As marketing technologies, channels, and platforms evolve, the skill sets of digital marketing professionals must evolve as well if businesses are to be able to successfully execute digital marketing strategies in 2017.

Does your marketing team have the most important skills it needs for continued success and enhanced efforts?

To identify potential talent gaps you'll need to hire for, check out the following top 5 digital marketing skills.

1. Data Analysis

Arguably the most important skill in digital marketing in 2017 and beyond is data analysis.

Thanks to the growing importance and the abundance of customer data (which will only grow more abundant as a result of the Internet of Things), digital marketing professionals must feel at home with measurement, metrics, and the analysis of data.

Data-analysis skills allow marketers to answer the most important question: "Is this working?" Which results in more effective and targeted marketing campaigns, enhanced customer personas, improved customization capabilities, reduced bounce rates, and higher customer retention, among numerous other benefits.

Simply put, if businesses want their digital marketing teams to be effective and successful and to generate more leads in 2017, they must hire digital marketing professionals highly proficient in data analysis.

2. Basic HTML/CSS Knowledge

Basic experience with HTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is another top digital marketing skill for 2017. Of course, you don't need your marketing team to be able to create a website from scratch, but having marketers on your team with basic coding skills will help your business present messages more clearly through visual design—an important part of digital marketing.

Marketers with HTML/CSS skills will be able to update and improve the design and look of everything from your landing pages to your email marketing campaigns, making them more effective lead generation channels that lead to more sales.

3. Marketing Automation Tool Mastery

With the emergence of advanced marketing automation solutions, businesses need professionals with experience navigating these numerous platforms.

Businesses are starting to rely more heavily on automation because it allows their digital marketing teams to do better work in much less time, all while making the company money. Automated emails, social media campaigns, and content marketing generate more and better leads and more sales.

To reap the benefits offered by these technologies, digital marketing teams must be skilled in various marketing automation solutions. Tools such as those of HubSpot, Marketo, and Pardot, paired with Salesforce, are now commonplace in businesses across a wide spectrum of industries.

These technologies vary, so it's crucial to have digital marketing professionals who are proficient in the automation tools being used by the business.

4. Content Marketing

Content marketing has quickly become a bedrock of marketing strategy in recent years.

Creating high-quality content about subjects important to your target audience—thus, content they want to engage with—helps your business to pull in audiences and customers instead of your having to push out messages and advertising that they've learned to ignore or block.

Investing in digital marketers with content marketing and writing skills will lead to an increase in traffic to your website and higher organic search engine rankings for your business—which, of course, results in more leads.

5. SEO

Finally, search engine optimization (SEO) skills wrap up the list of the most important digital marketing skills for 2017. To get your content, website, products, and apps to rank in search engine results pages (SERPs) and net more customers, you must have marketers skilled in SEO.

The importance of SEO skills for digital marketing professionals is expected to increase drastically in 2017 as search engines become smarter and their algorithms continue to undergo updates.

Having a marketing team with up-to-date SEO skills will prove invaluable. Receiving higher search engine rankings for your website and your product and service pages results in greater audience reach, more traffic, and more leads and sales.

Looking Ahead

Marketing automation tool mastery, data analysis, basic HTML/CSS, content marketing, and SEO skills will be the top priorities when hiring for digital marketing talent in 2017. Businesses that have digital marketing teams boasting these skill sets will have the most successful and effective digital marketing strategies in the coming year.

So take time now to analyze the skill sets of your digital marketing team to ensure you're not risking being outperformed by better-staffed competitors.

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The Five Most Important Digital Marketing Skills for 2017

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image of Gianna Scorsone

Gianna Scorsone is the VP of sales operations and marketing for Mondo, a digital marketing and technology resourcing provider.

LinkedIn: Gianna Scorsone