10 Must-Have Skills for Content Marketers in 2017

Marketers are increasingly being called upon to diversify their skills and play various roles on the team. Modern marketers are rarely hired to only perform social media tasks; instead, they are expected to write content, understand data, and work with sales to increase profits.

This year, spending on digital marketing is projected to increase by 12% to 15% on average.

In order to maximize their opportunities in this broadening field, marketers should consider learning and developing these ten skills.

1. Analytics

A whopping 84% of marketers indicate that they cannot measure and report on the contribution of their programs to the business.

Business leaders want hard numbers on the impact of marketing to gauge the impact of campaigns, and as such, marketers need to become fluent in analytics to produce relevant data and prove their worth.

Marketers who can measure ROI are in high demand, as companies want to know exactly what they’re putting in and getting out. Those who can continuously measure and alter campaigns based on data will increase their chances of rising to higher positions within the company.

Professionals who want to thrive should dive deep into an analytical mindset to stay on top.

2. Writing and Communication

Content marketing is alive and well, with 74.2% of companies saying that content marketing is increasing their marketing teams’ lead quality and quantity. And while artificial intelligence and machine learning tools are on becoming increasingly prominent in the marketing arena, nothing compares to a human telling a good story.

Marketers need to play a significant role in building an effective content strategy around the buyer’s journey. Content plays a vital role in educating, informing, inspiring, and motivating buyers and prospects, and as such, marketers need to understand how to create content that converts at each of these levels.

Marketers who can write and communicate well have an edge over employees that cannot. Though writing and communication in themselves are basic skills, marketers should continually be improving their writing to communicate messaging effectively.

Those who can persuade buyers through writing or speaking will rise to the top of the pack.

3. Marketing Automation

Marketing automation can significantly increase your campaign performance, and should be a required skill for any professional in the field. Learning how to use automated workflows that continually nurture leads through emails or content is not easy, but it works -research shows that marketing automation can drive up to 14.5% increases in sales productivity and 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead.

Practitioners can stand out if they learn how to create steady workflows for various prospect levels and understand how to analyze the corresponding data. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t is important with marketing automation, and those that can master this task will be ahead of the game.

4. Research

Marketing campaigns begin with research, so honing this skill is important.

Marketers need to have a deep understanding of buyers, market trends, analytics, and opportunities in their field – this requires advanced research skills that go beyond a Google Search.

With research skills, the marketer should focus on improving the subject matter expertise of their business and gaining a better understanding of their buyer and market. Marketers that can research effectively – and quickly – are an added bonus to any team.

5. Coding Skills

Marketers who don’t know HTML and CSS are probably becoming pains for the development team. Learning the basics of both can help quickly resolve minor issues, such as blog or website changes.

Understanding how to modify a MailChimp template or research a competitor’s website also requires these skills, and these are becoming expected rather than desired skills.

Marketers are also encouraged to learn another language in how it relates to marketing. While they’re not expected to master Python, marketers can learn how to build a search engine crawler using Python to master SEO. Those types of additional coding skills are what employers will start to look for as HTML and CSS become the norm.

6. User / Customer Experience

While companies generally have a separate design team, marketers that understand basic design skills are in demand. Marketers already know a lot about the target market, so if they can work with the design team to help create a website experience that caters to that market, the site will most likely drive better engagement and results.

95% of customers agree that good user experience just makes sense, so why not team up marketing and design teams to create a layout that’s appealing to the customer? Marketers should learn basic design skills in order to jump in and make a positive impact on customer experience.

7. Inbound marketing

Inbound leads cost 60% less than outbound, which means inbound marketing is a must-have skill.

Using content, social, and SEO tactics, marketers must be able to bring potential customers to a website – and more importantly, marketers need to be able to bring the right customer to a website.

Gaining traffic is possible by simply posting content, but what marketers need be able to do effectively is bring qualified leads to a website. This is done through specialized inbound marketing — using the right tools to bring real potential buyers to a site.

8. Understanding the Buyer

Going along with inbound marketing, marketers must understand buyers and the buyer journey if they’re going to bring them to a website.

Marketers need to learn and understand the buyer process by regularly speaking with the sales team. Once marketers know the buyer cycle, they can create specific content around each stage.

95% of buyers prefer brands that provide content throughout the buying process, which means the sales and marketing teams must align. Marketers that can create content to push potential buyers down the sales funnel to create sales are valuable — and can measure that value in dollars.

9. Mobile

80% of Internet users own a smartphone and our addiction to our phones shows no signs of slowing down – which means mobile marketing tactics need to grow as well.

Marketers need to understand how to implement timely and location-based campaigns that target mobile users. Now that mobile optimization is the norm, marketers can utilize other mobile tactics, such as SMS offerings, personalization, push messaging, and location-based offers, to entice users to interact with a brand.

Mobile is growing at a rapid rate, and some companies are even opting to hire a separate mobile team. Marketers that can differentiate mobile messaging and drive engagement on smartphones will be well sought after this year.

10. SEO

Every year we hear that “SEO is dead,” but SEO never really dies, it just changes.

Being able to get your brand or client to the first page of Google — or the top result — has incredible benefits, as users are not very likely to click on page two of search results. But Google constantly updates and the way we search online changes, so marketers can stay ahead if they regularly brush up their SEO skills.

Andrey Lipattsev, Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google, said that high quality content and link building are the two most important signals used by Google to rank your website for search. Marketers that produce high quality content and can effectively link build, all the while maintaining other SEO best practices, will always be in demand.

The Future Marketer

Marketers need to constantly learn new skills and adapt to online changes. As online behavior and algorithms shift, so do marketing tactics – and therefore marketing best practices. Marketers that thrive on this change and are eager to learn new techniques will most likely always have employment. Those that can’t keep up, however, will fall behind.

These skills will also change in the coming years, and marketers will be called upon to learn even more. As the the global market changes, marketers should prepare to learn or improve a second language to adapt to new audiences. And as executives want more numbers, marketers should strive to learn more in-depth data science such as data mining.

By continually improving skills, constant research, and self-education, marketers can stay at the top of their field.

Article Written by Jonathan Franchell of Social Media Today