Robocop
Robocop

Like most people who really love what they do, I think a lot about what skills, knowledge, experience and qualities are needed to excel in my field.

By identifying and articulating such job qualifications, as it were, I can assess my own strengths and weaknesses and improve myself or find the talent that complements and strengthens my own.

I bring this up because Internet marketing is a rapidly-growing field and, as more positions are being created for in-house talent, is becoming institutionalized. Human resources personnel are starting to struggle with writing job descriptions for these openings. More an more, I find myself being asked to describe the qualities of a successful Internet marketer.

So this is my shot at doing just that. I will refer to this person as a male for simplicity and because men tend to dominate the technology industry, of which Internet marketing (wrongly, I believe) is often considered a part.

If I were to build a sort of Robocop of an Internet marketer from the ground up, this is what I’d include in the Ultimate Internet Marketer:

Technology

I don’t think it is essential that the Ultimate Internet Marketer have an in-depth expertise in Internet technologies but it is crucial that the person have a firm understanding of those technologies and how they fundamentally work.

Ideally, though, the Ultimate Internet Marketer would possess a knowledge of and experience with databases (specifically Structured Query Language), JavaScript, a web programming language like PHP, as well as HTML, Cascading Style Sheets and Extensible Markup Language. For a bonus, throw in some Flash programming experience.

These are the basic building blocks of the Web.

Understanding these technologies help understand how the Web is built, how these technologies work together to provide information and, increasingly, applications, to Web surfers. Understanding these technologies help you to understand how search engines interpret and interact with Web content.

But the Ultimate Internet Marketer should not merely be versed in the ways of scripting languages.

It is important to have a solid grasp of how people use technology if he is to understand how people communicate and consume media through it. Thus, the Ultimate Internet Marketer should be a first adopter of online tools as well as consumer electronics. He should think technology is really, really cool.

People no longer consume online content just on their desktop computer. From laptops, to iPods, to the Xbox 360 and the the PlaySation Portable, to the iPhone and the Blackberry, people are using all kinds of devices to get their online content.

As our current Internet-ready television, GPS devices, and home appliances like the Chumby and consumer robotics point to, eventually everything will be connected to the Net.

The Ultimate Internet Marketer is an enthusiastic user of technology because he is fascinated with how these devices can be used to communicate.

Finally, by his relentless use of these technologies, the Ultimate Internet Marketer can both understand the real-world limitations of these devices while also gaining a better understanding of their future potential.

Internet Marketing Knowledge

Generally, the Ultimate Internet Marketer should have a broad base of knowledge; the stereotypical well-rounded individual. A broad knowledge base simply provides more fodder from which ideas can spring. And if the Ultimate Internet Marketer is working for an agency in which he will be dealing with a diverse range of clients, a broad base of knowledge will make it more likely that he’ll devise the right strategies or solutions for those clients.

I think a bachelor’s degree in English or political science or some other field in which you’re taught analytical and critical thinking skills is essential training for the Ultimate Internet Marketer. Internet marketing is nothing if it is not analyzing a given situation or communications problem and devising a solution.

A degree in English is particularly helpful because it provides the Ultimate Internet Marketer with a sound understanding of how language works. The study of literature in particular forces the student to examine how stories are constructed, how dialog works, and the use of symbolism; all of which are crucial for successful online communication. The study of poetry teaches both the use of language to evoke images or emotion as well as economy of language; this is an increasingly important aspect of Internet marketing as more content becomes mobile and as our attention spans shrink yet further.

An understanding of design from an aesthetic as well as a functional point of view is an important element of the Ultimate Internet Marketer. Humans consume far more information visually, through graphics or video, than they do by reading; they make snap judgments based on a glance. It is therefore important to understand how people comprehend visual information.

You cannot be the Ultimate Internet Marketer if you do not understand human behavior. A firm grasp of consumer psychology is certainly an asset that will contribute to online marketing success.

In order to make full use of online venues and technologies, the Ultimate Internet Marketer understands how people use technologies, how people behave online, and how communication takes place on and flows through the Internet. Whether it is how people use their status updates on Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn or how people converse on blogs; whether it’s how people conduct searches or how content is distributed online, the Ultimate Internet Marketer will know these dynamics.

By having a thorough knowledge of the ins and outs of a given online venue, the Ultimate Internet Marketer will know the appropriate tactics to employ on behalf of a given strategy.

Among the books the Ultimate Internet Marketer will have read are The Cluetrain Manifesto, Positioning, Generations, Applebee’s America, and Microtrends.

Internet Marketing Skills

First and foremost, the Ultimate Internet Marketer must be a superb communicator. He must be able to effectively communicate online, of course, but he must also be able to must be able to explain how these technologies work to people who don’t understand them and whose eyes may begin to glaze over when talk turns to technology.

The Ultimate Internet Marketer must be a superb writer. He must be able to adopt different writing styles to suit various situations and audiences, be it a persuasive tone needed for an online political campaign or the first person chattiness often used on blogs or within social networking sites. He must also be able to write clear proposals that excite potential clients and clear strategies for his online marketing team to follow.

The Ultimate Internet Marketer must be skilled at the use of online communication tactics; through the thorough understanding of those tactics he can devise a sound Internet marketing strategy for a given problem.

The Ultimate Internet Marketer must be able to think strategically and envision not just how an online marketing campaign would work but how it would fit into an organization’s overall communications efforts.

The Ultimate Internet Marketer must be a superb researcher because he will have to learn about the many different audiences he will have to reach; he will have to find them online, understand who they are and how they communicate on  the Web.

The Ultimate Internet Marketer will have strong analytical skills. His powers of analysis will be applied to both problem solving and to measuring the effectiveness of his online marketing efforts.

Internet Marketing Experience

Searching is one of the primary activities of everything we do online; when we need to find something, we search for it, be it through Google or the search function of Amazon.com or within social networks like Facebook.

The Ultimate Internet Marketer, therefore, must have extensive experience with search engine marketing and search engine optimization. He will have conducted search engine marketing campaigns so he will know what it takes to gain visibility.

He will have used search optimization techniques on behalf of direct marketing efforts, be they aimed at consumers or other businesses. He will have used search engine optimization for online branding and for reputation management. His work will have taught him the importance of the entire search experience, from typing in a query to clicking on a link, to visiting the site and signing up for an email or purchasing a product.

He will have optimized content to gain visibility within web sites as well as the search engines. He will have had success gaining views for videos and photos and getting found for targeted searches within Facebook and LinkedIn.

His search engine advertising experience will have taught him pay-per click campaign management, search ad optimization and copywriting, a/b and multivariate testing, landing page optimization and conversion.

The Ultimate Internet Marketer’s experience will have taught him a great deal about the usability of online properties as well as offline technologies.

The Ultimate Internet Marketer must be an avid and enthusiastic blogger. His experience of creating valuable content, building a following, and engaging in the give and take of blog conversations will have given him a solid understanding of the mindset of bloggers, the culture of the blogosphere, and the dynamics between and among blogs and between and among their audiences as well. His blogging experience will have given him insight into how ideas spread or do not spread online.

The Ultimate Internet Marketer will have conducted many and varied email marketing campaigns. His experience will have taught him the appropriate use of the medium and its strengths and weaknesses. His experience conducting B2C catalog email marketing campaigns will have given him insight into how to drive sales in a targeted fashion. He will have published e-newsletters and used email as an expert positioning tool.

Finally, the Ultimate Internet Marketer must be an active and enthusiastic user of social media. He must use Facebook and LinkedIn daily, Twitter often, and upload video and photos to YouTube and Flickr regularly. He must use FriendFeed to aggregate all his content. He must use these tools on his computer and on his phone. He will have used social media sites so extensively that he knows them inside and out and understands their culture.

Internet Marketer’s Temperament

The Ultimate Internet Marketer should have a creative mind that helps him arrive at unique solutions to problems, when needed.

He should have a boundless curiosity and and endless capacity to learn new things.

He should love to experiment by trying different and new approaches to online marketing so he can learn what works and what doesn’t and discover new methods and tactics.

Finally, he should be results-oriented because at the end of the day, that is how he will be judged.

What Else?

This is my best shot at describing the Ultimate Internet Marketer. I’ve no doubt missed or overlooked things that should be included. I’d love to hear what you think: please leave your comments below.

8 Comments

  1. Albert Maruggi on October 20, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    Here’s a couple more.
    1) sociology, they need to understand how cultures, societies, and groups communicate
    2) grassroots politics, because Internet Marketing will center on communities and communities are just consitiuents of a certain topic
    3) Understand the difference between pinging a group for low hanging fruit and being an active participant.
    4) agree that advertising/marketing is changing you point this out in the knowledge section, but for emphasis I’ve echoed.
    5) humility, why? because there are thousands of corporate marketers using social media to get tens of thousdands of dollars of consulting for free.



  2. Albert Maruggi on October 20, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Here’s a couple more.

    1) sociology, they need to understand how cultures, societies, and groups communicate
    2) grassroots politics, because Internet Marketing will center on communities and communities are just consitiuents of a certain topic
    3) Understand the difference between pinging a group for low hanging fruit and being an active participant.
    4) agree that advertising/marketing is changing you point this out in the knowledge section, but for emphasis I’ve echoed.
    5) humility, why? because there are thousands of corporate marketers using social media to get tens of thousdands of dollars of consulting for free.



  3. François La Roche on October 21, 2008 at 3:50 am

    Very interesting entry David, and quite complete indeed. I asked myself a similar question in 2006 when blogs entered the corporate world “en masse”. (in French : http://blog.groupevectis.com/je-vous-presente-le-blogomestre-acteur-strategique.htm)
    One additional angle to consider in this question is the greater organizational impact of the arrival of Internet marketers. What should be the profile of the boss? How high in the structure do internet marketing skills have to travel? 😉



  4. François La Roche on October 20, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Very interesting entry David, and quite complete indeed. I asked myself a similar question in 2006 when blogs entered the corporate world “en masse”. (in French : http://blog.groupevectis.com/je-vous-presente-le-blogomestre-acteur-strategique.htm)

    One additional angle to consider in this question is the greater organizational impact of the arrival of Internet marketers. What should be the profile of the boss? How high in the structure do internet marketing skills have to travel? 😉



  5. InterestedParty on October 22, 2008 at 12:22 am

    Nice!
    I think there are some marketing profs who have just had their next course sillabus written for them…



  6. InterestedParty on October 21, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Nice!

    I think there are some marketing profs who have just had their next course sillabus written for them…



  7. David Erickson on October 22, 2008 at 1:38 am

    Thanks everyone for your comments and I apologize they weren’t approved sooner. I get a LOT of comment spam, which is one of the reasons I’m moving to WordPress.
    Albert, excellent points, all; especially humility. 🙂
    Your first three points are variations on the theme of participating in online communities. It’s a point I didn’t address but is, as you point out, a crucial aspect of successful Internet marketing. You’ll be ignored if aren’t a contributing member of the community and a real person.
    Francois, I think everyone, eventually, will have to learn online communication skills to one degree or another. When an employee communicates with an organization’s customers or even partners and competitors, they are branding the organization.
    But certainly staff who have customer service roles, and any positions that communicate with the public or press should have some fundamental Internet marketing skills and knowledge.
    As far as the organizational impact; it’s a great question but one I haven’t given much thought to yet. I’ll ponder it. 🙂



  8. David Erickson on October 21, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Thanks everyone for your comments and I apologize they weren’t approved sooner. I get a LOT of comment spam, which is one of the reasons I’m moving to WordPress.

    Albert, excellent points, all; especially humility. 🙂

    Your first three points are variations on the theme of participating in online communities. It’s a point I didn’t address but is, as you point out, a crucial aspect of successful Internet marketing. You’ll be ignored if aren’t a contributing member of the community and a real person.

    Francois, I think everyone, eventually, will have to learn online communication skills to one degree or another. When an employee communicates with an organization’s customers or even partners and competitors, they are branding the organization.

    But certainly staff who have customer service roles, and any positions that communicate with the public or press should have some fundamental Internet marketing skills and knowledge.

    As far as the organizational impact; it’s a great question but one I haven’t given much thought to yet. I’ll ponder it. 🙂