marketing data analysis

The pandemic has accelerated the digital journey of companies by almost a decade. Data by Statista shows that, in the UK, even though many businesses across industries saw significant cuts in marketing budget during COVID, their spending on digital advertising continued to soar.  

The UK remained among the largest digital ad markets in Europe with digital ad spend touching USD 15.57bn between 2007 and 2020, and media ad revenues touching 39.4bn during the same period. Two years since, the ad spends have only soared further. Research by Insider Intelligence predicts that, in 2022, the digital ad market spend in this region will touch £25.84bn. 

These increased digital spends have been coupled with an increasing dependency on data-enabled marketing initiatives, and the use of AI and ML technologies to draw insights from these data.  

In our earlier blogs, we looked at why data-driven marketing is crucial, and how companies can drive better campaigns and higher ROI with quality data. But, is quality data alone enough? Not really.  

Companies still require data analytics talent to churn and draw insights from these data sets to drive effective campaigns. For example, a 2022 career and salary survey by Marketing Week revealed that of the 4,463 people who took the survey, 27.4% of respondents believed that a data scientist (for marketing) is the most in-demand position on the team and 33.4% of respondents reported the lack of data and analytics skills as a key concern.  

But, is the availability of talent really a significant challenge for companies today? Yes. Here’s why. 

The trickle-down effect: Although data-driven marketing has proven to drive higher loyalty and better ROI, marketing leaders have still not realised the full impact of data-driven marketing.  

In fact, a study conducted by UK-based Chartered Institute of Marketing found that between 2020 and 2021, key data and digital skills of marketers have stagnated or declined. Today, data-driven marketing requires marketers to have qualitative, quantitative and technical skills. But, given the pace at which features are evolving across social media and digital platforms, we find that marketers are unable to keep up, or simply choose not to upskill themselves to stay relevant.  

Incidentally, this pattern is being seen with marketing leaders too. Since they are unable to envision how data can shift the marketing mindset, they are unable to trickle down its need and importance to their peers.  

Going beyond using basic data/AI capabilities: There’s enough data out there to prove that AI adoption in marketing has accelerated in the past few years. A Salesforce Research State of Marketing Study shows that between 2018 and 2020, use of AI by marketers has jumped from 29% to 84%.  

As a Merit expert adds, “Though adoption is high, a large portion of the marketers are using AI only for basic functionalities like campaign management and product recommendations. They still don’t have the technical expertise to embrace certain types of AI/ML technologies to draw predictions on what a customer journey is likely to look like, and how customer engagement can be made more personalised.”  

Upskilling vs External Hiring: While it is true that marketers are being pushed to up their game in the data analytics space, we’re seeing a trend where companies are not willing to invest the time and effort needed to upskill these marketers (as existing talent). Instead, they’re looking for quicker solutions in hiring talent that already has data analytics capabilities.  

The Marketing Week survey shows that brands are twice as likely to hire external talent to aid their workforce (40.1%) than retain and train their existing talent (21.3%). What’s also not aiding this seeming choice by companies is the great resignation (post-pandemic), where employees are voluntarily quitting their jobs in groups, in search of better opportunities, better work culture, and a better lifestyle.  

In the UK alone, a PwC survey found that a fifth of the UK workers expect to leave their current job in the next 12 months, to look for better pay and job satisfaction. So, the question really becomes; in the process of looking for external data analytics talent, are companies not providing enough growth opportunities for their internal employees? Moreover, with employees readily choosing to quit their jobs, do companies really have all that external talent readily available to hire? 

How Can Companies Solve the Data Skills Gap faced by Marketing Teams? 

They can adopt a number of measures to address the skills gap. For one, instead of only hiring to meet data analytics (DA) needs, companies can adopt a combination of hire and upskill approach. They can plan and identify necessary skills required for the roles, and make learning an organisational goal, rather than restricting it to a few members, or a particular team. This way, data analytics is not just restricted to a select few, but cuts across functions and teams.  

For example, Unilever has an upskilling and ‘future-skilling program’, where it allows its employees to work in different functions 20% of their time, so that they can pick up cross-functional skills relevant to their role.  

Alternatively, companies can identify specific skill gaps and train employees in addressing those gaps. For example, they can train in Google Analytics or Google Ads certification, or if they need to train in specific platforms which have constant tech upgrades (like Instagram or Meta), they can undergo specific training to upskill themselves.  

In conclusion, data skilling requires a company to first set down goals, and identify the skills they need to achieve these goals. One thing is for sure – skilling will not be a one-time exercise. It will be ongoing, given the pace at which digital technology is evolving everyday.  

Merit Group’s expertise in Marketing Data   

At Merit Group, we partner with some of the world’s leading B2B companies. Our data teams work closely with our clients to build comprehensive B2B marketing contact lists that provide a direct line to their target audience.  

If you’d like to learn more about our service offerings or speak to a marketing data consultant, please contact us here: 

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