Majority of digital marketers begin in other disciplines

A report by BrainStation lays out executives' hiring priorities as they look to bolster their digital capabilities.

Working Group analyzing Reports

As executives continue leveraging digital marketing skills within their organizations, many are hiring talent from outside the discipline, according to an end-of-year survey by skills development company BrainStation.

The company surveyed respondents across six disciplines, including data, design and product management, development and marketing. Of those respondents, 35% of marketers work at a company that currently sells products online and 74% of their organizations report undergoing some form of digital transformation.

According to the survey, demand for digital marketers is attracting a pool of talent from other disciplines, as 53% of those working in digital marketing did not begin their careers in the field. Moreover, the roles are likely to be filled by people transitioning from other disciplines. BrainStation cited Mondo’s annual tech and digital marketing guide, which found that demand for digital marketers increased 70% between 2016 and 2017.

While executives report finding hiring digital marketers less difficult than any other role surveyed – only 16.4% identified it as the most difficult position to fill – 50% said they remain more focused on hiring in development. In comparison, the number that focused on hiring in other areas hovered between 30% to 35%.


That could explain why the majority of marketers are part of small teams, with 60% working within groups of 10 or fewer employees. This also likely has an impact on the tasks performed by marketers: many report working across content marketing, research, strategy, campaign implementation and content optimization. Of the marketing channels leverage by these professionals, content marketing is the most prevalent (at 78.8%), followed by email marketing (74.9%) and social (77.2%).

This channel use is more-or-less consistent with those reported by executives. Among that group, content marketing, email marketing and social rank among the top four channels leveraged. But the most frequently cited channel is SEO at 56.7%.

The survey found significant overlap between marketers’ and executives’ planned priorities for the year. Both listed content, social and brand strategy as areas of focus, with 63% of executives saying their digital investments are growing and 89% claim elements of their products and services did not exist five years earlier.