Another year slowly comes to an end. Marketing plans and budgets are in the final stages for most companies. Everyone is prepping up for a New year full of new surprises. 2015 was a phenomenal year that brought forth new consumer trends and patterns. Something that serves of extreme importance to the modern digital marketer. A job title that has been used quite frequently than ever before over last couple of years.

As we veer into the New Year a good portion of marketers begin to wonder about the surprises 2016 holds for them. I am particularly referring to the specific skill sets one should possess in order to remain relevant and competitive in this new year. Yes, more than one skill set is intricate for the 2016 digital marketer. This past year pushed the envelope on Content Marketing, SEO, Pay-Per-Click Marketing, Social Media, Web Technologies, Branding, User Experience (UX/UI), Mobile Advertising, and E-Mail Marketing.

One of the biggest challenges the 2016 digital marketer will face is to truly act as a hybrid. In 2016 the tactical digital marketer will need to be equipped with the following skill sets.

Content Marketing & Storytelling

Content marketing and storytelling are no longer considered a new way of digital marketing. It has been around for several years. The 2016 digital marketer should be able to fully embrace content marketing. I am talking about a full blown content marketing approach for your clients. Some of the most critical areas that stand of utmost importance including the following:

  • Content marketing audit
  • Content marketing strategy
  • Development of buying personas
  • Content marketing plan
  • Content calendar

The above mentioned areas are critical to the success of content marketing. Any brand, marketer, or agency should strongly consider investing into each of these areas. Particularly the 2016 digital marketer who should be versed in these individual areas.

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The reality of things is that organic is not going anywhere. If anything it’s gaining momentum across giants such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. Consumers express strong level of trustworthiness towards organic results. Simply due to the high inflation of targeted advertising. For the 2016 digital marketer this can present a challenge. Especially if you are one that is not versed in this particular arena. In terms of lead generation, business development, visibility, brand awareness, and reputation management, SEO presents ideal opportunities. As a seasoned digital marketer you should be familiar with all facets of SEO.

In order to remain relevant and competitive the 2016 digital marketer should be versed in the following elements of SEO:

  • Identify client goals and objectives
  • SEO audits
  • Strategy keyword research
  • Construction of SEO plans
  • Website audits
  • Brand monitoring
  • Meta Data manipulation
  • Content integration within SEO endeavors
  • Mobile SEO
  • Mobile UX/UI
  • Cross-device and cross-browser compliance

SEO is not a siloed area of expertise. Anyone who is perceiving it in such fashion is majorly failing. If anything it has expanded over the last several years tremendously. As a  2016 digital marketer you should be able to look past keyword rankings. But rather focus on comprehension of inbound traffic and acquisition. How does the SEO channel particularly generate traffic and results for your clients?

Pay-Per-Click Marketing (PPC)

No matter what anyone tells you, everyone needs a boost. Startups particularly more than anybody. Unfortunately for them they’re in a money struggle. However, fortunately for you as a seasoned 2016 digital marketer you should be able to understand how PPC plays an intricate role within the holistic digital marketing mix. If you were to align all other aspects of digital marketing, PPC provides the instant boost everyone needs. You can either resort for the slow burn or propel through targeted visibility. Truth of the matter is that you or your clients are in need of both.

As a seasoned 2016 digital marketer one should have a full understanding of how PPC works, project, plan, implement, and execute. More precisely, the modern digital marketer should be capable of comprising the following:

  • Identify PPC goals and objectives
  • Perform holistic PPC audits if necessary
  • Create holistic PPC marketing plans
  • Strategic keyword research
  • Compelling ad copy writing
  • Proficiency in Google AdWords and Yahoo|Bing Ads Networks
  • Data segmentation and interpretation
  • Mobile advertising from PPC platforms

It’s no picnic in the park, I’ll admit that. The PPC forefront can be extremely challenging. As a seasoned 2016 digital marketer you should clearly understand how to extrapolate the above.

Social Media

The 2016 digital marketer should be social savvy. One of the intricate components of digital marketing entails in ability to interact with others. Social media offers marketers with ability to connect and interact with potential prospects. The modern digital marketer should be versed in understanding how to fully leverage social media potential. What makes an experienced digital marketer exceptional in the social media arena? Thoughts and ideas are great but implementation and execution is the game. Carving out a tweet, posting a status update, sharing a video stream, or even a snap is not considered to be a social media strategy.

Anybody can toss stuff on their social media properties and call it social advertising. The big challenge is to figure out how you leverage top social media channels. Having the ability to market and advertise to the right audience at the right time.

I envision the 2016 digital marketer being versed in the following areas of social media:

  • Paid social media advertising
  • Strategy and planning
  • Ability to construct a social media marketing plan
  • Comprehensive understanding of monitoring, engagement, & response
  • Prospecting using social media channels
  • Versed in top social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat
  • Perceive social media as a 24/7/365 endeavor rather than a 9-5 gig

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Web Technologies

Using WordPress as a choice for a CMS is nothing new these days. If anything, the demand for experienced WordPress developers is higher than ever before. Why WordPress? Nearly 40% of websites on the internet these days are powered by the Open Source Solution. Mainly due to the fact that it provides the ideal platform and features for blogging, mobile presence, and SEO. The 2016 digital marketer should be versed in using web technologies such as WordPress and others.

What does this really consist of though in reality? Well, here are a few areas that employers are seeking expertise in:

  • Image manipulation, uploading, management within a CMS
  • Basic understanding of HTML, HTML5, CSS languages
  • Ability to manifest blog articles using Open Source Solutions and other CMS technologies
  • User administration and management
  • Permalink structure and manipulation for SEO purposes
  • Building out new posts or pages

With that being said, proficiency in web technologies are intricate for the 2016 digital marketer. If you want to remain relevant and competitive I strongly urge you to get up to speed with top web technologies. It can be a determining factor especially for your next job hunt.

Digital Branding

A general understanding of branding guidelines can be beneficial to the 2016 digital marketer. Being able to pinpoint certain problematic areas of a brand can in fact attribute to development of a stronger online presence. In 2015 the reference of digital branding came about and became quite commonly used within the business marketplace. It entails in establishment of succinct brand positioning across digital channels.

Digital branding intersects with other skill sets such as SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing. The 2016 digital marketer should be knowledgable enough to assist clients in the following areas:

  • Business strategy and planning alignment
  • Ability to identify and strategize around target markets
  • Understand customer needs and wants around specific products or services offered
  • Establish and integrated marketing approach across all digital channels

A good portion of digital marketing strategists have immersed over the course of last couple of years. This is merely due to the changing trends and patterns in the business marketplace. In large part due to the fact that brands are now seeking digital expertise with branding comprehension. Not necessarily absolute proficiency in holistic digital branding but rather ability to establish an integrated marketing strategy.

User Experience (UX/UI)

A couple of years ago I worked with a gentleman who was a graduate of an Interactive Program. Something that at that time was quite new especially for the St. Louis marketplace. Prior to that he had spent a good portion of his time dedicated to User Experience/User Interaction. Putting it plainly, he established a whole new meaning of User Experience for me. Little did I know that practically every object we physically or virtually interact with was classified as part of UX/UI.

As we get deeper into 2016 there are certain UX/UI elements the modern digital marketer should be aware of. Those consist of the following elements:

  • Usability and inclusion within web applications
  • Development of user personas and scenarios
  • Wireframing and prototyping
  • Front-end development comprehension
  • JavaScript and CSS styling capabilities
  • Information architecture

Now, being a proficient UX/UI aficionado definitely isn’t a part of the 2016 digital marketer. However, having an understanding of the above skill sets may indeed help propel your digital game.

Mobile Advertising

A couple of years ago mobile advertising took the business marketplace by storm. It has grown faster than any other channel prior to it. The growth in mobile advertising has forced brands to find ways of how they can allocate more marketing dollars towards it. It is also one area the 2016 digital marketer needs to be extremely versed in. Especially with generational consumers such as the millenials. Those in particular are the ones who are frequenting vast majority of mobile platforms.

Mobile Advertising in 2016

As a seasoned 2016 digital marketer one should be familiar with mobile advertising and technologies. Those are encompassed in the form of the following areas and skill sets:

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  • Display and video advertising for mobile-centric platforms
  • Search and social marketing utilization with focus on mobile and tablet users
  • Understanding of social media platforms as they pertain to the mobile user
  • Search advertising for mobile engagement

With the evolution of the mobile market it is essential for the 2016 digital marketer to embrace strategy and implementation. It is an area that will continue to grow at a faster rate than it began.

E-Mail Marketing

Using e-mail as a digital marketing channel for some is considered to be an outdated strategy. For others it simply does not yield the results they are pursuant of. In reality though, e-mail marketing can help boost sales, calls, user engagement, and relationship building. The 2016 digital marketer should be knowledgable of how e-mail marketing can be utilized as part of an integrated marketing strategy.

E-mail marketing can be quite challenging for many. But this particular digital channel is still utilized by a vast majority of brands. Therefore, in order to remain relevant and competitive, as a digital marketer you should be capable of comprehending the following e-mail marketing strategies.

  • Comprising a holistic e-mail marketing strategy
  • Understanding clients target audience and knowing how to reach them
  • Exploring targeted contextual messaging for individual user personas
  • Establishing automation methods for higher effectiveness and efficiency
  • Implementation of different incentives for stronger user engagement
  • Separate subscribers from customers in accordance of interest

As a competitive digital marketer in 2016 one should also be able to navigate seamlessly through top e-mail marketing platforms. Some of those include Marketo, HubSpot, Infusionsoft, or ActiveCampaign to name a few. Yes, these are definitely considered to be enterprise level solutions. However, these are the very e-mail marketing platforms utilized by top brands in 2016.

Is your digital marketing game up to par for 2016? I’d love to hear your thoughts or suggestions below.

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