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Solving the Marketing Automation Talent Gap

Solving the Marketing Automation Talent Gap

MA-team2014 is on its way to being the Year of Marketing Automation. Consider these statistics:

  • 41% of B2B Marketers plan to increase their marketing automation budget in 2014. (Source: PepperGlobal)
  • The number of monthly Google searches for the term “marketing automation” has grown 22% in the past year, from 3,600 in February 2013 to 4,400 in January 2014 (Source: Google Keyword Planner)

For companies contemplating MA, now is the time to act.  The dilemma they will face is: where to find the expertise?

Budget and search popularity aside, the fact is there is a marketing automation skills shortage.  A survey of marketing executives by the Online Marketing Institute identified a 24% talent gap between the value marketing executives place on marketing automation skills and the talents their teams actually possess.

This talent gap isn’t surprising. MA is a relative newcomer to the marketing scene. Business schools aren’t yet awarding MBAs in MA. Too, MA isn’t just “one thing.”  MA is a collection of formerly stand-alone, oftentimes siloed marketing tactics, now synthesized into a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts.

In some respects, MA is a discipline being built on the fly. That’s scary, but also exciting. The rewards are high for those bold enough to recognize the opportunity and invest now in MA programs.

The Talents and Skills for Marketing Automation

People with skills are crucial to any new initiative. That’s no less true for marketing automation. Marketing automation combines analytic, creative and technical talents, along with sales, marketing and business acumen, in a unique way.  With that in mind, here’s a list of the skills and talents needed for successful marketing automation execution.

  • Technical Skills: needed to implement a marketing automation platform; to integrate it with  a CRM and website; to make customizations, as required
  • Marketing: to know and understand audiences and users; to communicate value propositions; to manage campaigns and messages
  • Sales: to understand customer; to understand the buying cycle; to help with lead scoring
  • Content Development: to create the rich content that will feed the marketing automation content pipeline – text, video, presentations, infographics, whitepapers, case studies
  • Designers: to create visually compelling presentations, web sites, emails, landing pages
  • Analysis: to make sense of all the data that will be gathered; to understanding the metrics and make recommendations
  • Managerial: to pull it all together and manage the diverse staff of specialists
  • Client Engagement: to keep clients informed

Marketing Automation Superman: No Such Thing

Marketers, by their nature, combine a variety of skills. But it is rare to find a single person who has all of the talents required for marketing automation.

The problem is, many companies try to do just that – find the marketing superman. This presents challenges, as Brian Hansford, director of client services and marketing automation practice lead for Heinz Marketing, has pointed out.

“One of the biggest failings is companies who place too much burden on one single person,” he writes.  “An example of this is a marketing automation manager who spends more time reporting from CRM instead of administering campaigns. Or a campaign manager who develops decent content but can only use marketing automation in batch and blast emails because of a lack of training.”

That’s not to say solutions don’t exist.  If you are contemplating MA, the first step is to asses your existing in-house resources and expertise. In many cases, you already have people with the necessary skill sets. They may not be part of the “marketing and sales department,” but that doesn’t mean they can’t (shouldn’t) be valuable contributors.

What then? Once you’ve assessed your in-house resources, you can divvy up responsibilities, identify which talents are lacking, and find the needed resources to keep the process moving, then grow and acquire in-house talent as your business grows.

Not sure where to begin? At Biznet, we provide insights and advice, as well as implementation services, across all phases of marketing automation. We help companies assess their current status and build a roadmap that ensures success. If you’d like to know more, call us at 248.560.9000 or contact us.