Jump to main content
Quick send CV Upload a brief

How can I upskill in my marketing career?

Upskilling is a wise decision at any point in your career, regardless of the industry you work in. The United Kingdom is still facing a significant digital skills shortage, as technological innovation is occurring at a faster pace than the workforce is able to upskill. Over 80% of all jobs advertised in the UK require digital skills, making the demand for such skills unquestionable. 

 McKinsey estimates that the UK currently operates at just 17% of its digital potential and suggests that workforce disruptions brought about by digital technologies will pose significant challenges to business leaders and workers alike. While organisations scramble to keep up with the pace of digital change, marketing professionals can take advantage of this digital skills gap and future proof their careers.

With that in mind, there’s no better time than ever to think about how you can add to your suite of marketing expertise. The UK marketing industry employs around 415,000 people and generates £36.5 billion in annual Gross Value Added, contributing substantially to the overall economy. It’s also home to the biggest digital advertising market in Europe, all of which indicate significant opportunities for both new entrants to the marketing industry and existing marketers keen to make lateral and vertical moves. But how can you secure the best jobs?

The business benefits of upskilling

Upskilling – and reskilling – will become increasingly important in the next few years as we meet a workforce skills gap head-on. Organisations are already struggling to find workers with the right skillsets for hard-to-fill roles, with nearly half of businesses saying they’re not as agile as they need to be due to a lack of skills, and the overwhelming demand for digital skills both now and into the future is only going to exacerbate the issue.

Workers across the marketing, digital and communications industries can help to alleviate this pressure and boost their own employment potential by upskilling and reskilling.

New technologies and ongoing workplace digitalisation will undoubtedly present opportunities for growth and development, and while 60% of workers think technology will improve their job prospects, only a third are given opportunities to develop digital skills outside their normal duties. So if you’re in a job where you’d like to learn and do more but aren’t being supported by your employer, what can you do to enhance and add to your skillset yourself? 

How can you upskill yourself?

While savvy employers should have plans for upskilling and reskilling in place, this is not true of all organisations and does not reflect the many self-employed marketing professionals who must take upskilling into their own hands. If you’re taking a proactive approach to your professional development, the following suggestions may help:

Identify free or low-cost training and certification programmes

There are a huge range of training and certification programmes available for marketers in the UK, from university degrees through to quick, free online courses. If you have some cash to splash (or better yet, your employer is offering to subsidise or cover the cost of your training), some good mid-range online options include qualification and training from the Institute of Data and Marketing and from the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Digital marketing professionals should look to Google for training and certification, with both Google Analytics and Google Ads key programmes to have under your belt. The Google Analytics Academy has beginner and advanced courses, covers Google Tag Manager and is beneficial for anyone working within digital marketing, while Google Adwords is most suited to PPC specialists and independent consultants. You’ll find Analytics, Ads and more in Google’s free Skillshop hub.

Meanwhile, Hubspot Academy offers a range of completely free marketing courses, including certifications focused on inbound marketing, content marketing, social media and email marketing. The courses are bite-sized (some take no more than two hours) so while they may not be in-depth, they are easy to consume and absorb and can help to develop new skills or polish existing ones.

Subscribe to the right publications

Marketing is ever-changing, which means marketers need to keep up with trends, developments, new technologies and best practices in order to stay ahead of the curve. The internet is a good place to start. Websites such as Digital Agency Network, Marketing Land, The Drum, PRWeek and Marketing Week can be added to your bookmarks and checked regularly for the latest industry news and commentary, while Neil Patel offers a variety of insights and tools to help SEO consultants and other marketers maximise their digital marketing activity.

If you’re more of an auditory learner, podcasts can be a goldmine for marketing news and conversation. Duct Tape Marketing boasts a guest list of some of the industry’s most experienced professionals, while Copyblogger.FM follows an interview format to teach people about conversion rate optimisation, email marketing, social media marketing, copywriting and more.

Explore mentoring and shadowing

If your work has no budget for training and development, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn new things. Mentoring and job shadowing can prove invaluable in showcasing the practical elements of a job, whether that’s in a structured, formal capacity or it’s more casual and ad-hoc. If you’re looking to learn new digital skills, ask to sit with a web developer or programmer for a couple of hours. For someone looking to explore their creative side, a session with a graphic designer or animator could be more helpful than hours of trawling through blogs and articles.

Mentors don’t have to come from inside your organisation. Consider reaching out to someone you admire in the industry or asking your employer, peers or friends if they know of anyone who might be interested in mentoring you.

According to our 2020 market report, 57% of marketers have undertaken training or upskilling in the past 12 months, with the most popular method being attending events and seminars, followed by online training courses and employer training programmes.

What marketing skills are most in-demand?

Now that you know how to upskill, it’s time to consider which areas will be most beneficial for your career prospects. With the digital skills gap only growing by the day, this is a clear place to start. More than 75% of job openings at all levels request digital skills, with workers who have specific digital skillsets not only reducing the risk of job automation, but also promoting their career progression chances. These specific skillsets include data analysis, digital design, CRM and digital marketing.

Our 2020 market report shows that content, data/analytics and website conversions/CRO are the highest priorities for marketing departments this year. Content remains the highest priority for marketing teams, with SEO and PPC gaining in demand across our survey field as digital innovation and adoption continue to drive change. More traditional marketing functions such as brand development, customer insight and external communications remain within the top 10 priorities for marketing departments, suggesting non-digital skills are still important in the online world. Meanwhile, Big Data has been growing in importance for organisations in recent years, and we’re now seeing this being reflected in marketing. Analytics and data skills are in high demand industry-wide but these skills are not widely encountered in candidates, meaning it’s a great area of opportunity for job seekers looking to make themselves more employable.

In summary, the below are key skills in high demand by marketing teams nation-wide:

  • Content marketing
  • Data and analytics
  • Conversion rate optimisation
  • Search engine optimisation
  • Pay-per-click
  • Brand development
  • Customer insight
  • Communications

Marketing professionals looking to secure the industry’s best jobs should take heed and upskill in any of the above. Find your next marketing job with EMR Specialist skillsets drive salaries and day rates up, which means upskilling and reskilling can only be a good thing for your career and the broader industry. If you’re ready to take your next career step, we’d love to help. Take a look at our latest marketing jobs or read more of our insights here.

List #1

Related posts

Salary Survey & Trend Report 2024

Teaser

Salary & Market Trend Guide

Content Type

Downloads

Publish date

06/18/2024

Summary

Introducing our Salary & Market Trend Report for 2024/2025 - the ultimate resource for employers and candidates navigating the dynamic job market and evolving career landscape.Uncover how to future-pr

Teaser

Access our latest benchmarking guide for 2024 for marketing, digital and communications professionals. Access our overview of key industry trends this year.

Read more
The Rise of TikTok Shop: Influencer Marketing, Social Media Selling, and the Retail Revolution

Teaser

Industry news

Content Type

Articles

Publish date

06/03/2024

Summary

TikTok has emerged as a game-changer in digital marketing. Its short-form videos and vast user base offer brands a unique opportunity to engage with consumers. One of the most significant developmen

Teaser

TikTok has emerged as a game-changer in digital marketing. Its short-form videos and vast user base offer brands a unique opportunity to engage with consumers. One of the most significant developments in this space is the arrival of TikTok Shop, which enables users to purchase products directly within the app. Coupled with the rise of influencer marketing, TikTok Shop is revolutionising the retail industry.

Read more
Balancing Speed and Quality in Tech Development
Balancing Speed and Quality in Tech Development

Teaser

Discipline expertise

Content Type

Articles

Publish date

05/28/2024

Summary

The need for speed and quality often seem at odds in the technology development sector. The rapid pace of innovation necessary to remain competitive can undercut the meticulous attention to detail r

Teaser

Read more
How to Become a Great Marketing Leader through Self-Discovery?

Teaser

Career advice

Content Type

Articles

Publish date

05/22/2024

Summary

Marketing and Communications Leader Series Episode 5: Jen Barham Welcome back to EMR's Marketing & Communications Leader Series. In this podcast, we dive deep into the journeys of exceptional senior m

Teaser

In this EMR podcast, Jen Barham, talks about the power of self-discovery, self-awareness, resilience, and authenticity for effective marketing leadership.

Read more
How to Advance Your Career in Communications Leadership?

Teaser

Career advice

Content Type

Articles

Publish date

05/20/2024

Summary

Marketing and Communications Leader Series Episode 4: Dominic Elliott Welcome back to EMR's Marketing and Communications Leader Series podcast, where we dive deep into the journeys of exceptional seni

Teaser

In this EMR podcast, get actionable advice from Dominic Elliott on how to advance your career in communications and be successful in a leadership position.

Read more
How to Leverage Your Diverse Experience in a Marketing Leadership Career?

Teaser

Career advice

Content Type

Articles

Publish date

05/14/2024

Summary

Marketing & Communications Leader Series Podcast Welcome back to EMR's Marketing and Communications Leader Series. In this podcast, we dive deep into the journeys of exceptional senior marketing and c

Teaser

In this EMR podcast, uncover career insights and tips from Noreen Biddle Shah, Chief Marketing & Comms Officer, as she shares her leadership journey.

Read more
Digital Marketing 2022
Why Is This The Year to Kickstart Your Digital Marketing Career?

Teaser

Career advice

Content Type

Articles

Publish date

05/13/2024

Summary

Over the last few years, we're seeing a significant change in the landscape of the marketing sector, pushing brands to adapt and implement new ways of advertising. This shift has ushered us into a new

Teaser

From the growing demand for digital skills to the opportunities for career growth and fulfilment, learn why this is the year to pursue a career in digital marketing.

Read more
How to Navigate a Marketing Career: From a Junior Role to a Director

Teaser

Discipline expertise

Content Type

Articles

Publish date

05/10/2024

Summary

The Marketing & Communications Leader Series Podcast Welcome back to EMR's Marketing and Communications Leader Series. In this podcast, we dive deep into the journeys of exceptional senior marketing

Teaser

In this EMR's podcast, we ask Emma Hill, Brand & Marketing Director, about the skills, experience and critical factors for success as a senior marketing leader.

Read more
The Latest Marketing & Digital Recruitment Trends
The Evolution of Client Expectations in Recruitment

Teaser

Industry news

Content Type

Articles

Publish date

05/08/2024

Summary

The recruitment industry has experienced seismic shifts in the last few decades. With technological advances and changes in the workforce landscape, client expectations have evolved significan

Teaser

The recruitment industry has experienced seismic shifts in the last few decades. With technological advances and changes in the workforce landscape, client expectations have evolved significantly.

Read more
EMR Building a Successful Career in Communications
Building a Successful Career in Communications

Teaser

Career advice

Content Type

Articles

Publish date

05/08/2024

Summary

EMR is uniquely positioned to understand the transformative nature of communications in the marketing industry. In this dynamic field, roles in communications are constantly evolving. The underlying f

Teaser

EMR is uniquely positioned to understand the transformative nature of communications in the marketing industry. In this dynamic field, roles in communications are constantly evolving.

Read more
View more