Sophie Iredale has worked in the Digital Marketing Industry for six years specialising in delivering SEO strategies agency side. Now she is a PhD student studying with the University of Salford. Sophie is conducting research focusing on the Digital Marketing Skills and Governance Gap which is relevant to all agencies and companies involved in the sector.

Sophie Iredale

With the UK's digital adspend forecast to hit £11bn over 2017, and spending on UK agencies reaching £1.1bn in 2015, the UK's digital marketing economy looks set for a prosperous new year.

However, a recent study undertaken by the Digital Marketing Institute, suggests that only 8% of Marketers feel competent and confident in their digital marketing ability.

The UK is in the midst of a well documented digital marketing skills gap, however, we are yet to truly understand what impact this is having on digital marketing clients and other relevant stakeholder groups. A one-time study by the Online Marketing Institute, reported that 78% of digital marketing agency clients are concerned with their agency's digital expertise, but this was in 2014 and little more has been done to expand upon and/or remedy this.  

What is being done to protect the welfare of digital marketing clients and digital marketer professional conduct as the industry tries to close the gap?

Can you help?

Whilst I'm sure some digital marketers, and clients, would disagree with the current state of digital marketing, my PhD research to date suggests that more and more clients are being marginalised at the hands of poor digital marketing practice.

There is still much more to be done to understand and raise awareness of this issue, however further insight into the experiences of those affected by the digital marketing skills gap is needed so that we can start an agenda for change.

For those of you impacted or concerned by the digital marketing skills gap, whether a current client, potential client, digital marketer, trainer etc., I would relish the opportunity to speak with you, to hear about your experiences and perspectives. Your contribution could help to improve current standards and accountabilities in the industry, engendering a more sustainable and transparent future for those involved.

For more information or to see how you can get involved, please email me directly on [email protected].

                                            University of SalfordSalford Business School

Still not convinced?

For those not yet convinced, the following is a real-life scenario that happens all too often and sadly, will look all too familiar for some (names have been switched out for anonymity).

David is a local business owner. He has done pretty well in his first year of operation and is looking to expand his online sales opportunities.

He has a good grasp of where he wants to take his business but isn't particularlyau faitwith marketing practices or how he can increase his companies brand awareness.

He does his own research, highlighting a need for digital marketing. It sounds good, it looks measureable and there seems to be a lot of local digital marketing agencies out there to help.

After some consultation, he picks his preferred agency. The chosen digital marketing agency looks pretty trustworthy and has promised him an integrated digital marketing strategy with top rankings in Googles search engine and a handsome increase in his online sales. All for a tidy sum of £2000 per month for the next 12 months.

A few months pass and he is yet to see any return for his money. The agency hasn't sent any monthly progress reports to him, as they had promised, and he isn't quite sure about the work the agency has completed, let alone its impact.

After much chasing, David demands to know what is happening. The agency tells him it's something to do with a search engine algorithm and that digital marketing, in particular search engine optimisation (SEO) takes time. After reading up on search engine algorithms and SEO, David gives the agency the benefit of the doubt.

Two more months pass. David has spent nearly £12,000 with his agency and hasn't seen any return or any real evidence of work completed. In the meantime, he's been doing his own digital marketing research and begins to realise that the strategy and campaign the agency promised to deliver wasn't ever really going to work…

David feels foolish, confused and disheartened by the entire process and looks for a way to terminate his contract. He finds he can't do so without detriment to himself. Trading standards aren't helping him and should he try to take the company to court, it could drain his already depleted funds.

He's trapped, is losing money and feels like there isn't anyone to help him.

If you would like to share your experience or find out how you can help, please email me directly on [email protected]. Your contribution could help to transform practice and improve the welfare of those affected by the digital marketing skills gap.




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