Best Practice

Skills of the Modern Marketer

By Neil Perkin, Econsultancy,


With the Modern Marketing Manifesto, Econsultancy CEO Ashley Friedlein set out the reasons why the value of marketing within organisations is in the ascendancy, aiming to define what it is to be a modern marketer in an increasingly digital world.

The Skills of the Modern Marketer research set out to answer one question: how true is it that the skills and the types of people that are most in demand are those which underpin the kind of marketing that is outlined in the manifesto?

The report defines the soft skills needed to be successful in the organisation and the deep vertical knowledge areas that marketers see growing in importance in the coming years.

What you'll learn from this research

  • Discover how your own soft and hard skills line up with those desired by senior marketers. 
  • Understand if the make-up of your marketing team reflects the skills and knowledge areas required for future success.
  • Identify training and upskilling opportunities that should be offered to your team or organisation.

Key findings from the report

  • Over two-thirds of respondents strongly agreed that a good understanding of technology is critical for senior marketing leaders, reflecting the increased importance of technology in marketing.
  • However, respondents lamented the lack of "good people" with the necessary data and analytics skills. The challenge is in finding people that have both the technical skills required for the job while also having the soft skills to be successful in the organisation. 
  • The soft skills most often cited were adaptability, inquisitiveness and the ability to collaborate.

Skills of the Modern Marketer chart sample

Features of the report

The 48-page report aims to identify the key issues, challenges and opportunities around the evolving skills of modern marketers in response to the rapidly changing digital marketing and media environment.

The methodology involved three main phases:

  • Phase 1: desk research to identify relevant issues, examples and models.
  • Phase 2: a series of in-depth interviews with a range of senior digital and non-digital marketers across sectors as diverse as automotive, technology, healthcare, retail and B2B.
  • Phase 3: an online survey of relevant senior staff across a range of organisations and sectors designed to better quantify feedback. 

Additional resources

Download the accompaniment infographic for this report

Contributing authorsNeil Perkin

The lead author of this report is Neil Perkin, a renowned blogger, writer and the founder of Only Dead Fish. a digital and media consultancy that specialises in applying strategic understanding of social and emerging media technologies to help businesses innovate and optimise their effectiveness within the new, networked communications environment.

Neil is also a consultant with Econsultancy, a regular keynote speaker across Europe on content strategy, emerging media, digital marketing innovation and social technologies, and writes regularly for FutureLab, Marketing Week and The Marketing Society among others.

The report has been produced with the assistance of Econsultancy Senior Research Analyst Heather Hopkins:Heather Hopkins

"There has been a lot of hand-wringing about the looming digital skills gap, and our research confirms that marketers are struggling to find people with the right data and analytics skills in particular.

However, respondents continuously underscored the importance of softer skills. There is no question that we are seeing the rise of the marketing technologist and that we are facing a skills gap in data and analytics." 

Digital TransformationDigital Transformation

This is the fifth report in a research series Econsultancy is producing relating to the topic of digital transformation

Digital transformation is a journey that's different for every organisation. To enable delivery of your digital vision (or help you shape that vision) we’ve designed a comprehensive approach to tackle your transformation.

Covering everything from strategic operational issues, down to specific marketing functions, we will work with you to achieve digital excellence.

Talk to us about an initial, no-cost consultation.

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Table of contents

  1. Executive SummarySkills of the Modern Marketer
    1. Methodology
    2. About Econsultancy
    3. About the author
  2. Soft Skills
    1. The importance of soft skills in modern marketing
    2. Key soft skills
    3. Softer skills and recruitment – how Google hires
    4. Fixed vs growth mindsets
    5. Is growth hacking a thing?
    6. T-shaped and pi-shaped
    7. A checklist of softer skills to consider
  3. Vertical Skills
    1. The development of broader skills areas
    2. Vertical skills development
    3. Broader skills in the future
    4. Vertical skills in the future
    5. Adapting to the modern marketing world
    6. Greater degree of insourcing, greater need for skills
    7. Specialism and generalism
    8. Skills gaps – the ticking talent time bomb
    9. The rise of the technically adept marketer
  4. Challenges and Opportunities
    1. The reinvention challenge
    2. Skills as a barrier to progress
    3. Closing the skills gaps
    4. Geographical challenges in recruitment
    5. The growing role of freelancers
    6. Learning cultures
    7. Marketers as journeymen
    8. The growing role of automation
    9. Marketers as change agents
    10. The five skills of disruptive innovators
    11. Maturity in skills
  5. Appendix
    1. Modern Marketing Manifesto
    2. Respondent profiles
    3. References and further reading

Download a copy of the report to learn more.

free sample is available for those who want more detail about what is in the report.


  • Pdf SAMPLE: Skills of the Modern Marketer (751 KB PDF)
  • Pdf SAMPLE: Infographic:Skills of the Modern Marketer (2.82 MB PDF)
  • Pdf Disabled Skills of the Modern Marketer (1.51 MB PDF)

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