Advice on how to upgrade your digital marketing skills

Advice on how to upgrade your digital marketing skills

At the end of last year, research by CIM found that digital marketing skills in the industry had fallen behind during the pandemic.

The reasons why are fairly clear – a lack of investment in training and the lack on in-person contact during the pandemic.

Clare Kemsley, managing director, Hays Marketing, is a recruiter who has witnessed the surge in demand for roles with digital skillsets at their core. She has also witnessed the difficulties faced by recruiters seeking skilled talent.

She says, “Data and digital skills, in most marketing roles, are now being used all the time. There used to be a lot of training. Now, marketers have to do it themselves.”

A lack of investment in personal development during the pandemic is one key reason for the skills lag. To address it, Clare suggests, “Senior marketers have to make a concerted effort to understand and build the marketing skills that their teams will need today and in the future.”

Aware of the need, industry bodies, such as the PRCA, held a Digital Skills Masterclass training event in 2020 and will be repeating it as a two-day event in May.

But there are other ways.

Teach yourself

For busy marketers, brushing up on the core digital marketing skills is easier than ever and can cost little or nothing.

Darryl Sparey, managing director and co-founder, Hard Numbers, recommends free learning resources available on platforms such as YouTube and LinkedIn Tutorials. His agency – launched during the pandemic – has built a proposition based on data and insights to deliver marketing strategy.

“You can teach yourself so many digital marketing skills in a weekend. But then you need positive reinforcement by putting those new skills into practice,” he says.

HubSpot is amazing and Trailhead provides a Salesforce online learning platform. The big platforms provide tons of free content and not just on their own platforms,” says Darryl.

Here are his recommendations on key skills and how to gain them for free:

  • Google Analytics – Useful for judging ROI for most digital marketing activity.
  • Business intelligence tools – Google Data Studio, for example, is a valuable tool for configuring data, making it easily readable in charts, graphs and dashboards.
  • Email marketing – When engagement rates are pitifully low in most channels, email marketing’s average open rate of around 20 percent (according to mailchimp) make it a vital skill to learn.
  • A new channel – There are so many channels to learn. So choose a new, relevant channel, from TikTok to LinkedIn, and spend time on it to familiarize yourself with its possibilities.

Further inspiration

Chris King, Agency Development Director, Wildfire, believes the fall behind in digital skills is also the result of two years in isolation.

“Skills are often learned by osmosis in the office environment,” says Chris, adding, “But during the pandemic, structured learning was down to individuals. Useful skills-based learning could include how to code or use Google Analytics. But people spent so much time in front of their screens during the pandemic that it was exhausting.

“They preferred to spend time on crafts or improving their mental health or wellbeing – not on learning data analytics.”

The greatest skills deficit he has noticed over the last two years has been in strategy. He therefore recommends the free live stream Contagious Live or Agency Hackers, to “energise and stimulate you”.

The good news is that face-to-face working is on the rise. But also, for marketers behind the digital skills curve, an upgrade in hard skills or even strategic inspiration is now easier to achieve than ever – either through free online resources or more specialised industry body training.