How to Start Digital Marketing Training
For most of the last century, marketing was a fairly straightforward field. All companies had to do to market themselves effectively was to get the word out about their product or service, typically using traditional print and communication media channels.
But less than three decades ago, all that changed. Almost overnight, the marketing world had to evolve because of the invention of new website technology. Since then, organizations have had to relearn absolutely everything about marketing themselves to the wider world. Now, a business that doesn’t make use of digital marketing training may not find the successes of those who do.
That is why it is important for marketers, organizations, and businesses to learn digital marketing best practices, essential components of the industry, and a few popular and profitable digital marketing jobs.
Taking a Closer Look at Digital Marketing
Marketing in one form or another has been around as long as recorded history. In fact, there’s evidence of marketing used by gladiators in the Roman Coliseum. Digital marketing, however, is a different animal altogether.
Traditional, offline marketing is a one-way street where companies talk to current or potential customers. Due to the development of the internet though, two-way communication became a possibility. The means to interact with an audience rather than simply talk at them provides an incredible opportunity for more sophisticated marketing techniques.
At its core, that’s all digital marketing means - any marketing campaigns conducted through online media. However, a lot of different things fall under that umbrella. Knowing the difference between a paid search and a Google algorithm can mean the difference between a company blowing up or collapsing overnight.
Why Digital Marketing is Important
For the first time in human history, virtually everyone is carrying around a device that connects them to various digital platforms, social media trends, businesses, and organizations. Through digital marketing tools, businesses can get a head start with new clientele and audiences.
Utilizing proper digital marketing techniques can make a big difference, especially considering how much time people spend online. For every 100 people:
- 84% are actively shopping for something, according to Google Insights.
- 90% aren’t sure of a brand they will choose when online to make a purchase, according to Google Insights.
- 49% use search engines like Google to find a product, according to HubSpot.
Additionally, the average person spends more than three hours on a smartphone each day, according to eMarketer. In short, not only will a company’s competitors use digital marketing strategies and tools to communicate with their customers, but customers are also expecting companies they want to do business with to have a digital marketing presence. If potential customers are online, then that’s where a company has to be too.
The Details on How Digital Marketing Works
The primary focus of digital marketing is to forge a connection between the customer, reader, follower, or other entity, and the brand or business. This relationship, when built on a solid foundation with strong digital marketing tools and skills, is what makes or breaks a company.
One of the key aspects of making a digital marketing plan work is to make the approach multi-faceted. Companies and organizations can’t only create a website and find success. As people use the internet in a dozen different ways every day, a company that wants to get noticed has to put itself on multiple platforms to make sure a potential customer can’t help but notice and hopefully interact with them.
The best way to create a visual representation of how digital marketing works is to imagine a small town with a town center – complete with a huge fountain where everyone meets to talk. All roads, streets, drives, avenues, and paths lead to this town center.
The town center is your business and all those ways of traveling from outside the town are different methods of digital marketing. Your job, once you complete digital marketing training, is to bring new people to town and, eventually to the town center, where they can be a part of the conversation, as well.
Types of Digital Marketing
There are five common and powerful forms of digital marketing, including email marketing, search engine marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, and affiliate marketing.
Most people are in the habit of checking their email frequently. A 2019 study from Adobe found that individuals can spend around five hours a day using email. As such, email marketing is not only possibly the oldest form of digital marketing, but it is also one of the most lucrative. This kind of marketing can have a high return on investment, or ROI, for a relatively inexpensive campaign.
The exact form email marketing takes can vary widely, from automated email sequences designed to encourage specific actions to periodic newsletters to personal messages asking for feedback on a recent interaction. Most successful businesses and organizations make frequent use of email marketing to communicate offers or incentives, new products, and more to their customers. It’s possible to overdo it with email marketing, but as any digital marketing specialist will know, a company that neglects email marketing is sure to miss out.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Not every potential customer is going to seek out a specific business when they’re looking to make a purchase. Instead, they’re much more likely to search the general product, service, or location that’s most applicable to their situation.
One of the important tenets of digital marketing is that people choose the path of least resistance, meaning they’re incredibly likely to click the first search result that meets their needs. Web traffic drops by 95% on the second page of Google search results, according to Search Engine Watch. In other words, if a company’s website isn’t listed on the very first page of search results, it’s probably not going to get any business at all.
Overall, it all boils down to search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search ads, also known as pay-per-click (PPC).
Content marketing is a fairly broad category that includes dozens of forms of content. Essentially, content marketing refers to online content that markets a business while providing the audience content they inherently want to consume.
The everyday person will encounter content marketing every day while using the internet. Some examples include a delicious recipe featuring one of a company’s products or a comic book that tells a story while showing off a new line of toys.
This realm of digital marketing involves a fair amount of creativity and requires real insight into what a target audience wants while they’re online. Some of the most common forms of digital content marketing include videos, blog posts, striking photos, games, and quizzes. Whatever an audience wants, they should believe that’s what they’re getting when they click on a piece of content. The goal of marketing a company’s product or business should be an understated primary goal.
Effective content marketing has to have a good balance. It should not be subtle enough that it doesn’t adequately market the product, but not so obvious that it drives away audiences. A good digital marketing agency should be able to deliver engaging content that gets the word out without seeming too blatantly commercial.
Social Media Marketing
Though social media may have come about to bring people together, it’s also become one of the prime ways businesses connect with their clients. Popular platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest provide businesses with the means to effectively market themselves and interact with customers who have questions or concerns.
Social media digital marketing strategies can vary widely, with some businesses offering discounts or deals for people who interact with them on social media and others providing shareable viral content that contributes to their brand appeal, like the popular tweets by formerly staid brands like Wendy’s.
Of course, it’s a given that a business needs to have active social media accounts to succeed nowadays, so just having a Facebook page isn’t enough. Advertising on social media, both through paid ads and targeted ads on social media sites, is also a must.
Affiliate marketing has been around nearly as long as digital marketing itself, but it’s achieved its potential as an effective strategy in recent years. This style of marketing is defined when an individual or organization advertises another business in exchange for a fee or a portion of sales made from that referral.
One of the most popular affiliate marketing programs is the one from Amazon. Their affiliates program can be tremendously effective for online merchants, connecting consumers to businesses that sell and ship just what they’re looking for. However, any influential or super-visible online entity can be an effective affiliate marketer, from bloggers to social media influencers.
Digital Marketing Best Practices
There are four essential digital marketing components, including SEO, PPC, analytics, and conversion rate optimization. Digital marketing experts who are truly skilled will use each of these four marketing tools.
When a person browses a website to see if it matches what they’re looking for, they look for a variety of cues and content that might tell them the company is legitimate, helpful, and right for them. Search engines like Google do much the same thing, although they’re looking for very different cues - most of which are invisible or unimportant to humans.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, takes a good understanding of what search engines are looking for when they search through millions of pages in a fraction of a second. Altogether, there are more than two hundred ranking factors that these engines go through during one of these searches.
Some of these factors are things a business can’t do much about, such as how long a domain has been registered, or the country code for where it’s registered. Others can be exploited by savvy digital marketers to make sure a website makes it to that profitable first position on Google. Keyword use, headings and subheadings, image quality, original vs. duplicate content, and mobile optimization are just a few of the SEO factors that businesses can learn to improve.
Paid ads are one of the biggest tools in the digital marketing arsenal. These “pay per click” ads only cost when individuals click on them, hence the name. More often than not, pay-per-click ads are done by Google and placed on other websites. Google claims that every $1 spent on PPC ads returns double that in increased conversions.
PPCs are a flexible tool, especially when used in coordination with SEO. With a few well-written, effectively placed PPC ads, a business can generate leads, get the word out about new campaigns, or increase sales and online engagement, all while paying only for actual conversions.
Analytics refers to the real-time data from individuals on the internet. Analytics tools will record who is clicking on anything a business puts out online, including where they’re from, what computer and browser they’re using, how long they stay before clicking away, and how likely they are to engage in the future. In other words, it tracks data that’s critical to understanding if marketing efforts are connecting with the target audience.
A useful analytics tool is one from Google. Google Analytics provides a wealth of information about where, when, and how customers are engaging with any of the marketing techniques companies employ. If organizations and businesses don’t frequently check analytics to determine how digital marketing content can be adjusted for a bigger impact, it can be a big waste of resources.
Conversion Rate Optimization
Just making individuals aware of a company isn’t necessarily enough to turn that company into a success. People need to buy from that company too, which is what conversion rate optimization, or CRO, attempts to help with. If SEO is getting a business ranked higher on search engines to increase traffic, the role of CRO is turning those visitors into customers.
A company making good use of digital marketing CRO has a plan for every step of the process a consumer goes through when dealing with their digital presence. There needs to be a strategy to carry a casual shopper who discovers a company’s website on social media to the next step of the process, realizing they have an interest or need in what the company provides. From there, the individual needs to be persuaded to want the company’s product or service, and finally, they should be able to go through the purchasing or subscribing process easily.
Few companies will achieve a conversion of 100% of people who encounter their digital marketing. However, if any steps of this process are difficult or interrupted, more and more individuals will be lost before they buy. A digital marketer who makes the most of each potential lead is bringing CRO to their company.
Digital Marketing Education
Before you can jump into a digital marketing career, you’ll have to spend some time learning the ins and outs of the business. This is where education and training come into play.
When the internet and digital space really started melding with everyday life, it was soon apparent that traditional learning wasn’t always needed in the way it once was. So, with digital marketing, you no longer need to invest in a 4-year degree, followed by a graduate degree and specialized training, like so many traditional marketers needed to in the past. You can start with absolutely zero education in marketing and rise to the top of the game – it all depends on what path you want to take.
More traditional digital marketing education starts at college. Some of the digital marketing degrees available today include associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in:
- Business Administration
As you can tell, these are more traditional marketing subjects versus digital marketing. Not a lot of schools have picked up on comprehensive digital marketing degree programs, which means, for many, taking a different route to digital marketing training.
Paid and Free Online Courses
If throwing two to four years, or longer, into a traditional college degree isn’t something that interests you, don’t fret. The internet means everything in the world has gone virtual, including education.
You have two options with online digital marketing training. You can choose to go with a free program or course, or a paid certificate or degree program. Both often last as long as two to three years and come with a certificate upon completion. Where once the 4-year college degree was the true sign of someone thoroughly educated in a field, certification programs now exist. For the price one 2-year degree, someone can get two, three, or more certificates all in different fields of digital marketing with the most up-to-date information.
You can also choose to augment your current knowledge with online courses. These tend to last as little as 20 to 30 minutes and tend to touch on a very specific aspect of digital marketing. For instance, an online digital marketing course may cover the basics of social media marketing or email marketing but never go into the details needed to land a good job in the business.
Certificate programs and online digital courses are available from the likes of HubSpot, Google, LinkedIn, Forbes, Buffer, Ahrefs Academy, Moz, and more. Just about every major player in online digital marketing offers some sort of free or paid education.
The idea behind getting the best digital marketing training is to connect with an education platform that is market-driven. What does that mean exactly?
Market-driven education means that lessons and skills are adapted to the current digital market and climate, as changes occur. That’s the most important aspect – changes in education are made as they occur, so the student is versed in the latest, most effective means of marketing.
Traditional education programs tend to be more rigid and set in long-accepted thoughts and beliefs – take book learning as an example. As the world changes, textbooks aren’t typically rewritten every year, but online digital marketing training can be adjusted at any time based on things like advances in technology, changes in how people choose to interact with a business, new social media platforms, and others.
No matter how you choose to complete your digital marketing education, whether that be in an Ivy League college, through a local community college or with HubSpot’s online program, just know that this field is open to everyone. If you’ve been a teacher for 20 years and want to become a digital marketer – you can find a program that reskills students to move into a whole new career path.
If you are already in marketing, but you’ve not truly dived into digital yet, find a program that upskills your current knowledge. And, if you’re just out of high school or in college and want to take marketing on – you can too.
Take the First Step
When it comes to digital marketing training, you have the power to change the world for yourself and others in a career that’s constantly evolving and growing. Training may come in school, online or on-the-job – but whatever type of avenue you choose to take, remember to pick a market-driven program. It takes more than just throwing out some education materials on online marketing to truly learn this field.
Your education needs to be rooted in what’s happening today and delivered by people with their finger on the pulse of what’s happening tomorrow in digital marketing. That’s why our Digital Marketing Professional Bootcamp is a great first step towards a digital marketing career. Learn up-to-date techniques from active professionals and receive professional career coaching to polish your personal brand and help you stand out from the crowd. Schedule a call with our admissions team today!