Ensuring Employee Expertise Is a Digital Marketing Essential, Report Finds

A new report from the Digital Marketing Institute identifies a number of challenges for digital marketers leading up to the year 2020, with three of the top five—pace of technological change, recruiting the right talent, and skills shortages—focusing on employee expertise.

“Businesses need people who are going to not only just be able to perform in the job, but understand the business opportunity. It’s not enough to say that I’m skilled; people have to be able to perform. We’re hearing and we’re validating the gap between people understanding digital capabilities and digital trends and the ability to…make the impact for their business to drive revenue, drive engagement, which is of course full of metrics and measurables,” says John Hurley, global brand and customer experience director at Digital Marketing Institute. This requires “responsibility and accountability in house,” he adds, as well as possibly “paying a price premium to a third-party agency.”

The report finds that 54 percent of CMOs and senior marketers are struggling to keep pace with technological change and expressed concern about how their department and organization would manage it. Organizations that can’t keep up risk losing revenue and market share to competitors that are further along in digital transformation, or that are entering the market as digital-only entities to begin with, complete with appropriately skilled staff, the report notes. Lagging organizations also are at risk of losing customers to competitors that harness technology to craft superior customer experiences.

When it comes to recruiting the right talent, the report states that marketing leaders are “acutely aware of” the need for new skill sets in the face of a changing digital marketing landscape. According to the report, 82 percent of CMOs and senior marketers agreed with the statement “Our organization needs to invest more in staff training and development.” With this in mind, the report asserts that the majority of organizations do not feel prepared for digital transformation and believe that their workforces lack key skills. Noting that retraining a marketing team takes time, the report suggests that companies begin by taking an inventory of the current skill sets in their marketing departments and thinking about which ones they will need going forward.

As for skills shortages, the report found that nearly two-thirds of respondents agreed with the statement “I am concerned about a digital skills shortage in the industry.” Additionally, 82 percent say that their organization needs to invest more in staff training and development. The report suggests that organizations implement new training programs as well as encourage individual professional development.

And in terms of specific skills, Digital Marketing Institute head of strategy Michael Goeden advocates for a balance between ones that have recently become necessary and ones that have historically been necessary. “The research points to some importance around marketing automation and mobile as some technical skills that are probably going to receive some more investment than they have in the past. In comparison to other technical skills in the mix, they’ve probably moved up the list a bit, but you still have things like social media and website design and optimization that are critical,” he says.

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