Top 10 Digital Marketing Skills You Can Only Learn Out of School

10 Digital Marketing Skills You Can Only Learn Out of School

Have you noticed a curious trend when interviewing fresh-faced marketing graduates? These young professionals, brimming with sharp minds and digital know-how, often fall short in one crucial area: digital marketing skills.

It’s a bit baffling, right? You’d expect these digital natives to be all over it. But as it turns out, university marketing programs just haven’t kept pace with the rapidly evolving online world. They’re lagging, leaving these bright grads playing catch-up.

The heart of the marketing universe has officially shifted to the online world. In our line of work—specializing in professional services—the transformation has been nothing short of remarkable.

Gone are the days when brochures and direct mail were king. Now, it’s all about creating compelling online content and crafting engaging social media campaigns.

What You’re Taught in School Vs. What You Lack?

Let’s talk about what you’re learning in your university marketing programs. Sure, you’ve got courses on marketing analytics, quantitative analysis, marketing research techniques, and marketing management. These skills are super useful, no doubt about it. But here’s the kicker—they’re often not adapted for today’s fast-paced world of digital marketing.

Let’s get real. The biggest issue? It’s what you’re not covering in detail—sometimes, not at all. Think about it: Content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), social media strategy, and crucial software skills like CRMs, content management systems, and marketing automation.

Online lead-generation strategies also make the list. Here’s the deal: these are the essential skills, the bread and butter, of top-notch digital marketing programs. And guess what? They’re often glossed over in universities.

That said, here are 10 digital marketing skills you can only learn out of school:

Digital Marketing Skills #1: SEO Optimization Techniques

Before you dive into the world of writing, remember this: Your brilliant words won’t matter if people can’t find them.

Most folks discover content through search engines, with Google and YouTube leading the pack. Enter the magic of SEO. Don’t worry, it’s not as daunting as it sounds.

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is about fine-tuning your content so it shines online. Whether you’re crafting blog posts, podcasts, or videos, SEO helps your work pop up when people search for it.

Yes, each platform has its quirks, but the basic tricks of the trade are pretty much the same.

Digital Marketing Skills #2: Content Marketing Strategy

Digital Marketing Skills #2_ Content Marketing Strategy

Businesses are diving deep into creating awesome content to hook and reel in customers. Think blog posts, ebooks, white papers, and more.

As future content marketers, you’ve got to master the art of creating engaging, valuable content. Whether you’re blasting out on blogs, social media, or specialized platforms, creativity is key. And don’t forget to measure your success. In a sea full of AI-generated content, only the truly exceptional stuff will shine and drive that sweet ROI.

Now comes an even more important part: content marketing strategy. It’s not just about churning out content; it’s about having a well-thought-out plan to reach and engage your audience. This includes understanding your target market, creating buyer personas, and determining the best channels to distribute your content.

Here are a few things you should learn about content marketing strategy:

  • Content Creation
  • Content Distribution
  • Content Repurposing
  • Content Clusters and cornerstone content
  • Content Promotion

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So, as a digital marketing student, remember that while producing content is crucial, having a solid content marketing strategy is what will set you apart from the rest.

Put on your thinking caps and get ready to strategize. From creating killer content to finding innovative ways to distribute it across platforms, this is where your creativity truly shines.

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What You Should Learn About SEO:

  • Advanced Keyword Research
  • Technical SEO
  • On-page and Off-page SEO

Digital Marketing Skills #3: Social Media Marketing and Advertising

Social media marketing has transformed. Gone are the days when this was just an intern’s side gig. Now, it’s a major digital marketing channel for many businesses, complete with big teams all working together.

Want to stand out and land that dream job as a social media manager? Find a niche you love and specialize in it. Trust me, this will shoot you right to the top of the application pile.

Here’s what every aspiring marketer needs in their toolkit:

  • Understanding social media algorithms: These bad boys change all the time, so keep up to stay ahead.
  • A knack for creative posts: Your content should be visually engaging. Make it pop!
  • Knowledge of paid social media marketing: It’s not just about organic reach anymore.
  • Experience with social media analytics tools: Numbers tell your success story.

For social media advertising, you’ll need an eye for detail and the ability to analyze data. But don’t worry, it’s not all serious business. Get creative and have fun with your content. Use memes, GIFs, and trendy hashtags to make your posts stand out. Just remember to stay in line with the brand’s tone and message.

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So go forth, young marketers, and conquer social media marketing by finding your unique niche and mastering these essential skills. The world of digital marketing is yours for the taking. Now get out there and show off that creativity.

Digital Marketing Skills #4: Email Marketing Automation

Let’s talk about email marketing—a cool way to get the word out about products or causes. It’s an awesome tool for sending messages straight to a specific group of people who care about what you have to say.

With segmentation tools and targeted messaging, email marketing is more powerful and effective than ever.

Here are some key skills you’ll want to master:

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  • Dividing your email lists into specific segments.
  • Personalizing your messages to make them more engaging.
  • Designing eye-catching email templates.
  • Using marketing automation to manage and track your campaigns.

Digital Marketing Skills #5: Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Digital Marketing Skills #5_ Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

The next thing you should learn is CRO, which stands for Conversion Rate Optimization. It’s a way to boost the percentage of visitors to your website who complete a desired action. In marketing terms, we call this a “conversion.”

Why are conversions so important? Because they’re the ultimate goal for marketers. Now, what counts as a conversion can vary depending on what your company wants to achieve. If your main goal is to increase sales, a conversion might be a purchase. But it could also mean other things, like:

  • Signing up to receive marketing emails
  • Providing personal info, such as an email address
  • Spending a significant amount of time on your site
  • Downloading content like white papers or reports
  • Upgrading to a higher-tier service

All these key performance indicators (KPIs) are valuable. They help your company by either generating revenue or boosting engagement.

Here’s what you should learn about CRO:

  • User Experience (UX) Design
  • A/B and Multiverse Testing
  • Heat Mapping Tools
  • Conversion Funnels

Digital Marketing Skills #6: Data Analytics and Interpretation

Let’s talk about why digital marketing rocks compared to traditional marketing. Ever tried to figure out how effective a billboard is? It’s tough. How many people saw it? And out of those, how many bought something because of it? A total mystery, right?

Thankfully, digital marketing is a game-changer. With marketing analytics, you can easily track who’s seeing your stuff and who’s buying.

For instance, here at MediaOne, we can see how many of you are checking out this blog post right now. We even have a pretty good idea of how many of you might sign up for our social media marketing course after reading this.

Sure, the numbers aren’t perfect, but they’re close enough to guide us. That’s what makes digital marketing so awesome—you can actually measure your success. Now, don’t worry, you don’t need to be a math genius. You just need to know your way around a spreadsheet, understand the data, and tweak your marketing strategies based on what you see. You’ve got this.

Here’s What You Should Learn About Data Analytics and Interpretation:

  • Google Analytics Proficiency
  • Data Visualization
  • Attribution Modelling

Digital Marketing Skills #7: Influencer Marketing

Influence marketing is when your favorite Instagram or YouTube stars promote a brand’s products. These influencers have tons of loyal followers who trust their opinions.

Unlike big celebrities, influencers build strong, personal bonds with their audience. They use social media to create friendships and gain trust. Because they’re often everyday people with big knowledge in specific areas, their followers listen when they speak.

So, imagine you want to boost your brand’s image. Influencers can help by creating engaging content, running giveaways, or even hosting Q&A sessions.

You could also have them take over your social media for a while, posting on your behalf. To rock an influencer campaign, you need to plan well and understand your audience inside out. Here’s what you should learn about influencer marketing:

  • How to Identify the Right Influencers
  • Influence negotiation and contracts
  • Campaign Management
  • Measuring success
  • Best Practices and Case Studies

Trust us, students, influencer marketing is a game-changer in the world of digital marketing.

Digital Marketing Skills #8: Growth Hacking Techniques

Digital Marketing Skills #8_ Growth Hacking Techniques

Growth hacking originally came from the world of startups and small businesses. These companies often struggle with issues like low funding and limited resources. That’s where growth hacking shines.

Here’s the best part: you don’t need a full-blown marketing team to get started. Sometimes, all it takes is one creative person to develop and implement a growth hack. And guess what? You don’t need much money either. Growth hacking focuses on low-cost, sustainable growth strategies like content marketing, instead of expensive, short-term solutions like paid ads.

Another cool thing about growth hacking is that you can always track its performance using return on investment (ROI). This helps you decide if your hack is effective or if it’s time to try something new. Even if you have to pivot, just remember, that you wouldn’t have spent much money compared to pricey ads or promotional videos.

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Here’s what you should learn about growth hacking techniques:

  • Rapid Experimentation
  • Product Market fit
  • Viral Marketing

Digital Marketing Skills #9: Voice Search Optimization

Let’s talk about voice search optimization. Imagine making your online presence so strong that when people use voice search, your content is what they find. That’s the goal here—to get your information selected and read out loud by voice assistants like Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, and Alexa.

Now, did you know that you can also do voice searches using Google on your desktop? Yep, the results show up just like they do for text searches. But, here’s the kicker: voice search isn’t quite the same as typing out a search. When we speak to our devices, we phrase things differently.

For example, if you’re craving spaghetti and want to find a local Italian restaurant, you might type “Italian restaurants near me.” But if you’re using a voice search, you might say, “Hey, Siri, can you find an Italian restaurant nearby?” See the difference?

We chat with our digital assistants just like we do with friends. That’s why voice search queries tend to be more conversational, longer, and often in the form of full sentences or questions. So, when you’re optimizing for voice search, think about how people naturally talk to these assistants.

Here’s what you should learn about CRO:

  • Understanding Voice SEO
  • Local SEO for Voice Search
  • Schema Markup4

Digital Marketing Skills #10: Video Marketing

Ever been keen to notice how videos catch your eye as you scroll through your feeds? That’s because videos are incredibly engaging and hold people’s attention much longer than regular posts.

Imagine the impact you could make if you created a well-optimized, relevant video for your audience. Sure, it might seem tricky at first. You’ll need to pick up some skills in filming, editing, and even a bit of rhetoric and production. But don’t worry.

There are plenty of professionals out there who know this stuff inside and out and are often open to networking. Trust me, the results you can achieve with a great video are absolutely mind-blowing.

Here’s what you should learn about video marketing:

  • Video production
  • YouTube SEO
  • Live streaming

How to Improve Your Digital Marketing Skills

How to Improve Your Digital Marketing Skills

Want to sharpen your digital marketing skills? You’ve got plenty of options. You can teach yourself new techniques by diving into articles, videos, and tutorials.

Or, how about getting some hands-on experience with freelance projects? It’s a great way to learn on the job. And if you’re looking for something more structured, there are awesome online courses and degrees available. Whatever path you choose, the possibilities are endless:

#1. Teach Yourself

If you’re starting from zero, don’t worry—you can find everything you need online. Teaching yourself can be a fantastic way to get your feet wet with new marketing skills. Dive into some great marketing books. Explore insightful marketing blogs. And don’t forget to watch engaging YouTube videos that tackle specific challenges or areas you want to improve. You can learn at your own pace. There are plenty of resources to take advantage of.

#2. Take Online Courses

If you’re serious about picking up a new skill, why not enroll in a course or a certificate program? Courses give you a structured and contextual understanding of your subject. Plus, having a completed certificate program on your resume? That’s a bonus. Want some recommendations? Take a look at our guide to the 19 best eCommerce courses you should try this year.

#3. Degrees

If you’re committed, why not go back to school? Starting a master’s degree program in a marketing field that excites you could be a game-changer. Plus, there are countless marketing degrees and online certificates available. These can help you build the essential skills needed for a thriving marketing career.

#4. Freelance Projects

Want to sharpen your digital marketing skills? The best way to do that is by putting them to the test. If your current job doesn’t offer that chance, don’t worry. There are plenty of freelance or volunteer projects you can dive into during your downtime.

Freelance projects are not only a blast but also a fantastic way to break from your usual routine. Plus, you might even earn some extra cash. By tackling these projects, you’ll polish your skills and build a solid portfolio. That portfolio could be your ticket to more freelance gigs or even a pay raise at your current job.

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About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.

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