15 Things Marketers Can Learn To Improve Their Skills

The role of a marketer in today’s business environment has become significantly more complex than just a decade ago. The modern marketer is expected to understand traditional marketing strategy while also having the expertise to manage new marketing tools like search, mobile marketing, and social media. As a result of the rapid change in the industry, there is always more to learn. Becoming an “expert” in any of the following areas can help set you apart from the crowd and make you a more effective marketer.

1. Search Engine Optimization

With over a billion searches per day in Google and about 85% of those clicks going to organic search results, SEO will continue to be a highly valued skill in marketing. There are a ton of free online resources for learning more about SEO including the SEOMoz Blog and Search Engine Land. I also recommend the book The Art of SEO for a comprehensive guide on search engine optimization. SEOMoz provides several great learning resources including the Beginner’s Guide to SEO and a series of over a hundred SEO videos that are part of the weekly Whiteboard Friday series.

2. Psychology

Understanding human behavior is key to successful marketing. Many of the most successful companies have a deep understanding of human psychology and consumer behavior and use these insights to get millions of loyal customers. There are several excellent video and audio psychology lectures available for free online including Paul Bloom’s video lecture series at Yale, Introduction to Psychology.

3. Conversion Rate Optimization

You’ve attracted a ton of highly qualified visitors to your website. Now you have to convert them to customers, which is where the art and science of CRO comes in. Tools like Crazy Egg and Google’s Website Optimizer can help with analyzing and testing to improve your conversions.

4. Landing Pages

Landing Page Optimization by Tim Ash is a good starting point for learning how to use landing pages effectively and Unbounce is one of the many helpful tools that makes it easy to build and A/B test landing pages.

5. Google Adwords

Adwords can be a scalable way to quickly increase highly relevant traffic to your site at a cost that is directly measurable to the nearest penny. Understanding how to bid efficiently on keywords, improve quality score, and achieve a low cost per conversion can help you make a major impact on company revenue. Advanced Google AdWords is one book that can help you build your skills in this area.

6. Web Analytics

The ability to find actionable insights from the tremendous amount of data that can be collected from website visitors is part of the practice of web analytics. Some of the best resources for learning more about using web analytics to improve marketing results are the books Web Analytics: An Hour a Day and Web Analytics 2.0 by Avanish Kaushik.

7. Social Media

Social Media has helped give customers a voice and amplifies word of mouth marketing. Building lasting relationships through social media can help companies build an army of evangelists that can spread the company’s message for them and influence their peers. There have been countless social media books written in the past few years but some of the best include The NOW Revolution and The Thank You Economy.

8. Selling

Peter Drucker wrote that “the aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous”, however strong selling skills can be extremely valuable for marketing professionals. Selling skills can help you sell your boss on implementing your ideas and understanding sales can help marketers work more effectively with the sales team. Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer may be one of the best selling books that you can read.

9. Email Marketing

Email marketing is still an effective marketing channel if used to provide customers with information that they want. Groupon’s exponential growth into a multi-billion dollar company is an example of the power email marketing.

10. Consumer Behavior

The idea of rational economics seems to have been overtaken by a wave of research on irrational behavior by psychologists like Dan Ariely. Marketers know that people rely more on emotions than rational thinking when making purchase decisions. Additionally “up to 45 percent of our daily actions are done by habit, without conscious thought” (Marketing in the Age of Google). Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior by reading books like Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational and How Customers Think by Gerald Zaltman can help marketers create more effective marketing strategies.

11. Personal Networking

Building out a strong network before you need it is critical to getting your ideal job in the marketing field. Dale Carnegie’s classic How To Win Friends and Influence People is one of the best books for learning how to build strong relationships. Attending local networking events as you can through organizations like the American Marketing Association and Social Media Club can help you hone your networking skills. Additionally, social networks can be great for building relationships online and having conversations with people you might not have the chance to meet offline.

12. Mobile Marketing

The dream of a computer in every pocket is close to reality with the growing adoption of smart phones by consumers. Instant access to information from almost anywhere is now possible and the ability to communicate mobile marketing messages to consumers at the precise moment that they are looking to buy a product or service will be invaluable to companies in the near future.

13. Statistics

Marketing has become more data-driven in recent years with the advent of trackable online marketing campaigns. Executives are becoming savvy to this and many are becoming more demanding in seeing an ROI on marketing efforts. The ability to turn quantitative data into marketing insights is an important skill for modern marketers which is where knowledge of statistical significance, correlation, and probability can come in handy. There are several free college lectures available for learning or getting a refresher on statistics. Khan Academy also offers an excellent free series of online videos on the subject of statistics.

14. Microsoft Excel

Excel ninjas are rare and valuable in the marketing field. Being able to manage large amounts of data with Excel formulas is a commonly desired skill as companies continue to amass more and more customer data through their website, social media, and smart phones. Lynda.com has several excellent video courses that can help you become dangerous with Excel. You can also earn your Excel Ninja badge by completing free Excel training at the Distilled website.

15. HTML and CSS

Your web team can often be overwhelmed and may not be able to implement changes to the site as quickly as you need them to. The ability to make changes to the site by tweaking the HTML or CSS code can help you implement changes faster, especially when the web team is unavailable. Lynda.com is one of the best resources for learning about HTML and CSS. There are also many free web resources including the free tutorials at W3Schools.

Please leave a comment below if you have a suggestion for a skill that should be added.