A report from digital and marketing advisory Arktic Fox and Michael Page has found that 46% of marketers feel that the biggest knowledge and skills gap in their teams is data and analytics, closely followed by measuring performance and outcomes on 37%.

Only one in three marketers felt that data literacy was strong within their department, and 36% said data strategy and management is the most challenging capability to build out within the team.

Source: Marketing State of Play 2021


Meanwhile, 38% of marketers say they are looking to bring data and analytics in-house.

Arktic Fox founder and director, Teresa Sperti, said the lack of data literacy in marketing teams is hampering the practice’s ability to have greater influence over a business’ growth.

“What this research is overwhelmingly suggesting is marketing departments need to begin to address the data skills gap within their teams. Data and reporting have to extend beyond the role of an analyst or an analytics team and be the way we do business as marketing teams,” Sperti said.

“This is not to say specialists aren’t required, but data literacy needs to be built more broadly if marketers are able to demonstrate their commercial ability and better influence business outcomes and decisions.”

‘The Marketing State of Play’ comes from a survey of 230 marketing and digital leaders across all sectors in Australia.

75% of marketers are hoping to embed a data-driven approach to their marketing in the next 12 to 18 months, with 66% saying they are looking to improve data quality. Only 22% said they were prioritising improving compliance with data privacy in that time.

Issues in data use and literacy in marketing teams extend as far as 35% of respondents saying lack of expertise to use data as well as disparate sources of it are the biggest challenges they are facing, creating complexities in resolving the problem.

Source: Marketing State of Play 2021

While balancing short and long term priorities as well as resource constraints are weighing on marketers’ minds, 31% say digital transformation is one of the biggest challenges they are currently facing.

29% of respondents invest over 51% of their budgets in to digital.

“The study found 38% of marketers are struggling to secure additional investment in marketing budget and resources – which is not surprising when you consider the lack of capability in data and analytics to demonstrate the value of marketing,” Sperti said.

“Although hiring an analyst or team of specialists may be on the agenda for many – we believe it is important to address the issue more broadly. We need to make data concepts more accessible and build confidence in marketing professionals more broadly to utilise data as part of what they do on a daily basis.”

“Re-thinking the budgeting approach and how investment decisions are made can help marketers accelerate digital adoption. But this often needs to be coupled with re-educating the business on why the marketing approach needs to change and evolve.”

Source: Marketing State of Play 2021

Marketers are also facing challenges implementing and embedding martech into their systems (41%). Many are struggling to scale the technology in their business as 33% found demonstrating return on investment a challenge.

Despite not being new to the market, CRM is the main priority for marketers in the martech space, followed by marketing automation and CMS.

48% of marketers spend less than 10% of their budgets on martech with 50% saying that is set to only slightly increase in the next 12 months.

Further findings on budgets include 21% of marketers reporting that their budgets in the past 12 months have been reduced by more than 20%, while 42% report it has remained the same.