More than ever, brands are prioritizing digital channels to connect with target customers and drive bottom-line growth for their business. As a result, the demand for high-quality digital marketing talent has continually become more prominent.
As the industry evolves, the role of a digital marketer is constantly changing to adapt with the latest tools, strategies, and best practices. With digital marketing now spanning across such a diverse range of core areas, it can be difficult for marketers to understand which key skills they should focus on throughout their careers.
As brands recover and begin recruiting in the second half of 2021, digital marketing teams will prioritize candidates who can add the most value to a team. Throughout this current downturn, it’s more important than ever for marketers to understand what core skills they possess, and what additional training they need to become the most employable versions of themselves.
But what are the most in-demand digital marketing skills you should start building?
After connecting with brands who are currently recruiting in the industry, I’ve summarized the 5 most highly-sought skills that teams are interested in hiring. I’ve also added a list of the essential day-to-day tools used within each role, the top online resources to start learning these skills, and a list of the best thought leaders to follow for inspiration.
Curious to know how your skill set stacks up? Read on to find how you compare.
1. CONTENT MARKETING
IN 2021, THESE ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT SKILLS FOR CONTENT MARKETERS TO POSSESS:
- Content research, including; keyword research, traffic forecasts, competitor analysis
- Competency in creating content across different formats – written, video, and audio content
- Strategic thinking – Being able to evaluate business goals and tailor an effective content strategy to achieve these outcomes
- A data-driven mindset, helping evaluate the tangible value that each piece of can content add to a business
It’s no coincidence that content marketing is the first core skill on my list. In my personal opinion, being an effective content creator is one of the most essential skills for any digital marketer.
At the heart of any digital marketing strategy – whether it be social media marketing, search engine marketing, or email marketing – quality content fuels the performance for each of these mediums.
The ability to articulate quality content that engages, educates, and captivates your audience is essential. Sharing value through content is one of the most effective strategies for building a long-lasting relationship with your audience.
Effective content marketing has been recorded to attribute 3x more leads than paid search ads. As a result, brands have started to prioritize content at the top of their digital strategy. This demand for content marketing will only continue throughout the rest of 2021.
As a digital marketer, creating content is no longer reliant on just simply writing blog posts. With users consuming content across more mediums than ever, it’s important to properly utilize unique content formats.
From blog posts, videos, podcasts, eBooks, social posts, events, and even user testimonials – it’s essential to understand how each piece of content can add value to your audience.
Having to produce all of this content requires more people than ever within a digital marketing team. As a result, there’s a significant demand for quality content marketers within the industry.
With brands looking to stand out amongst the sea of content available online, companies are on the hunt for content marketers who possess the analytical skills to uncover content opportunities, who can make accurate decisions about audience engagement, and who will continually add value to a businesses bottom line.
ESSENTIAL TOOLS FOR CONTENT MARKETERS
If you’re familiar with most of the common SEO tools used within the industry, you’ll find there’s also a large overlap in their use for content marketers.
With the need to create content strategies that drive tangible value, these tools allow content marketers to uncover keyword opportunities to make well-informed decisions.
The essential tools for content marketers include:
- Keyword research tools: SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz
- Asset design tools: Photoshop, Canva
- Video editing tools: Premiere Pro, Frame.io
- CMS: WordPress, HubSpot, Ghost, WebFlow
- Analytics: Google Analytics, Google Data Studio
BEST CONTENT MARKETING COURSES
If you’re ready to upskill your content marketing game, there’s no shortage of great resources to get started. With courses published by some of the industries top brands, you can not only learn the necessary strategic skills, but can also start to create and publish content of your own.
The best content marketing courses in 2021 are:
- Ahrefs – Blogging For Business
- Hubspot Academy – Content Creation Courses
- LinkedIn Learning – Content Marketing Courses
- Coursera – The Strategy Of Content Marketing
- Udemy – Content Marketing Masterclass
If you’re new to the content marketing landscape, most of the courses listed above will reward you with a credible certificate upon completion. This can be the perfect addition to your resume or LinkedIn profile while on the hunt for your next opportunity.
BEST CONTENT MARKETERS TO FOLLOW
The content marketing landscape is filled with plenty of seasoned professionals willing to share actionable advice for aspiring newcomers. If you’re looking for inspiration, or are just curious to stay on the cusp of the latest industry trends, these are some of the top publishers and thought leaders I’d personally recommend following.
The top content marketers to follow are:
2. SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)
IN 2021, THESE ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT SKILLS FOR SEARCH ENGINE MARKETERS TO HAVE:
- Technical skills for schema markups, building sitemaps, and processing redirects
- Proficiency in local SEO
- The ability to write engaging content that can be used to improve on-page rankings
- Effective skills in building site backlinks
- Experience in UX design
- The ability to analyze performance data for guiding benchmarks and strategies
- An understanding of new best practices as updates continuously evolve
Search engine optimization is by no means a new facet within digital marketing. This core channel is a powerful way to organically acquire customers through a combination of content marketing and technical implementations. By consistently publishing content of value, search engines like Google or Bing can interpret the importance of your website, then start to prioritize it within the search results page.
Sounds simple? Well, as any seasoned SEO Manager would know, it’s anything but!
With most search engine ranking factors hidden in a black box, search engine marketers are required to use their own knowledge and tools to build effective strategies.
From researching keywords, writing valuable content, properly structuring website schemas, building backlinks, fixing site errors, and uncovering UX insights – the role plays a detrimental part in the success of any digital brand.
With the reach of organic social platforms decreasing and the cost of paid acquisition channels rising, brands are turning to SEO as a means to uncover sustainable, long-term growth.
With over 2 trillion searches performed last year in Google alone, there’s no shortage of demand from users looking to source valuable content.
In 2021, SEO has been recorded to drive an average conversion rate of 14% from organic website traffic. When compared to outbound channels that average just 1.6%, you can start to interpret just how essential SEO is for brands.
If you’re a digital marketer looking to evolve your skillset this year, SEO can be a great place to start. As large brands and startups continually shift their focus to SEO, there’s a high demand for quality search engine marketers ready to get their hands dirty.
ESSENTIAL TOOLS FOR SEARCH ENGINE MARKETERS
Once again, you’ll find there’s a prominent overlap between the tools used by content marketers and search engine marketers. As both areas require initial keyword and topic research, marketers must draw data-driven insights from these tools, then effectively measure their performance over time.
The key tools used by search engine marketers include:
- SEO research tools: SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz, Google Trends, SpyFu, Answer The Public
- Analytics: Google Analytics, Screaming frog, Kissmetrics, Google Data Studio
- Google indexing tools: Google Search Console, Structured Markup Tool
- Local SEO: Google My Business, BrightLocal
- Optimization tools: Yoast, TinyPNG
BEST SEO COURSES
Once you acquire the necessary skills to become an effective search engine marketer, there’ll be no shortage of opportunities available. If you’re eager to start learning the fundamentals of SEO, or you’re ready to take your existing skills to the next level, I’d recommend checking out these great resources.
The best SEO courses in 2021 include:
- Hubspot’s free SEO training course
- Moz academy
- SEMrush academy
- Coursera – Search Engine Marketing Fundamentals by University of California
- Coursera – Google My Business by University of California
- Udemy – SEO 2020: Complete SEO Training
BEST SEO SPECIALISTS TO FOLLOW
The SEO landscape is constantly evolving with new trends as search ranking factors frequently change. Amongst the sea of content available online, I’d recommend following a few reliable individuals and publishers who live and breathe all things SEO. As most of these sources are professional SEO Specialists themselves, they share the most up-to-date content within the industry.
The top SEO marketers to follow are:
- John Mueller
- Steven Johns
- Izzi Smith
- Aleyda Solis
- Jason Barnard
- Dan Shure
- Neil Patel
- Rand Fishkin
- Guy Sheerit
- Lily Ray
- Alex Tachalova
- Search Engine Land
- Search Engine Journal
- Search Engine Roundtable
3. SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
IN 2021, THESE ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT SKILLS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETERS TO POSSESS:
- Having a creative mindset and the skills to develop engaging content
- The ability to map user lifecycle journeys across both organic and paid social channels
- Understanding how to implement conversion tracking and identify clear attribution models
- Understanding how to analyze performance data and make data-driven decisions
- An understanding of how to build and engage communities
- Knowing how to collaborate with influencers or customers to drive user-generated content
With more social platforms available than ever, the role of a social media marketer has become essential for brands looking to drive value from this medium.
As the social media landscape constantly evolves with new channels, tools, strategies, and trends, the demand for highly-skilled social media marketers has never been higher. CNN has recently recognized roles in social media as one of the top 100 careers measured by growth opportunities
Whether a brand is using social media as an organic distribution channel or is relying on it for paid acquisition, there’s a continuous shift in the skills required to maintain a successful career in this field.
Social media had traditionally created a medium where brands could easily share content with an audience. Over the years, this use case has rapidly evolved. With brands now focussing on delivering tangible business value through social media, it’s never been more important for social media marketers to embrace data-driven strategies that drive conversion-based outcomes.
As a result, the skills required to be an effective social media marketer now include a competency in analyzing performance data, making data-driven decisions, and developing agile strategies based on insights.
With a myriad of platforms available for brands, social media marketers are required to synonymously integrate content across each platform when building the most effective strategy.
As social media became ubiquitous, the industry heavily relied on both Facebook and Instagram. As industry trends have changed, however, there’s been a rising demand for digital marketers who are competent across platforms like LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest, and even private messaging apps.
With new industry updates being released each week, building agile strategies around new trends has become a crucial part of a social media managers role.
ESSENTIAL TOOLS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETERS
Whether you’re a social media marketer working across an organic or paid performance role, these are some of the key tools you’ll need to use throughout your day-to-day work.
The essential tools for social media marketers include:
- Organic social scheduling tools: Buffer, Hootsuite, Later, Falcon.io, Tailwind, Facebook creator studio
- Facebook Business Manager & Ads Manager – including audience building tools, pixel & conversion tracking, attribution modeling, A/B testing, analytics, and different creative ad formats
- Additional ad platforms: LinkedIn, SnapChat, Reddit, Quora, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok
- Research tools: Buzzsumo, Facebook ad library
- Paid performance tools: AdEspresso
- Content design tools: Canva, Animoto
BEST SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING COURSES
If you’re a digital marketer looking to take your social media skills to the next level, there’s no shortage of credible resources available to start learning practical skills. Below are some of the best courses I’d personally recommend, covering everything from the social media fundamentals, through to advanced strategies for social media managers.
The best social media marketing courses in 2021 include:
- Buffer’s Introduction to social media strategy
- Facebook Blueprint
- Hootsuite Academy
- Hubspot – Social Media Academy
- DigitalMarketer – Lab Plus certification
- Udemy – Social Media Marketing Mastery: Paid Performance
- Udemy – Social Media Marketing: Organic
BEST SOCIAL MEDIA THOUGHT LEADERS TO FOLLOW
Thankfully, it’s also easier than ever to start sourcing inspiration from passionate social media marketers within the industry. Whether you’re looking for useful insights, strategies, or tips, there’s a plethora of thought leaders and publishers actively sharing their practical knowledge. Here’s a few of my personal favorites, both big and small.
The top social media marketers to follow are:
- Matt Navara
- Gary Vee
- Charlie Lawrence
- Social Media Today
- Social Media Examiner
- Dylan Hey
- Dennis Yu
- Tony Christensen
- Jessica Campos
- Jenn Herman
- Vanessa Lau
4. DATA ANALYTICS
IN 2021, THESE ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT DATA ANALYTIC SKILLS FOR DIGITAL MARKETERS TO POSSESS:
- An understanding of how to properly structure and store unique data points
- Understanding of how to integrate cross-platform event tracking tools when measuring conversion goals
- The ability to glean unique insights from diverse data sets
- Proficiency with data visualization tools
- Having the initiative to build strategies based on well-informed insights
- A proficiency with querying languages like SQL
In recent years, the role of a digital marketer has significantly evolved as brands become more data-driven throughout decision-making processes.
Brands no longer rely on just their intuition when creating and executing digital strategies. With access to more tools than ever to track and measure data points, brands can clearly determine what specific strategies drive genuine value to their bottom line.
As this data-driven mentality has become more prominent, the skill set required by digital marketers has also evolved, becoming a hybrid between a creative enthusiast and a data scientist.
As data science has been recognized as one of the most in-demand roles, marketers must understand the influence that analytics will play within their day-to-day duties.
This demand for skilled data enthusiasts goes beyond those who can simply operate a Google Analytics dashboard. Digital marketers must now understand how to properly measure conversion events across multiple platforms, using a variety of tools, throughout each stage of the funnel. With brands recording more data than ever, marketers must know how to glean the necessary insights to make well-informed decisions.
Within any marketing position, whether it be SEO, paid acquisition, or content marketing, each role should understand how to leverage the data they have available to form the basis of future strategies. Having a basic understanding of querying languages like SQL will also go a long way as marketers begin working alongside data science teams.
As companies foster a data-driven approach throughout all departments – including design, development, and sales – it’s essential for marketers to communicate strategies and implementations through the use of data.
ESSENTIAL TOOLS FOR DATA ANALYTICS IN MARKETING
There’s certainly no shortage of new tools emerging across the analytics landscape. From cross-platform event tracking, through to data visualization, choosing which tools to use can quickly become overwhelming.
If you were interested in taking the time to explore some of the necessary tools for marketing analytics, these are a few recommendations based on the demand from companies currently hiring.
The essential tools for marketing analytics include:
- Analytics: Google Analytics
- Social listening: Sprout Social, Meltwater
- Data visualization: Google Data Studio, Tableau
- Event tracking: Segment, Amplitude, Hotjar, MixPanel, Google Tag Manager
- Data enrichment: Clearbit, LeadGenius, Lotame
- Data query language: SQL
BEST DATA ANALYTICS COURSES FOR DIGITAL MARKETERS
With the demand for highly-skilled data analysts rising, there’s a barrage of new resources to help you get up to speed across the landscape. From using specific tools like Google Analytics, through to learning how to query large data sets, there’s something available for everyone.
The best marketing analytics courses in 2021 include:
- Coursera – Marketing Analytics by University of Virginia
- Berkeley University – MicroMaster Program in Marketing Analytics
- Udemy – The Complete SQL Bootcamp
- Linkedin Learning – Analytics for Agile Marketers
BEST MARKETING ANALYTICS THOUGHT LEADERS TO FOLLOW
If you’re in need of some inspiration, these are some of the top brands and thought leaders I’d recommend following for content, resources, and actionable advice.
The top data-driven marketers and brands to follow are:
5. PRODUCT-DRIVEN MARKETING & UX
IN 2021, THESE ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PRODUCT AND USER EXPERIENCE SKILLS FOR DIGITAL MARKETERS TO HAVE:
- An understanding of how to drive user acquisition and retention from internal product features
- The ability to design engaging landing pages
- An understanding of conversion-rate optimization
- Competence in A/B testing
- A data-driven approach to product and UX decision making
With the cost of paid acquisition channels continually rising, brands have begun turning to alternative growth strategies that entail a lower cost, or no cost at all. These growth strategies aren’t a direct result of digital marketing per se, but are instead a combination of marketing, UX design, and product development.
Product-led growth is a business methodology that sees user acquisition, expansion, conversion, and retention, all driven primarily through a product itself. It creates a company-wide alignment across teams – from engineering, sales, and marketing – to collectively build user experiences that drive the largest source of sustainable and scalable growth.
One of my favorite ways to articulate this growth strategy is through the product-led prism created by the Product-Led Growth Collective. The prism identifies the impact of an engaging product experience, resulting in growth across all business areas, including marketing.
Building a growth channel directly into a product can create what’s referred to as a viral loop. This concept highlights the process where a user of a product becomes a distribution channel within their own network.
Products like Strava, Product Hunt, and Dribbble have all been built with features that empower users to organically promote the product themselves.
The platforms streamline the process of creating user-generated content, making it as easy as possible to leverage their audiences networks to acquire new customers.
Strava’s fitness tracking product automatically generates insights about a users in-app activity, then creates a social asset that can easily be shared to an external platform like Facebook or Instagram.
While this feature was built by Stravas software engineering team, the initial strategy was developed by their marketing and product team to reduce their cost-per-acquisition.
When looking to build product-driven growth strategies, an essential component is within the core user experience. Effective UX design creates experiences that are both intuitive and engaging. It’s important for marketers to properly analyze the behaviors of users throughout their customer journey. By harnessing the power of user event data, it’s possible to make well-informed decisions that optimize the end-user experience, driving more conversion goals.
ESSENTIAL TOOLS FOR PRODUCT MARKETERS
When building product-lead growth strategies, it’s important for marketers to understand how to not only design user-experience workflows, but also measure their effectiveness.
From design tools and analytic products, these are some of the most commonly used tools within product-led growth teams:
- Product wireframing tools: Sketch, Figma, Adobe XD, Invision
- User heatmapping & session replay: Hotjar, Crazy Egg
- Product event tracking: Full Story, Segment, Amplitude, Google Tag Manager
- UX workflow design: Whimsical, Draw.io, Visio
- Product event analytics: Google Analytics, MixPannel
- A/B testing tools: Google optimize, Instapage, AB Tasty
- UX communication: Intercom, Drift
BEST PRODUCT-LED GROWTH COURSES FOR DIGITAL MARKETERS
Ready to build your skills as a product-led growth marketer? With the role of a product marketer lying in the crossroads of marketing, product, and analytics, I’d personally recommend learning how these 3 key areas influence one another. I’ve found that the courses below cover a balanced mix between these necessary skills.
The best product marketing courses in 2021 include:
- Skillshare – Fundamentals of Product Management
- Udemy – Become a Product Marketing Manager
- Coursera – Introduction to User Experience Principles & Processes by University of Michigan
- Hooked (book) – How to build habit-forming products
BEST PRODUCT MARKETING THOUGHT LEADERS TO FOLLOW
The product marketing landscape is home to some of the biggest thought leaders within the industry. With experience leading growth strategies for renowned startups like Uber and Airbnb, these creators actively share insights and guidance with the sole intention to help others succeed.
The top growth marketers to follow include:
As the skills required by digital marketers diversifies, the overall role has become more essential within a team. It’s never been more important for marketers to have some technical capabilities across design, product, and development, as well as an understanding of how to work collaboratively across all internal departments.
READY TO TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR DIGITAL MARKETING CAREER?
Once you’ve equipped yourself with these necessary skills, it’s time to prepare for the job-seeking process. There’s no doubt that sourcing a role in 2021 is going to be difficult, which is why I recommend marketers take the side door approach to successfully landing job interviews.
This post was originally published on Click Through.