The 50 Most Essential Marketing Skills You Need to Be Successful in 2021
CoSchedule's Headline Analyzer Studio will score your overall headline quality and rate its ability to result in social shares, increased traffic, and SEO value.Test every headline before you publish. Try Headline Studio »
As a marketer, you know the industry is continually changing.
From fresh tactics to emerging trends, there’s always something new to learn.
You jump on to Google and read the first page of results, and you see list after list of skills that marketers *should* have.
It can be a bit overwhelming, so we’ve done our best to narrow down the essentials.
What we’ve come up with is a list of 50 foundational marketing skills we think are most important to build and develop.
We’ve also included links to guides and resources to help you learn and implement each skill.
Keep reading and see where you can fill in the gaps in your skillset.
Download the 11 Step Guide to Learning a New Skill
Knowing how to learn is a skill in itself, but it’s a skill anyone can master.
By following the steps in this guide, you’ll learn how to:
- Get past the fear of failure.
- Develop an efficient and repeatable system for skill-building.
- Understand how to take on new tasks and succeed, even if you’ve never done something before.
Get it free now, and use it to build any of the following 50 skills we’ll cover in this post.
Want to learn new skills in 30 minutes or less? Check out the Actionable Marketing Institute. Join the 30 million marketers who trust CoSchedule for marketing education. Unlock 25+ exclusive, on-demand courses packed with premium marketing content. Become a better marketer. Enroll in the Actionable Marketing Institute Pro today.
Why Do You Need to Continually Develop Your Marketing Skills?
If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times.
The marketing world is evolving.
If you can’t stay on top of the latest skills in the market, how can you expect to be successful?
Your audience is constantly being bombarded with ads, messages, distractions and a whole lot more.
You need the skills that will allow you to create marketing strategies that let your content stand out in a crowd.
Here is the list of top skills marketers should consider keeping in their toolbox in 2021.
50 Basic Marketing Skills That Should Be on Every Marketer’s Resumé
Why focus on the basics? Shouldn’t you have those down by now?
You might, but a brush-up never hurt anyone. There’s also the fact that the what’s now considered a basic marketing skill may have changed from what it was ten years ago.
Plus, the basics are what build your foundation as a successful marketer. If they start to crumble, the rest of your skill set will go right along with it.
Here are the 50 basic skills that should be on every marketer’s resumé.
The Ability to Write Well
Writing is the foundation of everything else that a marketer does. Without strong writing skills, everything else you do will falter.
Writing comes into play whenever you’re creating ad copy, social media posts, press releases, and so much more. You need to be able to comprehensively communicate your message at all times.
Recommend Reading: 40 Content Writing Tips to Make You a Better Marketer Now
Internal Communication Skills
As a marketer, you’re not just communicating with your target audience. You’re communicating internally with your co-workers and boss as well.
Keeping clear and consistent messaging within your marketing team means you can get more done, and you don’t have to worry about another team member running a project off the rails.
In addition to communicating with your co-workers, you also need to be able to talk to your boss and upper management. Can you explain your projects and anticipate the questions or concerns they’ll have in advance?
Interpersonal Communication Skills
Interpersonal communication skills go hand in hand with internal communication skills. This particular skill set, however, is focused on how things are said, not just what has been said.
The reality of the situation is that we are all human, and therefore we’re always communicating with each other — whether we intend to or not. As a marketer, you need to be aware of the people around you and what you are intentionally or unintentionally saying at all times.
Be a Confident Public Speaker
Whether you’re standing up in front of your boss or client in the middle of a pitch meeting or giving a live press conference, public speaking is inevitable.
While that may have made you cringe in your high school speech class, the fact of the matter is that, as a marketer, you need to be able to pitch your project or your product with ease. If you appear to have confidence in what you’re saying your audience will, too.
Maintain an Attitude of Lifelong Learning
Another basic skill that should be on the resumé of every marketer is maintaining the attitude of lifelong learning. As marketers, we’re always taking in new information — whether that be a new advertising tactic or a research report that’s been published about our target audience.
In other words, our job of learning new things is never done.
The minute you close yourself off and think you know everything there is to know, you’ll end up falling behind.
Read every book you can get your hands on and listen to a podcast or two on your way to work.
Be Type A Organized
You wear many hats and balance many, many projects, which means that you need to be organized.
Why? Because one misstep and $50,000 could fly out the window like *snaps* that.
Staying organized helps you avoid that because you and your marketing team members will be able to see what’s coming, plan in advance, and side-step massive mishaps.
Know How to Select KPIs
73% of CEOs believe that marketers “lack business credibility and the ability to generate significant growth.”
That's because it’s easy to dismiss marketers as people in the corner drawing pretty pictures who don’t do anything.
Yeah, I know. It makes my blood boil, too.
How do you solve all of that? You set goals that directly impact business objectives and your company's CEO actually cares about.
By creating goals that have a direct and positive impact on your business, you can show your efforts are paying off.
Understand the Difference Between Goals, Strategies, and Tactics
Let’s face it; goals, strategies, and tactics go hand in hand when it comes to marketing, so it’s easy to confuse them with each other.
However, being able to tell the distinction between the three is going to ensure you don’t get tripped up on one of them during your marketing process.
Goals are the objectives that have been set by your marketing team that you need to meet by the end of a specified time period.
Strategies are the organized plans that are composed of different tactics that outline how to reach your goals.
Your tactics, on the other hand, are the steps that you take to help you achieve your goals.
Be an Active Listener
We all know that one person in our lives who is just waiting for their chance to speak in a conversation. What you’re saying is mostly going in one ear and out the other.
As a marketer, you cannot afford to passively ignore your customers or your co-workers. Which is why being an active listener is an essential skill any marketer worth their salt knows how to do.
Actively listening to the people around you means that you can find out the messages they need to hear. Doing this can help you perfect your campaigns and, hopefully, convert more people into paying customers.
Know How to Collaborate Across Multiple Teams
Your marketing team doesn’t exist in a vacuum where it’s you vs. everyone else in your company. You need to be able to collaborate across multiple teams to complete your projects.
This could mean working with developers, your video team, your product team, and more.
All of that cross team collaboration means you need to know how to manage and communicate, so everyone who is involved in one project is always on the same page.
Marketing is part strategic intuition; part research to see what everyone else is doing. Successful marketers can research current trends and strategies to figure out which ones would work best for their company.
There’s always new information out there for marketers to research and gather. Whether that be case studies, academic research reports, or white papers, there are thousands of sources just waiting to inspire your next great idea.
Openness to Trying New Things
The last basic skill that should be in a marketer’s tool belt is an openness to try new things. Part of marketing involves simply testing these new things to see if they’re going to work. You’ll never know if something is going to work or not unless you try.
Who knows, maybe your next great marketing tactic is the one you haven’t tried yet.
6 Introductory Design Skills Every Marketer Should Have
Graphic design or any design is vital for marketers to understand. Why? Because design helps us communicate the message that we want to send to our audience.
You may not be at the same level as the graphic designer on your team, but having a basic grasp of necessary design skills can help you communicate what you need and pinpoint what worked and why.
Understand How Responsive Design Works
With the addition of tablets, mobile phones, and more, the way we access information is changing. The standard one-size-fits-all website no longer applies because there are tons of different screen sizes out there.
That’s where responsive design comes in. As a marketer, you need to understand how your message will look across a variety of different formats and ensure that it communicates the same idea.
Grasp the Basics of Adobe Creative Suite
Adobe is well known for their design products. Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator are just three of the tools that can help bring the images inside your head to life in an online format.
Having a basic understanding of how those two programs work can help you and your designer save time. How? If you need a social media graphic that has to go out in 20 minutes, you can now do it yourself.
It’s also nice to have an idea of the limitations this type of software might have, so you can know what to expect when requesting something from your designers.
Knowing How UX and UI Plays a Role in Your Customer Interaction
The way you’ve designed your website and the experience your customer has interacting with it can affect the way they see your marketing messages.
Knowing how your customers move and interact with your content will allow you to strategically place your messages in the right place at the right time to maximize conversion potential.
Keep Common Design Specs and Sizes on Hand
You’re probably going to request a lot of designed content over the course of your career. This could be anything from social media ads to long infographics. Make it easier for your designer by having common design sizes and specs on hand at all times.
Not only will this save them time in guessing the size of the images you need, you’ll also know how much space you have to work with.
Some standard sizes to add to your list could be:
- Social media photo sizes
- Social media profile picture sizes
- Social ad sizes and specs
- Preferred infographics sizes
Know How to Communicate Visualization Needs to Your Designer
No one can read your mind. Thank goodness, right?
Here’s the problem, since no one can read your mind, how are they supposed to be able to see the impressive idea you have for your next infographic?
The truth is they can’t, and an excellent skill for marketers to have is to be able to communicate with their designers about the vision they see inside their head.
Can you explain expectations and details to your designer in a way that helps guide them to create the piece you’ve pictured?
Understanding the Basic Principles of Graphic Design
The final skill that any marketer should have on their resumé is the ability to understand the basic principles of design. Knowing what makes a successful image can help you identify what’s connecting with your audience.
and more can help you identify what makes a design tremendous, and what caught the attention of your audience.
7 Social Media Skills to Add to Your Resumé
Social media is the latest and greatest addition to the marketing world. Which means that marketers need a specific set of skills to stand out in this new landscape.
If you don’t stay on top of your skills and techniques, there’s a good chance your content will be buried in an avalanche of other stuff. End of story.
The following are seven simple skills you should have a grasp on.
Know How to Write for Each Social Channel
Not all social media messages are created equal. What works for one channel may not go over as well on another.
For example, hashtags are great when they’re used on Twitter and Instagram, but they don’t do much for Facebook posts.
Knowing the differences between the message types that need to go on each channel can help your content stand out in a sea of other stuff.
Have a Decent Amount of Social Media Algorithm Knowledge
Social media algorithms are intelligent systems that sort through content and showcase what it believes the user would most likely want to see — based on interactions from previous content.
These algorithms can’t be tricked or fooled. You can’t post your content and then try and trick the algorithm into showing it to more of your fans.
Well, you could, but that’s going to backfire on you sooner rather than later.
Algorithms are the social network's way of telling you what content they want to see posted to their newsfeeds. After all, you are advertising and posting content on someone else’s turf.
For example, live video is going over well on Facebook. Therefore, it would make sense to assume that the Facebook algorithm rewards live video content. If you want to boost your presence on Facebook, you could consider creating more live videos.
Be Able to Keep Up With Social Trends and Ideas
The social media landscape changes at an incredibly fast pace. The minute you’ve got something down, something new surfaces, and you’re off to the races again.
A proficient social media marketer (or a marketer, in general) can keep up with those changes by continually thinking ahead and keeping their social strategy head on a metaphorical swivel.
Maximize those trends before they hit their peak and get ready to move on to the next one.
Understand How to Select Social Channels That Make Sense for Your Business
Social media networks appear and disappear. A new one may surface, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be the next Facebook or Twitter.
As a marketer, it’s up to you to decide whether or not joining a new network is best for your business. Just because Pinterest works for one company, doesn’t mean it will work for you. You need to follow your audience and let them lead you to where they are.
Understand Marketing Strategy and How to Apply It to Social Media
A skill that marketers must have is being able to see and understand the marketing strategy that goes into creating a social media presence.
Don’t just chuck your social media profiles to an unsuspecting college grad and assume that because they’re young, they’ll know how to get your company noticed on social.
No. Wrong. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.
Social media, like every other one of its marketing counterparts, requires strategic thinking, planning, and execution. This means you can’t just throw up a bunch of posts consistently and hope it works.
You need to apply the same marketing methodologies you'd use for any other channel and apply it to your social strategy.
That includes understanding your audience, writing great copy, understanding analytics, and more.
Know How to Generate Creative Campaign Concepts
Campaigns are a considerable part of the social media presence your business creates. Because there is such a massive amount of content out there, you need to be as creative as possible to stand out.
Take Arby’s, for example. Their entire Facebook presence is dedicated to nerdy references reenacted by everything from curly fries to ketchup packets.
Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!
Posted by Arby's on Thursday, December 21, 2017
Think outside the box consistently and hopefully watch your social presence grow because of your creative efforts.
Understand How to Analyze Social Media Data
The last social media skill that should be in your portfolio is understanding how to analyze the data your social media generates.
If you aren't capable of sufficiently grasping how your audience reacts to your posts, then it's difficult to know when to make adjustments to what you're publishing. Make sure you know how to measure traffic data and whether your posts are linked to your audience looking further into what it is you have to offer.
10 Killer Content Marketing Skills You Need to Develop
The content you create as a marketer can have a significant effect on your company.
This means that solid content marketing skills are highly sought after in today’s marketing climate.
Here are ten skills that need to be a part of your portfolio.
Being Able to Write Clear Content That Informs
The age of the internet means that there is a ton of information at everyone’s fingertips, which means that your content needs to be able to stand out by doing one thing:
Subtly sell your product while still providing your reader with value that they can’t get anywhere else.
A good marketer knows the balance between writing to sell and writing to inform.
Master the Art of Copywriting to Sell
Unlike content writing, copywriting is all about selling. Mastering this form of writing means that you can craft copy that sells your product in a snap.
It also doesn’t have to be written from scratch. Using the right formula can help you craft the perfect copy every time.
It’s up to you to find the line that takes it from a standard boilerplate to selling machine.
Be a Storyteller
People don’t buy logic; they buy emotions. As a content writer, you need to create copy that appeals to the emotional side of your readers.
Your product may kill 99.5% of bacteria, but what sells it is the fact that they’ll be able to keep their family healthy and safe from germs or serious illnesses.
As you write any content, find the way to connect your customer’s lives to your product. Play up the frustrations they are experiencing and tell them the story of how your product is going to make it all better.
Know How to Use Your Content to Teach
A skill we don’t usually associate with marketing should also be on your portfolio list; teaching. Can you teach with the content you create?
This could be anything from teaching about how to use your product or a new concept that just so happens to tie into your product.
Take CoSchedule’s blog, for example. One of our core pillars is centered around actionability or going beyond giving advice and showing people how to execute it.
Whether it’s a simple step-by-step video on how to use your product or an in-depth explanation blog post, use your space to teach your audience want they need to know.
Part of being a good marketer involves being able to be persuasive. After all, there are hundreds of products that could help your customer with their problems. Your message needs to be able to persuade them that yours is the best option out there.
Your messages should craft a clear and concise story that explains the benefits of your product and why you triumph over the rest.
Have Strong Research Skills
One of the keys to writing great content is the ability to research. We’ve mentioned this a bit earlier in the post, and when it comes to content writing, research couldn’t be more critical.
Writing content that is backed by well-researched opinions increases your own authority. It’s one thing if you write a post and haphazardly throw advice out there. It’s another thing entirely if you can back it up with another source that your readers trust.
By researching your opinions and backing them up with reputable sources, you can show your readers that they can trust you. Once they trust you, they can trust your product.
Know How to Measure Your ROI
“How much money did the post you just spent writing for 8 hours at 15 dollars an hour make me?”
“I don’t know,” probably isn’t the answer they want to hear.
Proving the return on investment that your content marketing has made isn’t easy. In fact, 78% of marketers struggle with it.
There are, however, ways to find the data you’re looking for. It all comes down to writing content that encourages your readers to take a conversion step and finding a way to monetize those actions.
Part of developing your content writing and marketing skills is reading what others around you have done.
I’m not saying you need to consume every Game of Thrones novel in a week, but being well-read across a variety of subjects not only helps increase your general knowledge, but you’ll also be able to see what works and doesn’t work when you write your content.
Start small at first — maybe subscribe to a blog or two as you begin to integrate reading into your routine add in a variety of books, magazines and more.
For those of you who don’t like to read as much, podcasts and videos are also great options.
Have a Deep Understanding of How the Marketing Funnel Works
When content marketing is done well, it can help lead your potential customers through your marketing funnel and help them convert into paying customers.
How does this work? You need to create content for every stage in your marketing funnel. The top part of your funnel will contain the most content and probably cover the broadest topics. You want to catch the attention of as many people as you can.
As you work your way down the funnel, your content will become more specific, helping guide your readers to the logical conclusion that your product is the best one for them.
Understand Content Strategy
The last skill you need to conquer content marketing is having an understanding of what an appropriate strategy is for the messages that reach your audience.
You have to know who your traffic is made up of and adjust accordingly. It's also important to keep timing in mind when you reaching out directly to recipients. What you send to them doesn't matter if it gets lost in a boatload of emails they receive in an afternoon.
Your audience is crucial; cater to their needs.
4 Analytics Skills That are Essential For Any Marketer
Data helps drive the entire marketing process. It helps you see if your efforts are working, track what your customers are interacting with, and so much more.
Analytics skills are essential for marketers because you need to be able to pull data and interpret it to give your marketing strategists the most accurate information as possible.
Without data to guide you, it’s like driving blindfolded; you’re just guessing.
Here are the four skills that should be a part of any marketer’s arsenal.
Be Able to Interpret Customer Data to Influence the Decision-Making Process
In case you haven’t already guessed, your customers are what makes your world go round. What they do and interact with can prove the success or failure of your marketing strategies.
It’s up to you to pull that data from those interactions and interpret what your customers are trying to tell you.
Do they like seeing videos of your product in action, or do they prefer screenshots in a blog post?
Let your data guide you in the right direction.
Know and Understand Data Science
According to NYU, data science is:
“Data science involves using automated methods to analyze massive amounts of data and to extract knowledge from them.”
A skilled marketer needs to be able to find and sort through massive amounts of data to find the insights you’re looking for.
If you collected data every time one of your potential customers does anything, you’d have thousands of data points to sort through. As a marketer, you should know what you’re looking for, where to find it, and how to interpret it for your boss and co-workers.
Recommended Reading: Data Science is the Latest In-Demand Skill Set for Marketing
Know How to Use Data to Tell a Story
Numbers and data don’t lie. They tell you if you’ve met your goals or sorely missed them. However, you can’t just point to your data and say, “See? It worked.”
I mean, you could, but you don’t want to be subpar at your job, do you?
Marketers need to know how to take the data that you’ve gathered and turn it into a story that explains what happened and why it happened in plain English.
Your marketing campaigns could be massive and the data could be great, but when your boss turns to you and asks, "So, why did this campaign work?" your answer should be more thorough than just, “Well, we planned a really creative social campaign.”
Understand Data Visualization
The last need to have skill in your analytics tool belt is the ability to understand data visualization.
Numbers and data points by themselves are boring. Not to mention they don’t jump out at you and say, “Hey, I’m the most important one here.”
Data visualization is a way for you to help your co-workers, boss, and customers understand the most significant bits and pieces of data in an easy to read format.
These could be anything from infographics to charts. You just need to find a way to work with your designers — or you could do it yourself — to find a way to bring your data to life.
11 Technical Skills and Tools Every Marketer Needs
Technical skills and tools make the final piece of our marketing skills blog post. Marketing and technology are becoming more and more intertwined, mainly because a lot of the projects that you take on as a marketer can’t be completed without them.
Between strategy planning, design, and numerous things you need to execute, trying to attempt it all without a tool would be insane. There’s just too much to do.
Here are eleven tools and technical skills every marketer should have.
Have a Basic Knowledge of Coding
With everything moving to the online world, knowing about coding or, more importantly, how to code is becoming an essential basic skill for marketers.
While it can seem a bit intimidating, having some background coding knowledge can help you communicate to your development team what you need without them wanting to throttle you. Plus, you could do some of the little fixes yourself.
To start, focus on getting hands-on experience in HTML and CSS. By being able to understand the basic concepts, you can outline and communicate with your development team to explain exactly what you want. Plus, you’ll understand the limitations of what can and can’t be done.
Gather the Inside Data You Need From Your Website and More, With Google Analytics
For some marketers, Google Analytics represents the heart and soul of their marketing data. It’s where they pull their information from and how they track their customers.
A basic understanding of Google Analytics is essential to any marketer, as this tool is now a commonplace among a company’s marketing stack.
Google even has a full course on how to use and extract insights from it. Once you’ve completed the test, you’re even Google Analytics Certified.
Know How to Build Custom Dashboards and Reports in Google Data Studio
The data that you gathered in Google Analytics can now easily be turned into customizable dashboards and reports that you can share with your co-workers and your boss.
Instead of manually gathering the same data over and over, Google Data Studio takes care of it all for you.
Competency Using Social Media Publishing Tools
Social media publishing tools make any marketers life 17x easier than it was before.
With the right social media publishing tool, your social media marketers should be able to plan, organize, create, publish, and analyze every part of your social media posts and campaigns from one tool.
Here are a few to check out:
Experience Using Editorial and Marketing Calendar Tools
Your marketing efforts need to have a home somewhere, and that’s where your marketing and editorial calendars come in.
These calendars should give your team a full overview of the projects they're working on, what parts they play in those projects, and what’s going to be coming down the pipeline.
Know How to Use a Content Management System
A CMS, or Content Management System, are tools that make it possible to manage and update website content. Sometimes, writers get scared over the idea of inputting web content themselves. These tools are often simple enough that anyone can figure out how to use them without causing a disaster.
A few common options you may be familiar with include:
Know How to Use SEO Tools
If done correctly, SEO can help give your website and your digital content a boost in organic searches. It’s not just waving a magic wand and hoping that the Google crawlers bless your magic webpage.
It requires strategic planning, and SEO tools can help give you the knowledge you need to get your pages to the number one spot.
Check out tools like:
Customer Response Management Tools
Managing your customer relationships can be time-consuming. However, it’s necessary to help promote the success of your business. CRM tools help by allowing businesses to track where their customers are at and help maintain contact with them.
The following tools can help you get started:
Marketing Analytics Tools
As you know, analytics and data are a huge part of identifying your marketing success. Painstakingly trying to collect said data is not. Analytics tools can help you shorten that process by automatically collecting data for you.
Try tools like:
Basic Photoshop Skills
Another technical skill marketers should have listed on their resumé is basic Photoshop skills. There is a lot of flexibility in Photoshop, and even being able to tackle the basics can save you and your designers time.
Here are some courses that walk you through some basic skills you would need:
- Free Photoshop course for Beginners
- The Platform's Biggest & Most Popular Photoshop Course
- Photoshop Training and Tutorials
Heat Mapping Tools
Heat mapping tools are great as they help marketers see what is drawing the eyes of their audience around the website. By identifying where the eyes go, you can strategically place your messages where they’d be the most receptive.
A popular tool to use is Crazy Egg. Their easy-to-use website gives you the results you’re looking for and suggestions to help improve your site.
Now, Go Conquer the Marketing World
You have the skillset, now you’re ready to go conquer the marketing world. Skills take time to grow, so don’t get too frustrated if it takes time to get a new one under your belt.
If you're ready to level up your learning, check out the Actionable Marketing Institute.
Unlock 25+ different courses & 2 premium marketing certifications to build your resume, learn new skills, and actually implement what you learn from day 1.
This post was originally published on Sept. 19, 2016. It was republished on December 22, 2020.
July 13, 2020