If marketers want to keep up with technology, a commitment to continuous learning must be part of their 2020 professional development plans. As remote working is increasingly becoming our new normal given the current state of the world, it also becomes increasingly clear how unprepared our current marketing workforce is for a digitally-fuelled future of work.
Over the last 10 years, digital marketing spend has surpassed traditional advertising and is now forecasted to reach $146 billion by 2023. At the same time, we’ve seen the demand for digital skills skyrocket, with digital roles in the media space growing 30% faster than other functions from 2011 to 2016.
What’s more, employees with digital marketing skills earned close to $7,000 more in annual salary than other marketing positions, partially because these digitally-focused roles took 16% longer to fill as qualified talent is hard to find. Ad spending, meanwhile, is increasing, as are media layoffs, and with a looming recession, we anticipate the marketing and communications sector to be hit hard.
The good news is that upskilling through targeted digital skills training has emerged as an easy, accessible solution to chip away at the growing gap between today’s workforce and the digital skills needed. So for all those remote workers looking to skill up and increase their digital savvy, here are the top digital skills you should be prioritizing as a resume-boosting, recession-proofing professional development strategy for the year ahead.
1. Social Media Marketing
There are 3.8 billion active global social media users as of January and that number increased by almost one million every day in 2018. Facebook alone counts 22% of the world’s total population in its base of users (and 68% of U.S. adults). If that doesn’t illustrate the power of social media, consider this: YouTube reaches more 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the US
There’s clear value for marketers to learn how to build a social media marketing campaign, create engaging posts, evaluate and optimize campaign performance, and develop a social media strategy.
2. Google Analytics
Close to 90% of marketers use Google Analytics to measure campaign performance, as the ability to make data-driven decisions is now essential to optimize ROI and efficiency.
A true mastery of Google Analytics, however, can unlock a number of other benefits, allowing marketers to create an end-to-end analytics strategy that spans behavior tracking, data collection and insight development. They can also transform data into meaningful, detailed reports that can be understood by internal and external stakeholders.
3. Web Development
While you don’t necessarily need to become a programming whiz, it’s worthwhile for marketing professionals to learn the basics of web development. Being familiar with HTML and CSS means you won’t need to rely on a front-end developer to make simple changes to your website. It will also benefit you to learn how to inspect and break down code on websites as you research competition or search for inspiration.
4. Search Engine Optimization / Search Engine Marketing
If your company isn’t positioned near the top of search results, it may as well be invisible – meaning marketers benefit from having an SEO strategy to drive web traffic and improve lead generation.
Underscoring this point, studies have shown that companies spending more than $25,000 a year on marketing reported that SEO provided the best return on investment, with 66% listing SEO as an extremely high priority or very high priority going forward.
5. User Experience Design
Indeed ranked UX Designer as the fifth-most in-demand role in tech, and an Adobe study found that 87% of managers said hiring UX Designers was their organization’s top priority.
You don’t need to become a design expert, but it’s important to know how customers are interacting with your products, digital offerings and campaigns. A good marketer should know how to identify user needs, conduct user research, develop personas, and create intuitive and navigable layouts.
At its core, design thinking is about finding creative solutions to problems, which is especially beneficial for a marketing professional. Marketers would gain a lot from understanding customer empathy and learning how to formalize the ideation process to identify opportunities and solutions. Further, the Parsons School of Design found that 71% of organizations practicing design thinking noticed an improvement in their work culture on a team level.
Jason Field is the founder and CEO at BrainStation, a progressive tech school aimed at empowering working professionals, entrepreneurs and aspiring freelancers with the skills needed to solve meaningful problems with technology and the confidence needed to shape their own future. BrainStation was acquired in 2014 by Konrad Group and Jason has championed BrainStation's expansion beyond Toronto to the United States and South America.