In 2018, we released The State of Skills: Digital Marketing 2018 report, which examined 10,000 results from our Digital Marketing Level 1 (DM1) assessment. Our eye-opening analysis revealed there was a digital skills gap in marketing driven by missing data skills across channels. We also uncovered that top talent often existed outside the marketing function and that seniority — at least below the VP level — didn’t predict a skills advantage in digital marketing.
Nearly two years later, we’ve set out to provide an in-depth look at marketing capabilities and skills gaps with the publication of our new white paper, The State of Skills: Marketing 2020. To develop our latest report, we analyzed over 20,000 users across dozens of countries and numerous industries who took the Certified Marketer Level 1 (CM1) assessment between October 2018 and November 2019. We’ve also combed through significant CM1 data to determine how assessment-takers performed across five essential topics — consumer/customer insights, creative development, channels and execution, measurement and analytics, and marketing technology — and how those scores varied across role, work experience, and other areas.
Launched in October 2018 and created in partnership with the Marketing Standards Board, CM1 reflects a shift from thinking about “digital marketing” as a discipline in itself, toward thinking about the broad set of competencies marketers need to succeed in the digital age. Building on the DM1 assessment, CM1 guides development of critical marketing skills that align with the foundational competencies of our Marketing Career Framework, and enables high scorers to earn the industry-recognized CM1 Credential. Today, leading companies use our assessment to benchmark their teams’ skills, prospect talent, and prescribe literacy, upskilling, and reskilling programs based on assessment performance.
The State of Skills: Marketing 2020 includes key insights from some of these global industry leaders, and highlights both opportunities and challenges for organizations grappling with today’s changing marketing landscape.
“Digital has profoundly transformed the marketing function and is now the new normal. CM1 — as DM1 before it — will be key to recruiting and upskilling our marketing populations, ensuring L’Oréal has the right talents to win in the market.”
– Lubomira Rochet, Chief Digital Officer, L’Oréal
Top Takeaways From Our 2020 Report
After analyzing CM1 data for thousands of individuals, as well as the job function, seniority, and education levels for 3,300 users who self-reported information about their positions, here’s what we found.
- The skills gap in marketing still persists. Digital-native marketers outscored the CM1 global average by 34%. This trend was across all topics and methods, suggesting that an advantage in digital skills quickly turns into an overall advantage in marketing. Thus, corporate marketing organizations must continue to think about regular upskilling as a business imperative to keep pace with the rate of change in the field.
- The skills gap is primarily driven by analytics and marketing technology. The overall global average score for CM1 was 46%. When we broke down the overall average into sub-topic performance, we discovered that the lowest-scoring areas were marketing technology and analytics, which averaged 33% and 42%, respectively. However, digital-native marketers scored higher on average — 62% to be exact — compared to the general population of CM1 assessment-takers, and this advantage held true across all topics.
- Few marketers are experts in all topics. 57% of CM1 assessment-takers are experts in at least one topic, scoring in the top fifth of all users for that area. However, many of these individuals have at least one topic weakness, scoring in the bottom fifth for that topic area. This means organizations should celebrate high-potential specialists for what they know and embrace areas for skill development. Not every marketer needs to be an expert in all topics, but every marketer should expand beyond their silos and work toward a common baseline of knowledge that enables them to collaborate more effectively with teams that have complementary skill sets.
- Top marketing talent is everywhere. Organizations shouldn’t limit hiring to candidates with prestigious educational credentials or traditional marketing backgrounds. We found that 40% of nonmarketers — individuals who sit in functions outside of marketing — outscored the average for marketers. Nonmarketers who came from analytics and consulting backgrounds performed best on CM1, with scores on par with marketers. We also discovered that 30% of users without a four-year degree outscored the mean for postgraduate degree-holders. These findings tell us that expanding talent pipelines could bring diverse skill sets into marketing organizations, increasing the overall supply of marketing talent.
- Senior leaders lag behind their junior counterparts in digital skills. Directors, managers, and individual contributors outscored marketers at or above the vice president level across problem-solving methods and marketing topics. Managers and directors scored the highest, which could be attributed to having more marketing experience than contributors and greater exposure to modern, tech-centric marketing tools than senior leaders. This correlation between marketers’ seniority in the field and their technical skill set supports the case that both current and future leaders can benefit from upskilling and digital literacy training.
While the key takeaways that emerged from our CM1 analysis revealed some persistent trends, they also build on our 2018 findings, offering new data for companies looking to digitally transform and advance their marketing organizations. They also guided us toward some insightful conclusions — actionable next steps for companies aiming to transform marketers with cutting-edge, competitive skills that enable business success and drive value.
- Marketers need more technical training to keep pace with top performers in the field. Companies will need to train professionals in areas like analytics and marketing technology to close the skills gap between digital-native marketers and their nondigital-native counterparts.
- Marketing talent can be found in nontraditional places. Employers who rely on conventional talent pipelines to source professionals for marketing roles risk overlooking qualified candidates with unique backgrounds and skill sets.
- There are upskilling and reskilling opportunities at the leadership level, too. Companies should invest in training programs that enable both junior talent and senior leaders to leverage marketing tools and platforms that help their organizations compete in the modern economy.
For a deeper dive into these takeaways and the data we analyzed — including the questions and topics where CM1 assessment-takers shined (and struggled) — read the entire report here. You can also explore our Enterprise solutions to learn more about GA’s assessment-led approach to upskilling and reskilling marketing teams.
General Assembly is part of the Adecco Group, the world’s leading workforce solutions provider and a Global Fortune 500 company. Our Enterprise business has worked with over 300 clients in 25 countries across the globe — including more than 40 of the Fortune 100 — to transform teams through our leading-edge programs in technology, data, marketing, design, and product. With more than 25,000 employees trained, and over 70,000 alumni from our full- and part-time courses, our solutions provide immediate and proven impact on the job.