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Top Marketing Skills of 2018

LinkedIn released its most valuable skills of 2018 list, based on job listings on the service. Let’s take a look at the overall list:

  1. Cloud and Distributed Computing
  2. Statistical Analysis and Data Mining
  3. Middleware and Integration Software
  4. Web Architecture and Development Framework
  5. User Interface Design
  6. Software Revision Control Systems
  7. Data Presentation
  8. SEO/SEM Marketing
  9. Mobile Development
  10. Network and Information Security
  11. Marketing Campaign Management
  12. Data Engineering and Data Warehousing
  13. Storage Systems and Management
  14. Electronic and Electrical Engineering
  15. Algorithm Design
  16. Perl/Python/Ruby
  17. Shell Scripting Languages
  18. Mac, Linux and Unix Systems
  19. Java Development
  20. Business Intelligence
  21. Software QA and User Testing
  22. Virtualization
  23. Automotive Services, Parts and Design
  24. Economics
  25. Database Management and Software

What do we see here? The first thing that leaps out immediately is how overweight the list is in all things technology, hardware and software. The second thing I note, especially for marketers, is the general dearth of marketing-specific skills on the list. We see SEO/SEM, and we see marketing campaign management, and that’s it.

Why? Why would so few marketing skills be in highest demand?

A couple of possible reasons why this might be the case. First, it’s possible that for all the skills available in the marketing profession, we have enough people to fill those skills. We have plenty of email marketers, social media marketers, etc. to operate our companies.

A second possibility is that demand for marketing skills is declining because of marketing automation and marketing technology. As systems become ever smarter, we need fewer people to operate them.

Top Marketing Skills of 2018

Let’s look at the skills again, but color-coded:

top marketing skills of 2018

I’ve categorized the skills list as hardware, software, data science, marketing, and other. Hardware takes up 7 of the top 25, though we could make the argument that virtualization and security are as much software as they are hardware. Software takes up 10 of the top 25. Data science takes up 4, and then we have marketing and other with the remaining 4.

Consider some of the most important channels in marketing:

  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Referral traffic
  • Organic search/SEO
  • Paid search marketing
  • Display advertising
  • Native advertising
  • Mobile marketing
  • Direct marketing

These individual skills, save SEO, aren’t part of the top skills list. However, if we blend these skills with some of the top skills in the list, we see entirely new career opportunities for marketers.

What if we were email marketers who also had specialization in statistical analysis? We’d be a rare breed of email marketer, to be sure.

What if we were social media marketers who also had a specialization in Python or Ruby? We’d be powerful social media marketers who could bring high levels of automation to any social media marketing program.

What if we were SEO professionals who also had business intelligence skills? We’d have a formidable combination of capabilities which would make any SEO program much stronger than operating in a search marketing silo.

The top marketing skills of 2018 will be blended combinations of marketing and technology skills. Marketers who bring new combinations of technologies and talents to familiar marketing disciplines will be incredible assets to our companies and will far exceed the productivity and impact of people only with traditional marketing skills.

For Marketing Job Seekers

The mandate for job seekers is clear: skill up in one of the areas above. I would strongly recommend either software or data science as places to invest time and effort, particularly languages like R or Python, which offer the best of both worlds, data science and software.

For Marketing Hiring Managers

When it comes to evaluating candidates to hire, give priority and consideration to those individuals who bring combinations of technology and marketing skills to the table. These marketing technologists are rare breeds who will deliver outsized value to our companies.

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Christopher S. Penn is one of the world’s leading experts on AI in marketing. Christopher Penn has over a decade of AI experience in classical AI, regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI. Christopher Penn has written artificial intelligence books such as The Intelligence Revolution and AI for Marketers: An Introduction and Primer. Christopher Penn is an AI keynote speaker around the world.


4 responses to “The Top Marketing Skills of 2018”

  1. “As systems become ever smarter, we need fewer people to operate them.” I believe this to be true, but is it happening NOW? Overall, I think there is more talk about AI etc than tangible benefits/results in the marketing scene. Thoughts?

    1. Yes – this isn’t specific to AI. Robotic process automation has been doing this for some time.

  2. pierrecote Avatar

    Great article Chris. Are you surprise to not see the key word #content in your article ????

  3. manoj barot Avatar
    manoj barot

    While i think this is generally true! I strongly believe that people in marketing need to know which question to ask,Tech an AI will always give answers or operationalise the solution.
    the critical thing would be who trains people to think like consumers and ask the right questions?

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