2018 has arrived and it’s perhaps tactful to get a little reflective, examine the happenings and the marketing trends of the year before and draw out some learnings for the year ahead.
This year, in addition to asking ourselves how marketers can work better with each other, we are also asking how they can become better at work itself. The ways of marketing change all too quickly, especially in the digital space, and technical skills in marketers are seen as table stakes. Creativity is essential, still, but it’s unlikely to pivot your successes. Especially in the long run.
You know it as well as we do. The moment channel algorithms change, immediately after the rules of SEM and social media marketing, among others, get updated. Devices change, and then the way of communication follows suit. New applications happen quickly and their adoption is even quicker. At any given point there are 100 different tools available for tracking and measuring digital marketing success, each mutually distinctive, equally essential and also indispensable to the cause.
Your success, as a marketer, in this scenario, is a factor of your ability to adapt, adopt, and implement the new ways of marketing at a speed proportional to that of the change. And having keen eye and a willingness to accommodate helps.
Among other things, there’s increasing value in amending ways and learning new technical skills. The more you familiarize yourself with all the many ways of marketing, and across all stages of it — from planning to execution to measurement — the better you can keep up with the industry and remain relevant in your job.
Now, no one’s expecting you to have full proficiency in every [digital] marketing tool out there. But a basic functional knowledge and the ability to use the said tool meaningfully is sure to come in handy when the tides turn.
With inputs from our community of fellow marketers, here are 5 technical skills for marketers that can be mastered for more successful and well-controlled outcomes.
1. Marketing operations
At any marketing organization, at any given point, there are multiple marketing projects running in tandem — the day-to-day stuff, brand development-related campaigns, event participation, and more such things. Keeping track of it all, right from the formative stages all the way through successful completion demands constant attention. In order to drive targeted efforts that are well-designed, well-allocated and effectively tracked, knowledge of some sort of project management tool, suitable to marketers, is helpful. These tools can help keep a high-level eye on all the happenings at any given point as well as the team’s progress across each. They also cut the need for one to intervene repetitively and request updates.
2. Website development
Having a responsive and functional website is among the key priorities for any brand-focused organization. As more and more people seek out digital interactions with their brands and companies, it’s imperative to design a website that serves the needs of the visitors most effectively. And as much as a trained design resource — in-house or remote — is crucial to the effort, a marketing person’s contribution is essential to achieving that delicate balance between great design and usability. So that the interactions serve a purpose, of driving positive outcomes, enabling business, and building the brand’s identity on search engines, to say the least. In order to successfully work the ‘design’ a basic understanding of front-end, UX, and product management is helpful.
3. Graphic design and development
Especially when the dependency on the design resources is very high — as is the case with most e-commerce brands — an elementary knowledge of graphic design and edit tools like Photoshop and Canva is helpful when professional help isn’t around and time is of the essence. We recommend you start by getting a sense of your brand’s visual identity, color palette, and typography in order to effectively create design assets for your cause. Also, because good design is a factor of good marketing direction, a marketer is always the best person to lead all design initiatives, even if it means having to hone some of the creation.
4. Content development
Whether it’s B2B, B2C, or C2C, high-quality branded content can drive better customer experiences and enable business positive outcomes. However, enabling content discovery, by way of keyword optimization, quality link building, and targeted distribution is a key factor upon which the success of any content depends. The ability to craft content strategy, script effective content, knowledge of SEO and SEM, and some form of content management platform is increasingly crucial when the only thing differentiating you from your competitors is your way of brand storytelling.
5. Behavioral analytics
In order to understand the value of the content and the creative, it’s essential to understand how they fit into your customer’s interactions with the brand. If the way of the content discourages healthy interactions — poor open rates, poor clicks on the CTA, heightened bounce, heightened exits — a marketer must be able to pick up on these red flags. Here, a working knowledge of tools like GA, Heap, and Kissmetrics comes in handy when trying to make sense of a vast amount of data around interactions, understanding how your audience is engaging with your branded/campaign content and creative, and mapping meaningful patterns that point to success and anomalies therein.
By the sound it, you might feel like that role of marketing is evolving to now mimic some aspects of business analytics and engineering. And you are perfectly right to feel so. Not to say that you need to go on to learn Python and Heap right away. It’s just that even a working knowledge of technical tools and skills will help you ask the right questions and make informed decisions. This way, you set yourself up of more instances of successes and minimize your chances of failure.
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