Every marketer faces different challenges. And, ever since 2020, the ways we’ve had to pivot, adjust campaigns, and address challenges has been unlike anything many of us have had to do before.
And, even if you’ve somehow navigated the past two years without any surprising or tough marketing challenges, there’s likely at least one task, tactic, or strategy you’ve always wanted to improve upon.
Today, marketing is so fast-paced that it can be difficult to identify which areas you’ll want to develop to facilitate stronger growth in 2022 and beyond. For that reason, it’s important to pause for a moment and reflect on the biggest challenges marketers feel they’re facing this year.
Below, let’s review the current global marketing issues impacting the industry, according to data from HubSpot’s 2022 Marketing Industry Trends Report and marketing experts.
1. Training Marketing Talent
While you might expect the top challenge to involve one of the many KPIs marketers are goaled around, our research shows the top barrier facing marketing teams today is actually much more fundamental than quantifiable goals or simply hiring top-tier talent who will easily hit them.
In fact, according to our survey of over 500+ marketing professionals, the top overall challenge marketing departments are facing is team training.
Why? When you hire someone or get hired by your dream company, your the work needed to grow doesn’t just stop at the offer letter.
If you’re a manager or marketing leader, you’ll need to take time to teach that employee how your company works. This could include voice and messaging training, helping them understand buyer personas, or getting them acclimated to the tech stack or processes you use.
Meanwhile, regardless of whether you’re a seasoned marketing team employee or new hire, you might wish your company had more opportunities for training, onboarding, or professional development that could allow you to excel and learn while also hitting your KPIs.
Why It’s a Challenge
Unfortunately, in the fast-paced world of marketing, it can be challenging for leaders to find the time to train while employees might not have the time or money to access professional development outside of their day to day tasks.
That’s why it’s not shocking that 30% of marketers say that team training was the biggest challenge of 2021 and 21% say it will continue to be athe top challenge for marketing departments in 2022.
What Can You Do?
The first step to solving this problem, regardless of whether you’re an individual contributor or manager, is reframing what “training” means to you. Remember that even the most top-tier, ROI-generating unicorn marketer will need time to get used to how your company works and grow as an employee and potential leader.
Ultimately, businesses should think of training and professional development offerings as indirect ROI-generators. Ultimately, even the most top-tier, unicorn talent will need time to get used to how your company works.
On one end of the spectrum, companies and leadders can retain employees and save money on talent searches because of their offerings. Meanwhile, their talent will learn more, grow more, become even more competitive, and — most importantly — feel more fulfilled and supported in their role. Additionally, you don’t always have to hire instructors or take time out of your day to train. For example, you can:
- Encourage project managers or individual contributors looking for visibility to present experiments, strategies, or learnings at events, weekly meetings, or annual team conferences.
- Book an annual professional development day during a slow season where all employees are asked to take a free online course of their choosing and report back on how it went.
- Consider hosting quarterly or bi-annual new employee or new manager training days where newer hires and new managers can plan to go to in order to train with minimal impact on their quarterly projects.
- Create evergreen training videos, internal quizzes, or other resources that you can send to new or newly promoted employees on their first day.
- Have managers develop 100-Day Plans for new hires or those that transfer to their team which includes training assignments, resources to read through, and a contact list of people to meet or schedule training with.
On the other hand, if you’re an individual contributor, participating in your company’s professional development training and/or taking free or affordable courses online could help you negotiate a stronger role and salaries for yourself at your company or elsewhere.
If your company doesn’t offer training or reimbursement for it, check out this list of free courses.
2. Generating Traffic and Leads
While you might have been surprised by the top challenge, you probably aren’t surprised by No. 2. As you might expect, generating traffic and leads is always top of mind with marketers. And, even if teams are doing well with these metrics, they’ll always want to improve them.
In our survey, 27% of marketers across industries believe generating traffic and leads will be their top challenge in 2022.
Why It’s a Challenge
John Lee, Head of Evangelism at Microsoft Advertising, believes that generating leads will be a particularly big challenge for marketers. He told me, “Getting quality traffic isn’t a challenge today, and likely won’t be tomorrow. There has been growth in search and content marketing in 2021. New channels continue to surface and show promise, too (TikTok or audio chat rooms anyone?).”
Lee adds, “‘Sea change’ is the phrase that comes to mind for the state of digital marketing today. Change in the realm of privacy, identity, and changes to cookies. Change in the form of lost data clarity (will cookie-based conversion tracking continue to work, GA4, access to search queries, etc.). And all of this sits within the context of change to how and where we work and economies in flux as the world continues to move through the pandemic.”
Fortunately, privacy changes don’t mean the end of generating leads — it simply means learning how to re-think strategy.
As Lee told me, “To weather this storm of change, marketers need to be vigilant in monitoring and understanding industry-wide acceptance of privacy protocols and updates to search, social, and display/native platforms (consumer-side and marketing/advertising-side). And last, but not least — lean into the power of peer support and networking for sharing best practices and learning.”
Additionally, marketers are struggling with producing enough demand for their content. And as the year’s progress and competition stiffens, this will only become truer. With so many options of platforms for marketers to publish their content and even more ways to promote it, it’s hard to know where to focus your efforts.
What Can You Do?
When it comes to creating content that produces enough traffic and leads, marketers should ask themselves two questions: Are you truly creating high-quality content — the type of content people would pay for? And, do you know the type of content your audience actually wants?
For instance, when asked how they’d most like to learn about a product or service, 69% said they’d prefer to watch a short video over a text-based article, infographic, or ebook. This means, if most of your product-related content is in ebook format, you could be missing out on the majority of consumers who prefer video.
Additionally, the length of videos produced by businesses has increased (albeit more slowly than the increased creation rate of short video). While short-form video is still King/Queen, the number of videos in the 30-60 minute category grew 140% in 2021, compared to 2019 — suggesting that long-form video content is still a viable option for companies.
To ensure you’re creating content that resonates best with your audience, you’ll want to refer to analytics often. Use effective tools to properly track the types of content that perform best with your audience to generate more leads in 2022.
Additionally, once you know you’re creating the type of content your audience wants, the focus shifts to promoting it in a way that makes your audience take notice.
More than ever before, people are being flooded with content. Consumers don’t have to use a search engine to find answers. Instead, articles fill their news feed or buzz in their pocket via mobile notifications. To keep up, consider exploring alternate distribution methods — like social media or podcasting — to increase brand awareness.
Lastly, if you have the budget for online advertising, one example of a helpful distribution method is by promoting your content with HubSpot’s LinkedIn Ads Integration. Learn more about it here.
3. Demonstrating ROI of Marketing Activities
Measuring the ROI (return on investment) of your marketing activities has remained a top marketing challenge globally year-over-year.
In our survey. 28% of marketers saw it as their top challenge in 2021 while 21% of marketers expect to see this continue to be their biggest issue in 2022.
Measuring and gaining ROI continues to be a vital way for marketers to understand the effectiveness of each particular marketing campaign or piece of content. It also can be what decision-makers at your company rely on when determining if they’ll invest more in your project, deparment, or team headcount in the future.
Ultimately, proving ROI often goes hand-in-hand with making an argument to increase budget: No ROI tracking, no demonstrable ROI. No ROI, no budget.
Why It’s a Challenge
Although return on investment is a crucial stat that shows your campaigns success or progress, tracking the ROI of every single marketing activity isn’t always easy, especially if you don’t have two-way communication between your marketing activities and sales reports.
What Can You Do?
Providing ROI often comes down to using effective analytics measurement tools. For instance, Beautiful.ai Director of Marketing Kim Giroux told me, “Marketers are constantly challenged to illustrate the ROI of their efforts and [this year] is no exception. Proving ROI doesn’t always have to mean extra work or effort though. In fact, certain technologies bake ROI into existing work processes.”
Giroux adds, “Take presentation software, for instance. Savvy marketers today can create and use pitch decks with built-in presentation analytics that offer real-time data — such as how much time was spent viewing individual slides. Armed with these insights, marketers can better gauge stakeholder interest, inform their strategies, and adjust their campaigns.”
Christina Mautz, CMO of Moz, believes measuring ROI comes down to redefining the marketing process as a whole. She told me, “My biggest challenge, and one all marketers face in providing ROI, is the prospect of meeting traditional KPIs in the modern workspace.”
Mautz says, “Instead of leads and trade show success, marketing wins are now largely digital: engaging prospects and generating more clicks, downloads, and page visits.”
CMO of Moz Christina Mautz says, “To better measure marketing progress, we have to redefine the marketing process, encouraging collaboration with sales and reaching KPIs together.”
“For example, statistics such as page visits per sale or rising higher in the search engine results page (SERP) give marketers and SEOs tangible evidence as to how their work is meeting their ROI. New buying patterns and a customer-centric world require a divergence from the old, but measuring ROI will look far different than it did before and some leaders may not understand how or why.”
When it comes to providing ROI, there’s a strong case to be made for dedicating time and resources to establishing links between marketing activities and sales results.
This means using both marketing software (like HubSpot) and a CRM solution (like HubSpot’s free CRM) and then tying them together to close the loop between your marketing and sales efforts with a service-level agreement (SLA). That way, you can directly see how many leads and customers are generated through your marketing activities.
4. Justifying Your Budget
How can you create a winning marketing campaign without a budget? The truth is, it’s pretty hard. But, even when you have a great, revenue-generating idea, you still usually need to get your budget approved by a higher-up.
As the global pandemic began, some companies didn’t have the means to increase marketing budgets or shifted budgets to other key priorities like paying staff or operations teams.
But, in 2022, marketers are running into a good problem to have. With the importance of marketing, online content, and digital media being proven time and time again for businesses during the pandemic, marketers actually began to see budget increases.
In 2021, more than 80% of marketers’ budgets increased or stayed the same as in 2021 (with over 40% saying budgets increased). Moving into 2022, 48% of marketers expected their budget to increase in 2022.
While this is great news for marketers, it poses a new set of unique challenges that they might not have dealt with before.
Why It’s a Challenge
Securing a budget has always been a pressing challenge for marketing globally. And, while marketers seem to be getting what they need for budget in 2022, companies could be eager to shift back to pre-panddemic strategies of placing money into sales, facilities, and other departments in the future.
Now that marketers have their budget, they’ll need to fight to keep it and grow it even more.
And often, getting and keeping more budget is easier said than done — especially for smaller organizations that aren’t working with sizable or flexible marketing spend.
But the key to securing more money for your team might not be that complex. Here’s what you can do.
What Can You Do?
The key to unlocking budget lies in being able to prove the ROI of your marketing efforts (as we’ve noted above). Use your whole budget to demonstrate need, but also ensure you’re spending money on things that will provide high performance, like high-traffic, lead-gen, or revenue-generating projects or headcount.
According to our research, organizations that can calculate ROI are more likely to receive higher budgets.
Again, success with inbound marketing also plays a large role in driving higher budgets. Effective strategies obviously produce results and make a strong case for increasing your budget. But remember, inbound marketing is a long game. If you get off to a slow start, you shouldn’t back off — in fact, you might consider doubling down.
To learn more about how to understand and leverage marketing ROI, check out this simple guide.
5. Managing Your Website
In 2021, 64% of companies said they were investing in website upgrades. Meanwhile, 27% of survey participants said that managing their website was the top challenge in that year, with a chunk more saying they will continue to rise to this challenge in 2022.
And, honestly, this isn’t surprising. If you have an online presence for your business, your website serves as a key place that consumers will go to when researching your brand. And, there, they might find company information, marketing content, and other resources that nurture them into becoming a lead or buying your product. On the marketing end, your site can also be a tool that can help you drive search result and social media awareness when it is optimized and shared around the web.
Although managing a website is consistently a challenge to marketers, it seems to be growing less threatening. While website management was the third-biggest challenge facing marketers in 2021, it didn’t even make the Top Five Challenge list for 2022.
However, we’re still placing this challenge in the fourth slot because — more than ever — businesses need to continue growing, improving, and optimizing web experiences, especially on their website.
Why It’s Still a Challenge
Chances are, your website’s performance is high on your list of priorities — particularly since website speed and performance plays a major role in your website’s SEO ranking. It’s an asset that works around the clock to draw in visitors, convert them, and help you hit your goals.
Issues with website management include a variety of different factors, from writing and optimizing the content to designing beautiful webpages. Here are a few things marketers can do to deal with this challenge.
What Can You Do?
First, try HubSpot’s free website grader to determine how your website stacks up on key metrics including SEO, mobile, and security performance — and how you can improve it.
If your primary challenge with managing a website has to do with the skills and resources you have available, you aren’t alone. This is especially true for small companies who don’t have all the talent in-house required to cover content, optimization, design, and back-end website management.
One solution? Hire freelancers and agency partners. To find freelancers, we recommend:
- Tapping into your personal and professional network by posting on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social networks with a description of what you’re looking for.
- Browsing freelance writers and designers based on their portfolios and areas of interest.
- Browsing HubSpot’s Services Marketplace, which lists a wide variety of designers from partner companies and agencies we’ve deemed credible.
Overall, you can make website management easier on your team by hosting your website on a platform that integrates all your marketing channels like HubSpot’s COS.
Finally, for the projects you want to keep in-house, here is a list of ebooks and guides that might be helpful to your team:
6. Reaching Global Audiences
Targeting is a key component of all aspects of marketing.
With 65% of marketers currently marketing internationally, it’s important to have an international strategy.
But, international marketers face a whole bunch of challenges that can make it difficult for your brand to gain awareness globally. And, even if you aren’t on an international marketing team, knowing this data can still help you help them.
That’s why we asked international marketers specifically about their biggest challenges. The top three they pointed out were:
- Cultural differences (44%): Creating content and marketing campaigns can be different from country to country, or require different strategies entirely due to cultural differences, trends in different regions, and even regulations in different areas.
- Exchange rates (43%): Creating, tracking, and updating pricing for products, services, or resources can be tricky when exchange rates change nearly all the time.
- Localization (43%): Along with taking cultural differences and geographical trends into account when creating content, brands going global need to have a localization strategy to ensure their content is readable, searchable, and discoverable in different languages, which can cost a great deal of time and money.
Why It’s a Challenge
Building or maintaining an international marketing strategy can be a big challenge not only when figuring out the best ways to target and market to different regions, but it can also be hard to organize and optimize your site so it can be easily navigated in different countries.
What Can You Do?
Download our free ebook, The Global Marketing Playbook. There are some really helpful tips in there that’ll help give you some direction on global marketing, including how to identify your top three growth markets, how to explore local trends, and tips on choosing the best localization providers.
Additionally, when marketing to a new region, the most common tactic marketers use is to shift their product offering.
Remember, your website visitors might speak a plethora of different languages and live in totally different time zones.
To make your content appealing to a wide audience, you’ll need to keep your global visitors top-of-mind when creating all your content. This means being aware of seasonal references, translating units of measure and monetary references, and giving translators the tools and permissions to customize and adapt content for a specific audience when they need to.
When in doubt, solve for local or cultural challenges by hiring locally. With a newly hybrid workforce, physical location is no longer a limit to who you can hire.
Finally, be sure you’re optimizing your website for international visitors, too. For more SEO-related tips and resources on global marketing expansion, take a look at How SEO is Different Around the World, According to HubSpot Content Strategists.
7. Hiring Top Talent
As we mentioned above, 21% of marketers expect hiring top talent to be their biggest challenge in 2022. And, we’re not too surprised. Hiring talent with a great track record takes time, effort, and money — which many marketing teams do not have.
While hiring is a challenge marketing teams have faced throughout the past five years or so, concerns are continuing to grow even more with news of worker shortage and recruiters competing for applicants that have chosen to shift roles following the global pandemic.
Why It’s a Challenge
Many companies are shifting more resources to inbound marketing, which means higher and higher demand for top marketing talent. But supply simply isn’t keeping up. From sourcing the right candidates to evaluating for the right skills, finding the perfect person could take months … or more.
What’s more, the type of marketing talent companies are looking for is changing, too. According to a report from LinkedIn, employers are seeking marketers with soft creative skill sets as well as hard technical skills. And the quick rate at which the demand for these jobs are rising has caused a marketing skills gap, “making it difficult to find candidates with the technical, creative, and business proficiencies needed to succeed in digital marketing.”
What Can You Do?
Stefanie Grieser, co-founder of Shine Bootcamp, a professional speaker accelerator for women, understands the challenge of hiring top talent.
She told me, “When I talk to high-growth companies or marketing agencies (and the marketers running those teams), I’ve found that hiring not only top talent, but diverse top talent is extremely challenging. In fact, I was just having a conversation with an agency owner who hires SEO and paid marketers, and he told me, ‘Hiring is still the biggest challenge we face.'”
In 2022, hiring talent can be incredibly difficult — particularly as more companies become competitive with 4-day work weeks, transparent salaries on job descriptions, and the adoption of remote work, which enables companies to hire anywhere.
Fortunately, Grieser provided me with a few tips for employers to stand out from the crowd. She told me, “My suggestion here is for marketers to invest heavily in their employer brand for the long-term. Just like you need to market your product, you also need to dedicate resources, time and energy into marketing your company as an employer.”
Grieser adds, “I would suggest Diversity Tech Co, Tech Ladies, and Girlboss as go-to resources to post jobs. These organizations are run by incredible individuals who really care about diversity, equity, inclusion and intersectionality. I’m also seeing niche communities and job boards pop up. For marketers specifically, I would post your open roles here: Dave Gerhardt Marketing Group, Hey Marketers, and Superpath (which is focused on content marketers specifically).”
While it might seem random to discuss employer branding in a post about marketing challenges, it isn’t — since it’s often the marketing team that cultivates a strong employer brand.
As Grieser points out, “Airbnb has an Engineering and Data Science blog, Intercom has an Instagram dedicated to their design team, and Dooly posts short, LinkedIn posts (see an example here) interviewing their fun team with a few fun hashtags #doolydreamteam and #meetadooligan.”
“Guess who leads this initiative? The marketing team. Think about how you and your team can showcase your work and your team’s work. I won’t try to assume that employer brand falls solely in your court, but as a marketer, you have natural skills that will lend themselves to marketing the company as whole.”
LinkedIn data shows that the number one reason candidates will consider or accept a job is career growth. This means that job listings and a company culture that offers employees a plan for growth will see the most interest from talent.
Other Common Challenges
While our survey identified the biggest challenges in marketing, teams are still facing dozens of other challenges that are worth mentioning, but weren’t ranked as a top concern. Here are just a few:
Content Marketing Challenges
The content marketing world is vast and full of different strategies. And, each major tactic comes with its own challenge.
For example, if you’re a blogger or video creator, SEO and ranking on Google will likely be one of the biggest hurtles and opportunities your team will face because both blogs and videos are always competing for the covered first-page of search results on Google.
Meanwhile, if you focus on multimedia, such as videos, podcasts, or design, views, view-time, and shareability could be key to nurturing a lead. And, as many marketers struggle with demonstrating ROI — your efforts will be no different. While bloggers could include a form, purchasing link, or landding page URL in their posts which are easier to track, you won’t always be able to easily determine the ROI of content that doesn’t allow URL embedding in it.
As a content marketer, it’s important to determine which goals are most important to your team and company’s growth and focus first on the challenges that will hinder reaching them.
Email Marketing Challenges
Over the last year, email marketers have run into all sorts of challenges, such as pandemic-related low engagement and Apple iOS 15’s privacy protection policy impacting open tracking and open-rate based strategies.
But, by far, the biggest challenge email marketers will probably always face is gaining and retaining subscribers. In fact, our research found that 19% of marketers see email and social media list growth being a top challenge throughout the year.
If you identify with our participants, check out this post with more data on why consumers subscribe and unsubscribe from email.
Affiliate Marketing Challenges
Sometimes, spreading the word requires the help of partners (or affiliates). These could including other companies willing to feature your brand on their site, thought leaders or influencers who will share links to your products and even happy customers who will spread the word in order to get a reward. This is why affiliate marketing has grown much more popular over the years.
However, despite its popularity, affiliate marketing takes work. To launch a campaign, you’ll need a clear message, process, a commission budget for your partners, and — oh yeah — affiliates who will help you reach your goals. To learn more about how to execute successful and effective affiliate marketing, read this guide.
Some of these challenges aren’t new.
If you’re a marketer who sees the same challenge year-over-year, it might be a barrier worth putting on your radar. However, some challenges can be industry-wide. Year-over-year challenges across the industry are incredibly important to note, regardless of whether they impact you or not.
Why? These challenges might not just be something you’re facing, but could also be faced by your competitors. If you can figure out how to navigate a reoccurring industry challenge effectively, you could have a leg up against the competition.
With that said, let’s look back at some of the data we gained las year,
In 2021, I surveyed over 120 marketers on our HubSpot Marketing Blog subscriber list to gauge the biggest challenges affecting the industry. Here’s a quick graph highlighting what they said.
By far, “Generating traffic and leads” was marked by nearly half as the biggest challenge marketers are facing this year.
This challenge was followed by 21% who said “providing ROI for your marketing activities” was their biggest challenge.
“Delivering an account-based marketing strategy” (8%), “securing enough budget” (6%), and “managing your website” (5%) were the other three notable challenges marketers feel they’re facing in 2021.
It’s important to note, a few other marketers marked “targeting content for an international audience”, “training your team”, and “hiring top talent” as their top challenge … but these three challenges were marked by less than 3% of the respondent pool, so they’re less statistically significant.
Identifying Your Marketing Challenges
A thorough analysis of your marketing strategy and its current performance will help you discover where your biggest marketing opportunity lies. This will allow you to focus on improving the areas that need the most attention, so you can start making your marketing far more effective.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2012 and has been updated annually to include new, exclusive HubSpot data and expert insights.