During the Covid pandemic, the marketing industry experienced a shift to meet customers where they were. Many companies moved away from traditional marketing methods, like print and TV ads, and into the digital space. Consumer behavior is changing, and it’s important that the marketing space keeps up. It’s essential to possess the important marketing skills, both technical and traditional, to be successful in the marketing field.
This shift in marketing requires skilled, creative professionals who can help companies find new ways to succeed in the uncharted business territory. Trends change rapidly now, and it’s critical to stay relevant. If you’re in the early stages of your career, this may mean shifting course to a different, more in-demand marketing area. If you’re already established, it may mean upskilling to expand your resume with attractive skills for marketing that will broaden your career options.
This article will cover some of the most important skills for marketing in the traditional sense, as well as the technical skills that are quickly gaining importance in the digital marketing space. Once you choose a few areas to work on, you can try some of the ideas to develop your skills for marketing and start working on your career development today.
Top workplace marketing skills
Stephan Vogel, chief creative officer for Ogilvy & Mather Germany, said, “Nothing is more efficient than creative advertising. Creative advertising is more memorable, longer-lasting, works with less media spending, and builds a fan community faster.” All of these are compelling business arguments for hiring strong creative talent.
Research backs up Vogel’s words; a European study found that every euro invested in a highly creative ad campaign (measured via scoring on a series of five creative factors) resulted in nearly double the sales impact of a euro spent on a more basic campaign. Ads that elaborated to reveal unexpected details within a simple concept and ads that had a high level of visual artistic creativity performed best.
Companies will be more focused on attracting candidates who can bring these creative aspects to their marketing, finding new ways to capture attention, get ideas across, and reach audience members in different, unconventional ways.
Not every item on the next-gen marketing skills list is new to the 21st century. Some, like storytelling, have been around as long as humans themselves. Despite living in a world filled with screens and shiny gadgets, research shows consumers are more responsive than ever to simple, well-crafted stories.
One eye-opening example of the power of storytelling to get people to open their wallets comes from the world of philanthropy. It’s a well-documented phenomenon that tells the compelling story of one individual results in twice the charitable donations as sharing facts and figures that point to a much larger societal problem (i.e., focusing a fund drive on one woman’s struggle with breast cancer versus highlighting the fact that it affects one in eight women).
Marketers do well when harnessing this phenomenon to sell products. Though the storytelling tactic has been the same for centuries, the medium has changed dramatically. In light of this, forward-thinking businesses will search for candidates who can help them craft provocative, engaging stories that come alive on video, social media, and other contemporary marketing channels.
3. Critical thinking and problem-solving
Marketing departments are responsible for figuring out how to get products in front of the right audience. One of the best ways to do this is to tap into critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities. You’ll need to understand which questions to ask and view things from multiple points of view.
Whether you’re diving into specific products to market or doing an overhaul on the full marketing strategy, it’s essential to fully understand the task at hand and deep dive into the issues, and brainstorm creative ideas to solve the problem. Having clear and reasonable judgment and leaving your personal biases behind is a skill that takes developing. Use logic and constantly practice looking outside your bubble to make sure you can understand other perspectives.
The marketing team must constantly build a funnel and attract new customers and potential buyers. In order to find your ideal audience, you need to understand the people in the market. Research skills come in handy when gathering information about your audience. The more information you have on the people you are trying to reach, the easier it will be to develop effective content.
Once customers are in the system, you need to be able to keep their attention. Good, strong research will help you locate the gaps in the customer experience and identify how to fill those gaps and retain those customers in your network. The more information you have access to, the more you’ll be able to minimize risks to the business when making marketing decisions.
The best researchers are constantly observing and taking in their environment and paying attention to details. Asking never-ending questions and seeking clarification for the things they do not understand are great examples of research that can happen each and every day. Strong marketing teams capture the details, pay attention to feedback, and keep learning.
5. Teamwork and collaboration
The marketing team is just one department within an organization. Collaboration will be essential for this team. Marketing needs to understand the products and work with the development team to ensure they know everything about how it works to portray it in campaigns and find the right customers accurately. Feedback from the sales teams and customer service will also need to be incorporated into future campaigns.
Teamwork and collaboration is a skill that requires active listening and the ability to receive feedback and merge ideas together for the final product. Brainstorming sessions with other stakeholders can help you develop the best marketing options, so having the skills to work with other teams and keep everyone on task is very important.
In-demand technical skills for marketing
1. Data analytics
As we mentioned earlier, not all aspects of marketing are shrinking. Data analytics is one area that’s expected to experience exponential growth in the coming years. The amount of data humans create is growing at a mind-boggling pace, and with that growth comes an exploding demand for professionals who can use it to draw meaningful conclusions.
According to a post-pandemic analysis by Frost & Sullivan, the global market for big data analytics is expected to grow four-and-a-half times over the next five years, generating revenues of $68.09 billion by 2025.
In terms of hiring, companies will be competing heavily for professionals who can help them harness the often-confusing array of available tools to access the data they need and use it to make calculated business decisions. Candidates looking to sell their skills in this area should highlight their abilities to track marketing results on multiple channels, access information in real-time, use it to analyze the effectiveness of sales funnels and make accurate projections about sales and purchasing behavior.
2. UX design
As business becomes more fully integrated across all available channels, finding new ways to bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds (and the many grey areas in between) becomes paramount. The user experience, or UX, is a huge factor in a company’s success in this area. For example, 60% of consumers are likely to abandon a website and never return if they have a negative UX experience.
Aesthetic design is one component of good UX, but seamless, intuitive functionality is even more important in the connected marketplace. As a result, job listings will see a greater focus on UX skills in personalization, responsiveness, and omnichannel strategies.
3. Graphic and web design
71% of businesses will have a website in 2023, which continues to grow. According to Forbes, a new website is created every three seconds. It helps make the company relevant to potential customers and communicates important brand information. Marketing teams should be involved with any website design to control the branding and narrative that makes the final cut. Having basic web design skills come in handy to make small changes and updates to the website without needing to hire a developer.
With digital marketing, graphic design comes into play in many ways. You’ll need at least basic graphic design skills, whether you’re working on social media, websites, presentations, or email marketing. It doesn’t require advanced artistic abilities; it’s just important to understand the technical aspects and what graphics are trending and learn how to create your own.
4. Search engine optimization
Once a niche strategy reserved for technical specialists, SEO has become a mainstream marketing must-have. The techniques and best practices have evolved with the times, changing almost as fast as the content of the internet itself.
These days, companies that want to rank on the first page of Google results—a critical component for acquiring customers—must do more than just fill their site’s pages with a few strategically selected keywords. They must employ SEO professionals to help them win in mobile and local searches while keeping up with the week-to-week updates required by search engine algorithms.
SEM Rush analyzed over 4,000 search-related vacancies posted to online job boards. The most in-demand SEO skills for marketing in 2020 included knowledge of Google tools (like Google Analytics and Google Search Console), HTML and CSS (for SEO markup), and keyword research.
5. Social media
Social media is a growing area of marketing. In 2023, the total social media advertising spending is expected at just over $72.3 billion. That represents an 8.52% increase over 2022. This marketing tool is not slowing down in growth.
The most successful social media candidates heading into 2023 will be those who can help companies create ultra-timely, audience-specific content that builds connections and fosters brand trust during a tumultuous time. Being able to help a brand capitalize quickly on emerging platforms, like TikTok, will also be key on the most-wanted social media marketing skills list.
In addition to new platforms, marketing teams need to work to stay relevant on the current social media platforms. For example, Instagram has added reels, and companies must engage in the videos to continue growth and engagement. The algorithms and trends constantly change, so marketing experts must keep a finger on the pulse. Find the trending audio and video to use and have fun with it. Social media is very in the moment, so having the understanding and knowledge is beneficial.
6. Email marketing
A recent study conducted by HubSpot showed that 86% of consumers would like to engage with companies they do business with at least once a month. Email is an incredibly successful tool for communicating with your consumer base and growing your following. Marketing teams can utilize this medium to share sales, customer loyalty rewards, special events, new products and gather feedback.
Email marketing is one of the least expensive marketing efforts, so companies embrace all the benefits without increasing costs. Having some basic writing skills and knowing how to use email platforms like Mailchimp are important skills for anyone looking to work in a marketing department.
Even the strongest marketing team in the business can’t be everywhere at once on behalf of a brand. Serving customers the right content on the right channel at the right time relies on automation, which allows marketers to deliver a consistent, personalized experience across different platforms. More than ever, automation defines a company’s ability to keep pace with the breakneck speed of the digital world and serve customer needs at scale while keeping costs manageable.
Marketing professionals looking to forge a path in automation should be well-versed in the tools of the trade, including those for lead generation, content management, data gathering, and content distribution. Another unexpected skill that’s key to automation success is organization; candidates in this area must be able to map clear and logical paths their systems will follow to deliver the intended end result.
How to improve your marketing skills
Take online courses
Continuing education is important in any role, especially with marketing, because the trends are constantly changing. Find anything from general classes with high-level overviews to deep dives into the specific skills for marketing listed above. Formal classes are the most effective ways to learn new information that is relevant to your work, and taking them online is super convenient.
Udemy has a course called The Complete Digital Marketing Guide, consisting of 24 courses in one. Coursera’s Social Media Marketing Specialization course is an example of a more specific course. These courses are updated frequently to stay relevant to the current trends, so they are a great tool for staying educated on current digital marketing skills.
Find a mentor or internship
Experience is always beneficial on a resume when applying for marketing jobs. Internships are great ways to gain experience and start building your portfolio. By creating your own marketing campaigns, you can showcase those to any future potential employer. Another great option for experience is volunteering for a nonprofit to help with their marketing.
Mentors are always a good idea in your career development as well. Find a mentor who can give you feedback, personal growth, and development ideas. Networking opportunities are excellent places to meet potential mentors and connections to further your career.
Learn and understand your audience
Strong marketing candidates are aware of their environments and have a strong understanding of their target audiences. You don’t need to be part of the demographic you’ll be marketing to, but you do need to demonstrate that you understand those groups and can effectively communicate with them. Spend time reading stories and understanding unique perspectives. The more you are able to connect with different people, the better you will be able to reach them with your marketing campaigns.
Utilize A/B testing
One of the best tools for marketing is the A/B test. Once all the research and creative work is done, you might still have multiple options you feel good about. Putting out two options and testing how they do in the world is one of the best ways to learn and grow in marketing, that’s called A/B testing. You’ll release two comparable campaigns, measure which performs better, and spend time learning why. This is one of the strongest learning tools in the marketing world, so practicing and developing your own process will be extremely helpful.
Practice storytelling and creative writing
Marketing campaigns need to grab the attention of potential and current customers. Storytelling and creative writing are important skills to create campaigns that people will connect with and remember. Practice makes perfect when it comes to storytelling. Spend time writing stories and crafting characters. Find places that inspire you creatively and soak in the inspiration. Build a database of ideas, stories, and content you can develop and use in your career. Do this as often as possible because the more you spend time being creative, the easier it will be for you.
What are the most essential marketing skills?
Skills for marketing have a large range. But the most essential skills include creative storytelling, analyzing data, understanding trends, and excellent collaboration and teamwork. Research and attention to detail are important.
What technical skills for marketing are most important in today’s job market?
Data analytics are critical for marketing to understand your audience and test what works or needs adjustments. Design skills are also important, and with digital marketing, it’s good to know web design and graphic design and be comfortable with social media and email marketing.
How can I develop my marketing skills for a digital marketing career?
Take advantage of online courses and boot camps to boost your skills for marketing. Practice putting together pitches and graphics to develop your skills. Apply for an internship or volunteer to help nonprofits to gain some experience and build your portfolio.
Are data analytics important for marketing jobs?
Data is critical in marketing positions. It’s important that anyone going into digital marketing has knowledge of the data analytic tools and understand how to read reports. Digital strategies must shift with the market; the data will be the best way to see that.