Demand for New Skill Sets Keeps Marketing Pros on their Toes

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Maybe you’re a college senior considering a career in advertising, or a marketing professional looking for a new employment opportunity. Perhaps you already have a marketing job you love and just want to boost your competitive profile in your chosen field. No matter the case, knowing what skills will be most in demand next year will be imperative. To some extent, that’s an intuitive exercise. In the last five years, you’ve witnessed enough of the evolution of digital advertising to know that mobile is destined to play a big role.

With smartphone shipments expected to surpass 1 billion in 2013 – and Americans increasingly using them for accessing the Internet – fluency in mobile technology and its marketing potential is, and will continue to be, an essential component of any marketer’s toolkit. Mobile ad spending is forecast to rise nearly 80% this year according to eMarketer; and by 2016, mobile platforms are projected to generate more than a third of all new advertising dollars. But studies show that mobile is only one component of an increasingly diverse skill set for the modern marketing pro, and which skills are most important depends a lot on who you ask.

For its 2014 State of Digital Marketing Talent study, the Online Marketing Institute recently polled 747 advertising and Fortune 500 marketing executives on what digital marketing skills they value the most. Among brands, analytics ranks at the top of the list with 76% of respondents saying that having some fluency in data science is important or very important for incoming marketers. Nearly 60% of brands rank mobile marketing as the most critical skill, which is more than twice the number who identified social media as the most in-demand skill for marketers.

Agency professionals seem to agree. The vast majority of agencies view mobile marketing as the make-or-break skill to have in 2014. Analytics and mobile automation also scored high on the list. Yet, while mobility and analytics are the buzzwords marketers are most used to hearing, data shows that technical skills aren’t the only ones that will make their presence known on the digital marketing stage next year. Creative professionals will also see high demand for their services in 2014. That’s because companies are also planning to aggressively expand their content marketing strategies next year.

According to one study, 92% of brands are already using content marketing, which the Content Marketing Institute defines as a technique of “creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience.” Over the next 12 months, 58% of B2B and 60% of B2C marketers plan to increase their budgets in the content marketing space, which will require hiring more creative talent. Rounding out the technical (mobile, analytics) and creative roles, the increasing fragmentation of marketing campaigns will fuel the need for the strong strategic and project management insight demanded by multi-channel campaigns. Understanding business strategy as it relates to effective digital marketing is the glue that holds all the other skills together.

According to the Online Marketing Institute, to date, brands and agencies haven’t done a particularly good job ensuring they have all those skills in place. Tech workers in general are now taking it upon themselves to take over where their companies have left off. For marketers looking for a leg up in the industry, expanding their skill set by any means necessary can help solidify their status in an evolving market.

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