How Important Is the Automation Skillset to Young Marketers?

I’ve read a number of career-oriented studies, from a variety of sources ranging from Venture Beat to LinkedIn, that point to a sustainable upward trend in the need for technical marketing skillsets. In LinkedIn’s 2014 survey of skills that were most instrumental in landing a new job, marketing campaign management came in at number 12 and a number of ancillary mar-tech skills – business intelligence, digital marketing – also ranked on the list. Healthy growth in marketing hiring, particularly for marketers with technical skills, should continue to grow at a very healthy pace for many years to come.

This trend should come as no surprise to any marketing manager looking to hire good people who know how to operate a marketing automation platform. If you’ve tried to hire for this skillset, you’ll know you’re dealing with a very small pool of people. While this is bad news for hiring managers, it’s great news for a younger generation of marketing professionals looking to take their careers to the next level.

The Marketing Stack

Companies are migrating towards the notion of creating a marketing stack, which is comprised of a core platform – marketing automation – complemented by a series of integrated point solutions that address more specific needs. The notion of a marketing technology stack is new. In fact, there are more than 2,000 software products for marketing-related functions available today and a significant portion of them are less than five years old.

So, What Does This Mean to Young Marketers?

It means you’d better start to think like an engineer when it comes to career growth. By that, I mean building a base of tangible expertise in technologies that companies are using to drive business. The days of listing expertise in “social media” on a résumé, and that actually being valuable, are long past. The average teenager is more of a social media guru today than a seasoned marketer was five years ago.

As a skillset, marketing automation is an amazing résumé builder, not only because so many companies are adopting these platforms and using them to drive direct revenue, but because marketing automation platforms are multidisciplinary in nature. They expose the user to email marketing, landing page, basic HTML, web analytics, social publishing and much more.

Historically, marketing departments were comprised of a series of specialists. You had creative, mar-com, email marketing, content development, web, social, etc. Today, companies want marketers with a broader set of skills, skills that can quickly be applied to that shiny new marketing automation platform you’ve just invested in.

So how can young marketers build the skillset they need for tomorrow? Here are a few tips:

  • Take a basic HTML class. These are relatively inexpensive and most can be done through local high school extensions or professional training centers. Knowing even the basics of HTML design is a huge asset to companies using email and landing pages.
  • If your company doesn’t use modern technology, lobby for it: if not a full MAP, at least for specific point solutions, such as email tools. There are many inexpensive tools for email and landing page building on the market that you can sneak in under the CFO’s radar.
  • Attend demos. Look at marketing automation vendors and see which ones offer on-demand product demos or public demos. Attend these and other webinars that vendors provide, as this will help you begin to understand the language and thought process behind MAPs.
  • Read. There is a mountain of content on the web about basic marketing automation: use, function, and benefit.
  • Start your own blog. Get a free WordPress account and start blogging about something that interests you.
  • Get free trials of software if they offer it, but be sure to tell the company you’re a student and it is for research purposes. Most companies have no problem exposing young minds to their brand. 

The main point of these tips is that if you’re in a position today and are not getting the mar-tech experience you desire, then take some proactive measures of your own to expand your knowledge and expertise with marketing automation and related technologies. It will only help you achieve your career goals!

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