6 Technical Skills Every Marketer Needs to Stay Ahead

1. Database querying

One of the best ways to optimize a marketer’s performance is to give them the ability to “scratch their own itch,” by which I mean that they can answer their own questions about how customers and prospects are behaving. Most companies use SQL-based databases, and learning how to run database queries is one of the most important technical skills a marketer today can have. For example, if a marketer wants to know the average purchase price within a certain time frame for a user within a certain demographic, having the ability to perform database queries means they can answer these questions on their own. This is a huge advantage to the marketer and a benefit to the rest of the company. If marketers can run these searches independently, they won’t be taking resources and productive time away from other team members by asking them to acquire this data on their behalf. SQL is relatively easy to learn—it only takes about 15 to 20 hours and there are a number of courses on the Business platform that provide a basic working proficiency of SQL, including The Ultimate SQL Bootcamp: Go from Beginner to Expert.

2. Front-end development

Marketers don’t need to become full-blown developers, but those who hold growth marketing or demand gen roles and understand the basics of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are exponentially more useful to their team and their company. First of all, a number of the tools that are helpful for marketers, like KISSmetrics and Google Analytics, require a basic understanding of front-end languages in order to be utilized. Marketers who have that understanding will be able to use these powerful analytics tools on their own, rather than taking time away from a developer. Plus, marketers who have a basic understanding of front-end development can then be more realistic—and empathetic—when making requests of the development team. I cover the basic front-end development that’s required to set up Google Analytics in my course,

3. Basic understanding of statistics

Marketers have never had as much access to data and the ability to run as many experiments as they do today. A/B testing, for example, has become a standard practice on most marketing teams. But not all marketers have been trained in how to understand and analyze statistics to understand how an A/B test performed. How do they know when a test was actually successful? At what point should they stop running a test and pick the “winner”? And how can the insights they gain from these tests inform their future decisions? There are a number of key concepts that will help marketers better grasp the meaning of the data they collect—statistical significance, cohort analysis, standard deviations, and regression modeling, to name a few.

4. Marketing automation

Marketers no longer have to do every process manually—there are now hundreds of tools available that automate many of the most common marketing tasks. In order to be successful in their roles, marketers must become adept at using these automation tools. For example, there are now a number of tools that automate email marketing and personalization. Personalized emails lead to an average of a 20% increase in sales. And there are a number of tools, like Marketo, MailChimp and ConvertKit, that allow marketers to segment and personalize the emails they send to people in their funnel. This means that a marketer’s ability to write a personalized email may now rely more on their ability to use the automation tools that are available rather than their actual writing ability. By keeping up-to-date on the automation landscape, marketers can adapt and personalize their outreach.

5. Modeling

Another key technical skill for the modern marketer is understanding how to collect data, chart it, visualize where marketing efforts are going, and communicate that to stakeholders. Being able to create data models is incredibly useful for making decisions with data. For example, by using pivot tables, marketers can change variables and outline different scenarios rather than just displaying static two-dimensional data. Similarly, having a basic understanding of Excel formulas and the ability to run macros (mini scripts) can help marketers become more productive and efficient when trying to glean insights from data.

6. Designing and running landing page tests

Landing pages are like a Swiss Army knife for marketers. They are key to driving someone to take a specific action (e.g. starting a free product trial, requesting a product demo). By setting up simple landing page tests, marketers can experiment with different wording, offers, and other variables without making huge changes to the company’s entire website architecture. In order to conduct this type of testing, marketers need to have some basic design skills with tools like Canva or Photoshop to crop images and convert file types as well as an understanding of the tools they’ll need to set up the test, such as Unbounce.

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