06 February 2019 12:55:19 IST

Top skills for a career in digital marketing

Unlearn, relearn, be tech-savvy, understand how to read data, and know your clients’ clients

I recently stumbled upon a revelation, an epiphany, if you may say. It’s something I’ve experienced throughout my long and eventful entrepreneurial journey but never made a grand declaration about its importance, that is until now.

As I sat down to pen my thoughts for this article, I went into ‘total recall’ mode — back to my MBA days — and asked myself what is the most crucial aspect of digital marketing for an MBA aspirant. As the CEO of a company actively involved in hiring, I come across a lot of candidates during the recruitment process and it doesn’t take long to identify whether or not a person fits a role.

Recently, while interviewing a young graduate who was looking to gain some industry experience, it occurred to me that experience in digital marketing is not limited to a specific skill-set, as what you learn today can get outdated in no time. Developments at the ecosystem level (technology, consumer behaviour and client expectation) happen at a breakneck speed, and the learning never stops.

Today, we are approaching the marketing process in a comprehensive and evolved manner. A big leap forward from the traditional funnel system which focussed on customers before their purchase, the current selling/buying system is based on a flywheel. Several touch points are established with the customers before, during and after the process, paving the way for open channels for customer feedback.

Way to success

With this background, here is a list of skills/lessons that I think are important to succeed in digital marketing:

1. Learn to unlearn and relearn: Make it a habit to continuously upskill and add new things to your skillsets (technical as well as soft skills). This will help you to be in sync with an industry that goes through rapid transformations daily.

Action item: Develop a learning attitude — an ability to learn about new things, trends, techniques and more quickly. Develop a thorough knowledge of terms used by industry professionals such as CPC, CPL and CMP.

2. Be creative: Digital marketing needs a good combination of the right and left brain. The right brain is known for its creativity, and the left brain perfectly complements this.

Action item: Make a point to never miss any update pertaining to advertising trends and unique brand campaigns. Take risks and experiment with new ways of reaching out to the target audience.

3. Understand your customer’s business and their customer: It is important to understand the core proposition of the client and their products/services. Also, understanding the customers’ customer will help in implementing the best digital marketing strategy.

Action item: Be in tune with the dynamics of a client’s industry by constantly researching and reading on the subject. Take a step further and purchase/utilise your client’s product/services to experience the customer journey first hand. This will be of great help when designing a customised digital strategy.

4. Follow up and coordinate: A successful digital campaign is the result of a huge amount of coordination across different stakeholders not only from the agency and client but also with various publishers and some third-party players. Those who are able to thrive on uncertainty and manage to coordinate well to make things happen, successfully executing the activities planned, will be rare assets in the digital marketing industry.

Action item: The deadlines of many digital campaigns are sacrosanct. So, plan your tasks, write them down and follow a timeline.

5. Love for data and analytics: In today’s digital world, it’s not difficult to find data on different target audiences. Data can be a treasure trove to understand the functioning and efficiency of different channels and consumer behaviour. Hence, a good understanding of how to set and analyse the available data is a great skill.

Action item: Get hands-on with analytics systems such as Google Analytics, which provides data about demographics, interest, behaviour, and other custom parameters and dimensions.

6. Understand tech platforms: Adwords, Facebook, Third Party Mailers, Native, Programmatic, DMP, Marketing Cloud, among others, are platforms that are important for better execution of digital marketing campaigns.

Action item: Be tech-savvy and excel at the usage of these platforms. You don’t need to know all of the platforms; understanding a few of them thoroughly is a must.

7. Know-how of social media: The urge to adhere to social norms and be socially active is an innate need for each one of us. Understand and utilise the behaviour of target audiences to promote the brand efficiently.

Action item: Develop knowledge of all the platforms (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter) your client’s customers use.

Bonus skill

Here’s a bonus skill that I would like to add:

8. Data engineering/sciences and love for reading insights from data: The digital marketing industry is expected to see a growth in usage of technologies related to machine learning. A lot of marketers are already using creative personalised messaging.

Action item: Work to enhance your data engineering and data sciences skill set.

(The writer is co-founder and CEO of Logicserve Digital.)