8 musts for digital marketers in 2014

Your current or prospective employer will expect a lot from you in the coming 12 months. Here are essentials for success as the new year rolls out.

What an incredible time to be a marketer.

Digital marketing is the antithesis of many professions, in which you go to school or get training and perform basically the same job throughout your career. How many careers are so measurable and immediate? How many careers let you play with the latest cutting-edge technology? How many careers let you try something one day, then scrap it and try something entirely different the next? How many careers allow you to participate in an ever-changing array of client projects and campaigns?

2013 was an amazing year for those who’ve chosen digital marketing as their career path, and 2014 promises more of the same.

Aside from the hands-on, nuts-and-bolts skills that are required for success in e-commerce, SEM, mobile marketing, Web analytics, social media, and email, we can expect that in 2014 employers will emphasize eight key qualities when sizing up candidates.

1. Adaptability

Companies have never faced so much uncertainty and risk. In the space of only a few months they can slip from market leader to follower.

The ability to deal with major changes in the workplace, to complete projects with very little direction, endure stress, handle multiple priorities—these are among the most highly sought-after competencies that employers seek.

What might have been considered a crazy idea one day might be the next day’s most anticipated experiment. Companies can test new ideas and try out new features on websites and get almost instantaneous results.

All businesses want their marketers to be adaptable, but in digital marketing that’s especially important because the only thing that doesn’t change is, well, change, so expect change to continue to be the norm in 2014.

2. Collecting and analyzing data, and acting on the findings

Big data is getting even bigger. Digital marketers pore through mountains of data to understand consumer behavior and identify opportunities. They translate those insights into integrated marketing strategies across channels, with clear and measurable goals. They use advanced analytics to identify the media and audiences that will best reach those goals, and they quantify the value of each. They analyze results and strategize to deliver more of what’s working, and less of what isn’t.

If all this sounds familiar, expect to do even more of it in 2014.

3. Creative thinking

Some might describe this as “thinking outside the box.” BusinessDictionary.com defines creative thinking as “a way of looking at problems or situations from a fresh perspective that suggests unorthodox solutions.” However you wish to define it, I can’t think of too many other professions where this applies more than in digital marketing, where new technologies are emerging at breakneck pace.

It’s not always on the job description, but trust me: This will be a high priority for employers in 2014.

4. Comfort with technology

Employers have a very strong preference for candidates who are fluent in the technical aspects of digital marketing. That does not mean that you must be proficient in writing code; that’s what programmers do. But technology is to digital marketing what a tailwind is to pilots: It’s always pushing you forward, and the best digital marketers (just like good pilots) know how it works and use it to their advantage. Knowing technology also fosters greater collaboration with IT. You’ll be using it even more in 2014.

5. Intellectual curiosity

In 2014, digital marketers will continue to be the trailblazers, those who boldly go where no marketer has gone before. Author Mark Goldblatt, who has researched the subject, states that what you know is not always as important as what you want to know. Look for more emphasis on not just the “what” and the “how,” but also the “why.” Knowing why some tactics work and why others don’t-and learning from it to do it better the next time-will matter even more.

6. Thirst for knowledge

Digital marketing is, by definition, an exercise in lifelong learning, and there will be plenty more to learn in 2014. The day you quit learning is the day you should leave digital marketing as a career. Technologies and solutions that work today could be outdated tomorrow, and those very same innovations have never made it easier for learners to keep informed about the latest advancements with the help of media options like blogs, video, RSS feeds, and social networks.

7. Bridging the business and technological divide

I call these individuals the “techno-marketing hybrid.” Can you stand comfortably with your feet in two different buckets-marketing and technology? Everything you do in digital marketing is made possible by the technology that takes place behind the pixels, but it’s a theme you’ll hear more of in 2014.

This ability to bridge the gap between business and IT and communicate technical ideas clearly and effectively to nontechnical people cannot be overstated. In the coming year, those who have that ability will be at a distinct advantage over those who don’t.

8. Business acumen

Usually when you think of business acumen, you think of senior executives or other managers whose daily decisions and actions leave a direct impact on the operation and performance of the business. But it’s becoming a crucial competency for more than just leaders.

Companies want all employees to understand that everything they do in some way affects the bottom line. Even for lower-level positions, employers expect candidates to be able to connect the dots between their day-to-day responsibilities and departmental goals.

In 2014, employers will be looking for digital marketers at all levels who are more business-savvy and who understand how their personal objectives support the company’s overall strategy.

A version of this article first appeared on MarketingProfs.


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