Report Finds Marketers Still Face Talent Shortage


Retail and B2B brands now have at their disposal a seemingly endless array of tools and platforms for tracking customer behavior, analyzing it for actionable insight and turning it into exciting real-time targeted campaigns. The one thing that appears to be missing is the skilled talent required to make them run.

A new report conducted by ClickZ and Kelly Services for the Online Marketing Institute (OMI) reveals that “there is a substantial gap that exists between the need for strong digital marketing talent, and the skills that individuals in the field currently bring to the table.” The poll of nearly 750 companies found that nearly a quarter of respondents characterize their digital marketing skill sets as mediocre at best, and only 8% are confident in their marketing teams’ ability to apply next-generation tools to maximum effect.

The findings are generally in line with previous reports. Last year PriceWaterhouseCoopers found that one in four CEOs said they were “unable to pursue a market opportunity or have had to cancel or delay a strategic initiative because of talent challenges.” And marketing and analytics took up two spots on Inc. magazine’s list of the top-five hardest jobs to fill in 2012. The problem, which extends across the entire digital marketing spectrum, is especially acute among brands, but is pervasive in agencies as well, OMI found.

More than half of agencies report needing improvement in some areas, and most report they need to hire talent in areas including analytics, mobile marketing and marketing automation. The increasing fragmentation of the marketing profession is a least partly to blame. More companies now report needing specialists – in the fields of analytics, email, content marketing, mobile marketing and social media – rather than the more generalized marketing talent of the past.

What was once a relatively simply and focused recruitment effort has taken on added complexity. But the most troubling aspect of the report is that even if they could find the right people with the right set of skills, 30% of companies, and nearly a quarter of agencies, wouldn’t know what to look for. This signifies a serious knowledge gap exists in among executives and recruiters regarding what they need to run a profitable marketing center in the digital age.

Contributing to the problem is that fact that companies generally lack a set of measurable standards for determining recruiting needs and gauging the suitability of new hires.Just 32% of respondents reported satisfaction with their companies’ efforts at assessing new hires, and only 31% are satisfied with attempts at existing employee assessment.

The takeaway, according to the authors, is that brands and agencies alike need to expand their knowledge of what makes marketing tick in the age of Big Data and social media and, once they have, significantly improve employee training using a combination of eLearning and in-person workshops. Until they do, companies can expect less than adequate returns on their digital marketing dollars.

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