The skills of a future marketer – what they need and what they have

The roles and expectations of today’s marketers are in a constant state of flux, says Leah Pope, as technology continues to change the way consumers interact with brands.

Leah PopeA recent study by Hays found that there is a severe mismatch between the marketing skills employers are demanding versus the skills possessed by marketers. The gap will only continue to widen as technology and marketing channels continue to evolve.

There are three key trends— including data-driven marketing, cross-collaboration through transparency and business growth— that will define how marketers will prove value and ensure their skill set remains relevant.

Data-driven, but not a data scientist

Gone are the days when marketers could simply make decisions based on a gut feeling around what might resonate with customers. There is simply too much data available to ignore and consumers are demanding targeted messages that are personalised to their unique interests. 

For example, Salesforce’s ‘State of the Connected Customer’ report shows that customers expect engagement from brands that’s uniquely personalised. Further, 80% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.

In order to deliver these connected experiences, marketers need to be able to digest and act on the insights that they can glean from customer data. However, marketers are not data scientists, nor do they want to be. Marketers are overloaded with data sources and don’t have the time and resources to manually wrangle these metrics to drive actionable insights. Meanwhile, without a data-driven approach, CMOs face a major challenge in proving the impact of their marketing efforts and providing insights into what’s driving customer behaviour to the C-suite.

A successful marketer of the future understands the importance of data and insights in the context of consumer demands, but also recognises the limits of the team and embraces the technology available to them to solve these challenges with speed and efficiency.

By utilising AI and machine learning, marketers can connect and unify fragmented data sources and gain access to a holistic view of real-time data to form insights that allow them to react to the ever-changing needs of the consumer. Marketers will embrace the end of manual data wrangling and Excel spreadsheets are out, and one single source of truth for all channels is in.

Cross-collaboration through transparency 

Recently, one of the most significant industry trends has been the increased focus on transparency. There is a growing expectation from business stakeholders that marketers are able to show a quantifiable return on investment across all of their marketing investments. The ever-growing consumer landscape of channels and touchpoints continues to multiply, making it increasingly difficult to accurately report back a measured impact around the quality of content and the audience that sees it. 

With data centralised into one holistic view, marketers of the future will gain back ownership over their data and accountability for their budget. Additionally, transparency into data allows for cross-team collaboration, from sales to business development to marketing, all levelling up to C-suite conversations. Marketers of the future will be able to lead their organisation to a state of transparency so that everyone can work from the same insights, to see what data is in use, how it’s being leveraged and ultimately analyse the impact.

Tie every dollar to business growth 

Marketers should be thinking about their budget as an investment – a responsibility to drive and build customer relationships. Businesses look to the marketing team to achieve growth, with some companies like Coca-Cola going so far as to replace its CMO with a chief growth officer. This has allowed the company to drive greater growth and customer loyalty, while reaching new customers. 

Marketers should have three questions in mind: what is the ROI for every dollar I am spending? What can I optimise today to boost business impact? And is every decision backed by data? The insights gleaned from these questions are fundamental to success, allowing marketers to pivot or double-down on their current strategies to drive better outcomes for the business and customer. 

Technology and the marketing mix will undoubtedly continue to change, forcing marketers to constantly evaluate their skill set. By focusing on data-driven insights, solving for transparency and tying every dollar to an outcome, marketers will maximise their value and potential to drive growth for their business’ bottomline.

Leah Pope is CMO at Datorama, a Salesforce company

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Image credit:Franck V.