The Skills Today’s Marketers Need

Research by Fractl & Moz, which looked at more than 75,000 job listings on during the month of June last year, discovered that skills in marketing are in very high demand. However, hiring managers are getting pickier about skills and talent. Kelsey Libert, vice president of Marketing at Fractl, says there is a skills gap in marketing right now, making it difficult to get the amount of digital proficiency that companies currently expect.

Libert also reports analysis of profiles on LinkedIn indicates a marked increase in marketers who specify digital skills in marketing. Still, recruiters can’t seem to find enough candidates with at least a minimal knowledge of a wide spectrum of digital advertising solutions. Marketing careers now require detailed knowledge of such things as social media, SEO, content marketing, and Google Analytics.

Fractl & Moz’s statistics indicate that the most valued skill a marketer can bring to the table is SEO. Their research shows that job titles including SEO averaged a yearly salary of $102,000. Those including Social Media Marketing came in around $51,000 annually.

“The recent marketer mixes data and operational skills with an understanding of the large picture,” says a report by The Economist Intelligence Unit and Market. The breakdown goes like this.

Out of all new marketers:

• 39% emphasize technology and digital engagement

• 38% emphasize strategy plus planning

• 32% emphasize data analysis

• 27% emphasize customer experience

• 26% go for advertising and branding

• And 16% emphasize creative graphics

For Marketers It’s A Tech- And Data-Driven New World

There is a definite divide between how a marketer used to work and how they work today; and that’s because of the Internet and rapidly-changing world of technology. Hiring candidates should include those with an overall strength in new technology and online knowledge, along with a niche specialty such as analytics or social media.

On the other hand, agencies themselves may need to make some adjustments in order to attract the best new tech and digital talents.

A recent New York Times story chronicles this struggle. The article details how ad agencies are not getting the cream of the crop when it comes to digital-savvy new marketers. They tend to go with newer startups that offer things like beanbag chairs and regular office happy hours (with a juice bar). Given the choice between a staid Madison Avenue agency that thinks a water cooler is the height of employee benefits, and a lean and hungry new company that works out of a garage and lets employees play ping pong, the best and brightest often opt for the ping pong table.

To solve the skills gap, marketers need to stay up to date on the latest digital technology. Attracting and keeping the top guns in marketing may mean that an agency or company will offer to pay for an advanced degree in marketing. Or reward those who take a Udemy class in Google Analytics as examples.

Grovo, a workplace learning company, found that 90% of marketers think they are inadequately skilled in the digital marketing field. Short courses emphasizing the latest technology and digital advances are what’s needed to bring skill sets up to expectations and needs.

Today, many small-business clients simply expect special expertise from the marketing agencies they use, such as mobile development, SEO, social media, and user experience. Sean Smith, cofounder of marketing company SimpleTiger says: “People who work at our firm tend to be original provocateurs, community-centered, and digitally-obsessed. Our clients have basically made it mandatory for our employees to be skilled in several different areas.”

For Jeanniey Mullen, Partner, Global Marketing Leader for Mercer’s North America Innovation Hub and former VP of Marketing for NOOK by Barnes & Noble, it’s all about diversity — skill diversity. ”You’ve got to have people who are focused on innovation, which includes offline, online, branding, direct — the whole nine yards. You need people who think creatively and out of the box, who are always looking to try new ways to interest customers.”

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that companies are telling their recruiters to find marketers with a firm grasp of current technology and Internet marketing practices. Meanwhile, marketers who have such skill sets can afford to be very choosy about who they work for. It’s a very hot job market for those who take the time and trouble to go beyond marketing basics and specialize in things like SEO, content marketing and Google Analytics.

Digital-first platforms are the coming thing. A digital thread is the common theme for all companies and recruiters looking to hire the cream of the crop. The new breed of digital marketers will feel comfortable working with the IT department and with sales teams, as well as having the skills necessary to function in the internet-dominated marketing field of today.

This post originally appeared on Forbes.