When it comes to digital marketing, absolutely nothing can truly be set-it-and-forget-it. This includes the digital marketing skills of your team. The world of online marketing rapidly changes regularly and the key to keeping up is to ensure your team has all the more relevant and accurate information on trends, techniques and strategies.
As the head of marketing here at gShift, I can personally attest to the pressure marketers face to stay current and to bridge the digital skills gap faced by many companies today. The way I primarily do my job can change literally overnight with the boom of a new social platform of a major search engine algorithm change.
Below, I have outlined the top 5 digital marketing skills your team needs to have for 2017. To be honest, this list could (and likely will) change before the year is out. However, if you can master these skills, you’ll be in good shape.
1. Search Engine Optimization
At the end of the day, all of digital is really about being found. In one way or another, every digital marketing tactic is designed to improve the discoverability of your brand within your desired target audience. While some people in the digital industry like to claim SEO is dead, we know it is alive and well. In fact, SEO has become an integral part of many other practices within the digital space, such as social media marketing and influencer marketing.
The actual techniques of SEO change more frequently than pretty much anything else in digital marketing. When major search engines roll out new algorithms, which happens often enough, the entire practice of SEO can change greatly. What counted as a ranking factor one day can be gone the next. What worked in your last round of optimization changes to your site may be completely obsolete the next time you make revisions. Your team has to stay continuously up-to-date on these new algorithms in order to make sure they are not using outdated practices for your brand.
2. Audience Development
Audience development is the fine art of attracting mass people towards your brand, using highly refined and targeted marketing tactics. This can be done by nurturing your existing audience to help make a stronger connection with your company and move them down the funnel, or it can be used to reach out to potentially new audience members.
The key to audience development is having a very firm hold on who exactly your ideal customer is. You need to know the demographic details, such as location and age range, but also their behaviors and interests. Knowing this data will help you to know where to look for your audience (channels) and how to speak to them in a way that resonates with them (content).
Today’s average user online is much more savvy and wary when it comes to marketing efforts. They have learned to filter most of what is being sold to them. Mastering audience development strategies will enable you to reach out to those users who are more likely to want to hear your brand’s message. To use an analogy, mass marketing is like fishing with a net, whereas audience development is knowing exactly which bait and casting techniques will land you the specific catch you’re after.
3. Content Marketing Strategy
Content is still king, but you can’t just toss it up online and hope for the best results. Content for the sake of content simply doesn’t work. You have to have a strategy and understand what is going where. Bringing audience development into it means knowing what works for your audience and what doesn’t. Build a strategy around thought-provoking, memorable content and a distribution plan to ensure that content is seen by the right eyeballs. Also, consider diversifying your content marketing plan using multiple formats.
Video content is huge and is a continuing trend. Online users are far too busy and no longer have the attention span they once did. Highly engaging content types, such as video, can help to grab and keep their attention. Take time to really develop the story of your videos and optimize them for full discoverability. When done right, videos can be used to create memorable visual between your brand and the viewer.
4. Social Media Marketing
There is a lot that can be said about social marketing. Many brands think they know social but there is so much more to it than just posting. User adoption of social has continued to expand, as have the number of platforms they are engaging with. As social media continues to grow and develop, so do the ways in which it is used.
Listening and Engaging
You have to listen to, not only what is being said about your brand, but also what is being said about your products and industry. Good social listening is being able to respond when someone publicly shows a need or want, even if they do not call you out specifically. Learn how to engage in a way that builds relationships and trust, rather than just sells.
Once you have listening down, you can start to build influence within your audience. This can be done by becoming influential yourself or with the help of influencers within your target market. By sharing valuable content with your audience, you can start to become an authority within your industry. Likewise, you can use influencers to reach the far corners of your audience and drive engagement with great content there. Of course, as with all things in marketing you have to measure to know the true impact of your influencers, which leads us into skill number 5.
5. Measurement and Analytics
As digital marketing grows, so do the tools and technologies within the industry. And as the technology grows, so does the means for proper measurement. The marketing mix has never been as diverse as it is today. Marketers are spreading efforts across various tactics and you need to track the results to understand what is working and what is not. Many brands lack the bandwidth or in-house skills to properly analyze marketing data, but we would argue it’s more important than anything else you do. Collect data from all sources available to get a true picture of what’s going on with your strategy.
There are too many data sources to name them all, but here are a few key ones that pertain to pretty much all companies online.
Social Analytics – Metrics are offered directly in nearly all social media platforms, as well as in various other tools intended for social listening, scheduled posting, and engagement.
Email Marketing – Pay attention to engagement metrics in your email marketing or marketing automation platforms to understand the behaviors of those who are already in your database.
True Content Performance – Track all engagement on all content with use of smart URLs. This includes content that is on-site, off-site, produced by influencers, etc.
Web Presence Analytics – Track the performance of your entire web presence with analytic such as keyword rankings, potential discoverability, sessions, pageviews, competitive analysis, etc. today, much of this can be gathered all within one web analytics platform.
It all comes back to continuous learning. Pay attention to the marketing industry to see when various trends and tools are merging. Understand how consumer behavior is changing and how the strategies are evolving to match. As a brand online, you have to invest in having your team keep up with digital marketing training in order to arm them with the best possible knowledge.
Need to update your team’s digital marketing skills? Learn more about our private digital marketing courses offered through gShift University.