9 Essential Skills of a Digital Marketing Specialist (2021)

Digital marketing is one of the most exciting industries out there. It’s fast-paced, great for detail-oriented people and puts people’s marketing skills to use. It’s a dynamic, quickly growing industry, and now is a great time to get involved.

Are you looking for an entry-level position? Maybe you have years of experience and are looking for a job as a marketing manager of some kind. Either way, there are plenty of marketing jobs available. 

You will find something you love. That’s true whether you want to be a digital marketing manager, a product marketing manager or another marketing team member.

Keep reading to learn about the nine essential skills a digital marketing specialist needs to thrive in 2021. 

What Is a Digital Marketing Specialist?

You may already be familiar with what a marketing specialist does. A digital marketing specialist is similar, but their focus is online. 

A digital marketing specialist is someone who helps an organization reach its marketing goals through the careful application of online marketing tactics. 

Digital marketing specialists are involved in every step of the strategic marketing process. That includes growth marketing and product marketing. Marketing communications, another critical aspect of strategic marketing, is also within their purview. 

The Role of the Digital Marketing SpecialistThe Role of the Digital Marketing Specialist

Digital marketing specialists work to promote a company’s products and services. They do so using technology. That can take a lot of different forms.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one aspect of digital marketing. It involves optimizing every part of a web page for search engines. Because Google controls such a significant part of the market share, it’s usually the focus of SEO efforts. 

Social media platforms are another form of technology with which a digital marketing specialist might work. Creating content that will appeal to the audience on a particular platform is an invaluable skill. 

Think about the difference between Snapchat and LinkedIn. You can’t treat them like they’re the same. 

Here are just a few of the key skills a digital marketing specialist should have:

  • Knowledge of at least the basics of marketing and a desire to learn.
  • Time management and planning skills. 
  • Being able to give a creative, compelling presentation.
  • Knowledge in key areas of marketing such as SEO, social media, content marketing, email marketing, PPC, SEM and more.
  • The ability to plan, create and implement an effective marketing strategy.
  • Understand the tools necessary to make key measurements.
  • Develop a social presence and advocate effectively for relevant brands.
  • Stay current in marketing trends and news, such as when Google implements an algorithm change.

Essential Skills for an Effective Digital Marketing Specialist

Because digital marketing is such a rapidly changing field, you’ll probably never know everything there is to know. That’s okay. You do, however, need to have a few foundational skills. Almost everything else will build on them. 

Data Analysis

Data analysis is one of the most versatile skills you can acquire. When you know how to collect and analyze data, you can make better decisions for your organization.

When you need to measure how effective a marketing campaign has been, that’s data analysis. The same is true when you want to collect valuable market insights.

While our focus is on digital marketing, every single industry can benefit from data analysis. Even if you change careers or entire industries later, you’ll still use your data analysis skills.

A note: people often use data analysis and data analytics interchangeably. If you attempt to research what the difference between them is, you’ll get conflicting results.

In general, the point of data analysis is to understand past trends. With data analytics, you’re generally trying to predict future trends. Both are helpful parts of the planning process and worth learning about.  

PPC Skills

PPC refers to pay-per-click advertising. A pay-per-click ad campaign is what the name implies. You, the advertiser, pay a publisher to post your ad somewhere. The publisher only charges you when someone clicks on that ad. 

Think about the sponsored links that appear at the top of a search engine’s results page. Those are often pay-per-click ads. 

A pay-per-click campaign is only effective when it leads to conversions. If too many people click your ad without purchasing something, you may lose money on the campaign.

That means pay-per-click advertising is really a multi-step process. The first step is to create an attractive and attention-grabbing ad. Then, you have to follow that up with a persuasive landing page. 

Digital PR

Digital PR works the same way regular public relations does. You want potential customers to view your company favorably. Unlike analog PR, you work toward that goal using technology. 

That can look a lot of different ways since the digital world is a vast place. 

A digital marketing specialist whose focus is on PR will likely focus on the company’s online presence. They might work toward expanding their reach via guest posting. The company’s social media presence is another essential aspect of digital PR.

Many of these skills are connected. That’s good news for aspiring digital marketing specialists. It’s easier to learn when skills build off of one another. Unrelated skills take far more effort to pick up. 

SEO Skills

Working knowledge of at least SEO basics is a must-have skill for a would-be digital marketing specialist. The basics might get you into a role, but you will have to learn more quickly. 

The end goal behind SEO is to get your webpage to the top of a search engine’s results page. You will want to do so for a specific set of keywords. 

Let’s say you’re working with a plumber. They want their business to be the one that comes up when someone searches for “plumber near me.” They may also want to appear in searches like “sink leaking what to do” or “toilet not working.”

SEO helps you make that happen for your client. It’s essential as far as marketing tactics go.

Of all the skills on this list, SEO might be one of the most challenging to acquire. SEO covers a lot of territory, and some of it is overwhelmingly technical. Don’t let that discourage you. 

Email Research and Marketing

You’re probably already familiar with the debate about email marketing activities. It’s been around for a while, and some marketers think it’s overused and therefore ineffective. 

There is a basis for that idea. Many of us wake up in the morning and immediately delete promotional emails without reading them. You don’t want to waste your time creating something if someone will sweep it into the virtual trash.

Other marketers view email marketing as an invaluable part of their marketing strategy. It’s affordable and nearly ubiquitous, so they have a point too. Because email marketing is so cheap to conduct, your return on investment can be high. 

The truth is probably closer to somewhere in between the two viewpoints. It will work better for some companies than it does for others. Either way, it will work best with a skilled marketing specialist directing the campaigns.

Because it’s so easy, nearly everyone does email marketing. If you want to be a digital marketing specialist, you’re going to have to know how to do it too. 

Social Media Marketing SMMSocial Media Marketing (SMM)

You can’t operate in a digital environment without having a social media presence. Social media marketing is a great way to extend your reach and the utility of your platforms. 

The best digital marketing specialists should be familiar with several social media platforms. LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the main ones, but others are out there. Each allows you to reach a unique audience.

Follower count is not the only metric that measures the success of SSM. Engagement metrics are equally as important, if not more so. 

Complex algorithms control social media platforms. In general, however, an algorithm will show users what it thinks they want to see. It bases part of its decision-making process on what a user likes and views.

Pinterest’s algorithm offers perhaps the most precise illustration of this point, but other platforms do it too. When a user interacts with one of your posts, the algorithm is more likely to show them your content later. 

If you aren’t producing content your followers want to like and share, you’re squandering a marketing opportunity. 

Content Marketing

In that vein, content marketing is another critical skill for digital marketing specialists. Back in 1996, Bill Gates wrote an essay he titled “Content is King.” He was right then, and the concept is still relevant.

Creating content is a critical part of marketing. It’s one of the best ways to get your audience engaged with what you’re doing. Having an engaged audience is an essential part of product marketing.

Specific, well-researched content can help your company appear more authoritative. Providing helpful content for free, such as through an email newsletter, can also help build trust and interest. Good content helps you meet customer needs.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

You go to a lot of trouble to get web traffic. Losing conversions because of something within your control is a waste of time and money. That’s where CRO comes in. Any marketing program is incomplete without it.

If you haven’t heard of CRO before, now is the time to start learning. The idea behind CRO is to improve your website so that potential customers are more likely to convert.

CRO is an ongoing process. We can’t offer you a simple checklist to follow and then throw out, never to be thought of again. 

As with the skills a digital marketing specialist needs, however, some building blocks are the same everywhere. You can get more in-depth, but there are four parts of CRO that we want to highlight:

  • The first is the design of your landing page. If it’s messy, crowded or hard to navigate, you’re going to lose customers.
  • Next, the text that appears on your web pages needs to be well-written and compelling.
  • Ask potential customers to do what you want them to do. If you want them to sign up for your newsletter, for example, ask. Don’t assume they’ll do so automatically if they’re interested. The visitors to your website are busy and distracted. Don’t make their lives any harder. 
  • Finally, make sure your site is easy to navigate. It’s almost a guarantee that at least one of your competitors has streamlined their website. If yours is confusing, you could lose customers to your better-prepared competitor.

Website CMS

The last skill we’re going to cover today is the ability to work with content management systems (CMS). WordPress, in particular, is a good CMS to familiarize yourself with, although there are others.

Being able to use a CMS lets you do the website administration tasks associated with your position. You can also easily publish content this way. 

CMS designers want them to be intuitive. It might take a bit of effort, but it won’t be long until you’re a content management process expert.



As you can see, a digital marketing specialist is really more of a generalist. That’s because digital marketing is such a broad field. To succeed, you need to have a range of marketing skills. 

It’s tempting to call it a “jack of all trades, master of none” situation, but that would be misleading. The best digital marketing specialists are masters of all, which helps them achieve their company’s marketing goals. 

Here at Selling Revolution, our focus is on helping you improve your sales process. Part of that might involve hiring a talented marketing team. A digital marketing specialist is just one of the people who can help boost your company’s performance.

To find out what Selling Revolution can do for you, book a call today.