Marketing isn’t what it was 10 years ago (or even 5), with all the advancements of technology and data the past few years have brought. According to HubSpot, half of all new marketing hires will require technical skills. Here are some that will probably be on that list of job requirements.
The very cornerstone of marketing as an industry is understanding the target audience in order to reach out to them effectively. In the modern world, that is best accomplished through collecting and analyzing data–often in large amounts.
Jess Vadino, senior strategist at Monetate, says, “No marketer needs to be a data scientist, but marketers should know the ins and outs of analytics platforms they use – and those their clients use. Someone who works with e-commerce clients, for instance, will be that much more valuable when they can point to the impact their work has had on the clients’ business KPIs, not just SEO ranking.”
Some people may claim that SEO is dead, but for marketers, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Organic search results have the potential to be much more powerful than paid ads, especially if they make it to the first page, and it’s been estimated that nearly 40% of customers find the company through search.
That said, algorithms and best practices are constantly evolving, so SEO is one skill that requires consistent updating and refining. Because of this, many companies prefer to have a dedicated SEO expert (or a team of them) rather than more general marketing professionals who know some SEO. Still, it’s well worth the time for any marketer to invest some time in grasping at least the basics.
Many marketing roles involve writing–whether it’s sales pages or blog posts. Being familiar with HTML at the very least will expedite the process of getting that content on the site and looking good.
Plus, Vadino adds that it makes cross-team communication much smoother: “While I’ve never had to write code as a marketer, understanding the basics makes conversations across teams so much easier.”
4. WordPress (or related CMS)
Tying in with the above, blogging and publishing content is key for marketing. Therefore, as a marketer in 2017, knowing how to get around a content management system (CMS) is crucial.
WordPress is one of the largest–to the point where it actually runs 27% of the entire Internet (nearly 16 million sites)–so starting there is your best bet. The good news is once you understand how to get around one CMS, it’s not tricky to get around another.
Online video marketing (including the new darling, live video) is invoked by many marketing professionals as the future of the field.
“We saw this trend emerge in 2016 on almost every major social network, as brands looked to video as a way to communicate more easily with their readers,” says Divya Kunapuli, Director of Marketing at NGP VAN. “In 2017, marketers should not only know how video is used in marketing but master scripting, shooting, and editing videos for Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. As someone who is self-taught in video production, I can attest to how simple it is to learn (especially given how you can do it all on your phone).”
Amber van Moessner, Director of Content at Livestream, weighs in on the power of streaming live. “Audiences spend more time with live video, and are willing to show up, participate, and join the conversation on social media more so than with VOD (video on demand) or blog content.”
The trick (and difficulty) to live video, though, is that it still has to be polished and compelling. “In 2016 we saw too many brands propping up folks who were not camera ready on Facebook Live to sometimes disastrous results,” says van Moessner. “Marketers and publishers need to be sure they’re ready to create high-quality live video for audiences in 2017, and that includes everything from equipment to on-screen talent. As this becomes the norm in content marketing, only the best live video will stand out.“
6. UX/Basic design skills
Although companies typically have a separate design team, don’t underestimate the importance of knowing design principles as a marketer. Whether it’s creating a mockup of a landing page or Photoshopping a shareable image, a little design skill can go a long way (and make you more attractive as a marketing candidate).
Vadino weighs in again: “To be clear, I don’t think a marketer needs to know Axure vs Visio vs UXPin – but they should be able to sketch out a standard digital customer experience. Whether done with a paper and pen, whiteboard and marker, or software, this can only help marketers further their influence and understanding for their org and/or their clients.”
Knowledge of SQL (sometimes called the database language) ties back into using data to understand customers, and it’s a powerful tool for marketers who put in the effort to learn it.
“Knowing how to write basic SQL and understand your customer database is, in my experience, a key tool for any marketer,” says Ben Abrahams, Growth Manager at subscription box service Dia&Co.
“Being able to query my database on my own allows me the freedom to constantly ask questions about how my customers are changing and reacting to the product. Since basic SQL queries can be quick to learn, investing in it can help anyone make decisions faster and unpack key insights that lead to more efficient and effective marketing.”
If this list looks daunting, it may help to remember that in marketing, you don’t have to be a jack of all trades; in fact, it’s usually more beneficial to choose a specialty and hone those skills, while maintaining a surface knowledge of the rest. SEO manager Jessica Joyce says, “SEO, SEM, social media, conversion optimization, analytics, front-end development – there’s a lot out there! Focusing in on one is really helpful to set you apart.”