The key skills that 2017 will demand of marketers

Social media acumen has gone from luxury to requirement, metrics and data analysis are increasingly important, and the ability to write—not just assemble words—is paramount.

When it comes to marketing your business, 2017 will separate the wheat from the chaff.

Social media, search, content, social ads, digital ads—along with the strategies that make them shine—have advanced to a level that many marketers can’t keep up with. It’s now very difficult to achieve superior results without specialized abilities.

Many marketers may be incredibly talented in a few traditional skills, but those skills have become the baseline. It’s no longer possible to just “figure things out.” Doing so could be dangerous to your business reputation and jeopardize revenue.

Whether you’re considering promoting from within, hiring an individual or engaging an agency, or if you’re leaping into entrepreneurship, focus on the following skills that every marketer needs in order to succeed in 2017.

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1. Web design

Your website is your digital storefront; in many cases, it’s the first thing customers encounter in researching their next purchase.

  • Does your website represent the company and its products/services well?
  • What’s the user experience like?
  • Is the site structure solid?
  • Is it optimized for search?

A basic understanding of site structure is crucial.

Today’s marketers need a working knowledge of HTML and PHP. You don’t have to know how to build a website from scratch, but you should be savvy enough that when problems arise, they don’t mess up your workflow.

2. Writing ability

Writing skills will continue to grow in importance in 2017.

Writing for the web requires two sets of skills:

  1. Ability to attract, engage and convert customers and build relationships
  2. Optimization techniques to achieve search engine authority

3. Strategy development

Many marketers jump immediately to execution of tactics. Some simply accept what the client or company communicates, rather than using their expertise to uncover the true goals or to break down steps to achieve them.

Whether failure in strategy development derives from poor communication, sheer laziness or a lack of knowledge or leadership skills, the result is a disaster.

4. Data analysis

A recent study found that only 3 percent of marketers are competent in analyzing data.

In digital marketing, every visitor, view and share is tracked. Today’s companies have a mountain of data to sift through every month, and doing so can be exhausting.

Still, data analysis is needed for every facet of marketing. Too often, marketers focus on the creative aspect. That’s important, but so are measuring and analyzing results; never accept one without the other.

5. Social media savvy

Every marketer in 2017 should be a regular user of social media—personally, as well as professionally—which requires being savvy in the social media environment.

To be competitive, marketers should have social finesse, be able to tell stories well and maintain a working knowledge of storytelling components.

It they have a blog or write for online media outlets, that’s a huge advantage, because that means they’ve tested the waters of content marketing.

Social media is not independent from more traditional channels; it’s an integral part of an overall marketing strategy. When you’re ready to hire (or promote) your social media or marketing manager, take advantage of these 10 questions to ask your candidate. Their answers will help you choose the right person.

6. Marketing automation

The marketing automation industry grows rapidly each year. As relevant tools improve and multiply, this facet will only grow more complex in 2017 and beyond.

Shrewd marketers command the use of specific tools while investigating and reevaluating to discover new and enhanced solutions.

For 2017, as digital marketing becomes even more sophisticated, we must keep a consistently updated database of tools, their benefits and the skills needed to apply them in specific marketing campaigns.

Marketing tech and automation are not going away, so learn about them before others catch on.

7. Decisiveness

Humans are predictably irrational, readily sidetracked and constantly making decisions.

The more we make decisions in a given day, the worse we get at it.

Decisiveness is an element of great leadership. With today’s marketing, it’s not only what you put out there to attract customers that counts; it’s what you do once they see it and start interacting with it.

Many companies are still trying to keep a veil up between them and their customers—largely out of habit from the old days of advertising and PR. Those companies (and their marketers) who remove this barrier will be better positioned for the long term.

It’s a skill to interact with customers; doing it well demands decisiveness.

Often that interaction requires thinking on your feet, which calls for confidence, patience, empathy, gratitude and courage. All those skills make for better decision—and happier, engaged customers.

A version of this article first appeared on Kruse Control.

Topics: PR

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