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Why You Can't Cheat & Win in Digital Marketing

The marketing landscape today is drastically different than it was even just a few years ago. There are numerous new channels that demand attention and offer opportunities in addition to the paradigm shift from push marketing to pull marketing. Many marketing teams are still built around the old ways of marketing and are ill-equipped to conquer the new methods of marketing in today’s digital world on their own. Let’s take a look at some of the digital marketing segments and the skills necessary to deliver success in each one. While reading through these skills you will quickly see that there is absolutely no way to cheat your way through this forest of necessary digital marketing skills and still succeed.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing valuable content to your targeted audience across the omni-channel landscape. This means creating a variety of content types such as articles, white papers, e-books, videos, infographics, case studies and more. To achieve success in this content marketing, there are multiple skills necessary and it typically requires multiple talented resources:


  1. Copywriting and copyediting – Depending on how sophisticated you get in your content marketing efforts determines the level of expertise necessary in this area. Things like blog posts can be written by anyone with general writing skills, but items like e-books and white papers benefit more from having copywriting and editing professionals produce the materials.
  2. Video production – You will need someone with the skills and understanding of video composition. This includes storyboarding, scripting, shooting and editing. Yes, you can be successful with short, spontaneous, amateurish videos. However, inevitably you will find a need for more professional video production whether it be for advertisements, product videos, tradeshows or numerous other reasons.
  3. Design – You will need people with top-notch design skills to produce high-quality graphics that match the branding and messaging of the company. While content is always king, people do make snap judgments based on the look and feel of your content. Their initial reaction can prevent them from consuming the content, or it can create a stigma that is hard to overcome. The goal is to exude quality and value through all means.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a key piece in almost all Digital Marketing campaigns. The skills needed to perform the tasks around email marketing are as follows:


  1. Copywriting and editing – Email marketing is a form of content marketing and, therefore, requires the same efforts around content development. Typically the material you are using in email newsletters though is content that has already been curated through content marketing and therefore only needs to be re-purposed to fit the needs of the email campaign.
  2. Design – There are many services out there that offer pre-built email templates which can alleviate or reduce the needs for email design skills. However, these templates are generic and do not take your branding and messaging into consideration. To make sure your email marketing is aligned with you brand identity, you will need the services of a designer.
  3. HTML and CSS – Most effective email campaigns are distributed as HTML emails. Building these emails takes an experienced developer who is familiar with HTML and CSS and the complexities of creating newsletters that display accurately and consistently across different email platforms and reading devices. 

Social Media

Social media has become a significant part of everyday life for the majority of consumers and, therefore, is a key piece in your digital marketing efforts. To effectively market across various social platforms, you are will need an expert (or experts) who are familiar with the platforms. They will know which audiences use each platform and how best to engage these audiences. Twitter is very different from Facebook, which is very different from Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.

Aside from knowing the platforms and how to target the audiences of each, you will also need to understand the advertising opportunities that are available and how best to use them. These include paid ads and promoted content. 


Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are critical tactics in helping drive traffic to your sites. The rules of the game here are dictated by Google, Bing, and the other search engines and require an understanding of how each executes complicated algorithms to determine how you will rank in different search terms. This is very complex and far from an exact science. It requires disciplined, expert level attention. 

Your SEO and SEM experts need to work closely with your copywriters to ensure your content is optimized for search. They also need to work with your website development team to ensure the underlying structure of your website is also optimized for search. They will make sure that key metadata is present and that the performance of the site meets and surpasses the standards set by the search engines.


Your website is probably your most valuable digital marketing asset. Websites are complicated digital pieces that require skills in many different areas to effectively execute and maintain.


  1. HTML and CSS – HTML and CSS are the structure and presentation for a website. They are what makes a website a website at the simplest level. You need someone with an expert level of knowledge in these areas to produce a quality product that works across browsers and devices, provides optimal user experience and meets the requirements for SEO
  2. Design – As mentioned in earlier sections, you need an expert designer to ensure your website aligns with your branding and messaging and exudes quality. Your designer should have a firm understanding of designing for the web, and that includes designing for the wide range of mobile phones, tablets, desktops and other internet connected devices
  3. Backend Development – Very rarely today does a website not require backend programming. This type of programming is what is used to perform custom functionality, integration with backend systems and facilitating communication between the front-end (presentation layer) and the database (data layer). You need someone with enterprise-class knowledge and skills in this area. Also, remember are many different options for backend languages and database systems, and you need an expert in the exact stack on which your website runs.
  4. JavaScript Development – All websites today use JavaScript to some capacity. This can be for simpler functionality such as user interface manipulations and client-side validation or more complex initiatives like asynchronous programming. Some HTML/CSS developer and backend developers will have skills in this area in which case they may meet your needs. However, JavaScript is becoming more and more prominent in today’s digital space. The language and its users have grown significantly to the point where it is not uncommon to need an expert who focuses on solely on this skill
  5. Copywriting and editing – Again, your website is one, of if not the most important marketing tools in your portfolio. The visitors to your website come there to consume your content. This means you need to produce and deliver high-quality content and constantly keep it fresh.
  6. Information Technology – Your website is hosted on a server somewhere and is connected to other systems such as SMTP servers for email, backend systems, databases, and much more. This network infrastructure must be configured and regularly maintained to ensure optimal performance and maximized uptime. 

Lead Nurturing & Marketing Automation

In the past few years, we have seen significant advancement in tools to nurture leads, gather insights and automate processes such as executing campaigns. These tools are providing significant returns, but they require even more new skills to setup, configure, maintain and integrate across the omni-channel landscape. These skills include technical expertise for the configuration and integration as well as the marketing knowledge to understand buyer cycles and customer journey. Don’t forget the ability to analyze the data to plan meaningful activities that ultimately increase conversions.

The digital marketing landscape clearly requires a very diverse and vast skill set to conquer. Only the largest organizations in the world would have a team that covers all angles of digital marketing and even still, most of them do not (even the big guys outsource some projects!) So what are the best options to fill the gaps that you have? In some cases, it can make sense to hire these skills if you realize you will have a constant full-time need for them. In most instances, however, it is best to outsource to agencies who are experts in the areas you are weak or lacking. When going this route, you should look for agencies that can operate as an integrated part of your marketing team and show a sincere interest in your success.
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Michael T. Whalen, Director of Solution Delivery
Michael T. Whalen

Director of Solution Delivery

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