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Marketers point to data analysis as biggest skills gap in teams, survey says

Marketers have identified data and analytics as the biggest skills gap in the marketing department.

Marketing Week’s exclusive Career & Salary 2024 shows that 36.9% of the over 3,000 brand-side marketers surveyed point to a lack of data and analytics skills within the marketing function as an area of concern for the business.

A distant second was a lack of performance marketing skills (19.6%) followed by content and copywriting skills (18.1%), social media (14.8%) and ecommerce (12.1%).

This is in-line with our 2023 data which, again, showed data and analytics as the biggest skills gap (then 34.4%), a continuing trend that seems to have gone unaddressed despite the ever-increasing importance of data analysis in getting closer to the target consumer.

‘If you’re not in one, you’re probably about to be’: Why are so many marketing teams restructuring?When it comes to solving these problems, the solutions are varied. The most common approach is to hire external talent with a third of marketers (34.5%) saying that has been their business’ approach to bridging the skills gap.

Another third (33.8%) point to training existing staff while 24.5% say the answer has been to employ consultancies and freelancers. Just 11.2% of businesses have conducted a skills audit to find a long-term solution to the problem.

This is perhaps most tellingly illustrated by the fact just 14% of marketers have noticed the emergence of a new function to deal with any skills gaps identified.

Upskilling, in general, seems to have taken a backseat over the past year with 48.8% of all respondents saying they weren’t offered the chance to upskill to close the skills gap. This is a substantial increase on 2023 when one third (33.5%) of marketers said they weren’t offered the opportunity.

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When taken in conjunction with lower recruitment resources and a culture of additional responsibilities for no additional pay, as Marketing Week has reported extensively while examining the data, it builds a worrying picture.

Up to the task

The overwhelming majority of marketers (83%) do believe, however, that they have the right combination of skills that businesses are looking for.

Though that leaves 5.3% who don’t believe they do and an unsure 11.7% who aren’t certain either way.

A surprise from the data showed that 8.7% of those operating at a CMO/marketing director level don’t feel they have the skills required to do their job effectively. This is double the number who feel the same in management (4.4%) and even higher than those marketers in more junior roles (5.5%) who are just starting out in their career.

Half of marketing teams faced tighter budgets last year, survey revealsPerhaps compounding this problem is that senior marketers are the least likely to be offered upskilling opportunities, according to our survey, with 60.7% of CMOs/marketing directors not being give the chance by their employer to upskill compared to 50.2% of middle management and 38.6% of junior marketers.

Senior leaders were able to comment anonymously on why they felt ill-prepared for the role they were in. One claimed they didn’t have “sufficient experience” to be operating at their current level. Another found the “red tape” associated with the role was holding them back from improving their skills.

While one anonymous marketer who had recently returned from a career break found that the boom in “digital marketing” skills had outpaced their knowledge in the time they were away.

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