What Skills Would Marketers Stake Their Future On?

February 27, 2019

Nine in 10 marketers agree that there is a digital skills gap within marketing teams. Indeed, a new study [download page] by Econsultancy of more than 500 marketers found that very few (8%) marketers feel that there isn’t a gap in digital marketing skills.

So what skills do marketers believe will be important in the future? From a list of more than a dozen skills, the most consensus was reserved for data analysis and measurement, as 3 in 10 respondents chose this as the one skill on which they would stake their career. Interestingly, more than three-quarters (77%) of marketers already rate their competency of data analysis and measurement as advanced (42%) or intermediate (35%), although only about one-tenth (11%) rate themselves as experts at this particular skill.

Content marketing is another important skill in the eyes of respondents. With content marketing evolving with changes including marketers putting more emphasis on video-based content as well as personalizing content for the audience’s needs, one-fifth (20%) of respondents felt content marketing was the most vital skill for the future.

Currently, most marketers are confident in their content marketing skills. Some 16% rated themselves at an expert level and another 43% claimed advanced knowledge. Three in 10 of respondents believe they possess at least an intermediate or practical knowledge of content marketing, such that 9 in 10 feel they’re at least at an intermediate level.

The third-most important skill for the future chosen by marketers is user experience (UX), with 12% of respondents staking their careers on this skill. This is a notable choice at the top, as an apparent lack of talent in user experience (UX) goes back many years. Back in 2013, for example, agencies were pointing to UX as the area in which their clients had their biggest talent skills gap.

More recently, with 2 in 5 (43%) marketers in North America last year saying that the skill of UX design is difficult to master, it’s not too surprising that marketers believe their skill level for UX is relatively low compared to other marketing skills. About one-third (32%) felt they were advanced in UX while two-fifths (40%) said they were at an intermediate skill level. Only 8% considered themselves to be experts.

Soft Skills Are Still Important

Even with an emphasis being placed on more technical and data-driven skills, more human-centric skills such as the ability to embrace change, critical thinking, lateral thinking and collaboration are still considered essential for marketers. In fact, nearly all (93.9%) of the survey’s respondents felt that these so-called soft skills were just as important as technical skills for a successful career in marketing.

The ability to embrace change is considered to be a very important skill for a successful marketing career by 7 in 10 respondents. The importance of this skill appears to be consistent, with a similar study by Econsultancy from five years ago revealing that three-quarters (75%) of marketers felt that the ability to embrace change was very important.

Being able to think critically was another skill that more than two-thirds (67%) of respondents felt was very important in marketing. Being able to work with others (66%) and lateral thinking (58%) are also considered very important soft skills for marketers.

Less critical to a successful marketing career is comfort taking risks, with only 39% of respondents feeling this was a very important attribute to possess as a marketer. Previous research, however, has found many marketers believing that the ideal marketer should take more risks

The learn more about the modern marketer, find the report here.

About the Data: The data is based on an online survey of more than 500 marketers.

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