Over the past 20 years, the field of marketing has evolved and expanded. Once viewed as purely a branding and awareness exercise, marketing in the age of digital has become much, much more complex, giving rise to a host of new specialisms along the way. 

These include search marketing (organic and pay-per-click), performance marketing, affiliate marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, online advertising, web and app development, marketing automation and remarketing, not to mention the online customer service and aftercare functions that are commonly now overseen by the marketing department.

As a result, contemporary marketing teams are undergoing continuous renewal. The ever-shifting digital marketplace continues to demand new approaches, new strategies and new skills to stay ahead of the competition. 

In addition, modern marketers have more choice than ever when it comes to allocating their digital spend: display banners; mobile apps; email promotions; social media campaigns on a variety of platforms, and so on. Each option generates vast amounts of data relating to customer behaviour and the consumer journey on the way to conversion.

The big data challenge

In recent years, there has been a lot written on the subject of ‘Big Data’ and its ability to capture and uncover meaningful insights that can be translated into improved ROI on marketing activity. It’s not hype, however, to say that a range of affordable big data analysis tools now exist which offer digital marketers access to a goldmine of performance-related information to inform their strategies. 

For example, advertisers might want to know how the devices used by consumers or the area they live in correlates to campaign performance, or to compare the conversion rates of different coupon designs or any combination of variables you could think of. 

However, the bottom line is that without the correct team of specialists in place, tracking, analysing and ultimately exploiting big data can be beyond the capabilities of many organisations.

New faces

Here’s a quick overview of just some of the different specialists you’ll find in forward-thinking marketing departments:

Data scientists/ statisticians

Marketing has always relied on statisticians to some extent. But, in 2015, with the proliferation of valuable customer data being generated in real time, 24/7, it is crucial to have someone at the centre of your marketing efforts who is able to rigorously and empirically analyse, cross-reference and interpret that glut of data into actionable insights and informed strategies.

Demand generation managers 

It pays to have resources dedicated to the task of overseeing and harvesting potential interest being generated across all your online (and offline) channels. The process of identifying and nurturing prospective customers through the sales funnel to the point of conversion often involves investment in marketing automation tools and additional expertise.

Real-time content creators

With many marketing departments currently remodelling themselves to more closely resemble publishers, journalistic and broadcast production skills are in high demand. The ability to rapidly create and publish original content that’s ‘on trend’ with your target audience is increasingly vital to online success.

SEO specialists

While fresh content can be seeded via social media to feed natural search results, success in PPC search requires an entirely different skillset. Indeed, in the age of programmatic buying and affiliate networks, paid search continues to be one of the most dynamic and demanding specialisms in the digital marketing arena. 

Social media specialists

Switched-on marketers have learned by now that every social channel is unique, demanding a dedicated, tailored approach to getting the best out of each channel. Social media is also no longer regarded as just another ‘broadcast’ channel. Businesses and brands are now judged by their ability to listen to the voice of their customers via social media, again requiring a dedicated resource and a rapid, smart response. 

Software developers

The art of web development is in a constant state of flux, requiring the input of front-end and back-end developers as well as that of user experience specialists. The boom in smartphone usage (and the massive popularity of downloadable apps) continues to drive the growth in mobile e-commerce, placing extra demands on the skillset of in-house development teams. 

CMO 2.0

The contemporary CMO has the unenviable task of overseeing all of the above and more, including all of the non-digital marketing specialisms and the network of agencies and freelancers every organisation needs to draw on from time to time. With boardrooms demanding increased ROI on digital marketing spend, the CMO is also expected to keep an eye on the latest emerging technologies and techniques with the potential to boost performance.

I’m sure that industry insiders will be able to add many more categories of marketing specialists to the examples I’ve provided here. What’s more, in no more than 10 years’ time, I’m positive that that there will be new categories of specialists to add that we can’t even imagine yet, as new digital technologies, channels and opportunities continue to emerge and reshape the marketing function all over again.