With more data, devices and channels to navigate than ever before, the role of a digital marketer has become increasingly complicated.

Yet people haven’t been put off and interest in digital marketing jobs continues to skyrocket.

Interest in digital marketing jobs over time

Interest in digital marketing jobs over time.

At the point this graph starts to escalate, the customer journey across the internet was relatively simple. The ‘build it and they will come’ approach was deemed sufficient and the make up of marketing departments reflected this.

Roles were defined by discipline: search, display, email, social and more recently mobile and there was little interaction between them. These silos have become ingrained into our marketing culture.

Now the customer journey has become much more complicated. In the 20-30 days it takes for a customer to decide whether or not to buy, they use up to 10 different sources across multiple channels and devices.

In order to market effectively to each consumer, marketers need a complete view of the path to conversion they’ve taken and ask themselves which messages have led to that all important sale and on which device?

How can we prevent a skills gap from emerging?

The first thing to change is to make sure everyone, across teams is working toward a common goal. Shifting your focus away from an obsession with the volume of click throughs to understanding the customer behind the click will do this.  

Your campaigns will then be based on a deeper understanding of your audience and hyper-target each consumer’s unique path-to-conversion. We know from our data that managing search and social campaigns together can increase revenue by 68% per conversion. Marketers who have knowledge of just one channel will therefore struggle to offer the advice their client needs 

Skills gap

Another change marketers can make is to break down existing silos and encourage fluidity across the departments. A simple way to do this is to mix-up teams and ensure employees are regularly exposed to the work of other marketing disciplines.

In this way, professionals already on the career ladder can learn new skills and future proof both themselves and your business.  

Breaking silos in the marketing team is just the beginning. Businesses will only get the full picture of the customer journey by integrating with other departments. Given the complexity of the data in use and technology involved, working closely with the IT department is essential.

Yet, according to Marin's Digital Marketing Managers Census, only one in five of the UK’s digital marketing managers plan to do this more in the future.  

As disciplines and departments begin to mix, future marketers cannot just be experts in one discipline. Equally,  ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ won’t be good enough either, marketers must be a ‘master of all trades, slacker in none’.

This might sound a challenge but it is possible, and it starts with educating tomorrow’s marketers in the right way. One of the biggest issues is that many of the lectures and textbooks for marketing students available today are out of date by the time they’re even delivered to students.

Universities and other institutions need to adjust quickly to offer students the skills training they will actually need in the workplace; more often than not, these are soft skills like leadership, communication and organisation. 

I was recently  speaking to Tom Lowes, Head of Online Marketing at Sykes Cottages about this issue, he told me that while talent isn’t easy to find in the digital space, it’s crucial that brands don’t settle for second best because the competition won’t. 

One solution is expand your talent search beyond your backyard because it’s likely that most of your competition is looking within the same area. When talent isn’t available locally, businesses should turn to the global talent pool to source the required skills.

Online workplaces such as Elance-oDesk are a great way to extend your in-house teams with highly skilled freelancers and with the improvement of collaboration tools like Skype, distributed teams can function seamlessly.

Clearly, the benefits of integration are there for the taking. Looking to the future, if the new talent coming up the ranks want to be successful, they will need to be all-rounders – mathematical masterminds, creative geniuses and unrelentingly determined – the ultimate ‘masters of all trades, slackers in none’.

Jon Myers

Published 17 April, 2015 by Jon Myers

Jon Myers is vice president and managing director EMEA for digital ad management platform Marin Software.

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