online business occurs. That’s where visitors are converted to clients.
As a digital marketer, it’s very important that you learn how to manage websites. Learn how to use at least one CMS and I will recommend WordPress.

Why WordPress? Because 40% of the internet runs on WordPress.

Why is this important for professional digital marketers?

In my nine years of working with marketers, one of the drawbacks in implementing digital marketing plans is the delay that comes when marketer rely on the IT department or your external website maintenance partner to make updates on the website.

I have seen ads which referred people to websites which have no information about the promotion. This is can be avoided if the digital marketer learns how to manage websites themselves.

Thank God for content management systems, it’s easy for everyone to learn how to manage websites like a professional without writing any line of code.

It’s very necessary for both digital marketers and entrepreneurs to have the website management skill.

2. Email marketing.

Despite all the new technologies, channels and tools that are available to digital marketers, email marketing remains the most effective channel for sales conversion, engagement and keeping in touch with existing clients and followers.

On average, a new customer has to see your advert seven times before they take the necessary action. Email marketing gives you the chance of engaging your potential customers till they taken the action.

Email marketing is more than writing bulletins to clients on a weekly or monthly channels. It is a sales, education and advocacy strategy as well.

Digital marketers need to learn email marketing beyond the basics.

Why is this necessary for digital marketers?

I see basic email marketing mistakes being made by respectable digital marketers. One of them is buying email lists. Another mistake is having no strategy or method to get email addresses from visitors on their websites.

Anyone doing business online but has no plan to grow their email list is wasting a huge opportunity for cheaper advertising in the future. Without email strategy, businesses miss the chance to increase the number of interactions needed for potential customers to take action.

Email marketing goes beyond knowing the right tools to use, into the developing strategies that you need to get the most from this channel.

3. Facebook Marketing

Facebook is the largest social network on the planet. It’s where the masses are ‘digitally’. As a digital marketer, you need to understand what role Facebook marketing can play in your digital marketing mix.

Generally, Facebook is good for awareness campaigns. However, campaigns to generate sales especially work well especially when retargeting is applied. Facebook one of the social platforms that have really made their marketing tools usable, effective and results oriented.

With the recent introduction of Facebook Messenger advertising using Bots, Facebook is taking giant strides towards a bigger market share in the digital advertising industry.

As a professional digital marketer, you need to understand the types of campaigns that can be done on Facebook. You will need to know the skills and tactics of generating content that works for this channel.

4. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

The quickest way to get relevant traffic from search engines (Google and Bing) is to use Search Engine Marketing. When you pay search engines to make your ads show on top of the results page for chosen search terms you are doing search engine marketing.

It is important for digital marketers to understand the terminology used in SEM. Digital marketers need to know the steps in setting up campaigns in Google AdWords and most important the circumstances where search engine marketing is the best fit.

I remember a bank which was running a Google AdWords to tell their audience that they were sponsoring a popular arts events. I think for the money spent, there were better channels to use to achieve such a goal. For such a campaign, I would recommend social media platforms.

5. Search Engine Optimisation

SEO is the strategies and tactics used to make website pages rank higher in search engines (Google and Bing) for specific terms naturally, that is without paying money.

Good SEO is seen when your website pages rank high for your services. Ranking high for your brand name is the easiest thing to do.

Two ways to rank high for any brand name:

  • Register your domain name using the brand names.
  • Create a Google My Business account (and other local directories) for your brand name.

As digital marketers, even though SEO is not your speciality it is important to know how Google ranks websites. Understanding SEO will help you not hurt your rankings by any of your activities e.g. uploading heavy images in blog posts.

Interestingly, some digital marketers do not know the position they are on Google for specific terms around their business. And they don’t seem to care.

Professional digital marketers do have an area of specialisation but they have an above average of other very important aspects of digital marketing.

SEO is one of the core areas of digital marketing.

6. Digital Marketing Planning

The commonest frustrations that come to digital marketers could be avoided if people knew how to hold the pressure to act before planning. Going to create posts on Facebook or redesigning your website without a clear plan is a sure way to get frustrated.

Professional digital marketers take the time to plan and map out their actions and the relevant channels. This plan will serve as a reference for the future.

One of the challenges of working in the technology industry is that there is always something new and exciting. With no plan, some businesses are in new wave technology for no strategic reason. The time and money spent there are wasted.

Your ability to plan as a digital marketer is a mark of professionality. You can have very coherent efforts achieving different things on different digital channels if you are a good planner.

7. Developing buyer personas

Probably one of the most important of these skills is the ability to identify who the ideal customer is. Personally, I find this to be the most limiting factor in all marketing efforts after budgets. When you are not sure who you are talking to, you have challenges communicating effectively. In the end, marketers produce lots of ineffective generic messages.

The development of buyer personas is a skill that professional digital marketers need to have. This will make your marketing cut through the clutter to their ideal client.

It’s ok for a business or product to have more than one buyer persona. But to say that you sell to everyone is the highest deception in marketing. More so in digital marketing channels.

Digital marketing works by targeting. Creating targeted messages is easier when you can describe the target’s ages, sex, interests, life goals and background.

When this information is not there, the marketing messages created are just like Radio or TV messages – they are meant for the mass market and they are not action oriented. Learn more about buyer personas here.



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