We recently hosted a panel discussion with international leaders in the Digital Marketing space, including Kyle Byers, Director of Organic Search at Semrush, Lani Cush, Head of Strategy and Research at Think HQ, Claire du Preez, Chief Marketing Officer at CCi and Neil Pursey, Founder and CEO at Measurebyte, and asked them: What does it take to be a standout digital marketer in today’s rapidly-evolving digital world?
With years of experience between them, they shared five key skills you need to set yourself up for a successful career in Digital Marketing.
You can watch the full webinar recording here.
1) Know how to prioritise
As a Digital Marketing leader, you will likely have a lot of different responsibilities to juggle. From team meetings to client management, there will always be something demanding your attention.
For Kyle Byers, being clear about his focus for the day is crucial. “I like to write down the day before the main goals that I want to accomplish on the next day. Typically, it’s not going to be any single big item but rather the next step that I need to take in the initiatives that I’m pursuing. I really enjoy the “Getting Things Done” method of writing down the next actionable step or even the next physical step that you need to take.”
Neil Pursey agrees: “I’m a big fan of doing one thing and getting that done. I do a lot of meetings with my team and spend time with clients helping them make the right decisions through coaching and educating. At the end of the day, I like to reflect on what has been done today and what needs to be done tomorrow.”
2) Stay up-to-date with emerging trends
Everywhere you look online, there is something new going on. Working in Digital Marketing, there is a lot of pressure to stay ahead of the curve to retain your audience and attract new followers. But how do you keep track of everything and know what is worth following?
Lani Cush says you have to make it a team effort: “There are lots of trends and websites that I look at daily and get my team to look at as well. And then, I run a team meeting weekly where we share all the information and knowledge that we’ve learned over that past week. Because we’re the Strategy team, we also host a similar meeting with the whole agency of 90 people on a Monday morning where we share interesting facts or topics about the marketing landscape that we’ve learned.”
Claire du Preez has a few trusted sources to ensure she doesn’t get overwhelmed or misled when researching new developments: “I’ve got a list of people who I consider to be cutting edge in the marketplace that I follow and curate on LinkedIn and Twitter. They’re my go-to kind of resources for what’s trending in terms of tech and platforms and best practice. I stop there, and I see what they’re talking about. And then I might deep dive into the level of research.”
3) Get confident working with data
Many marketers don’t typically come from a STEM background and, therefore, likely don’t have any formal training working with data. However, it’s not something that can be shied away from anymore as data fluency becomes increasingly important. Businesses that don’t make data-backed decisions are getting left behind, and in Digital Marketing, this isn’t something you can afford.
Claire shares, “When I was coming up the ranks of the junior creative marketer, I had a narrative in my head that I wasn’t good with numbers and mathematics, and data was never my strong suit at school and university. Over the years, I’ve been seeing many junior marketers coming up – and even mid-career marketers – that are just not confident with data. They’re willing to get their hands dirty; they know how to get the data, but they don’t really know what to do with it once they’ve got it. They don’t know how to translate it into meaningful insight for business impact. So I think data fluency is now a critical must-have skill for any emerging digital marketer.”
Neil weighs in: “The whole marketing flow is driven by data. You need to connect those dots to truly understand the intent. What’s the buyer’s intent, and awareness at a brand level, at consideration and then moving into actually buying the product or the service? How do you tell that story and communicate across teams, from Sales to Product to Brand to CX? Connecting those dots is critical. We’ve all heard of the ‘T-shaped marketer’ who finds depth in one area. But as your career grows, you actually need to turn it into a hashtag and have multiple depths. You have to start somewhere and then go deeper into understanding the customer journey.”
4) Be discerning
This year, new technologies, like ChatGPT, have taken the world by storm. With much excitement about the possibilities and fears around the unknown, it can be difficult not to get swept up by it all.
Claire says: “The truth is in digital marketing, emerging tech is part of the game. I think it’s something that every digital marketer has to be on top of every single day to figure out what emerging tech is worth our attention. And what of that should we put on the back burner? What should we pause? What should we wait on etc.?”
Kyle agrees: “There are definitely some guidelines to pay attention to when it comes to ChatGPT, for example. I tell my team when you use ChatGPT, imagine you’re not clicking the button to interact with it. Instead, you’re clicking the button that says ‘tweet’. Imagine that you’re just broadcasting everything you tell it to the world because that’s kind of how it actually works. Once you know how to interact with it safely, it can be immensely useful for brainstorming ideas, refining strategies, doing certain types of research, and helping with your content creation. It’s a very, very useful tool.”
5) Network to find your niche
In such a vast field, knowing the right people can help you develop your confidence and find where you thrive faster than going it alone. If you’re looking to move into the space from a different profession, Lani says being open to meeting people and growing your connections is key.
“I think for anyone wanting to get into this industry or sidestep into this industry, you should talk to as many people as you can. Try and connect to people, obviously, understanding that you do need to increase your skill set and your knowledge, first and foremost. Other people can help improve your understanding of the landscape and the type of role that you would enjoy because there are so many different roles at our fingertips these days. It’s really just about educating yourself on which parts of Digital Marketing that you’re interested in.”
Hear more from our Digital Marketing experts
If you’d like to hear more from Lani, Claire, Kyle and Neil, you can watch the full webinar recording here.
We asked them about what their day-to-day responsibilities entail, how they keep up to date with ever-changing tools and technologies, what skills are most in-demand and why they think the Digital Marketing: Analytics and Strategy Career Accelerator could benefit professionals looking to take the next step in their career.