11 Must-Have Skills of a Digital Marketing Manager

Sam Mustelin, contributor to the CareerFoundry blog

Perhaps you’re looking to become a digital marketing manager—or thinking about hiring one for your team. Either way, it’s important to recognize exactly what a digital marketing manager does, and the top skills required for the role. 

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about what makes for a successful digital marketing manager, including:

If you want to skip straight to the must-have skills, use the clickable menu to navigate to section two.

Let’s dive right in!

The digital marketing manager job description: What does a digital marketing manager actually do?

As a digital marketing manager, it is your task to plan digital marketing campaigns and make sure they run smoothly from beginning to end. Often, you’ll also be responsible for leading a team. In B2B-focused companies, digital marketing managers are a key point of contact for clients.

This means that leadership skills and ‘people skills’ are vital for a digital marketing manager. 

Depending on the size of the company, you are either responsible for performing most of the digital marketing tasks yourself, or focusing on planning and strategy while delegating much of the execution to your team. For example, you might devise the overall content marketing strategy and editorial calendar, assigning the actual creation of content to a dedicated editor. Other areas of focus could include managing the company website and social media channels, analyzing data, working to increase traffic to your website, and planning new marketing campaigns.

These are just some of the typical tasks of a digital marketing manager. However, the focus may vary from one position to another. Let’s look at some examples of real digital marketing manager job ads to get a clearer picture of the expected responsibilities and qualifications.

Digital marketing manager job description: PagerDuty, remote (USA)

Our first example is a job ad posted by PagerDuty, a cloud computing company in the United States. They describe the ideal candidate as “both creative and analytical” and “a curious self-starter with interest and experience in web design, CMS management, SEO, paid media, and digital marketing analytics.” 

A digital marketing manager job description, posted by PagerDuty in the United States

In this instance, the digital marketing manager role covers a wide range of tasks—from campaign ideation and creative strategy, right through to analyzing and reporting on key performance metrics. 

This job ad calls for a more senior candidate, requiring at least five years of inbound marketing experience. As is a common thread through digital marketing manager job descriptions, PagerDuty is looking for someone who can multitask and manage a variety of projects and priorities at once.

Digital marketing manager job description: Twitter

Here we have a job ad posted by Twitter. They describe the ideal candidate as follows:

You’re an omnichannel marketer who can manage complex, fast-moving projects with ease. You have a creative eye for all things copy, visuals, and imagery—but you’re also analytically minded and feel confident making data-driven decisions. You can turn concepts into full-fledged digital activations, using a wide range of storytelling mediums to drive results. You’re a true team player that loves driving collaboration to produce best-in-class work. You also have a good understanding of the advertising landscape, knowing when is the best time to be in market with content at its most impactful to a marketer based on the buying cycle.” 

A digital marketing manager job description posted by Twitter

Under “Requirements,” you’ll find strong emphasis on a data-driven mindset, the ability to work cross-functionally, and on communication and project-management skills.

A job ad posted by Twitter, listing the most important digital marketing manager skills

Having looked at a few digital marketing manager job descriptions, we’re starting to get an idea of the kinds of skills that are needed for the role. Now let’s identify those top must-have skills!

A digital marketing manager sitting at a desk, working on a laptop, smiling

11 must-have skills of a digital marketing manager

1. Strategic thinking

For a digital marketing manager, strategic thinking skills are at the top of the list of requirements. Strategic thinking is closely related to the ability to understand your audience, as you need to develop strategies for marketing your products and increasing sales. 

2. Data analysis

You need to know how to evaluate the results of your ongoing and finished campaigns using the relevant software, and optimizing your strategy to improve your results in the future. This means knowing how to use the right tools, and having the experience to interpret the data and draw the right conclusions from it. 

3. Social media marketing

As a digital marketing manager, knowing how to use social media channels like Instagram in order to connect with your audience is key. You will set up or oversee consistently engaging campaigns that reach your target audience, and know how to efficiently schedule posts that increase engagement. How closely you are involved in social media activities will depend on the size of the team, and whether or not you’re working with a dedicated social media specialist or social media manager.

4. Paid social advertising

Knowing the ins and outs of paid social media advertising is one of the important hard skills a digital marketing manager needs to have. This includes understanding how to use the relevant social media channels’ tools for paid advertising, such as running successful Facebook ad campaigns.

5. Email marketing

Email marketing gives you the chance to engage with a group of already interested customers. Depending on your exact responsibilities, you might be more or less actively involved in setting up email marketing campaigns. But you do need to understand practices such as A/B testing, and metrics like open rates and click rates, so you can optimize your strategies.

 

A group of colleagues looking at graphs and charts on a laptop screen

6. Search engine optimization (SEO)

A successful digital marketing manager must have a deep understanding and knowledge of implementing effective SEO strategies. Organic search engine optimization is a cost efficient way of increasing traffic for your company’s website. You can learn more about SEO (and how it differs from SEM) here.

7. Paid search / SEA

You also need to know paid Search Engine Advertising such as overseeing the implementation of Google Ads campaigns, and using Pay Per Click models of advertising. That way, you can further increase traffic and sales, and reach your specific target audience. You can learn more about pay-per-click (and other models) in this beginner’s guide to performance marketing.

8. An eye for good copy

As a digital marketing manager, you should also have an understanding of where good copy fits into the overall marketing strategy. You may be an excellent writer or editor yourself, but it’s not strictly necessary (unless you’re going for a specialized marketing role in the copywriting or editorial team). If you’re not writing the copy yourself, it’s important that you know when and where to involve copywriters and how to brief them on the kind of messaging needed. After all, written content is an important part of digital marketing—be it in an email newsletter, a landing page on your company website, or a social media post. 

9. Some knowledge of visual marketing

Basic design skills are helpful even if you are not hired as a designer. Appealing visuals are an important part of advertising, and an understanding of design and the tools needed for creating visual content allows you to communicate your ideas to the design team effectively. 

10. UX (user experience) and CX (customer experience)

As you need to understand your customer and optimize their experience on your webpages, it’s useful for a digital marketing manager to have an understanding of user experience and the overall user journey. This might include things like the UX design of a product or website, UX writing (the copy that features throughout a product to guide the user), and running A/B tests to test performance and improve the user experience.

11. Customer relationship management (CRM) and retention marketing

You will need your communication, empathy, and listening skills not just in your position as team lead, but also in your strategies for understanding your customers. Therefore, knowledge of customer relationship management and retention marketing is valuable for making sure that your customers are satisfied. 

A digital marketing manager writing something in a notebook and holding a smartphone

The top tools for a digital marketing manager to know

With the great variety of tasks and marketing channels a digital marketing manager deals with comes an assortment of relevant tools and software. These tools are used to set up ad campaigns, analyze data, or create and track campaigns. As a digital marketing manager, some of the most important tools to know are:

If you’re interested in working as a digital marketing manager, it’s worth getting familiar with some of these tools. 

A digital marketing manager looking at a notebook with a wall of Post-It notes in the background

Digital marketing manager career FAQs

Still got questions about the digital marketing manager role? Let’s answer some FAQs.

What is the average digital marketing manager salary?

The salary you can expect as a digital marketing manager depends on a variety of factors, such as your experience, the company, the level of responsibility, and the location. The salary for an experienced digital marketing manager in the US tends to average at $68,010. Earlier in your career, you might expect a salary closer to $40,000-$55,000.

Do I need a degree to become a digital marketing manager?

In order to get hired as a digital marketing manager, you do need to prove that you have the required skills listed in this article. However, there are many ways to acquire them, and a university degree is just one option; not a necessity. Many digital marketing managers have a degree in a related field, but with the right education and experience, you can transfer to this field from a different direction, too. One option to start your career switch into digital marketing is by attending a digital marketing bootcamp

How do I know if I’m a good fit for a career as a digital marketing manager?

Pay attention to your interests and skills, and where you want to focus your time and energy in your job. Do you have great team leading and communication skills? Do you thrive when you get to decide on the best strategy, and enjoy cooperating with other departments as well as the head of marketing to find the best solutions for the company? Then a career as a digital marketing manager might be for you. 

Where should I start if I don’t have any experience?

You can start by learning more about what the position entails. Setting up an informational interview, where you get to ask an industry professional about their work, is a great way to do this. Once you have decided if this job is for you, you can start looking at programs and courses that will teach you the skills you need to land your first job in digital marketing. Eventually, you’ll also want to start building your digital marketing portfolio, as this will demonstrate to employers that you’ve got the right skills and know how to apply them to real-world projects.

What are some other digital marketing jobs?

If you are passionate about digital marketing, there are several different career options in the field. For example, you could start out as a digital marketing specialist. If you care less about overall planning and strategy, and are more interested in a specific marketing channel such as social media, search engine advertising, or email marketing, and want to work directly on implementing campaigns in these areas, there are specialized jobs for each of these fields, too. If you are looking for a mostly creative position, designers, videographers and copywriters are sought after in digital marketing as well. You’ll find a guide to the top digital marketing jobs here.

How to start your career as a digital marketing manager

If you are curious and passionate about digital marketing, and ready for a career where you constantly learn something new, it’s time to take the first steps towards working in this field. Here are some ways to get started:

  • Learn more about digital marketing in general. Read up on the different marketing channels, listen to podcasts, and take some free introductory courses.
  • Attend meetups and start networking with professionals in the field. You can network online via LinkedIn, via virtual meetups, or in-person at local events.
  • Structure your learning with a bootcamp, course, or program. If you’re starting without any prior experience, a structured and credible qualification in digital marketing will help you learn the fundamentals in a structured way. Some programs will even help you to build your portfolio and land your first job in the field. 

Key takeaways and next steps

The role of the digital marketing manager is  varied and exciting, with plenty of responsibility. On top of the necessary communication skills and a talent for working with other people, there are lots of different fields to learn about when it comes to the qualifications of a digital marketing manager, from the various marketing channels to customer management skills and strategic thinking. If this sounds like an interesting career option for you, you can use this list as a starting point to dig into the individual aspects required for this job.

Want to learn more about digital marketing? Check out the following:

What You Should Do Now

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