Microsoft Lists SEO as the Most Important Hard Skill for Marketers

study published by Microsoft aims to identify the most important trends in marketing for the 2020s.

The study contains a section on trends in marketing skills, with lists of the most important skills for marketers over the next decade. At the top of the list of important hard skills is search engine optimization.

Data from the study is based on a LinkedIn poll conducted by Microsoft with 600 global senior marketer participants.

According to survey results, the most important skills for marketers to have in the 2020s are as follows.

Hard skills:

  • SEO
  • Data analysis
  • Copywriting
  • Behavioral analysis
  • Automation

Soft skills:

  • Creativity
  • Humility
  • Empathy
  • Adaptability
  • Transparency

If you’re reading this you’re likely ahead of the curve already with regards to SEO. You can enhance that skillset and remain an asset to clients with proficiency in either of the other top skills.

For example, SEO and data analysis practically go hand-in-hand, as interpreting data is necessary for measuring the success of a campaign. Adding a skill like behavioral analysis could be the next step, as it will help with understanding not only what users are doing by why they’re doing it.

Automation comes into play to some extent in SEO, though not as much as copywriting does. Sites need textual content in order to rank in search results, and good copywriting skills can make the difference between a user staying on the site or abandoning it.

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Other Important Search Marketing Trends

Here are some other insights from Microsoft’s report that are specifically related to search marketing.

Search ads that don’t lead to webpages

Microsoft suggests that a new form of search advertising may emerge which doesn’t direct users to web pages at all:

“Think of an interactive ad asking you to “Choose Your Own Adventure” then responding with additional interaction or next step based on your choice. In search, this type of interaction could begin to replace the practice of clicking through to a web page or content download.”

Media mashups and mutations

Microsoft predicts digital media platforms will consolidate to create new advertising offerings:

“Display + Native + Search will converge to build new online advertising solutions that were previously in siloes.”

Visual discovery

Another trend to watch for, according to Microsoft, is a search experience powered by visuals rather than text and links:

“We’re addicted to screens and our eyeballs are looking for a new thrill factor — one that takes us beyond links and text, and is powered by images… How easy would it be if you take a picture of something you want rather than trying to search for it using words?“