Over the last few years, there’s been a vast increase in demand for digital marketers. In fact, since January 2021, LinkedIn has witnessed a 63% increase in marketing jobs. And, at the same time, 74% of organizations face a critical lack of digital marketing talent. 

Right now, demand for digital marketing talent sits at 59%, while active supply sits at just 19%! The problem? A severe shortage of digital marketing skills!

In fact, digital marketing skills—such as customer experience, technology skills, content creation, and data analytics—mark 9 of the top 10 most in-demand marketing skills. Companies are demanding more paid social media advertising across all platforms, better analytics, and more web content writing. 

So what does this notable lack of digital marketing talent mean for your company and what can you do? 

How Can You Overcome a Shortage of Digital Marketing Talent?

Digital marketing is a complicated and comprehensive series of tasks, tactics, and strategies that are difficult for even the savviest companies to accomplish. Moreover, it’s a fast-paced landscape that requires you to stay constantly up-to-date. As such, hiring digital marketing talent can be a massive challenge.

Without digital marketing talent, you won’t have the ability to implement paid search, demand generation, display advertising, SEO, content creation, or social media. You will need to hire someone (or a team of people) who has the relevant skills and insight you need to make informed digital marketing decisions that keep you ahead of the curve. 

In general, you’ve got three options: hire internally, engage a freelancer, or outsource to a digital marketing consultancy.

Hire a Digital Marketer (Team) Internally 

It might seem easiest to hire a digital marketing team internally to add to your current marketing team. But, as we explained above, digital marketing talent is in high demand and hard to find at the moment, so it can be far more challenging than planned. In addition, and likely even more challenging, are the panoply of skills you will need on the team. Each member of the team will need to have a different specialty; from writing to analytics to operations. 

The most common concerns are too few quality candidates available, unqualified candidates applying, attracting talent, and making competitive job offers. Here are a few statistics to consider if you’re trying to hire digital marketing talent yourself. 

  • Digital marketers are highly compensated: The average salary for a digital marketer—across all roles—was $107,100 (McKinley 2019).
  • Internal digital marketing teams are rarely scalable: The average size of an internal digital marketing team is between 2-5 people—even for companies with +1,000 employees. And still, 50% of B2B marketing teams outsource at least one activity.
  • Upskilling your current marketing team is difficult: Only 35% of companies have the ability to upskill their employees.

Hire a Freelancer 

Another option is to hire a freelancer. Surprisingly, only 36% of digital marketers believe that full-time employees are more valuable than freelancers. So outsourcing your digital marketing strategy to a freelancer can be a more practical choice than hiring internally. A freelancer can provide value by empowering your team to uncover new perspectives and accomplish more work by expanding your skillset.

But hiring a freelancer won’t solve your digital marketing talent woes.

  • A single freelancer will not have the skills that your company needs or that you could find with an internal hire or team. 
  • A freelancer must be a jack-of-all-trades to accomplish all your goals, and that’s unlikely.
  • Many freelancers chose their careers because they prefer to work with multiple clients, and that undivided attention can limit their ability to provide deep expertise with your specific concerns.

Hire a Digital Marketing Consultancy

You can outsource the entire digital marketing strategy and function to a full-service digital marketing consultancy. With a digital marketing consultancy, you’ll have a team of fast-moving experts who can take on even the most advanced digital marketing strategies and tactics, which would take your team years to learn on their own. There are myriad benefits to bringing on an entire team of dedicated digital marketers with the skills, time, and ability to carry out your strategy. 

Not only will hiring a digital marketing consultancy help you take your strategy to the next level, but they’ll help you navigate the entire digital landscape. You’ll gain:

  • Multiple specialists and experts in their field: On average, it takes 4-10 years to gain the necessary breadth of experience to navigate the different tools and channels in the digital marketing landscape. A consultancy has already done the work required to find and hire expert digital marketers in their field, and they bring those experts to you.
  • Varied talent with specific skill sets: With over 113 different pieces of content that your brand can publish across a range of channels—podcasts, webinars, social media, videos, and eBooks—digital marketing success means you need access to a wide range of unique skills. Essential skill sets that you’ll find in a consultancy include digital advertising, content creation & curation, and content strategy—the three most in-demand skills. Not to mention all of the skills needed to execute a demand generation strategy.
  • A dedicated team to oversee your strategy and ROI: As marketing has become more data-driven, it is essential for your digital marketing team to develop agile strategies that drive high-performance results. Best-in-class consultancies know how to uncover valuable insights that empower data-driven decision-making and return on investment.

Before You Hire: The Digital Marketing Talent Checklist

But before you take the plunge and hire a digital marketing consultancy, a freelancer, or even your own in-house talent, here are a few questions you should ask.

  • Do they understand how to formulate a strategy aligned with your business?  Most traditional digital marketing agencies are not able to formulate a well-thought-out strategy aligned with your specific product/solutions and then implement that digital marketing strategy in a coordinated, cohesive way. 
  • Do they have a track record? It’s a red flag if they don’t have any examples of their work. Look for talent that has experience in your industry and with businesses similar to yours.
  • What does their online presence look like? Check their website and social media to see if they impress you with the scope of their expertise and skills. If they don’t put effort into their own digital marketing, how can you trust them with yours?
  • How do they handle communication? If they are going to be off-site, you want a consultancy that communicates well. Make sure they have clear guidelines about how they’ll speak with you promptly—phone calls, emails, regular meetings, etc.
  • Are they prepared to demonstrate ROI? Ask about the KPIs that they measure success and the data and analytics they use for reporting. You should receive progress updates monthly, quarterly, and yearly.
  • Do their specialized skills match your needs? Some digital marketers specialize in content creation, while others are SEO specialists. Make sure whoever you hire can meet all of your digital marketing needs or can work with other specialists to get the job done.

Can they grow with your business? If your digital marketing is done correctly, your company is going to grow. Can their scope of talent scale with your company and keep up with demand as it increases?