The Talent Revolution in Digital Marketing

The Talent Revolution in Digital Marketing

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The Talent Revolution in Digital Marketing

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  • Shortfalls in Talent, Training, Preparedness, and Priorities

    The digital capabilities of today’s marketing organizations vary in quality by individual skill, channel, and industry. (See Exhibit 2 and the Appendix.) Moreover, there’s a big dichotomy between skills related to leadership, strategy, and planning and those necessary for effective execution. Take one example: marketers give credit to senior leaders for emphasizing the importance of adapting marketing to a digital world (a score of 74 out of 100 on the DCI), but access to technology platforms to make the most of consumer data—a basic but essential necessity in today’s digital marketplace—garners a score of only 47.


    Marketers do a number of things well. They believe they have the ability to connect diverse sets of data on consumers to better understand motivations and behaviors (a score of 70). Companies are good at sourcing and using a variety of digital content (72). With the exception of the retail industry—which scored 61, drawing down the overall average—marketers think they are generally successful at translating marketing objectives into actionable metrics (69).

    Marketers are relatively clear about the role that websites play in the consumer journey (69), and many believe their websites can do more to serve differing customer needs (58). Marketers also feel they have a relatively good understanding of the role of social media in the consumer journey (66), although they need to do more to create a consistent voice for each brand across various platforms (60). Public-sector, education, and not-for-profit marketers feel they do an especially good job with social media (71), much more so than marketers in retail (56), technology, media, and telecommunications (64), and financial services (57).

    But look more broadly and more deeply, and a different picture emerges—one that shows marketing organizations largely unprepared for digital, particularly with respect to evolving technology. While senior leadership gets high marks for support (74), the grades for structure and talent fall mostly in the low- to mid-50s. Scores for investing in new capabilities that address a changing marketplace (53) and for developing marketing platforms that make the most of customer data (47) are especially low. Companies see themselves as developing content well (63), but they fall short on distribution and, especially, on making content relevant to where consumers are in the purchasing journey (49). Respondents from public-sector, education, and not-for-profit organizations and from technology, media, and telecommunications companies think they perform reasonably well on marketing analytics and on metrics and measurement; not so for those in the consumer products, financial services, and retail sectors. Testing received some of the lowest scores in the survey from marketers in all sectors and was especially low for consumer goods companies, with a score of 45.

    Even more telling, perhaps, is where marketers see themselves with respect to various digital channels. The relative strength in websites and social media falls away quickly when marketers are asked to rate their capabilities in video (a score of 49), mobile advertising (40), and mobile Web and apps (48), scores that should be cause for concern at a time when consumers are increasingly on their smartphones and watching videos.

    Several talent and performance gaps stand out:

    • Video. Scores were particularly low (38) in the use of technology to keep consumers engaged with a brand.
    • Mobile Advertising. This capability received low scores across the board, with the lowest assessment being on the use of location data in mobile campaigns (36)—one of mobile’s most beneficial attributes for marketers—and a low score on the use of data to determine the right spending levels for mobile (38).
    • Display Media. Advertisers have a serious shortfall of talent in the fastest growing and most important area of display advertising: programmatic advertising using real-time bidding (41).
    • Testing. In an increasingly data-driven function, one of the basic skills of an agile marketing organization is the ability to test, learn, adapt a campaign, then test again. But few advertisers use online channels as a testing ground for offline channels (a DCI score of 34).
    • Partner Management. Marketers are less than sanguine about the capabilities of their agency partners and about the relationships they have with these suppliers. Many do not believe their creative or media agencies are at the cutting edge of digital marketing. They have trouble working effectively with their agency partners and challenging them to get better results. Partner management received a DCI score of 54.