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The Digital Marketing Skills Gap

By Robert Allen 15 Sep, 2015
Essential

Which are the most sought after Digital Skills in 2015?

As regular readers might have seen, we’ve been conducting research into the current state of digital skills in the marketing industry with eCommerce Expo and TFM&A. In the new Developing Digital Skills research, published this week (free download), we surveyed over 1,000 marketers to discover their views regarding the value of different digital skills to help marketers interested in career development or building and structuring digital teams.

One of the aims of the research was to show which digital marketing techniques used by marketers they most wanted to develop or were a skills gap in their organisation. This post summarises the skills gap as shown by the research.

The research showed a big need for improving digital skills in certain areas. 54% of the respondents rated their marketing departments as ‘strong in some activities but poor or weak in others’, while just 9% did not think they had any areas of weakness in terms of the skills of their marketing team.

Skills across marketing teams

Given that 91% of marketers think their business should look to increase its skills in some areas, the next logical question to ask is which areas do marketers feel they lack skills in and what skills do they most want to improve?

percentage rating themselves as skilled or highly skilled

We found that few marketers ranked themselves as skilled in Affiliate marketing, mobile marketing, coding, graphic design and PR. Larger organisations would have specialists for some of these roles, particularly coding and graphic design, which may go some way to explaining this. However we advocate that marketing professions attempt to be a ‘T-shaped marketer’- in line with advice of Moz.com.

T shaped marketer

This means that, although marketers don’t need to concentrate on these areas if their specialisms are in other areas such as SEO, basic skills in these areas are desirable as they will increase understanding and help to break down silos between different departments. The growing importance of these skills over a very short time frame also helps explain the lack of talent in these areas. Only 21% of marketers rated themselves skilled in mobile marketing, and only 13% skilled at affiliate marketing. These skills have grown rapidly in importance over the past several years, thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and tablets on the one had and blog/vlogging on the other. But the changes have been so swift that skills still lag behind. That means training often needs to be put into place to being skills up to date.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the two skills that the fewest marketers possessed came top of our survey for skills that marketers would most want to improve. This reinforces the idea that training in mobile marketing and affiliate marketing may well be lacking in marketing departments.

percentage wanting to improve skill

Interestingly digital strategy and planning was rated both as the area that most marketers thought they were skilled in (over half reported being skilled or highly skilled), but was an area that many digital marketers wanted to improve. This may be a case of many people rating themselves as skilled, but thinking they could still be considerably better, as digital strategy is obviously a complex field. An interesting stat to compare this to is that 80% of people consider themselves to be above average drivers. By definition 30% of them must be wrong! Perhaps we have a similar situation with digital marketing?

By Robert Allen

I was the Editor of Smart Insights between 2015-2017. I managed the blog and you will find blog articles on a range of subjects- Marketing Technology trends and latest tech developments are a regular focus, as well as exploring key marketing concepts. You can get in touch with me on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn. The new Editor is Carolanne Mangles.

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