The term, “digital marketing” encompasses a broad range of employment opportunities that are centred around finding the right combination of digital channels and assets to optimise and enhance a business’ digital presence and their customers’ online experience. From pay-per-click advertising to digital copywriting and search engine optimisation, the individual remits of the digital marketer can be as varied and as changeable as the sector it lies within. It’s because of this that the ability to learn fast, apply knowledge, and adapt according to the demands of the individual business are as valuable as your qualifications.
Despite its ultra-competitive landscape, there are routes into digital marketing that do not require a hefty bank loan and a Bachelor’s degree, so if you’re prepared to go down an alternative learning path, here’s a useful list of things you can do to complement your course studies and accelerate your digital knowledge.
Blogging is a great foot through the door for many marketers. In a landscape where content is king, being able to create and supply well-informed copy is a valued asset. The best thing about blogging is that it can be done in your own time - the key is just consistency. You don’t need to publish everything you write, but the more you write the better you’ll get at it, and the stronger your portfolio will be. Experiment with your content – write for different target audiences – B2B versus B2C – thought-pieces vs curated infographics – the opportunities are endless. Whether you write to inform, to entertain or to provoke, providing value to the reader should be central to your blogging efforts. If you’re unsure where to start then maybe a course introducing you to the basics is a good way to get started.
Digital marketing is so intertwined with Search Engine Marketing and optimisation, that the pair are often referred to interchangeably. For this reason, it’s important to have at a top-line understanding of Search Engine Optimisation and how you can apply the fundamentals to optimising all the great blog content you’ve been writing. Search engine optimisation has evolved these past few years, and as a result you can afford to spend more time on the quality of your content than on the smattering of keywords in every sentence. Think more about optimising your content for viewers, not for crawlers, and you’ll go far.
Leverage the plethora of social media platforms that exist, to create and share your content with the masses. Experiment with different platforms and set yourself growth targets. Setting targets, no matter how small, is a great way to experiment and test new learnings as you discover what you need to do to take you from points A to points B.
There isn’t a UK digital business that exists without a Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or Instagram account, so at the very least make sure you have a solid handle on how to use these platforms and be able to showcase that knowledge. If you’re marketing to a younger audience, then Snapchat is an essential and Musical.ly should be high up on your list as ‘one-to-watch’.
Twitter for Learning
Twitter is also a great place to keep abreast of what is happening in digital and be a part of marketing events across the globe without having to foot the hefty delegate fees. Make use of Twitter’s hashtags and lists features to compile targeted lists of brands and people relevant to your industry. Including hashtags in your avatar profile will also signal your interests to the right people (and some timewasters too, but more about that later…).
Be participatory in discussions, share your learnings, but always remember to be courteous and respectful of others’ opinions. If you’re unsure or new to Twitter, just start by retweeting and sharing what you like and ease yourself in gently.
Build a Website
The more arrows you have to your bow, the better and whilst many digital marketing jobs involve managing websites, there is no faster, better way to get a high-level overview of managing one than to create one yourself. Your website needn’t be bigger than a page from which you can experiment with simple HTML functionality, or you can get really creative, create multiple pages from which you can showcase your content. Wordpress is very popular with bloggers and businesses alike, though if you’re just looking for a broad overview, Google sites are a great place to design your website - you can also use your newly created site to practice installing Adwords, Google Tag Manager and/or a Google Analytics account.
Daunting though these applications may look on first glance, there are tons of resources from Google to help you with these processes. In fact, you can sign up to their Google Analytics Academy and receive online courses complete with certification if you pass, and it’s all free.
“Experience, experience, experience.”
Whilst this isn’t altogether true, the fantastic thing about the digital ecosphere is that it is always evolving, which keeps the playing field even and ready for newcomers. Whilst industry experience is invaluable it is not a sector where one can rest on one’s laurels; what may have worked five years ago may not work anymore and it’s a game where curious, proactive minds will always come out on top.
To that end, always have your eyes open to the marketing pieces that are all around you. Digital Marketing covers a vast sector full of different specialisms and employment opportunities so be open to your environment and it’ll really enrich your learning. Notice a catchy advert, or a cool rebrand? Google it, to find out the whys, the how’s and the wherefores and think about how you can apply these to your own developments. When it comes to big brands they’ll more often than not have outsourced campaigns to fancy digital agencies, many of whom will build fantastic—looking case studies. To give a great example, look at this AirBnB rebrand.
In any digital marketing role, you need to be able to demonstrate in which ways your strategies and campaigns add value. More than ever before, it is required that marketers have a firm grasp of data: how to formulate an idea about your content, campaign or website performance, how to hypothesise around your idea, how to create a report that will provide the appropriate data to support or challenge your hypothesis and how to form action based on the results of your data. As a minimum, try a Google Analytics Fundamentals course as an efficient way to provide insight into how to be an analytical digital marketer.
Courses and Events
There are times that it can be a challenge to stay motivated but, if you shop around, you can find some truly great speakers and courses. The key to completing is to understand your motivators and distractors. Change your environment, work desk, café, and learn what setting is most complementary to studying for you. Try embarking on those courses that provide certification upon completion – it’s a great motivator to know that you are working towards something tangible.
As for events, Eventbrite and Meetup are great apps for finding free local industry events. There are some gems, and undoubtedly a few duds, but you will be hard pressed to find one where you haven’t learned something. It’s a nice way to start networking with like-minded people; post tweets under the event hashtag whilst you’re there for a great way to break the ice and assert yourself as a digital marketer, in real-time.
Don’t get complacent; everything moves so fast in the digital world and it’s important not to get left behind. Keep on top of trends using tools like Feedspot and Mention to help you filter through the noise. Most importantly though, never stop learning.
If you think you have what it takes to make it within digital marketing, let us help you with a course to get you on your way!
Dan is a Search Engine Marketer for student services site Whatuni.com