Marketing Skills for Marketers of Today and the Future
This is a guest post from blogger Jasmine Henry.
If you’ve been a marketer for less than a decade, you probably find it downright staggering to consider how marketing’s best practices have changed in the past 10 years. Consumers aren’t using catalogues, radio advertising, direct mail, or trade shows to make decisions any longer - at least, not at nearly the rate they used to. Social media, content marketing, apps, and personalized advertising are in. Data isn’t a mysterious asset closely guarded by the IT department any longer, either. Big data is now a necessary and accessible tool for making marketing and business decisions.
Whether you’re a seasoned marketer, small business owner, or aspiring marketer, we’ve curated an updated list of the skills you need to bring your career into this decade. Better yet, we’ve even uncovered some expert insights on the skills that will serve you best in the years to come. If building relationships and revenue today and tomorrow is what you’re after, read on:
1. Social Media
Social media is still the most popular activity on the web. However, social media in 2015 looks significantly different than it did in 2011, or even in 2013. Facebook once reigned supreme, and it’s still uber popular, with around 56% of adults as members. However, multi-platform use is on the rise. Consumers are now more likely to split their time between Facebook and other platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+. Frankly, sharp marketers are starting to do the same.
Between recent changes in Facebook’s algorithm, an increase in paid social advertising, and shifts in consumer behavior, today’s marketers aren’t just focused on how to create a really great Facebook post. They’re savvy researchers, who know how to discover the platforms their customers are using, and build a presence there. Focus less on platform-specific skill sets than the social and authentic aspects of social media marketing; and your campaigns are likely to really shine.
2. Content Marketing
Several years ago, blogging was a heavy player in marketer’s efforts to see success. Today? Blogging is still a remarkably effective tool, and HubSpot reports there are 31% more bloggerstoday than there were in 2012. However, blogging is just one form of content, and great marketers take a really comprehensive view towards building a content marketing strategy.
Marketers with a passion for content need to be able to write, edit, and articulate concepts well. They should also have a capacity for conceptualizing and creating visual content, creating real-time, relevant stories (news jacking), and taking a cross-platform approach to telling brand stories.
3. Lead Generation
Marketers can’t just focus on driving web traffic or gaining a social media following. The art of lead generation is crucial for exceptional inbound marketing; and it simply can’t be overlooked in today’s highly competitive atmosphere.
What does exceptional lead generation look like in 2015 and beyond? It could encompass eBooks, whitepapers, webinars, or other on-demand resources. It will likely include well-designed landing pages, too. However, the most critical aspect of lead generation is the concept of give and take. You ask your prospects for just enough information that they’re comfortable opting-in to your email list; in exchange, you offer them truly valuable and relevant information.
4. Email Marketing
I’m sorry, but email marketing isn’t dead. Spam and obnoxiously aggressive email marketing campaigns should have died years ago, but truly great email marketing? It’s definitely here to stay. Exact Target reports that nearly half of consumers make at least one purchase per year based on email marketing, and some 56% of marketers plan to increase their email marketing budget in the year to come.
While best practices are likely to continue to change, exceptional email marketing campaigns are always highly informative, personalized, and relevant to the recipients. Developing the ability to intelligently segment a list and target messages accordingly can only serve inbound marketers well.
5. Relationship Building and Networking
Marketers are essentially connectors. Really, they’re in the business of connecting consumers with needed products or service solutions, and their employers with a steady stream of new revenue. For this reason, a marketer’s career will be much more successful if they’re able to build relationships both on and offline.
Marketers need the ability to develop and project a consistent personal and professional brand online, through social media and content marketing. They need the customer service skills to professionally engage with prospects and customers in online forums. Perhaps most importantly, marketers shouldn’t overlook offline events for marketing their brands, which Content Marketing Institute reports are still among one of the most effective marketing methods.
6. Web Technologies and User Experience
97% of consumers look up a product or service online before making their final purchase. There is no changing the fact that a company’s website is their calling card. Do all inbound marketers need the ability to code a beautiful, mobile-responsive website from the ground up? Not really, especially if they’re in a position to outsource their web design to an agency or on-staff IT professional.
However, every marketer needs to understand the difference between good and bad web design, and be able to articulate this difference in a more detailed manner than simply stating “that is one ugly website!” Understand a bit about how the human mind works, and the behavioral psychology principles behind user experience. Know how humans and technology interact, and how this should affect your site’s design, layout, and load times. Keep up to date on best practices, and your brand will never suffer a terrible website.
7. Customer Service
If there was a single aspect of marketing that will never, ever change, it would undoubtedly be customer service. Brands that put people first, such as Whole Foods and Nordstrom, continue to experience growth and high customer satisfaction year over year. The focus on your marketing campaign should be to make your prospects happy, and reward your existing customer base.
Regardless of whether you’ve been marketing for 20 years or you’re just breaking into the field, remember that you are ultimately a customer service professional. As a public-facing member of your enterprise, your primary role is to represent your brand, and ensure high satisfaction with your organization. Every single marketer can benefit from continual attention to their customer service skills - in fact, this applies to every professional, too!
What are some of the skills you think are crucial to inbound marketers in 2015 and beyond? How do you feel they’ve changed over the past several years?