Is there a field that changes as rapidly as digital marketing trends change? Probably. But if you’re working in marketing, you probably don’t think so. It seems like every week brings new challenges as both technology and consumer expectations change. The marketing landscape can look very different from one year to the next, as a result, and it’s a challenge to keep up!
Digital marketers recognize the change and they also recognize the challenge in keeping up with digital marketing trends. They also realize they’re falling short, causing a crisis of confidence. A study by Adobe found that:
- Only 48 percent of digital marketers believe they are highly proficient in digital marketing.
- Among marketing generalists, only 37 percent think they are highly proficient at digital marketing.
That lack of confidence extends to the business level as well, perhaps as a result of the low level of confidence among the marketers themselves coupled with low skill levels: Only 40 percent of marketers think their company’s marketing is effective. And only 9 percent of respondents strongly agreed with the statement “I know our digital marketing is working.”
The lack of confidence and skills make a huge difference to the bottom line. That same Adobe study shows high-performing companies are twice as likely to rate their company as highly proficient in digital marketing (50 percent) than lower performing companies (25 percent).
Without a strong knowledge of digital marketing strategies, marketers won’t be able to move that needle, either in their self-confidence or in their organization’s bottom line. What is a marketer to do? No one likes feeling incompetent or unsure. Everyone wants to succeed, for the sake of their careers and their employers. What then is the answer?
Being proactive is the answer. Yes, digital marketing trends move fast, but the means for keeping up are readily available. For the marketer with the wherewithal to do so, a professional can get—and stay—proficient in digital marketing, for improved job performance and marketing ROI.
There are two steps you as a marketer can take right now to be in that proficient (and confident) digital marketing group: get grounded in the basics and always be learning.
For Digital Marketing Success, Get Grounded in the Basics
First, make sure you’re solid in the basics. Digital marketing offers so many whiz-bang capabilities that it’s easy to get sucked into learning the latest and greatest without a good foundation in basic marketing skills.
Most marketers lack this foundation because they weren’t trained for their roles. Research shows most digital marketers don’t have formal training: 82 percent learn on the job. (This lack of training could very well contribute to the lack of confidence cited above.)
If you don’t know the basics behind segmenting audiences, performing a SWOT analysis, or developing a campaign strategy, you will probably struggle with more sophisticated digital marketing strategies such as allocating budget for PPC ads, measuring actual social engagement, or reacting to a sudden drop in your email marketing deliverability rate.
Buck the norm of on-the-job training and get grounded in the basics, even if you have to do it on your own.
To Stay Current with Digital Marketing Trends, Always Be Learning
After you’re proficient in the marketing basics, proactively commit to continuing to stay current with digital marketing trends. As a digital marketer, accept that there will always be something to learn. Always. Once you have mastered SEO, Google will change an algorithm. Once you’ve figured out cross-channel marketing, a new social media darling will pop up and take center stage. Once you have your privacy policies in place, a data breach somewhere will call it all into question. Once your mobile email templates are set, the parameters will shift…and so on and so on and so on. Digital marketing is not a field for those who prefer the status quo, but rather for those who are adaptable and open to change…because change is constant.
All you can do is embrace the change and commit to staying current with digital marketing trends. So make continuing education part of your career path (and success).
How to Get Grounded and Stay Current
We obviously have a skills gap in digital marketing, with most marketers learning on the job and less than half believing they are proficient in digital marketing trends. To close this skills gap, marketers need a way to get grounded in the basics and to stay current with the constant change of the industry. Fortunately, ours is an industry driven by information, offering plenty of opportunities to learn and grow. Below are four ways you can do so, and the advantages or drawbacks of each:
- Attend trade shows: Marketing trade shows happen year-round. Some are specific to one channel, like the Email Evolution Conference and Social Media Marketing World. Others are broader in scope. You can also find events in your area that are put on by local chapters of marketing organizations. These trade shows and events offer a chance to get out of the office and network with your peers, and they can give you a good overview of digital marketing trends, but you can’t master a topic in a one-hour workshop, so they are limited in that way.
- Read blogs and newsletters: One thing about marketers, they love to communicate, and they are good at it too! That means you have plenty of online resources to study from, including e-newsletters, blog posts, videos, and webinars. Like the trade shows, however, the education provided will be superficial because you can’t get in-depth knowledge in such a short span of time (and length of words).
- Take online courses: Marketing publications regularly offer free webinars with narrow topics, and you can easily find free online marketing classes. Learning this way easily fits into even the busiest marketer’s schedule, but you will probably get a spotty education with this approach. It’s best for learning one specific skillset.
- Earn a certification: Perhaps the most comprehensive approach is to earn a digital marketing certification that can both ground you in the basics and teach you cutting-edge techniques. It requires more commitment, but has a bigger payoff compared to the other options—and it’s more likely to lead to digital marketing success.
Why Earning a Certification Makes the Most Sense
With a digital marketing certification, you can get a deeper knowledge of many facets of digital marketing, and prove that you have that knowledge. This can boost your confidence, your career, and the bottom-line results you’re delivering for your organization.
If this is the route you decide to go to increase your proficiency as a digital marketer, make sure the certificate program you choose offers up-to-date content and hands-on training.
The Simplilearn Digital Marketing Certified Associate program was designed by industry leaders Brad Geddes, PPC expert and the author of Advanced Google AdWords; Lilach Bullock, a Forbes Top Women Social Media Influencer; and Stéphane Hamel, a Google Product Strategy Expert and Expert Data Analyst. It covers a wide range of topics with the most up-to-date content, including the psychology of search, keyword targeting, integration of PPC with digital marketing strategy, mobile advertising, triggered email campaigns, social media engagement monitoring, and much more. You can choose a self-learning option or an instructor-led one, and you’ll get plenty of hands-on experience while learning.
For a solid foundation in digital marketing basics with cutting-edge content, consider earning a digital marketing certification. Your certificate can be handy when pursuing a new position or a raise, but it can also prove handy when trying to persuade your team or manager that a certain digital marketing strategy makes sense. Compared to the 82 percent of marketers who only have on-the-job training, you will have trusted credentials that give your opinion merit…and you’ll be more likely to achieve digital marketing success.