3 Data Skills to Future-Proof Your Social Media Marketing Career
Opinion: Businesses that identify intent to buy gain significant competitive advantages
Remember the good old days, when social media marketing was largely a creative discipline, when you could post something clever and your following would notice? You probably scrolled through your performance metrics here and there, but mostly to see which items were most worthy of reposting or iterating—nothing too complicated there.
A lot has changed in these dynamics over the past three or so years, though. Analytics are more sophisticated. News Feed algorithms are stingier. Tool stacks and social-friendly content formats are more diverse. Senior executives at brands are more focused on return on investment.
So, the pressure to create and execute marketing strategies backed by quantifiable evidence is landing squarely on the people in the trenches—the mid-level marketing professionals.
And we’re not just talking about referencing a few spreadsheets here and there. Today, it’s all about big data—as in, troves of information that comes at us, from multiple sources, in such large tidal waves that traditional desktop applications have difficulty processing it all. The type of thing that just a few years ago, only enterprise companies dealt with and, in those cases, was always overseen by information technology departments and dedicated analysis departments.
A recent study by Richard J. Vaughan at the University of St. Francis examined marketing job listings in the top six metro areas for marketing gigs. He found that 39 percent of the marketing jobs required big data skills—and that this number is rapidly increasing.
What’s more, a report from McKinsey & Co. predicts that a data-savvy human-resources crisis is about to hit us. “By 2018, the U.S. alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills,” the report notes, “as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions.”
It’s time to embrace a new marketing reality. You need to learn how to work with data if you expect to remain attractive to employers into the future.
Here are the skills you’ll need, along with some tips on how to acquire them:
Know how to use data for audience segmentation and personalization
Harnessing big data and applying it toward audience segmentation and personalization can lead to new levels of profitability.
When you know how to break your social media audience down into dynamic subgroups, you’re able to engage with people using messaging that’s as relevant to their situation as possible, increasing the chances that they’ll take action. Your segment schematics can be based on any number of criteria that are most available and important to your business, such as demographics, psychographics, product use, media use or communication behaviors.
Personalized messaging is extremely important in today’s digital landscape, especially given the trend of one-to-one messaging via social apps. Your audience expects to see content that speaks to them given the context of their specific needs. Collecting and making use of the right data points allows you to disambiguate and segment to the point where you can deliver the right messaging, to the right people, at the right times and at the right places.
Where to get started: Epsilon Marketing’s comprehensive “Journey to Truly Personalized Marketing” video presentation thoroughly covers the basics of building effective segments and using them to drive business impact via social media. Among the nuggets of wisdom here is an overview of data gathering methods and tactics for listening for triggers through real-time social media monitoring.
With the emphasis here on behavioral segmentation, there are some killer tips on narrowing down your data to find the most meaningfully impactful interactions with audience members, as well as a tutorial that breaks down how to use this data to create Facebook dynamic ads.
Know how to use data to identify intent signals
Businesses that identify a customer’s intent to buy can gain significant competitive advantages.
Traditional methods of lead scoring involved point systems that were assigned manually using guesswork. This type of lead scoring was generally based on the most recent interactions with a given lead. But with shrewd use of your data, it’s possible to make accurate predictions earlier on in the customer journey.
Armed with the knowledge of which new leads are probably going to eventually become buyers, you can formulate and dispatch timelier and more effective marketing messaging.
Intent signals come through data sources like search queries, types of content consumed, social media engagement, site browsing behavior and interactions with apps. With the rise of paid social media content promotion and the sophisticated tools of the trade, your ability to identify and capitalize on intent signals can be a major game-changer.
The social media ad campaigns that perform the best are those that match messaging to the audience’s stage in the buyer’s journey, and audience building pixels can help a great deal with that, allowing you to build out ad-driven sales funnels.
Has someone viewed your pricing page six times in the past month but not converted yet? Show him or her an ad that offers a timely discount to inject some urgency into the situation. Are people watching your live “how-to” videos but aren’t opting in to your email nurture list? Offer them a free premium resource with a Facebook lead ad if they do. This type of thinking is only possible if you know how to read the intent signals you’ve already got.
Where to get started: A product of the KlientBoost PPC agency, the “Facebook Ads Mastery” course includes video lessons on targeting, “hot” vs. “cold” audiences and best practices for iterative experiments. At $3,000, it’s hardly an impulse purchase, but future-proofing your career isn’t something you should do on a whim.
Know how to create a data-driven marketing strategy
Knowing how to create (and operate within) a data-driven marketing strategy will make your resume stand out among other social media marketers. Guesswork and hunches are becoming less acceptable in the era of big data. It’s no wonder 51 percent of marketing influencers express a desire to base more of their decisions on data.
By using big data as your compass, you can optimize your what, where, when and how you tackle social media channels. The idea here is to maximize the chances that it will drive maximum engagement interaction among growing audiences.
There are many benefits associated with viewing your holistic marketing strategies through the prism of data. It enables you to create audience-relevant messaging, to drive better customer experiences and to engineer sophisticated multichannel nurture funnels.
Where to get started: Unlike older platforms for complex data analytics, Sisenseoffers solutions that can be used by marketers with any level of technical knowhow. This platform makes it easy to connect data sets from any number of sources, both structured and unstructured, and it automates the data preparation, merging and mapping required for fast processing. Building dashboards and formulating queries is accomplished via an intuitive drag-and-drop interface, so there’s no coding required, and Sisense’s conversational bots make it easy to pull insights on the fly, while you’re working in Slack.
Ready to embrace the big data reality?
Big data is undoubtedly changing the world of marketing. While creativity will always be a virtue, creatives are no longer only creatives. Nor are social media managers only responsible for posting links and keeping the conversation going. No matter your role in this current digital environment, learning how to use big data will help ensure your job security.
The key is to not become intimidated by this new marketing reality. Those who enthusiastically begin a new journey of learning will be the most sought after. So, read the latest analytics news, get absorbed in the trends, read books, take courses and familiarize yourself with data tools. As overwhelming as it might seem right now, your reward will be a more secure marketing career.
Article written by: Robert Mening