Who are the industry’s top digital marketers and what makes them so successful?

That’s the question that researchers at Fractl set out to answer when they employed IBM Watson’s Personality Insights capabilities to analyze the Twitter feeds belonging to some key marketing leaders. Their analysis has identified ten key traits that set these marketing leaders apart from the rest and make them trusted authorities in the marketing field.

1. Adventurousness

Of the twenty top marketing personalities analyzed, eighteen of them had adventurousness in their top five characteristics. The willingness to try new things is a critical characteristic of any leader. If you want to be a successful top digital marketer, you need to be willing to wander off the beaten path and try things that haven’t been tried before.

2. Highly Energetic

Marketing is a nonstop game, and in order to be successful, you need to be vigilant, energetic and constantly active. Neil Patel and Amy Porterfield are among the most high-energy of the group analyzed. All of them are constantly posting new content, trying new business ventures, participating in speaking engagements and mentoring other entrepreneurs and marketing leaders. In order to keep up that level of activity, you need to have a high energy level.

3. Assertiveness

Being direct, confident and bold are absolutely key to becoming a marketing leader. Tyrona Heath is the most assertive of the analyzed group, and her bold, confident attitude has played a major part in her success in inbound marketing and social justice. To take the next step in your journey to the top of the marketing field, don’t be afraid to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done.

4. Intellect

Guy Kawasaki is the most intellectual of the marketing personalities analyzed, but it makes sense that this is a common characteristic among these leaders. Intellect describes not only intelligence, but also a willingness to study, read and apply those learnings to your practices. In order to be successful in marketing and enhance business processes, a true leader needs to be savvy, intelligent, and always willing to learn new things and share those learnings.

5. Striving for Achievement

Ambition is critical if you want to make it to the top. The marketing leaders in this study all exhibited a high rate of striving for achievement as a defining characteristic. Marketing is a numbers and metrics game, and success is defined by the ability to prove engagement, return on investment, and brand awareness in the form of hard-and-fast numbers and conversions. As top marketing personalities, all of the subjects of this study commonly strove for excellence in their field.

6. Authority-Challenging

Marketing leaders known for challenging the status quo include Seth Godin, Rand Fishkin and Amy Vernon, but it makes sense that all of the leaders on this list are quick to question authority. In order to set yourself apart from the pack, you can’t simply accept what others have done and blindly follow in their footsteps. A true leader needs to forge their own path and try new things for themselves.

7. Trust

As exemplified by Jeff Bullas and Olga Andrienko, trust is a critical component of becoming a successful marketing leader. After all, it’s impossible to do it all on your own, and you need to be able to place trust in your teammates and collaborators to do what’s best for your business and your marketing clients.

8. Gregariousness

Ann Handley is a top-of-mind marketing leader when it comes to being outgoing and gregarious. This trait sets our marketing leaders apart from leaders in other industries, since marketing is such a people-focused industry. To really succeed in marketing, you not only need to understand your target audience but also to thrive in their company. Community engagement and management are a critical element of marketing success, and extraversion is a critical element in being willing to seek out and better understand audiences.

9. Self-Disciplined

Being self-disciplined is a critical element of maintaining balance and not losing sight of the world outside of work. In a field like marketing that’s always switched on, it can be easy to get caught up in the work and rapidly lose sight of the world outside of work. It’s no surprise that self-discipline is a common trait among top digital marketers since restraint, discipline and self-awareness are critical to avoid burnout.

10. Uncompromising

Darren Rowse and Gary Vaynerchuck come to mind when the term ‘uncompromising’ arises, but most other top digital marketing personalities aren’t much different. Determination—even stubbornness—can be a major asset when it comes to meeting lofty goals and becoming a leader in the highly competitive marketing industry.


To become a successful marketer, it’s helpful to look at those who have been successful before you. With this study powered by IBM Watson’s powerful analytical capabilities, you get a unique peek into the personality traits that make top digital marketers so successful.

Rebecca Wentworth