“With the rise of digital technology in the past decade, a plethora of digital marketing education options is now available for marketers at all levels,” said Clarence Zhixiong Lin, Singapore-based DBS Bank’s vice president for group strategic, marketing and communications. “Across the board, marketers are actively engaged in digital marketing training, both at the in-house level facilitated by HR or with external training providers.”
But despite the fact that training options for senior marketers are more accessible, there is still a distinct gap between those with specialised training and the majority of marketers who have had to learn on the job.
Adobe’s 2015 “Digital Distress” report found less than half of the digital marketers surveyed (48%) viewed themselves as highly proficient in online marketing. (Adobe is CMO.com’s parent company.) This can likely be attributed to the fact that the vast majority (80%) said they had learned these skills in the workplace.
Incorporating Digital Marketing In Tertiary Degrees
Australia’s leading professional marketing association, the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI), is proud of the efforts made by Australia’s tertiary institutions, particularly technology universities, to incorporate digital marketing units into their degrees.
Courses that cover topics such as creating, maintaining, and distributing online content, advertising on the Internet, and digital formats are now fairly common.
Digital marketing is no longer a recent phenomenon, with academics and practitioners who are experienced in the field now available, said Ashok Charan, an associate professor from the National University of Singapore.
“The dynamic and innovative nature of digital marketing means there is now huge demand across APAC to close the gap in digital marketing skills,” AMI CEO Lee Tonitto added. “In turn, we have seen a rise in the number of providers offering marketing short courses and workshops covering different key components of the digital marketing discipline.”
Nevertheless, Tonitto said she believes there is room for improvement. “The challenge with digital marketing education is that providers must stay up-to-date with the technology, which can be quite difficult to do,” she said.
Adjusting To The Digital Landscape
The majority of marketers across the region want to be future-ready, DBS Bank’s Lin said. “They are achieving this by designing their brands and campaigns to be digitally facing,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine any company having any impact today without embracing digital technology.”
Many of the top FMCG companies have adjusted well to the new landscape, Charan added. “These companies have built valuable and enduring online assets that resonate with their target consumers, serving compelling and informative content,” he said. “On the other hand, the vast majority of companies lack expertise in digital marketing and are not exploiting the Web’s true potential. Their websites tend largely to be ‘brochureware’ or advertising-centric sites, replicating the company’s printed brochures.”
Many customers are still confronted with nothing more than sales pitches, he said.
While digital marketing courses can equip professionals with basic knowledge and skills, Lin said he firmly believes there is no substitute for real-world experience.
“Digital marketing is part of a larger marketing ecosystem,” he said, “so the serious marketer needs to possess more than a journeyman’s knowledge of how the digital value chain works, and be equally adept in both offline and digital strategies.”