What are the top skills you need for digital marketing?

Investing in the right marketing talent, tools and processes helps organizations keep up with the competition.

Hiring talent with analytics experience is emerging as a critical priority this year. By hiring marketers who can effectively analyze data and glean insights, organizations can stay ahead of the curve and make more informed decisions.

This article explores the most sought-after skills in digital marketing and what they mean for marketing professionals and the industry.

Top skills marketing leaders look for when hiring

Up to 57% of marketing leaders prioritize analytics experience when hiring new talent, according to the State of Marketing 2023 report. As brands grow and become more data-driven, marketers who can effectively navigate and interpret data are highly valued.

Other skills that marketing leaders are hiring for and prioritizing are:

  • Social media management (12%)
  • Copywriting (9%)
  • Video production (7%)
  • Graphic design (6%)
  • Search engine optimization (6%)
  • Google Ads (2%) 

Although marketing analytics is specified, the ability to use data when managing social media communities, producing content and managing paid search marketing is also critical.

This shift towards prioritizing analytics experience reflects a growing recognition of data’s vital role in marketing strategy and decision-making. This makes sense for a few reasons. 

The need to demonstrate business value

Companies are tightening budgets to weather the current economic storm. At the same time, CMOs have been demanding that their marketing and PR teams demonstrate ROI from their programs. This is a trend that I’ve seen over the last 5 to 7 years.

Marketers were asked about their KPIs and how they plan to measure their programs’ performance in the same report, and 26% said that cost per acquisition/sale was the number one KPI, followed by:

  • Social engagement (19%)
  • Customer lifetime value (17%)
  • Cost per impression (9%)
  • Customer retention rate (9%)
  • Cost per click (8%)
  • Cost per lead (8%) 

These data points clarify that marketing leaders prioritize metrics that prove value. Outside of social engagement, these KPIs are all aligned with financial metrics.

Google plans to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome by 2024. Aside from rethinking audience targeting and focusing on first-party data, marketers must up their analytics skills to use the data effectively and draw meaningful insights.

Consumer privacy is also a significant consideration. Legislation, like the GDPR and CCPA, require companies to obtain explicit customer consent before collecting and using their data. Still today, 75% of marketers rely on third-party cookies.


Marketing budgets are on the rise

This year, over 50% of marketing leaders plan to increase budgets, but just 14% will make substantial investments, according to the same report. This is likely due to the uncertain financial times that have characterized the last 12 months.

However, despite these budget constraints, marketing leaders are still investing in data-driven strategies, such as:

  • Investing in analytics tools.
  • Hiring talent with analytics experience.
  • Other initiatives to help them better understand their customers and engage them on a deeper level.

The demand for analytics skills will likely remain strong as marketing teams continue leveraging data to improve customer experience, drive sales and maximize ROI.

Per Gartner, almost 30% of the digital marketing budgets are being allocated to analytics across three functions: 

  • Marketing data and analytics (9%)
  • Customer analytics (8.8%)
  • Marketing insights (8.3%)

While each function serves different purposes, all require an in-depth knowledge of data and analytics.

Marketing data and analytics is about performance

Hiring marketers with an analytics background is necessary to measure marketing performance better. Marketers should be able to analyze data from various channels such as paid search, email, display ads and social media to identify opportunities for improvement and provide actionable insights.

Knowledge of conversion rates, budget optimization, clickthrough rates and other performance metrics are critical. One mistake in reporting can result in millions of dollars of loss for brands.

Typically, someone working within this function would review the data and provide actionable insights after the campaign has ended.

Always-on customer analytics

Customer analytics is the process of collecting, analyzing and interpreting data about customers to better understand their behavior, preferences and needs. This involves using data sources such as customer transactions, demographics, web and social media metrics and customer feedback to identify patterns that inform business decisions.

In most cases, initiatives that require in-depth customer analysis using survey data happen quarterly or bi-annually. In large companies, this is usually outsourced to a research firm managed by an internal staff member with expertise in analytics.

Bringing the outside in with marketing insights

Marketing insights refer to the actionable knowledge gained from analyzing third-party marketing research from firms like Gartner, Forrester, Global Web Index, Kantar and Nielsen. These insights can help marketers and PR pros understand the current macro trends, consumer behavior and competitor activity in their industry.

This might be similar to customer analytics, but it’s more focused on industry trends and macro-level insights. Again, this helps marketers plan their strategies and understand the broader industry landscape.

Cultural trends and insights can also come in other ways. In the report, 31% of the marketers surveyed have designated cultural insights teams in-house. This approach is more expensive, given the cost of salaries and the current economic climate. But having an internal team can be beneficial in speed to insight and data ownership. 

Invest in the right resources to drive marketing ROI

Data and analytics are essential tools for modern marketers. Investing in the right talent, tools and processes helps you keep up with the competition. Building a team with different functions specializing in customer analytics, marketing insights and data and analytics is key to success. With the right talent and resources, brands can tap into valuable insights, drive revenue and maximize ROI.


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About the author

Michael Brito

Michael Brito has been building brands online since Al Gore invented the Internet. He’s currently the Head of Global Analytics for Zeno Group. He’s active on LinkedIn and Twitter and frequently shares his insights on his digital marketing blog.