There are certain skills that you must firmly grasp before you tell folks you’re an internet marketer. If you don’t, and I hear you tell someone “I’m an internet marketer!”, I’m going to stalk you in my Toyota Prius and pin you to a fence.
You need to know the following, inside-out, backwards and forwards. They must be second nature. If they ain’t, you ain’t ready. If they are, you can move on to digital marketing strategy and other fancy stuff:
- XHTML and CSS. You don’t have to be a god(ess) of web programming. But so help me God the next ‘internet marketer’ who gives me a blank stare when I mention CSS gets an atomic wedgie. And by the way, web standards have nothing to do with the metric system.
- Search engine optimization. Search engine results are the starting point for at least 70% of all online behavior. How on earth will you help someone market themselves online if you don’t even know what moves a site up and down in the rankings? Quick hint: Saying “SEO? Oh, we optimize your meta tags” is the same as saying “I am a severely impaired nubwit“.
- Pay per click marketing. Nothing sucks money out of a marketing budget faster than undisciplined PPC marketing. Assuming you care about your clients, you need to know a lot about PPC. Knowing where PPC ads show up doesn’t count, by the way. You need to know and understand concepts like negative keywords, quality scoring, dynamic keywords and content networks. Another hint: “Negative keyword” doesn’t mean “Keywords that make you feel bad”.
- Analysis. Let me make this clear: A bar chart is not analytics. If I ask for analysis and you e-mail me a bar chart I will so kick your behind. Analysis/analytics is the practice of turning data (the bar chart) into action steps and conclusions like “Wow, our ROI on this keyword is great. We need to build a landing page.”
- Usability. Please, please read Don’t Make Me Think. Just for starters. Then start keeping an eye on Jakob Nielsen’s site and other resources. Usability is a non-stop learning process. So get going.
- Complete sentences. Write every day. Every day. I don’t care what you write about. But you need to be able to write a post like this in 30-40 minutes, and it needs to be readable. If not, I shall become Conan the Grammarian and smite thee. (awesome image submitted by OneTakeMedia)
- RSS and feeds. I shouldn’t even have to say this. But you do know how to use Google Reader, right? Right?!
- Blogging and social media. Write at least one blog. See ‘Complete Sentences’, above. And know what people mean when they say ‘social media’. They really mean media. Understand what makes it all tick, and how you can help someone interact with their audience in a meaningful way.
- E-mail marketing. Learn to build a house e-mail list. Learn why most rental e-mail lists suck eggs. Know what makes an e-mail work or fail.
- Statistics 101. If you don’t know what a rolling average is, don’t even talk to me.
- Marketing. Oh, did I mention? You need to be good at, you know, making people understand why something is The Product For Them.
Remember when you first learned to drive? You were so busy remembering to signal before turning, maintain safe following distances and generally not humiliate yourself in front of your friends it’s amazing you didn’t drive right into the car in front of you.
Now, of course, the mechanics of driving are second nature. So is tailgating, but we’ll skip that part.
If you’re going to be an internet marketer, all the secondary skills have to be second nature, too. Until they are, you’ve still got a big ‘STUDENT DRIVER’ sign on top of your car.