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Do Marketers Understand Digital Marketing?

Marketers report strong doubts about their skills, effectiveness and ability to measure the impact of their campaigns according to the research released Monday by Adobe (Nasdaq:ADBE).

The study, Digital Distress: What Keeps Marketers Up at Night?, polled 1,000 marketing professionals in the U.S. and exposes new insights into the industry’s beliefs and attitudes toward digital marketing.

The research is being released during the annual Advertising Week conference in New York (Sept. 23-27), one of the largest gatherings of marketing industry professionals in the U.S.

Based on a broad survey of marketers, the findings revealed a striking lack of confidence in digital ability. Less than half (48%) of professionals who consider themselves primarily digital marketers feel highly proficient in digital marketing.

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A majority of digital marketers haven’t received any formal training in digital marketing: 82% report learning on the job.

Marketers also express low confidence in how their companies’ marketing programs are performing. Only 40% think their company’s marketing is effective.

When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of digital campaigns specifically, only 9% strongly agreed with the statement that they “know their digital marketing is working.”

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Yet there is increasing pressure to measure marketing’s impact: 68% of respondents feel more pressured to show return on investment on their marketing spend.

Underscoring the strain of rapid change in the industry, a strong majority (76%) of respondents think marketing has changed more in the past two years than in the past 50. Sixty-six percent of all marketers think companies won’t succeed unless they have a digital marketing approach.

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The survey data shows a compelling correlation between strong overall business performance and digital marketing proficiency. Respondents were asked to rate their company’s business performance as either “high,” “average” or “low” performing.

The data revealed that high-performing companies are twice as likely to rate their company as highly proficient in digital marketing (50%) than average to lower-performing companies (25%).

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Asked about their greatest professional concerns, marketers cited reaching their customers as the biggest challenge (82%), followed closely by the uncertainty of knowing whether their campaigns are working (79%), proving campaign effectiveness (77%) and demonstrating marketing return on investment (75%).

The data points referenced above come from a study commissioned by Adobe, produced by research firm Edelman Berland and conducted as an online survey among a total of 1,000 US marketers. Data was collected between August 26 and Sept. 11, 2013 by ResearchNow.

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