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Skills

Digital agencies struggling to find the right skills

67% of agencies have hired during the pandemic – but 51% have struggled to find employees with the skills they need,  52% said that they have struggled to find contractors with the skills they need and 39% are concerned about a skills gap in the industry.

That’s according to Verblio’s annual digital agency survey, provides insight into the industry during the past year, including content creation during Covid-19, the secrets of content success and hiring, skills and the most popular tools.

Other key findings include:

  • SEO is the most desirable skill in the industry

  • Demand for content increased by 71%

  • Asana is the top tool for content success in the industry

  • 18% of marketers admit to buying links

  • Agencies gained an average of 9 clients and lost fewer than 4 over the past year

  • 75% expect continued growth into 2021 and beyond

  • Blog posts (61%), landing pages (42%) and social media posts (35%) are the most profitable content types

  • Social media posts (79%), email newsletters (65%) and outreach (27%) are the most popular promotion tactics

  • Blog posts (61%), landing pages (47%) and video (43%) are the best content to invest in

The most desirable marketing skills

The survey revealed that the most desirable marketing skill is SEO and SEM, with creative thinking and ideation, and copywriting coming in second and third.

Rank

Marketing Skills

Percentage Vote

1

SEO and SEM

71%

2

Creative thinking and ideation

65%

3

Copywriting

58%

4

Data analysis

42%

5

Social media

27%

5

Paid social media advertising

27%

6

Sales

26%

7

Developer

24%

8

Design

23%

9

Email marketing

22%

10

CRM

10%

11

Mobile marketing

8%

11

Digital PR

8%

Despite the pandemic, the vast majority of those surveyed said their agency had actually seen an increase in business over the last 12 months, with 71% agreeing that demand for content specifically had grown.

During the last year, on average, agencies have gained over nine new clients and lost less than four.

A whopping 75% of those surveyed expect revenue generated from content to increase over the next year, with just 3% believing it would decrease.

Verblio found that on average, agencies charge over $2,000 for an interactive campaign and more than a quarter charge $5000+. Unsurprisingly, social media posts are the cheapest content type with an average price of $130.

Despite interactive campaigns commanding the highest price, blogs take the top spot for generating profit, with 62% selecting blogs as one of their most profitable content offerings. Landing pages come second, with 42% saying they are a leading profit maker for their business.

Nearly all the experts Verblio spoke to agree that some form of promotion is needed to get results. Promoting via the client’s social media is the most popular method at 79%, but 18% of agencies still admit to buying links and coverage.

The survey asked experts what content offerings they plan to invest in the most over the next five years and blogs take the crown. Over 61% of content creators are looking to expand and develop their blog offering, with landing pages and video not far behind.

Top 10 tools for success

29% of agencies don’t rely on any particular tools. The other 71%, however, have plenty they can’t live without. Here are the top 10 tools for digital marketing success.

  1. asana

  2. Monday.com

  3. Hotjar

  4. SEMRush

  5. crazyegg

  6. Trello

  7. 99designs

  8. ahrefs

  9. Lucky orange

  10. accelo

Touching on the survey insights, Verblio CEO Steve Pockross, said “The results from the 2021 digital agency survey show that despite a crazy year like 2020, agencies continue to see the value in content marketing,with demand for the service increasing by 71%. It’s encouraging to learn that 67% hired during the pandemic, with SEO coming in as the most desirable skill. But with 51% struggling to find the right people for the job and 39% concerned about a skills gap, it’s clear more needs to be done to upskill teams and attract more talented individuals to the industry.”

Age divide in marketing training creating ‘significant’ digital skills deficit

Marking Learning at Work Week 2021 (17-23 May), the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) has revealed research which uncovers a significant age divide in the upskilling of UK marketing professionals.

CIM’s latest report ‘Digital Vision, living on the cutting edge’ found the majority of marketers over the age of 55 had received no training at all in the last two years, sparking concern that senior marketers may not be keeping up with the rapid digital pace of change in the sector.  

This comes after it emerged the number of unemployed people aged over 50 in the UK rose to 371,000 in 2020, a 33% rise compared to the previous year.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards digital, yet the CIM research reveals that as the pandemic hit, large swathes of marketers had not updated their skills for a number of years.

  • Training deficit – One in three marketers (35%) had not attended any internal or external training courses, events or conferences in the past two years.
  • Age divide – This lack of training and upskilling increases dramatically with age – 44% of 45-54 year olds, 62% of 55-64 year olds and 74% of those over 65. By contrast only 7% of those aged 16-24 had received no training.

Senior professionals overlooked for learning and development – Four in ten (41%) senior marketing professionals did not participate in training, a higher proportion than at all other levels of seniority. 

The low levels of training among older marketers are occurring despite an acknowledgement among 71% of marketers that young people are ahead of older generations in digital marketing skills.

Meanwhile nearly half of professionals (44%) say marketers who don’t have formal training could pose a risk to their organisations.

In some critical areas, such as data and analytics, social media and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), it is clear junior staff have focused on their development, improving their digital skills to address key customer requirements or to further their careers.

The specialists have become more expert, improving their knowledge but not breadth of digital skills, whilst managers and heads have spread their skills and, in some cases, fallen back.

The report is the latest in CIM’s Impact of Marketing series which surveyed more than 1,200 marketers, from across both private and public sectors. The report finds widespread concern about the dramatic changes in the skills required of modern marketing professionals:

  • Rapid change – Six in ten marketers (63%) say the pace of change in marketing is greater than ever.
  • A completely different skill set – Six in ten marketers (62%) agree that the marketing skill set has completely changed over the past ten years. Only 9% disagree.
  • Struggling to keep up – Almost half of marketers (44%) say that they find it difficult to keep up with the changing demands of marketing.

Chris Daly, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Marketing said: “The marketing sector has been through a huge transition in the past few years; adapting to new rules on data protection; evolving to incorporate an array of new digital channels; and responding to changing social attitudes. 

“It is worrying that so many of our peers, especially senior level marketers, have undertaken no training to help them adapt to these changes. We can understand why they might be prioritising the training of less experienced members of their team and feel they don’t have the time to fit training in, but keeping up to date in this fast paced industry should be a priority, especially when accessing learning and development is easier than it’s ever been. 

“In a sector that has faced such dramatic change in recent years, marketers who fail to upskill may be putting both their careers and their organisational growth at risk.” 

60% believed that a complete focus on digital skills can come at the expense of core marketing skills. This is felt significantly more keenly amongst 25-44 year olds. With content development at the heart of marketing it was surprising to see 59% felt good copywriting wasn’t common in the sector. Data analysis was also seen to be in decline with only 61% perceiving it as a common skills gap.

Learn new skills in 2021 with these online courses for marketers

Our selection of online courses tailored specifically for the Marketing sector will enable you to both learn new skills and improve existing ones – sign up today!

These are specially-curated online courses designed to help you and your team improve expertise and learn new things.

The Sales & Marketing and Management, Leadership & Business Operations online learning bundles, provide you with over 100 courses, which cover all areas of both professional and personal development:

  • Converting Leads into Sales Certification
  • Creating a Marketing Plan Certification
  • Closing Techniques Certification
  • Cold Calling Certification
  • SEO for Business Certification
  • GDPR in The Workplace Certification
  • Project Management Foundation (Small Projects) Certification
  • Project Preparation Certification
  • LinkedIn for Business Certification
  • Vlogging Certification
  • Customer Retention Certification
  • Negotiation Skills Certification
  • Networking for Sales Professionals Certification
  • Online Reputation Management Certification
  • PR Certification
  • Presentation Skills Certification

And many more!

Find out more and purchase your course online here.

For just £99 (usually £149), you can share the courses with your colleagues over a 12-month period.

Additionally, there are a variety of bundles available on all spectrums;

  • Personal & Professional Development
  • Healthcare
  • Sports & Personal Development
  • Human Resources
  • Customer Services
  • Health & Safety
  • Education & Social Care Skills
  • Sales & Marketing
  • IT & Personal Development

Book your courses today and come out of this stronger and more skilled!

Ransomware

47% of employees in Marketing lacking cyber security skills

Cyber security remains one of the most challenging issues for business owners – large and small. And it seems data breaches cost UK enterprises an average of $3.88million per breach – according to IBM. 

And considering much of the global workforce is now remote, it has never been more important for employees to be cyber aware. 

Specops Software recently found that Clickjacking is the most common form of hacking in education at 66%. Whilst Phishing was extremely prevalent among other key industries at 71%.

This prompted the company to investigate the industries without sufficient cyber security training by surveying 1,342 businesses across 11 sectors across the UK. 

On average, just 41% of employees across all sectors surveyed have not been provided adequate cyber security training. 

It is perhaps unsurprising that those working in Travel and Hospitality have not been adequately trained against cyber threats (84%). It comes after EasyJet was recently targeted in a serious cyber-attack whereby email addresses and travel details for around 9 million customers was breached. 

In second place is Education and Training. 69% of respondents who work in this industry claim they have not been trained sufficiently against cyber threats – a worrying statistic as breaches compromise student and staff safety. In fact, cyber attacks have been increasing year-on-year as more instances are reported, with four key reasons attackers target educational institutions: DDoS attacks, Data theft, financial gain, and espionage. 

Other key industries that have not provided sufficient training include Marketing, Advertising and PR (47%), Medical and Health (42%) and Charity and Voluntary Work with 29%. 

Understandably, the sectors with far more stringent cyber security training processes include Legal Services (16%) and Recruitment and HR (19%). 

Specops also sought to find out if the level of cyber security training had changed since the beginning of COVID-19.

Out of the 1,342 respondents, the results revealed the following:  

  • I have been trained a lot more since COVID-19 – 21%
  • I have been trained a little more since COVID-19 – 37%
  • I have not been trained since COVID-19 – 42%
Business Sector% of businesses that have since implemented cyber security training sessions since COVID-19 
Education and Training76%
Medical and Health65%
Computer and IT39%
Travel and Hospitality37%
Customer Service23%
Creative Arts and Design22%
Charity and Voluntary Work15%
Marketing, Advertising and PR13%
Legal Services13%
Accountancy, Banking and Finance10%
Recruitment and HR8%

Specops Software found on average just 29% of business sectors have initiated additional cyber security training. 

94% of respondents claimed it was the responsibility of their company to keep them up to date with cyber security training, whilst 79% could not identify if they were hacked.

To further complement the survey, Specops Software’s Cyber Security Expert Darren James has provided some expertise:

  1. Why is it important for all employees to be trained?

The fact of the matter is that you can put as many security systems and procedures in place as you wish, but usually the weakest link is always the human being involved. Providing cyber security training is essential. Subjects such as password hygiene, email scam/phishing/malware awareness, social media usage etc. are important and the more attention we can bring to it via training at work, the less likely people in general will fall victim to these crimes.

2. Should companies integrate training on a regular basis and how often?

Generally, it’s a good idea to provide basic training to everyone, and to all new employees, so everyone is at least on the same page. Then, it is a good idea to promote awareness through the use of a good password policy, and maybe when IT experience interactions with users e.g. service desk/desktop support etc. provide further reminders where appropriate. Some “high risk” users such as IT admins, HR and finance teams should have regular awareness training.

3. What can companies do to ensure training is kept up to date, especially now everyone is working from home? 

Working from home represents another challenge when providing training. You can send emails out or put something on an extranet/intranet page, but let’s be honest not many people are going to willingly go and look. Try arranging a “working from home cyber security awareness” call if possible – whether it is per team, or with team managers who can then pass on key information. 

Please see the full research here: https://specopssoft.com/blog/uk-business-sectors-lacking-cyber-security-training/

The Evolution of the Chief Marketing Officer

By Yogesh Shah, CEO of iResearch Services

The role of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) has changed dramatically in the last few years. What started as a role primarily based on market research, advertising and brand management, quickly evolved into a role focused on customer experience and data analytics, with key emphasis on supporting other members of the C-Suite to define the purpose of the business by providing insight into what the customer needs, rather than what the business assumes it should sell. Whilst many of these elements remain the same, the role of the CMO has now become far more complex.

Changes to content consumption, consumer and organisational behaviour, the rise of social media and worldwide disruptions such as Covid-19 have meant that many marketing strategies have been given a makeover, creating new priorities and responsibilities for CMOs as a result. 

As a valuable part of the C-Suite, the importance of the CMO role is not up for debate. Establishing a brand identity and a clear space in the market will always remain a priority, but where should CMOs now start as they navigate the new landscape?

Traditional vs digital media 

Change is all around us, but it isn’t just a result of this year’s events. One of the biggest drivers of this change is the shift in the use of media. The world has rapidly moved from the use of traditional media to have a heavy focus on digital; a change which has now become a permanent part of media and content consumption.

In the U.S. alone, digital ad spend has climbed up to $151 billion in 2020, significantly more than the combined $107 billion that traditional marketing has garnered. These figures are even more impressive when considering that in 1999, digital ads only had a $4.79 billion cap while the traditional market enjoyed as much as $94 billion at the time.

Bringing it back to the changes we’ve seen this year, CMOs are also now contending with audiences that have less, or no, commuting time and therefore have longer to consume content in different formats; will we see the rise of longer-form, data-driven content consumption? User-generated content has also become extremely prominent in many marketing and content strategies; turning to the end-user to show first hand the benefits or applications of the product or service in real-time.

With more changes undoubtedly on the horizon, traditional marketing should not be discarded. After all, many consumers claim that they have a longer-lasting impression of TV ads than they do with digital ads. The CMO therefore needs to be ready to adapt, with an open mind towards bringing back the methods of the past to meet consumer needs.

Data-driven campaigns 

The need for advanced research has also greatly changed the role of the CMO. In the past, CMOs have needed to rely purely on gut feeling, however the maturity of the market has shown that data is needed to back up these gut feelings for guaranteed success.

Furthermore, advances in technology such as big data and artificial intelligence have made their way onto the CMO’s evolving list of responsibilities. With a data-centric approach, CMOs can use the large volumes of analytics to their advantage and identify actionable patterns, trends and behaviours to use within their content and campaigns. By forecasting trends and building strategies based on concrete insights, CMOs are now able to create the next best campaign that not only resonates with the intended audience, but that creates a need the consumer might not have even been aware they had.

Taking this one step further, CMOs can integrate this data into their campaigns themselves. For a B2B audience, a CMO can create compelling, data-driven thought leadership content to demonstrate how much they understand their audience, building a relationship as a result. Acknowledging that decision-makers may still be working from home with no morning commute and therefore more time to read an industry-led report, could well be a winning strategy for CMOs to implement as businesses continue to navigate through these unprecedented times.

The future of the CMO

Research shows that 88% of organisations agree that the role of the CMO has changed in the past two years alone. These organisations also believe that the role of the CMO will continue to change.

No matter how you look at it, the CMO of today is not what you used to know. And, as the introduction of new technology continues to accelerate and ‘digital’ becomes the norm, the role of the CMO won’t stop evolving any time soon.

The CMO position is set to become even more varied than it is now, with different responsibilities and job role requirements that will make the position unique to each organisation, depending on what other roles they have within both their C-Suite and the rest of the marketing team. For example, if an organisation has a CDO, Chief Data Officer, then data analytics, reporting and strategy might not be part of the CMO’s role; but if there isn’t a CDO, then the CMO will likely be responsible for data as well as other aspects within the wider marketing strategy too.

Regardless of differing responsibilities, organisations will require CMOs to apply insight to their strategies to ensure they address wider business challenges. As a result, CMOs will no longer work in isolation but will be part of the organisation’s vision of growth and market leadership. Working in harmony with other members of the C-Suite and their own team, CMOs will be – and are – instrumental in bridging the gap between customer data and the strategy that needs to be executed as a result of that data. However, with so many responsibilities, the CMO will need a strong and structured team around them to provide support.

It’s time for CMOs to embrace the ‘new normal’, consider how they can use new – or traditional – methods to reach their new audience and to remember that data is key: both to reach their target audience and within the campaign itself.

UK marketers lacking in essential skills, new research claims…

A recent industry test developed by the Digital Marketing Institute has discovered that just seven per cent of UK-based marketing professionals hold the proficient skills required – with the average participant scoring just 37 per cent in a test where 60 per cent marked ‘entry-level’ competency.

Welcoming participants from all over the world, the results were detailed in a report and showed the significant differences and similarities between nations; where the UK was in line with marketers in Ireland and the US (both scoring an average of 38 per cent). UK marketing professionals scored the lowest in display advertising and email marketing, meanwhile scoring the highest in digital strategy.

Founder and director of the Digital Marketing Institute, Ian Dodson, expressed his disappointment in the report’s findings: “People are at the heart of the digital economy globally, but if their basic skills sets are not keeping pace with digital developments, the economy may be storing up problems for the future.”

He continued: “It raises question marks over the sturdiness of the UK’s digital economy and its ability to maintain its current growth rates over the medium term. In the post-Brexit era, it will be imperative that the UK is able to hold its own fiscally. Addressing the skills deficit in the area of digital marketing is an obvious challenge for the UK in this regard.”

A surprising conclusion from the report demonstrated older marketers slightly out-performed their younger counterparts when it came to mediums such as mobile skills; as marketers over the age of 50 scored 38 per cent, those between 34 and 49 scored 37 per cent, and under 34’s scored 31 per cent.

 

Download the full report here