10 Essential Digital Marketing Skills Your Agency Needs to Thrive

Running a digital agency startup requires a commitment to ongoing learning: yesterday’s tools and strategies aren’t guaranteed to work forever.

In this blog, we’ll help you future-proof your business with the in-demand digital marketing skills that agencies and marketing consultancies are using to grow their client rosters and crush profit goals today.

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1. Video Marketing Mastery

Motion is the future of content marketing. 

Video content dominates digital marketing efforts today thanks to its high engagement and conversion rates compared to photos and carousels (Dash Hudson). Brands must capture viewers’ attention and tell their stories memorably and quickly. Attention-grabbing video does just that. 

Powerful at Every Budget

The internet and social media have democratized many skills needed to be a digital marketer, and video marketing is no different. Gone are the days of requiring a high-end set and camera crew to shoot an ad: today, low-budget videos shot on a mobile phone can perform just as well as their more polished counterparts (HubSpot). 

Here are a few tips for making conversion-boosting videos on a budget, even if you’re starting with no experience

  • Shoot by a window: Natural light more than makes up for a lack of studio lights, so ensure your video is well-lit by shooting near a window.
  • Use a free video editing tool: Free video editors like iMovie on Mac or Adobe Express are feature-packed, and there are many great free video editing apps for creating content from your mobile device. Once you’re ready for more professional tools, Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve are popular choices.
  • Try appropriate trends: If you’re creating short-form videos for TikTok or Reels, jumping on existing video and audio trends can be a great way to make your social media marketing go viral. Just ensure the trends are appropriate for the brand.
  • Use the talking head style: The talking head video style, in which a speaker is superimposed on a background image that may be a product, a website, or some other relevant content, is a low-cost style that audiences are familiar with and enjoy.

2. SEO and Content Optimization 

Organic traffic is an important source of new clients, making search engine optimization (SEO) an essential digital marketing skill. 

There are two primary facets to this marketing agency service: on-page SEO and off-page SEO. On-page refers to things like the heading and URL structure of the site, meta tags, keyword optimization, and page speed. Off-page generally covers link building—that is, winning links to your website from another site with high trust and authority according to Google. 

While the digital marketing fundamentals of SEO remain the same, new tools are changing the agency skills required to be an industry leader in this domain. 

For example, consider the advent of voice-activated AI assistants like Alexa and Siri. With more people using these tools each year, optimizing for voice search and AI assistants is a leading-edge way to improve SEO outcomes.

AI is also making an unignorable impact in the content creation space, helping agencies scale up their content production, conduct more precise keyword research, and analyze campaigns in real-time.

3. Data-Driven Content Strategy

Many of the digital marketing skills on this list are connected to content: it’s of paramount importance to marketers and plays a role in everything from SEO and ads to email marketing and social media.

Given its central role, thriving agencies need a data-informed approach to content marketing. This starts with thorough research to identify topics that resonate with target audiences while aligning with current trends, user behaviors, and potential content gaps. 

Once content topics are identified, successful agencies get strategic about how content will be created and deployed. Knowing how to create effective content calendars is a valuable online marketing skill because it brings order to what can feel like a chaotic task. 

Let’s say your client wants to stay active on 5 platforms and has 4 content pillars based on your research. It’s easy to see how they could get overwhelmed and not know where to begin. A content calendar solves this problem by systematizing content creation and organizing key tasks involved, like ideation, creation, and publishing.

Finally, every digital marketing strategy should include methods for measuring performance. Track metrics like page views, engagement rates, and conversion stats to gauge the effectiveness of your content strategies, then make improvements to continuously boost ROI.

4. Social Media Marketing Wizardry  

If you want to generate leads for your agency, offering trusted social media marketing services is a great way to do it. Handling social media management in-house is time-consuming and challenging for busy business teams, making it a high-value marketing agency service when done right.

Try these techniques to do just that:

  • Apply digital marketing knowledge to boost both organic and paid strategies across social media platforms
  • Prioritize virality and sharability to help your clients grow their brand recognition
  • Offer bundles that include social listening tools and community management to increase your sales while offering more value to clients

Tip: Partner with Vendasta to rebrand and resell AI-powered social media management software where you can manage thousands of client accounts, streamline workflows, and unlock revenue opportunities.

digital marketing skills: social media management

5. Email Marketing Automation

If you’re starting a digital marketing company, an important digital marketing skill to learn is email marketing.

Email is essential to nurturing leads and keeping existing customers engaged, making it a valuable complement to any other services you offer. The best part? Much of it can be automated, making this a relatively hands-off component of any effective digital marketing strategy.

To get the most out of each dollar spent on email, segmenting email lists is essential. This enables marketers to create more narrowly targeted content based on things like time since last purchase or on-site behavior. Once your segments are set up, create automated drip campaigns that keep your client’s brand top of mind. 

Finally, always A/B test your emails, even on nurture sequences that are performing well. Little tweaks can make big differences in conversions, and A/B testing is the best way to iteratively improve key performance indicators (KPIs).

6. Analytics and Insights Mastery

Data analytics provide cold, hard evidence of which strategies deliver the best results, enabling marketing agencies to make informed and confident decisions.

Google Analytics is an excellent free tool for understanding website activity, and if you want your agency brand to stand out, it’s well worth digging into some of its more advanced features. For example, using its demographic and geographic data can provide useful insights for local businesses targeting customers in a small geographic area.

Valuable analytics can be found directly on platforms like Instagram and Facebook, but it’s far more convenient to access these in a single location. Consider a tool like Metricool to manage campaigns and track analytics from a single dashboard.

7. Design Skills for Marketers

Tools and trends may come and go, but fundamental digital marketing skills are in demand perennially. One such skill is design thinking, which can be applied to creating graphics, video content brand presentations, ads, newsletters, websites, and more

Understanding the principles of visual design, branding, and UX will set your agency far ahead of competitors that only focus on the technical side of digital marketing. If you can be trusted to handle both, you can position yourself as a one-stop solution to clients' marketing needs.

8. Marketing Technology (Martech) Expertise

Today, businesses of all sizes are bombarded with tech solutions promising to handle all their challenges with ease. In reality, part of the skill of digital marketing is distinguishing truly valuable solutions from technological bloat.

A powerful skill for agency owners is the ability to evaluate and integrate the right tools to streamline marketing processes with ease. This means assessing tools based on scalability, user-friendliness, ROI, and—crucially—the ability to integrate with other tools. Understanding APIs is particularly helpful for this.

For boutique agencies positioning themselves as tech-forward, gaining digital marketing skills in new technologies like AI, no-code platforms, and Web3 technologies can be an effective point of differentiation.

9. Digital Advertising Mastery  

Mastering digital advertising involves using paid strategies across platforms like search engines and social media. Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and others each offer unique targeting capabilities, audiences, and advantages.

Effective campaign setup requires online marketing skills we’ve explored already like keyword research, audience segmentation, targeting, and A/B testing. Even small mom-and-pop businesses increasingly use digital ads to grow their reach, making it a valuable agency digital marketing skill.

An important note for growing agencies: Understanding and adhering to privacy regulations is an essential consideration since you don’t want to put your clients at risk of legal liability. 

Want to learn about navigating the changing landscape of digital advertising from a pro? This episode of the Conquer Local podcast is for you:

10. Strategic Marketing leadership

Leadership skills and soft skills are as important to agency success as fancy tools and technological knowledge. 

While different types of agencies exist and there are many ways to approach your business structure, but often, a great leader at the helm is ideal for setting the tone of your business, effective team management, and ultimately, better client results. 

Strategic leaders are also key to keeping agency startup costs in check by making savvy budget decisions, knowing which emerging market trends to focus on, and identifying which high-value clients to prioritize.

Running a successful agency requires direction and focus—two factors that strong marketing leaders are best positioned to provide.

About the Author

Lawrence Dy is the SEO Strategy Manager at Vendasta. His career spans from starting as a Jr. Copywriter in the automotive industry to becoming a Senior Editorial Content Manager in various digital marketing niches. Outside of work, Lawrence moonlights as a music producer/beatmaker and spends time with friends and family.

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