What Digital Marketing Will Look Like in the Future


Eric Wale

The world of digital marketing and the role of the marketer soon change forever.

Thankfully, most marketers seem to be aware of this and are ready to adopt the changes. According to The Economist Intelligence research, more than four-fifths of the marketers they studied (478 CMO’s and senior marketing executives worldwide), believe that now is the time to embark on rapid change in the way they run the marketing function.

In fact, more than 80% of marketing executives believe they need to restructure their marketing strategy to better support the business. And 29% believe the need for change is urgent.

But what changes exactly will occur over the next five years?

Hiring will change drastically – According to Forbes, filling vacant digital marketing positions is taking longer than before, mainly because universities are not teaching marketing students about changes and updates in the industry. Thus, it’s getting harder for employers to hire talented people who have the skills to deal with the changes Industry 4.0 will bring around. Back in 2016, research found that there were nearly 180,000 job postings calling for digital marketing skills, but they took 16% longer to fill than traditional marketing positions.

Job vacancies will increase – 4 in 10 marketing jobs now require candidates to have skills in digital marketing, and the number of vacancies for digital marketing skills has almost doubled since 2013. In addition, Forrester Research has forecasted that digital marketing will top $100 billion and account for 35% of all marketing spending by 2019.

The global workforce as a whole will change – 18% of the global workforce today is employed in an occupation that essentially did not exist in 1980. And by 2030, as many as 375 million workers (14% of the global workforce) will upskill and change occupations, according to McKinsey. Furthermore, by 2030, up to 50 million new jobs could be created globally.

New occupations will emerge – The demand for content marketers in particular, has risen by a staggering 450% since 2013. And for data junkies, analyst positions have grown by 152%, illustrating how the industry is increasingly content and data-driven. To keep up with new technologies, marketing jobs will not change, but jobs that don’t even exist yet will start to emerge.

Future marketing jobs that don’t exist yet

According to Forbes, here are three examples of marketing jobs that don’t exist yet:

1. Content Historian: The role of the Content Historian is predicted to be heavily focused around archiving and tagging. As companies are under pressure to produce high-quality content in the largest quantity the industry has ever seen, companies will need someone to manage it all. They will be able to answer questions like, “Where can I find assets related to a certain campaign?” or “Who was the target audience for that blog post?” Essentially, a content historian will store the content and be able to make sense of it all.  

2. Analytics Storyteller: With the rise of artificial intelligence, automation and machine learning, the capabilities of big data will also emerge. This means companies of all sizes will have so much more powerful data at their fingertips. All this data will tell a story about the different types of customers and their buying behaviour. But to understand these stories, a full-time person will be needed to collect data, interpret it and relay it back in an easy-to-understand way to their (non-data) colleagues. This task is essential for companies who are serious about growth, innovation and lead-driven marketing strategies.

3. Trends Specialist: Engagement-driven content strategies should include content around viral events, news stories and hashtags. In other words, the content takes advantage of online viral topics to capitalise from the huge online audience the topic is naturally generating. To have someone that not only has the time and ability to monitor opportunities across social media channels and other conversation-driven platforms, but also alter the content strategy and post engaging content on the channels with the highest reach, companies will need to invest in a “trends specialist”.

To any marketer in 2018 who accepts and understands how artificial intelligence, automation and machine learning will impact the digital marketing industry, it won’t be at all surprising if these predicted jobs emerged over the next few years.

But not everyone accepts change will happen

The Economist Intelligence report found that 18% of marketers don’t see an urgent need to change their marketing strategy or skillsets. They believe the way in which they operate now will be the same in the future.

What they are failing to accept is that even though they might have mastered today’s technology, that won’t get them through the future. Technology is always changing and any marketers who fail to keep up, will be left behind with a restricting skillset.

But thankfully, others are realistic and see the positives regarding the situation. “It’s very intense right now,” Raja Rajamannar, CMO of MasterCard said recently. “Marketing has become a significant item on the P&L, so it is being challenged like never before. It’s a great opportunity.”

Let’s advance, together!

The above findings point to a clear road map to advancement for the digital marketing industry. The advantage for marketing job seekers is that lots of these skills can be acquired on the job, via short-term training programs, or through certifications, and that they carry a significant salary premium.

Companies should consider expanding training and learning programs in digital marketing, which will be vital for talent acquisition and retaining workers. Ambitious marketers will tend to gravitate to companies where they can learn and grow.

Finally, to conclude with the final words of The Economist Intelligence Unit report, “The progress of modern marketing is like a voyage of discovery: from the first sighting of land to observing the outline of continents to the making of maps of the interior, each explorer quickly builds on the knowledge that came before. Sir Isaac Newton attributed his success to standing upon the shoulders of giants. There are a lot of giants around. If marketers don’t climb on their shoulders, they have only themselves to blame”