State of Digital Marketing Talent & Education


It’s time for my favorite once a year note on the State of Digital Marketing Talent & Education, built for all my colleagues in marketing, advertising and, of course, digital. We’ll take a look at what we are seeing unfold in 2014 that impacts all of us on the digital marketing skills, talent and education front here at the Online Marketing Institute.

Massive Digital Talent Gap Across all Domains of Digital

If you missed it, OMI ran a massive Digital Talent Gap study at the end of 2013, hitting big brands, agencies and the SMB, and found that nearly 90% of companies hiring were not able to find folks matching the skills they needed to execute the job well. This led to a huge debate on how to fix this problem and who will fill the education gap left by the universities.

The OMI response to this has been to build what we call “Learning Paths” in curating our eLearning library of over 400 on-demand video classes and helping folks learn a skill (say, social media marketing) from point A to Z and leave with a certificate in B2B, Small Business, Agency or New to Digital for example.

Big 2104 Team Training & eLearning Adoption for Agency & B2B Brands

For the first time in my 15-year career in digital, I have seen a massive adoption of training and continuous eLearning programs. This stems from a combination of all the press eLearning (e.g., MOOCs) is getting as well as the realization from all levels that if we don’t set some standards, baselines and true best practices in digital, we’ll suffer greatly. Part of the driving interest is deep evaluation on digital marketing strategies, as we saw enormous interest in our Digital Strategy Guide.

Encouragingly, we are seeing agencies leading the charge (ain’t that a change!) with the global eLearning Digital Essentials program,the 10,000 worldwide for leader like JWT, or highly custom courses created for the smaller B2B agency to help tie digital knowledge to client services revenue/retention activity. Not to mention folks like Caterpillar training 1,000+ dealers or Staples providing eLearning access to an entire marketing team. It’s been a banner year for folks prioritizing learning over executing. Moreover, we’re seeing Digital IQ (from our Digital IQ Assessment) scores declining for most but improving for the agency.

There’s so much more here to talk about, so if you want to continue the conversation, ping me on email or LinkedIn. 


Content Marketing & Analytics SkillsTop the List of Being in Demand

We are seeing a constant drum beat of content marketing needs from all levels, which was also reinforced in our Talent Gap study.  Using content marketing as a framework for great planning across multi-channel digital strategies is emerging as the leading area of interest for the B2B marketer as well as at the executional level. Analytics also stood out on everything from simple Google Analytics dashboards all the way to big data. This is a skill that is in high demand and will separate the winners from the losers on managing digital spends well.

This gets me juiced because we really made strides in providing complete coverage of every angle of Content Marketing in adding over 40 New Classes on Content Marketing to complement our Content Marketing Certification Program, as well as a nice little Content Marketing Planning Guide to support the planning efforts.

Small Businesses & Startups Gaining Upper Handin Market Share Online

In essence, small businesses are moving more nimbly and aggressively to take advantage of all the hugely impactful changes on major platforms like Google for SEO and Google+ Author Rank, Twitter and its new ad serving opportunities, Facebook Newsfeed changes as well as serious mobile responsive design and local ad and retargeting strategies.  The opportunity to level the playing field hasn’t been this good since the onset of SEO back in 1999. 

There are small business Learning Paths, certificates and an entire section that drives small business results in digital.

Managing the Younger Generation Common Challenge (& Focus) for All

Apologies to anyone who may fit this mold, but it’s a big challenge for the various marketing team managers and HR.  Over 81% of hiring managers said this is a major hurdle for them. The good news is there are some great strides being made in management structure and business knowledge being implemented, so this very smart and capable generation is molded into productive employees.

We took heed here and built a “New to Digital & Intern” program for folks to get a basic knowledge set so they can walk in the door better prepared. 

In summary, there are tons of opportunities for all of us, from Agency Client Service Heads to Brand Marketing Managers to Small Business Owners and Global Enterprise DigitalDirectors. And the Digital IQ (from our Digital IQ Assessment) scores going up across the board seems to indicate a renewed push to learn. All in all, the industry seems poised for real improvement on how we execute, drive ROI and instill true best practices. It goes without saying, but anyone who has interesting insights on these topics or needs on the learning and education side (both personally or for the company), please drop me a line.

Happy learning in 2014,


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