hard digital marketing skills

The 7 Ultimate Hard Digital Marketing Skills You Need Today

Over the last decade, Digital Marketing has gained the reputation of being one of the most dynamic careers on the job market.

From constant SEO updates to platforms changing completely from one day to the next, it can be hard to keep up. So today, we will talk about the most important hard Digital Marketing skills that aspiring Marketers must have in 2021.

hard digital marketing skills

If you are here for the short answer, here it is:

As a Marketer, the most important hard Digital Marketing skills that you will have to master are Keyword research, Data analysis, Wordpress, Google Ads, blogging for SEO, and Social media (both paid & organic).

Hard Digital Marketing Skills
1.Keyword Research
2.Data Analysis
4.Google Ads
5.SEO Blogging
6.Social Media ads
7.Organic Social Media


But before we dive right into the details of the most important hard Digital Marketing skills, here is why I think I can contribute to this topic:

My experience as a Digital Marketer

A few years ago, I graduated from a Spanish public University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing. This journey was particularly challenging for me because I was studying in a new language which I didn’t speak very well back then, but I gave the best of me.

And of course, I was very excited.

However, once I graduated and started looking for an actual job, I was absolutely shocked to discover that I had none of the skills that companies were looking for. A good understanding of Google Analytics? Being able to manage Google Ads?

digital marketing skills

What were these things? I had never heard of them! At this moment, I realized that, despite being a modern and relatively new career at the moment, it was completely out of touch with the real world. And what companies were actually demanding from candidates.

So, I had to get on track quickly, find out what were the actual Digital Marketing skills that I needed to develop, and how to do that as fast as possible. The competition was fierce, and they had no intentions of waiting for me!

hard digital marketing skills

Luckily, I managed to find out which one they were – and work towards developing them. So, I thought that it could be helpful to others to share my experience, and which hard Digital Marketing skills I think were the most important in the process of getting a career in the field.

Of course, I am not claiming that I have mastered them perfectly, neither that I know all of them – because this isn’t true. However, knowing which ones they are is the first step towards developing them over them.

And now, on to the hard Digital Marketing skills that you will need to master as soon as possible if you want to become a successful marketer:

1. Keyword research

At this point, we all know about the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in the digital world. By implementing SEO correctly within your Digital Marketing strategy, you could build an incredible flow of traffic towards your website.

To give you an example, my blog is currently bringing over 40K pageviews just from Google alone – and I am barely doing any social media at all.

However, not all steps of the SEO process were made equal. You could easily memorize all the places in which you should put your keywords to gain visibility for your content.

hard digital marketing skills

Hard Digital Marketing skills #1: Mastering the art of keyword research

However, if you don’t know how to find and distinguish relevant keywords from irrelevant ones, no keyword positioning will save you. In fact, if you select the wrong keywords, you might never position for them despite your best efforts.

So, first on our list of hard Digital Marketing skills that you will need to learn is keyword research.

And the reason why I think it’s one of the most important is because it’s not exclusively applicable to SEO – if you know how to do great keyword research, you can apply the same knowledge to Search Engine Marketing as well.

How can you develop this skill?

As with practically everything in life, mastering any skill requires practice – and having the right knowledge to practice efficiently.

The goods news is, you don’t really need any premium tools to do excellent keyword research. Paid tools like Semrush (affiliate link) can be great for getting additional insights, but if you can’t pay for them (or don’t want to), you can still excel at it nonetheless.

keyword research

To achieve this goal, you will need to:

  1. Understand the concept of keywords;
  2. Select the right keyword length;
  3. Understand the concept of search intent;
  4. And know how to do keyword research correctly;

Additionally, you must consider the importance of domain authority, competition research, and how to get keyword ideas that will earn you the positioning that you are looking for.

I won’t go into detail here because I’ve already written a comprehensive article on the topic. So, if you want to learn more, I highly suggest that you read my article Keyword Research Methodology: 7 Key Steps for Great SEO.

And one last thing to cover before we move on with our hard Digital Marketing skills list is that you can also do successful keyword research without any tools at all by taking advantage of:

  • Google suggestions
  • Google Ads campaigns
  • LSI keywords
  • Competitors’ landing pages
  • People Also Ask box

And more! You can check my article 10 Ways to do Free Keyword Research (Without Tools!) for more information on that.

2. Data Analysis

After mastering the art of keyword research, next on the list of hard Digital Marketing skills that you will need to know in 2021 is data analysis. As an aspiring Marketer, you should be able to:

  • Gather relevant data through Google Analytics and other Business Intelligence tools;
  • Analyze and understand what this data means for your business;
  • And most importantly, know how to use it to develop a competitive advantage.

While having a knowledge of business intelligence tools such as PowerBi, Sisense and SAP Business Intelligence would definitely be a plus for any companies looking to hire Digital Marketers, the tool that is an absolute must is Google Analytics.

google analytics

Hard Digital Marketing skills #2: Leveraging the power of data analysis

In today’s data-driven world, a Marketer that doesn’t know how to use and read Google Analytics’ data is definitely running behind the competition. Almost any company that is looking to hire Digital Marketing specialists will require this skill as a must.

How can you develop this skill?

When I realized that I had to master Google Analytics if I wanted to be hired, the first thing that I did was take the official Google Analytics’ courses. They are completely free to do, and come with helpful videos and tips so you can really learn more about the tool.

All you need to do is go to the Analytics Academy, and select the course that you want to start with. Once you’ve passed the exam, you will also receive a certification from Google as well, which you can easily add to your LinkedIn account.

hard digital marketing skills - google analytics

I highly suggest that you do as many courses as possible, and once you’ve finished them, take the time to practice with an actual Google Analytics account. If you have a website, you could make one and practice on it – if you don’t, Google has a demo account as well.

And this is how you can become learn this one of our must-have hard Digital Marketing skills! Besides, these particular certifications are something that companies look for when hiring as well, and you will already have them in your CV.

3. Wordpress

Next on our list of hard Digital Marketing skills that you need to develop in 2021 is being able to work with Wordpress. You don’t have to go deep into programming – in most companies, they will have dedicated programmers for complex tasks.

However, you will need to at least understand how Wordpress works, and how you can make changes on it. As a Marketer, you will often have to update texts on the website, upload images, customize the website template, work with SEO plugins, and so on.

Hard Digital Marketing skills #3: Understanding how Wordpress works

So, some basic things that you will have to know are:

  • Widgets – what are they, and how do they work? How are they structured for your particular website?
  • Theme – how is your theme built, and how can you modify it?
  • Menus – understanding the different types of menus and their structure is a must;
  • Contact forms – how are contact forms used on your website, and are they connected to a third-party CRM?
  • Theme Editor – as a Marketer, how can you install tags for different Marketing tools (such as Google Analytics) so you can connect them to your website?

Of course, these are just some things – but the point is, you need to have a good understanding of how your website works behind the scenes.

How can you develop this skill?

While each Wordpress theme is different and some sections can be structured differently, the basics are the same for every website.

If you have a Wordpress website, the best thing you can do is hop on to it and start exploring each section to understand how it’s built. I also suggest that you check WPBeginner for any doubt that you might have – they have plenty of information at your fingertips.

Additionally, you can consider doing a Wordpress course as well.

4. Google Ads

Our list of must-know hard Digital Marketing skills continues with Google Ads. For the past decade, Google Ads has established itself as one of the leading advertising platforms – and any aspiring Marketer should be able to work with it.

free digital marketing courses for beginners

Hard Digital Marketing skills #4: Becoming really good at Google Ads

Google Ads allows companies to reach your target audience through a variety of ad formats, including:

  • Search ads;
  • Gmail ads;
  • GDN (display) ads;
  • Shopping ads;

And others. So, it is a must to be able to understand different ad formats, how they work, and how you can use them successfully within your organization.

Keep in mind that most companies use at least one of Google Ads’ ad formats, especially Search ads which are unique to search engines.

How can you develop this skill?

In a similar manner to Google Analytics, if you don’t have any experience with Google Ads, I suggest that you start with their free courses. They will help you understand basic metrics and KPIs, ad types, and how the platform’s algorithm works as well.

Simply hop on to the Google Skillshop, and select the courses that you want to do – they are 100% free. If you are a beginner, I suggest that you start with Google Ads Search and Google Ads Display:

hard digital marketing skills - google ads

Once you’ve completed them, you will get a certification as well, and you can easily add it to your LinkedIn account:

Hard Digital Marketing skills: Get certified in Google Ads

5. Blogging for search engines

Another one of the hard Digital Marketing skills that is absolutely essential in 2021 is being able to write blog posts optimized for search engines. Keep in mind that I am not talking about blogging in general.

You see, I’ve seen thousands of companies publishing blog posts that are never going to position in search engines. Even if you’ve written the most amazing post ever, if Google isn’t able to find it or understand the content behind it, it won’t get the visibility it deserves.

For this reason, I consider SEO-based blogging as one of the most important hard Digital Marketing skills that you can develop in 2021. If done correctly, it can skyrocket your traffic more than any paid campaign ever will.

How can you develop this skill?

This skill is tightly related to the first one that we talked about on our hard Digital Marketing skills list – keyword research. If you are able to select relevant keywords for topics that people are actually looking for, the next step will be to put them in the right places.

Hard Digital Marketing skills #5: Taking advantage of search engines

To sum up the process, it looks like this:

  1. Do a great keyword research – check my article on keyword research methodology
  2. Write long-form content – ideally, your article should be above 2,000 words.
  3. Check on your competitors – and write more helpful and valuable content on the topic.
  4. Avoid certain types of articles – news and updates on your company won’t rank well.
  5. Put keyword in the right places – you can check my article on SEO for more.

To clear out the last point, I don’t mean that you should not write updates and news around your company. They are great for brand positioning – however, make sure that they are no more than 20% of your whole content.

The main reason why is because these types of articles don’t really rank well on Google. Search Engine Optimization is about finding out what kind of information people are really looking for, and most people won’t really search for “news about X company”.

Some may search for that, of course, but the traffic that you will receive from it will be so low that it won’t bring much difference for your website. So, I would suggest that you don’t make your whole blog around this type of content.

Once you’ve gotten the basics, the rest of it is practice, practice, and practice. The more articles you write, the better you get!

6. Social media advertising

Of course, we can’t talk about hard Digital Marketing skills without mentioning social media. Considering that more than 4 billion people, which is half of the entire world’s population, has at least one social media account, there isn’t any doubt that it’s a powerful tool for any Marketer.

hard digital marketing skills - social media

Hard Digital Marketing skills #6: Becoming skilled at social media advertising

Just like Google Ads, most companies are advertising on at least on social channel – whether it’s Facebook/Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter or Pinterest. So, having the skills to launch social media ads is a highly desirable requierement for most Digital Marketing job positions.

How can you develop this skill?

You don’t have to be skilled at all social media platforms at once. In fact, it is better to specialize in one and become really good at it than trying to be good at all of them.

If you don’t know where to start from, Facebook/Instagram is the most popular and demanded social advertising platform for job positions.

So, you can start from there. Another platform that you can specialize in is LinkedIn – it is less popular because it’s more expensive and also more suitable for B2B companies rather than B2C companies, but there are also less experts for it. So, it’s a good niche if you want to stand out.

While Twitter and Pinterest are not as popular for paid ads, it could be interesting to specialize in them as well just because they are more niche – so you will have less competition. And how can you become good at them?

Facebook Blueprint: Acquire one of the most demanded hard Digital Marketing skills

My suggestion is to start with some courses as well. It could be the official company courses, such as the Facebook Blueprint, or courses on third-party platforms such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy.

7. Organic social media

Last but not least on our list of hard Digital Marketing skills is organic social media. In other words, being able to publish valuable, high-quality posts that will help your company drive more organic traffic and gain more followers is essential for every organization.

Even if you don’t want to specialize in social media and become a Community Manager, you should still be able to understand how each platform works – and be able to publish content on it. Especially considering all the different content formats that these platforms offer.

How can you develop this skill?

Fortunately, you don’t really need a course (although it’s recommended) if you want ot develop this one of our hard Digital Marketing skills. You can simply create an account on the platform that you desire – for example, Facebook and LinkedIn (the chances are, you already have) and start exploring it.

Even if you don’t post right away, be mindful about the different types of formats and interactions. Study each element carefully and try to implement it on your own company profile as well. Vary between infographics, polls and regular posts to see what kind of content your audience interacts with the most.

Hard Digital Marketing skills #7: Generating brand awareness through social media

To make your posts even more beautiful and visual, I suggest that you try Canva (affiliate link). Canva is pure gold when it comes to designing beautiful social media posts in no time and without being a graphic designer.

Now that you know about the hard skills, what about the soft ones! Click here to discover the 7 essential soft Digital Marketing skills you must have in 2021!

Thank you for taking the time read my article 7 Must-Have Hard Digital Marketing Skills to Have in 2021! I hope I will see you in the next one! In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to get in touch with me!

Do you agree with this list of hard digital marketing skills? Is there anything that I missed? Let me know in the comments below!

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