I’ve had the invaluable experience of growing up fast as a marketer alongside a marketing industry maturing just as quickly in the digital age. When I first made the move to the B2B marketing space in 2009, there was a shift happening: Social media was starting to take off. Suddenly, marketers were faced with a whole slew of new platforms and technologies we had to master to do our jobs.
What I’ve learned over these last six years has served me well as I’ve taken on the role of senior content manager at LinkedIn. The main message I’ve taken away?
Being a one-dimensional marketer is simply not a good way to get ahead in the B2B world.
Yesterday’s marketers could get away with being creative powerhouses, but today’s successful marketers aren’t just good at one thing – we are hybrid marketers. We don’t profit from excelling in one distinct area like direct mail or email marketing. Instead, we integrate the old and new marketing channels into one overall marketing strategy. We are truly Renaissance marketers for the new age.
And in 2015, marketers have to have skills way beyond the ability to come up with good campaigns. We must be able technologists, social media regulars, and savvy number crunchers. To be successful at demand generation, we have to understand how all of these things fit together to propel a brand forward and lead prospects into and through the funnel.
Here are just some things a hybrid B2B marketer must be good at:
More than anything else, good marketers are married to good content. They understand that there’s no shortcut to becoming a thought leader. You have to put time, and sometimes money, into producing quality content that can be used and reused across the panoply of marketing platforms. The internet has made it possible for marketers to disseminate content far and wide … so that content better be excellent.
RELATED: If you want to be effective in content marketing, you need a documented strategy. Download our 16-page guide.
Search Engine Optimization
To be a good hybrid marketer, you don’t need to be an expert at search engine algorithms, but you do need to have a basic grasp of how SEO strategies affect your content and your search rankings. Seattle-based search analytics company Moz offers a free Beginners Guide to SEO that outlines how search engines operate, how consumers interact with them, and the basics of SEO design and development.
Show me an exec who is winning at marketing, and I’ll show you an exec who writes his own social updates. Social media isn’t a channel that can be successfully outsourced to the new intern. To be truly relevant and make an impact on your brand, it has to come from the heart … of your company.
Sure, there are times to bring in an outside agency for expertise on a social media campaign, but on a day-to-day basis, marketers must be hands-on with social media, and that includes understanding how to best use LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and all the other social media channels. There’s no shortcut to mastery. As they say: The best way to get to Carnegie Hall? Practice.
Look at your phone right now. Do you have the apps for your social media installed and ready to use? If not, stop and do that immediately. And post a few updates, while you’re at it. Hey, you can even post a link to this article if you’d like.
You probably get a lot of emails from a lot of companies. We all do, and there’s a reason for that: Email works. McKinsey recently reported that email is about 40 times better at customer acquisition than social media. But not just any email. In the early days of email marketing, the dreadful batch-and-blast email reigned supreme, but marketers have wised up to the folly of spamming everyone on their list with the same generic message.
Today’s talented hybrid marketers build personalized campaigns and dynamic experiences that guide each customer along his journey to purchase. They know that email doesn’t exist in a vacuum – it must work in tandem with landing pages, social media, and metric tracking. And this brings me to my next point …
The hybrid marketer is not afraid of software. He’s done the research and can confidently make recommendations to his leadership team so the right marketing solutions enter the company’s technology repertoire. And when it comes to implementing that software, he’s leading the charge – not relying on IT.
RELATED: 12 questions to ask when making a content marketing technology decision
Speaking of technology, if you’re going to work on the internet, you have to have at least a basic understanding of how it works underneath the shiny veneer – the good old ones and zeros that make it tick. A marketer with a basic understanding of coding languages like HTML and CSS not only has a better grasp of what can be done visually with a website or email newsletter, but can make small changes on the fly without having to call in the big engineering guns.
We marketers used to think it was enough to come up with great ideas and set them loose in the world. Back in the “old days” of 2009, of course, digital marketing was in its infancy, and tracking ROI was out of the question. The best we could hope for was to make some sort of unquantifiable-but-positive impact on our overall marketing by engaging in untested social and email tactics.
But we can’t get away with that sort of laissez-faire marketing anymore. New technology makes it possible to measure the effects of marketing efforts precisely, and that’s a good thing, because it means we can now prove marketing ROI (and our worth) to company leadership.
Out of every campaign is born metrics, and it’s the marketer’s job to dissect them – drops in traffic, high bounce rates, conversions, etc. Google Analytics is the most obvious place to start if your company is not yet monitoring analytics, and Search Engine Watch has one of the best intro to Google Analytics guides.
As hybrid marketers, we aren’t just dabblers; we are practitioners. We go out of our way to master the tactics and strategies that make up a complete integrated marketing approach. We are willing to learn things and constantly change our skill set and points of view to serve our end goals. This list is constantly growing, so the most important trait of any good hybrid marketer is to be adaptable – open to picking up new skills and always keeping an eye on what’s next.
RELATED: Stay up to date on trends with This Old Marketing, our weekly podcast with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose.
Want to improve your hybrid marketer skills? Sign up for the Content Marketing Institute Online Training and Certification program. Access to over 35 courses, taught by experts from Google, Mashable, SAP, and more.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute