On September 26th, FierceCMO published an article claiming that digital marketing skills were universally lacking. With data to back up their claims, they took a serious shot across the bow at the digital marketing industry. Wanting to know if this was true, I reached out to two digital marketers for their opinion on the article, to see what they had to say. Along with the article, there was a short assessment that allows you to gauge your digital marketing skills. Both of them also took the assessment. Here is what they had to say about the “state” of digital marketing.

The first marketer I spoke with was Shad Connelly, Communications Director at Monsters Unlimited, a creative agency in Cuyahoga Falls, OH that also has digital marketing services. After discussing this article with Shad, he reiterated that the claims are overstated and misinterpreted. He also mentioned that “Digital Marketing” has an arsenal of tools that continually expand, so how can you be an expert? Some of these tools that you can now specialize in include SEO, SE Advertising, social media, website designers, content, online advertising, mobile, and platforms.

Here is his Shad’s take on the research:

I think the article and the report it references are a misrepresentation of what’s really going in digital marketing today. It’s not that digital marketing skills are lacking, it’s just we’re seeing more specialists and fewer generalists.

Digital marketing is an umbrella term, and more and more efforts are falling under that umbrella—from websites, email and SEO to social media, online advertising, and content marketing. The list keeps growing as the web, and the way people use the web, evolves.

As a result, we’re seeing more specialization within digital marketing. While today’s marketers may be exposed to and familiar with a wide range of digital marketing efforts, they’re developing expertise in specific areas. We have social marketing specialists, SEO specialists, content marketing specialists, Google advertising specialists, etc.

If anything, I think digital marketing skills are more abundant and available than ever. They’re just more spread out and focused. Which is why having a full team of marketing specialists who can cover all your bases, either in-house or via an outside agency, is incredibly beneficial to today’s organizations.

Shad scored a 67% on the assessment and said that some of the questions were very simple, but others were super specific and outside of his realm.


The second digital marketer I spoke with was Todd Bertsch, owner of Evolve Creative Group in Akron, Ohio. Evolve offers a variety of digital marketing services for their clients. Todd had a different viewpoint than Shad but had some similar thoughts as well. He stated that if the results are based on the test, it’s quite vague, but it is legit. Based on his experience in the industry, he stated that there is so much out there and so much of it is changing constantly. There could easily be a gap between upcoming and old school digital markets, which is part of the problem. Also, marketing departments are shrinking instead of growing, which is the opposite of where the industry is leading.

Here is more on what Todd had to say:

Based on my experience with marketers, I would agree that these numbers are pretty accurate. Being in the digital marketing industry for over 20 years, I can say that digital marketing is always changing, making it quite difficult to always stay up-to-date. For students entering into this profession, they’ll be challenged with not having access to the real tools we utilize every day, therefore not getting the hands-on experience that’s truly needed. For the seasoned marketing veterans, they’re also challenged with wearing many hats due to budget crunches and down-sized marketing teams.

With there being so many different avenues to explore in digital marketing it’s difficult to master them all. But we all need to find a way to bridge this gap. Whether you are new to the field or a seasoned vet ready to evolve into the digital realm, you’ll need to at least be familiar with all the digital aspects of marketing. But it’s also important to be the expert in at least one area.

Todd received a 75% on the assessment and said the test was very vague for 10 questions.

Take the brief assessment and see for yourself if you’re on par with the rest of the digital marketing world.

By: Alex Siminoff