Digital marketing skills have seen positive growth, but the ever-increasing demands of new and evolving technologies have created a skills gap across various industries. According to a study conducted by Target Internet in collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), this skills gap is a prominent issue in the marketing sector.
The report, based on data from over 10,000 marketing professionals spanning from 2018 to 2023, offers insights into short and medium-term trends, opportunities, and challenges within the marketing field. The rapidly changing marketing landscape has significantly impacted the skills required by marketers.
A separate CIM study sheds light on the complex environment in which marketers operate. Alarmingly, 19% of respondents felt they possessed only some of the necessary skills for their roles. Furthermore, 79% believed that the skill set required for their job had completely changed over the past decade. With the constant adaptation to emerging technologies such as generative AI, Google Analytics 4, Web3, an expanding martech stack, and the proliferation of social media platforms, marketing professionals are expected to have a broader skill set.
As the marketing sector evolves at a rapid pace, businesses must continue investing in training and development, even in times of economic uncertainty, to meet the expanding demands of the industry.
The report highlights positive trends in various marketing disciplines, with social media (+8%), Ecommerce & Lead Generation (+5%), and Email Marketing (+5%) showing the most significant improvements. However, other areas, such as Content Marketing (+1%), Analytics & Data (+2%), and PPC (+2%), have seen more modest growth. Despite these improvements, the skills gap in digital marketing remains, with some disciplines showing only slight increases from pre-pandemic levels.
The ever-changing nature of the marketing sector makes it challenging for marketers to stay up-to-date and relevant. This challenge affects a team's ability to meet business objectives, ultimately impacting their bottom line. Sustained investment in training is essential to ensure that teams have the necessary skills to compete in the dynamic marketing space.
The research also revealed variations in skill gaps across different levels. Interns have seen a general improvement in their skill levels, with the most significant increase in general marketing (+18%). However, assistant/graduate-level roles have made the least progress, with scores decreasing in four of twelve areas, and only Social Media showing significant progress (+9%). In contrast, the Head of Department group has shown progress in almost all areas, and those at the Director level have demonstrated progress in all twelve competency areas.
Additionally, the benchmark suggests a disparity between confidence and actual skill levels in most tech-driven marketing disciplines. With few exceptions, such as Marketing Theory, Email, Ecommerce, and Lead Generation, confidence levels consistently exceed actual abilities. This divide is particularly noticeable in Content Marketing, Usability, and Social Media.
Daniel Rowles, CEO of Target Internet, emphasized the importance of continuous professional development for both companies and individuals. He highlighted that in a rapidly evolving technological landscape, adopting a culture of ongoing learning can distinguish businesses and increase productivity and growth.
Chris Daly, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, encouraged marketers to invest in their training and development. He stressed that the expanding skill set expected from marketing professionals offers new opportunities to drive change and demonstrate the industry's value. However, staying current with professional development is crucial to avoid falling behind in the rapidly changing marketing landscape. The demand for digital skills remains strong in this fast-evolving environment, making ongoing investment in skills essential to staying competitive.