How To Tackle The Lack Of Digital Skills In Marketing

“UK skill levels in Digital Marketing are worryingly low… creating a tangible barrier to Britain’s ability to export”

Chartered Institute of Marketing ‘Digital Marketing Skills Benchmark 2018’

The Chartered Institute of Marketing undertook a study of nearly 5000 individuals, to assess the proficiency of Digital Marketing Skills of employees across a wide range of industries and levels of seniority. As the above quote suggests, the findings were troubling. The study showed that marketing directors have a lower understanding of Digital Marketing skills like PPC, Data and Analytics, E-Commerce and SEO than junior executives with only 1-2 years of marketing experience, and even those employees scored worryingly low at understanding these skillsets.


It isn’t as though companies aren’t aware of the importance of digital marketing, a 2017 UK-wide survey by the British Chambers of Commerce found that 84% of firms think digital and IT skills are more important than they were 2 years ago. Within the South West, Online Marketing is the second most required digital skill, and 44% of employers stated that if they were to take on a digital apprentice, they would prefer them to specialise in Digital Marketing. It’s clear that companies recognise it as an important skill set to have, and it would be assumed this would translate into a wide pool of talent, however only 37% of marketing professionals in the UK scored as competent in a 2016 study.

The skill gap exists for two reasons.

  1. The existing marketing workforce has not received suitable training to fully understand the key strategies of digital marketing – like Search Engine Optimization, Pay Per Click advertising and Content Marketing – and secondly, students are leaving university without the required Digital Skills to fill a digital post. Indeed, millennials were found to be the least skilled digital marketers of all age groups.
  2. The rate of change in Digital Marketing means a skillset can become outdated within only a few years. This has many knock-on effects, such as a recruiter or manager hiring the wrong person for a job. Even if they try to upskill and learn more, it is often difficult to commit to more learning whilst still performing their full-time duties.


It’s all very well to talk about the Digital Skill gap, but we should also establish a base understanding of what we mean by digital skills. In the book ‘Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice’, Dave Chaffey defines Digital Marketing as “Achieving marketing objectives through applying digital technologies and media”, but what kind of techniques come under this umbrella?


Pay Per Click adverts are those that appear at the top of a page of search results. The advertiser pays the publisher each time an advert is clicked.


Search Engine Optimisation involves making a website higher in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for related search terms.


This is the idea of creating content that can be easily shared i.e. videos, social media posts, blogs, to create interest in a brands products or services.


It is almost impossible to find a company without at least one social media account today, and for good reason. Social Media Management can help increase website traffic, build conversions and help with brand imaging.


Email is a preferred media channel for brand communications, rated as most preferable by 47% of consumers. Email marketing is important because it allows a direct channel to consumers.


Last year launched our Digital Academy to help you expand your own or your team’s digital skill-sets. Each month, our team of digital experts deliver a training session designed to up-skill your marketing team and give your business the digital advantage, with the content of the session changing each month.

Watch our video introduction to the Digital Academy to find out more:

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