The 4 key skills your marketing team need in 2020

Katie Ashford, General Manager - Group Marketing and Communications, Ovato

It’s fair to say that marketing isn’t what it used to be, but in 2020, what is it?

Everything evolves, and if we want to keep ahead of the curve as marketers, it’s important to not just maintain the skills we’ve developed along the way, but learn new ones in line with new technologies, channels and customer behaviours.

We need the skills to better connect us with the people we’re trying to reach, who are engaging with brands in different and rapidly changing ways. People want personalised communication via the right channel, at the right time. This requires not only marketing know-how but an understanding of platforms, data and other disciplines.

Here are the marketing skills your team needs to make 2020 your most effective year yet.

1. Data analysis

Analytics data is an essential tool to determine if your efforts are succeeding. Consolidating metrics such as ROI, expenditure or results over time across your marketing channels and activity provides a holistic view of your output which improves your ability to make good decisions about your approach.

Having a good grasp on your analytics is important, as they answer all kinds of critical marketing questions, such as what is and isn’t working, whether you’re investing properly in the right channels and how your marketing efforts compare to your competitors.

You can even get further value from your data by adding it to third-party data sets. This impacts not only who, but how and when you should market towards targeting audiences, as well as allowing you to spot new customers to trial.

However, it’s no good to just peer at reams of names, locations and purchases to discern a hidden truth that will unlock an avalanche of conversions. You need someone on your team who can approach data in a useful way by asking the right questions, drawing the right connections and digging into the trends.

If it looks like a massive job, consider using AI and Machine Learning to parse your data sets, and investigate the use of data visualisation tools to help make heads and tails of your findings. You can run the risk of going down a data analysis rabbit hole, so it’s worth creating a live dashboard of the most salient channel information you uncover to easily spot increases and decreases in performance.

2. Effective content writing

Communicating with existing and prospective customers isn’t as simple as sending emails or smashing out a quick blog. All your content needs to be well crafted, informative, and entertaining. That’s why it’s important to have strong writers with marketing and sales experience in your team.

Effective content needs to have personality, identity and take readers on a journey by telling a story that informs, entertains or educates. And no reader is going to stick around if what they are reading isn’t relevant to them. It’s important to make sure that copy speaks to the audience and offers something that connects with a need.

Finally, anything you produce should be original. Readers want something new and interesting, not a rehash of something they’ve seen before. Thinking outside the box, identifying an interesting niche and covering topics that add something new to the conversation are all important to generate an audience online. Blogs that nail this tricky combination of needs include GE Reports which tells stories with a GE technology and research focus, and John Deere’s The Furrow, the online version of a 120 year old farming magazine.

3. Content marketing strategy development

To deliver success, you need to have a framework to hang your content from.

What you need is a content marketing strategy, which will outline your objectives (whether audience growth, lead generation, sales or something else) and how you’re going to reach them with content. Your strategy answers the question of why you’re developing content, who you’re trying to reach and what it is you’re offering that others don’t. Without it, you’re operating blind.

Your team needs a strategic thinker who can interpret the relationship between your business objectives and your audience needs and then suggest the best way of meeting both, with content that adds something new to the industry conversation.

Once the strategy is set, editorial planning can take place, and your people will need to flex their project management muscle. At the same time, your team should be developing a channel marketing plan to ensures that your channels amplify each other, as opposed to clash or contradict each other.

Finally, you’ll need team members adept at content creation and SEO. With all your people working together, you’ll ensure the content in your plan is relevant, timely and high quality.

4. Social media community management

Your audience is on social media, in huge numbers, and if you want to succeed you need to engage with them. Being on social can help you increase brand awareness, generate leads for your business and foster a more personal relationship with your customers.

No matter what social platforms you’re using, robust community management is essential in 2020, as more consumers take to social media to share their experiences, both good and bad. If someone goes to the trouble of reaching out to you, then you need people on your team who can acknowledge and respond to the comment – positive or negative - accordingly.

An important skill for any community manager is developing a relatable, accountable and transparent social media personality. US fast food outlet Wendy’s has perfected its online personality, a sassy and humorous voice that isn’t afraid to go one-on-one with customers and call out competitors. Importantly, it knows its audience and its product intimately, and it speaks in a way that will resonate with customers.

Employing the right tone of voice and using it to communicate with your followers will allow you to build a more trusted relationship and can increase your reach.

Change is inevitable, growth is optional

Yes, marketing is in a state of evolution, but that doesn’t mean your business needs to be left behind. If you want to continue to grow your business, you need to accept that change is inevitable.

Adapt to change, don’t be scared by it. Remain relevant by staying informed on changes in marketing. Keep an open mind to testing new technologies that have been successful in other markets and industries.

Look ahead and leverage the different skills of your team members to evolve. 2020 is an opportunity waiting to be unlocked. The skills we’ve listed above are the key.

Find out more about how Ovato can help you build an effective marketing strategy for 2020.