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October 26, 2021

Key Skills for a B2B Marketing Career

Skilled B2B marketers are in high demand, but the critical skills needed to perform as a competitive marketer change continuously. A study by Monster found that 82% of global respondents planned to hire in 2021.

With the increasing availability of data, marketers have to evolve how they plan and execute campaigns. While data provides new opportunities for insights, it can also complicate marketing functions. Communications, messaging, and content skills are still vital in marketing, but technology, data and analytics, and interactivity have become pillars in the field.

Key Skills for a B2B Marketing Career

For those looking for a new position in marketing, trying to enter the market, or trying to remain a competitive player, here are seven skills to learn and maintain.

1. Analytics: Understand what is effective and what is not

There are more data and analytics tools than ever, but that doesn't necessarily make learning to use analytics easy. Between new marketing automation tools and CRMs, it can be challenging to keep up with all technologies. However, it's crucial to know what elements of successful campaigns and how to attribute that success to marketing efforts.

An Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) study discovered that more companies are looking for marketers with data skills: 

  • 32% said they need skills in demand generation and data analysis 
  • 47% of those said they are using data effectively and want to hire more data specialists. 

The study suggests that those executives see an ROI on their data efforts, so they want to keep investing more into data for marketing purposes.

Marketers looking to advance data skills should focus on mastering a few tools that clients use most.

2. Writing and messaging strategy: How to communicate ideas

Writing and messaging will always be a part of marketing. Quality content and communications will be tough to automate, so marketers that excel in creating messaging that resonates with buyers will always be in demand. Communicating to the right people with the right concepts at the right time and in the right forum is crucial for B2B marketing success.

A McKinley Marketing Partners survey noted that among those hired for digital marketing, the skills most in demand included content creation and curation (23% wanted this skill) and content strategy (20% hired for this skill). Even with all of the technological advances in marketing, we're not at the point where tech can replicate human elements such as communicating effectively to buyers.

3. Demand Generation: How to drive qualified leads from various channels

Marketers should know how to lead qualified prospects to a landing page or a specific branded page and guide them in completing a particular action, which could include filling out a form, downloading an eBook, etc. The EIU study found that 32% of marketing executives looked for candidates with skills in demand generation and data analysis. Furthermore, the McKinley Marketing Partners study noted that 16% of marketers hired lead generation experts in marketing.

Demand generation is not always easy, especially for B2B companies where education is crucial. Those marketers that rely on using strong messaging in the proper demand generation channels will find success.

4. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO): How to get prospects to convert into leads and customers

Marketers can help convert prospects in the sales funnel with quality content appropriate to where the lead is in the buyer's journey. Working with the sales team is critical because they have valuable insights that can guide a content marketing strategy. Marketers can find common questions asked in the sales process to discover content topics that resonate with buyers.

Marketers will need to have excellent testing skills to understand what makes a prospect convert and improve conversion rates. Those marketers that can test landing pages to improve CRO rates have a robust marketing skillset. 

5. Marketing technology: Google Analytics, marketing automation, publishing tools

Now that there are more tools available, marketers should use them. Figuring out which tools are the most useful is the first step. Google Analytics is a start, and most marketers should already use this free tool. Many companies invest in marketing software such as HubSpot for automation and publishing tools to improve the effectiveness and ROI of campaigns. Marketing automation tools enhance campaigns by giving marketers a clear understanding of campaigns' ROI.

When asked where they want to develop skills, 39% of marketers answered: "marketing operations/technology," (EIU study), revealing how valuable this skill is to have.

6. Research and analysis: Knowing markets and competition

Top marketers conduct both audience and competitor research to construct successful campaigns. Successful marketers are 242% more likely to report conducting audience research at least once per quarter. And 56% of our study's most elite marketers conduct research once or more per month (CoSchedule).

By thoroughly knowing your audience, you can create a highly targeted campaign with a much better chance of success than one without any research. 

7. Strategy: Value propositions, market forces, pricing, and incentives for conversion

Another skill marketers want to learn is strategy and planning. 38% of marketers noted that as an in-demand skill that they wish to improve (EIU study). A marketing strategy should include value propositions, pricing, and incentives for conversion (or what the prospect gets along the way for moving down the funnel). Campaigns that outline this before launch will find more success and organization and a unified team that agrees on campaign tactics. 

Sources

  • The Economist Intelligence Unit, The Rise of the Marketer, 2015.
  • MarketingSherpa, MarketingSherpa Landing Page Handbook, Second Edition.
  • CoSchedule, Marketing Statistics.
  • McKinley Marketing Partners, 2017 Marketing Hiring Trends: An In-Depth Report on Factors Shaping Demand for Marketing and Creative Talent, 2017.
  • Monster, The Future of Work 2021: Global Hiring Outlook.