In the fast-changing world of digital marketing, staying abreast of the newest methods and technologies is a critical component of campaign success. A new report finds business-to-business marketers are skimping on staff training even though most acknowledge the importance of continually improving their skill sets.
The survey, released last week by B2B Marketing in conjunction with Circle Research, found that 6.3% of marketing budgets are currently spent on employee training, and 20% of B2B marketing departments maintain any kind of structured training program.
Instead, most squeeze in training when time, money and circumstances allow, while 18% have no training regime in place.
The findings, which were part of B2B Marketing’s 2014 Professional Development Benchmarking Report, raise some serious concerns about the competency level of average marketing employee and suggest a skewed sense of priorities among many B2B CMOs. Research shows that marketing departments are facing a significant skills gap with just 8% of companies saying their employees are strong in all areas of digital marketing, according to one analysis.
Meanwhile the industry continues to confront new technical complexities. Changes to marketing driven by mobile e-commerce and Big Data are forcing practitioners to apply next-generation technologies like geo-locating, predictive analytics and real-time targeting. Given these emerging realities the need for continual training has never bee more acute.
According to B2B Marketing’s survey of 110 agencies and 196 client-side marketers, the top two reasons for a lack of training are a deficit of budgetary resources and time; a full 57% of polled agencies cite time-constraints as the primary impediment to staff training.
The economic collapse of 2008 also forced many companies to cut budgets across the board. And, as was the case with many industries, training budgets were among the first to go. A 2008 survey by learning-services firm Expertus found that nearly half of corporate and government training professionals reported declining resources.
To get back on track, CMOs need to start by adjusting their approach to training. More than three-quarters of executives and marketers polled by B2B Marketing say they prefer face-to-face training. This is the most costly form of skills development since it requires not only coordinating classroom time (meaning that employees have to temporarily stop working) but also absorbing the expense hiring an expert to conduct the training.
It doesn’t have to be that way. A number of providers, including the Online Marketing Institute, the Digital Marketing Institute and Econsultancy, offer affordable online programs to train marketing professionals on how to attract, convert and retain customers, and analyze digital marketing data. Google also hosts a multi-faceted online learning environment for marketing professionals.
New Global Head of Learning and Development at Annalect, Julie Veloz Ott, was tasked with the challenge of accelerating development on the corporate playing field. In her research, she discovered that 67% of the training group consisted of Millenials/Gen Y’ers. A microlearning solution quickly jumped out as the optimal solution.
Microlearning is a concept that takes into account audience, budget, and time. In the design component of training, it was understood that too much information would overload learners. “Bite sized” lessons of five minutes have interactive content that drive the user engagement. Microlearning also allows for everyone, irrespective of geographical location, to learn the same exact material at the same time. By using a mobile-friendly platform, microlearning can be deployed to the whole organization. It cuts down on the investment of time from the trainee, logitstics of classroom organization, and gets to the application at hand.