16 Underrated Skills for Aspiring Digital Marketers to Master

Breaking into the digital marketing realm requires more than just a knack for social media; it demands a diverse set of skills. We’ve gathered insights from marketing managers, CEOs, and other industry experts to unveil the sixteen underrated skills that are crucial for success. From mastering data visualization techniques to establishing personal branding, explore the sixteen key skills these professionals recommend.

  • Master Data Visualization Techniques
  • Learn Marketing and Sales Psychology
  • Cultivate Empathetic Listening Skills
  • Develop Consistency and Persistence
  • Build Community and Manage Reputation
  • Gain Data Analysis Expertise
  • Understand Design Systems
  • Craft Attention-Grabbing Hooks
  • Learn Basic Coding Principles
  • Connect With Your Target Audience
  • Optimize With On-Page SEO
  • Excel in Data Storytelling
  • Establish Personal Branding on LinkedIn
  • Improve Your Writing Skills
  • Master Influencer Marketing Strategies
  • Harness Data Analysis for Marketing

Master Data Visualization Techniques

Data visualization is an underrated yet crucial skill for aspiring digital marketers. The ability to transform complex data into clear, compelling visual narratives is invaluable in today’s data-driven marketing landscape. It helps marketers communicate insights effectively to clients and team members, leading to better decision-making and strategy development.

To acquire this skill, start by familiarizing yourself with tools like Tableau, Google Data Studio, or even advanced Excel functions. Online platforms like Coursera or DataCamp offer comprehensive courses on data visualization. Practice by creating visual representations of marketing data—from website traffic patterns to campaign performance metrics.

Additionally, study the principles of visual design and storytelling. Understanding how to use color, layout, and narrative structure will elevate your visualizations from mere charts to powerful communication tools. This skill not only sets you apart in the job market but also enhances your ability to derive and convey meaningful insights from marketing data.

Tristan Harris, Demand Generation Senior Marketing Manager, Thrive Digital Marketing Agency

Learn Marketing and Sales Psychology

One underrated skill that I believe is crucial for anyone entering digital marketing is marketing and sales psychology. It’s not always the first thing people think of, but it’s incredibly valuable. Marketing, at its core, is about understanding how to communicate with people in ways that resonate with them. If you can grasp the “why” behind people’s actions, you gain a significant advantage in all your campaigns.

We often don’t realize just how much psychology influences our everyday actions, including our purchasing decisions. Understanding these psychological principles can give you incredible insights into consumer behavior. For instance, knowing about concepts like social proof, scarcity, or loss aversion can help you craft more compelling messages. Or understanding cognitive biases can inform how you structure your offers or design your landing pages.

You’ll see these psychological principles at work in campaigns from major brands like Nike. It’s fascinating to observe how they leverage language, imagery, storytelling, and pricing to tap into different psychological triggers. In fact, Nike often doesn’t even mention their products in their commercials. Instead, they focus on powerful storytelling that relates to their audience on an emotional level. This approach resonates deeply with consumers and has proven incredibly effective for their brand. By connecting with people’s aspirations and values rather than just showcasing products, Nike creates a strong emotional bond with their audience—and it certainly pays off in terms of brand loyalty and sales.

By combining solid marketing skills with a strong foundation in psychology, you can create campaigns that truly connect with your audience on a deeper level. It’s a powerful combination that can really set you apart in the field.

Michelle Merz, Marketing Consultant, Silience and Sonder

Cultivate Empathetic Listening Skills

One underrated skill aspiring digital marketers should acquire is empathetic listening. This means going beyond just hearing customer feedback and concerns; it involves truly understanding the emotions and motivations behind your customers’ words. This skill gives you a more profound understanding of what your target audience actually wants and helps to craft user-specific marketing strategies.

I learned the importance of empathetic listening while leading a major rebranding initiative. We faced initial resistance from our customers. A traditional approach could have been to bombard them with information and the benefits of the new brand. However, by empathetically listening, we realized that at the heart of the resistance was not a dislike for the new brand but fear of change—an emotional response. Our marketing then shifted focus to reassure customers and slowly guide them through this change. Results? A 30% spike in customer engagement.

To acquire this skill, I suggest participating in customer interaction sessions, reading customer reviews, and conducting social listening by actively monitoring social media discussions. Remember, empathetic listening begins with a genuine desire to understand.

Eva Miller, VP of Marketing, Digital Silk

Develop Consistency and Persistence

Consistency and persistence. Digital marketing, no matter what specialty you choose, all boils back to executing consistently and fighting through the “low” points. For someone entering the field, you can acquire this skill through hands-on practice. If you want to become an SEO, start your own blog, do keyword research, and write five articles per month for three months leading up to getting into the field. If you want to become an email marketer, start your own newsletter and grow it for three months leading up to entering the field. Digital marketing can’t be learned in books. It needs hands-on experience where you’re testing, measuring, and making adjustments. If you want to be consistent and persistent, get your hands dirty and get to work.

Connor Gillivan, Entrepreneur, Owner & CMO, TrioSEO

Build Community and Manage Reputation

For individuals ambitious to pursue a career in digital marketing, developing expertise in community building and online reputation management is important. These skills are often underestimated but play a substantial role in a successful digital marketing strategy. Mastering these skills is not a hard nut to crack. Follow these simple recommendations, and you’ll be good to go:

  • Engage in Relevant Online Communities – Actively participate in industry-specific forums, social media groups, and discussions to establish yourself as a valuable contributor. Share your insights, answer queries, and foster meaningful connections with other community members.
  • Host Online Events and Webinars – Take the initiative to organize online discussions, Q&A sessions, or webinars personalized to your target audience. This will not only help you connect with your audience but also position you as a trusted and knowledgeable figure within your industry.
  • Master Social Media Listening – Utilize advanced social listening tools to monitor brand mentions, gauge customer sentiment, and proactively address any negative feedback. This proactive approach can help in mitigating potential issues and strengthening your brand’s online reputation.

Kate Dzhevaga, Marketing Team Lead, SYMVOLT

Gain Data Analysis Expertise

One of the most underrated but very essential skills for new entrants into the field is data analysis expertise. In this era of digital transformation, numbers rule the roost in decision-making and marketing strategy formulation across all channels of marketing. Being good at analyzing data not only helps marketers understand consumer behaviors and choices but also enables them to accurately measure campaign effectiveness.

The following practical steps are recommended:

  1. Online Courses and Certifications – Platforms such as LinkedIn Learning, Google Analytics Academy, or Coursera provide elaborate courses on data analysis for marketers.
  1. Hands-on Experience – Internships or freelance projects where one can put theoretical knowledge into practice with real-life marketing data offer valuable opportunities.
  1. Continuous Learning – Staying updated with trends in the industry as well as advancements in analytics tools keeps marketers apace with their data-driven strategies.

By concentrating on data analysis, emerging digital marketers can stand out and help their teams achieve quantifiable and meaningful marketing results.

Pankaj Kumar, Founder, Naxisweb

Understand Design Systems

Design systems are a crucial but often overlooked aspect of digital marketing. They’re a cohesive set of guidelines that dictate the visual and interactive elements of a brand’s identity. Understanding them is important because they ensure consistency and coherence.

In my experience, a solid understanding of design systems has helped me build compelling brand stories and deliver more value to my clients. So, give it a shot, and I assure you, it’ll be worth it.

This skill can be acquired by examining different types of marketing campaigns. Start by exploring different design systems of successful brands. Pay attention to their color schemes, typography, layout, and other visual elements. Online tools like Figma and Sketch are great resources to learn and practice. Also, don’t shy away from enrolling in design courses, many of which are freely available online.

Tim Hanson, CCO, PenFriend

Craft Attention-Grabbing Hooks

Understandably, most newcomers to marketing are excited by the prospect of using cool tools or setting up complex funnels. That’s great, but most overlook the fundamental principle of marketing: the hook. 

The element, image, or copywriting that will grab your audience’s attention and prompt them into action.

Where is the customer within the funnel, what content do they need right now, and how do you turn a service or a product into copy that portrays a desirable outcome and resonates with the potential customer?

Ben Hilton, Founder & Managing Director, Switch Jam Digital

Learn Basic Coding Principles

A highly underrated skill for someone entering the digital marketing field is basic coding principles. While it may seem unrelated to marketing, knowledge of coding principles goes a long way in providing a better understanding of the digital landscape and helps in designing more effective strategies. This was a lesson I took to heart early in my career as a marketer in the tech industry when working alongside the IT department to alter web design for better user engagement, significantly improving our campaign results. 

To acquire coding skills, one can enroll in a short, online course offered by various educational platforms or tech institutes. This will provide the necessary knowledge and a well-rounded perspective on the human-technology interaction that forms the basis of modern marketing.

Greta Maiocchi, Head of Marketing & Admissions, OPIT

Connect With Your Target Audience

The ability to understand and connect with their target audience is the most important skill a digital marketer should have. Without understanding the audience as a whole and their intent for being on the social account, they will not produce content that aligns with those who interact with their page. 

To get better at this skill, aspiring marketers should listen actively to user feedback and pick up on any UGC that is left on their page. Additionally, they should know how to navigate through analytics tools and user-engagement platforms to see how people are interacting with their content. This doesn’t have to be on a large scale, either. They can practice on their own account and work their way up as they start developing insights and a deeper understanding of their audience.

Troy Walton, Director of Growth, Murray Hill Dental

Optimize With On-Page SEO

One underrated skill in digital marketing is on-page SEO, which ensures content is optimized for search engines, driving organic traffic. Aspiring marketers can acquire this skill through online courses, SEO blogs, and hands-on practice with tools like Google Analytics and SEMrush. Additionally, social listening is crucial for understanding audience needs and preferences, which can be developed by actively engaging with audiences on social media platforms and using social listening tools like Hootsuite or Brandwatch.

Katherine Devereux, Marketing Manager, Waterfall Arts

Excel in Data Storytelling

I believe data storytelling is an underrated yet invaluable skill for those entering the digital marketing field, especially in the legal sector. While many focus on mastering specific tools or platforms, the ability to translate complex data into compelling narratives is often overlooked.

In our mesothelioma practice, we deal with intricate medical and legal information. The marketers who excel are those who can take this data and craft stories that resonate with our clients and the public. For instance, turning statistics about asbestos exposure into a powerful narrative about workplace safety can significantly impact our outreach efforts.

To acquire this skill, aspiring marketers should practice interpreting data sets and presenting them in accessible ways. They can start by taking online courses in data visualization and storytelling. Additionally, I recommend volunteering for non-profits or small businesses to gain hands-on experience in transforming their data into engaging content.

Here in our firm, we’ve seen how effective data storytelling can elevate our marketing campaigns, making complex legal concepts more relatable and impactful. It’s a skill that can truly set a digital marketer apart in the competitive legal industry.

Johnny Cargill, Marketing Director, The Lanier Law Firm

Establish Personal Branding on LinkedIn

An often-underrated skill is personal branding, especially on LinkedIn. I don’t believe social media marketing works wonders like it used to. Many brands keep posting for the sake of it, but it isn’t working, let alone driving meaningful results. Personal branding is about subtly promoting your services or brand through social media posts (for example, check the posts of Jasmin Alić on LinkedIn). 

You can even ghostwrite for your CEO or founder if you’re in the position to do so. But you MUST write value-driven content, strategically connect your brand to your posts, and explain how your brand solves problems for your ICP. Don’t overdo it—limit yourself to three posts a week.

Siddhesh Patankar, Marketing Executive, Ajackus

Improve Your Writing Skills

Focus on learning how to write well. Writing is an underrated skill in digital marketing, but a crucial one. Content is at the heart of digital marketing, and you’ll need to create a steady stream of blog posts, social media captions, emails, website copy, and more. Learning how to write in a compelling, concise, and conversational way will set you apart. 

Start by reading widely, including articles in your industry. Analyze what makes effective writing stand out. Practice writing frequently, whether it’s blog posts or social media captions. Get feedback from others on your writing to identify areas for improvement. Use a program like Grammarly to catch basic grammar and spelling errors. 

Over time, your writing will become more natural, compelling, and unique to your brand. With strong writing skills, you’ll make an immediate impact in any digital marketing role.

Mahee Chouhan, Content and Digital Marketing Manager, Mitt Arv

Master Influencer Marketing Strategies

Understanding influencer marketing is actually an underrated skill because it leverages the trust and credibility that influencers have built with their audience. This form of marketing can significantly amplify a brand’s reach and engagement, often yielding higher ROI compared to traditional advertising methods.

Influencers can create authentic content that resonates more deeply with their followers, enhancing brand visibility and fostering genuine connections. By mastering influencer marketing, you can strategically identify the right influencers, craft compelling collaboration proposals, and measure the impact of these partnerships, thereby driving brand awareness and conversions effectively.

To acquire skills in influencer marketing, start by studying successful influencer campaigns within your industry to understand what works. Enroll in online courses that cover the fundamentals of influencer marketing, and actively follow industry blogs, podcasts, and webinars to stay updated on trends and best practices.

Practical experience is invaluable, so consider interning or volunteering with companies that run influencer campaigns, allowing you to gain hands-on experience in identifying influencers, negotiating collaborations, and analyzing campaign performance. Networking with professionals in the field can also provide insights and mentorship opportunities to refine your skills further.

Henry Purchase, Founder, SEOSpace

Harness Data Analysis for Marketing

One underrated skill someone looking to enter the digital marketing field should acquire is data analysis. This skill is crucial for crafting effective marketing strategies by extracting actionable insights from data. For instance, in music marketing, analyzing metrics like click-through rates and conversion rates for Facebook ads helps optimize targeting and budgeting, ensuring better results for artists. Understanding audience behavior through engagement metrics like plays, likes, and shares allows for tailored content that resonates more deeply with the target audience.

To acquire data analysis skills, start with online courses on platforms like Coursera or Udemy. Familiarize yourself with analytics tools such as Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, and Spotify for Artists. Practicing with real campaign data is invaluable; for example, refining target audiences based on data insights can significantly improve campaign performance. 

Joining online communities where data analysts and digital marketers share experiences can also provide practical tips and insights. These steps will help harness the power of data analysis to optimize digital marketing efforts effectively.

Corey Henson, CEO, MC8 Agency

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