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The Top 13 Marketing Skills You Need to be a Rockstar Marketer

Stuck on a project? Want to level up your marketing? Here are the top marketing skills you need to learn + real-world examples from top brands.

Ben Kazinik
By Ben Kazinik
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Edited by Mayple staff

Updated January 16, 2024.

The Top 13 Marketing Skills You Need to be a Rockstar Marketer main image

You know how some people are afraid of math? Well, I find that a ton of people are afraid of digital marketing. Is it a left-brain vs. right-brain situation? I don’t know.

All I know is that marketing is always changing, the platforms change, new tools come out, and your audience needs better and fresher ad content. It’s a tough industry to be in and a lot of people get burned out for three main reasons:

  1. You don’t have the technical marketing skill for your project.
  2. You don’t have the right marketing talent (We’ve got you covered for this one 😎) or you don’t have the right marketing management skills.
  3. You don’t have the soft skills required to lead your team or convince the executive team to support your project.

Issue #2 can be solved pretty easily - give us a call. Issues #1 and #3 are a bit trickier but don’t worry. With this guide, we hope we can make things easier for you.

We came up with a list of 13 essential marketing skills that every marketer needs to have. And we explain why you should develop these skills and how they are used in the real world.

Let’s dive in.



Marketing strategy

A foundational skill for marketers is the ability to create the right marketing strategy for every marketing project or activity they’re working on.

Digital marketers need to be excellent at strategic and analytical thinking. Instead of just creating a bunch of content, social media posts, and praying something sticks, marketers need to think and plan before executing. They need to understand target consumer behavior, how to approach them, and how to analyze the results.

And no, you can’t just plug in all your data into a pretty marketing plan template and call it a day. You have to understand the concepts, talk to your audience, and create the right marketing mix and tactics for your project.

Here’s a brilliant example of a marketing strategy that GoPro used. The iconic camera brand created a fantastic way to promote its products with user-generated content (UGC). They have created video editing software that automatically embeds the company's logo into each video clip. GoPro then shares the most interesting user-generated videos on their social media channels.

This inspired even more GoPro users to edit their videos with GoPro's editing software and produce more UGC for the brand. They've also started giving out awards for the best videos — which hugely improves customer loyalty and gives even more social proof to the brand.



This skill is needed for: All marketing roles.

Writing

All digital marketers need to be good at it writing. It’s tough to be good in the field if you don’t know how to write.

The skill is handy both internally and externally. As a marketer, you communicate with different types of people. You need to know how to convey your message in writing to team members, stakeholders, and partners. You also use writing to create a variety of content such as blog posts, ad copy, press releases, web copy, emails, video scripts, you name it.

For example, the ad agency Mother helped KFC in the UK apologize to customers because of their supply issues. They used the power of copy to turn the negative sentiment into a campaign and, in the end, even improved KFCs' brand reputation.

kfc-were-sorry-ad


This skill is needed for: All marketing roles.

Social media and community management

Today, a majority of businesses use social media. If you’re not on social then you’re considered a dinosaur. Businesses use it for promoting and selling their products and services, engaging with their community, answering their customers’ questions, and more.

Social media skills are becoming more useful for marketers as more people use social platforms to get product recommendations.

To develop your social media skills, you first need to understand how each platform works, what tactics you should use, and how to work with the platform’s algorithm. You also need to be creative, know how to write, and curate different types of content. And then you need to create a stellar social media marketing plan and start executing.

One of the essential social media skills is community management. The most successful brands on social media have developed communities around their brand. As a digital marketer, you’ll need to learn how to approach people on different social media channels, communicate, and build relationships with them.

Pro tip: want to improve your community? Hire one of our top-notch community managers.

An iconic brand that has absolutely mastered social media is Nike. Their Instagram is full of amazing images and videos of athletes in action that are using their gear. They focus on the athletes and sports teams that use their products instead of the products themselves.

This skill is needed for: Social media marketing and community management roles.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Google and other search engines play a significant role in getting potential customers to purchase a product or a service. SEO helps businesses improve their organic search rankings. And with 53% of US shoppers using search engines to shop for products, companies can’t ignore the power of SEO.

Essential SEO skills include in-depth keyword research, competitive SEO analysis, on-page optimization, link building, and digital PR.

A great example of SEO comes from the American Egg Board, an organization that promotes the use of eggs in people’s diets. With the help of Rise Interactive, they developed a new keyword strategy, implemented a new site architecture, improved the UX, and did on-page SEO optimization. This approach resulted in an 87% increase in mobile and a 22% increase in website traffic.

the-incredible-egg


This skill is needed for: Content marketing and SEO roles.

Data analysis

Data is essential in marketing. For a campaign to be successful, numbers need to be involved. Data analysis helps marketers see which of their marketing efforts perform well and which need improvement. It also helps them plan, test, execute, and analyze campaigns.

Marketers use omnichannel data analytics to gather data from all the various marketing channels and sources and then research and capitalize on exciting opportunities as soon as they come up.

There are many data analytics tools marketers can use, with Google Analytics being the most widely used. However, other tools, such as Supermetrics and Improvado, are also popular in the industry.

improvado-dashboard


This skill is needed for: All marketing roles.

Conversion rate optimization (CRO)

CRO is the process of understanding and giving website visitors the best possible user experience to get them to convert.

If marketers want to learn how to do CRO, they primarily need to work on their analytics, basic coding, interaction design, and statistics skills. CROs need to be good at analytical thinking and understanding different business metrics, such as the retention rate. This combination of skills should set them on the right path.

Marketers that do CRO also need to know how to use a few different CRO tools. These marketing tools can be divided into three groups:

  1. Web analytics tools: Amplitude, Mixpanel, and Google Analytics.
  2. Behavior analytics tools: Hotjar and FullStory.
  3. Testing tools: VWO Testing and Optimizely.
hotjar-dashboard


This skill is needed for: Growth marketers and CRO roles.

Graphic design

As a marketer, you don’t need to know how to design visuals and UI/UX. However, understanding how color, typography, and layout work and what are design best practices is a great asset to have.

This skill will help you offer more specific feedback to designers and marketing teams and make better-informed decisions. You’ll be able to work more collaboratively and produce higher-quality work.

Look at how the meditation app Headspace uses a striking color palette and charming characters all over its website and social media. They do this to illustrate positivity, which aligns with one of their missions: to help people find more joy.

calm-instagram


This skill is needed for: Social media, content, CRO, and growth marketing roles.

Advertising

Everywhere you look, there are ads. You can advertise your brand in many ways — from billboards to TV commercials and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

Depending on what you decide to specialize in as a marketer, the type of ad skills you need will be different. If you want to be more of a Don Draper-type of marketer and create more traditional advertising campaigns, you’ll need to be good at coming up with creative ideas and concepts and then turning those concepts into words.

If you want to do PPC campaigns, you'll need to get good at statistics, writing ad copy, having a design sense, and understanding consumers and where they are in the customer journey.

Need some more book smarts? Check out our guide on the top PPC books.

For example, see this clever PPC campaign from Alec Brownstein. He targeted the names of top creative directors in New York with the hopes that they'll see his ad and invite him for an interview. Out of the five ads he ran, he got four interviews and two job offers.



This skill is needed for: Growth, social media marketing, PPC, and advertising roles.

Email marketing

Email marketing is the process of creating campaigns with targeted emails that have the goal of increasing sales. Email campaigns are usually powered by marketing automation. Retail and eCommerce email marketing campaigns are probably the two most recognizable.

To get good at email marketing, you'll need to learn to be good at strategic thinking, writing, creating, sending, and optimizing email campaigns, managing email lists, design, and analytics.

Emails marketing is probably the best example of how soon-to-be well-versed and successful marketers can apply many of the skills mentioned in this post to a wide range of marketing specializations.

Here’s a great email campaign example from the Japanese casual wear brand Uniqlo. In this email, Uniqlo has notified subscribers that a specific item they liked got cheaper. This is an example of an automated cart abandonment email where the newsletter subscriber got to the product page, and added the item to their cart but didn’t complete their purchase.

uniqlo-email-campaign


This skill is needed for: Email, growth, content marketing, and community management roles

You thought you were off the hook? The skills we covered are all technical marketing skills. You won’t survive the trenches without having some soft skills.

Openness to trying new things

Marketing is also evolving. New tools, competitors, and algorithm updates come out daily. So you can’t stagnate. The same strategies and tactics that have worked in the past may not work moving forward. If you want to be successful you need to be open to embracing change and trying new things.

A great example of this is TikTok. The new platform launched and I still hear marketers saying “it’s for teenagers, it’s not for my target audience”. Yet, TikTok has surpassed YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, with US consumers spending more time on TikTok than any other platform.

21.7% of TikTok users are in their 30s and 20.3% are in their 40s, so what’s this talk of younger audiences? Marketers that are daring enough to enter this new arena are getting incredible reach and engagement on the platform.

This skill is needed for: All marketing roles



Public speaking

Public speaking is almost inevitable whether you’re giving a pitch presentation to a potential client, reporting to your executive team, or giving a talk at a conference.

Even though you’re not selling directly, you still need to be able to pitch a product or a solution with ease. It’s also great for building your personal brand, which can only improve your 9-5 job performance.

This skill is needed for: All marketing roles

Ability to explain complex concepts

As a marketer, you are running into all types of people, most of whom don't share the same levels of knowledge in marketing as you do. We’re talking about stakeholders, bosses, and partners.

So you need to be able to explain difficult concepts in simple words.. The best way to do that is to break the concept down into the most straightforward steps and explain each in a simple and easy-to-understand way.

This skill is needed for: All marketing roles

Humility and patience when things don't go your way

Sometimes, no matter how great your strategy or idea is, it simply doesn’t work. You can do everything by the book and sometimes the product-market fit isn’t great, or the audience you’re targeting isn’t the best. Lots of things can go wrong and you need to learn how to learn from both the positive and the negative experiences and keep on going.

This skill is needed for: All marketing roles

Now that we’ve covered the various skills you need to succeed, let’s talk about ways to improve them.

How to improve your marketing skills

There are a lot of different ways you can improve your digital marketing skills. The most common ones include: teaching yourself, taking on freelance projects, and doing online courses and degrees.

Teach yourself

If you’re starting from scratch, you can find all the necessary info online. Teaching yourself is great if you’re just dipping your toes in a new marketing skill. You can read marketing books, browse through marketing blogs, and check out YouTube videos on a specific challenge you’re trying to solve or a specific marketing area you’re trying to improve on.

Courses

If you’re more serious about learning a skill, you can take a course or a certificate program. Courses will help you get a structural and contextual sense of what you’re learning, and having a completed certificate program will look great on your resume. Check out our guide to the 19 best eCommerce courses you should try this year.

Degrees

If you’re even more serious, you could consider returning to school and starting a master’s degree program in a marketing field you’re interested in. There are a ton of marketing degree programs and online certificates you could choose from to help you gain essential skills for your marketing career.

Freelance projects

A great way to improve your digital marketing skills is to test them. If you don't have the opportunity to do that in your current company, find freelance or volunteer projects you can do in your own free time.

Freelance projects can be a super fun way to do something different, possibly get paid for it, and hone your skills. You can then use that portfolio to land more freelance gigs or get a raise with your current company.

Have other skills you want to add to the list? Leave us a message.