Evolution in Digital Marketing Skill Sets

This is an exciting time for those working in the advertising and search marketing industry. We’re seeing unprecedented turbulence as digital marketing challenges traditional advertising channels. This turbulence is being exacerbated by new software technologies that enhance digital’s tracking and performance capabilities by providing better data and superior insights into digital campaigns like SEO, search engine marketing, and content. Because of these technological advancements, marketing effectiveness is quickly becoming dependent on software to manage the volume of information and deliver the data to make the right decisions.

Software packages such as those offered by Adobe, Marketo, and Eloqua are in high demand. They bring value to the table by creating efficiencies in management and with their ability to connect the dots of information that allows marketers to make better decisions. But their value cannot be overshadowed by their complexity. This complexity makes the skills necessary to manage and interpret the software critical, and these skills are in demand and in short supply. Many brands that have invested in marketing software are finding it difficult to find the employees to maximize its use. This creates an opportunity for digital marketers to increase their organizational value and prepare their skill sets for the future.

Agile Project Management: As the complexity of the marketing environment continues to grow, the ability to be agile is growing in importance. Agile project management has its roots in software development but is something marketers must adapt to.

IT Knowledge: Alignment between marketing and IT has historically been a source of disorder within organizations. This has to stop, and it starts with the marketing team. A solid understanding of application frameworks, cloud computing, and relationship databases will help fast-track marketing software implementation and effectiveness.

Data and Analytics: Successful marketers of the future (and present) will have the ability to track campaigns back to return on investment (ROI) from every touch point. There are tools that facilitate this analysis, but the best marketers will be those that have the core skills to dig deeper. These analytical skills include statistics, Web analytics, data manipulation, and advanced Excel number-crunching.

Software Platforms: The ability to know all of the platforms within the marketing technology industry is near impossible. With that said, skill sets for those platforms within you area of expertise are critical. For example, search marketers should be familiar with the capabilities of platforms within search, content, marketing analytics, and tracking. Knowing how to actually utilize the most popular platforms is even better.

For those of us working on the agency side, these skillsets will continue to be in high demand. Agencies will look for specialization and digital media to grow, which means integrating marketing platform management solutions into their existing advertising capabilities. As quoted from Sarah Turk at IBISWorld, “Brand awareness and niche labor skills are key to product differentiation” for marketing agencies. Niche labor skills like those mentioned above, along with expertise in data extraction and tool management for each software technology category, will be critical skillsets for agency success. This holds true for those working on the brand side as well.

The infancy of this industry and its impact might be analogous to agencies in the 1960s learning how to use computers to develop advertisements rather than drawing by hand. Or, analogous to search marketers who ignored learning Google Analytics back in 2005. Five years from now, the top search marketers and agencies will be those that have access to the best toolsets and the skill sets to use them. All of those working in marketing and advertising are poised with an opportunity here to develop niche expertise and capitalize on the in-demand skill sets. Those who do not adapt will find themselves with outdated resumes.