Internet marketing sounds simple enough. It’s just marketing on the Internet — pretty self-explanatory, right?
Actually, it’s more complicated than that. Internet marketing isn’t just one skill, but rather a whole suite of different skills that need to successfully work together. Those skills can vary depending on an IM’s niche or individual job description, but there’s always more than one skill involved in their work.
While individual IMs might have different specialties, there are seven skills that every IM should have. These basics are the jumping points for future growth, learning, and development, and they all play into an IM’s ability to form coherent and effective strategies that grow companies online.
SEO plays a huge role in Internet marketing. If they’re going to successfully market a website, they need it to show up organically in search engine results pages. Otherwise, their company can be buried under the millions of other businesses online.
SEO is essential not only because of its potential in Internet marketing, but also because of what IMs can learn as they work. Ranking factors, search engine mechanics, and adapting to the constant stream of industry changes all lay the foundation for other Internet marketing skills — and they keep IMs on their toes, too.
Moz’s guide to SEO is one of the most comprehensive and well-written ebooks online — and it’s totally free. It defines SEO, delves into its principles, and recommends best practices. It’s a great place to start education as an IM.
Keyword research is a necessity for SEO and many other Internet marketing strategies. Essentially, keyword research tells IMs what popular industry terms are most useful for their companies — and their competitors — in search engines. Using these keywords on relevant site pages is a critical part of an SEO strategy, and it also lets page visitors know they’re in the right place to find a solution that works for them.
There are tons of keyword research platforms available to IMs — it really depends on circumstances to determine which one works the best. Google Adwords keyword planner is the gold standard, but searching for keyword planners provides a huge list of alternatives. IMs just need to create a l ist of keywords that they want to check, add them into the tool of their choice, and strategize based on the results.
Social media management
Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms give businesses a consistent audience that wants to hear more. It’s an IM’s job to grow that audience, capture their attention, and convert them into customers.
That means social media management goes beyond just tweeting and posting. It takes planning, strategy, and forethought, all of which take time — not to mention some trial and error — before creating tangible results.
Wordstream’s introduction to social media covers the basics really well. It discusses how to plan, create, and share content to reinforce branding — all great steps to getting a company on the right track for social media. There’s definitely more to know, and there’s always something changing in the fast-paced world of social media, but Wordstream’s resource starts IMs on the right foot.
Technical / production skills
Maintaining an up-to-date repertoire of technical skills is hugely important. IMs don’t have to possess a working knowledge of every tech system in the world, but it’s important that they have a couple different fields of expertise to become better assets to companies and clients.
Audio / video production, photo editing, and experience with design software are all viable options, among countless others. Knowledge in these areas can also make it easier for IMs to communicate with other departments in their agencies while giving them an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of different media when they’re planning initiatives. Even if an IM’s job description doesn’t say that they must have technical skills, they should know a few.
For the IMs who aren’t sure where to start working on their technical skills, the Internet is packed with free software and tutorials for in-demand knowledge.
Lynda — Tons of tutorials on design, development, photography, and more.
Audacity — Free, open-source, cross-platform audio recording and editing software.
Windows Movie Maker / iMovie – Standard and free video editing software for Windows and iOS, respectively.
Canva – Free in-browser design utility that has templates, fonts, and more — all high-quality.
Inkscape – Free, open-source design software.
While HTML is a technical skill and could fall into that category, it’s important enough to IMs that it deserves its own section. Good IMs have to know what the back end of a website looks like, and they have to know how different tags impact what’s on the page. If they don’t, they’re not only missing out — they’re behind the curve.
Not every IM has to be fluent in HTML, but it’s essential to know how to fix errors, add small elements, and modify existing pages without going back to the developer or designer for help. Knowing HTML just makes life easier on everyone, even if it’s only enough to make a few tweaks.
Codecademy is one of the best options to learn HTML. It’s free and comes with easy-to-follow tutorials that teach coding quickly. Plus, users can knock out a whole lesson in an hour — maybe a little longer if it’s their first experience coding — and the lessons are specifically designed to stick with users long after they’ve completed each task.
Analytics is critical to IMs because they need data to better refine their processes. Creating ideas from scratch can work great when IMs are making something new — but turning those ideas into something great takes time, tracking, and analysis. IMs need to know as much about analytics as possible, not just how to work the programs, but also which metrics matter, how data can help set reasonable goals, and more.
Google Analytics provides a training resource for their platform that’s completely free. The seminars, videos, and user submissions round out their resources to provide a comprehensive beginner package that can help IMs grow their knowledge base.
Plus, once they finish, IMs can take the Google Analytics certification test. They just need to sign up to become a partner, fill out the needed information, and take the exam.
Copywriting covers a huge portion of what IMs do every day. Whether they’re typing up new blog posts, creating landing pages, or emailing potential customers, they need to know how to write well. Just like any other skill, it takes practice, and IMs can refine their copywriting process over time by just sitting down at their computer and writing out their ideas.
Quick Sprout has arguably the most thorough account of how IMs can learn copywriting and start writing well. It’s long, informative, and almost unreasonably inclusive, but it offers solid advice.
Every Internet marketer is going to fail — or at least not succeed as well as they hoped — at some point in their careers. They’ll also inevitably run into antagonistic or confrontational situations. IMs have their ups and downs, just like everybody else.
The key to pushing through it all is positivity. The best IMs know the best is yet to come, even if they just had the best day of their careers. IMs never get to rest on their laurels or catch their breath. Sometimes, they may barely have enough time to thank their team and move onto the next big project. There’s always another mountain to climb, channel to swim, or race to run.
The difference is that a positive IM will turn that constant momentum into motivation to keep pace — or even outrun — the best in the industry.
These skills are all great starting points for new Internet marketers who want to get a foot in the door but don’t know how. They also prepare IMs for most of what they’ll encounter in the day-to-day of marketing. When they have these skills nailed down, they’re capable of planning, launching, and improving campaigns that will grow any online business.