Findings from Econsultancy’s annual State of Digital Marketing in Australia report has revealed that the digital skills and knowledge gap is still very present in Australia, with a quarter of respondents saying knowledge of digital within their organisations is “poor” to “very poor”.

Produced in association with Marketing Magazine, the report highlighted the existing barriers and issues facing Australian marketers today.

In particular, it brought to light the problem marketers are having developing the necessary skills needed to maintain an all-round knowledge of each digital offering, due to the fast-paced nature of the industry.

Poor digital knowledge

Only 8% of client-side marketers rated themselves as having an “excellent” understanding of digital, which was a decrease of around a third from 2012.

30% said their understanding was “good”, 36% said it was “okay” and 21% felt it was “poor”. 

In contrast, only 3% of supply-side respondents felt that their clients’ digital skills were “excellent, showing a somewhat more negative outlook on the current skill set of marketers.

32% of supplier respondents said their clients’ digital skills were “poor” to “very poor”, 46% felt they were “okay” and 19% thought they were “good”.

Client-side: How would you describe the level of digital knowledge within your organisation?

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for this skills gap is that the digital agenda is not being driven by leadership within organisations, as 36% of marketers indicated when they said that senior executives had a “poor” to “very poor” understanding of digital.

28% believe that senior executives have an “okay” knowledge, a drop of 9% from last year, yet 36% do believe the knowledge to be “good” to “excellent”.

Marketers are also not feeling supported by those at a senior level, with 27% of client-side marketers and 37% of supply-side marketers feeling unsupported by senior executives in their organisation.

Lack of understanding

When supply-side marketers were asked what the biggest barriers to clients investing more money in digital marketing were, a lack of understanding/education about digital marketing came out as the number one barrier at 54%, closely followed by company culture at 53%. 

This again might be tied to lack of leadership and support from the top as when asked to describe the understanding of client senior management towards the potential of digital to help business, more than a third of marketers suggested the understanding to be “poor” to “very poor”. 

Client-side: What are the biggest barriers preventing your organisation from investing more money in digital marketing?

Supply-side marketers also indicated that clients are still regularly treating digital as a secondary priority, yet expecting positive returns, highlighting that a proper understanding of digital and ecommerce activities is not yet there. 

The gap is closing

As digital marketing matures and more platforms and elements are introduced, it is only natural that there will be a period of adjustment for marketers as they get up to speed and formulate new marketing strategies and tactics. 

While the report highlighted many obstacles facing marketers and showed that there is a large talent vacuum in the digital industry that still remains, the gap does seem to be closing somewhat, giving hope that come 2014 we will be seeing starkly different statistics.