Marketing is a booming industry. Over the past 30 years, she has had to keep up with technological innovation just as professionals have constantly improved their marketing skills. Recent challenges (namely that little-known Covid-19 pandemic) have forced marketers to adapt to a new landscape as customer expectations and demands change. So how has this affected the skills you need to succeed in your marketing career? Read on to find out.
For those currently working in marketing or those planning to build a career in the sector, you’re probably wondering what key skills will get you further along your path. After all, “marketing” is a very broad term and contains several specialties, each of which requires special training and experience to reach a professional level.
The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) defines marketing as: “The management process responsible for identifying, predicting and profitably satisfying customer requirements.”
As a natural extension of this, marketing is also about using different skills and tactics to achieve the above.
Marketing today is a very different world than it was just a few years ago, where digital strategies play a significant role and traditional methods often become less relevant and less effective. This means that while some skills related to this field (such as creativity and communication) are certainly still important and applicable, there are a whole host of other, newer skills that employers are now looking for in their marketing staff. .
We’ve taken a deep dive into the CIM Digital Marketing Skills Test 2021, one of the definitive and unbiased sources of industry skills gaps. The report aims to inform the conversation and drive an ongoing program of upskilling.
According to the data, the general recruitment of marketing shows a marked increase in the demand for middle and senior professionals, such as managers and executives.
When it comes to learning new skills, the biggest drop in skill knowledge was at entry level. This may be due to limited access to training, support and development for junior team members while working remotely. The “entry-level” marketing executive demographic also experienced a skills shortage for similar reasons.
Finally, we see a stagnation of skills as people reach management roles, meaning that those responsible for running teams and agencies are not investing time in their training and development.
Now that the world is starting to recover from a tumultuous few years, we are now in our ‘new normal’. At the same time, the industry has largely completed its digital transformation, and as a result “marketing” and “digital marketing” are now often used interchangeably.
So what skills are important for a marketer in 2022?
“Jack of all trades, no jack of all trades” is a phrase often intended to encourage specialization in one or two key areas. But the generalist has always had his place in the marketing world, and that hasn’t changed.
Looking at the CIM Digital Skills Benchmark, all disciplines saw a decline, remained static or saw very little growth, with the exception of general marketing, which improved significantly with a 7% increase since the last report in 2020.
General marketing covers all industry fundamentals and models, and is often an area for executive, department head or director level roles. An awareness of “all things marketing” is definitely a strong point for anyone overseeing a marketing function or team. As senior professionals become increasingly “decoupled” from day-to-day operations, instead of focusing on overall strategy and tactics, a lack of specialist knowledge is inevitable.
The problems of the past few years have exacerbated this problem. A wave (often overnight) of furloughs and layoffs at lower levels undoubtedly meant that higher-ups had to wear more hats and take on more day-to-day tasks.
Due to the lack of investment in training around the world, there seems to be a shift towards providing coverage of the ‘basics’ and a ‘back to basics’ approach or reliance on previously learned techniques.
Whether they are the lone marketer in a business who wears as many hats as possible, or they want to keep the diversity of their knowledge to cement their position as a team leader in the future, there has always been and always will be a role for the generalist marketer – what does it’s the number one skill for all marketers.
Paid advertising is one of the main tools of any marketer. Organic website traffic and brand awareness have always been valuable, but for most businesses, you can’t beat spending an ad budget and watching it flourish in front of customers’ search results and social media feeds. For many businesses, paid advertising is what leads to leads that lead to sales.
According to February 2021 results, demand for social media advertising has increased by 45.9% over the past 12 months, and paid social media usage has grown by 116.4%.
In the CIM Digital Skills Benchmark, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) showed a very small improvement of 1%. In a report that shows declines for most skills, that’s important.
Over the past few years, customers’ attention has shifted even further from storefronts and billboards to the Internet and social media feeds. And as any marketer knows, if you want to survive (let alone succeed), you need to go where your customers are going.
And that’s why legions of marketers have doubled down on their paid advertising to meet their goals. This inevitably created an even noisier battlefield in an already deafening space.
So the brands that have excelled (and continue to excel) in paid advertising and social media really know their platforms, which is why paid and social media advertising is second on our list.
In the Digital Skills Benchmark, email marketing improved by 1%. Believe it or not, we’ve been in the e-marketing world for over four decades now, making it a skill that almost all marketers have been exposed to during their careers. A key part of a generalist’s toolkit, it’s no surprise that its use has increased over the past two years.
Still, the report notes, “Having a high level of comfort with email marketing is great, but historical data tells us that just because people understand the channel doesn’t mean they’re always applying their knowledge to perform at their best. Comfort with email also means it’s easier than ever to email campaigns, creating even more buzz in an already noisy space.”
Like social media, email marketing is now being used more than ever. But the challenges continue to grow – customers are getting “tricks” – it’s no longer enough to personalize the subject line or the FOMO message.
On top of all that, stricter GDPR rules, smarter spam filters and a general apathetic complacency about everything that lands in your inbox has made email marketing tougher than ever.
The brands that will continue to thrive with email as a key marketing channel are the brands that are able to apply the skills they use elsewhere. They will use all marketing fundamentals and best practices to create engaging journeys and grow campaigns in conjunction with well-targeted sales activities.
As we’ve discussed, over the past couple of years customers have flocked to social media during their downtime. In addition, the physical impossibility of interacting with brands in person has led to even greater social media interactions between business and consumer.
“With increased pressure to maintain customer engagement, keep brands focused and transform products and services to meet the world behind closed doors.” Gemma Butler, CIM Marketing Director.
In addition to direct messages from existing or potential customers, the social media team must monitor engagement with organic and promoted content, sometimes across a dozen or more platforms.
A quick look at a brand’s Facebook page will tell a customer how effective their customer engagement is, with the best classified as “highly responsive” to messages.
Various third-party platforms can help manage customer inquiries, but customer service isn’t just about juggling comments and messages.
The ability to resolve inquiries quickly and efficiently requires marketers to have a detailed knowledge of a brand’s products or services and constant communication with other departments, from sales to operations. Another important thing is for the social media team to be 100% aware of their company’s key messages and values to ensure they are representing the brand in the right way.
Communication has always been an important marketing skill, but now it’s more vital than ever.
The CIM Benchmark saw the largest decline in skills in analytics and data, with a 6% drop.
With each new platform comes new metrics to measure and more analytics to understand. In addition to new technologies, changes to existing platforms – such as Google Analytics 4, new cookie rules and Facebook’s conversion to Meta – mean marketers need to stay on top of things or risk being left behind.
Covid-19 will no doubt cause some marketers to narrow their focus to the essentials (such as cost per lead) rather than more “luxury” analytics.
This drop is of concern to CIM, who believe it is “disturbing the ability of marketers to analyze and continuously improve their work. These are perhaps the most troubling results within the test because of the impact that poor analytics skills and poor usability can have on all aspects of digital marketing. Keep in mind that topics like personas and mapping the user journey fall under Usability, meaning these key principles will fall within this low skill level.’
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