What Skills Marketers Say They Want In 2021 -- And Why

Although 86% of marketers feel they are adequately trained and skilled, nearly all report that they want a new skill in order to advance their careers. The most frequently reported skills are data analytics, performance marketing, social media, and SEO.

Sidecar surveyed 146 marketing professionals in the retail industry. The majority of respondents were based in the U.S., with the remainder in Canada. All reported that they contribute to ecommerce marketing efforts at their company.

  • C-Level executives want skills in data analytics, social media, and performance marketing.
  • SEO directors or vice presidents want data analytics, performance marketing, and leadership skills.
  • Associated and managers want data analytics, SEO, social media, and performance marketing.

Job titles including associate, manager, director, vice president, chief marketing officer (CMO), and chief executive officer (CEO). The analysis groups these titles into associates and managers, directors and vice presidents, and C-level. Responses were fielded between September and October 2020.

Some responses were not discrete skills marketers want, but rather strategic knowledge and big-picture capabilities they hope to acquire. One CEO cited the ability to create the perfect balance between digital marketing spend and great content. A director asked for strategic thinking on how to lead a brand through the changing environment.

The top five functions that have had the greatest focus in hiring during the past 12 months include social media, content marketing, SEO, email marketing, and graphic design.

This differs from the functions that marketing professionals plan to hire for during the next 12 months. Social media marketing tops the list, followed by email marketing, content marketing, digital strategy, data analytics, and graphic design.

Survey participants were asked what platforms they would like to spend more time on. Some 42% cited Google paid search, while 41% cited Facebook, 40%, Amazon; 40%, Instagram; 37%, Google Shopping; 32%, Pinterest; 20%, TikTok; 15%, Snapchat; 13%, Walmart; and 10% cited Microsoft.

Participants in the survey were asked which tasks they want to devote more time to. Brand building and data analysis were tied for the top response, with about 45% saying they want more time to do each, followed by 43% who cited competitive analysis, while 36% cited customer experience; 34% cited creative; 33% cited multichannel strategy; 32% cited customer shopping trends; 32% cited marketing attribution; 20% cited more time to devote to improving their company’s mobile experience; and 14%, more time to set goals.

  • C-Level executives cited that they want more time for brand building
  • Directors and VP levels want more time for brand building
  • Associate directors and managers want more time for competitive and data analysis.

Marketers at small businesses want more time for data analysis, creative, brand building, multichannel marketing, and customer experience.  

When asked to cite the number one goal for the company’s marketing team rather than an individual goal, 38% of marketers cited the acquisition of new customers, while 29% cited driving profitability; 9% cited increasing customer lifetime value; 9% cited retaining existing customers; 6% cited growing brand awareness; 3% cited growing website traffic; 3% cited SEO; 2% cited developing quality content; and 1% cited improving the customer experience.

When asked to cite the top challenges for this year, (multiple choice) 51% of respondents cited limited time, followed by 40% who cited limited budget, while 32% cited competing priorities, 26% cited brand recognition, 24% cited achieving scale, and 23% cited manual processes, among many more such as competition, lack of skills in-house, lack of data-driven decisions, insufficient marketing attribution, and lack of collaboration.

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