Five essential skills for the marketer of the future

Thomas Peham, VP of Marketing at enterprise CMS Storyblok looks at the new skills marketers will need to acquire in order to futureproof their careers


One of the best aspects of working in marketing is that it is a constantly evolving field. Each year new innovations add more tools to the marketers kit, while at the same time consumer preferences change. This push and pull means that marketing professionals need to keep learning - acquiring skills and adapting their expertise to new scenarios. It is, in a word, exciting. More recently this evolution has gathered pace. The advent of more advanced AI tools has given us all a glimpse of how the marketing industry could transform over the next decade. It is obvious that AI enabled automation will make a lot of existing roles partially or completely obsolete. Adapting to this change and making the most out of emerging technologies means that future marketers will need to prioritise a very different set of skills. In my view, these are the five that will be most relevant:

Be a friend to machines

As they say, if you can’t beat them - join them. Generative AI might seem like the death knell for specialists such as copywriters but the reality will be very different. Humans will still need to provide oversight and use their creativity and experience to get the most out of AI. For example, future copywriters will adapt their knowledge to become prompt engineers to generate the most compelling copy out of tools like ChatGPT. In a similar vein, email marketers will need to leverage their knowledge to design the best personalised automated journeys. Practically speaking, the future marketer will need to be skilled in a range of AI tools. They should be able to use them creatively to both increase their day-to-day efficiency and maximise the impact of their work.

Be comfortable with data

Data has always been crucial to marketing but in the past few years advances in analytics has meant that it is now a fundamental aspect of marketing personalisation and optimisation. The role data plays is only going to get bigger as the sources of customer information available continue to grow in volume and complexity.

One area where we are going to see a lot of progress is in predictive analytics - using data science to project the results of a course of action. For marketers this will be used to assess the likely impact of a campaign before it is launched. However, any good data scientist will tell you that the answers you get from complex analytics are only as good as the questions you ask. To be able to do this marketers will need to have a foundational knowledge of data analytics. Not only will this be crucial in getting the most out of their data, it is also necessary to understand the limitations of analytics, verify results, and apply what the numbers might tell you in a meaningful way.

Be platform agnostic

The number of different technology platforms and tools available to marketers has exploded over the last few years. At the moment many marketing professionals carve out a strong niche for themselves by being specialists on programmes such as Adobe Campaign. However, developers are increasingly focusing on more intuitive and easier design to enable non-technical users to use complex solutions. Storyblok, for example, was built to empower marketers by reducing their reliance on IT departments to fulfil technical requests. As the requirement for ‘power users’ reduces and the number of martech platforms continues to increase, there will be a greater need for marketers to have the expertise and experience to quickly adapt to a range of platforms. This does not mean the need for specialists will disappear entirely, but it does mean the average marketer will need to be willing to rapidly upskill themselves on a whole host of platforms.

Be visual storytellers

Whether you believe in Mark Zuckerberg’s dream of the metaverse or not, there's no denying that the next five to ten years will see huge growth in virtual and augmented reality experiences. Apple’s Vision Pro underlines how quickly technology is developing and, add into the mix, the capacity for generative AI to instantly create immersive content and you can quickly see how this is going to catapult the majority of digital marketing into the third dimension. This opens the door to a mind boggling number of ways for brands to engage customers and create compelling experiences. The best marketers will be able to take creative advantage of this new medium by telling innovative stories. Marketers will increasingly become authors and designers of new virtual worlds.

Be able to connect all the dots

The marketing landscape is going to continue to fracture in the coming years with the number of channels, devices and experiences available to consumers continuing to grow. Companies will need to be able to monitor and analyse all of these touchpoints to understand and be able to effectively engage with their customers. Experts have been talking about the value of omnichannel marketing for a while, but such is the gap between online and offline experiences that implementing a fully holistic campaign is beyond the grasp of many marketers. Improving data collection and analyses techniques, more advanced martech, and the capacity of VR/AR to bridge the offline and online gap will make truly omnichannel experiences. Designing and executing these complex campaigns will require marketers with the ability to see the big picture - understanding customer expectations, desires and behaviour on every touchpoint. In essence, they will need to acquire and leverage all the skills I have listed above to become true omnichannel marketers