Top five skills you need to be a digital marketer

 5 June 2018

Digital marketing is an exciting and innovative career choice, but when you’re new to it, you might not know which skills are most important for digital marketing jobs. Especially when some job adverts can be vague about the skills they’re looking for.

Inspiring Interns Factsheet: Getting a job in digital marketing
Inspiring Interns Factsheet: Getting a job in digital marketing

Download the Inspiring Interns 'Getting a job in digital marketing' factsheet 

We’ve honed in on the top five skills you need as a digital marketer. Emphasise these in your CV and cover letter to get ahead.


Because there are only 24 hours in a day, and hopefully only eight hours at work, you can automate media monitoring and divide responsibilities between marketing team members. Split a list of important industry news sites and blogs between your team and read them regularly to stay informed. Start with Search Engine Journal and Site Visibility.

Next, set up Google Alerts for relevant target keywords. Instead of trawling the internet manually Google will email you daily, weekly or as the content appears. Try this out before applying for a digital marketing job by setting up a Google Alert for your own name or your favourite band.

Imagine you promote holidays - your Google Alerts would include your brand’s major destinations, such as ‘Ibiza’, but also ‘Ibiza holidays’. For a campaign around wellness holidays in Ibiza, you’d add ‘wellness holidays’, ‘wellbeing’, and so on, depending on search volume, which you monitor using Google AdWords Keyword Planner.

Idea Generation

Knowing the trends is one thing, but you should also come up with your own unique ideas for campaigns, slogans and partnerships. There should be no limits in the early stages of idea generation, so try to imagine what you’d do with no budget limitations and then scale back, rather than starting with a limited budget and refusing to dream big.

Own your brilliant ideas, even if they don’t all turn into reality.

Don’t copy competitors and don’t try and steal someone else’s thunder if they came up with an idea – you can raise it in a meeting when the time is right, but always give them credit.

Firstly, it’s bad office etiquette to steal ideas from your co-workers. Secondly, if you’re lifting external ideas, the internet is pretty hot on calling out digital marketing campaigns that duplicate other people’s work. Remember the 2017 YouTube ad for Philippines tourism that reportedly plagiarised a ‘Rediscover South Africa’ campaign from 2014.

Own your brilliant ideas, even if they don’t all turn into reality. Being an ideas person means you’re a natural marketer with the imagination to dream up something fantastic. You can also have fun in idea generation meetings, which the rest of the office will be jealous about…


You can’t escape the importance of writing skills in digital marketing. Hugely successful marketing expert Neil Patel says you need to master ‘the language basics’, but also ‘emotionally engage with readers’. The good news is that you can brush up on these skills with courses, copywriting bloggers’ insight, and by learning from great copy published by others.

Good digital marketing, and good writing, is about storytelling. It doesn’t always have to be sentimental or hilarious, either. Good copy grabs your attention and makes you think, but in many different ways. It might be a really punchy tweet, a clever video, or a totally relatable blog post, but it provokes a reaction and, hopefully, a sale or conversion.

Good digital marketing, and good writing, is about storytelling.

It goes without saying that your CV and cover letter are your first chance to demonstrate your writing skills to an employer, so make sure you’ve double-checked the spelling, grammar and overall wording used. For those of you who’ve linked to social media profiles or blogs in your application, make sure they play to your writing strengths, too.


As with any marketing job, whether you work for an agency or in-house for a single company, there will be times when you face a PR disaster or a disgruntled client. Sometimes the problem will be down to you, or to external factors, such as a celebrity ambassador being hit by scandal, or a rival company launching a similar campaign to yours.

Whatever the outcome, your professional reputation depends on you being adaptable and diplomatic with the solution to the problem. Creative software giant Adobe rightly says that adaptability is a key skill for digital marketers. Writing notes before important meetings or calls can help – start by jotting down the problem and create mind maps of possible solutions or ways round it. Explain who you’d need to get involved in these solutions and roughly how long or how expensive they might be.

When other people share their ideas, help test them out and don’t automatically discount them. Show willingness to take on different responsibilities and put in some extra hours to solve the issue, and you’ll prove your worth.

Face-to-Face Communication

Digital marketing is all about technology and screen-based communication, but you do need real life communication skills to be a success; unfortunately, you can’t hide behind a screen all day! As a marketer, you’ll have team meetings, company meetings and external client meetings to attend.

Networking is another important consideration: try to attend one industry event, such as a talk or networking drinks session, every six weeks, either in work hours or your own time. You’ll find them listed on industry websites (sign up to their mailing lists for updates) or mentioned by influencers on Twitter.

Try to attend one industry event, such as a talk or networking drinks session, every six weeks.

Treat networking events and talks just like work, to make a good first impression – for example, don’t roll in half an hour late to a breakfast briefing, or you’ll be remembered for all the wrong reasons, plus you’ll have missed the free breakfast. Smile, be polite and ask open questions (‘What does your company do?’, or ‘What did you think of that presentation?’) when possible. It feels weird at first, but you’ll be a networking pro in no time.

Nail these top five digital marketer skills and you’ll start your career as you mean to go on.

Polly writes for Inspiring Interns, which recruits graduates and interns across many different industries, including creative roles in marketing. It also provides the latest careers advice for the creatives of tomorrow.

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