Are you a marketer and want to stay in your job? Then start learning. Now!

Are you a marketer and want to stay in your job? Then start learning. Now!
Image by Evgeni Tcher

In the past extended vocational training was essential to keep up with the latest trends in marketing. In the future continuous training could be crucial to holding your job as a marketer at all. Here are some tips for compiling your curriculum.

Shortcut: If you want to jump directly to the list of free self-paced online courses which I want to take in 2018, here it is.

Lifelong learning sounds like a hackneyed saying. But if you have a job in marketing—especially in digital marketing—this sentence is more than a platitude. The marketing landscape is changing quickly. Marketers have to be quite adaptable. However, being not only up to date but even ahead of market trends could be a requirement for a marketing career in the future.

Marketers’ big challenge of tomorrow has arrived today

In March 2018 the marketing scene here in Germany was jolted by the news that Zalando—a big online fashion retailer with 15,000 employees, operating in 14 European countries—plans to fire 200 to 250 marketers. Algorithms and artificial intelligence will take over their jobs.

Marketing will become increasingly data-based in the future. Therefore we need a higher number of developers and data analysts.

Rubin Ritter, Member of Zalando’s Management Board

Dealing with marketing automation every day, I assumed something like this to happen sooner or later. But I have to admit that this evolutionary step came sooner than I expected. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are the next big thing in marketing. At least it seems that this is not just a marketing buzzword hype but the obvious next step of the marketing automation evolution. Thinking that the “automation” in marketing automation wouldn’t go further than having a machine send a series of pre-scheduled emails would have been naive.

Is this a bad thing? I think: No. Marketing automation has the potential to become a central element in a company’s growth and profitability strategy. Adding machine learning, predictive analytics and other algorithm-based features means that marketers will have a lot of new possibilities in the future.

But of course there are negative aspects, too. Dealing with privacy concerns in a responsible way is a big challenge in this context. The Cambridge Analytica affair on the one hand and the very strict—and almost unrealistic—rules of the upcoming European GDPR on the other hand illustrate the wide spectrum of ethical and legal issues that come along with data driven marketing.

The key to be (and stay) a marketer in the age of automation: knowledge and the right skills

Automation of any kind can be a job killer. The evolution of industrial automation illustrates what might be in store for marketing employees. Rather simple, repetitive jobs are the first ones to disappear in such a scenario. More demanding and complex jobs might follow. If you are currently working on the digital assembly line, it’s high time to take charge of your career.

I don’t want to catastrophize. Will every marketer’s job be subject to negotiation? Certainly not. Will certain types of jobs in marketing—even some “modern” ones—become extinct during the next few years? Yes, I guess that will be the case. Can you do something about it? Well, you probably won’t arrest the progress. But you can prepare.

This leads us to the question: Does the Zalando example imply that you need to become a developer, analyst or data scientist? No. Technology, data and analytics are marketing tools, but not the essence of marketing. (However, getting acquainted with a little bit of coding and applying appropriate analytical methods are two things I recommend to every marketer.) Certainly not every marketer’s job will be that of a marketing technologist. Marketing strategists, project managers and creative folks will still be required. But without proper knowledge of the conceptual and technological principles of data driven marketing, they won’t go very far. Algorithms will be part of tomorrow’s marketing teams.

So you better be prepared. Which leads us to the practical part of this article: Some suggestions for vocational training which you can start right now.

These are the things I want to learn in 2018

You can find a lot of great resources on the Internet if you want to upgrade yourr education. On the past weekend I did a little research. The result is a list of free self-paced online courses I want to take in 2018 (and probably well into 2019). I include the marketing and web design/development related ones in this article as an inspiration for your own curriculum.

Inbound marketing and marketing automation

Artificial intelligence and machine learning



Web development

Web server management

What are your plans for vocational training and broadening your mind? I’m curious to read your opinion on continuous training. Just use the social media comment links below to join the discussion.