Research reveals significant gaps in Australia’s marketing skills base

20 Aug 2018

  • Leadership
  • Digital Marketing
  • Data-driven Marketing
  • Marketing Technology

We all know there is a skills gap in our marketing capability but what’s been difficult to quantify is exactly which skills are lacking that would pose a risk to our marketing strategies.

The pace of change in our industry has resulted in many people lacking the right knowledge and capabilities to help support the new reality of digital-led, customer centric marketing that leverages the wealth of data at our disposal.

To address this challenge, ADMA set about creating a framework of skills & capabilities that are essential for a modern marketing team. Using this framework, we can now determine, based on a person’s job description, what skills are needed to be effective and to what level of capability. View skills assessment for business.

Using this framework, we’ve assessed almost 1,000 marketing professionals to benchmark their current capabilities against the industry requirement for their role.

As your Industry Association, ADMA wanted to ensure that the insights gained would help inform how we approach developing these skills and now, having just brought on board our new Head of Member Learning & Development, Neil Arshed we’re talking to all our members about the insights we’ve uncovered.

So, what did we find?

  1. The concerning gaps are at more senior roles

The data shows that those skills most needed for senior & strategic roles have the largest gaps. Our skills framework divides skills from “Entry Level” for those skills most needed at the operational level though to the more strategically focused “Advanced Level”. When we aggregate the results, we see the average gaps increase the higher up the scale. This of course, speaks to the reality that people have not been given the opportunity to learn and grow the new skills required and for those who’ve been in the industry for 10 years or more, this has put them further behind. 

Digital Marketing Skills

Junior roles are on-par or exceed industry requirements, for now. This supports assumptions that the “digital natives” are used to self-learning as part of their career development. As we saw above the more senior the role, in general, the greater the number of gaps. This means we have managers overseeing teams whose skills exceed their own in key areas. Of course, managers need not be technical experts, but this lack of knowledge presents the challenge.

Figure 1 Digital Marketing - More senior the roles, the larger the gap

Figure 1 Digital Marketing - More senior the roles, the larger the gap


  1. Skills needed to support a customer-first strategy reveal the biggest gaps

The skills needed to support a customer-first strategy are where we have the biggest gaps, a concern for businesses now competing on offering a superior customer experience. CX strategies are supported by three areas; data insights, digital engagement and strong content and it’s these areas that we see some of the largest gaps. This is an increasing concern as we see fewer barriers to entry for new competitors who are better and more agile in these areas. 


  1. More peer-to-peer learning is required

There is an opportunity for more peer-to-peer learning as we often see people who exceed the benchmark for a capability who could provide coaching for their peers and team mates.

Data to identify peer-to-peer coaching

Figure 2 Using the data to identify peer-to-peer coaching

The fact is that as more and more businesses move to data-driven strategies that support a customer first approach, demand for these skills will increase and the only way we will meet this demand is to start investing in developing those skills within existing teams as available talent pool simply does not support demand.

Business leaders need to build business cases for investing in staff development as it’s not longer reasonable to assume this will happen organically. Skills development needs to be planned in line with the broader business strategy if it is to be effective and given the priority that it deserves.

If you’d like to see these results in more detail, please contact [email protected]

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