By Marcus Leach

Econsultancy has published a new report revealing that while businesses see digital marketing as fundamentally important, many are struggling to develop effective processes and manage resourcing.

Research amongst in-house digital professionals finds 62% feel their board or senior management have a good grasp of the potential of digital channels. But when asked about digital knowledge within organisations, only 43% classified it as “excellent” or “good” with 16% declaring it “poor” or “very poor”.

The Econsultancy report - Digital Marketing: Organisational Structures and Resourcing - pulls together qualitative insights and quantitative research from 171 digital marketing and e-commerce managers across 15 different sectors.

It finds that, while senior stakeholders are embracing digital channels, 38% identify a lack of investment in resourcing and training. Despite 87% saying digital training was a high or medium priority for the digital marketing team, 61% said digital training remains a low priority for the organisation generally.

“Marketing teams are going through a period of unprecedented change where roles, structures and processes are all under review,” said the report’s author Neil Perkin, founder of Only Dead Fish and an Econsultancy consultant. “It is no longer the case that senior management within organisations are failing to embrace digital channels, but the fact that investment in training is low suggests there is a disconnect between intent and action.”

While digital training is an issue, 35% are simply struggling to recruit the right people. In particular, there were three areas cited as key priorities for digital teams in terms of future resourcing: social media and community management, content marketing and mobile marketing/apps development. Data and web analytics were other areas that many organisations flagged as a potential talent ‘time bombs’.

The majority of organisations (51%) said they now structure digital marketing capability based on functions with separate teams for online marketing, e-communications, development, sales and operations. The report charts the changes being seen in organisations surveyed, in particular a move from a ‘centre of excellence’ structure towards a ‘hub and spoke’ way of working.

“In the face of competitive, rapidly changing markets and increasing channel complexity, organisations are having to make complex choices about how to resource their digital marketing capability and also how put in place the most effective structures and processes,” said Linus Gregoriadis, Research Director at Econsultancy. “As a result organisational structures are coming under constant review to ensure they drive greater efficiency.”

Four steps for facilitating digital marketing change

The report pulls out four steps, based on feedback from the survey, that were beneficial to achieving change:

1. Having a clear mandate for change: identifying a requirement and benefit up front helps mitigate resistance and inertia.

2. Identifying totems in the business: totems that can provide real examples of best practice in new areas that other staff, teams and departments can follow.

3. Budgeting for experimentation: Allocating a proportion of the budget specifically directed at experimentation is one way in which companies have successfully accommodated a greater rate of change.

4. Early and tangible demonstration of value: Identifying and agreeing the metrics that will determine success, and providing early evidence of success allows for further investment.

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