Which “Soft Skills” Are Most Important for Marketers to Possess?

Econsultancy-Key-Soft-Skills-for-Marketers-May2014There’s been a fair amount of research of late examining the need for more analytical talent in today’s increasingly data-driven world, with many senior marketers responding to a recent survey believing that analytical orientation will be a top-3 skill required of CMOs in the future. But what “soft skills” and behaviors are most important for marketers to succeed in today’s digital world? A new study [download page] from Econsultancy finds that most senior marketers believe the ability to embrace change is crucial.

Indeed virtually all of the respondents from around the world – though primarily from the UK – tabbed this as an important skill, followed by the ability to spot opportunities and adapt strategies quickly and being passionate, hungry to learn and curious.

Interestingly, only one-quarter of the respondents felt that it is very important for marketers to be comfortable taking risks, the smallest share of any of the 7 skills identified. A study released in March by Adobe revealed that 54% of US marketers believe that the ideal marketer should take more risks.

Meanwhile, the Econsultancy survey also examined marketers’ feelings regarding broader skill areas, finding that the largest percentage of respondents (42%) identified customer experience as a top-3 area that has grown the most in significance for marketers over the past few years. There may be some recency bias to that result: an Econsultancy study from earlier this year saw a plurality of marketers identifying customer experience as their single most exciting opportunity this year.

Slightly behind customer experience were multichannel, content, and data, each tabbed by 40% of respondents as one of the top 3 areas to have grown in significance.

Marketers also deemed customer experience (59%) to be the top area in terms of growing significance over the next few years, with data (51%) next. Only 1 in 5 feel that content will be a top-3 area in terms of growing significance over the next few years.

In terms of vertical skills, respondents most commonly pointed to social media activity (54%), content marketing (49%), web analytics/data (46%) as top-3 skill areas of increasing significance in the past few years. Fast forward to the next few years, though, and most feel that mobile marketing (51%) will grow in significance. Somewhat surprisingly, given that few see content as a growing area in the years to come, content marketing (50%) rivaled mobile marketing as a vertical skill that marketers believe will grow in importance in the years to come.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 145 senior staff. The online survey covered a number of regions, including EMEA, North America and Asia Pacific, but the majority of respondents were based in the UK. The largest proportion of respondents worked for companies with 100 employees or less (31%), but a significant proportion worked for organizations with between 101 and 10,000 employees (48%). The organizations represented in the survey also reflected the full scope of B2C and B2C focus.