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5 Essential Skills for Marketing Beginners

Ljiljana Ilovača

As a new business/marketing graduate or someone switching into a marketing field, you may feel overwhelmed with how to begin. There is so much online! Where do you start? Which skills should you first focus on? Which software is a must to learn? Do you need to learn how to code?

What is a T-shaped marketer?

According to Smartinsights, a T-shaped Marketer refers to a marketing professional with a broad knowledge of many marketing areas such as analytics, email marketing, social media, or paid ads and has an in-depth knowledge of 1-2 of them.

Why is there so much buzz about T-shaped marketers nowadays? Simply put, marketing has grown tremendously and there are a lot of different specialisations. But in order to have a holistic view and build a proper strategy, a good marketer needs to have a solid foundation of various different areas.

What is a T-shaped Marketer | Digital Marketer

So, as a beginner in marketing, you want to work on your foundation first.

Top 5 hard skills to learn as a marketing beginner

Depending on where you find an internship or your first job, you will have more or less opportunities to broaden your skillset. But even before you apply for any position you should already start learning. Here are 5 top marketing skills you should focus on when starting your marketing career:

  1. Organic Social

  2. Web Analytics

  3. SEO

  4. Email Marketing

  5. Content Marketing

  6. Bonus: Paid ads

1. Organic Social

Even the smallest organisations with very low or no marketing budgets recognize that having a presence on social media is valuable. Your job here will be to understand the brand (tone of voice, visual aesthetics, etc) and create visually appealing content for different social media channels. You should familiarize yourself with video and image formats and editing tools, how to prepare a social calendar and how to keep your audience engaged.

2. Web Analytics

At the basics, you should be able to assess changes in the traffic to the website you manage, which channels bring you the most traffic, where is your audience located, and do they mostly access your website by mobile or desktop. Google Analytics is a great free tool that will give you answers to above mentioned questions. You can also do a free Google analytics course for beginners and earn a certificate, which I highly recommend.

3. SEO

With SEO you should focus on a couple of things: firstly to check if there are any technical problems with your pages. This can be done by a simple, free tool called Google Search Console. If you don’t have access to any website where you can experiment with this, take a look at the Youtube tutorials.

Next, you want to do an “on-page optimisation”. This means that all headings, meta descriptions, and alt texts for images are there. Your title needs to have an H1 heading, while subtitles will have H2. It’s very important to make a good structure of headings because it helps Google to better understand your page. HubSpot and Moz are two great sources where you can start learning more about SEO.

4. Email Marketing

You may have heard that email marketing is dead, but it’s far from it. Email is one of the best ways to engage with your customers! You can send them new deals, discounts, announcements, etc. When it comes to email marketing, the most important thing you should have in mind is that you must not send emails to people who did not sign up for it!

5. Content Marketing

Content marketing includes all the content produced and shared online that provides additional value to the audience. This includes blog posts, infographics, eBooks, videos, etc.

The primary goal is not to promote your company or to sell your service, but to educate the audience and make them interested in your product as a way to solve their pain points. Here you have to do a lot of research to understand which information is your audience looking for, what is missing on the internet, and how to deliver the message.

6. Paid ads

I put paid ads as a bonus here, because this depends if the company where you are has any budget for paid advertisement. Ads are not cheap and some, like Google ads, require serious budgets to show any effect. If you are working for a small to medium company the chances of you having a serious budget only focused on ads is very small.

That being said, you can learn more about this by doing your own research, and if a company puts some money aside for you to experiment you will be ready!

Which tools should I know as a marketing beginner?

There are so many different tools out there that it is impossible to know them all. This highly depends on what a tool kit of a company you will work with is. Bigger companies will have resources to use a variety of specialised tools, while smaller ones will look for free options that can do many different things.

That being said, there are some basic free tools you should get an understanding of. Firstly, Google Analytics. This will help you understand basic terminology in analytics. Adobe Suite is essential for many marketers. Once you get a grip of it, it allows you to easily create visual material being that a brochure, an image, or even a video. The downside however is that Adobe is not free and the learning curve is a bit steep. If you get an internship in an organisation with no budget for design tools and less strict brand guidelines, you can use Canva.


Which soft skills are important for marketing beginners?

Soft skills are necessary for any kind of job, and marketers are no exception. These skills are usually transferable and can be linked with your personality. The three most important soft skills (in my opinion) are: good communication skills, networking, and problem solving.

  1. Having good communication skills doesn’t mean you are a social person and you like talking. It means that you are able to clearly and effectively communicate with others in your team. Even if you do some tasks alone, you will most likely need to cooperate with people from the Sales or Product department or at minimum with your own marketing colleagues. You have to be able to explain any challenges, requests, or achievements so you can get the necessary support or recognition.

  2. Networking is not an easy skill to learn. It also highly depends on your personality. But even if you feel uncomfortable, reach out to people and connect with them. Most are happy to help! LinkedIn is a perfect place to start. You can follow or connect with people you find interesting. That way you will see in your feed if they post any advice, internships, or job openings.

  3. Problem solving is absolutely necessary for marketing. More often than not, you will read great advice that worked for one company, you’ll try to implement it and get no results. This is the moment when you need to be creative. Do your research, critically think about why your approach yields no results, make a hypothesis, and experiment. Don’t be afraid to fail, most experiments end up in a trash bean.

The most important thing for a marketer is to always learn. One of the best sentences I’ve heard about our profession is If you’re not willing to relearn everything every 6 months, don’t go into marketing.

So start with small steps, try to gain knowledge in different marketing areas, and be curious.

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Thank you for reading!

Ljiljana is a digital marketing professional with experience as community manager, marketing analyst, and creative content producer.

Do you have any questions about digital marketing? Are you preparing for a job interview to land a job in digital marketing? Or are you just curious to know more about the fiels? No worries, check Ljiljana's availability and schedule a mentoring session with her.

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