Data Skills Are Essential to Marketing in 2016

opinionThe following is a guest contributed post from Ryan McCready of Venngage.

If you have been keeping up with some of the thought leaders in marketing you may be aware that there is a skill gap. Actually let me rephrase that we are in the midst of a massive skills gap. One that has not been seen by other industries in some time and many expect it to continue.

This prolonged skills gap is not only hurting the marketers, with 90% of them feeling underskilled in marketing. But also the causing the managers, marketing directors and companies trouble. Upwards of 40% of companies are finding it VERY hard to find quality talent. But what has caused this?

I believe that it is a combination of two very important factors. The first is that marketing has gone through an extremely fast evolution over the past few years. What was useful and trendy a few years ago is now no more than a baseline skill. One of those skills that has seen this fall from grace was social media management. It used to be the hottest skill in marketing and now it is no more than an expected skill all marketers should have.

The second factor, which was somewhat caused by the first, is that marketing has become a data heavy department. A majority of decisions rely on not only collecting but also analyzing large swaths of data. In the past it was dominated by the creatives of the world but now it is starting to be taken over by the technically focused brain. And that will continue as we see marketing evolve again over the next decade.

These trends were echoed by some of the bigger names in the marketing and hiring community. With LinkedIn putting Data Analysis as the second most important skill to have in 2016, and was the top skill in 2015. The people at HubSpot concur with data analysis being a top skill for marketers and say there will be a shortage of over 1.5 million skilled data marketers by 2018. And finally Venture Beat states that there will be over 4 million data related jobs in the next year. That is a ton of potential for new hires and those looking to move up in their company!

After seeing so much talk about how data analysis is a top skill to have this year in marketing and business, we wanted to see if it was true. So we turned to a pretty objective spot to get some more data, job posts. More specifically about 150 entry, mid and high job posts on The Muse. We selected The Muse for our sample because they only allow the best and most innovative companies to post jobs with them. Plus each job post was analyzed and recorded by hand to make sure we got the whole story.

Now let’s take a look at what those job post had to say about the top skills for marketers in 2016. If you guys were guessing that data analysis skills would be at the top, you were correct. They were one of the most requested skills at each of the job levels we looked at. For the full breakdown, check out this infographic!


In fact they were mentioned in about 50% of the entry and mid level jobs, and about 35% of the high level jobs. This was higher than most of the trendy marketing skills like social media management and SEO. Even the supporting skills like Excel and Google Analytics were highly demanded, especially in the entry level positions. If you would like to see the full breakdown of all skills and infographic go here!

After seeing those numbers we are pretty confident that data analysis is highly demanded skill across job levels. But that means nothing if the supply is higher than the demand. That would give us a surplus and contradict what we heard from the thought leaders.

To cover all our bases we decided to look at what type of skills over 430k marketers have in 2016. Using the king of work social networks, LinkedIn, we recorded the supply of over 100 marketing centric skills at each job level. Which was honestly the largest set of data I have ever worked with and probably made me a better data analyst in the process.

After careful analysis we found that at the absolute maximum only 3% of those marketers were competent in data analysis. Which if you remember from before is nowhere near the demand. And leaves us in a huge shortage of data savvy marketers, just like HubSpot predicted.


When the combined demand and supply are actually directly compared their is a massive shortage. With demand being 14x higher than the supply! It was the most significant shortage that we saw in the entire study! Here is a great visual representation of that difference:


That looks may look like a problem to some but I see it as something else completely. There is a huge opportunity for those looking to enter or move up in marketing. And this is not some fad that will go away before the end of the year. This is more a massive shift in the way that marketing will operate for the near future.

Honestly there is going to be more data to sift through than ever before. So be proactive this year and become a data master instead of reactive later on. Today is the perfect day to begin and we have the perfect place to start for you! We recommend this course from Johns Hopkins about data science and best of all it is FREEE!