Six Skills Every Digital Marketing Team Needs for 2019

Treasure Data-LogoTime flies, technology moves even faster. Scott Brinker’s annual Marketing Technology Landscape super graphic now displays more than 6,800 marketing technology solutions — a 27% jump from 2017’s figure.

That’s a lot for marketers to handle. Some simplification is in order. From analytics to Social Media Marketing, here are six digital marketing skills your team needs today:

1. A Focus on Digital Marketing Analytics

While “web analytics” focus on website performance, digital marketing analytics reveal the performance and ROI of all your digital marketing channels­ and activities — social media, email marketing, blogs, SEO and so on. Digital marketing analytics can tell you how each channel performs relative to the others, track customers throughout the buyer’s journey and even attribute specific marketing activities to revenue. And given the overwhelming number of marketing technology solutions available, you can now track analytics on almost anything.

Given this context, here’s a short list of digital marketing analytics-related skills to look for.

  • Data wrangling. Also known as “data munging,” this is the process of transforming and mapping data from a raw form into another format so it can be used for other downstream purposes, such as analytics.
  • Storytelling with data. The rise of data visualization means data can now play a bigger, more visual role in any story you want to tell. The key for analytics savvy digital marketers is figuring out how to present data visually so that non-analytics people see the story in the numbers.
  • Proficiency with unstructured data. With so much of today’s data being created on social media platforms, unstructured data—data that isn’t stored in a database row or column—is playing a big part in the current data boom. As more digital marketing campaigns move to social media, more of your customer intelligence will take the form of unstructured data. You’ll want digital marketers who can organize and understand unstructured data and know how to combine and correlate it with structured data for even greater insight.

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2. An Understanding of Artificial Intelligence for Digital

As AI-based marketing solutions learn more every day, marketers will need to work differently to create awesome customer experiences. For example, consider micro-segmentation. By analyzing customer behavior over time and across different channels, AI will help digital marketers understand customers at more granular levels, enabling even greater personalization. This will offload some manual work, but it will also force digital marketers to adopt a more audience- and persona-focused mindset. This will be increasingly important as digital marketers develop highly personalized content and campaigns that align with micro-audience personas.

3. Social Media Marketing Strength

Social Media Marketing drives targeted web traffic, boosts your website’s search engine rankings, and by providing an interactive platform, can help you better engage and understand your audience.

But, remember, social media marketing is an evolving practice; strategists will need to know what platforms are performing best and why. They’ll also need the quantitative skills to review and make sense of platform analytics and data, as well as the marketing sense to translate those findings for creatives to dream up new content.

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4. Ability to Develop Content Strategies

There’s a gap between audience demand for Content Marketing output and the skills necessary to produce it. According to a 2018 survey from the Content Marketing Institute, 72% of companies say they are challenged when it comes to managing content strategically. However, the organization also found that Content Marketing gets three times more leads than paid search advertising. So, the faster companies close this gap, the sooner they reap the rewards.

Content strategy often involves multiple teams, which means your digital marketers need interpersonal skills such as diplomacy, flexibility and consensus building. This discipline also involves both the right and left side of the brain, from leading projects and persuading disparate groups of stakeholders, to writing and editing, to measurement.

Additionally, digital marketers/content strategists need to be involved in data analysis discussions that focus on trends and patterns. Ultimately, your content strategy should be audience focused, but data driven.

5. Understanding of Voice Search

By 2020, Gartner predicts that 30% of internet searches will be activated through voice and won’t require a keypad or touchscreen. This shift to voice search will profoundly change SEO strategy and tactics and the skills necessary to implement them.

Here’s why: Search engines return information differently to a spoken query versus a typed query. Instead of providing a list of text links to web pages with relevant information, search engines (and virtual assistants–Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Siri) provide answers to your questions, presumably referencing the website containing the answer.

This will have an obvious ripple effect on your content: It will need to be higher quality. Fluff, while always bad, will be penalized; valuable content will be rewarded. You’ll need digital marketers who understand this shift and can optimize your content accordingly—with answers to questions, not by stuffing content with primary keywords and backlinks, as those SEO tactics diminish in value.

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6. Proficiency with Native Ads

eMarketer predicts that in 2019 native advertising will account for 61.4% of all digital display ad spending, a more than seven percent increase from 2017. Why the uptick in spending on native ads? To audiences, native ads are meant to feel more authentic and less intrusive, which leads to more clicks and engagement.  Consequently, they outperform traditional display ads on click-through rates and overall audience engagement.

To get in on native ad ROI, your teams will need market knowledge and research. This translates to a strong understanding of your audience’s habits, preferred platforms, websites and apps. Of course, knowing the ins-and-outs of branding and response metrics will allow you to capture metrics and tweak as needed.

So much to know. So much to learn. But take heart: As the digital marketing landscape continues to expand, so does the rise of digital marketing specialists—curious, self-starting people who take on these specialized skills and deliver exceptional value for the organization.