While two in five (40%) marketers stated that they want to reinvent themselves, only 14% of those marketers actually know how to go about it.

This is according to research released from Adobe, Digital Roadblock: Marketers Struggle to Reinvent Themselves, based on a survey of more than 1 000 marketing professionals in the US and exposing fresh insights into the attitudes and beliefs of marketers as they struggle to redefine their roles and expand their skills.

Underscoring the rapid transformation of the marketing profession, 64% of marketers expect their role to change in the next year and 81% believe their role will change in the next three years. But the path to re-invention remains a challenge. Respondents cited lack of training in new marketing skills (30%) and organisational inability to adapt (30%) among the top obstacles to becoming the marketers they aspire to be.

Asked to describe the ideal, successful marketer 12 months from now, 50% of marketers says they should take more risks, and 45% hope to take more risks themselves.

On the topic of new technologies, marketers are generally playing it safe, with 65% saying they are more comfortable adopting new technologies once they become mainstream.

The findings also highlighted a gap between marketers in companies that spend more than 25% of their marketing budget on digital campaigns compared to those that spend less than 10% on digital.

Marketers in high digital-spend companies are more likely to believe (82%) they need to reinvent themselves to succeed, versus low digital-spend companies (67%). Marketers from high-performing companies are three times more likely (23%) to say they know how to reinvent themselves than low performers (8%).

“The shift to digital requires new technology, new approaches and, in many cases, entirely new roles for marketers,” says Ann Lewnes, chief marketing officer for Adobe. “The good news is that marketers see the change in front of them, and understand they need to embrace data, focus on creating personalised experiences and work across their social, Web and mobile channels. They just need to take the plunge.”

A majority of marketers (76%) agreed they need to be more data-focused to succeed, but 49% report “trusting my gut” to guide decisions on where to invest their marketing budgets. Seventy-two percent of marketers agree their long-term success is tied to proving marketing return on investment.

Seventy-four percent of marketers say that capturing and applying data to inform and drive marketing activities is the new reality, and 69% agree on the need to embrace “hyper personalisation” (using data to provide the right products, services and content at the right time).

Yet only 39% of marketers report using consumer data and behaviour patterns to shape marketing strategy in the past 12 months; 45% plan to use more consumer data and behaviour in the next 12 months.

Sixty-nine percent of marketers agree that mobile is a critical element to get right. In terms of media types and platforms, 61% of marketers see social media as the most critical area of focus 12 months from now, followed closely by mobile at 51%. Print (9%) and TV (7%) ranked last.

Sixty-three percent of marketers say they were doing more social marketing compared to last year, and more than half says they were doing more direct customer engagement via e-mail (51%) and digital analytics (51%) than they were in 2013.

These priorities are driving a shift to more investment in digital talent within marketing organisations. Marketers cited digital/social marketer (47%), data analyst (38%), creative services (38%) and mobile marketer (36%) as key roles companies need to invest in over the next 12 months.

The survey also provides insight into what specific behaviour marketers believe will make the biggest single difference in their effectiveness: the ability to work better across channels rose to the top (21%), followed by the ability to measure and learn from campaign effectiveness (16%).

When asked to prioritise one capability that will be most important to their company’s marketing moving forward, personalisation ranked highest. Sixty-three percent of high-performing companies say that they are completely focused or very focused on personalising experiences for customers, compared to 53% of average or low-performing companies.