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We live in a world of constant technological change: innovations and applications evolve around us at a pace that is as fascinating as it is daunting. But while marketing professionals have realised the need to adapt and embrace digital, a visible skills gap still exists.


The digital marketing skills gap is real

According to the World Economic Forum, more than half (54%) of all employees will require significant reskilling by 2022. And marketers are no exception.

In 2016, the Digital Marketing Institute tested 908 marketing professionals across a variety of industries in the USA, UK, and Ireland. Rather shockingly, the majority failed to achieve even entry level competency in digital marketing training skills, scoring just 38% on average.This figure goes against the perception many marketers have of their own abilities: prior to the assessment, just over half of marketers rated themselves as “fairly competent” in digital marketing. 

Source: Digital Marketing InstituteSource: Digital Marketing Institute 

Even at the top, there’s a lack of practical know-how

Furthermore, this skills gap persists at the top of the marketing food chain. 

According to research from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, on average, marketing directors showed a clear lack of practical digital skills. For example, directors showed low understanding of PPC (scoring only 29%, compared with executives, who scored 34%), SEO, eCommerce and data and analytics – placing them lower than junior executives with only 1-2 years of marketing experience. 

This lack of practical know-how is certainly a cause for concern in an industry in which digital demands are only growing.


The ambition is there – but the commitment is lacking

According to the same survey from the Digital Marketing Institute (DMI), marketers are unanimous in their verdict that “becoming more digitally focused will be critical to their organisation in the next two years”. 

However, there seems to be a lack of urgency in organisations to develop a focus on digital transformation – something which was a cause for concern for many respondents.

Alongside organisational engagement being low, digital upskilling and training support is also lacking. In fact, according to the DMI, only 18% of organisations in the USA, 20% in the UK and 25% in Ireland provide essential training support. 

Although two-thirds of U.S. hiring managers believe that “implementing workforce development programmes will help them prepare for future disruptions or innovations”, many businesses have been slow to do so. 

So what’s holding them back? Everything from budgetary constraints, to lack of time to participate in training, and let’s not forget the lack of appropriate training technology.

As a result, the extent to which organisations offer digital skills training is too limited to leverage the full advantages of digital – and this lack of in-house expertise is cited as one of the greatest digital marketing challenges facing organisations today.


So what can we do about it?

The extent and rate of technological innovation has resulted in profound changes in the way we do business. And with these changes comes a new language, new channels, and new disciplines. 

If businesses are to compete in this new paradigm, a new understanding of this new landscape is essential. But one of the challenges facing most marketers at the moment is making sure that every member of your team has got the skills they need to win in this modern marketing world. 

According to the World Economic Forum, what is required is “a holistic solution that prioritises new approaches to skills development within an existing workforce and in previously untapped talent pools.” And we believe that education has to be the starting point for any transformation programme.


Developing a learning culture

As a global online learning business, we help organisations navigate marketing in a technology-driven world by building their digital capabilities. 

The whole thing functions on a few different levels:

  1. Developing tools and training: Our aim is to improve digital knowledge at pace and scale, and build capability in a structured way. This approach creates a common digital language, raises the floor of knowledge and delivers learning outcomes that achieve strategic business objectives. 

  2. Building high performing teams: We help you build and retain high performing, happy teams, and achieve tangible outcomes quickly and across your entire organisation. From the delivery of better briefs to higher conversion rates and more confident conversations internally and with external partners.

  3. Customised learning and delivery:  We work with you to design a programme that aligns with your business goals and delivers tangible benefits. We take the lead in launching, embedding and measuring the success of your programme freeing up your internal resources.

  4. Dedicated account management: We combine this with an account management function that drives adoption, encourages behavioural change and the implementation of new concepts, skills and ideas and then captures the results.

  5. Marketing syllabus written by experts: Our broad syllabus covers the entire scope of digital marketing capabilities and lessons are updated regularly. We combine award-winning animations, interactivity and professional presenters to deliver highly engaging and effective content. 


Overall, the result is an education solution that results in your teams having the confidence, understanding and ability to create exceptional customer experiences, and help you ultimately succeed in a technology-driven world. 


“Circus Street’s ability to listen, respond, and partner us to deliver this is second to none.”

Matt Pritchard
Vice President of Digital Marketing, Campbell Soup Company


Ready to get started?

As World Economic Forum rightly point out, businesses that don’t take steps now to tackle the skills gap will be left behind. 

We urge business leaders to look critically at the skills needed to future-proof your workforce. Digital transformation is indeed a daunting task, but only if you don’t understand the correct first step: building a culture of lifelong learning among their employees.


To find out more, contact our sales team.

Ready to get started or want to ask a question?

Get in touch and we can start helping with your digital learning journey.

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