A fellow marketer recently asked me about digital - specifically about what would be the best areas to focus on if they wanted to upskill.
It's a great question - one I am often asked.
As a company who is always on the look out for digital talent, there is one key skill I find lacking. I am not alone. And it's an opportunity for marketers who want to transition to digital.
According to "The Future-Proof Marketer in 2015" whitepaper by digital technology training company Grovo (email required), 90% of marketers report a shortage of digital skills.
With digital marketing covering everything from paid search, SEO, content marketing, mobile, analytics, email marketing, marketing automation and social media where should a marketer focus if they want to improve their skills?
Is digital really that different when it comes to marketing?
Yes and no. Both still ultimately focus on understanding your customer, setting objectives and putting measures in place to evaluate success.
Depending on your objectives, this could be a combination of hard measures like leads, sales, phone calls, contact form submissions, coupon redemptions or softer measures like newsletter sign ups, page engagement, likes or even shares.
This is where analytics comes to the fore and why I think analytics and data analysis is where marketers who want to up-skill and transition to digital should focus on.
Those wanting to get some digital street credibility should understand analytics and ensure key measures are tied in with the business and marketing plan.
Once the measures are set, then the next part is data analysis. And this is one skill that many find difficult.
It's not just about understanding analytics, it's about being able to know what to look for, where to find it, how to interpret the data and ultimately generating valuable insights that will help drive better customer engagement and ultimately more profit over time.
Not all marketers or digital marketers have this skill. I've met a lot of marketers who understand the technical aspects of analytics but few who can interpret it, question the data or tell a story and generate real business improvement.
Being able to analyse data will help you:
- Understand your customers better
- Improve and refine your marketing
- Build better marketing campaigns that generate more sales and drive business outcomes
- Decide where to allocate marketing spend
Understanding your customer's journey online is also important. Google's Customer Journey tool is a great resource that can be used as a starting point to help craft a plan.
Incorporating the ideas from the tool, will help you develop a plan that helps potential customers find you at critical points in their journey online.
Google Analytics is another great tool. An often overlooked part of analytics is the ability to set goals and measure performance.
Another overlooked feature is understanding cross channel behviour and being able to see how all efforts combine together to produce consistent and measurable outcomes.
Analytics sits at heart of other digital marketing initiatives. The ability to crunch data received from social media, paid search, SEO, email & content marketing helps marketers prove their value.
For paid search, even if you are not a specialist, it's good to have a handle on understanding the differences between keywords and search terms and be able to distinguish those that signal commercial intent.
For the generalist digital marketer, it's good to have a basic understanding of SEO (Page Titles, Sitemaps, User Experience) as well as understand the value of creating content that attracts links, likes, and shares.
With regard to websites, a good design that is easy to use, mobile friendly, with compelling benefit driven web copy is critical.
Social media is different beast. In many ways, it's is still in infancy. Changes happen on a daily basis and what works one day may not work the next. With so much change, keeping your finger on the pulse of these changes can be is helpful.
All these channels, still centre around the consumer - understanding their path to purchase, what their pain points are and creating messages that connect with them.
Its the thing that general marketing and digital marketing have in common.
The digital part is about staying up to date with advances in technology and understanding analytics - be it social, email, paid or web analytics.
Analytics is crucial because it helps you work out what things are working, where to focus scarce marketing resources and generate more profit.
This is what drive business outcomes and are what CEO is most interested in.