Over the past decade, companies across industries have digitized their operations and processes. Even now, businesses are employing artificial intelligence to streamline workflows and supply chains. As a result, today’s job seekers require specialized skills to help them stand out from the crowd.
While some colleges, universities and training providers have modified or expanded their curriculum to meet this growing demand for digital know-how, many educators are struggling to provide the essential skills students need.
In this article, we explore the 10 key digital skills educators should offer in their portfolio to meet student and industry needs.
1. Social Media
According to a recent study, there are 2.7 billion active social media users worldwide. Of these, 2.5 billion are active users on mobile devices. These figures show a 30% increase in mobile social users in just a year which is projected to increase year-on-year.
The ability to understand and utilize social media effectively is a core skill every professional should have. Social media marketing goes beyond posting a tweet or Facebook update; it is about understanding the dynamic relationship between brands, influencers and consumers. To put it simply, businesses need to reach out to customers in ways that will drive traffic to their website—or product—for potential conversion.
Social media has permeated the fabric of our society, and become the primary source of communication and information flow between content creators and consumers. Educators who recognize social media’s influence should understand the intricacies of each platform and its potential influence to maximize community engagement in order to provide graduates with valuable and applicable skills.
2. Search Engine Marketing
Beyond social media, search engine marketing (SEM) is one of the most influential disciplines that marketers have come to rely on. To put things in perspective, more than 6.5 billion SEM results are carried out each day with Google accounting for 77% of that traffic.
Students with SEM experience will be able to increase the visibility of a company’s website on a search engine (e.g., Google) primarily via paid advertising. By doing so, the business will attract valuable web traffic from the search engine results page.
By using SEM, students will be able to capture part of the 6.5 billion search traffic results. That is why marketers, Content Managers and webmasters spend a great deal of time optimizing their websites and ad campaigns to ensure the highest conversion rates possible.
Most companies are in the business of selling products or services. It is therefore imperative that their brand is easily found online amongst their competition. Job seekers need to have a working knowledge of search marketing if they can understand the bigger context of their job function.
According to Forbes, only 22% of marketers claim that their data-driven marketing initiatives are achieving significant results.
Peter Drucker, a leader in management education and often described as the founder of modern management, has this to say:
“If you can't measure it, you can't manage it.”
Data analytics essentially allow students to make educated and data-driven decisions in their roles. Numbers define whether a campaign was successful, and by what percentage. The key to analytics is knowing what data to collect and measure in order to improve the next campaign. Companies do not want to waste valuable marketing dollars based on trends or gut instincts. It’s all about maximizing each campaign’s effectiveness and optimize the return on investment.
Analytics typically go hand-in-hand with SEM. These two complementary skills work together to ensure a business understands what consumers want, and how best to attract and retain their attention.
4. Content Marketing
Content comes in many forms – blog posts, videos, podcasts, infographics, even social media status updates.
53% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority - HubSpotTweet This
Marketers may spend their time optimizing keywords and advertising campaigns, but content is still king. After all, a website or social media page is driven by its content and without it, customers have no way of understanding the benefits of a product or service.
Content is crucial in driving brand awareness and can establish brands or influencers as thought leaders. Therefore new hires need to understand the importance of creating not just content, but content that is relevant to keyword research and optimizing them in a strategy.
One of the best ways to obtain and retain leads is via a tried and tested method: email.
Email is one of the oldest forms of direct marketing and still packs a punch in customer acquisition and retention. From startups to multi-national corporations, email helps launch many successful campaigns.
But make no mistake, email marketing is an art form in itself. An experienced digital marketer knows that each funnel stage has to be carefully planned. From the signup page—including its placement on a website—to the first welcome email, every step needs to be optimized in order to attract and retain users and build engagement.
People may change social media accounts or home addresses, but people aren’t prone to changing their email addresses. That is why professionals that understand the power of email to connect directly with consumers are in high demand.
As such educators should not disqualify email as an old-fashioned tool, but instead challenge students to rethink of ways to use email in their roles - current and future.
According to We Are Social and Hootsuite's recent report, mobile connectivity continues to grow with nearly two-thirds of the world’s population using mobile phones, and 55% of all active connections come from smartphones. Since smartphone traffic now exceeds desktop traffic, it's clear that mobile is the future.
To comprehend the impact of this change, we need only to look at Google. The world’s largest search engine provider has created a mobile-friendly web app designed to test the usability and speed of mobile websites. Having a mobile-friendly webpage can enhance your search presence amongst consumers who do not have access to desktops.
Jobseekers can use this knowledge to their advantage by optimizing campaigns to make use of the latest developments in mobile search and user experience.
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7. Strategy & Planning
Businesses that embed strategic planning in their marketing agenda are most likely to see measurable results in the long-term. Instead of planning on an ad-hoc basis, digital marketers need to create and implement campaigns that are based on analytics and quantifiable SEO data.
For example, setting specific KPIs and identifying methods for measuring each indicator can help a marketer remain accountable. It is also imperative that they analyze past campaigns and decide which metric is worth measuring.
To put things in perspective, strategy and planning is a leading skills gap in organizations – according to 58% of professionals in the USA, 55% in the UK and 42% in Ireland. By providing skills in how to plan and execute a digital strategy, graduates seeking new roles will have a clear advantage over their peers with little or no knowledge.
8. Social Selling
To connect with and influence customers, sales professionals need to be where their prospects are: online. As social selling is proving its worth for sellers that use it - 90% of top salespeople use social selling tools successfully - it is becoming more and more important for new hires to have experience using sales technologies.
Businesses across industries are also beginning to understand the importance of social selling investing in new 'sales stack' technology over and above a CRM such as email tracking tools, productivity apps, and sales intelligence software. Above all, social selling tools are seen as very effective in engaging with and influencing consumers, particularly amongst top performers.
In fact, according to LinkedIn, more than 70% of sales professionals use social selling tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and see them as having the highest impact on revenue.
As a relatively new arena for organizations, offering training that is industry aligned will help any student interested in pursuing a sales career with invaluable and highly sought after tools.
9. Pay-Per-Click Marketing (PPC)
According to Econsultancy, only 22% of businesses are satisfied with their current conversion rates. In addition, for every $92 spent on acquiring customers, only $1 is used to convert them.
As such, PPC is a popular way for brands to get traffic quickly. Companies with big budgets can easily get their search result to appear on Google’s first page, thereby guaranteeing massive search engine traffic. One popular PPC advertising model is Google’s very own AdWords program.
For the digitally adept jobseeker, understanding what impressions, reach, cost-per-click, and click-through-rates mean will immediately set them apart from their peers during interviews.
In the digital context, video has evolved from being just a form of entertainment on YouTube to a major social media content driver. Snapchat is now a powerful and influential platform while Facebook now uses video in its Instagram’s Stories.
Why has video become so popular in recent years? With smartphone users becoming younger by the day, social media apps like Snapchat, Weibo, WeChat and Line are becoming the de-facto tools of instant message communication. In fact, more than 60% of 13 to 34-year-old smartphone users in the US are Snapchatters.
Video as content is easier to consume than a typical blog post. It is also more entertaining and appeals to millennials. By combining the emotional power of social video with the reach and scope of digital advertising, markets can tap into a growing market of engaged consumers.
8 in 10 middle-skill jobs are now digitally intensive with roles growing 2.5 times compared to non-digital jobs. The key thing about digital skills is that they can be used in any job role; it is not solely in the domain of marketers or sellers. As such graduates, job seekers and professionals should learn these key skills to improve their odds of getting hired.