At a round­table dis­cus­sion ear­lier this week, hosted by Kristin Brewe from the IAB and attended by indus­try experts, we explored new research* into what’s keep­ing 500 senior UK mar­keters awake at night.

It revealed mar­keters are suf­fer­ing from a “dig­i­tal dis­con­nect” with less than 10 per­cent of senior UK mar­keters hav­ing full con­fi­dence in their own dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing skills [8%] or those of their teams [9%]. In addi­tion, over 50 per­cent of mar­keters in the UK are not test­ing cam­paigns or con­tent, rely­ing instead on instinct.

This echoes research recently car­ried out in the US where just 9 per­cent of mar­keters are fully con­fi­dent that their dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing is work­ing, while 61 per­cent believe that for most com­pa­nies, dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing approaches are a con­stant cycle of trial and error.

The prob­lems in the UK are height­ened by the fact that two thirds of mar­ket­ing depart­ments do not have a devel­oped data analy­sis and insight strat­egy and so there is a lack of infor­ma­tion as well as expe­ri­ence. The con­sen­sus at the round­table was that the first step for mar­keters has to be to make dig­i­tal a more cen­tral focus in their mar­ket­ing strat­egy. They need to con­cen­trate on the chan­nels that will help them achieve their busi­ness goals.

I believe that at the moment many mar­keters don’t quite know what is work­ing and don’t feel they have the nec­es­sary skills or expe­ri­ences to suc­ceed in the dig­i­tal envi­ron­ment. They are find­ing it tough to stay up to date in such a rapidly chang­ing indus­try and aren’t get­ting sup­port or train­ing. Our research showed that less than 3 per­cent of respon­dents received for­mal train­ing. This is wor­ry­ing, as despite not hav­ing full con­fi­dence in their teams, 51 per­cent of mar­keters rely on col­leagues to keep up with the pace of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing trends.

The lack of con­fi­dence is lead­ing to key chan­nels being over­looked and under­val­ued. Sur­pris­ingly, almost half of mar­keters admit to not hav­ing a mobile strat­egy in place, despite smart­phone own­er­ship reach­ing over two-thirds (68%)** of the UK pop­u­la­tion in June 2013 and mobile now account­ing for 14** per­cent of all dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing spend. And only 27** per­cent of mar­keters are mar­ket­ing at all through mobile channels.

Although mar­keters may not have full con­fi­dence in their skills or knowl­edge, most recog­nise just how big an oppor­tu­nity there is in dig­i­tal. For me, it is those who have the knowl­edge and insight and who are train­ing their teams to be more ‘digital-ready’ who will be in the strongest posi­tion to cap­i­talise on digital’s full promise.

On the topic of such low con­fi­dence amongst mar­keters in their dig­i­tal skills, check out the short video below. Do you agree? It would be great to hear what you think #MarketingTherapy.

* Vision Crit­i­cal con­ducted the research on behalf of Adobe via an online sur­vey which among a total of 501 UK mar­keters between 11–14 Octo­ber 2013, of which 90% of respon­dents are senior level or sole deci­sion mak­ers.  The remain­ing 10% were in more junior roles.  80% of the respon­dents were male, 20% female.

**Source: Inter­net Adver­tis­ing Bureau UK (IAB) Dig­i­tal Adspend report, con­ducted by PwC, with UKOM-approved com­Score con­sumer data