What makes a successful marketer in this digital age?

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30-second summary:

  • Marketing in the digital age is a challenging and rewarding occupation.
  • Disruptive technologies call for marketers to be agile and adaptable, while abundant data and an ever-growing understanding of our customers and the journeys they make means we need to be both consumer-led and numbers-led at the same time.
  • Luke Richards identifies three key skill sets you need to master to become a successful marketer today.

Marketing in the digital age is a challenging and rewarding occupation.

Disruptive technologies call for marketers to be agile and adaptable, while abundant data and an ever-growing understanding of our customers and the journeys they make means we need to be both consumer-led and numbers-led at the same time.

With that being said, I do believe some skills that have been around since long before the digital era are still essential to modern-day marketers.

Here are three skill sets marketers in the digital age need to know.

Content produced in partnership with King University Online.

1. Research skills

We’ve already touched upon how important data is to modern marketing. From Google Analytics to offline questionnaires, marketers need to know what consumers want, where they are, what messaging they respond to, what they spend their money on, and more.

Marketers must gather this information, review it, analyze it, and interpret it. The conclusions you draw will then inform your marketing plan.

There are two main forms of research

  1. Primary research – Investing in conducting your own research. Accepted as the higher cost/higher value approach to acquiring data and information.
  2. Secondary research (sometimes known as desk research) – Looking at data acquired by others. This can be highly useful, too, and sometimes as quick to find as the length of time it takes to conduct a Google search.

Good marketers need to be sure that their sources are trustworthy before spending time processing the data/information they provide. They need to be able to discern when to conduct either type of research (or both), and they need to be able to analyze the data in an unbiased and efficient way.

2. Planning skills

The best marketing campaigns call for careful and considered planning.

Digital marketers need to lay out a roadmap to achieve a certain business goal by taking into consideration the budget, staff, and tools they have access to.

An overarching campaign plan to achieve this goal will likely include a number of strategies for tons of different channels from Facebook to SEM, and more.

Larger businesses might have entire teams dedicated to specific strategies on specific channels, massive budgets, and the newest tech. While small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will likely not have as many resources.

Good planning needs to take all of the above into consideration. Marketers also need to allocate jobs and strategies to team members, they need to apportion budget, and they need to ensure staff has the tools they need.

On top of this, time considerations need to be taken into account — When are individuals scheduled to do the work? When does the goal need to be achieved? Target audiences need to be identified and understood, plus, we also need to know what the competition is up to.

A key additional point to add to planning in digital marketing is to allow for these plans to change. There needs to be flexibility for strategies to be tweaked and timeframes to be extended. The industry and consumer habits can change on a dime in digital, and marketers often need to adapt their plans on the fly.

3. Communication skills

As we mentioned earlier, digital marketing is increasingly customer-led. Consumers will be turned off if the communications and messaging they are presented with are spammy or too advert-driven.

In modern-day marketing communication, value is key. Much of this value is derived from understanding your audience and tailoring that content in more specific and empathetic ways.

But communications in marketing is not just about the end-user. Marketers need to communicate to producers about the type of content they need. And they also need to convince managers and C-level executives of the value the activities that they are undertaking have.

Communication skills need to be honed with practice. Good compelling copy, for instance, comes from writing content for all types of media and all types of audiences. Many marketers also undertake public-speaking training to help present their ideas on stage or via video.

Communication skills don’t only refer to written and verbal content either. Marketers need to learn the value of non-verbal and visual communication (body language, logos, graphics, photo, and film) and how it can reflect their brand.

Takeaways for budding marketers

Being a successful marketer in this digital age calls for many skills, but being a good researcher, a good planner, and a good communicator is vital.

Having research skills has always been important. Today, marketers have access to more data than they ever had and need to be discerning about what is trustworthy and what is useful to them.

Planning skills incorporate an understanding of the goal your brand wants to achieve and how you can make the best use of your budget, staff, and tools to get there. Who is your target audience? Who are your competitors? What channels and strategies will be used? And can these be tweaked along the way?

When it comes to consumers, being a good communicator is a must. But communication skills are about more than the end-user. It’s also about how you get your team on board, how you get buy-in from managers and other crucial aspects of being a professional digital marketer. The written word, public speaking, and visual/non-verbal methods are all communication skills that need to be honed.

Many of these skills take practice, whether in the classroom or in the field. But as the digital industry continues to evolve, this hard work certainly pays off for marketers, the businesses they work for, and consumers.

For more information about acquiring the skills discussed in this article, King University Online offers an online MBA covering the above marketing skills and more.

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