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What’s the Role of a Digital Strategist?

“Digital Marketing Strategy” is a common phrase used within the marketing realm from individuals with different levels of experience and understanding. So how does one become a digital strategist? In today’s connected world, every organisation needs a digital strategy to stand out in a saturated online market. How do you look to understand your target audience, cut through the clutter and deliver your message effectively? Finally, and most importantly – how do you convert?

In a nutshell, digital strategists are people that solve online marketing and business-related problems. They look to connect the dots between the needs, wants and desires of the customer, matching these with business, brand and marketing goals, looking to enhance the delivery of a creative and tech-savvy approach. A digital strategist incorporates all relevant marketing channels and platforms – from SEO to paid media and content – into one holistic measurable action plan that is then used to launch the marketing of a product or service. A digital strategist must have an aptitude for data, as their job is to analyse results from their campaigns and that of competitors, determining outcomes and plans of action. This is driven through consumer and market insights. Perry Hewitt, Harvard University’s Chief Digital Officer, defines the sought-after role: “Digital is part technology, part content strategy, part marketing art – and science. People who very strongly identify with only one piece of the equation will struggle on a high performing digital team.”

However, being a digital strategist is not just about optimising one’s tools and skills at your disposal to showcase a brand’s products or services. As author Seth Godin describes; “Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell.” Putting the informed consumer first, is now of paramount importance in today’s digital and virtual growing climate, alongside the art of authentic storytelling.

So how does one go about becoming a Digital Strategist in this fluid and evolving landscape of 2021?

Beyond having a relevant marketing educational background, what really matters are your skills (often learned on the job) and experience, as a digital strategist’s responsibilities are constantly evolving. Half of working digital strategists have between 1-4 years of experience, and a third have 5-9 years. A defining feature of the digital strategist role is that it is not limited to one function. It spans multiple marketing realms and requires a holistic skill set. Recent studies have shown there is a definite gap in digital strategy skills, with many employers struggling to find suitable candidates. This reveals an exciting opportunity, especially for those who are accustomed to the broader digital marketing landscape. An intricate understanding of technical aspects of digital marketing separates the beginners and the masters of their craft. These technical skills can include.

 

  • Target segmentation, value proposition, positioning, and brand strategy.
  • Working knowledge of web design and HTML.
  • Understanding in CRM software.
  • Proficiency in SEO, Google Analytics, AdWords, and Facebook Advertising amongst others.
  • A holistic understanding of organic, paid and performance related marketing opportunities.

 

Incorporating some of these skills above is just the beginning of this ever-evolving journey in digital strategy. It is not enough to only have the qualifications and expertise, as a large portion of the job is dependent on intuition. This intuition will allow you to make calculated decisions in high-pressured situations often learnt through experience – which is why industry knowledge is so highly regarded by employers.

Combined with soft skills, digital strategists need excellent verbal and written communication skills to meet internal and client expectations. More importantly, an ongoing desire to learn, improve and explore new business opportunities. Balancing this with leadership skills, organisation, project, and operations management nous is what separates the best from the rest. The role of a digital strategist is an exciting journey to embark on; very few fully master the craft but that just allows one to constantly evolve and improve one’s skill set in an ever-changing and exciting digital landscape.

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