Data Skills Low In 2 Out Of 3 Australian Marketing Departments: Study

Data Skills Low In 2 Out Of 3 Australian Marketing Departments: Study

Data literacy and capability within marketing teams isn’t just a gap, it’s a gaping hole within our industry that we must address, with only one in three marketing leaders of the belief that data literacy was strong within their department.

That’s according to a recent study undertaken by Arktic Fox and Michael Page Australia.

The result is just one of many key findings from a new study called “The Marketing State of Play, An Australian Study.”

The study, which surveyed more than 230 marketing and digital leaders across Australia, explored the core challenges marketing teams are tackling and how marketing teams are evolving in the wake of the myriad of challenges they face.

Data and analytics, as well as measuring performance and outcomes, topped the list of skill gaps within marketing departments, with 46 per cent and 37 per cent of marketers respectively suggesting it is one of the top 3 skill gaps that exist within their functions today. In addition, only one in three marketing leaders agreed with the statement that data literacy was strong within their department.

Arctic Fox Founder & Director Teresa Sperti says whilst we are in an era of data-driven marketing, many marketing departments are struggling to make sense of the data at their disposal and utilise it in meaningful ways.

“The study found 38 per cent of marketers are struggling to secure additional investment in marketing budget and resources – which is not surprising when you consider the lack of capability in data and analytics to demonstrate the value of marketing,” she said.

“Although hiring an analyst or team of specialists may be on the agenda for many – we believe it is important to address the issue more broadly. We need to make data concepts more accessible and build confidence in marketing professionals more broadly to utilise data as part of what they do on a daily basis.”

The study also revealed digital transformation is firmly on the agenda for marketing leaders – with 31 per cent of marketing leaders citing it as one of their key priorities.

“Whilst COVID has done wonders to accelerate the focus on digital – skill gaps and levels of investment will hamper progress for many marketing teams and their respective organisations,” she said.

The report found one in two marketing functions are spending less than 30 per cent of their marketing budget on digital and it is those operating within retail, business services, FMCG, healthcare and medical, and manufacturing and agriculture that are investing proportionally less in digital.

“In addition, six in 10 marketers agreed with the statement that digital literacy was strong within their department – which demonstrates whilst digital isn’t new – we aren’t closing the gap fast enough,” she said.

The report shone a light into the extent of in-housing occurring within marketing functions today. 40 per cent of marketers cited that they have or are planning to in-house skills and capabilities as one of the key ways to improve performance and drive efficiency.

Leela Lewis, Director of Marketing & Digital at Michael Page Australia said the always-on nature of marketing, the need to support content across a greater number of formats and placements and the need for agility are all drivers of in-housing.

“In recent months we have seen growth in demand for digital communications specialists client side which could be influenced by the desire for marketers to bring these skills and capabilities increasingly in-house in areas like content, social and creative,” she said.

Other key findings from the report included:

  • 38 per cent of marketing teams had their budget reduced over the past 12 months;
  • 29 per cent of marketing leaders feel finding implementation partners that we can trust / can support our needs is one of the key challenges they face when it comes to MarTech;
  • Balancing short and longer term priorities is the biggest single challenge marketing leaders face in a rapidly changing environment; and
  • 54 per cent of marketing leaders stated that COVID forced their marketing department to think differently and innovate.



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