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How to test your digital skills gap

James Delves, Head of PR and Engagement, The Chartered Institute of Marketing


New research reveals a significant lack of digital marketing skills among senior marketing professional – how do we test this?

Research reveals a significant lack of digital marketing skills among senior marketing professionals.

The world is moving at pace, and in keeping pace with new technologies, changing consumer behaviours, and increased competition and choice, the marketing profession has also changed, and that change is constantly evolving.

There is a need for organisations to step back and look at their structure, objectives and the roles within them. Digital provides a vast range of options through multiple channels and technologies, it has blurred lines between departments, provided us with more data than we know what to do with and fundamentally changed more traditional ways of working.

Organisations more than ever need to understand, what skills and technologies are required to reach, engage and add value to customers, with the ultimate goal to deliver growth and stay relevant.

New research published by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) in partnership with training body Target Internet reveals a significant lack of digital marketing skills among senior marketing professionals.

Marketing directors were shown to have an insufficient working knowledge of the essential skills to be able to effectively oversee digital marketing campaigns.  On average, marketing directors had lower understanding of PPC, SEO, Ecommerce and data and analytics than junior executives with only 1-2 years of marketing experience.

The results come from a benchmarking test of digital marketing skills of nearly 5,000 marketing professionals, carried out by Target Internet. The test required professional marketers to complete a series of tasks aimed at testing their knowledge in 12 areas of marketing, with a focus on digital.

While marketing directors surpassed their teams in general marketing and digital strategy, their lack of practical digital skills is a cause for concern in an industry in which digital channels are growing, and some would say essential, part of the marketing mix.

  • PPC: Directors scored only 29% in the test of their knowledge of PPC, compared with executives (34%), managers (31%) and departmental heads (39%).
  • Ecommerce: Directors scored only 26% on Ecommerce compared with executives (37%), managers (41%) and departmental heads (42%).
  • Data and analytics: Marketing directors scored only 32% on a test of data and analytics skills compared with 33% by executives, 35% by managers and 42% by departmental heads.

Across the marketing profession, professional marketers’ skills were strongest in email marketing and general marketing, but weakest in content and mobile marketing and in skills related to usability and the user experience. If marketing is truly there to reflect the customer experience, these discrepancies will need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Programmatic marketing – loosely speaking the automatic of marketing efforts which involves the creation of intelligent content – was particularly poorly understood, with many marketing professionals answering questions incorrectly rather than skipping questions or saying they did not know an answer. Programmatic marketing has caused problems for a number of major brands recently, especially where products have been displayed alongside controversial content on YouTube, an issue that might have been foreseen by marketers with a fuller understanding of how the process of programmatic advertising works.

To read the full report, click here. If you have any queries regarding the research, please contact the PR team on [email protected]