Half of digital marketers doubt their skills: report

September 25, 2013  |  Wing Sze Tang  |  Comments

Digital marketing’s crisis of confidence

How well could you do your job if you lacked training, confidence and a grasp of what works?

As digital continues to eat up dollars – spending on digital advertising alone is set to hit $117.60 billion this year, a 13% year-over-year increase, reports new eMarketer stats released today – there’s troubling evidence that many digital marketers aren’t sure what they’re doing or how well they’re doing it.

That could be why only a mere 9% of marketers strongly believe their digital strategy is working – just one of the eye-opening findings from Adobe’s new study, Digital Distress: What Keeps Marketers Up at Night?

Researchers polled 1,000 marketing professionals in the U.S. across a broad range of industries, including advertising/marketing/media (13% of survey takers), manufacturing/production (11%) and financial services (8%).

Here are the most alarming stats from the 67-page report:

Marketers lack specialized digital training – and confidence
• The overwhelming majority of all marketers (85%) – and even digital-focused marketers (82%) – learned their digital knowledge “on the job.” In contrast, just 18% took courses/classes outside school, and 16% did a full-time program.

• The lack of a formal background might be one reason for shaky confidence – only 48% of digital marketers deem themselves “highly proficient” in digital marketing.

Marketers aren’t sure what’s working
• Most respondents (79%) expressed concern over how to understand campaign effectiveness. And just over half (52%) of those polled say they know their digital marketing is actually working.

• Instead of expecting a crystal-clear strategy, most survey takers believe “a constant cycle of trial and error” is normal – 61% say that’s how most companies tackle their digital marketing.

• Even if you zero in on marketers at “high-performing companies,” only 1 in 2 consider their company “highly proficient” in digital marketing.

The future is cloudy
Underscoring widespread uncertainty, marketers don’t even agree on what will be the single most important area to focus on in the next three years. With no clear consensus, answers are spread out across different categories, including:

• Social media marketing (13%)
• Personalization and targeting (12%)
• Creativity and innovation in marketing programs (11%)
• Digital advertising (11%)
• Cross-channel marketing (10%)

The stakes are high and growing
• 68% of marketers feel they’re under more pressure to prove their ROI, and 66% agree their overall success will hinge on a compelling digital strategy.

So the elephant-in-the-room question is, can they close their knowledge gaps first?

The full study can be found here.

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