March 4, 2019
The nature of communication has changed. As technology has evolved and advanced, the need for digital tools has spread, changing every industry, field, and job market it reaches. Now, for every business that exists, there is an online presence. For every marketing campaign, there is a social media or digital ad component. For every bad or good customer experience, there is an online review waiting to be found by a potential customer. And behind all of these situations is someone or the need for someone to manage such digital functions.
The skillset required by marketers today has broadened significantly than in years before the explosion of digital marketing. A growing demand for online optimization and data-focused marketing has resulted in a need for employees who have knowledge of online environments and understand the intersection of commerce, marketing, and the internet.
Given the success of powerhouse social platforms and startups, it would seem that there would be a surplus of tech-savvy kids with enough digital marketing prowess to just jump right now. In fact, the rapid advancement and ever-updating nature of online marketing practices has created a gap between demand and available talent/skill. In a research study that pulled over 75,000 job listings from Indeed.com, Moz reported:
“As the marketing industry continues to evolve due to emerging technology and marketing platforms, marketers are expected to pick up new skills and broaden their knowledge more quickly than ever before. Many believe this rapid rate of change has caused a marketing skills gap, making it difficult to find candidates with the technical, creative, and business proficiencies needed to succeed in digital marketing.”
This study revealed that while there is certainly no shortage of jobs looking for digital marketing skills, candidates with the skills themselves may be more difficult to come by than we thought.
From the problem of a gap between demand for digital marketing and adequate, available talent stems an opportunity. By beginning a career in digital marketing that gives you the skills businesses are looking for, you can put yourself in a job market that has an anticipated growth of 13% by 2022.
With a little work and time commitment, you could position yourself as the ideal candidate for the surplus of digital marketing skills in demand by employers.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
Now more than ever is the time to embark on your digital marketing career and use that gap to your advantage, so let’s get started.
The cool thing about digital marketing is that because it’s always changing and evolving, we are all students. There’s always something new to learn, a fresh spin on an old practice to try, and endless possibilities to apply your own creativity to digital marketing.
While there’s no shortage of marketing majors, minors, and courses in universities and colleges across the country, the most competitive and highly sought skills of digital marketing still aren’t covered in depth. SEO, web development, SEM, and other such disciplines of digital marketing are, for the most part, things even the experts learned by doing it themselves, learning from what was already out there, and hands-on practice. Studying marketing will give you a skeletal image of how traditional and modern marketing overlap with digital, and a fair amount of exposure to digital rhetoric.
To get to a point where you can build a career in digital marketing, you’ll need to seek out the best resources and learning opportunities out there. While many schools and universities offer marketing classes and degrees, it’s still important to find resources and teachers that are outside academic settings and practicing within the industry.
So, if you’re already learning about digital marketing inside the classroom, and want to learn more about what goes on outside the classroom, where do you look? Right where it exists: online. Having a general overview of digital marketing as a whole is just as important as having a working understanding of the main disciplines that fall under the umbrella of the field (think: SEO, PPC, SMM, etc.).
Like any field, there are terms, definitions, and concepts that make up the practices and components that contribute to what digital marketing is. In this particular field, new terms develop all the time, there can be varying interpretations of old terms, and there are a lot of acronyms that get tosses around. While you don’t necessarily have to master every term and concept related to digital marketing, it does help to be familiar with the basic, most used concepts and terms. This glossary is a good list to start familiarizing yourself with and serve as a point of reference until you come to know all the ins and out of digital marketing.
There are a number of resources that can give you a thorough crash course in the different branches of digital marketing. For an education in digital marketing, these are the ten best teachers:
Moz is arguably the best place to learn about digital marketing and SEO. A series of videos on different branches of digital marketing will introduce and walk you through mechanics, best practices, and other things you need to know. Moz Academy is particularly useful for a crash course in SEO, firstly because they’re one of the top authorities and tool providers for it, and secondly because it turns a sometimes foreign and intimidating subject into a friendly, approachable explanation.
You can learn about practically any subject on Lynda.com, but their selection of digital marketing courses is pretty impressive. The 162 available marketing courses include sections on email marketing, content marketing, SEO tools, PPC, mobile marketing, and dozens more. An appealing feature of Lynda is the ability to sort courses, tutorials, and subject matter by the experience level of the learner. This style of learning accommodates users of all skill levels, which can be really helpful if you have more experience with one branch of digital marketing than you do with another.
If learning about digital marketing practices is something you really need to do at your own pace, then Simplilearn is a great resource to consider. Their online programs reflect the direction that digital marketing has taken in recent years: an emphasis on data-driven online marketing with creative applications. You can self-pace the rate at which you work through the videos, and the quizzes, exams, and projects built into the courses ensure that you’re retaining everything you learn.
Through this resource, you can get a professional diploma in digital marketing. The course of study includes units on PPC, SEO, Email marketing, and more. Most importantly, it includes a unit on analytics that will teach you how to monitor and optimize digital marketing strategy based off of analytic reporting (this is a skill every digital marketing employer is looking for). This program is especially appealing for young professionals, as the Digital Marketing Institute has been featured as one of the top 30 best values for digital marketing certificates, alongside many prestigious universities including MIT and Duke University.
Like the Digital Marketing Institute courses, the Online Marketing Institute offers a wide range of courses that will teach you about different practices. Some of these courses include social media marketing, search engine marketing, content marketing, and marketing automation. Many prominent leaders in digital marketing, such as LinkedIn and Google, have employees with certifications through the online marketing institute.
This resource specializes in the skills most demanded by employers and companies today. Through their courses, you can expect to gain a proficiency in anything and everything from Google AdWords to User Experience Design. You can structure your courses to be full time, part time, or even condense them into a 1-week accelerated course. The curriculum breaks the main fields of digital marketing down into 10 units that will teach you everything you need to know.
This is a five-course overview of the latest digital marketing skills, taught by industry experts. Featured in INC, it’s been ranked as one of the best online classes for professionals and will give beginners an expert education in the industry. With projects built in to the courses, students will have opportunities to apply concepts and practices and gain digital marketing experience.
As a leader in PPC and online advertising, WordStream’s courses cover all things paid search. Their learning courses are broken down into PPC 101 for beginnings, PPC 102 for intermediates, and Advanced PPC. There are webinars, white papers, and videos to supplement the learning courses, and completion of WordStream’s resources will result in a comprehensive knowledge of how and why advertisers use PPC.
In a series of super cost-effective videos, you can learn about all the different digital marketing practices, how they work, and learn how to put them into practice. There are courses in categories like digital marketing, SEO, branding, analytics and automation, and even public relations. These videos make for great resume-boosters because you’ll expand your list of proficiencies and skills.
You can also learn about digital marketing right from the same professional network that helps you get connected and search for job listings. On LinkedIn’s learning site, you can filter the courses by experience level, type (courses, videos, learning paths), and the amount of time you want to spend learning. Here, you can learn about Google AdWords & Analytics, marketing research, editorial calendars, and much more.
Once you have a foundational understanding of what digital marketing is and how it works, the next step is to seek out certifications. This is helpful for two reasons:
Some top certification programs to consider are:
People who practice digital marketing are always learning, because the strategies, tools, and landscapes are ever-changing. Your education in digital marketing doesn’t simply stop once you’ve reached the end of a course or earned a certification. You continue to learn alongside other digital marketers, participating in the advancements that happen and driving changes for more effective marketing. To stay ahead of the curve you’ll want to keep up with the latest happenings of digital marketing, so here are the best places you can do that:
So, you’ve started learning the fundamentals of online marketing, are seeking out certifications, and are keeping up with industry trends and news. Now what?
An important step in this process of beginning a career in digital marketing will be getting connected with others in the industry. Digital marketing is all about how and where you reach people online, so it should come as no surprise that building a network of connections, resources, and collaborators is a critical part of professional development within this industry. As previously stated, professionals of digital marketing are always students, because there’s always something new to learn. Bearing that in mind, the next step is to find places where you can continue exploring digital marketing and people who can teach you new things. Here are some ways you can get started and, more importantly, get connected.
Joining a marketing association is more than just a good way to meet new people, it’s an opportunity to gain another source of experience and apply your talents. Most organizations host fun events, have resources for their members, and connect you with other like-minded marketers. Some organizations to consider:
Participating in internet culture is a big part of being actively engaged as a digital marketer. Moreover, it’s a source of inspiration, interest, and engagement. There are pockets of opportunity for digital marketers to engage with others and discover new information all over the internet, but my advice is to always start with Influencers.
Influencers are the go-to people for any given industry. They typically have large followings for their blogs or social media accounts, are active users and regularly populate their channels with content, and are notably well connected among other industry leaders.
When you connect with or follow an influencer, doors start opening up and you can follow the bread crumb trail of suggested follows that will lead you to more experts and leaders. There’s a lot to learn from leaders in digital marketing, and follow their work and social media accounts will help you keep your finger on the pulse of the industry.
Job hunting is job hunting any way you cut it, but it helps to have an idea of where to look for jobs in the digital/marketing sector. There’s no shortage of places to search for digital marketing jobs, but you definitely have to spend some time looking for the best ones. Here are some solid places you can search for digital marketing jobs:
Again, digital marketing is an ever-changing landscape with constantly moving targets, and that kind of rapid development is what makes it both challenging to follow yet full of opportunity. That’s why learning from within the confines of academia is just as important as learning and engaging in the online world of digital marketing. Having a strong foundation of knowledge, certifications, and connections within the digital marketing sphere are all things that will work together to bring you success in your career. Moreover, by utilizing these resources and gaining experience now, you’ll have all the tools you need to stay ahead of trends and stand apart from the crowd.
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