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Marketo launches research institute: Can it close the digital marketing talent gap?

Marketo formalizes an initiatives to boost the digital marketing talent pool via research as well as partnerships with universities.

Marketo has launched a research center designed to cultivate so-called "engagement marketing" and create a talent pool of marketers that understand the intersection of digital, data and art.

The Marketo Institute launched with three people and formalizes the company's aim to be about marketing first and a thought leader. The research center will use anonymous aggregated data from its customer base of 3,330 customers around the world to supply benchmarks and knowhow. Marketo has data on more than 12 million digital marketing campaigns in its 7 year history. Separately, Marketo lined up a series of partnerships with 150 digital ad agencies.

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Sanjay Dholakia, chief marketing officer at Marketo, said the institute is partly driven by the notion that CMOs are struggling to keep pace. "The CMO position is a lonely place," said Dholakia. "CMOs are supposed to keep up with the market, but can't. There's a hunger for data driven marketing information."

The other reality driving the Marketo Institute is that there's a shortage of digital marketing talent. Few people are skilled at moving a consumer through a "marketing journey," engaging and then closing a sale, said Dholakia. Meanwhile, there is a shortage of marketers who can meld the data as well as the creative side of the equation.

Simply put, there are a lot of jobs to be matched with marketers who can nail digital engagement techniques.

For Marketo, the institute positions the company as a thought leader and could cultivate a strong talent pool. Marketo is beginning to work with universities on digital marketing degree programs as well as consulting and research firms. If all goes well, marketing will have a workforce that's bilingual in creative as well as data.

Key research topics will revolve around how many marketing touches should occur before a customer makes a first purchase by industry and stages in the buying cycle.

Dholakia spoke about 411, a formula that dictates that four touch points designed to educate, inform and entertain are required before a soft sell and a hard sell occurs. Institute data, as Marketo scales the research, could surface other best practices.