Marketing is more complex than ever. Digital transformation has led to the rise of new technologies, channels, markets and customer behaviour. To thrive in this new environment, marketers need new skills and a broader set of abilities. The effectiveness of marketing teams will hinge on their ability to respond nimbly to market changes and operate with greater transparency and collaboration across functions. With this in mind, here are the five skills that marketing professionals need for the future:

Data literacy

Data is the raw material of marketing, and those who understand it best can make better decisions. Data literacy skills include data visualisation, data analytics and statistical analysis. 

To become truly data-savvy, marketers must understand and interpret data, understand its context and know how to act on it. Data literacy enables marketing teams to take a more strategic approach to decision-making, enabling them to go beyond basic metrics to understand the “why” behind their data. This allows them to plan strategically for the future and make more informed decisions based on hard facts rather than gut feelings. 

Data Literacy

Data literacy is more than just gathering data; it’s about understanding what that data means and how it can be applied to marketing activities.

For example, even if you ca n read and understand Google Analytics or Facebook Insights, you are well on your way. Looking at something as simple as your LinkedIn Social Sales Index gives you meaningful insights into what areas to focus your attention on when it comes to being more effective on LinkedIn.

You don’t need to be a data scientist to interpret performance on your social media accounts. And even if you are working with a large corporation that pulls in data from many places, there are great tools to use that will help you interpret and visualise that data, like Agency Analytics, Super Metrics and the free Google Data Studio.

Problem-solving skills

Marketing teams will face an ever-increasing number of challenges and obstacles. To respond effectively to these, marketing professionals need to develop stronger problem-solving skills. Problem-solving skills will enable marketers to react to new challenges and opportunities as they arise. This doesn’t just mean being able to identify problems — it also means being able to generate creative solutions to overcome them. 

Problem Solving

Problem-solving skills often lie at the heart of creativity and collaboration. They require marketers to think outside the box, explore various options and generate new ideas. Creative problem-solving involves gathering information, generating ideas, exploring different options and testing the best solutions. Data is the raw material of marketing, and those who understand it best can make better decisions. 

Data literacy skills include data visualisation, data analytics and statistical analysis. These tools let you see what’s happened, what seems to be happening right now, and where things are heading.

When you have good data to work with, you can make better decisions about the future. And being able to see what the future holds means that you can solve problems that haven’t even started to be problems.

Marketing automation expertise

Marketing automation enables marketers to automate repetitive tasks and scale their activities. It reduces the time and effort required to manage various activities, freeing up teams to focus on more strategic activities. 

Automation also helps organisations to generate more revenue by increasing their productivity. It enables them to present customers with personalised content and offers, increasing the likelihood of making a purchase. Automation has become an essential part of marketing, and it will play a key role in the future of marketing. 

Marketing automation

Automation has the potential to transform marketing if implemented correctly and completely. However, many marketers don’t understand how to use marketing automation effectively. As a result, they cannot generate the returns on investment they should. Marketing automation will become even more important in the future of marketing. It will become increasingly important for marketers to have a strong understanding of how automation works.

2022 has shown us, more than ever before, that the need for automation is critical.

The labour market has, for too long, been reliant upon student and migrant workers to make our coffees, mow our lawns and clean our airports. The sooner these jobs can be replaced with automation, the smoother our experiences will be.

For you as a small business or digital marketer, this means automation at a smaller scale.

Tools like email marketing automation, chatbots and AI writing tools will go a long way to helping us to move faster, more efficiently and save on the cost of human labour, especially where there are already inflated wages driven by skill shortages.

Cultural fluency

Marketers will likely face more challenges in the future — including rising competition, the increasing complexity of customer needs and the impact of technology on their lives. 

Cultural fluency enables marketers to understand better how their customers think, what their needs are, how they behave and what their expectations are. 

Cultural fluency is important because it enables marketers to go beyond basic trends and statistics to understand why customers behave the way they do. It allows them to look at the world from their customer’s perspectives and understand what drives their decision-making. 

Cultural Fluency

Cultural fluency is more than just knowing statistics — it’s about understanding the broader cultural context that shapes customer behaviour. This enables marketers to create more relevant, human-centred content and engage customers on a more personal level.

Imagine arriving to work at a new marketing agency that has hired you to place their Facebook and Google Ads, only for you to discover that the ads are in another language and targeted at a community that you know little to nothing about.

With today’s translation tools, you don’t necessarily need to know the language to be effective. But you will need to understand a little about the community that is being targeted. Some context on ethnicity, traditions, social mores and the relationships that people have with business will skip you several steps towards delivering an outstanding campaign.

Leadership and coaching ability

Marketing isn’t just about creating content, gathering data and implementing automation. It’s also about managing people and coaching others on the team. 

Marketing leaders must be able to attract, retain and coach their teams to achieve greater results. This means being able to set clear objectives, coach and mentor other team members, offer constructive feedback and provide consistent support. 

Leadership

Marketing leaders will need to be able to lead across functions. They will need to understand what other departments are doing and how their work relates to the broader marketing strategy. Leadership isn’t just about managing people on the marketing team. 

It’s also about managing the expectations of stakeholders across the organisation. 

Marketing leaders must develop stronger coaching abilities to help their teams become more effective. They will need to help them to identify areas for improvement, set goals and develop their skills. 

Marketing leaders must be able to maintain visibility across the organisation and across departments to keep everyone on track.

Leadership doesn’t start with courses. It starts with showing up in places where people are looking for direction. By changing your attitude to social media from a place to consume content to a place to produce content, you’ll be one of the small percentages of people who become thought leaders in their industry.

When the transition of social networking to true social media is complete, you’ll be one of the creators who is skilled in building and maintaining an audience. That’s leadership.

The Bottom Line

Marketers are increasingly responsible for delivering more than just impressions and clicks. They must focus on building brand awareness, creating customer relationships, generating leads and increasing revenue. 

This means that marketers will have to do more with less. They will need to become more efficient and put more effort into creating sustainable growth. 

The Bottom Line

Marketing departments must change how they operate to become more efficient and effective. This will require marketers to develop new skills, learn from each other, work closely together and collaborate across functions. Marketing transformation will involve a significant amount of disruption — but it will also bring greater opportunity. 

By preparing for the future now, marketers will be ready to take advantage of these opportunities and create the change they need.

Dante St James is the founder of Clickstarter, a Meta Certified Lead Trainer, a Community Trainer with Meta Australia, a digital advisor with Business Station, an accredited Digital Solutions advisor and presenter, and the editor at The Small Marketer. You can watch free 1-hour webinars and grow your digital skills at Dante’s YouTube Channel.

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