The Digital Marketing Skills Gap

The skills gap in the digital marketing sector is a growing concern. Get the insights into what these concerns are and learn how we can close the gap.

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on linkedin
Share on email

The age of digital marketing is well and truly upon us.

Recent figures from TheDrum indicate that newspaper circulation is declining, and Ofcom have reported that fewer people than ever are watching static TV. Therefore, it makes sense for businesses and brands to turn their marketing strategies to where people are actually spending their time – online.

So, are the marketers of the world ready for this switch?

It would seem not. B2B Marketing has reported that 70% of the UK’s current marketing leaders have admitted that they’re worried about a lack of digital skills in the industry. With the digital marketing landscape constantly evolving and expanding, this gap is only going to get wider if something isn’t done.

But where does the problem lie?  

Well, it seems that money is not the problem since the UK’s digital ad spend is close to reaching £15 billion this year (2019). 

And if these businesses are willing to cash out to get digital results, where are they going wrong, and how can they fix it?

If these are the questions you’ve found yourself asking and you’re looking to bridge the skills gap in your business, read on for a little understanding as to where to start…

What Skills Are Lacking?

The term ‘digital marketing skills gap,’ while true, is a little vague.

Digital marketing, as a whole, is a huge industry, with multiple different factors that play into it. This can range from content marketing, SEO to analytics expertise. With this many different areas in play, it makes sense that not every area will be as well understood, while others are more saturated.

Because of this, it is important to understand which sectors are lacking, so you can see if this stands true in your business. Gaining this knowledge will help you take the first step in future-proofing your digital marketing strategy.


Paid Social Media Advertising 

It is no secret that social media plays a humongous role in modern day marketing. The London School of Economics reports that 2.9 billion people currently have a social media account, which is a level of reach and potential that is hard to find anywhere else.

These statistics alone should be enough to have marketers scrambling to place their ads on the biggest social media sites. However, 71% of organisations have admitted that while they know the benefits of paid social ads, they believe there is a gap in employee knowledge on how to utilise them.

As paid social adverts are one of the most cost effective ways to raise brand awareness, and to bring traffic to your site (at a reported average value of 79 pence per click on Facebook), it is extremely worthwhile ensuring your team have the skills to use this medium correctly.

Paid Search Advertising

Sticking with the theme of Pay Per Click (or PPC,) Paid Search is the next skill that businesses think their force could use a boost in.

Paid search, just like paid social, involves paying to bring traffic to your site – although instead of having full scale adverts appear, it boosts your site to the top of search engine searches. This allows businesses to bid for relevant keywords and search terms, and promote their site on the top page of Google, Bing or other search engines. There are a few different ways to do this, such as using the Google-owned Google Adwords.

As InternetLiveStats have reported that 3.5 billion Google searches are made every day and the volume of searches growing by 10% every year, it only makes sense to have a marketing team who know their stuff when it comes to paid search. But as it stands, 70% of the surveyed market leaders don’t believe these skills are present.

Marketplace Selling

Marketplace selling is exactly what it sounds like. You’re probably familiar with a typical marketplace, which involves a variety of vendors selling different wares – well, an online marketplace is just like that, only online!

The most well-known marketplaces are Amazon and eBay. Amazon has over 300 million customer accounts, and eBay, 167 million active users. On top of this, Facebook has recently began promoting their own marketplace feature to businesses, opening the door to marketplace selling further.

These figures as well as real-time sales insights, and the ability to quickly and easily communicate with customers all over the world are just a few of the reasons that marketplace selling should be a high priority for businesses. Therefore, it is concerning that 71% of the surveyed marketeers reported a lack of skills in online marketplace selling.


Search engines are an incredibly important tool for any business. While PPC is a great way to get noticed in the short term, if you want to cut back on costs and still achieve your desired results, an SEO strategy is essential.

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization involves optimising your website in a way that makes it appealing to both users and search engines. This has many different levels, including technical SEO (which focuses on the crawling and indexing of a site) and content creation  (which focuses on the use of keywords and production of relevant, high quality content.)

Ensuring that your site is SEO friendly will mean that the amount of traffic (and therefore, profit!) you are receiving is increased, as internet users tend to stick to the first few search results, they certainly don’t stray away from the first few pages, as shown in the AdvanceWebRanking graph below. In short, the higher up the results page you are – the better.

Therefore, having a knowledgeable and skilled SEO team is a must in every business. However, 66% of the marketing experts reported that this is an area that skills are lacking in their business.

What Does This Mean For The Future?

This lack of digital skills poses a lot of challenges for UK businesses and businesses across the globe.

One of the largest challenges being that the rate of technological change is constantly increasing, and if skills are not being developed, those businesses that are already falling behind risk being left in the dark.

It is also a concern that if there are not knowledgeable people within the business already, it can be harder to interview and recruit the right talent.

How to Address Digital Marketing Skills Gap?

So, you’ve seen what skills are lacking, and the risks of this. But how do you fix it?

Well, the fix is probably easier than you would have thought. 

Upskilling Current Employees


While it may be tempting to rush out and hire a hoard of new, promising employees, this isn’t always necessarily the best way forward.

Many of your existing employees will already have some of the skills needed to succeed in these types of roles, and will be more than willing to brush up on the parts they don’t already have. Doing this can be much more cost effective, help with future recruitment and also help build a reputation and a better employer. Go2HR have even reported that offering training to employees can help with reducing turnover.

If you’re wondering how to help upskill current employees, there are numerous different ways that this can be done. Courses, such as our digital marketing training courses are a fantastic way to brush up on the latest industry knowledge and build valuable skills. Conferences and events are another brilliant way to teach your team about what is going on in the digital world, and in some cases can even be free to attend!

Build a Team

Another aspect that is important to remember when building knowledge within your business, is that nobody can be an expert in everything.

This means that it is important to look for employees who are an expert in what they do, and build a team of knowledgeable individuals, rather than searching for one person who can do everything. For example, having a PPC whizz, a skilled content creator and a technical SEO is much more realistic than a one-man band, and more beneficial as it allows these people to focus more intensely on their specific role – hereby gaining better results.

Alongside this, these employees will be able to share knowledge of their respective areas with each other, and form stronger skill sets this way.

Bridging the Skills Gap


Hopefully, now you know bridging the skills gap is an achievable goal, and the way to do it is through training and knowledge sharing. Investing time in your own employees, and training them to be the best they can be will, in turn, return results that every business wants to see.

The IIEPD provide a diverse range of CPD accredited digital marketing courses. Unlike other digital marketing training programs, IIEPD provides learners with a host of different digital marketing training resources including access to the IIEPD Influencer Affiliate Program, the IIEPD Influencer Network and subsidised digital marketing services from Pie Analysis.
For more information, get in contact with IIEPD today.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

More To Explore

Social Media Marketing

What is Mass Looking on Instagram?

Mass Looking is an emerging trend that allows you to view multiple Stories to help you grow Instagram account. But is this a viable tactic, or is it frowned upon?