In Altimeter’s annual State of Digital Marketing survey, we asked marketers in the US, Europe and China to rank their most desired skills in new hires for next year.

The results showed us the continued importance of hiring both “Mad Men” and “Math Men” for digital marketing success.

Data analysis (42%) and marketing automation expertise (39%) continue to be the most desired skills in 2020–2021, a result unchanged from when we did the survey last year. These are the two skills that underpin the “digital” in “digital marketing” and it’s hard to imagine any company progressing to maturity without them.

In particular, we’re seeing companies invest more in data than they ever have before. This means hiring analysts who can gain insights from data gathered from multiple sources, as well as creating data centers of excellence for managing the flow of data throughout the organization. All this is in service of creating and delivering the best possible customer experience, across as many digital (an non-digital) touchpoints as possible.

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Marketing automation skills are also in high demand, as companies continue to look for specialists who have the technical knowledge to operate sophisticated marketing automation platforms, but also the business know-how needed to create and optimize data-based experiences in collaboration with other customer-facing teams.

However, more mainstream marketing skills such as UX design and graphic design are still in demand, especially as digital marketing becomes more customer centric and more consideration is given to providing the right visual and experiential elements across digital interactions. It’s good to see the traditional marketing skills are still just as important, even with the proliferation of all things digital.

Finally, it’s interesting to see how mainstream digital marketing skills such as SEO and paid media expertise are way down the list of desired skills. This indicates that companies are more likely to outsource these activities to agencies, where it makes more economic sense for them. Additionally, the main vehicles for SEO and paid media (namely Google and Facebook) have made it extremely easy to operate on their platforms, making the task of search and display advertising much more intuitive and frictionless than before. All this indicates that these skills, while still required, don’t require the same level of specialization that they used to.

Click here to download Altimeter’s 2020 State of Digital Marketing for more benchmarks, stats and insights on digital marketing.