Is your marketing team equipped with today’s most essential skill sets? Does your team employ skills that help your company stand out in today’s crowded marketplace? Do they have the skills required to leverage today’s hottest marketing trends?

Results from HubSpot’s annual report, State of Inbound 2017, share insights into the essential marketing skill sets today’s chief marketing officers need on their teams to create successful marketing programs this year—from channel-savvy content creation to SEO-savvy video marketing.

Here are five skill sets identified in the report, based on executives’ marketing plans for the coming year.

1. Channel-Savvy Content Creation Skills: Analytics is critical to producing better content

When most people think of content skills, they think of storytelling, brand journalism, ideation and other right-brain content creation capabilities. Analytics typically does not make the list. After all, what’s a left-brain skill doing in a creative job? The answer is that analytics is giving content creators the ability to track, analyze and update content decisions based on data-driven feedback. The result is more targeted and successful content for every phase of the buyer’s journey.

The value of adding analytics to content creators’ skill set was culled from several findings in the State of Inbound 2017 report, including:

  • 63% of marketers say their top challenge is generating traffic and leads
  • 70% of marketers say their top priority in the next 12 months is converting contacts and leads into customers
  • 71% of salespeople say their top priority is closing more deals
  • 53% of marketers say their top priority is blog content creation

The best way to generate traffic and leads and convert contacts and leads is by analyzing what you’re doing to see what works, then making improvements in your content that reflect real-world results. Analytics is uniquely qualified to provide this insight, such as what type of content is performing best on specific platforms. As a bonus, analytics can deliver an ROI, which can be used to validate content marketing expenses.

Today’s ideal content creation candidates should understand the value of analytics, not just in general, but also for every type of content—owned, paid and earned.

  • Owned media analytics. Marketers in all industries are responsible for engaging and educating customers through their owned media channels, where they control the message. It’s vital to track and measure how your network is consuming your owned information. With this insight, content creators can create more of the content the target audience actually wants.
  • Paid media analytics. Paid media boosts awareness for brands above and beyond organic posts. To get the most impressions for the best budget, you must understand how your paid media spending contributes to achieving your business’s goals. Measuring the reach and consumption of paid media can inform tasks, such as showing you exactly how your spending influences increased social activity or actual purchases on various platforms, so you can create more of the ideal content that delivers the best results.
  • Earned media analytics. Earned media—publicity, sharing and word-of-mouth buzz—increases brand awareness and credibility outside of your own website and social media presence. It’s important to know how your audience interacts with it. Measuring the reach and consumption of earned media can inform your audience’s response to your owned and paid media content creation and, therefore, what content you create.

2. User-Focused Web Designer: Starting with a solid UX audit

In an era of website templates and stock photos, too many companies fail to appreciate how much expert web designers can help improve the functionality and marketing potential of their websites. Yet, the number of companies that do understand this value may be on the rise: According to the State of Inbound 2017 report, 55 percent of marketers say their top priority in the next 12 months is growing traffic on their websites. This goal speaks to the need to create better-designed websites.

Along with the creative design and HTML skills required to create high-impact websites, another critical area of website creation is user experience (UX). This skill has been gaining ground for the last decade and has now reached a peak in popularity as more marketers realize that user-focused websites perform better at every phase of the buyer’s journey—helping to guide visitors from the discovery to advocacy stages. That’s why UX is an important skill set on your 2017 marketing team.

UX designers are responsible for ensuring that products, websites and other online platforms are easy to use and provide customers with pleasant experiences. They plan and create the look and feel of websites (or mobile apps) to meet the demands, needs and desires of a brand’s target audience. A UX designer is responsible for enhancing customer satisfaction by improving the usability, navigation and ease of a product. They have one goal in mind: improving the user’s pathway on the site.

There are many skills within the UX skill set—such as designing wireframes, conducting user testing, creating surveys, analyzing data and sketching out storyboards. But one vital UX skill often gets overlooked—the ability to conduct a UX audit.

While it’s critical to improve website UX, it’s also valuable to step back, take a breath and review where your website stands now on the UX front before diving in for more updates. Taking time for reflection gives your website designer time to build processes without flaws and holes. A good UX auditor will ask important questions, such as:

  • Does what we do serve the organization in the way it was intended when we started doing it?
  • What can we do better?
  • Is there anything we do that doesn’t meet any team or organizational needs?
  • What has changed in the business recently?
  • What can we do to make sure our work reflects that?

3. Advanced SEO Expert: Gaining an edge over your competition

There’s been a misconception that SEO is dead. It’s fueled by headlines like: “Why You Should Never ‘Do Keyword Research’ Again.” But nothing could be further from the truth. SEO is just as important now as it’s ever been, if not more so.

What’s different is that, due to the changes in Google’s search algorithm, SEO practices are being updated. SEO has changed from its simple keyword search and link-stuffing days to a much more advanced art and science. This explains why 61 percent of marketers say their top inbound marketing priority is growing their SEO and organic presence, according to State of Inbound 2017.

Today, SEO knowledge means having an edge over your competition. These three skills will give your marketing program a stronger competitive advantage. Make sure your SEO experts understand how to leverage them.

  • Latent Semantic Indexing Master. This is a co-occurrence-based method in which search engines look for terms that naturally occur in conjunction with other terms. This means that the keyword itself no longer is the decisive factor in determining the actual ranking for a search query. Search engines also will look for synonyms—in other words, closely and semantically related terms.
  • TF-IDF Ninja (Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency). Having more keywords may not necessarily be a good thing, because Google actively penalizes people who stuff documents with keywords. TF-IDF is a primary ranking algorithm that uses the presence of words, number of occurrences and locations of occurrence in a document to produce a statistical weight on the importance of a particular term; in other words, how significant it is to the overall content. This is important because keywords are better if they are weighted in terms of quality instead of quantity. TF-IDF is the revolutionary piece that makes keyword research easier and more meaningful, because TF-IDF will tell you what keywords people frequently use, how frequently those keywords appear and how significant they are to your website’s theme.
  • Keyword Content Tagging Warrior. Content tagging is used to categorize digital content. You can organize your content by type (photo, image or link), keyword, campaign, objective or tone. There are many benefits to tagging your content, including tracking performance of a keyword relative to site traffic and social activity. Also, you can notify search engines that your site contains relevant information for your tagged keywords. Using content tagging, you can:
  1. Track the performance of your content by keywords tagged
  2. Highlight topics that boost social activity and site traffic specific to your audience and replicate that success for future campaigns
  3. Link content performance directly to your business goals by showing what content drives the most conversion by type, topic, objective or tone

4. SEO-Savvy Video Marketer: Leverage an easy skill to bolster your ranking

There’s been a lot of press about the power of videos and how important they are to companies’ content marketing plans. HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2017 report supports marketers’ intention to expand video marketing programs this year:

  • 52% of C-level executives want to add YouTube to their marketing strategy
  • 48% of marketers plan to add YouTube to their content distribution strategy in the next 12 months
  • 46% of marketers plan to add Facebook video to their content distribution strategy in the next 12 months

An essential skill set for maximizing the power of video marketing is video optimization. Without optimization, your videos are more likely to drown in the sea of videos published every day than be viewed by your target audience. Strategic optimization helps ensure your videos get ranked for the right search terms, so they show up when people search on YouTube and Google. Your video marketers should be skilled at writing SEO-rich video descriptions.

Several tactics will help your videos get found in search engines, but writing top-notch video descriptions stands out because it’s so easy to do. Well-written descriptions allow Google’s search spiders to make sense of your video and understand its content, bolstering your ranking. So make sure your videos are explained in full with fleshed-out descriptions, unique titles and tags with relevant keywords.

5. Interactive Content Marketing Savant: Maximize your messaging app quotient

What’s at the core of every part of inbound marketing? Messaging. No marketing campaign will be successful without the right messaging in content, blogs, videos and more. Now there’s a new form of communication that has the very word in its name—messaging apps. If you haven’t explored this marketing avenue yet, you’ll want to in 2017, because it’s likely that your competitors are.

According to the HubSpot report:

  • 24% of marketers plan to add messaging apps to their content distribution strategy in the next 12 months
  • 32% of C-level executives want to add messaging apps to their marketing strategy

Messaging apps no longer are just platforms for younger generations to communicate socially. They have become avenues for senior-level marketers to create authentic and meaningful conversations with their ideal buyers. With messaging apps, people now have the option to consume content at the touch of a smartphone button. In fact, it’s clear that messaging apps are now imperative for marketers to meet prospects where they are. There is a huge benefit for marketers who are moving in this direction.

To maximize your move into messaging apps, add skills on your team:

  • Messaging App Visionary. Today’s buyers are warming up to the idea of using messaging apps for information and content. Many buyers already have developed their comfort zones within messaging platforms. To meet them where they are requires thinking beyond your website and social platforms to see where else your audience is consuming content.
  • Engagement Opportunity Spotter. Last year’s HubSpot report stated that 29 percent of respondents selected messaging apps like WhatsApp, WeChat and Snapchat as their preferred business communications channel. Find out exactly which apps your target audience is using.
  • Messing App Conversationalist. At the end of the day, messaging apps are about having conversations. By getting involved in direct conversation with your target audience using apps, you can create highly personal experiences. Use the apps to extend your inbound strategy to create more tailored and personalized content to more accurately engage with leads and customers.

Today’s marketing world is a moving target—as shown in HubSpot’s annual State of Inbound report. While the foundation of inbound marketing is solid, CMOs want to stay on top of sharpening their team’s skill sets. This year marketing executives are moving toward more data-driven content, user-focused websites, competition-busting SEO, high-ranking videos and messaging app outreach.