New roles emerge in digital marketing

By Heather Rast/Consulting

Futurists typically release their trends predictions at years’ end. The crafty analysts like to capitalize on our proclivity to view Jan. 1 as a new awakening; a time ripe for disruption, fresh starts and quick hits to a malingering list of objectives held over from Q4.

I’m no futurist, and its April already. But the time for these roles on the front of digital marketing is now. It’s time companies recognize the need for greater skills specialization and did more to incorporate the customer into businesses processes.

Here are three hot and emerging roles you’ll want to learn more about, whether you’re a recent grad tracking down that first job, a young professional anxious to prove your mettle, or seasoned vet determined to remain relevant.


One: digital analytics specialist

Part research rat, part numbers geek with a hefty allotment of computer science nerdery, the digital analytics specialist may become the hub of marketing as the knowledge holder of market intelligence. Perhaps the evolution of the Web Analytics Association to the Digital Analytics Association in early 2012 is one of the best indicators that rapidly-multiplying digital data streams necessitate occupational specialization, education and support.

Think about it; the marketing manager can’t stay current with her analytics training, thanks to the headspin-inducing advancements and customizations delivered by products like Google Analytics and Adobe Omniture Site Catalyst. It may have been acceptable to bolt-on web analytics to a mainstream marketing job function six or seven years ago, but with the rising importance of targeting and relevancy (not to mention results), companies really need someone whose full-time job is to track down opportunity and feed information and insight to other functional marketing roles so they might optimize customer communication and brand touches.

Companies offering this role are looking for candidates with experience in web analytics and metrics reporting tools, marketing automation tools and techniques, database analysis, social analytics platforms and statistical modeling. It helps to be a strategic thinker, have a creative and curious nature and have a high degree of technical aptitude.


Two: outreach and community manager

Any project management professional will tell you that key behind meeting expectations – of customers, internal stakeholders, or external influencers – is a steady and reciprocal flow of information and communication. Key to the outreach and community manager role is the management of information flow and the tactical processing of tasks that inevitably arise with customer dialog. This individual is one of the ‘point’ persons for the brand and as such, has a hand in prioritizing strategic opportunities across the business.

Is this similar to a social media community manager? Indeed, the two hold some objectives and responsibilities in common. But this new evolution (as I see it) blends in a bit more big-picture project management functionality and plays a supporting role in meeting long-term sales and brand marketing objectives.

The outreach and community manager draws on diplomacy, relationship-building and problem-solving strengths while he or she proactively liaises with a company’s publics, including media and trade members, clients and sales prospects to sustain positive visibility.

But wait. Are we now talking about a public relations specialist? Not entirely. But the PR department, just like the sales and customer service departments and marketing personnel, should have running dialogue with the outreach and community manager, an amalgamation of communications expert, customer relations specialist, facilitator and PR pro.

With a focus on fostering and maintaining open communication through education, support and exploration, the outreach and community manager may play a vital role in an integrated marketing campaign, lead a customer satisfaction discovery initiative, or coordinate communications with key accounts regarding a new product release or introduction.


Three: chief customer officer

I often write about the power of storytelling; ways brands can creatively enmesh customers in the brand’s history, its present and its intended future to evoke an authentic emotional attachment.

The art of sharing the brand story is the privilege and responsibility of each employee, with their actions essentially elevating them to ambassador status among their own circles of peers, friends and family. Clever corporate communications and PR folk cultivate quotes, testimonials and experiences from both internal and external audiences as strategy pillars to support the dynamic story of the brand.

The jarring power shift between sellers and buyers has changed the mix of advertising, marketing and lead development techniques companies employ. A plethora of choices and self-empowerment shook consumer confidence in businesses and the degree to which claims are trusted. The importance of story – something brand and consumer could conjointly own and perpetuate – has grown exponentially. But even the best stories must be grounded.

Enter the chief customer officer, an executive whose job is to ensure the public story is mirrored in practical, real-world customer experience. Forget fast claims and lip service that fool few. Consultant and coach Jeanne Bliss, author of “Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action” extols “memory creation is the currency of your brand…know what memory you want customers to have and make the decisions to prepare your people and your operation to deliver it.”

In other words, your brand has a chance to make a significant mark in the minds of its customers. Story is an important part of the indelible memory, balanced by one’s actual experience. The chief customer officer’s job is to make sure the memory is sustained across channels and media to maintain favorable brand associations.

There you have it, three hot and emerging roles bubbling up in the career pool today. If I were to explore another, I’d proselytize that boning up on your writing, grammar and style skills would go rewarded, considering the increasing necessity well-planned content plays in advancing prospects through the buying cycle.


Heather Rast is principal of Insights & Ingenuity, a digital marketing company in the Cedar Rapids area. Learn more at