It’s a crazy time to be a marketer. The shift from traditional channels to digital ones has been immense and it means marketing skills are always changing. Digital strategies and tactics have become so ubiquitous that there really is no difference from a “digital marketer” and a regular ol’ “marketer”. It’s pretty much all the same thing now.

Kinda like how responsive web design was all the rage a few years back. But now, making responsive websites that properly display for desktop and mobile devices is considered the norm. Whenever a website is created it’s just expected that it’s responsive.

Similarly, today’s marketers are expected to have a diverse set of skills, who can play various roles on a team, and know how to execute anything digital. From writing content and understanding data to demonstrating UX/UI design and actually knowing how to increase profits with audience segmentation and automation software, it’s all a part of the modern marketer’s arsenal.

And this expectation is justified. In 2017, spending on digital marketing is projected to increase by 12% to 15% on average.

In order to stay relevant today and tomorrow (digital) marketers are going to need these 10 skills in order to prosper.

  1. Analytics

Wanna hear something crazy? Apparently, 84% of marketers have indicated that they cannot measure and report on the contribution of their campaigns for business owners.

That’s disappointing.

But at the same time that’s awesome. It means that for those who work our butts off it’s going to be easier to rise to the top.

There’s no way around it, business owners want to see a bottom line return on their marketing and advertising spend. Marketers need to become fluent in analytics to show relevant data and prove their worth.

Being able to measure ROI is in high demand. Companies want to know exactly what their getting for their money. Anyone who can continuously measure and optimize campaigns based on data will increase their chances of rising to higher positions within a company and making more money.

Creative minds aren’t enough anymore. You’ll have to develop an analytical mindset to stay on top of your game. Start number crunching!

  1. Writing and Communication

Content is still king. You know it. I know it.

74.2% of companies have declared content marketing has increased their marketing teams’ lead quality and quantity. Artificial intelligence and machine learning tools may be creeping into the workspace but nothing compares to a human telling a good story.

Marketers need to understand how to craft a content strategy around the buyer’s journey. It’s a significant role considering how content plays into educating, informing, inspiring, and motivating buyers and prospects, and as such, marketers need to understand how to create content that converts at each of these levels.

Marketers who can write and communicate well have an edge over employees that cannot. It’s just that simple.

Though writing and communication in themselves are basic skills, marketers should continually be improving their copywriting to communicate sales messaging in the most effective manner.

Those who can persuade buyers through writing or speaking will rise to the top of the pack.

  1. Marketing Automation

Marketing automation can significantly increase your campaign performance, and should be a required skill for any professional in the field. Learning how to use automated workflows that continually nurture leads through emails or content is not easy, but it works -research shows that marketing automation can drive up to 14.5% increases in sales productivity and 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead.

Practitioners can stand out if they learn how to create steady workflows for various prospect levels and understand how to analyze the corresponding data. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t is important with marketing automation, and those that can master this task will be ahead of the game.

So get out there are start building automation sequences in MailChimp or InfusionSoft for small businesses. If you want to work with enterprise clients learn Marketo and Salesforce’s Pardot.

  1. Research

Marketing campaigns begin with research, so honing this skill is important. For those who have been to university you’re probably already pretty good at this.

Marketers need to have a deep understanding of buyers, market trends, analytics, and opportunities in their field – this requires advanced research skills that go beyond a Google Search.

With research skills, the marketer should focus on improving the subject matter expertise of their business and gaining a better understanding of their buyer and market. Marketers that can research effectively—and quickly—are an added bonus to any team.

  1. Coding Skills

    Marketers who don’t know HTML and CSS are becoming washed up. I’d even argue that anyone who doesn’t have basic HTML skills probably won’t be employable in the future. It’s slowly becoming an expected skill for any office employee every coming year. However, learning the basics of both can help you quickly resolve any minor issues you may come across when managing a blog or website. Understanding how to modify a MailChimp email template or research a competitor’s website also require these skills. Again, these are becoming expected rather than desired skills.Encourage yourself to learn another language in how it relates to marketing. While they’re not expected to master Python, marketers can learn how to build a search engine crawler using Python to master SEO. Those types of additional coding skills are what employers will start to look for as HTML and CSS become the norm.

  2. User/Customer Experience

    While companies generally have a separate design team, marketers that understand basic design skills are in demand. Marketers already know a lot about the target market, so if they can work with the design team to help create a website experience that caters to that market, the site will most likely drive better engagement and results. 95% of customers agree that good user experience just makes sense, so why not pair up marketing and design teams to create a layout that’s appealing to the customer? Marketers should learn basic design skills in order to jump in and make a positive impact on customer experience.

  3. Inbound marketing

    Inbound leads cost 60% less than outbound, which means inbound marketing is a must-have skill.Using content, social, and SEO tactics, marketers must be able to bring potential customers to a website, but more importantly than that, marketers need to be able to bring the right customer to a website. Increasing traffic is possible by simply posting content throughout a bunch of Groups on a social media platform, but what marketers need be able to do effectively is bring qualified leads to a website. Use the right tools to bring real potential buyers to a site with specialized inbound marketing.HubSpot offers a free Inbound Marketing Certification course that’s got just what you need to get in on the ground floor.

  4. Understanding the Buyer

    Going along with inbound marketing, marketers must understand buyers and the buyer journey if they’re going to bring them to a website and eventually get to a sale.Marketers can learn and understand the buyer process by collaborating with the sales team. Once marketers know the buyer cycle, they can create specific content around each stage of that process.95% of buyers prefer brands that provide content throughout the buying process, which means the sales and marketing teams must align. Marketers that can create content to push potential buyers down the sales funnel to create sales are valuable — and can measure that value in dollars.

  5. Mobile

    There seems to be no slowing down in the growing use of smartphones for Internet users. I recently ran a Google Adwords campaign where 65% of all our paid traffic came from mobile! Marketers need to understand how to implement timely and location-based campaigns that target mobile users. With mobile optimization the norm, marketers can utilize other mobile tactics, such as text message offerings and location-based offers, to entice users to interact with a brand. Mobile is growing at a rapid rate. I’ve even noticed some companies in Toronto are hiring a separate mobile team. Marketers that can create mobile-specific messaging and drive engagement on smartphones will be well sought after in the near future.

  6. SEO

    Every year I come across headlines declaring that “SEO is dead,” but SEO never really dies, it just changes.Being able to get your brand or client to the first page of Google, or the #1 result, is the desired outcome. Users are less likely to click on page two of search results anymore. But is Google constantly updating itself and the way we search online changes. By keeping up with SEO trends you can stay ahead. Andrey Lipattsev, Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google, said that high quality content and link building are the two most important signals used by Google to rank your website for search. Marketers that produce high quality content and can effectively link build, while maintaining other SEO best practices, will always be in demand.

The Future Marketer

If you want to keep your skin in the game you’ll need to constantly learn new skills and adapt to online changes.

As online behavior and algorithms shift, so do marketing tactics – and therefore marketing best practices. When it comes down to it, it’s simple, marketers that thrive on change and continue to learn new techniques will always have employment. Those that don’t keep up will fall behind.

These are the 10 skills I think marketers need to ensure they have today to succeed. But I’ll be honest, I’m certain this list has to change going into the future. The very best marketers will be called upon to learn even more. Here in Canada, it’s never a bad idea to be bilingual. It only helps your employability. But I can definitely see a future from here where being multilingual would only help marketers serve more businesses globally. And as business owners want more numbers, marketers should strive to learn more in-depth data science such as data mining.

If you’re a marketer and you practice continually improving your skills, research abilities, and self-educate, you can stay at the top of your field.

John Cerpnjak

John Cerpnjak

John Cerpnjak is a Digital Marketing Consultant with specific skills in copywriting and design. Originally from Oakville, he now operates from Liberty Village in Toronto. John received his honours bachelor's degree in Multimedia and Communication Studies from McMaster University in 2011. He also received a post-graduate certificate from Humber College for Advertising Copywriting in 2013. Currently, John works with small to medium size business owners consulting on all matters of lead generation and customer acquisition. Having a deep respect for the Liberal Arts and Humanities, John keeps up with current affairs and is often critiquing his media consumption. John is an avid snowboarder and art enthusiast. He has an insatiable love for 90's grunge and alternative rock as well as comic book superheroes.
John Cerpnjak
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