Four must-have technical skills for marketers

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There are now more than 7,000 marketing tools available to help marketers work more efficiently. Companies are now investing a greater percentage of their marketing budgets in technology. Gartner reports that marketing technology accounted for 29% of the total marketing expense budget in 2018, up from 22% in 2017.

With the surge of marketing technology (martech), the skills required to be a marketer are evolving. There's a rising demand for marketers to take a more technical approach to their campaigns. However, to do so, marketers need to develop new skills and competencies that help them use the influx of marketing tools to their fullest extent.

Here are four technical skills marketers need to keep up with the deluge of marketing technology.

1. Basic front-end development

Front-end development includes everything a user can see and interact with directly on a website, which makes it a critical area for marketing support. While it isn't necessary for marketers to become experts at coding, understanding the basics of HTML, CSS, and Javascript can go a long way.

Basic coding knowledge allows marketers to carry out essential tasks, such as building landing pages, custom-formatting blog posts, making website changes, structuring and styling emails, and more. Basic HTML and CSS is also useful for creating custom elements, such as forms or call-to-action buttons on websites or email templates. Marketers that learn Javascript can perform robust A/B testing to optimize landing pages.

Another area in which a basic understanding of front-end languages comes in handy is when implementing analytics tools such as KISSmetrics and Google Analytics. With basic coding knowledge, marketers can get more out of these tools and be able to set up advanced tracking, custom variables, and other features for better analytics monitoring and reporting.

Marketers that have a basic knowledge of front-end development are increasingly valuable to the entire business. Even if a company has a dedicated front-end developer, marketers with basic development skills won't need to wait on this person to make changes or test new ideas. Plus, they can work seamlessly with the developer to get ideas into motion faster. 

Image credit: Shutterstock

Image credit: Shutterstock (Image credit: Shutterstock)

2. Advanced data analysis

More companies are striving to become data-driven, resulting in a higher demand for marketers fluent in data. According to Venngage, only three percent of marketers are competent in handling large sets of data. This number presents a massive marketing skills gap in data analysis.

Collecting the right data alone doesn't produce results. Knowing how to read the data is crucial  to measuring the performance of campaigns and strategies as a whole. For example, specific metrics may indicate that a campaign is performing poorly. Marketers will benefit from analyzing the data to decide whether to make changes to the campaign or focus their efforts elsewhere.

Today’s marketers need to be proficient in analytics tools, gathering and interpreting data, and creating data-driven strategies. Skills in these areas are in high demand and will allow marketers to make better decisions overall. 

3. Understanding of artificial intelligence (AI)

AI-based tools are replacing an increasing number of human tasks in marketing. IDC forecasts spending on cognitive and artificial intelligence systems will grow from $19.1 billion in 2018 to $52.2 billion in 2021. Marketers will need to have knowledge of this growing technology – specifically how to leverage AI strategically and how it impacts marketing goals.

Marketers can now rely on machine learning to automate some of the most common marketing tasks. For example, numerous tools automate email marketing and personalization. AI-powered systems can help marketers set up automated or drip campaigns based on consumer data.  

Automizy, for example, is an email marketing platform that uses AI to analyze subject lines, perform A/B testing, and resend emails automatically.

AI can also help marketers deliver engaging content based on previous buyer behavior. The more a customer engages with a brand, the smarter the technology becomes, providing a more personalized experience.

While marketers don’t need to know the mechanics of AI, they should understand what it can and can’t do. Knowledge of AI allows marketers to deliver better results and have a positive impact their company's bottom line.

Image credit: Pixabay

Image credit: Pixabay (Image credit: Image Credit: Rawpixel / Pixabay)

4. Fundamentals of design (UX/UI)

As the amount of content rises and attention spans decrease, consumers are becoming increasingly selective about what they choose to engage with or view. Given 15 minutes to consume content, two-thirds of people prefer to read something beautifully designed over something plain. Good design – specifically user experience and user interface (UX and UI) – plays a critical role in getting and keeping the attention of consumers.

It's essential for marketers to consider basic design principles when building landing pages or crafting emails. A user interface, for example, is the look and feel of a website or an email. This design can make or break a consumer's perception of a brand. Likewise, a website that's easy for users to navigate and offers a great user experience can build trust, leading to higher conversions.

The martech industry isn't showing any signs of slowing down. An Ascend2 study reports that 87% of marketers believe marketing technology is improving marketing performance at their companies. Marketers that embrace the change and develop these in-demand technical skills are bound to produce more valuable results for their company. Those that don't adapt to a more technical mindset may risk falling behind.

Albizu Garcia, CEO and Co-Founder of Gain

Albizu Garcia
Albizu Garcia is the CEO and Co-Founder of Gain, a marketing technology company that automates the social media and content publishing workflow for agencies, their clients, and anyone working in teams.