The Top Skills In-Demand for Today’s Hybrid Content Marketer

Watercolor Head Logical Vs Creative Thinking

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Posted: August 25, 2016 | Content Marketing

Ask any veteran marketer how their job has changed in the past decade, and you’ll find out just how dramatically technology has changed the expectations of their skillsets. From search engines to social media, digital technology has played a huge role in growing and shaping our industry. As marketers, we must constantly master new strategies, skills, and even software.

Fueled by the internet boom, content marketing especially has seen explosive growth over the past five years. Last year, job listings for content marketers grew nearly 350% on Indeed.com between 2011 and 2015. This year, Fractl did a follow-up study on the hiring climate that showcases the rise of the hybrid content marketer—part artist, part technician. Paired with other industry reports, there are some pretty interesting insights on how the role of the content marketer is evolving.

So what are the qualifications for the ideal hybrid content marketing applicant? These are the top skills in-demand for content marketers today:

Experience vs. Education: Settling the Debate

While some professions–such as those in medicine and engineering–require extensive education on top of experience, marketers fall into a different category. They don’t necessarily need to have multiple degrees to stand out. A report from the Chronicle of Higher Education reveals that the media and communication industry places more weight on experience over traditional education and that companies in this industry are more flexible about hiring without any degree if the candidate’s a great fit. For new college grads, internships are the single most important credential.

Fractl’s study, which analyzed 3,300 job postings on Indeed.com specific to content marketing, revealed similar results—employers often don’t require a formal education beyond a bachelor’s degree. At the same time, the higher seniority the role is, the more likely a master’s degree is preferred.

Experience and Education

Jack of All Trades: Growing Emphasis on Hybrid Skills

Since experience and on-the-job skills go hand in hand, it’s important to understand what the top in-demand skills are so you can identify which areas you already excel in and which skills you may need to improve. LinkedIn’s analysis of its user data, which highlights the most common skills listed on the user profiles of marketers and the most in-demand skills specified by marketing employers, reveals that companies are seeking a combination of tangible technical skills like SEO and creative skills like marketing strategy.

Our findings at Fractl are consistent with LinkedIn’s, and with over half of the content marketing job postings on Indeed.com calling for both technical and creative skills, we found that today’s ideal marketer must be part technician, part artist.

Today's Content Marketer

LinkedIn’s findings also reveal another interesting trend: most of the employee-listed skills and employer-demanded skills don’t correlate. While the most common skill listed by marketers is social media marketing, SEO/SEM is the top in-demand skill by employers—a skill that doesn’t even appear on the other list. Fortunately, low- and no-cost resources are becoming readily available for marketers of all levels to build and perfect these in-demand hybrid skills.

Technical Skills and Resources

According to a recent labor market outlook report from Indeed, talent is getting harder to find even as the rates of tertiary education are increasing. The report cites that the latest generation to enter the job market is lacking relevant job skills, especially technical skills. Yet employers report that they are hiring prospects who have yet to prove their professional tech competency even as the public becomes more familiar and reliant on technology in their personal lives.

Our study ranks SEO, HTML, Google Analytics, CSS, and programming as the most common technical skills that today’s content marketers need to master. With the help of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs), marketers can earn technical certifications through reputable institutions and instructors. Codecademy, for example, has become an established authority when it comes to teaching programming and coding skills ranging from basic HTML to more advanced languages like Python. Additionally, resources like Udemy boast a huge portfolio of courses in marketing, development, and more, while Coursera offers more advanced certifications for SEO and other specializations in conjunction with top institutions like UC Davis and Northwestern University.

Creative Skills and Resources

Top marketing executives are increasing their recruiting efforts for the second half of 2016 with content marketing topping the list of specialties in demand, according to a recent study by The Creative Group. The same report, however, reveals that 41% of executives are finding it difficult to hire skilled creative professionals to fill these vacancies. So, how can applicants prove they’re competent?

Creative skills differ from practical, technical skills because they’re less tangible and more conceptual. Our study at Fractl ranks the top five creative skills as writing, marketing strategy, content strategy, thought leadership, and brand development. Such skills are best learned through hands-on training, often acquired through experience; however, marketers can also learn from authoritative industry resources. Sites like Copyblogger are goldmines when it comes to free guides and widely recognized certifications, while marketing blogs like Marketo, MarketingProfs and Contently are valuable sources for staying current on industry news and best practices. Again, MOOCs also offer lectures and courses on creative skills like content marketing and branding.

Other important skills for content marketers that are creative/technical hybrids of their own include digital marketing and demand generation, which are often done in a marketing automation tool. Even if you’re not going to be the one pushing out the content you develop across marketing campaigns, you’ll still need a solid understanding of how to track its impact so you can optimize your content, not to mention prove its ROI.

With the marketing landscape constantly evolving, content marketing professionals trying to enter and advance their careers must understand and master the top tools and skills that employers demand. Regardless of your seniority or experience, a crucial takeaway is the importance of continuing education, especially outside of the traditional college setting. Luckily, there are many inexpensive resources and role-specific certifications to help you meet these demands and grow your skillsets.

What are the top skills that have proven to be critical to your success as a content marketer? Share them below!

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Ashley Carlisle is a Brand Relations Strategist at Fractl, a content marketing agency specializing in data-driven campaigns. She works alongside a team of creative strategists producing innovative studies on the latest industry trends. When she’s not at the agency, you can find her in the water, on a trail, or near a beach.

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