The Top 5 Digital Marketing Skills for 2017

Content Marketing · Digital Marketing

As 2017 draws closer, our focus turns to the essential skills needed to excel in the New Year. As the digital industry is in constant flux, there is a perpetual pressure on marketers to stay up to date with the latest developments and newest product releases.

The need for digital marketers has never been higher, yet the digital skills gap has never been wider. This discrepancy can provide you with the perfect opportunity to demonstrate your value and competency – you just need to make sure you’ve strengthened the right skills. If you want to set yourself apart from the competition and establish yourself as an in-demand marketing professional, you need to know which capabilities count. That’s why we’ve created this list of the top 5 digital marketing skills you should refine in 2017. 

1. Search Engine Optimization

93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. This means that now, more than ever, Search Engine Optimization skills are an essential asset. Although it may seem like a nebulous specialism, due to ever-evolving practices and search engine algorithm updates, 70% of the links search users click on are organic, so if you can master SEO, you have the potential to drive more traffic and more conversions as a result.

Whether you aspire to become an SEO specialist, or you outsource organic search marketing, it’s important to have a comprehensive understanding of its core functions and benefits. This will allow you to easily analyze results and take the right action (or send a detailed brief to your agency) accordingly.

Develop an awareness of the importance of keyword research and implementation, the nuances of content (how much is too much, and what is relevant) and the best methods for acquiring quality links. SEO skills are based upon a combination of creative and technical elements. In other words, know when to utilize guest blogging and what constitutes a suitably compelling topic, but also be able to analyze your site for key errors, such as broken links and 404s. 

2. Video Content Marketing

In 2017 video marketing will account for 69% of all consumer traffic, mobile video ads will grow 5 times faster than desktop and landing pages with videos can generate 800% more conversions. Though content marketing has been heralded as an essential specialism over the past few years, video is equally, if not more deserving of your mastery.

It’s unsurprising that YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine – video content is easy to consume and generates enhanced levels of engagement. It’s a formidable marketing platform that is often underused due to a lack of necessary skills. If you take the time to truly understand video content marketing, you’ll be able to reach a much larger audience and make your brand distinct and memorable.

Make the most of meta-descriptions and tag your videos with keywords in order to optimize them for search, not only YouTube but Google and its peers too. From a content perspective, learn to storyboard and execute videos that anticipate your target audience’s needs and interests, and convey your brand in a creative, humanizing way. Look to well-established brands such as Guinness and Apple – though you may not be able to emulate their budget, there’s a lot you can learn from their ability to craft a compelling story.

3. Community Management

78% of small businesses now get at least one quarter of new customers from social media, undeniable evidence that organizations need to embrace social. However, there’s much more to it than optimizing your images on Facebook and running paid ads. Social channels are essential for cultivating a positive customer experience, and if your organization owns them, you have a responsibility to nurture and maintain your community. This may seem like a time consuming prospect, but learning how to develop meaningful social relationships with your target audience segments can generate significant return on investment. The more you know about your customers’ needs, challenges and preferences, the better you can engage them.

Learn how to use social listening tools to gain essential insights into your customers and competitors, so you can target your followers with the right content at the right time. Be able to set up alerts and make use of advanced search functions so you can monitor any brand mentions or customer comments that aren’t tagged. Send personalized, helpful, relevant messages and be as timely as possible. 32% of social customers expect a response to a complaint within 30 minutes, and 42% expect a response within 60 minutes. You should also learn to create and implement a crisis management plan that will enable you to react appropriately and protect your brand on these highly public platforms.

4. Marketing Automation

We’ve already outlined the benefits of marketing automation software in a previous blog article, which you can read here. To reiterate, 91% of the most successful marketing automation users agree that it is “very important” to the overall success of their marketing across channels. As the digital marketing landscape evolves and expands, marketers are expected to complete an infinite amount of tasks with a finite amount of resources. By learning how to implement and use marketing automation, you’ll be able to achieve this seemingly unachievable feat.

Find out how to set up workflows so you can share personalized content that is tailored to your target audience at every stage of the customer journey. Use trigger emails to automate your engagement while maintaining your customer’s interest! Faster follow-ups will give you a better chance of qualifying leads and ongoing scheduled communications will help you to easily nurture and convert these leads. You can also learn how to create integrated cross-channel marketing campaigns, using marketing automation to enable you to establish consistent brand presences on a variety of platforms, including social, email and text.

As the adoption of marketing automation increases (there are nearly 11 times more B2B organizations using marketing automation now than in 2011), the faster you can harness its powers, the most effectively you’ll perform. 

5. Analytics

Analytics always has been the most important, and simultaneously overlooked digital marketing practice. The ability to interpret results and translate them into action is indispensable – it means that you can not only assess your effectiveness, you can improve it as well. A data-driven approach will enable you to make the most of your digital marketing budget, whatever its size, as you’ll be more targeted and specific. You’ll be able to better segment your customers, and know more about their buying behaviors, challenges and motivations.

70% of the customer journey is completed online before a buyer even reaches out to a sales rep. This shift in power from the rep to the customer means that sales and marketing professionals are being forced to rethink their strategies. And the only truly effective way to revise any digital marketing strategy is to derive new plans from valuable insights. You should be competent in utilizing analytics tools beyond just Google Analytics. 

In order to prove your worth in 2017, you’ll need to be adept at social media marketing analytics, both native platforms and tools such as Buzzsumo and SproutSocial. Learn how to leverage data from your Email Service Provider, as well as paid search campaigns. Also, consider practising with other platforms such as heat maps and real-time website analytics.

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About The Author
Sophie Elizabeth Smith

Sophie is a content marketer for the Digital Marketing Institute. Sophie enjoys creating content that connects with readers and helps them to better understand and practice all things digital. Sophie also enjoys guacamole and all films starring Nicolas Cage (but mainly Con Air).

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