The Skill Gap in Modern Marketing: A Short Survival Guide for Aspiring Digital Leaders

At its core, modern marketing boils down to one single thing: delivering experiences that are of such high quality that users stick with you and come back for more. To deliver such experiences, managers as well as marketers need a new set of skills.

Skill gap #1: Learn analytics beyond reporting

The first essential skill for aspiring digital leaders is analytics. The actionable kind that changes how an organization operates: shifting the power of decision making from the opinion of the highest paid person in the room, to what the data tells you about your customers' real preferences.

Now, it is not uncommon that analytics is confused with reporting. Looking at charts that show aggregate numbers for easily understandable, but completely non-actionable metrics such as page views, clicks, visits or e-mails may feel like analytics, but it is not. At least not the type of analytics that will constitute the difference between digital leadership and digital despair.

According to a recent survey of CMOs by Accenture Interactive, analytics is also championed as the number #1 core competence that individual marketers will have to learn.

While smart companies and marketing departments are already onto these changes, there is still a huge discrepancy between the knowing and doing. Its like Bruce Lee said:

"Knowing is not enough, one must do." / Bruce Lee

To really appreciate analytics means being able to extract concrete, actionable recommendations that are forecasted to improve business performance. Amongst other things, this entails working with segments, reports and variables tailored to your specific business, that help uncover hidden patterns of importance to your organization

Above all analytics must to be actionableAn analytical recommendtion should read something along the following lines:


“I have discovered that visitors who arrive on our site using long tail organic keywords of 5 words or longer are 84 % more likely to convert than an average visitor. I recommend optimizing 50 existing landing pages for the attached list of long tail relevant keywords. Each visitor acquired in this segment is worth on average $14.” 




“We have found that members of our Japanese segment who have viewed at least one product video are more than 7 times more likely to convert than an average visitor. My recommendation is to invest $100,000 in 10 additional product videos for the Japanese market. This is expected to increase revenue in the region by $500,000 within 6 months.”


If you are unable to manage recommendations at this level you don’t know analytics. 

While it may not be necessary to know how to write the actual queries or learning to code, it is immensely important that you understand the details of analytics. For two reasons:

1) If not you will never be able to communicate intelligently with your analytics person (or developer) to make sure that you capture the right data and not just a bunch of noise.  

2) Because as a manager you are ultimately the one responsible for making sure that the goals and KPIs of the digital channel is set on tangible real world business objectives.


The crucial link between business strategy and digital outcomes

The connection between your business objectives and digital goals need to be 100 % crisp. There can not be the slightest confusion as to what digital outcomes means value delivered to the bottom line of your business.

Depending on the business that you are in, the online outcomes that brings real value to your business may be one or more of the below:

  • A visitor downloads product brochure.

  • A visitor fills out an online form and becomes a lead.

  • A visitor interacts with a price calculator that lets him compute the savings from doing business with you.

  • A visitor shares one of your videos on Facebook.

  • A visitor signs up for e-mail notifications on future in-store promotions.

But here is the thing: Your digital goals that represent a real contribution to the bottom line could also be other outcomes that are highly specific to your organization. And as a manager, you cannot leave it to your web development team or analytics person to figure this out.

In other words, it is essential for any digital leader to have the knowledge and the experience to carve out, not only a high level business strategy, but also a tangible plan for how to translate this strategy into digital outcomes that contributes to the business.

If you do not know how to translate the high level to the concrete and measurable, check out Avinash Kaushiks Marketing Measurement Framework. It is an ideal place to start for anyone wanting to connect the dots between business strategy and digital outcomes. 


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