There’s more competition than ever for consumers’ attention, and marketing leaders are having to not only shift their funding dollars, but also rethink marketing strategies on how to stay relevant given the revolution we find happening around us.
Traditionally, marketing teams have been drawn to the bigger, sexier parts of the practice (think Super Bowl commercials).
However, as our industry evolves, we see the emergence of a new type of marketer who is consumer-obsessed and data-focused.
As audiences evolve and demand new skills from their brands, a significant majority of consumers (80%) now expect personalized content.
Simply seeking ever-sexier graphics and bigger budgets will no longer cut it.
We need to deliver on the need for precision marketing and connect with our consumers in a meaningful way at every step of the journey using our most valuable asset: data.
As this dynamic shifts in the marketplace, we need to be cognizant of how our careers should evolve to keep up at the same time!
What Should Marketers Be Focused on In 2021?
Marketers who embrace new ways of reaching audiences will make gains this year and take career leaps in the future.
We need to see precision marketing as the next frontier and as a foundational shift in our marketing practice.
Consider last year’s “winners”—brands such as Netflix, Amazon, and Peloton—that have created products and services entirely centered on the customer.
These brands have allowed their audiences to take the lead, meeting individuals where they are and adapting to their personal needs (and creating expectations that other brands now have to deliver).
In thinking about your professional development as a marketer, consider focusing on the following key areas to ensure your longevity and growth in the industry.
Technology and Marketing Are Intertwined
Technology is table stakes as we move into the future as marketers.
CTOs and CMOs are learning they need to form strong partnerships within every organization to succeed.
As marketers, we need to be comfortable in both and not shy away from diving deep into how new capabilities can enable new types of campaigns, and how these new partnerships will allow us to streamline data and find valuable insights into what people need and want.
Content software will help us automate and personalize campaigns.
Marketers will be able to use technology to get ever closer to individual segments of their markets, understanding and speaking to them in a hypertargeted way.
Treat Data As Our Oxygen
Working with data is no longer a specialty or a nice-to-have; it’s how marketing works.
Every organization now has access to an unbelievable amount of data, which can be collected, purchased, or licensed.
Data tells a story about purchasing behavior and brand affinity, and it can predict what a customer might try next.
For marketers trying to use this data well in 2021, they’ll need to get comfortable with foundational analytic techniques as part of the craft.
We need to shift away from straight-line, research-based approaches and ensure that the data is a core element as we tell the story—in many cases, actions speak louder than words across a customer’s digital footprint.
Understanding what data subscriptions are available to enrich first-party data for initiatives like segmentation, lead scoring, and campaign enablement are conversations that any new-age marketer needs to be able to navigate comfortably.
Turn Data Into a Journey with Experience-Mapping
Once marketers figure out how to use technology and data together to get closer to their individual customers, it’s time to turn that knowledge into action.
You can use data to pinpoint how customers engage with brands, where they encounter challenges, and how they like to communicate.
Developing experience maps can help you create relevant creative campaigns that drive results at each step toward either a purchase or establishing a loyalty loop for your brand.
Focus on Foundational Marketing Practices
You won’t find success simply looking for the newest, shiniest thing.
Magpies of martech will only last as long as the trends they’re following, and while there is a lot of innovation in the market, not all of it will have longevity.
You don’t want your career to be completely dependent on external platforms or short-term marketing trends.
Be smart and strategic in how you focus your career.
The need for understanding the customer or crafting a journey around that individual will never go away.
The way we deliver these practices can change through data and technology, but the core foundation will remain a fundamental practice of marketing.
Don’t Be Afraid to Learn
As you continue your career, don’t be afraid to take on new challenges or learn a new skill.
Keep scanning your environment for trends that you could align with in order to give your career an edge.
This can start in your current role and evolve into a new role over time.
Early in my career, building consumer experiences for dot-com experiences was a completely new discipline.
Now, we would never do this type of work without a user experience expert.
Learning these new skills as the practice is growing will help you grow and take advantage of the early experience to grow into a leading expert in many of these new areas of marketing that become highly sought-after skills as the practice grows.
It is an exciting time to be a marketer, so it is a good time to step back and learn from what’s happening around us right now and strategically think about your career goals.
Take the time to assess:
- How could your next business goal align with your next professional progression?
- Could you learn how to improve conversion rates and thereby give your skillset a boost?
- Could you tackle a new technology platform, understand how it works, and interpret what it would bring to your client martech stack?
These small steps can all lead to new skills and big career progression in your future.