Digital skills gap: do you need to invest in training?

Digital skills gap: do you need to invest in training?

James Delves, The Chartered Institute of Marketing

Submitted by; James Delves, The CIM ( Post published; 9th May 2019

New research published last year by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) in partnership with training body Target Internet revealed 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 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 particular 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 a growing part of the marketing mix.

What does this mean for marketers?

So, how well is your digital marketing plan performing? Has it been created in reaction to our fast-evolving digital world? Or has it been built on a holistic – and sound – strategy?

Over the last 15 years, marketing has become heavily weighted towards digital, thanks to the prevalence of fast wireless connections, smartphones, social media and data analysis. In fact, for many businesses, it no longer makes sense to discuss digital as a separate channel: marketing is digital marketing. Everyone ‘does’ digital now.

But let’s pause for a moment. A recent survey by Smart Insights revealed that 47% of businesses utilising digital marketing don’t have a digital marketing strategy. It seems many brands are ‘drowning’ in digital: using it as a default setting and creating a marketing plan for digital without a clear sense of how it connects with wider business goals.

Of course, each organisation will have short, medium and long-term goals – and these can range from increasing profit, revenue or subscription levels, to increasing brand awareness. And yet, to deliver against any of these requires more than a plan to roll out content or brand communications across digital channels, calling it a ‘multichannel approach’ – it requires a solid digital marketing strategy.

The new customer journey

While the proliferation of digital marketing channels in recent years has produced almost limitless opportunity for marketers, it has also increased pressures on marketing budgets.

The impact of digital is clear, 60% of global shoppers now prefer to purchase via digital channels. Across worldwide consumers, 59% want real-time personal offers designed especially for them, and 39% use social networks to get inspiration for purchases according to a survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Little wonder, then, that optimising SEO, launching targeted email campaigns, and measuring the ROI of pay-per-click have become key tasks for marketers who are seeking to engage customers on channels where they are active.

Planning and executing a digital strategy

For senior marketers, building a digital marketing strategy means gaining insights in order to make informed decisions, and understanding how the customer’s entire digital experience can be improved by optimising touchpoints across all channels.

In a fast-changing digital world, it’s also especially important to remember that strategy is not a fixed plan – a strategy must incorporate scope to meet the various evolving scenarios your organisation will face, and be able to keep your business moving forward.

Time to get qualified

Strategy should underpin any digital to-do list – but knowing where to start can be difficult. Marketers looking to expand their knowledge can take the Target Internet’s free digital skills benchmark now to see how their capabilities compare to industry standards.

For those looking to upskill, CIM’s Level 6 digital diploma has been created to drive strategic understanding and improve management of digital channels. It is aimed at marketers who need to apply their digital marketing knowledge and integrate it into an overall marketing strategy to deliver the customer experience that drives business growth. The diploma develops a wide range of technical skills, but also takes a more holistic approach to understanding the digital customer experience.

Whether it is by developing skills across a range of digital mini-modules, or honing knowledge in a specialised area of interest, CIM has a wide range of learning solutions to enable marketers to take hold of their digital strategy to deliver better value for the organisation – and the customer.

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