Marketing Industry Trends Survey - How Brands Hire Marketers 
Here are the top challenges companies are facing with hiring the right marketing talent, in-house vs remote employees, which channels are growing, and much more.
Updated December 10, 2023.
The world of digital marketing has changed a lot in the last few years.
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted whole industries across the world, there’s been a surge in remote work and people choosing to freelance, and there’s a huge supply shortage affecting eCommerce businesses.
We surveyed over 200+ businesses of different sizes and from a wide variety of industries (from pets to tech to wellness) to find out what’s changed.
We wanted to see how the last two years have impacted the way these companies hire marketers, the marketing channels they prefer to use, and what their major barriers to growth are.
We present to you - Mayple’s Marketing Industry Trends Survey of 2022.
Strap in, it’s going to be a wild ride.
Biggest marketing challenges in 2022
The first thing we asked companies was what their main challenges are and what type of marketing projects or activities are they going to focus on in 2022 and their answers surprised us.
The top 5 biggest challenges that brands are having are -
- Improving their website conversion rate
- Improving their return on ad spend
- Building a better brand strategy
- Expanding to new channels
- Increasing the rate of returning customers
13% of brands are most challenged with expanding to new channels, 15% are challenged with optimizing their conversions, 15% said optimizing their ad marketing budgets, and 12% are most challenged with decreasing customer return rates.
These are objectives that have always been challenging and have been at the forefront of every company’s strategy.
The third one - building a brand strategy - pleasantly surprised us.
We’ve seen a lot of DTC unicorns been built on the foundation of a really good brand story and clever copywriting and it’s now becoming even more imperative with 13% of the companies we surveyed prioritizing the building of a strong brand strategy.
Consumers are looking for brands that they can connect to, not just products that solve their particular challenge. And companies are certainly beginning to notice.
Most popular marketing channels in 2022
The top marketing channels in 2022 are - Facebook ads (18%), conversion rate optimization (16%), and email marketing (15%). Partnerships, referrals, and influencer marketing are close behind at 9%.
Facebook ads remain the most popular marketing channel even after the iOs 14.5 changes. So brands are finding workarounds through tracking offline purchases and blended attribution models.
Email marketing is becoming a greater focus for companies as algorithms on social media platforms and search engines change. A brand’s email list is the best source of first-party data and the only place where they can reach all of their audience.
Talent remains a bigger barrier than technology
27% of companies say that their biggest constraint is their marketing budget. 24% stated they need a better marketing strategy, 19% said they're lacking creative ideas, and 13% said the biggest barrier to their success is finding top-performing talent. Only 6% of companies surveyed said they are missing the right tech stack.
Finding the best talent is becoming a greater challenge for companies. Particularly, marketers that have a proven track record and can deliver positive results.
Where do business leaders go to expand their knowledge?
The top places to get new marketing ideas - LinkedIn and YouTube
LinkedIn and YouTube are the most popular platforms where business leaders go to expand their knowledge. 17% of companies use LinkedIn as their primary source for new ideas and 15% use YouTube.
Newsletters are gaining popularity & are read by 10% of marketing leaders
Email newsletters are quickly gaining popularity. 10% of the companies we surveyed said that newsletters are where they go to get the latest marketing knowledge and learn about the latest marketing trends.
Podcasts are 12x more popular than books
No one reads books anymore, not even audiobooks. The new trend is podcasts, with over 12% of business leaders saying they listen to podcasts as their primary way to expand their knowledge.
Is it due to a shorter attention span? More multi-tasking? Or because podcast content is simply better and more relevant? It’s probably a combination of both.
Online business communities are just as powerful as influencers
While influencers are incredibly popular for consumers in various industries, they aren’t the leading source of marketing ideas for business leaders. 11% of companies surveyed said that they go to online communities as their primary way to get ideas and 9% said they use influencers.
Online communities include places like Slack, Discord, Clubhouse, and exclusive member-only communities. They are becoming even more popular places for creative ideas and brainstorming than blogs, newsletters, and Facebook groups.
How companies structure their marketing teams
How do companies build their marketing teams? Do they prefer in-house marketers or freelancers? And are they getting more comfortable with hiring remote employees?
2020-2021 brought a remote revolution and a historic uptick in the number of people choosing to freelance in the US. Yet with all this talk about flexible work schedules and hybrid models, are companies becoming more comfortable hiring freelancers?
Let’s find out.
In-house is still the preferred way to manage a marketing team
44% of the companies we surveyed have a hybrid team composed of both in-house employees and freelancers. 42% of companies are completely in-house, and only 14% have teams that are completely outsourced. So 86% of companies still have a significant in-house presence.
53% of companies stated that in-house is the best hiring solution to grow their marketing activities.
Let’s get granular:
- 75%+ of fully in-house teams said they prefer in-house
- About 35% of hybrid teams said that they prefer in-house
- 25% of fully outsourced teams said they prefer in-house
More companies are getting comfortable with remote work
Almost 85% of businesses feel comfortable working with a remote team to some extent. 43.6% said they are 100% comfortable working remotely, 41.6% are ok with it but would prefer to meet them from time to time, and only 14.9% of companies said they prefer to work with marketers face to face.
Why do companies choose to outsource?
Here are the main reasons that companies choose to outsource marketing talent.
19.9% of companies choose to outsource their marketing activities because they don’t have enough in-house expertise and 17% are looking for more creative ideas.
45% of companies outsource because it’s more efficient
Almost half of the companies we surveyed said they outsource marketing talent for reasons related to business efficiency. 15.5% chose to outsource because of the flexibility of on-demand hiring, 15.5% said that it takes less time, and 14.6% said it’s more cost-effective.
It’s becoming harder to find the right marketing hire
How happy are companies with their marketing service providers? And how easy is it to find the right expert or agency? Turns out that having more choices doesn’t necessarily make the search any easier.
60% of businesses aren’t happy with their marketing outsourcing
Only 29.7% of businesses we surveyed said that they had a good experience with a marketing hire. 39.5% of companies said that their experience was ok, and over 20% of companies have had a bad experience with their marketing hire.
Over 55.5% of decision-makers don’t feel confident that they can hire the right marketer
We asked our audience - to what extent do you think that you’re able to make the right decision when choosing a marketing service provider? And it was a split. 55% of decision-makers don’t feel confident in their decision.
13.7% of businesses said they practically gamble every time they hire someone to help with their marketing. 42.9% said that it’s 50-50, you win some, you lose some.
The biggest challenge with outsourcing your marketing
37% of companies said that the number one challenge they have with outsourcing marketing is that they are promised big promises and see low results. Another 12.9% said that their biggest challenge was a lack of transparency.
Not the right skillset
Almost a third of the companies we surveyed said that their main challenge had to do with the marketer’s skillset. 13.4% of businesses said their marketers lacked creativity. And 12.9% said that their marketers were lacking the technical skills of integrating channels, campaigns, and technology together.
Another major challenge that businesses are encountering is that their marketer hire doesn’t focus enough on the big picture. 9.4% of companies said that their number one challenge was that their marketer was too tactical and wasn’t able to create the right marketing strategy for the firm.
Over 55% hire marketers through non-direct channels
23.3% of businesses have found their current marketing partner through word-of-mouth and 19.4% hired someone who was referred to them. Another 8.7% of businesses used social media groups and online communities and 3.4% hired marketers from attending live events.
Direct channels are still important but they make up less than a third of the primary ways that businesses hire marketers. Only 13.6% of businesses clicked on an online ad (Facebook or Google ads) and only 10.7% used a search engine to find their marketing partner.
Companies are tired of sales pitches and are looking for proof
26% of businesses we surveyed said that the most important thing they look for in a marketing provider is proven past results. 21% said that they’re looking for proven experience in their particular niche. And 13% of them said they are looking for good communication.
So the number one factor that brands are looking for is proof. In fact, companies care 3x more about proven past results than good reviews.
The demand for good marketers is growing
A lot of businesses are expanding their online presence in the post-COVID era. Nearly 40% of businesses have a high intent to hire marketing help in the next 3 months. Only 17.4% of companies said that they are not at all likely to expand their marketing team.
Companies are going hybrid
A majority of companies still prefer to hire in-house and we’re seeing an increasing trend of hybrid teams, where an in-house employee manages a team of remote freelancers and marketing experts.
The need for strategy and creativity
More companies are outsourcing because they need to build out their marketing strategy and test out new ideas. A lot of companies in our survey said their marketers were too tactical, and they needed a creative strategist that could think big picture and come up with more creative ideas.
Brand and word-of-mouth are a must
Business leaders are realizing that a brilliant brand strategy is a must in order to build loyalty and a returning customer base. Word of mouth and referral traffic are a huge factor in the success of any brand long term.