How do companies compete for talent in the world of digital marketing?

If the online space wasn’t already competitive enough, an additional 93 million mobile phone users entered the market in 2020. The need for businesses to stand out has become a little more difficult, and to get ahead of their competitors, many companies have sought to boost their digital marketing strategy. The more companies need marketing, the more agencies need staff. It soon became apparent that the talent pool was not large enough to support this explosion of growth.

What are the most in-demand digital marketing skills?

While the need for digital skills covers just about every marketing principle, there are a few that stand out. If you work in the world of digital marketing, you won’t be surprised to know that paid social media – the internet marketing strategy that places advertisements on social media platforms – is currently the biggest skill, with demand having increased by 116.4%. This is putting enormous pressure on agencies, which now have to more than double their paid social benefits to cope with the workload.

Unsurprisingly, paid social networks were the big winner of 2020 and continued to grow in 2021. When lockdown hit, most of us moved online to relieve boredom. There was a whole new market for social media advertising, explaining the peak in the need for experienced professionals in the field.

Likewise, content marketing has seen a surge in interest from businesses with a 31.9% increase in demand, no doubt linked to rising levels of online engagement, and copywriting web content also increased by 30.3%.

While the demand for these roles is on the rise, the talent pool hasn’t grown at the same rate.

Which digital marketing skills are in the least demand?

More importantly, the need for SEO frameworks has decreased by 12.6% over the past year. That doesn’t mean the industry is on a downtrend. Instead, to cope with the competitiveness of moving online, companies have turned to instant gratification with paid media as opposed to longer-term SEO strategies.

While SEO executives aren’t in high demand, that doesn’t mean SEO isn’t growing. Many well-established brands have decided to focus on SEO during the pandemic rather than pushing ads and product launches through paid media to avoid appearing inappropriate or insensitive to the situation. Of course, they had the existing brand reputation and online presence to do so – small businesses didn’t have that luxury.

Other marketing roles, such as account executives and account managers, seem to be the job titles that are moving out of the mainstream. Indeed, the need for digital skills has now been surpassed by that of real-world marketing. Of course, we could see this shift again as the world continues to shift towards pre-pandemic lifestyles.

How do agencies compete to attract talent?

The need for digital skills has reached a crisis point and the amount of work available does not reflect the number of digital marketing professionals in the market. In previous years, jobs in digital marketing were hard to come by, with agencies receiving hundreds of applications. Today, with more work than ever, there simply isn’t enough talent to fill these positions.

Earlier this year, the BBC reported that the UK was heading towards a “digital skills shortage disaster”. This is evident when considering the idea of ​​remote work. Even outside of the world of digital marketing, basic digital skills are essential for any type of office job today.

In digital marketing, agencies are also increasing salaries to secure candidates. Although they have plateaued recently, wages are still significantly above pre-pandemic wage levels.

They also try to incorporate flexible working as a benefit. But while this is certainly an improvement over pre-pandemic work patterns, it’s a question of whether these changes are permanent or whether some agencies are building on what they see as a trend of recruitment.

What challenges do digital marketing agencies face?

At the start of the pandemic, recruitment was mixed. Either the candidates were looking to jump a sinking ship, or we were too worried to leave a stable job in an uncertain job market. This inevitably broke when companies started laying off staff and agencies recruited these job-seeking digital marketing professionals.

Today, the momentum of digital marketing is still in full swing, but the talent pool hasn’t really grown during this time. This means that most agencies are now struggling to adjust to the consequences of the employment boom.

“The recruiting industry is definitely feeling the effects of the digital marketing boom. All agencies seem to be hiring for the same roles and finding candidates is getting harder and harder,” said Sara Smith, head of talent acquisition at Modo25.

“At Modo25, we always get a lot of applicants, which we believe is largely due to our completely flexible approach to work. Even before the pandemic, we embraced flexible working by allowing our team to work where they feel most productive. We also use a 4-day work week model which massively helps consider that work/life balance is at the forefront of everyone’s long-term career plans after the last year and a half.

What’s next for digital marketing agencies?

As we move forward into 2022, it is unclear how the market will adapt. New graduates are coming into the market every year, which should ease the pressure on many agencies. But the need for ongoing training may deter some from investing.

Morgan Mitchell is a senior content marketing executive at Modo25.