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Martech is automating its way into a talent crisis

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Martech is automating its way into a talent crisis

One of the great things about AI is its ability to handle much of the grunt work of marketing. The downside is that grunt work is also a key early learning experience.

Consider data hygiene, one of those pieces of grunt work. Automating it will doubtless increase efficiency and accuracy. It will also deprive people of an experience that teaches how to quickly assess if AI output makes sense or not — as well as see other potential issues with the data. This is just one example of the way this type of work develops skills and insights we use throughout our careers.

The lack of these learning opportunities is going to lead to a shortage of talented young marketers.

Talent development challenges

So, how are we to address this forthcoming talent development problem? It seems cruel and inefficient to haze new practitioners with mere busy work once AI can handle it. Just because we walked to school in the snow barefoot uphill (both ways), doesn’t mean we should make our successors do that merely to build character.

Looking at this from a broader perspective, this isn’t necessarily a new problem. As technology has advanced in many realms, people no longer have had to learn more fundamental skills. 

An imperfect example is learning to drive a car with a stick shift. Learning to drive manually can help a person better understand how a car operates and functions and can help inform their driving even in automatic vehicles. For a long time now, most people have learned to drive automatic vehicles and likely will never have to drive manual. Life hasn’t ended due to this shift. Besides, there have always been bad and impatient drivers!

So, in addition to traditional professional development tactics — how will we provide people with these formative and essential experiences?

The burden

Fortunately, people are asking these questions in other fields. Recruiters are especially concerned as they are trying to fill positions that require experience provided by vanishing entry-level positions. 

“When you do away with the entry-level roles, someone has to do the training, or eventually you run out of trained people,” writes HR expert Suzanne Lucas. “This can be done through on-the-job training or increased education, but the difference is in who pays. On-the-job training comes at the company’s expense, while education usually comes at the employee’s expense, with no job guarantee.”

Dig deeper: If every company is now a technology company, how should they hire tech talent?

Employers need seriously to consider this issue. Will they handle some of the training or offload it to job applicants and employees? In the first case, you know that training is specifically what you need. In the second case, it may or may not be, but you aren’t paying for it.

Act before a crisis

If the issue isn’t dealt with, staffing levels will hit crisis levels in marketing technology and operations. If you doubt this, take a look at the shortage of nurses in the U.S., which is particularly severe in the high-skill areas like intensive care. 

The pandemic was incredibly hard on all medical professionals. Nurses in particular faced the horrible experience of seeing so many patients die, mandatory longer hours and little to no increase in pay. Is it any wonder that an increasing number of nurses are retiring early or moving to low-pressure jobs? Now we have less experienced nurses providing more acute care, which leads to more mistakes. 

While the stakes are far lower in marketing, the lack of experienced marketing technologists will mean less effective campaigns and more operational struggles. 

Potential solutions

One solution is ensuring discipline-focused certification includes curricula related to the underlying problems that AI solves. For instance, case studies and projects could include some data hygiene work. Covering scenarios about how data can get garbled and duplicate records are created can help practitioners understand such problems.

Another topic worth covering during certificate programs is a basic understanding of how AI works. While practitioners may no longer need to perform rudimentary or intermediary tasks, it is important that they understand what’s going on in the background.

Additionally, while studying marketing or IT in college isn’t required to work as a martech or MOps practitioner, institutions that teach the subjects should teach about fundamental issues that AI tools handle. 

Further, when vendors add AI features to their products, they need to detail the underlying tasks each AI feature handles. This can easily be done without divulging any proprietary information. 

Another place that can help revisit fundamental issues are conferences – like the MarTech Conference. Some workshops and sessions should focus on these issues to help newer practitioners understand them.

Challenges remain

No matter how much grunt work we can turn over to AI, challenges will remain. That’s why it is critical for our field to figure out how to prepare new practitioners to understand how to evaluate and assist with AI output. 

Further, when we automate learning experiences, new challenges will also present themselves. We ignore that fact to our own peril.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

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Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

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Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

2. Understand topical authority: Keywords vs. entities

Google has been talking about topical authority for a long time, and in Discover, it is completely relevant. Traditional SEO includes the use of keywords to position your web pages for a specific search, but the content strategy in Discover should be based on entities, i.e., concepts, characters, places, topics… everything that a Knowledge Panel can have. It is necessary to know in which topics Google considers we have more authority and relevance in order to talk about them.

3. Avoid clickbait in titles

“Use page titles that capture the essence of the content, but in a non-clickbait fashion.” This is the opening sentence that describes how headlines should be in Google’s documentation. I always say that it is not about using clickbait but a bit of creativity from the journalist. Generating a good H1 is also part of the job of content creation.

Google also adds:

“Avoid tactics to artificially inflate engagement by using misleading or exaggerated details in preview content (title, snippets, or images) to increase appeal, or by withholding crucial information required to understand what the content is about.”

“Avoid tactics that manipulate appeal by catering to morbid curiosity, titillation, or outrage.

Provide content that’s timely for current interests, tells a story well, or provides unique insights.”

Do you think this information fits with what you see every day on Google Discover? I would reckon there were many sites that did not comply with this and received a lot of traffic from Discover.

With the last core updates in 2023, Google was extremely hard on news sites and some niches with content focused on Discover, directly affecting E-E-A-T. The impact was so severe that many publishers shared drastic drops in Search Console with expert Lily Ray, who wrote an article with data from more than 150 publishers.

4. Images are important

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. If you look at your Discover feed, you’ll see most of the images catch your attention. They are detailed shots of delicious food, close-ups of a person’s face showing emotions, or even images where the character in question does not appear, such as “the new manicure that will be a trend in 2024,” persuading you to click.

Google’s documentation recommends adding “high-quality images in your content, especially large images that are more likely to generate visits from Discover” and notes important technical requirements such as images needing to be “at least 1200 px wide and enabled by the max-image-preview:large setting.” You may also have found that media outlets create their own collages in order to have images that stand out from competitors.

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

One of the most important parts of having a website is making sure your audience can find your site (and find what they’re looking for).

The good news is that Google Search Essentials, formerly called Google Webmaster Guidelines, simplifies the process of optimizing your site for search performance.

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Salesforce rolls out new edition of Marketing Cloud for small businesses

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Salesforce summer 2023 release: The business executive's guide

Today Salesforce announced Marketing Cloud Growth, an edition of Marketing Cloud designed specifically for small businesses.

With help from AI, this edition makes it easy for marketers to segment audiences, create and execute email campaigns from text to image, optimize campaign performance and create unified customer profiles. It also has a prompt builder that can store and manage known reliable prompts for organizations.

Dig deeper: 70% of SMB marketers willing to pay more for tools with AI or automation

Salesforce developed the new edition by looking at the most common use cases for which small businesses frequenty don’t have the people or resources. This includes things like personalizing campaigns and advanced testing.

The company is also letting small businesses (those with fewer than 200 employees) that have Sales or Service Enterprise Edition “get started with Data Cloud at no cost.” Marketing Cloud Growth will initially be available in the U.S. and Canada and is expected to roll out to Europe, the Middle East and Asia by the end of the year.

Why we care. First of all, small businesses need all the help they can get. This creates an opportunity to start using AI within a centralized marketing workflow rather than importing content from independent generative AI tools. Perhaps it’s also a sign of Salesforce moving to compete with platforms (can we say HubSpot?) that more overtly court SMB clients.

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