Overcoming the Digital Marketing Skills Gap in 2024

  ●   April 30, 2024 | Business
Written by
April 30, 2024 | Business

The realm of digital marketing is experiencing a notable shift, marked by a significant widening of skills gaps. Despite strides in certain areas, the overall scenario remains a concern for marketing teams across the world, as well as for the industry as a whole. 

Recruitment has slowed down and upskilling initiatives remain an obstacle, exacerbating the challenge of sourcing talent with requisite expertise and upskilling in-house talent to fill the gaps. Compounding this issue is the conundrum of constrained budgets, leading to further confusion as to what the best course of action is for businesses to access the skills and resources they require, without breaking the bank.

Amidst this uncertainty, fundamental questions persist: what skills are truly indispensable for navigating the digital marketing landscape successfully? How can businesses accurately assess their existing skill sets and identify the crucial gaps that impede progress? And, most importantly, what steps can businesses take to close these gaps within their marketing teams?

What’s in this report?

Key takeaways

The skills gap is widening

Data presents that the digital marketing skills gap is widening, which presents many challenges for marketing teams aiming to meet their annual targets. 

Upskilling could be the key

Once you’ve identified your skills gap, upskilling internal staff is the next crucial step. Unfortunately, a decreasing number of marketing teams are offering upskilling opportunities to staff.

Outsourcing is on the rise

The majority of marketing teams have outsourced skills in the past year to ensure they have the specialised skills they require and enough resources to deliver on their KPIs.

In-demand marketing skills

According to LinkedIn job listings, some of the most in-demand digital marketing skills include Social Media, Data Analysis, Digital PR, SEO, Content Marketing, and Performance Marketing. 

Analytics skills are in demand

Data and Analytics are the biggest skills gap faced by brand-side marketing teams, a gap that could pose a serious hindrance to business success.

Recruitment is slowing down

Half of marketing teams have reduced budgets this year, meaning less funds for full-time hires and even a reduction in team size. Likewise, surveys show full time hires are not necessary for some marketing roles.

Brands thrive off flexibility

Outsourcing marketing skills to agencies or freelancers offers invaluable agility, enabling brands to scale up or down to align with changing budgets and resource requirements.

The solution is unique to you

The skill sets your team requires will depend on your business and brand goals, and how you fill the gaps will be unique to you. What we know for sure is that filling the gaps will be imperative to stay competitive.

The biggest Digital Marketing Skills Gaps of 2024

We reveal the top digital marketing skills that brand-side teams are lacking, and the impact this is having on business performance.

  1. Data and Analytics
  2. Performance Marketing
  3. Content and Copywriting
  4. Social Media
  5. eCommerce

More than one-third of marketing teams lack Data and Analytics skills

According to MarketingWeek, ‘Data and Analytics’ are the biggest skills gaps faced by the marketing industry in 2024, an issue currently experienced by over one-third (36.9%) of brand-side marketers. This presents an increase from last year, where data skills were lacking in 34.4% of marketing teams. Likely influenced by the explosion of volume, velocity, and variety of data generated by businesses and consumers, as well as rapid technological advancements, such as big data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, the data skills gap presents little sign of improving.

The inability to effectively gather and analyse data is proving a significant barrier for brands and poses a serious area of concern for businesses. We’ve witnessed these challenges among our clients, increasingly so in the past year, with a much greater number of prospects coming to us with analytics enquiries. According to our Sales team, analytics issues currently make up the largest proportion of our enquiries! From implementing Consent Mode V2 to GA4 training, it seems as though marketing teams are struggling to harness the power of their data and are looking to outsource skills to fill the gaps.

“Today’s marketing world demands technical savvy like never before. Many of our clients face challenges in mastering key technical elements, such as smoothly implementing Consent Mode V2 and ensuring data flows seamlessly for actionable insights.

“With analytics enquiries on the rise, it’s clear that businesses must prioritise bolstering their skills. It’s not just about staying ahead of the competition; it’s about empowering brands to make confident, data-driven decisions that drive real growth.”

Anjana Jayasena, Analytics Manager

Performance Marketing skills are lacking for almost one-fifth of brands

The next skill on the list is ‘Performance Marketing’, an area in which 19.6% of marketing teams are lacking, including both B2B and B2C brands. Again, this skills gap seems to be worsening year-on-year with 2023 data showing just a 18.7% gap

Interestingly, one of the most integral elements of Performance Marketing is the ability to analyse data. As such, it’s no surprise that Performance Marketing comes in second place after Data and Analytics. While you don’t need to be a data wizz, it definitely helps to feel comfortable around large data sets in order to track and analyse the effectiveness of your campaigns and leverage data to deliver highly targeted campaigns too. 

It’s estimated that almost 50% of Chief Marketing Officers spend their budgets on Performance Marketing campaigns, which shows just how critical this skill has become and how important it is to close this gap.

“The widening skill gap within Performance Marketing can be put down to a few key factors. The main one being drastic advancements in technology. In order to remain competitive, marketers need to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies, however, the pace of these advancements can restrict marketers’ ability to always be learning the newest trends.

“Another factor is the complexity of channels. Each channel is rapidly advancing, with each requiring specialised knowledge and skills, which means keeping up-to-date across all platforms, social, search, email, display marketing, etc. is not always realistic.

Olivia Sharp, Media Assistant

18% of brands lack Content skills (and no, ChatGPT isn’t a practical solution)

In 2024, 18.1% of marketing teams report a skills gap when it comes to ‘Content and Copywriting’ skills. This shows a slight improvement upon last year, when 21.4% of marketing teams stated they were lacking in Content and Copywriting skills. While certainly not a solution to the content skills gap, and not a recommended tactic for optimum content performance, advancements in generative AI are likely to have had a significant impact on narrowing this gap.

Providing augmented writing assistance and even content generation, generative AI was used by 76% of marketers for basic content creation in 2023, helping in some way to fill content gaps. While it is debatable whether AI can be classified as a solution to replacing content skills, the general consensus among digital marketers – and Google – is absolutely not.

In fact, given Google’s recent algorithm update and comments around low-quality content, we can expect this skills gap to widen further in coming months as marketers search for alternative solutions to content creation for their brand, likely reverting to some more manual, human-led methods of content creation. Additionally, we are also likely to see brands grapple to undo the potential damage they have caused their site through publishing low-quality, AI-generated content. As a matter of fact, HubSpot’s 2024 State of Marketing Report states that 26% of marketing leaders plan on hiring content creators this year!

“While AI chatbots excel at generating text based on patterns in data, they often produce content lacking in authenticity, context, emotional resonance, and search engine optimisation. So, in addition to a magnitude of other reasons, AI is by no means the solution to the Content skills gap. 

“However, when paired with a skilled, human content specialist, AI can be used to enhance efficiency and help with the creative process, so long as it’s high-quality and does not fall into the category of spam.”

Ewan Gill, SEO Analyst

Almost 15% of marketing teams lack Social Media skills

Surveys show that 14.8% of marketing teams lack social Media skills, which is particularly shocking given that 77% of businesses use Social Media as part of their marketing strategy and 50% of marketers plan to invest more into Social Media in 2024. 

According to HubSpot, the biggest challenges faced by marketers in Social Media include creating engaging content that generates leads, reaching their target audience, growing and retaining followers, as well as keeping up with trends and algorithm updates. The required skill sets to keep pace with Social Media marketing is always changing and demands constant learning and development.

“Staying on top in the world of Social Media marketing means keeping up with the latest algorithm updates, catching the wave of new trends before they get big, and honing your multimedia skills.

“It’s all about staying flexible and keeping up with changes because what you know today might be irrelevant tomorrow.”

Sophie Mizrachi, Content Manager

More than one in ten marketing teams lack eCommerce skills

It is reported that 12.1% of marketing teams are suffering from a lack of eCommerce skills, encompassing a variety of areas. Some of the most important eCommerce marketing skills include SEO, Web Analytics, Email Marketing, Social Media, and Content Marketing. Much like Performance Marketing, eCommerce Marketing is heavily reliant on data skills in order to understand consumer behaviour, improve customer experience, track sales, and optimise strategies. Again, this reiterates just how critical analytical skills are in your marketing teams.

“Ultimately, understanding customer behaviour – whether that be behaviour navigating through your website, or purchase behaviour – is key to improving performance in any eCommerce business.

“More specifically, being able to stitch these two aspects of behaviour together and extract key insights and meaning from these customer journeys can uncover opportunities for strategic decision-making to increase conversions.”

Emma Jones, Senior Marketing Analyst

4 Strategies to Overcome the Digital Marketing Skills Gap

We reveal four key strategies your business can use to overcome the digital marketing skills gap and improve your marketing performance.

  1. Conducting a skills audit 
  2. Training existing staff 
  3. Hiring external staff 
  4. Outsourcing to agencies, consultancies, and freelancers

1. Conducting a skills audit

The first step in overcoming your digital marketing skills gap is to identify where your weaknesses lie and which skills you need to fill. So, before you begin implementing any strategies to address your skills gap, you must conduct a skills audit. 

Competency framework 

A competency framework is a structured outline of the skills, behaviours, and knowledge required for effective performance in a role or organisation. It serves as a reference tool for recruitment, performance evaluation, learning and development, and succession planning, aligning individual capabilities with organisational goals and objectives. 

SWOT analysis 

A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing a business, project, or individual. It involves identifying internal strengths and weaknesses, and external opportunities and threats, enabling informed decision-making and strategy formulation to maximise advantages and mitigate risks. This can be effective for marketing teams to identify the skills they are missing, the implications this could have on performance, and the opportunities they have to solve this.

2. Training existing staff

 A lack of upskilling within marketing teams is an epidemic. When asked whether or not their employers were offering upskilling opportunities, just 36.5% of marketers replied ‘yes’ and 48.8% said ‘no’, while 14.7% ‘didn’t know’.

Last year, only 33.5% of marketers were not offered upskilling or training, a 15% difference, indicating that the opportunities to improve your professional skills at work are decreasing in the marketing world.

At Semetrical, we find this particularly surprising as we believe constant upskilling is imperative in this industry. 

5 Best ways to upskill your marketing teams

  1. Free online courses
  2. Invest in personalised training
  3. Keep up with industry news 
  4. Lunch and learns
  5. Measure and evaluate

Let’s explore the best ways to upskill your marketing teams – all of which we use here at Semetrical.

“The SEO landscape is constantly evolving, so staying ahead of the curve is crucial. In our team, we bridge the skills gap by dedicating time in weekly meetings for industry reading, as well as regular team member-led training sessions. This helps keep everyone sharp and ensures we’re utilising the latest strategies to drive organic growth for our clients.”

Heemesh Vara, Director of Organic Services

1. Free online courses

Free online courses are essential for marketing upskilling as they provide accessible, flexible learning opportunities. They enable teams to acquire new skills, stay updated with industry trends, and adapt to evolving demands without financial barriers. By leveraging these resources, organisations foster continuous learning and empower their teams to thrive in dynamic environments.

Some of the most popular, free marketing resources online include a variety of courses on HubSpot Academy, Google’s Fundamentals of Digital Marketing, Google Analytics Certification, and Moz Academy.

2. Invest in personalised training

Businesses may need to invest in expert training courses personalised to their team’s needs to address specific skill gaps comprehensively. While free online courses offer accessibility, tailored training provides deeper insights, hands-on experiences, and direct guidance from industry professionals.

At Semetrical, we provide training for businesses – both big and small – across a wide range of industries and marketing skill areas. One of our most popular sessions is our Google Analytics 4 training, which provides in-person and virtual training options to suit busy schedules, follow-up support in case you encounter any issues post-training, simplified and engaging training styles to suit most people, even beginners, and recorded sessions so you can re-watch and share company-wide.

3. Keep up with industry news

Signing up for industry newsletters, setting alerts, reading blogs, and following relevant Social Media accounts are vital for marketing upskilling. These avenues offer real-time updates, insights, and best practices, keeping professionals abreast of the latest trends, strategies, and innovations that are essential for staying competitive and continuously advancing in the dynamic marketing landscape. 

Don’t know where to start? Sign up to Semetrical’s Digital Digest for monthly industry news, read our blog for weekly advice, and follow our LinkedIn page for daily updates!

4. Lunch and learns

Participating in ‘lunch and learns’ fosters continuous learning and collaboration within and across teams. There’s a good chance your Analytics team doesn’t know what your Content team does every day, and vice versa! These sessions offer opportunities for knowledge-sharing, skills development, and brainstorming in a relaxed setting. By engaging in ‘lunch and learns’, employees stay informed about industry trends, exchange ideas, and enhance their expertise, contributing to professional growth and helping close skills gaps.

5. Measure and evaluate

By identifying strengths and weaknesses, organisations can tailor training programmes effectively, monitor growth over time, and ensure targeted upskilling efforts to align with strategic objectives. This can be done on a team or individual level. One way to do so is to make upskilling part of your team’s personal development plans (PDPs). PDPs provide a structured framework for individuals to identify their goals, assess current skills, and outline steps for improvement. However, when it comes to upskilling employees, just make sure that training plans are aligned with your employees’ goals, not just your business objectives. Invest in your teams and they will invest in you.

3. Hiring external staff

One way to overcome your marketing skills gap is to hire new faces for your team. Hiring staff represents a long-term investment in building internal capabilities and expertise, and equips you with employees that are dedicated solely to your company’s projects.

That being said, hiring external staff is not an option for many businesses at the moment. In fact, almost half of marketing teams are feeling the pinch this year with reduced budgets restricting business from expanding their teams.

While hiring external staff to grow teams and build your in-house marketing capabilities may sound ideal, it is an extremely costly and time-consuming process. The recruitment process requires time and resources both before and after the hire is made, such as for writing job listings, carrying out the interview process, working with recruitment agencies, training new staff, and more.

Similarly, a full-time hire is a long-term commitment, a potentially risky decision during uncertain economic conditions.

So, what are the alternatives?

Half of marketing teams have faced tighter budgets in the last 12 months. Surprisingly, this is a phenomenon that is affecting larger businesses more than smaller ones.

4. Outsourcing to agencies, consultancies, and freelancers

Marketing Week surveys reveal that the majority of marketers (46.2%) have outsourced marketing skills in the past year, be that to an agency or freelancer. In particular, outsourcing marketing skills is popular among B2B businesses with 53% of B2B professionals having used external marketing resources compared to 40.6% in B2C. But why?

 Marketing requires specialised skills

A whopping 48.6% of marketers report a lack of in-house skills, contributing significantly to the rise of outsourcing amongst brand-side teams. Once you start delving into an omnichannel marketing strategy, you’ll find you require marketing professionals with multiple specialisms and skills. Understandably, not every business will have the budget to hire a team of Data Analysts, PR Specialists, Content Writers, SEO Managers, Paid Executives, etc. So what do you do?

You could hire a Marketing Manager to encompass all elements of your marketing strategy, but no one is an expert in everything. The difference when you work with an agency is that you gain access to a team of service specialists with years of experience who work together towards a common goal.

“When it comes to outsourcing digital marketing talent, it can be really challenging to find the right fit for your brand. Whether it’s freelancers or agencies, there are so many options out there, and it can take some time to figure out what’s best for you. 

“From my own experience outsourcing content writing support to freelancers, I’d say be prepared to kiss a few frogs. A lot of freelancers talk the talk, however, it takes a lot of trial and error to find the right person who can truly get under the skin of your brand, adopt the right tone, and give you the level of service you want. Always go through recommendations if you can.”

Sophie Mizrachi, Content Manager

In-house talent is expensive to hire and retain

Almost one-third (28.7%) of marketers report a reduction in team size this year, which indicates that recruitment in marketing is slow and businesses are reluctant to expand their teams. A further 14.4% have pinpointed the increase in outsourcing as a result of efforts to save costs.

On the flipside, it is reported that 40.1% of marketers feel as though their responsibility is mounting, while their salary remains stagnant. A sentiment felt among two-fifths of marketers, rising workloads with minimal reward have made it more challenging for businesses to retain top talent, especially at senior leader (42.6%) and middle management level (40.7%). Whatever the reason for having smaller teams, outsourcing talent serves as an effective resourcing solution while there’s less hands on deck, and can be crucial to retaining your top talent during busy and stressful periods.

Read our guide to finding the right agency fit for your business.

Finding and retaining the right marketing talent is more difficult than ever.

“In many cases, agencies offer a distinct advantage: a proven track record showcased in case studies, award wins, and testimonials. Typically, agencies will also go through pitching, a transparent process that enables you to suss out whether the agency is the right fit for you, if you like their approach and working styles, and the results you can expect. 

“You may even have the option to try out a proof-of-concept project to really get a feel for the agency and what they are capable of.”

Nicholas Randall, Head of Organic Services

Marketing requirements change and flexibility is invaluable

It is reported that 28.9% of marketers say their reason for outsourcing boils down to simply not needing a full-time employee for that particular task. The flexibility afforded by outsourcing to agencies and freelancers provides marketing teams with invaluable agility.

By tapping into specialised expertise as needed, teams can swiftly adapt to emerging trends and shifting consumer behaviours without the constraints of in-house limitations. This flexibility enables rapid scalability, allowing organisations to seamlessly adjust their marketing efforts according to fluctuating demands and market dynamics.

  • Scale operations up or down based on current needs and resources 
  • Access a diverse pool of specialised skills 
  • Adapt to emerging trends and market fluctuations without in-house limitations 
  • Benefit from a more cost-effective and low-risk solution than hiring a full-time employee
  • Focus on your core competencies and strategic initiatives, and outsource the rest

Our clients value the flexibility that outsourcing to an agency offers. Initially engaging with us for project-based work, many of our partnerships then seamlessly evolve into longer-term retainers once they realise the value of our deliverables and consultancy, but still without the hefty commitment of hiring a full-time marketing team.”

Daisy Sawyer, Senior Digital PR Specialist

6 Most In-Demand Digital Marketing Skills for 2024

We’ve compiled a list of the top six most in-demand digital marketing skills for 2024 that every marketing team needs to deliver a successful, omni-channel strategy. Does your marketing team have the key skills to become a market leader?

  1. Social Media
  2. Data Analysis
  3. Digital PR
  4. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  5. Content Marketing
  6. Performance Marketing

1. Social Media

Looking at LinkedIn job listings in the UK, ‘Social Media’ is featured in 319,568 results, which is indicative of a significant demand for Social Media skills across the country. Out of these results, 239,956 are for entry-level roles, while just 59,995 are for mid-senior level.

Almost half of these results are just in London (120,530), which presents a huge opportunity for Social Media professionals in the big city, while also highlighting the pressing skills gap in this area.

These figures come as no surprise with the rise of Social Media marketing brought on by the growing popularity of Social Media platforms. In fact, as of October 2023, the number of people using Social Media reached over 4.95 billion worldwide and the average time spent on Social Media per day rose to 2 hours and 24 minutes – the perfect place for brands to meet consumers where they’re at!

Proficiency in content creation, including multimedia formats, community management, and analytics maximises reach, fosters customer relationships, and cultivates brand loyalty. Effective Social Media strategies amplify brand presence and generate tangible business outcomes in today’s digital landscape full of social-savvy consumers. Social Media is a must-have to get your brand in front of your target audience!

2. Data Analysis

Analytical skills are indispensable for every marketing team as they empower data-driven decision-making, precise targeting, and effective campaign optimisation. With the ability to interpret metrics, analyse consumer behaviour, and gauge market trends, marketing teams can refine strategies, enhance ROI, and stay ahead in dynamic and competitive markets. 

‘Data Analytics’ is featured in 20,556 LinkedIn job listings in the UK. So, it seems like tens of thousands of marketing teams are on the hunt for fresh talent with data skills across the nation. In London alone, there are 9,154 results, presenting lots of gaps to be filled in the capital city!

However, the large disparity between the number of Analytics and Social Media jobs, compared to the enormous Data and Analytics skills gap outlined in Marketing Week’s report, may suggest that companies are outsourcing this specific skill, rather than hiring full-time employees. As such, there are less job listings out there.

3. Digital PR

The search for ‘Digital PR’ skills returned 42,042 results in LinkedIn’s UK jobs, showing another high-demand competency among marketing teams. Out of these results, 8,809 are for mid-senior level roles and 28,209 are entry-level.

Link-building and off-site SEO are often neglected skill areas among marketing teams with on-site optimisation taking precedence, however the power of good Digital PR cannot be ignored. It can help a website improve authority, search engine rankings, and organic traffic. Proficiency in outreach, relationship-building, and content promotion fosters quality backlinks from reputable sources, enhancing online visibility and credibility.

“Mastering Digital PR and link-building skills is essential for any marketing team, as they play a vital role in building a robust online presence, enhancing brand visibility, driving traffic, and improving search engine rankings.

“By strategically building relationships and securing quality backlinks, teams establish trust, authority, and credibility. Digital PR and link-building not only elevate brand awareness but also will contribute to sustained growth and success as part of a wider marketing strategy.”

Daisy Sawyer, Senior Digital PR Specialist

4. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

While much lower than the rest, LinkedIn returns 8,112 results for ‘SEO’ skills on its job search function, indicating high-demand for an understanding of search engine marketing. Entry-level roles make up 2,917 of these results and 3,471 are mid-senior level.

On-page SEO talent is vital for every marketing team as they optimise website content for search engines, enhancing visibility and driving organic traffic. Proficiency in keyword research, meta tag optimisation, and content structuring improves search engine rankings, increases website authority, and maximises online presence, ultimately driving business growth. Without SEO, no one will find you online.

Technical SEO skills are imperative for marketing teams as they ensure website functionality, indexability, and accessibility to search engines. Proficiency in areas such as website speed optimisation, mobile responsiveness, schema markup implementation, and crawlability enhances user experience, boosts search engine rankings, and maximises organic traffic, contributing to overall online success too. In many cases, SEO professionals will specialise in Technical SEO, however, most SEOs possess the skills to dabble in on-page and technical elements.

5. Content Marketing

When it comes to content creation and strategy, there are 4,056 results for ‘Content Marketing’ skills on LinkedIn Jobs. Within this figure, 1,501 results are for entry-level roles and 1,764 are for mid-senior level.

Content plays a key part in various aspects of marketing, from crafting compelling SEO copy for converting pages to engaging thought leadership articles for brand awareness. As such, content writing skills are essential for every marketing team.

Better yet, SEO content writing skills are ideal. Having a skilled Copywriter on your team is good, but having a skilled SEO Content specialist is great. Ensuring your content is written for humans and search engines ensures maximum visibility on Google and is critical for site performance. There’s no point having incredible content on your website if no one can find it!

6. Performance Marketing

Performance Marketing skills are essential for marketing teams as they focus on measurable outcomes and ROI-driven strategies. Proficiency in areas such as PPC advertising, conversion rate optimisation, A/B testing, and campaign analytics enables teams to optimise marketing spend, drive targeted traffic, and achieve tangible business results, ensuring efficient resource allocation and sustained growth.

On LinkedIn, there are 2,055 results for ‘Paid Media’ and 1,700 for ‘Paid Advertising’ across the UK.

“Performance Marketing seamlessly complements organic efforts, leveraging data-driven insights to optimise ROI. Its agility in targeting, testing, and scaling campaigns enhances brand visibility and drives conversions.

In an era demanding precision, personalisation, and adaptability, mastery of this skill empowers marketing teams to navigate complexities and drive impactful results in real-time, alongside more evergreen strategies.”

Chi Hin Ng, Paid Media Manager


While the skill sets your team requires will depend on your business and brand goals, a combination of these areas will provide you with a comprehensive approach. If you have a digital marketing skills gap, don’t ignore it. Take proactive steps to close the gaps and prioritise your teams to see maximum business results. Be that internal upskilling or outsourcing, there’s a solution for every business and every budget.

At Semetrical, we provide a trilogy of services, encompassing both earned and owned channels to provide a holistic service and the ability to tap into cross-channel expertise.

  • Analytics 
  • Organic 
  • Paid Media 

Does your marketing team have a skills gap to fill? Get in touch to find out how we can help you close the gap and realise your digital ambitions.

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