Being a digital marketer is a lot different today than it was a decade ago. Where we used to focus almost exclusively on website content and SEO, acting like specialized engineers, today's digital marketers have evolved into something more akin to orchestra conductors.

Related: 16-Step Blueprint to Master Your Digital Marketing in 2016

And that's a big job, because there are a lot of instruments, a much bigger audience and a ton of moving parts. To make everything work, you as digital marketer have to understand the nuances and how all those parts interact. Otherwise, all you have is noise.

Digital marketing, then, is knowing how social and digital channels operate together, how they interact.

Let’s look at the ways you can grow your passion and become a better digital marketer, so your own "orchestra" sounds less like an elementary school band.

1. Learn to leverage the data.

There’s a lot of talk about the importance of “big data.” But it’s not about the data itself. It’s how you use it: You have to know how to become an analyst so you’re doing more than just regurgitating numbers.

The problem is, the landscape changes so fast that the idea of analyzing data makes some marketers weak in the knees. But analysis is what is needed. It’s rare to find a marketer who understands and lives just by the numbers.

If you’re not a numbers person, that’s okay. At least recognize the importance of creating and revising strategies by the numbers -- then partner with someone who is your “numbers guy.” (Recommended resource: HubSpot)

2. Get involved in paid social advertising.

The gold rush on "likes" and "follows" is quieting. The free global reach is still there, but social channels like Facebook now have so much data they can sell it back to businesses, and those businesses get to benefit. Research, in fact, shows that social ad spending will hit $25 billion in 2016, with Facebook getting a huge slice.

The social media giant is winning in that regard because social ads, done well, can be extremely effective due to Facebook's focused targeting.

Make yourself a better marketer by improving your social ad skills:

  • Learn more about granular targeting and how to customize your audiences.
  • Understand how to deep dive into Facebook insights.
  • Learn more about testing how creative images can improve the performance of boosted/sponsored content.

(Recommended resource: Quick Sprout)

Related: Most Small-Business Owners Buy These 5 Digital Marketing Myths

3. Get the most out of email marketing.

Social media is a great tool for brand awareness and engagement, but your most loyal and committed prospects and customers want to keep in touch via email. Email has grown into a complex marketing tool that delivers serious results.

Niche targeting and list segmentation, split testing and analyzing metrics, like bounce, open and clickthrough rates, are powerful tools that are often underestimated. The result is that a lot of marketers and businesses come up short, so you can benefit by being the expert. (Recommended resource: Kissmetrics)

4. Do more visual marketing.

There’s enough research available to tell us that people engage better with visual content, from stand-alone images to video, infographics, animated GIFs used in social and images placed within blog content.

Thirty-five percent of marketers in one study selected visual assets as their most important content and 65 percent of senior marketing executives said they believed visual assets were key to how their brand story was communicated. That’s because content with relevant images gets 94 percent more views than content without relevant images.

Learn how to use visuals to make your campaigns more successful. (Recommended resource: QuickSprout).

5. Become a better content marketer.

Content is the foundation for all marketing. It’s why search was created in the first place. When content is done well, and you’re delivering superior value to your audience, you’ll see an increase in engagement, leads, sales and overall organic visibility.

But good content isn’t always easy to produce. The most important components you’ll need to learn and understand are:

  • How to create a documented content marketing strategy
  • How to create really awesome "10x" content (content 10 times better than that of your competitors)
  • The best ways to promote your content
  • What kind of content your audience wants.

Start with those skills to build your content marketing strength and become a better digital marketer. (Recommended resource: Content Marketing Institute)

6. Get your hands on more technology.

There are new apps and software services coming out all the time. Some recycle the same features; others innovate within their space. A good digital marketer knows to continually expand his or her tool box with new technology tools to better manage the work and improve the results. Popular tools include:

Getting familiar with tools and platforms like those listed here will make you an asset in digital marketing and will better serve you, as well as your clients/employer.

7. Dig into social media marketing.

Organic social engagement is the other side of the coin from social media; and it has a lot of moving parts. Success comes from understanding the functionality of different social networks, which ones to focus on, what goals to apply to different networks, which tactics will help achieve those goals, where your audience members spend their time and the best types of content to use to inspire engagement.

If you’re marketing for your own business, you don’t need to leverage them all to find success. If you’re marketing for others, it’s best to build your experience with a variety of platforms. The more skilled you are with social media marketing, the more value you bring to the table for clients or employers.

Remember that no matter what the platform, knowing your audience and understanding how to engage them comes before all else. (Recommended resource: Social Media Examiner)

Related: 10 Budget-Conscious Digital Marketing Strategies

Conclusion

The skills you need can seem like a long list, but getting better at digital marketing is a journey, not a sprint. Prioritize what is most relevant to you first and start building your experience in each area, using some of the recommended resources above.

Set goals and begin working through them. The only way to become a better digital marketer is to start working on it today.