5 Essential Digital Marketing Skills to Take Your Business to the Next Level in 2020

Originally Published: 22 January 2020
Last Updated: 3 May 2021
Written by: Nick Jolliffe

Reading Time: 8.68 minutes

5 Essential Digital Marketing Skills to Take Your Business to the Next Level in 2020

Digital marketing is an ever-growing industry, with a projected growth of 6.7% in 2020 alone. Digital marketing skills for your business are super useful and valuable as ultimately, it’s a growing industry because it generates profits.

Keeping up with the rapidly changing technologies of digital marketing isn’t always easy, but it IS essential if you want to take your business to the top of its game. But to make the most of your digital marketing activity, you need to have a solid grasp of the basic skills involved. Without this knowledge, you’ll find it impossible to keep up with your competitors.

First, you set the foundation by understanding the basic building blocks of digital marketing and then you build on that knowledge. Yet, as time is poor it can be overwhelming and difficult to set these foundations at the outset. It’s not surprising given how many activities you need to juggle when running a business. Even so, it is problematic to neglect our digital marketing needs.

For the vast majority of businesses in today’s market, being competent in digital marketing is an essential component in remaining competitive. Whether it’s the business owner, staff or external support who have digital marketing skills, these skills are an asset every business needs.

To help you understand which skills you need, we have outlined below the five most relevant digital marketing skills every business needs to have in 2020.

1: Content Marketing

There’s a common phrase used by digital marketers across the globe: Content is King. And it’s true. If you want to engage customers, you need to create content that people find interesting and relevant to your products and services.

This idea is true of traditional marketing and it’s true of digital marketing too. You can create beautiful websites, design witty and captivating adverts, understand your audience’s behaviour perfectly, but if you can’t engage readers, it’s all for nothing.

There are a few skills within this overarching skill set:


Writing good copy is a skill. Many people argue that writing is an art form (it is) and, therefore, is a talent you’re born with (it isn’t). Anyone can improve their copywriting skills, but…

Why Copywriting is Vital for your Digital Marketing toolbox

Search Engine Rankings: For online marketers, it’s an essential skill because the search engines favour good quality content over poor quality content.

Engagement Rates: People prefer to engage with content that is easy to understand. You can see this reflected in search engine optimisation (SEO). Text that has a good readability score is more popular than text that has poor readability. Therefore, good writing means more people will engage with your content.

Trust: When you put effort into your writing, it shows that you’re an honest brand. You have spent time and money to make things easier for your customers. When your writing is easy to understand and gives your customers the information they need, it makes it easier for them to make decisions. Consumers love brand transparency, it shows you aren’t trying to trick them into buying from you. You are upfront and honest.

Shareability: If you write your content well, people are more likely to want to share it with other like-minded people. We’d all rather share content that’s interesting and correct than content that’s boring and contains errors, so sharing well-written articles and videos (scripts count as copywriting!) makes you look good — you’re sharing something other people will like.

Ultimately, all of the above are important for your brand because they drive profitability, earn a greater return on investment (ROI) and take you a step closer to reaching your business goals. Your readers know from your well-written copy that your product or service solves their needs and gives them value.

What makes the copy “good”?

Readability: Good writing does not mean academic writing. Many people think that if they use clever and complicated writing, people will trust it more. This is not the case. The optimum readability of your content should be 8th Grade level (Year 9 if you’re in the UK). Your writing must be clear and concise — say what you want to say in as few words as possible. 

But don’t oversimplify!

Informative: Good writing provides value to your readers. You must give them the information they’ve come looking for. Think about the problem your customer has and how you can solve it. For instance, we are a digital marketing company. The problem we solve for our customers is creating content that reaches people online. When we sell our services, we have to communicate the problem (lack of time, inclination or audience) and the solution (our expertise at creating content and finding relevant audiences online).

Attractive: Good writing catches people’s attention. Tell a story, use relevant statistics, use interesting quotes, ask questions and be relevant.

Relevancy: If your writing isn’t relevant, it doesn’t matter how interesting you make it, how well you write it, or how eye-catching it is, it will not have the desired effect of promoting your brand. You must give people what they want. If they’re reading your content, it must be about their relationship with your brand — how are you here to help them?

Direction: Finally, good copy tells the reader what to do next — it has a call to action. You’re directing them through the sales funnel with every piece of content and guiding them to their next step. For example, if you’re creating a piece of content to introduce your clothing products to a new audience, your call to action may ‘Shop the Collection’ featured on a button or link, taking your customer to the next step of their journey.

Digital Psychology

This is a relatively new idea within digital marketing, but marketers are quickly waking up to its importance. It’s the creation of content that understands the psychology of the reader so that it communicates effectively and persuades. You might be aware of these techniques in reference to political persuasion.

Fortunately, it’s a lot less nefarious when it comes to online marketing. It simply involves understanding how your product benefits your customer and then finding the best way to convey this benefit to them. There’s a fantastic book called, Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion that details the ideas behind digital psychology.

Video ContentUnderstanding how people interact with different types of content is one of the most valuable digital marketing skills — creating this content, even more so. After blogs, video content is the biggest go-to content for internet users.

2: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Essentially, SEO is the skill of making it easy for your customers to find you online. It involves giving instructions to the search engines (e.g. Google, DuckDuckGo, and Bing) to show a person your webpage when that person uses a relevant search term.

Very simply, you allow the search engines to index your site by giving them access to look at your website’s code, they find relevant words (known as keywords) and they place your website in a relevant place in their semantic network.

The search engines effectively create a giant map of interconnected ideas. When a user looks for a place on that map, the search engines return the most relevant places. Your SEO task is to code your webpages so that the search engines put you in the right place on their semantic maps. This then drives the most relevant website traffic to your site, making it much more likely that the people arriving on your website are interested in your products and services.

3: Customer Experience

Customer experience (CX) is coming to the forefront of digital marketing. It’s the idea that you must cater to the experience of your customer at every touchpoint they have with your business. In terms of online marketing, this involves paying attention to user interfaces (UI) and user experience (UX). Hyper-personalisation is key to delivering a highly relevant experience to the user.

You need to be able to create high-end websites that enhance user experience. It’s all about merging form and function: Web content needs to be beautifully presented and easy to navigate. If you can walk the tightrope between form (visual design) and function (information architecture), and deliver, you’ll set your business apart from your competitors.

Adobe XD is a free package that you can get online. It offers you the ability to work on both UI and UX within a single software package. Working through their tutorials is a great way to hone your skills.

4: Data Analysis

Data analysis skills enable you to get a full picture of your digital marketing activity. It shows you how your customers are interacting with your digital media. You can use data analysis to study all of your digital assets, including:

  • Social media platforms and email campaigns: Built-in analytics allow you to track your posts and pages. 
  • Google Analytics allows you to track your website’s performance, including individual pages.

Testing and measuring the way people interact with digital content is the key to creating marketing campaigns that work. You can track all sorts of metrics, including:

  • Conversions
  • Visitor volume
  • Visitor engagement
  • Bounce rates

Understanding how your customers interact with your digital assets will allow you to make more effective, data-driven decisions. You will be able to anticipate how people behave and therefore make better predictions about the future of your business.

5: Marketing Automation

Automation is becoming increasingly important across the entire economy, including the digital marketing industry. Automation allows marketers to streamline processes and customise actions to interact with different prospects at different points in the sales funnel.

Examples of automation include using an automation platform to:

  • Send a welcome email once a prospect registers an account
  • Email a post-purchase survey to give customers the chance to give feedback
  • Optimise your website to act in specific ways when someone takes a specific action. For example, triggering a newsletter subscription pop-up when a prospect reads a blog for a set amount of time.
  • Send targeted emails to customers who have not interacted with your business for a specific amount of time.

67% of marketers use automation platforms as part of their marketing campaigns. Automation provides customers with a better, more tailored experience and it helps free up time in the business to work on other projects or other areas of your marketing plans.

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