Working for an online marketing agency offers a person an incredible opportunity to use every talent they have. I personally have worked in digital marketing for 15 years, back in the days when DirectHit, Alta Vista, Web Crawler and the Yahoo Directory ruled the day. Now in the age of Google one would think that an online marketer’s job would be very different than it was at the dawn of the 21st century. Actually today I still draw on the same skill set that I developed early in my career. Let’s examine the traits that a digital marketer needs to succeed in 2016:
1) Details, details, details
This is the most important lesson I learned way back in 2000 when I started working for my first online marketing agency. Taking the time to produce professional level work is never time wasted. A stray space here, a period where it doesn’t belong, a few less than specific words; these details can block opportunities to direct traffic to a customer’s website. A laser focus on details is one of the most important skills online marketers can develop and carry with them throughout their careers. Checking one’s work before uploading it or sending it to the customer is vital.
2) Flexibility makes you a rock star
Every marketer needs to schedule their days, plus look ahead to accomplishing campaign milestones on a weekly and monthly basis. What I do is create my daily schedule and always leave a little room for the unexpected. More than anything else, it’s a mindset: I go into the day knowing that it’s rare that something unexpected doesn’t happen. This isn’t a negative point of view, it’s a realistic approach, which can keep a marketer ready to pivot and meet challenges as they arise.
A good example of this is when I get a call that a customer has somehow wiped out all the HTML optimization on their website. Or they have put up duplicate content on another site and haven’t told me until now about this situation that has been going on for months. A constructive attitude to have when working for an online marketing agency is to not be surprised by anything: Be ready to go into action to help right the ship, when necessary.
3) Learn to be the best multi-tasker
This skill relates somewhat to the need to be flexible, plus it’s a skill I put to work every day, whether the unexpected happens or not. For example, I can at the same time be writing a blog post, talking to a colleague about what I think about a website, and mentally preparing for a meeting later in the day. This is standard procedure for me on any given day as an Internet marketer. Someone first starting out with an online marketing agency may find doing all of these tasks at once a bit overwhelming. If a person goes into the day realizing that there’s a benefit to multi-tasking and planning ahead, then doing so becomes an advantage instead of a liability.
4) Patience in everything you do
Patience is incredibly important. It’s what I preach to my clients about allowing their campaigns to mature, so why wouldn’t I practice patience myself? I know that I cannot manipulate Google, but I can do the very best I can to apply the knowledge I have to give my customers the best chance to rank well in Google’s index, plus I can help drive qualified traffic to my clients’ sites. What’s more the content I create and the website designs I help bring to life provide a quality experience for users, and that is huge. Online marketing agencies and their customers worry a lot about ranking in Google, which is important. A marketer should take a wider view and create value — give customers’ audiences what they want. Create articles, social media posts, images, videos and more that explain and where appropriate, entertain. Success comes easier when an online marketer remembers that it’s human beings that you are trying to reach, not just search engines. The search engines are the vehicles you use to reach the human beings.
5) Keep learning, and not just for your own sake
Just because I have worked in this industry for 15 years doesn’t mean I’m not learning something new all the time. Part of an Internet marketer’s DNA has to include curiosity. Continuous learning is inevitable. New online platforms are launched. Search engines tweak their algorithms. New content formats emerge. It’s my job to help my customers take advantage of all these new marketing opportunities, while still mining the tried and true strategies that I have developed over the years. Reading widely is a great skill to develop and stay with, if you are an online marketer. And I don’t just mean reading about Internet marketing. Read how companies start up. Read about how marketing campaigns are created. Read biographies of famous advertising people. Keep an open mind.
6) Don’t overreact
Every little gyration that Google puts out and every hunch by a top online marketing agency doesn’t mean you have to do an about face with your campaign. Only you know what’s best for your customer. It’s important to stay on top of the latest online marketing trends, but often letting things play out can give you a clearer picture versus making snap decisions.
7) Educate your customers
This is almost a cliche, but I found out early on that an Internet marketer can really build a following by emphasizing customer service. So many agencies say they offer great customer service, but the proof is in the doing. Take a minute to pick up the phone and call your customer. Email them with interesting resources you have found. Invite them to webinars. Create one page fact sheets on recent trends and send these to your customer regularly. Let your customers know how important they are to you.
I’m looking forward to entering my next 15 years in the digital marketing space. I’m sure the skills I’ve listed here will continue to stand me in good stead. With the pace of technology, it’s likely I’ll develop new skills, too. The best digital marketers have an optimistic attitude about the future. They meet it with confidence because they know that their customers are depending on them. That is the attitude I have each day in this job.