Today's top five marketing challenges

Today's top five marketing challenges

With a wider remit than ever before, marketers today face a range of challenges. Whilst teams and budgets are being adjusted in line with the economic landscape, marketing as a function has more responsibility than ever – to guide a business towards growth in the face of uncertain times.

In this article, we consider what challenges are being faced by today’s marketers, how to recognise them and the tools you need to overcome them. 

This article was first written in 2019, updated in 2023.

  1. Demonstrating marketing’s value to the business
  2. Bridging the skills gap
  3. Understanding customer behaviour
  4. Fortifying your digital strategy 
  5. Boosting your growth on a budget  

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How to overcome these marketing challenges 

1) Demonstrating marketing’s value to the business 

Marketing is a critical business function that drives growth and creates a commercial advantage for any organisation. However, (54%) of marketers (Impact of marketing report 1: Rebuilding customer experiences 2022) believe that marketing is poorly understood and 40% find it difficult to explain the role of marketing to others.

Leaving marketers feeling that they are undervalued within their organisation, 10% believe that colleagues have no understanding of the value of marketing to the business at all.

This being said, advertising expenditures have steadily increased in recent years and the importance of marketing became ever-clearer for business leaders during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns, when high street shops were closed and customer relationships still needed building.  

In 2019, CIM’s research with PwC found that the UK marketing industry generates £36.5 billion in annual Gross Value Added – but communicating this internally can be a challenge.  


  • Produce marketing data that you can share with senior leadership to demonstrate the numbers you’re delivering to the business  
  • Communicate how much marketing brings to the business and how your campaigns have contributed to the organisation's growth.

2)  Bridging the skills gap 

Marketing as a function continues to diversify. Digital technology constantly evolves, job roles become more specialised, and the skills gap widens. Impacting productivity and growth, whilst also leaving businesses underutilising a wealth of talented professionals. 

79% of marketers believe the skill set required for the job has completely changed over the last decade and are lacking confidence in certain areas. It’s vital that organisations prioritise and invest in training and development. Upskilling an employee not only fills the skills gap that could be impacting productivity, but also increases job satisfaction and leaves the worker feeling they are valued and less likely to leave.

“This latest research should act as a wake-up call for marketers to invest in their training and development. The range of skills expected from marketing professionals continues to expand, which gives us new opportunities to drive change and demonstrate our industry’s value. But to do this, it is vital marketers stay on the forefront of the skills required for the job - or they risk getting left behind.”
- Chris Daly, chief executive, CIM

(Digital benchmark report 2022) 

This also includes those in management-level roles. Target Internet’s recent Digital Marketing Skills Benchmark found that the more senior, the better the skills in many cases. However, this stagnates as they are not improving their skills. 

As businesses are struggling to attract and retain top talent, particularly outside of major cities, ensuring your organisation is equipped with the skills it needs to succeed – of which marketing is undoubtedly one – is an increasing challenge. Furthermore, marketing’s widened remit, with a focus on customer experience, data, digital and sales, has blurred the lines between departments and organisational structures. 

With non-marketing-focused departments often being those that directly interact with the customer and control key marketing channels, it is an increasing challenge for marketing to work across functions and fulfil its remit. 

“Continued professional development has never been so important as we continue to navigate our way through long-term periods of uncertainty and an ever-changing landscape.”
- Chris Daly, chief executive, CIM

(Digital benchmark report 2022) 

3) Understanding customer behaviour  

The CIM Impact of Marketing Report found that marketers are keenly aware that buying habits have changed in recent years. A considerable 59% said that they’re finding it harder to predict changing consumer priorities and over a quarter (28%) believe their brand is out of touch with changing consumer needs.

With marketers increasingly tasked with interpreting and predicting consumer behaviour, keeping a finger on the pulse of changing customer trends and expectations has always been a priority – but anticipating these in a fast-changing world is harder than ever.

“We are living through extremely turbulent times; from the pandemic and the ongoing climate crisis - to rising inflation, and most recently the Ukraine crisis. It’s clear [...] that consumers now expect brands to do more than just deliver value, but also actively engage with societal and political issues. If our industry is to really bounce back, marketers must invest time in getting to know their customers, and carefully consider what matters to them most.” 
- Chris Daly, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Marketing

(Digital benchmark report 2022) 

Although the report found that the top considerations for customers are convenience (83%) and value for money (78%), it was also discovered that 78% of marketers surveyed stated that a company’s performance around their environmental impact and societal issues, including diversity and inclusion (74%) are a large part of their customer's buying habits.

A positive sign within the industry, marketers are now experimenting with new ways to engage customers, testing new technologies and adapting to how they use their channels.

4)  Fortify your digital marketing strategy 

In a world where digital technologies are moving faster than many businesses can keep pace with, organisations must evaluate what skills and technologies are required to reach, engage and add value to their customers, with the ultimate goal to deliver growth and stay relevant. 

Target Internet’s recent Digital Marketing Skills Benchmark, in association with CIM, highlights some worrying trends about how up-to-date marketers are with the latest technology. 

The research revealed skills gaps in analytics and content marketing across all seniority levels and industries. Furthermore, it found that those marketers in senior roles lacked working knowledge of SEO, social media and programmatic advertising, posing questions about how readily they would invest in any of these tactics without a strategic understanding of their value. 

Gaining insight from digital is also an increasing challenge. With more data than ever before pumping through digital platforms, finding ways to interpret and draw insight from these information streams is vital, particularly in the current regulatory landscape.

5)  Boost your growth on a budget 

As previously mentioned, marketing teams are striving to demonstrate how they’re delivering growth in order to prove their value. However, creating and communicating meaningful business growth can feel challenging, particularly for SMEs

Often marketing capabilities are limited in function, due to a lack of investment. Small and medium businesses can be nimble, creative and entrepreneurial, but often, with smaller resources. This is particularly acute for small businesses, where often marketing capabilities are limited in function due to a lack of investment. 

Opportunities for growth must be identified and utilised by SME marketers. However, securing investment and taking a long-term view as to the value of marketing can be difficult in a small business, where there are often seen to be more urgent priorities. Establishing marketing as a function capable of delivering commercial advantage is crucial.

The IPA Bellwether Report for Q2 2022 concluded that marketing budgets across the UK have increased, although it also predicts that the next four years look uncertain. Yet, in times of economic uncertainty, there is still good news to be found. With limitation comes innovation, resulting in marketers making the most of their marketing budget to make a positive impact in the year to come.


Gain more insights into how your audience perceives value and how you can use this in your integrated marketing communications strategy with our Marketing Communications Planning course. 

Keep up-to-date and informed with the latest industry talking points through our extensive range of member exclusive-content.

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Laura Scott Marcomms Officer Vista
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