What Is a Digital Marketing Specialist? 6 Important Skills

Digital marketing specialists play a huge role in business. They are responsible for planning, implementing, and managing campaigns that keep brands growing. 

But what does a digital marketing specialist do specifically? What does their day look like? And what skills does a digital marketing specialist need to succeed?

In this post, we’ll start off by breaking down what digital marketing is. We’ll then cover what a digital marketing specialist does, and the most important skills required for the role.

What is digital marketing?

Before we talk about what a digital marketing specialist does, let’s first talk about what digital marketing is in the first place.

Digital marketing refers to the use of digital channels to promote products and services. These channels include (but are not limited to) articles, social media, forums, mobile apps, webinars, emails, videos, and blogs. 

Through digital marketing, you can engage with existing customers and reach a bigger audience. If done well, digital marketing will lead to better conversion rates for your business. 

Digital marketing uses different strategies — most of which will be discussed in a later section. Knowing which combination of strategies to use will determine how successful your digital campaign will be.

This form of marketing is gaining more traction. That’s because more people rely on the internet to determine which products and services to buy (Google search is a large part of this). Users are also keen on engaging with different brands. 

Digital marketing specialists are necessary for any business. They have the knowledge and tools to engage new and existing customers efficiently.

What is a digital marketing specialist?

A digital marketing specialist is someone that plans, implements, and monitors a company’s digital marketing campaigns. 

This person needs to have a grasp of different online marketing strategies like search engine optimization, social media marketing, pay-per-click advertising, and email marketing. A good digital marketing specialist also needs to stay on top of trends in the industry. Those that learn when to pivot to a new strategy when necessary are at an advantage over their peers.

Analyzing data is a huge part of the job. A digital marketing specialist must compile all relevant user data and interpret it to come up with new ways to drive the company forward.  

Marketing specialists can work on their own or report to a digital marketing manager. Some of them work in-house while others run agencies or work as freelancers for small businesses

Almost every business runs some form of digital marketing campaign. Industries like healthcare, e-commerce, technology, insurance, real estate, and finance have digital marketing specialists on their payroll.

What skills should a digital marketing specialist have?

Being a digital marketing specialist isn’t easy. Anyone interested in the role will need to execute strategies that align with an organization’s goals and objectives. To get there, one has to know how to interpret website analytics and social media metrics. Knowing how to communicate with other team members is also important to keep everyone on the same page.

Digital marketing specialists need to be creative in their planning. Juggling multiple projects is par for the course. And mastery of different tools of the trade is a necessity. 

There are also specific skills that digital marketing specialists should know. Below are just a few.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

What is search engine optimization and why is it important for a digital marketing specialist to learn this skill?

Search engine optimization or SEO is the process of boosting a site’s chances of ranking in search engines and gaining visibility. People use different words and phrases on search engines to find the information they’re looking for. It is the job of digital marketing professionals to make sure that their clients are the first thing people see for relevant queries.

There are different ways to go about accomplishing this feat. The marketing specialist has to determine which of these strategies make sense and which ones to prioritize.

  • On-page optimization is what a digital marketing specialist would use to optimize the content and structure of a website. This includes tasks like updating the meta titles and descriptions. A marketer will have to perform keyword research as well and optimize articles and blog posts so that pages rank higher in the search results.
  • Off-page optimization is a marketing strategy where digital marketing specialists optimize a site by working with third-party sources. One of the best ways to make a site rank is by gaining links to credible, high-quality domains like those from news outlets and non-profit organizations. 
  • Technical SEO deals with the configuration and optimization of your website & its server. Search engines will rank pages that load faster and are optimized for mobile devices. Digital marketing specialists will make all the necessary tweaks to make pages perform better. Fortunately, there are technical SEO tools to help with this process.

An optimized website will not only drive more traffic to it but also generate more sales and leads. Digital marketing specialists take it upon themselves to make all the necessary changes to a website to make it rank higher for their clients.

Pay-per-click advertising

There are two ways for pages to rank in search engines. A page can rank organically — meaning it will rank because it meets most of the ranking factors that search engines look for including its relevance to a search query.

Then there’s pay-per-click (PPC) advertising which sees a digital marketing specialist pay fees for ad placements in search results.

With PPC, users can bid on keywords and phrases that they want to rank for on search engines. They even get to tell which pages would get displayed. Advertisers get charged every time an ad is clicked, hence the name. 

It’s a powerful tool that digital marketing specialists could use to promote businesses. However, it can get pretty expensive. That’s why whoever’s put in the position of managing a company’s PPC marketing campaigns needs to have proper training.

PPC ads are great for entrepreneurs because it gives them a chance to find the right audience for their respective businesses. And they’ll hire the best digital marketing specialists to get them there.

What does a digital marketing professional need to do to run a successful PPC campaign?

PPC experts are expected to come up with clear goals and objectives for the campaign. They are also in charge of finding the right keywords. Digital marketing specialists will also need to create ad copy and call-to-actions. If the campaign would rely on standalone landing pages, they would also need to optimize each one of them to get the best results.

Of course, regular monitoring comes with the territory. Marketing specialists need to make sure that the campaign stays on track. They should also make sure that they’re not going over the PPC budget. 

Testing ads are also part of their responsibility. If something’s no longer working, they’ll need to change the copy or design elements until the company sees the desired results.

Social media marketing

Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok to promote businesses. A digital marketing specialist is expected to create content for different social platforms to achieve their business goals.

Someone with a digital marketing specialist role could be asked to generate more sales for the company. But a social media marketing campaign can also have other goals. Social media can be used to raise brand awareness. You can generate new leads. Or you can use it to engage with your community.

There are even cases where social media is used to answer customer queries about the business. Some even process complaints through different social channels.

As a digital marketing specialist, your job is to keep your client’s social media accounts as active as possible. You’ll have to post updates regularly. That means creating content for the brand. Content comes in many forms — from your standard post down to short-form videos for TikTok, Instagram Reels, or YouTube Shorts.

You’re also expected to talk with account followers by responding to comments or direct messages. You can also like and share content from other users. 

If you’re using ads to promote your business on social media, that will fall under your jurisdiction as well. You’ll have to manage your client’s social media ads and make sure that you’re hitting your goals for each platform.

Part of the job also involves performing research. For example, some businesses will analyze which hashtags relate to their brand and use them on several posts. And if you collaborate with other social media personalities, you have to figure out which ones are right for your brand.

But one of the most important jobs of digital marketing specialists that are managing social media channels is analysis. You’ll have to go over the analytics across all social channels to see which digital marketing strategy is generating the best results. If nothing’s working, you’ll have to come up with a plan so that you can pivot.

Email marketing

Email marketing is where a digital marketing specialist uses an email newsletter tool to send promotional materials to existing or potential customers. It’s a great way for businesses to find their target audience and engage with them. This form of marketing can also be used to deepen relationships between the business and its followers.

There are so many things that go into email marketing. So much so that some digital marketing specialists choose to specialize in this field. There are just so many skills that one needs to master to be effective in email marketing.

Building an email list alone takes a lot of effort. You’ll have to create sign-up forms and even do in-person events in some cases. The job will also require digital marketing specialists to learn how to properly segment their lists. This is done to make sure that they’re able to target the right people with every email sent.

An email marketer needs to be good at creating subject lines. Not only do they need to be catchy, but they should also give the email users enough reason to click them open. The email content itself needs to be just as great. 

A/B testing is one of the tasks you’ll need to fulfill as an email marketer. This refers to launching tests to find the most effective emails to use for promotion. 

And of course, you’ll need to measure and analyze the results. It’s the only way to know which email campaigns are working and which ones aren’t. Needless to say, whoever’s up for the job will need to know how to use different email marketing software and understand different email-related metrics such as open rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate.

Businesses need to run email marketing campaigns because it helps them connect with users outside of social media. And it’s also a good way to introduce new products and promotions. So they need to hire a digital marketing specialist that understands all of their needs.

Content marketing

Digital marketers need to be great at content marketing. It’s often the first skill marketers learn before becoming professionals. It’s also the core of most digital marketing specialist duties. After all, you’ll need content for SEO, social media, email, and other digital campaigns. 

But a digital marketing specialist can’t put out just any type of content. They have to be valuable and relevant. It would also help if the content produced would be consistent with content produced by other members of the marketing team.

A digital marketing specialist can be assigned to write blog posts, articles, social media posts, emails, videos, webinars, infographics, white papers, online courses, podcasts, and more.

What is a digital marketing specialist supposed to do as part of the content marketing team?

Online marketing campaigns need to happen on a tight and consistent schedule. To achieve this, a digital marketing specialist is expected to create a content calendar. A content calendar shows what content will be published on which platforms over a specific period. It helps keep everyone on the same page and ensures that there’s always content in the pipeline.

The digital marketing specialist will also have a hand in setting the goals and monitoring the progress of all the content marketing campaigns. In most cases, marketers will use Google Analytics to see if the content is delivering the desired results. However, a digital marketing manager might have to use specialized tools depending on the situation.

Of course, anyone assigned to the content marketing team will have to write high-quality content. It’s not unusual for writers to perform keyword research to help achieve the company’s SEO goals.

After content is published, the digital marketing specialist will have to distribute and promote their work. 

The digital marketing industry uses content to attract and retain customers, gain trust, have credibility, and achieve business goals. That’s why every business needs content creators to make these happen. 

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is fairly new as far as digital marketing specialist jobs are concerned. For the unfamiliar, influencer marketing involves working with social media users that have secured a large following. The idea is to have these people use their influence to promote your business on your behalf. In return, these influencers get compensated for their effort.

This is a great way to get in touch with users who may not have heard about your brand before. And because you’re getting promoted by a social media user that people trust, you gain credibility right from the start.

A digital marketing specialist that dabbles in influencer marketing will perform tasks like finding the right people to work with. Doing business with the right influencers is important. It’s not just about finding influencers with lots of followers. It’s just as important to find those that have the same target audience as you.

The digital marketing specialist will also be in charge of creating briefs for the influencer marketing campaign. Influencers can refuse to work with you if the goal and perks of the collaboration aren’t clear. The brief will also explain what influencers need to do for you and which social channels they have to use. So you need to be crystal clear.

If you’re in charge of the influencer marketing campaign, you may have to do some negotiating. What are each influencer’s terms? And if they’re getting paid in cash, what’s their rate? This is something you’d have to settle before you get to move forward with the campaign.

And as always, you’re going to have to monitor all the results. That way, you’ll know if it’s even worth continuing with the campaign or not. Keep in mind that influencer marketing can get expensive if you don’t control your budget well. You don’t want to overpay for a campaign that’s simply not working. 

Influencer marketing is an effective way for companies to reach their intended audience. It lets them build trust and credibility with potential clients. That’s why it’s important to plan and execute influencer marketing campaigns carefully to get the best results.

If you’d like to learn more, check out our post on influencer marketing stats.

Final thoughts

Now, you should have a good example of the kind of tasks that a digital marketing specialist would need to perform.

It’s also worth noting that you could choose to specialize in any one of the skills/verticals that we have discussed above.

For example, you could choose to become a social media manager and specialize in that one area. 

After all, some companies specifically look to hire social media agencies because they’re specifically looking for help with that marketing channel.

Even if you do go down this route of specializing in one area of digital marketing, it’s still worth familiarizing yourself with other areas of marketing. For example, most of these areas are tightly connected. For example, social media & influencer marketing.