Digital marketing: Have I the skills to specialise?

As a company that likes to nurture and develop our people, we know better than most the vast array of skills required to be a digital marketing expert.

We run our own internal knowledge-sharing and learning initiatives – Vertical Leap University (VLU) and our extremely successful Second Specialism scheme to name but two. That’s not to mention the cross-team working that some of us participate in. It’s important not simply from a skills perspective, but from a personal fulfilment angle, too.

As we’ve said, to be a brilliant digital marketing specialist, you need to possess certain attributes (insert joke here) – but what precisely?

We turned to our friends at specialist digital recruitment agency, clockworkTalent to identify the core skills required. Co-founder, Tasha Woodford put it simply and succinctly: “look for the passion, self-motivation and tenacity”.

What if you want to focus on a particular specialism? Maybe you’re in marketing and fancy making the move to the million-miles-an-hour world of SEO? Or maybe you’re already a digital marketer but would like to focus purely on social media? How easy is it to move from one to another, and which essential skills and behaviours might you need?

Here, we profile a few of Vertical Leap’s own experts to highlight the varied, numerous talents, behaviours and skills they need to do their job – and a bit about how they each arrived at digital marketing in the first place.

Coralie WoodCoralie Wood – PPC Campaign Delivery Manager

Sum your job up in one sentence: Dark Arts (according to multiple clients and prospects)!
How did you get here? I started my career in PPC working for the fastest growing financial services company in the UK. With four years under my belt, I felt it was time to expand my PPC knowledge and gain experience managing PPC campaigns across multiple industries, so I made the move to Vertical Leap two years ago.
Which skills are vital for your role? A good blend of analytical thinking and creativity. It’s essential that data can be analysed effectively but you also need to ensure you can combine this with creative and engaging websites, as well as ads, to get the best results.
Any skills you’ve picked up? Broader knowledge of excel.
What other learning have you undertaken at VL? Wider knowledge of SEO and attribution models.
What did you want to be when you grew up? A professional Monopoly player.

Dai HowellsDai Howells – Content Strategist

Sum your job up in one sentence: I work with clients to create the best content campaigns for their business – looking to boost engagement and awareness with attention-grabbing material.
How did you get here? I started as a journalist, before being awarded a strategist role.
Which skills are vital for your role? Creativity, attention to detail, an eye for a good story/angle, perseverance and understanding.
Any skills you’ve picked up? I’ve developed analytical skills to back up content ideas, and have become GAIQ certified in the process. I’ve also learned more about grammar and syntax (having written and edited millions of words) than I ever thought possible.
What other learning have you undertaken at VL? I’ve worked with the PPC team to develop my knowledge and understanding of paid search. I’ve also attended numerous VLU sessions to learn PR, behavioural economics and public speaking (among others).
What did you want to be when you grew up? I once told an entire school assembly I wanted to be a comedian. It got a huge laugh. I retired on the spot.

Tom ChapmanTom Chapman – Content Specialist

Sum your job up in one sentence: To boost areas of a website, on-site and off.
How did you get here? I started with my first job in my local paper, got a journalism degree, freelanced for a little while, got a job as an online content writer for an agency, and then arrived here.
Which skills are vital for your role? A fair few, as well as the ability to adjust and learn new skills on the job. However, off the top of my head: an understanding of SEO and HTML, excellent writing and proofing skills, creative thinking and the ability to come up with strategies on the fly, people skills and journalistic/PR senses.
Any skills you’ve picked up? I’ve certainly learnt far more about page optimisation and SEO than I did previously. I also had to learn how to use analytical programs, such as Apollo Insights and Google Analytics, to better evaluate my results.  Furthermore, I regularly read relevant articles, from sources including MOZ, to further improve my skills.
What other learning have you undertaken at VL? SEO boosting training, link-building and PR approaches, software training, my Second Specialism was on UX and I’ve attended various VLU sessions.
What did you want to be when you grew up? I remember wanting to be a vet when I was a kid; in my teens, I wanted to be a film director and at university, I wanted to be a journalist.

Heather ClarkHeather Clark, Social Media Specialist

Sum your job up in one sentence: Social media strategy and community management for a wide portfolio of clients.
How did you get here? Having trained as a journalist I was very interested in the shift to online news creation and reporting. Social media and what drives people on these platforms fascinated me, so I embarked on a career in social media marketing, which I have now been doing for over three years.
Which skills are vital for your role? Intuition, analysis, people skills and the ability to convey sometimes complex topics in very few words.
Any skills you’ve picked up? Maths! I never thought in a word-based career I’d need to understand the numbers behind the words quite so much. Reporting and strategy is nothing without the data to back it up.
What other learning have you undertaken at VL? I learnt about PPC for my Second Specialism and have worked within the SEO team to develop a good understanding of that discipline.
What did you want to be when you grew up? From about age 13 I wanted to be a political correspondent. Maybe one day…

Jon LineJon Line, Graphic Designer

Sum your job up in one sentence: Graphic design is the practice of visual communication, whether that’s in a physical or digital form.
How did you get here? I studied photography at university. After graduating, I took several different jobs and internships in London where my career path moved progressively towards graphic design and away from photography.
Which skills are vital for your role? Visual and verbal communications are key, plus an ability to understand trends.
Any skills you’ve picked up? I’m always picking up new skills as a designer; it’s a constant learning curve. Currently I’m learning a lot of 2D motion, it’s a lot to take in but very enjoyable.
What other learning have you undertaken at VL? Lots. It’s very helpful in understanding other people’s job roles but also allows me to bring some of the knowledge back to my designs.
What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be an artist. I spent all of my time drawing or making things. Much to the annoyance of my teachers.

Eli ZhelevaEli Zheleva, SEO Campaign Delivery Manager

Sum your job up in one sentence: Managing the SEO campaigns for a portfolio of clients of various business type, size and location.
How did you get here? Before joining Vertical Leap I used to work client-side, rather than in an agency. Although all my previous roles had SEO in the title, I ended up doing some web development, email marketing, remarketing and even PPC. This helped me better understand how SEO can collaborate with the other digital channels to better current results.
Which skills are vital for your role? Client communication and management, project management, and an understanding of best practice SEO techniques.
Any skills you’ve picked up? Improved client management and communication, i.e. setting and meeting objectives and expectations.
What other learning have you undertaken at VL? My Second Specialism was Content; there I learned how to come up with ideas for engaging articles, web copy, etc, that will also help an SEO campaign. I also attended a session on outreach, which I find very useful now for prospecting and building relationships with third party sites.
What did you want to be when you grew up? A grown up.

There you have it, a bucket-load of skills – some of which you may already possess, others that can develop in situ – which hopefully demonstrate it is possible to specialise / change your specialism and learn even more about digital marketing. Hey, if you’ve got the digital marketing specialist skills, maybe you could work with us at Vertical Leap?

Elizabeth Smythe profile picture
Elizabeth Smythe

Elizabeth was a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at Vertical Leap. Elizabeth joined us in 2011 as a Brand Journalist & was promoted in 2013 to our marketing team.

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