The must-have skills marketing teams need for automation success

Demand for marketing automation software is expected to soar in the coming years, reaching an estimated global market value of $10,418.6 million by 2025. It’s not just enterprise businesses adopting automation platforms either. In 2019, more than half of the automation market in Europe was driven by small and medium-sized businesses. This means that now, more than ever, businesses of all sizes need marketers with the skills to manage automation technologies.

Savvy business owners know that marketing automation software is only as effective as the person, or team, managing it. It’s not a silver bullet and still requires strategic planning, analytical thinking, content creation, data management and other human input.

The problem is that the industry is simultaneously experiencing a shortage of skilled professionals who understand how to use and get the best out of automation tools.

Specialists who can train and upskill marketing generalists are also in demand, with enterprise businesses seeking to acquire smaller companies with expertise in the digital space.

For SMEs, this simply isn’t an option and, instead, businesses who want to transform their digital capabilities must either hire the talent needed or equip existing staff with the skills they’re missing.

So, what are those skills?

Must-have marketing automation skills

1. Big picture thinking

Marketing automation tools come with multiple features: email workflows, landing page builders, social media management, mobile messaging, analytics and reporting, lead scoring and grading… the list goes on. There are a lot of wheels turning and marketers must be able to look at the big picture of how each cog works alongside the other and consider this in line with the business’ marketing strategy, as well as the customer journey. This is essential to avoid alienating customers through too frequent comms.

2. Tech-savvy

It comes as no surprise that teams using marketing automation tools need to be at least somewhat tech-savvy. Businesses can provide training in a specific system but automation tools are updated regularly, with new features being introduced or upgraded. Marketers should be intuitive enough with technology that they can self-guide and explore automation tools without requiring constant assistance.

3. Data analytics

According to Data IQ, 38% of marketers have no analytics training, only 22% know how to analyse customer data, and 16% understand data and database management. Yet data management and interpretation is the lifeblood of a healthy automation platform. It’s impossible to run successful lead generation and marketing campaigns using automation technology if the data is stale, incorrect or used inappropriately. The insights we draw from automation tools should be used to improve activity and demonstrate ROI.

4. Project and process management

While automation technologies save time through eliminating manual tasks in the long-run, there is still a good deal of effort required in the beginning to implement planned activity. Marketing managers responsible for the rollout of strategy need to be able to coordinate the launch and ongoing management of projects with firm deadlines, whether this be a new automated lead nurture campaign or suite of gated content.

5. Content creation

While those working with marketing automation technology don’t necessarily need to be graphic designers and copywriting specialists, they do need to have an eye for great content. Furthermore, they need to be able to collaborate to produce content that resonates with their target audience. The best marketers are creating content that aligns with their segmentation strategy and makes use of automation features, like advanced personalisation, to take this to the next level.

6. Data-driven decision-making

One step further than simply understanding data analytics and finding insights, making decisions driven by the data unearthed in marketing automation tools is the marker of a great automation marketer. The beauty of digital technology is that it allows us to be constantly evolving based on the engagement of our audience, and it’s integral marketers use this to their advantage.

7. Creativity

Even in the B2B space, creativity is key! With marketing automation eliminating some of the manual and more time-intensive tasks, it should leave room for:

  • Creative thinking in terms of the automations that are possible based on the data in the system.
  • How customer experiences can be improved.
  • Where technology can be tapped into to better engage the audience.

This could be creativity in design elements, personalisation tactics, or the overall journey of a prospect.

8. Attention to detail

Attention to detail is particularly important when implementing marketing automation activities because the high number of options means there’s also a high possibility of making a mistake. Whether it’s the criteria for admitting prospects into an automated journey, the settings to lead score your database, or syncing with third-party platforms, paying attention to each and every step of a process is vital to avoiding mistakes. Accidental emails to the wrong person, pushing prospects to the sales team who aren’t sales-ready, or overwriting an entire database, are mistakes no marketer wants to own.

Looking at the above list of essential skills for marketing automation teams, we can see it’s a real mix of hard and soft skills that are not always easy to find in one individual! For businesses with internal team members who hold some of these but not others, it’s worth considering investing in upskilling or outsourcing parts of your marketing automation management.

Training options include:

  • Courses and qualifications via industry bodies like the IDM.
  • Platform-specific training, for example Pardot.
  • Online courses from platform and automation experts via Udemy, Teachable etc.
  • Enlisting bespoke training from agencies and specialist consultants.
  • Virtual Martech training through B2B Marketing.

If your company is using or considering using marketing automation software, it’s crucial to know how your in-house resource needs to grow or evolve in order to make the most of your investment.