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Skill Sets for Digital Marketing

By Santosh E.G., Digital Marketing Director, MRM India

2010 started off with a lot of promise when it comes to digital marketing. I have seen a sea shift in terms of the clients pro-actively seeking digital marketing ideas and solutions from the agencies. Some reasons could be:

1. The user base of the Internet has grown to an extent that it can be called a mass medium. Reports say that Internet users in [India] have surpassed 71 Million

2. The traditional news media (TV and Print) are quoting from Twitter feeds and blogs and that has increased the awareness of these platforms. Quotes (nay tweets) from popular personalities (nay tweeps) are the source of information and content for many of the newspapers and TV channels. Recent tweets from iplt20 (Lalit Modi) and shashitharoor have made Twitter a household name.

3. A phenomenon called Facebook has spread like a pandemic. People have taken up “virtual” professions which most will never plan to practice in their real life–farming, cooking, mob wars, etc.

As more brands (and marketers) seek their “place in the cloud,” the demand for agencies and people with this expertise has grown. As such, I believe that these are some of the skill-sets that would be in demand from a digital marketing perspective.

- Social Media

- Development

- Facebook/iPhone apps

- Database management

- Analytics

- Execution

Social Media

With clients clamoring for action in the space, it is obvious that people who understand the medium and who are early adopters, who have experience in using SM tools, and who understand the techniques would be of great demand. The demand will be fuelled by the fact that both the clients and the agencies would like to have them on their roster. Social-media marketing will not take off without high involvement from the client (and in many cases an organization re-structuring in terms of information flow). Since the SM space is a new medium, most people’s experience is limited to experimentation. The processes are still being fine tuned. There is no set method of doing things, except maybe defining a broad approach and an implementation process. Since everyone has access to most of the online tools (which are mostly for free) it is a level playing field when it comes to learning.

Development

People who are well versed in open-source technologies and people who have had experience in creating tools / applications for Facebook and iPhones would be in great demand. As brands are seeking more and more engagement ideas than just creative messaging, it is imperative that they leave behind brand tools/applications which the user can use on demand. When it comes to digital marketing - it is death for campaigns–only content and Customer UtilityTM would survive.

Database Management

Until now, databases in businesses were like the wife at home. Everyone knew about its existence and took it for granted. Lifetime value for the customer was something that managers had learned about in their business textbooks. And there was a lack of understanding customer-level profitability. In today’s networked world, reaching out to customers is becoming increasingly hard because short attention spans have decreased the efficacy of traditional marketing tactics. Suddenly, marketers realize that their existing customers are their biggest marketing medium. Their customers are talking, networking and building relationships with other like-minded people. And marketers want their customers to become ambassadors of their brands and create a positive word of mouth. So knowing who the customers are, where they are, what they do, and what they like becomes important. Engaging with them on an ongoing basis and building relationships with them becomes all the more important.

Analytics

Digital marketing evangelists went to town telling us that the USP of digital marketing is the ability to track and measure it. What was told as part of the so-called “analytics” were which publisher performed well; in terms of delivery and action, which ad units performed well, and the location and time. As the tools evolved, measurement too became more and more specific. Today, free tools like Google Analytics give so much information about the website navigation, usability, traffic source, traffic drivers, etc. that any sort of forward planning is possible. Whether it is online advertising, website/microsite, search marketing or email marketing, analytics play a crucial role in terms of understanding the success of the activity, the learning, and the way forward.

Execution (project management)

I often hear clients say, “Santosh, the strategy is fine, but speak to me once we go live with it, on time, in quality.” Since digital marketing is not just about great creative, there are many more specialists involved. A typical marketing activity would have the following players to complete the delivery: Servicing, Strategy, Creative, Development, Database, Technical, and specialists in SEO). With so many cooks, there is every chance that the broth could get spoilt. Hence, having people with requisite project management skills is important. Agencies do have people who are taking care of production work but the demand would be for people who can plan a project, set milestones and execute them with optimum resources.

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