Most In-Demand Digital Marketing Skills in 2021 — and How to Learn Them!

The digital marketing industry has evolved quite a bit in the last few decades, and much of this change has been spurred by parallel advancements in social media, autonomous technology and big data analytics (among others). As a result, many industry jobs are expected to see above-average growth by 2029, making it more crucial than ever for new digital marketers to be well-versed in applicable skills.

Below, we have included a list of the 5 most in-demand digital marketing skills in 2021:

The 5 Most In-Demand Digital Marketing Skills

Before entering the field, aspiring digital marketers should establish a foundational skill set to increase their hiring qualifications, fine-tune crucial industry prerequisites and ensure long-lasting success in their new role.

The following is a list of key digital marketing skills (and related digital marketing career resources). While this list is not necessarily all-encompassing, it serves as a solid starting point for those interested in pursuing a digital marketing career.

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization (SEO) has become a leading practice in the modern digital landscape. It broadly refers to a multitude of focal points contributing to a digital property’s discoverability within search engine ranking algorithms. These areas broadly include content development, on-page optimization, aesthetics, page speed, acquiring links from other domains and general usability.

By fleshing out these fields, digital marketers put their desired landing pages in competition for increased engagement. Optimization, in this sense, is constantly growing to encompass a variety of search types depending on the initiative and intended audience. This could include video, image, local and news results, making SEO an ever-changing part of digital marketing.

Digital marketers must keep their campaigns fluid from an optimization standpoint, with necessary adjustments being made to reflect algorithm changes, behavioral shifts within audiences and various usability factors stemming from different social media platforms.

Learn more about SEO:

2. Content Marketing

In modern digital marketing, content is the name of the game. This broad but increasingly crucial term can refer to everything from standard ad copy to multimedia and, like SEO, it is usually aligned with the marketing campaign’s goal or target demographic.

Content marketing is exactly what it sounds like — a way to put content front and center; creating an overarching sense of relevance for targeted viewers. Such campaigns are generally cost-effective and tailored to attract a more personalized audience and retain their attention.

Learn more about content marketing:

3. Video

Ad-based multimedia is essentially a subdivision of content marketing, but it has grown as its own concentration within the broader digital marketing industry. Video is perhaps the most effective form of marketing multimedia, as it consistently grabs attention and holds it long enough to garner potential engagement. Digital campaigns often utilize auto-playing video clips to make ads stand out amidst crowded social media feeds, video playlists and other highly active online media.

Learn more about video:

4. Marketing Analytics

Data analytics is the underlying framework of all viable digital marketing campaigns. It allows marketers to track any number of important metrics including engagement, impressions, bounce rate and video completions. These figures paint a clearer picture of an ad’s performance in a given channel, allowing marketers to maintain successful practices and make changes to underperforming campaigns (adjust copy, restructure targeting efforts, upload different ad creative, etc.).

Learn more about marketing analytics:

5. Social Media

Social media presence is almost synonymous with digital marketing success in 2021. It is essentially digital marketing’s symbiotic partner, offering a landscape predicated on personalization. Many leading social media platforms include their own internal forms of targeted advertising which are typically placed within each platform’s unique infrastructure. For example, Facebook allows ads to be targeted based on any number of relevant similar likes, so a local concert ad could be targeted to Facebook users who have liked the pages of similar artists — or those who have liked applicable pages within the community (other music venues, record stores, etc.).

Learn more about social media:

A chart highlighting the percentage of digital marketers using Facebook.


Ready to learn in-demand digital marketing skills?

Berkeley Digital Marketing Boot Camp offers convenient weeknight and Saturday morning classes for busy professionals to dive into a comprehensive curriculum that covers all of the fundamental concepts necessary to become skilled in digital marketing.


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How to Learn the Top Digital Marketing Skills

Today’s ever-changing, multifaceted digital marketing industry requires a versatile skill set. Aspiring marketers must be well-versed in audience-specific communication, strategic thinking and flexibility when approaching a variety of responsibilities. Marketing companies depend on such traits to remain competitive as new best practices emerge. For example, according to Social Media Examiner’s 2021 Social Media Marketing Report (PDF 14.3 MB), 47 percent of surveyed marketers intend to increase their advertising efforts on Facebook alone in the coming years.

Fortunately, there are several effective educational paths through which one can learn digital marketing skills. These paths include digital marketing bootcamps, traditional degrees and self-taught options.

Digital Marketing Bootcamps

Digital marketing bootcamps offer practical instruction, providing hands-on, real-world experiences participants will encounter as digital marketing professionals. These programs are usually quick to complete (e.g., Berkeley Digital Marketing Boot Camp is just 18 weeks long) and are accessible to any prior experience level. These characteristics make bootcamps an ideal choice for aspiring marketers, upskillers and job switchers alike.


For Korinne Munson — a senior communications professional in the wine and spirits industry — the three most career-changing topics covered in depth by Berkeley Digital Marketing Boot Camp were email marketing, channel strategy and website optimization.
Read her story here.


Digital Marketing Degrees

Alternatively, traditional degrees provide a considerable amount of valuable digital marketing knowledge, though they generally take longer to complete and are less hands-on. These options allow learners to hone key industry skills in a more general, communal environment; following course curricula associated with an applicable major program. Degree-related instruction is usually not as hands-on as that of a digital marketing bootcamp, but it does offer a bridge between specialized marketing techniques and general knowledge in parallel fields.

Self-Taught Options

Self-taught options, on the other hand, cater to individuals interested in learning digital marketing at their own pace in a customized structure. These options can range from online courses and educational apps to digital guides. Since self-guided resources are heavily reliant on self-discipline, learners must be focused, committed and well-organized as they navigate their preferred medium of study.

Also, see our guide 20 Free Digital Marketing Resources to Get You Started.

The Top Five Soft Skills All Digital Marketers Need

While tech skills are vital for digital marketers, soft skills are equally important. These skills are rooted in a worker’s personality, emotional IQ, maturity level and self-confidence (among countless other concentrations). Collectively, soft skills are a natural complement to technological knowledge and, given digital marketing’s blend of tech-savviness and intuition, they are areas worth honing while on the path to industry employment.

The following are five of the most valuable soft skills in digital marketing.

A graphic representing the top 5 soft skills all digital marketers should possess.

1. Creativity

A timelessly relevant soft skill, creativity sits at the heart of most successful digital marketing campaigns. Modern marketers must be creative in a variety of capacities to differentiate their ads from competitors — simply defaulting to generic copy and stock images is no longer enough. Today’s audiences are subject to a flurry of different ads tailored to their personal interests, web habits and social media connections. With that said, a little imagination can go a long way in structuring an ad to stand out and capture engagement.

Learn more about creativity in marketing:

2. Persuasion

The art of marketing hinges on persuasion. You are basically trying to persuade your audience that your content is more relevant, valuable and important to them than all the other content competing for their attention. Inherently, this process can be complex, as your writing and design choices must be employed with different perspectives in mind — who is your target audience and what copy or imagery will persuade them to engage with your ad? This type of logical, forward-thinking strategy is imperative in creating effective, long-lasting campaigns that yield desirable returns and forge habitual interest amongst your audience.

Learn more about persuasion in marketing:

3. Analytical Thinking

Digital marketing is a metric-driven industry, so strong analytical knowledge is a must. However, in a soft skill sense, this knowledge must include the ability to interpret each metric’s performance-based implications and consider them when contemplating potential changes to campaigns. By developing a full understanding of marketing campaign analytics, you will be able to reinforce your intuition-based decisions with hard stats while cultivating a more informed ad creation process.

Learn more about analytical thinking in marketing:

4. Curiosity

The marketing world is constantly changing and this warrants a consistent desire to fine-tune deficiencies, take advantage of new trends and glean key industry lessons. All of these actions stem from curiosity, making it one of the industry’s most important soft skills. As a marketer, you should never become complacent, regardless of your current success or body of knowledge. Stay up to speed on significant marketing headlines, updates to ad programs or outlets and report changes to consumer behavior. Keeping your knowledge of consumer trends and media current will make you unflappable in the face of sudden challenges; allowing you to focus on innovation in lieu of damage control.

Learn more about curiosity in marketing:

5. Social Skills

Most digital marketing campaigns are collaborative efforts, and navigating these projects requires a strong set of social skills. Regardless of your role within the team, you must be both personable and adept in communication. These social skills will ensure you are doing your part to foster a culture of trust, transparency and cohesion. This skill set is also vital in an external sense, as a large portion of modern marketing is rooted in social media communities. Understanding how users interact successfully within these environments can aid in stronger, more individualized ad creation and benefit your team’s efforts overall.

Learn more about social skills in the marketing workplace:

FAQs

Fledgling digital marketers should strive to hone a variety of hard and soft skills, and it is important to seek out an educational pathway emphasizing industry fundamentals. Berkeley Digital Marketing Boot Camp, for instance, offers a comprehensive curriculum that teaches top industry skills in a practical, real-world manner. These concentrations include brand building, brand strategy, campaign objectives, lead generation, conversion funnels, competitive research and content strategy — all of which are critical fields contributing to long-lasting marketing success.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 6 percent employment growth for all marketing careers by 2029, which makes digital marketing a promising career path for those with the necessary skill set. What’s more, the field is comprised of numerous concentrations, including social media marketing, video marketing and content marketing. This opens up a variety of employment opportunities, and new marketers can increase their hiring potential by becoming well-versed in as many of these concentrations as possible. A broader array of skills makes it easier to be creative, innovative and proactive in a competitive, fast-paced industry.

In addition to bootcamp programs and other educational pathways, you can improve your digital marketing skills by simply developing the right learning mentality — always assume there is more to learn, never shy away from honing an underdeveloped skill and keep yourself updated on field developments requiring skill refinement (or the addition of new skills).

While many hard and soft skills are enduringly relevant (like creativity and content marketing), others have risen to prominence in the last few decades. Specifically, skills relating to the broad shift to personalized, socially structured and data-driven digital environments — not to mention a growing emphasis on automation and perceived relevance. Such skills include analytical knowledge, content marketing creativity and social media savviness across a variety of platforms.

While coding is not necessarily required in all digital marketing jobs, it is helpful to have such knowledge for any tech-oriented career. There are countless programming languages that are both easy to learn and far-reaching in their professional application. Like digital marketing as a whole, coding is best learned through a practical bootcamp curriculum like that of Berkeley Coding Boot Camp.

Related Careers

Interested in pursuing a different tech career? Below, we have provided a list of guides to other leading positions in this promising field:

  • How to Become a Cyber Security Analyst: Requirements and Job Description — As cyber threats grow and become more sophisticated, cybersecurity analysts have risen in demand across many industries. Here, we offer a closer look at position prerequisites and related job prospects.
  • How to Become a Web Developer (and Land Your First Job) — Web developers are in constant demand, making their discipline one of technology’s leading career opportunities. In this guide, we illustrate the path to landing your first job in this exciting field.
  • How to Become a UX Designer With No Experience — User experience (UX) has grown into a make-or-break factor within web development, and UX designers are instrumental in optimizing digital domains to fulfill this demand. Our guide to UX designers is specifically tailored to those interested in entering the field without prior experience.

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