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The Evolution of the Ideal Content Marketer: Why Hybrids Are Changing the Industry

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In a fast-paced industry where innovation is the foundation of any best practice, marketers need to constantly adapt to new technology and tactics to stay competitive. Four out of five marketers believe the industry is undergoing a revolution, with over 90 percent agreeing that marketers need to become skilled in more than one area, according to Adobe’s Digital Roadblock report.

While watching this revolution take place firsthand, the team at Fractl wanted to gain a better understanding of the state of the current industry landscape, specifically for the content marketer. An analysis of over 3,300 job listings on Indeed.com this past spring revealed the top 10 in-demand skills recruiters are searching for in their ideal applicant; but more importantly, it also attested to the rise of the hybrid content marketer.

 The top 5 technical skills for content marketers are SEO, HTML, Google Analytics, CSS, and Programming. The top 5 creative skills are writing, marketing strategy, content strategy, thought leadership, and brand development.

Part technician, part artist, the hybrid marketer represents a fundamental shift away from traditionally siloed teams. In order to understand why hybrid marketers are in such high demand—and the implications of that on organizations—we first need to examine what’s changed in the industry over the past decade.

The Age of Inbound: How Being a Hybrid Content Marketer Became So Important

Marketing has become less disruptive and more sophisticated. Rather than interrupting potential customers with a bombardment of ads, telemarketers, and spam emails, marketers realized the efficacy of content that brings value to a targeted audience. Enter the age of inbound marketing. Several areas in particular have evolved tremendously in the past decade, influencing all marketers’ content strategy decisions—including how they target, reach, and engage consumers.

Search Engines Grew More Sophisticated

While its predecessors, such as Archie and Yahoo!, paved the path, Google’s launch almost 20 years ago transformed the way consumers seek and find information online. Within the past decade, increasingly sophisticated ranking algorithms, web crawlers, and indexing, paired with better keyword analysis and the monetization of digital ad space, have allowed brands to reach any granular target anywhere in the world at any time—arguably one of the most significant changes to occur within our industry.

Social Media Evolved

Created with the original intention of helping families and friends stay connected, today’s social media platforms have morphed into networks of hyperconnectivity. They’ve also evolved into highly effective and affordable channels that businesses can use to reach and communicate with their target audiences while creating brand awareness and influence. As content began to flood these networks, however, brands realized nontargeted broadcasting would get lost in a sea of content, so they turned to the inbound ideology of targeted engagement and share-worthy content.

Visuals Became More Important

As society advances, our attention spans seem to shorten. Luckily, marketers realized early on that visuals were a fantastic tool for holding interest and making information resonate with an audience that was growing more and more distracted. The poster ads of the early twentieth century have since evolved, especially in the internet age with the introduction of digital imagery and increasingly accessible tools for creating this new medium. The past decade alone has seen the rise of innovative formats, ranging from GIFs to 360-degree videos and infographics to virtual reality. Showing, rather than telling, has become a key principle in successful marketing.

Content Marketing Was (Re)Born

Ultimately all of the above led to the rebirth of a concept used for decades by brands—telling their stories and sharing valuable content to attract and retain a specific audience. While the idea of brand storytelling wasn’t new, the channels and tools for doing so have evolved drastically.

The growing emphasis and reliance on these new tactics led to a rise in specialists to help guide brands through the unknown waters of once-foreign acronyms such as SEO, PPC, and UX. As the knowledge of these specialties became more mainstream, the demand for holistic hybrids who understand how to integrate once-siloed marketing efforts steadily rose.

Paradigm Shift: From Purebreds to Hybrids

With over half of the 3,300 job listings examined requiring both technical and creative skills, Fractl’s data confirms a change in organizational fundamentals. Hiring managers recognize the competitive advantage of recruiting hybrid talent, specifically the broader implications often associated with a hybrid skills set like interdepartmental collaboration and quick adaptation.

To clarify, this shift does not imply there’s a decline in the need for specialists, but rather that there’s a newly realized value of recruiting hybrid talent with a wide breadth of basic knowledge and a deeper understanding of one or two specialities—defined by Moz as a T-shaped marketer. Silos are becoming increasingly problematic and are interrupting workflows, so innovative brands and agencies are shifting their organizational structure to overcome this barrier. Hiring new talent that supersedes siloed mind-sets is a major advantage for marketing teams hoping to shift towards an integrated inbound approach.

Further, a 2015 report by Fractl and Moz on the state of the inbound economy found that the 20 most common marketing job titles advertised on LinkedIn required a broad variety of marketing expertise that fell under both creative and technical skills.

20 Most Common Job Titles - Factl/Moz Report 2015

How to Become the Ideal Hybrid Marketer

With the proven ROI of integrated marketing strategies, marketers must fully understand how to use all these overlapping tactics and channels in their marketing efforts to make their brands stand out, especially among hiring managers.

Fortunately, returning to university for a costly MBA isn’t required. In fact, Fractl’s study revealed hiring managers ultimately value experience over education. Queue continuing education and industry training to help build that hybrid skill set. Industry resources and mass online open courses (MOOCs) are great investments for marketers wanting to improve and diversify their skills. Marketing publications such as HubSpot, MarketingProfs, and Moz offer industry specific courses on the latest trends. Meanwhile, MOOCs like Coursera and Udemy feature courses ranging from SEO to coding languages to brand storytelling for those seeking structured instruction and widely recognized certifications. And at Storynomics, marketers can learn to use the power of storytelling in their content strategies to reach and convert customers.

The previously mentioned Adobe report also revealed that while 40 percent of marketers want to reinvent themselves, only 14 percent actually know how to do so. Given the constant innovations in technology prompting new tools and strategies, industry-specific education and training at every level is by far the best way to stay relevant and competitive in an increasingly diversified field.

Learn more about how the modern marketing team is evolving by checking out Skyword’s interactive industry report, What Is Marketing Transformation, Really?

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Ashley Carlisle is a brand relations strategist at Fractl, a creative content marketing agency specializing in data-driven campaigns. She works alongside a team of creative strategists producing innovative studies on the latest industry trends. When she’s not at the agency, you can find her in the water, on a trail, or near a beach. Chat with her on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

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