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May 12, 2022

Top 10 Skills Needed by Marketers Today

The field of digital marketing is evolving rapidly in response to new technology and changing buyer expectations. To help career-minded marketers, we’ve rounded up the top 10 skills needed to succeed in the field. These are skills marketers should continuously improve on to drive success for clients and internal teams.

1. An understanding of buyers’ needs within the marketing and sales process


B2B marketing is a unique field, and successful B2B marketers need to understand marketing best practices and how B2B buyers research and make purchasing decisions. The B2B buying process is a group buying decision and can often span months, if not years. Successful B2B marketers understand this process and continuously test how to engage buyers throughout this funnel. 

38% of B2B companies reported that speaking to buyer challenges in messaging created the most success in qualified lead generation strategy.
(Ironpaper, 2021)

 

Related Reading: Ideal Customer Profiles vs. Buyer Personas: Defining B2B Buyers

2. An analytical approach to marketing


Marketers today are awash in data, and successful marketers know how to separate vanity metrics from meaningful ones and use data to drive their decision making. Unfortunately, 66% of marketing leaders say data literacy isn’t strong in their teams, so analytical marketers are more necessary than ever.1 

Marketing automation software and other analytics tools create a lot of data that successful marketers can use to inform decisions about all aspects of their strategies and campaigns. Whether they’re in a specific role, like writing or design, or a more general role, marketers need to understand the key performance indicators (KPIs) that point to the outcomes they’re looking for and be able to use data to improve their output.

Related reading: Marketing Math for Beginners: How to Calculate and Improve Key Marketing Metrics

3. Conversion rate optimization understanding


B2B marketers need to produce results and continually improve upon those results. Ultimately, this comes down to increasing conversion rates. Whether this is on a landing page, within an ad campaign, or in an email workflow, the goal is to engage buyers enough that they convert. Conversion rates under 3% indicate underperforming campaigns, so marketers that understand how to incrementally improve conversion rates will add business value for clients.

4. Strong communication skills through succinct messaging


Successful marketing communications require a clear message directed to a target audience, using the appropriate tone, and free of unnecessary jargon and marketing fluff. Marketers today need to have the ability to communicate complex topics clearly and simply while still demonstrating understanding of the topic. The buyers and internal advocates marketers are speaking to aren’t always in highly technical roles, and marketing assets need to speak to a wide range of buying group participants.

Marketing communication is about more than just writing; it’s about determining the right combination of platform, messaging, and value offers most attractive to buyers. Marketers have to understand who they’re talking to and be able to communicate with them in a way that encourages meaningful conversations and interaction. 

5. Agility 


Agile marketing is becoming more common, and for a good reason. Ninety-three percent of agile marketing teams believe that their team can handle fast-paced digital marketing work.2 Even teams that don’t follow explicitly agile workflows need to be responsive to data, and marketers must be able to shift their strategies and methods when their current ones aren’t working. 

Agility also requires marketers to understand that mistakes will happen and that they’re an opportunity to learn and improve their strategy. Marketers cannot be so tied to their own work or ideas that they can’t change their focus when a campaign isn’t meeting the goals they’ve set for it. Reading and analyzing the data and adapting the strategy and tactics are crucial for successful B2B marketers.

6. Storytelling ability


Content marketing is an essential component of driving traffic and converting leads, and marketers must be able to craft messaging and copy that encourage buyers to take the desired action. Seventy-eight percent of the most successful content marketers use content marketing to build loyalty with existing customers/clients, and 57% use it to generate sales and revenue.3 And this doesn’t just apply to marketing writers; anyone who has a hand in marketing strategy and communication must be able to evaluate writing and develop a content strategy to ensure it’s in line with the overall campaign and strategy.

Blogs, landing pages, thank you emails, content offers, social media posts, and sales communications are all part of a larger marketing strategy, and the copy contained in them must be clean, concise, engaging, and, most importantly, tell a story that entices buyers. 

32% of B2B companies replied that the most common reason prospects drop out of the pipeline is they do not get buy-in from all decision-makers.

(Ironpaper, 2021)

 

7. Experience with contemporary digital tools, platforms, and channels


Marketers today have access to more channels and platforms for reaching their audience than ever. There are almost too many tools to choose from at this point. B2B marketers should first and foremost be comfortable with their CRM and its reporting tools to prove an ROI on their efforts. Tracking qualified leads through conversion points and in the handoff to sales will ultimately make for successful campaigns.

Platforms like HubSpot and Google offer courses, not to mention the plethora available on Coursera and via webinars and events. B2B marketers who feel weaker in technical areas should continuously work on improving their skills.

8. Collaborative thinking


Eighty-six percent of executives identify ineffective collaboration and communication as a major cause of failure in business.4 Marketing teams often have multiple campaigns in progress, multiple tools at their disposal, and competing priorities they have to consider. Marketers should collaborate and communicate with their team members, clients, and stakeholders to create an atmosphere where their marketing efforts can thrive.

Successful marketers can incorporate feedback and input from others and balance their own beliefs and the expertise their colleagues share with them. Even one-person marketing teams should collaborate with sales and leadership to ensure their marketing efforts support revenue goals and the company’s overall mission.

9. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills


Successful marketing requires more than simply sharing a message with an audience. Marketers need to understand why and how something is working and, possibly more importantly, why something isn’t working and how they can address it. At times, a team effort might be what it takes to solve a problem.

Marketers know it’s not uncommon to be thrown a curveball or get a new directive handed down from on high at the last minute, and finding a solution to a timely problem is a critical skill. 

10. Continuous learning, vertically and horizontally


Digital marketing is an ever-evolving practice, and even marketers in the trenches every day can’t possibly know everything there is to know. Marketers today must engage in and demonstrate continuous learning in their specialty and digital marketing as a whole. 

Their learning should dive deep into digital marketing skills and strategies (e.g., inbound marketing, lead generation, content strategy, SEO, advertising, analytics, etc.). Marketers should also build related-field skills such as writing, UX research, some technology, subject matter expertise (in the industries related to their clients/job), and sales strategy.

Do you have all of the skills we’ve discussed here? Visit Ironpaper’s Jobs page to see what positions we have open.

Sources

1Arktic Fox, 2022 marketing state of play

2Agile Sherpas, Agile Beyond Marketing: 5th Annual State of Agile Marketing Report

3Content Marketing Institute, 12th Annual Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends: Insights for 2022

4SalesForce, How Soft Skills Are Crucial to Your Business

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