We live in a world dominated by technology. From smartphones to apps to wearables, consumers today are always connected. As a result, marketing has undergone a seismic shift. To reach, interact and delight their customers, marketers need to understand how to succeed in a digital world.
The transition to digital has not been easy. Case in point, the Digital Marketing Institute tested marketing professionals across various industries in the US, UK and Ireland, and found that the majority failed to achieve entry-level competency in digital marketing skills. This is a concerning finding, especially since companies will only be relying on digital marketing more and more to take them to the next level, if only to remain afloat in their respective industries. This will require a surge in digital marketers who have a wide variety of digital skill sets on their resume to meet these evolving job requirements.
Here are 5 key skills every marketer should master to become a digital marketing superstar:
1. CONTENT marketing
Content is king. You have no doubt heard this expression ad nauseam in recent years, but that’s only because it’s true. Especially when it comes to digital marketing.
It’s no secret that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is as important as it’s ever been, with companies always searching for ways to stand out from their competitors. Appearing at the top of Google searches brings with it some prestige and credibility, not to mention a competitive advantage, especially for keywords that you and your competitors share and compete upon.
While only Google knows the secret mix of herbs and spices that make up their search algorithm, one thing is for sure: informative, relevant and high-quality content is your best bet if you want to rank high in consumers’ search results. As Adam Audette, Chief Knowledge Officer at RKG once said,
"The days of SEO being a game outsmarting algorithms are over. Today content strategy and valuable, sustainable strategies are essential, not just tricks and links."
As companies adopt a content marketing strategy, it is essential for marketers to possess the right content marketing skills. For content to resonate, marketers need to create engaging and high-quality content. One of the most effective ways to measure the success of your content is through customer feedback. When paired with other sources of data that can be used to track visitors’ website experiences (web analytics, session replay, etc.), digital marketers can determine the level of relevancy, uniqueness and alignment that different pieces of content are offering.
By tracking users’ engagement with content, this provides a way to measure the health and effectiveness of a content marketing strategy. This is crucial for digital marketers to sustain and grow their audiences, and in turn, be successful in what they do.
2. SOCIAL MEDIA marketing
Social media has become entrenched in our everyday lives and routines. According to Social Media Today, the average person spends just under two hours on social media platforms every day. To add context to this stat, this translates to about five and a half months during a person’s lifetime!
As a result, social media is an imperative part of marketing, and present a massive opportunity for digital marketers to amplify their message to their audience.
At the 2015 Online Influence Conference, Andrew Grill, global partner of social business at IBM, said,
“Don't treat social as a marketing channel, treat it as a conversation you would have with someone. You need to have something of value to exchange with your audience and not just interrupt a conversation.”
In other words, just like how generating and publishing high-quality content is crucial, successful digital marketers apply the same rules when it comes to posting content on social media. If you post content that doesn’t provide value to your audience, then your audience won’t listen, let alone do what you ultimately want them to do (convert!).
3. DATA-DRIVEN marketing
With the emergence of the digital era, data-driven marketing has come to the forefront. Digital marketers are not only increasingly relying on data to measure ROI, create more engaging content and personalize the experience, but also to improve conversion rates.
According to Econsultancy, the two most popular methods for Digital Marketers to improve conversion rates are derived from data: customer journey analysis (63 percent) and A/B testing (60 percent). Plus, three in four Digital Marketers (75 percent) tend to lean on Analytics to get ideas for different things they can test to further improve conversion.
With the alluring promises of data-driven marketing, the explosion of marketing technologies has brought about an avalanche of data. Unfortunately, many organizations don’t yet have the resources, skills or processes to act on this wealth of data. Sadly, Smart Insights found that 42 percent of marketers felt unsupported by their employer when it came to developing the skills needed.
What separates modern, successful digital marketers from the rest of the pack is the ability to effectively leverage data to create personal, relevant and engaging customer experiences. And in order to do so, you must make data your friend, and not be afraid to collect and go deep into your customer data as much data as you can.
Image source: http://tomfishburne.com/2015/02/datadriven.html
4. MOBILE marketing
According to the Pew Research Center, 77 percent of U.S. adults own a smartphone. This includes 92 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 29. On top of that, Criteo found that over 30 percent of all online purchases in 2016 occurred on a mobile phone. So, needless to say, the mobile experience is crucial, and can’t be considered an afterthought by any means, and people’s shift towards mobile can only continue to grow.
This seismic shift calls for Digital Marketers to adapt and think ‘mobile-first’ in everything they do. Optimizing the mobile website experience or launching a mobile app are both definitely important, but first, Digital Marketers need to know their mobile users inside and out to truly understand how to cater to them. As the Altimeter Group states,
“Focus on learning more about customer frustrations, expectations and behaviors specific to mobile…Only then can mobile strategies produce results that increase engagement, lead generation, sales, retention, loyalty and more.”
Desktop or Mobile devices, sitting down or on-the-go – every which way a customer can interact with your brand brings about different experiences and contexts. Successful Digital Marketers consider how customers experience their brand from these different angles, and the potential pain points and opportunities of each.
5. CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE (CX) marketing
“Customer experience and innovation are not only unique selling points, but essential qualities for gaining a competitive advantage.”
The effectiveness of your shopping cart, the helpfulness of your support agents, the word-of-mouth about your brand - each of these items play into the Customer Experience. Every customer interaction should be seen as a reflection of your brand, and successful Digital Marketers will make sure that their brand is reflected in a good light at all times.
CX has undoubtedly become the fifth marketing “P” in recent years, and it has been repeatedly shown to have a notable impact on companies’ bottom lines. But to truly understand the customer experience and how to optimize it, Digital Marketers must leverage the voice of their customers if they want to succeed in their mission. After all, what better way to know how customers are experiencing your brand than your customers themselves?
As you go about honing your skills in content, social, data-driven and mobile marketing, remember that every digital skill is anchored in the customer experience. Only by meeting the intent, needs and wants of your customers can you succeed in today’s digitally-driven world. As marketing relies more and more on digital solutions and platforms, Digital Marketers need to continuously evolve and adapt their skills list accordingly.
With these skills in your back pocket, you will be ahead of the game.