OPINION: Closing the digital divide

Tim Beveridge
By Tim Beveridge | 21 November 2012

The gap in digital expertise among Australian marketers is widening and it’s time for the industry to take action. Findings from our 2012 Big Australia Report reveal that 57% of digital marketers feel there is a lack of expertise in their organisation and 70% believe they have equal or more digital marketing experience than their manager.

There are a few simple steps marketers can take right away to ensure their teams are adequately trained, experienced and are keeping up to date with new and evolving technologies.

1. Encourage everyone to get their hands dirty: There's no replacement for actually rolling up your sleeves and getting involved, so marketers need to encourage their staff to regularly experiment with new digital tools and programs. For example, simply developing a personal blog and hooking it up with Google Analytics will help employees with less digital knowledge understand how user activity can be tracked and monitored online. There are also plenty of courses in digital essentials that marketers can sign-up to, or if there is a skilled expert in-house, training could also be given internally. Marketing teams should catch-up each week to share their knowledge and discuss industry developments.

2. Understand how data works: Using the power of data to engage with customers is more important than ever before. Those with less understanding of data should have a go at setting up their own database in software such as MSAccess and have a play around at pulling out different data sets. Simpler, smaller, cheaper versions of enterprise tools are available for all of us to use too, so there's no excuse for not educating ourselves. No amount of PowerPoint presentations can replace actually thinking through problems and creating solutions yourself. If your whole team does it, and each builds a small personal project, you'd be surprised at the change it creates within your team.

3. Stop relying on IT teams for digital expertise: Many marketers still rely on their IT departments to set up marketing programs on their behalf.  Today, a wide variety of easy-to-use marketing automation programs exist, meaning that almost anyone can run a complex digital campaign, regardless of how many years experience they have. By investing in and learning how to use software upfront, marketers will not only save money in the long-run but will also have more time to focus on the more strategic parts of their role.

4. Review KPIs: Marketers need to ensure the performance of everyone in their team is in some way measured against a specific digital KPI. The benchmark should encourage staff to stretch themselves into digital and deliver work that shifts a key metric fundamental in the success of your business. If your team isn't compelled to skill up and the framework isn't created to help them do that, it won't happen.
Ensuring long-term digital success
While marketers don’t need to have an intimate knowledge of every campaign that exists, they do need to gain a deeper understanding of how digital programs work. Lucrative online marketing is now about much more than one way relationships between the brand and customer. Marketers need to keep up to date with new and emerging digital channels and ensure they are equipped with the skills to respond. Those that fall behind risk jepordising not only the rapport they hold with their customers, but also the number and value of conversions they make online.

Tim Beveridge
Director of Insights & Planning

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