Digital marketer skills gap sees data proficiency dawdle

Improvements to segmentation and targeting will be the biggest area of focus for digital marketing practitioners over the next twelve months, according to a study by Responsys.

The marketing solutions provider’s ‘Big Australia Report’ interviewed 125 Australian digital marketers in July and August 2012, finding that 74% intend to improve their targeting and segmentation techniques. Additionally, around one in two of the sample intend to make improvements to their ROI analysis, grow their opted-in databases, extend their cross channel usage, increase their following on social networks and improve automation.

More digital work is being done in house, according to the study, demonstrating increasing confidence with digital skills. Just over a quarter (28%) of Australian companies surveyed outsource digital marketing activities compared to more than half (57%) in 2011.

While the skills shortage that has dogged emerging digital practices over the past year appears to be lifting, vice president of Responsys Asia Pacific, Simon O’Day, says there is a widening gap between the haves and the have nots. “There’s now an increasing divide between marketers who are using technology to build lasting, individual relationships with consumers versus those who rely on mass distribution of messages.

“While it’s encouraging that skilled marketers are now focusing on more targeted forms of digital communication, it concerns me that a significant number are failing to use existing customer data to optimise and execute smarter campaigns.

“It’s clear that the next generation of talent is hot on the heels of those in more senior positions. Unless Australian marketers start moving with the times, in a few more years we may see the younger, savvier digital marketers landing the top strategic marketing jobs in favour of their counterparts with more years on the clock.”

Marketers continue to report a lack of time, resources and issues around digital expertise as challenges impacting on the industry. Data is one of the key points of frustration, with 52% feel that their team is not sufficiently equipped to analyse and action the amount of customer data that’s now available through the digital channels.

The pressures do not look set to lift any time soon. While half (49%) expect digital marketing budgets to increase in the next twelve months, only 37% intend to employ additional digital marketing staff, suggesting that the workload of today’s marketer is set to rise.

In addition, over half of Australian marketers (57%) feel there is a lack of digital expertise in their organisation and 70% believe they have equal or more digital marketing experience than their manager, suggesting that the gap in digital expertise is widening among Australian marketers.