James Carr

There are many branches of digital marketing, typically including disciplines such as:

Many of the skills that are needed to work in digital marketing are specific to individual disciplines, but there are a few core skills that I believe all digital marketers share to one degree or another. Not sure you agree with that statement? Let’s find out…

Data Analysis and Insight

The Chartered Institute of Marketing defines marketing as “The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably”. How can you be expected to identify and anticipate the requirements of your customer? That’s where data analysis and insight come in.

There are many methods/tools that allow us to gather data about our customers, including (but not limited to):

  • Customer research, such as satisfaction surveys etc
  • Google Analytics
  • Hot Jar
  • SEMRush
  • Moz
  • Social media analytics

Website Data

With access to data that shows us the current habits or opinions of customers, you can easily start to identify their needs. This can include easy wins, such as:

  • Does your customer research demonstrate data that suggests that your customers find the service of one of your competitors more satisfactory that your offering? You can now bridge that gap.
  • Does your Google Analytics site search data show queries that aren’t covered by the content on your site? You can now write content to satisfy that need.

Data analysis and insight can also be used to help you to improve your current digital marketing efforts.

  • Does your PPC data show that most of your conversions are taking place at specific times of day? Set a delivery schedule that only shows your ads during those periods so that your budget is used efficiently (this assumes that you’re not already using an automated bidding strategy)
  • Do your HotJar recordings show that visitors to your site aren’t able to easily find the CTA for your main conversion? You can now make changes that help them take the actions you want to incentivise
  • Does the keyword ranking data for one of your key landing pages demonstrate a lower rank than you would like? You can now make improvements to the page to help to increase the rank of the page

It’s not always enough just to have access to your data. You must also be able to react quickly to any opportunities that the data presents. That’s where the next core skill becomes useful.


It’s sometimes hard to work out exactly the best method of marketing to your desired customers. Let’s be honest, anyone can throw together a digital marketing campaign that indiscriminately targets users and delivers poor results.

Often, success in Digital Marketing is a balance between insight, luck and timing. Insight can be achieved through analysis (as covered above), but luck and timing are often much harder to find. Enter agility.

When working on Digital Marketing projects, opportunities for success can often be found in unexpected places:

  • Is there a piece of breaking news that your service can support? For instance, when GDPR was announced, thousands of businesses leapt to advertise their GDPR support services
  • Has the weather changed recently, or is change in weather due? Perhaps your brand offers a service that people may need or research during this time
  • Has your brand been featured somewhere unexpectedly that you could leverage? Remember when a Starbucks cup was mistakenly featured in an episode of Game of Thrones?

A wise person once told me:

“It’s not always about creating a parade. Sometimes it’s about finding a parade and getting in front of it”

That’s never truer than in the case of digital marketing, and its agility that can help you to get in front of an existing parade.

Agility can help by allowing you to quickly react to an emerging trend with an approach of “Can I leverage this trend?”, followed by “Should I leverage this trend?”. If the answer is yes to both questions, you may have used agility to identify and anticipate the needs of a group of people who you may not have been able to market to previously.

Great examples of agility in digital marketing include:

    • Oreos – During the 2013 super bowl, New Orleans suffered a power cut. The team at Oreos quickly released their famous “You can still dunk in the dark” advert, which was met with delight from Twitter users.
    • ASOS – When ASOS discovered that they had printed 17,000 bags that featured the typo “onilne” they quickly took to Twitter to own the mistake. Instead of wasting the bags, or allowing the mistake to be discovered by customers, they decided to refer to them as limited edition instead. This single tweet received 586 comments, 8.5k retweets and 49k favourites.
    • Ikea – When Balenciaga released a £1,600 bag that bore more than a passing resemblance to the famous “blue bags”, Ikea reacted. The team released a humorous advert to help people tell the difference between the two bags. The campaign went viral and appeared on social media platforms and news outlets worldwide.

So, we’ve covered data analysis and agility, but there is still one more incredibly important core skill that is required to best leverage digital marketing.

Content Writing

There are many aspects to content writing being an important core skill in digital marketing, including (but not limited to):

  • Tone of voice
  • Ease of understanding
  • Suitability for platform

Imagine for a moment that you work for a company that organises children’s parties. Now think about the kind of words that you might use to get people to want to use your service. I’m guessing that you didn’t even vaguely consider words like “efficient”, “expertise” and “specialist” (which is good because I cherry picked them from a legal firm website!). The inverse is true too. You wouldn’t expect to see words like “exciting”, “entertaining” and “memorable” on the website of a legal company.

That’s why tone of voice is so important to get right when considering digital marketing. If your business deals with serious issues, where customers expect professionalism, you’re unlikely to make much headway by making your marketing humorous.

However, even though you may be comfortable with your tone of voice, it’s important to make your meaning clear and easily understood. A quick Google search resulted in the following sentence (which was taken from Statutory Instrument 1991 No 2680, The Public Works Contracts Regulations 1991, Part 1, 2.4, page 4 (catchy!):

“The revocation by these Regulations of a saving on the previous revocation of a provision does not affect the operation of the saving in so far as it is not specifically reproduced in these Regulations but remains capable of having effect.”

Understand it? Gain anything from it? No? I think I’ve made my point…

Finally, we have suitability for platform, which can really push the abilities of any content writer. I’m currently writing a blog, which gives me a lot of leeway on content length. But what if I had to advertise the article on different platforms:

  • What about a Tweet (280 characters)? As well as getting the main point of the article across, I would also have to include an effective call to action within those constraints
  • What about a PPC campaign to advertise the blog? That gives me 270 characters (three headlines of 30 characters and two description lines of 90 characters) to work with, as well as the challenge of including a keyword within the content
  • Now consider writing for SEO. This article itself must be written in such a way that anyone searching for the phrase “what skills do you need for digital marketing?” stands a fair chance of landing on this page.

Content writing isn’t just about how you connect with your audience, it’s also about having the skill to do it across a range of platforms without reducing the tone of voice or ease of understanding.


There you have it. Those are the three core skills that I consider to be vital for anyone working, or for anyone considering a career, in digital marketing. The next time you see a digital marketing campaign that you really like, why not check it against the skills above and see how many you think apply? Alternatively, if you think you need help from people who already have these skills, then get in touch with us and find out how our experts can help you.

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