Career Development Category Archives - General Assembly Blog

8 Simple Ways to Turn Your Skills into a Profitable Side Business

By

8 ways side hustle robinson

In the US alone, there are over 28 million small businesses. Of those, an estimated 22 million consist of a single operating member—solopreneurs as I like to call them.

Many of these small business owners started their businesses as nothing more than the intersection of passion and skills that combined to create a business idea with the ability to earn extra money and scale into something truly sustainable.

As someone who’s successfully launched four profitable side businesses over the past four years, I’ve learned a lot about how to turn your skills into a healthy side income. From building physical products to selling my consultative services, and building my own suite of digital products, I’ve been able to generate thousands in extra income each month.

If you’re ready to build a foundation for one day becoming gainfully self-employed, here are my top eight ways to get started with a profitable side business today.

Continue reading

UX, Visual, or Graphic: Which Type of Design Is Right for You?

By

UX Design Image
  • CC Image Courtesy of Thomas Brasington on Flickr

You can be pardoned for sometimes feeling confused about all the terminology and job titles floating around in the design world. What is the difference between graphic design, visual design, and user experience design? Do each of the three roles provide a different service? For visual and graphic designers, the difference may lie mainly in the job title and salary expectations. However, a user experience designer has very different end goals and responsibilities from a visual or graphic designer. Below is a breakdown of what each of these designers does within the design industry, to help you decide what type of design is right for you. Continue reading

A Guide to Startup Compensation

By and

If you’re pursuing a job at a startup company, one of the most important factors you’ll need to consider is compensation, which is commonly structured differently than at a mature company. This is largely dependent on the life stage of a company, which can greatly impact compensation, as well as work-life balance, risk, and upside.

Compensation at a startup company is largely made up of three components: salary, benefits, and equity. The value of each depends on the stage of a company’s growth, the role, and an employee’s previous experience. A good rule of thumb, though, is this: The earlier a stage the company is in, the lower the salary and benefits will be, but the higher the equity will be. As the company matures, the scales start to tip in the other direction. Let’s talk in a bit more detail about each of these.

Salary

As mentioned above, salary is largely contingent on the company’s stage, the role, and the employee’s previous experience. There is no one-size-fits-all here. At an earlier-stage company, you can almost certainly expect a lower base salary than the industry norm, regardless of your previous experience. As the company matures, the salaries of all positions start to get closer and closer to market rate. If you’re curious what to expect, we recommend playing with the salaries and equity tool by AngelList or researching salary ranges at specific companies on Glassdoor.

Benefits

Benefits at a startup are also largely dependent on stage. If good benefits are important to you, then an early-stage startup is likely the wrong place to work. However, as a startup grows, its benefits often become an extension of its culture and are used in all recruiting efforts. Take, for instance, Airbnb, which offers a $2,000 travel stipend to all employees. Other startups may allow pets at the office, or offer gym and other discounts, catered lunches, generous vacation policies, or flexible remote-working options.

Equity: Stock and Vesting Schedules

Equity is often the most confusing and intriguing part of a compensation package at a startup. Equity refers to ownership of the company, and this can be extremely valuable if the company ever sells or goes public (learn more about startup fundraising here and in our eBook, How to Get a Job at a Startup).

What’s important to know here is that no employee is ever “given” equity. Instead, employees often receive stock options, which are the option to purchase equity in the company at a heavily discounted price. You also are not given all of your stock options up front; rather, you earn an increasing amount of options over a four-year period. That four-year period is often referred to as a vesting schedule. The typical vesting schedule gives you one-fourth of your options at the end of your first year, and then 1/48th every month after that. Once your options vest, you have the right to purchase them (or not).

Getting into a company early has a big impact on the amount of stock options you receive and at what price. If you join a company early, you are often rewarded with a higher number of options at a much lower price. As the company matures, the risk gets lower and its ability to pay market-rate salaries improve, so you will typically receive fewer stock options and at a higher purchase price.

The benefit of purchasing your options is that eventually — fingers crossed — the company will sell or go public and you will get a big payday. For example, early Instagram employees turned their stock options into an average profit of nearly $8 million! And there’s the famous example of the Facebook muralist who was compensated in stock options that were eventually worth north of $200 million. Of course, these examples are far on the ludicrous side of the scale, and many people don’t make any money from stock options — but risky or not, they’re part of what makes joining a startup so exciting.

How to Negotiate Your Startup Offer

There are special considerations to make when negotiating your compensation at a startup. Macia Batista, a career coach at General Assembly’s New York campus, walks you through essential steps for building your ideal job offer.

  • Know your minimum number. Leverage sites like PayScale and Glassdoor to learn to learn what employers in your city are paying for similar roles and industries. Do your research ahead of time to fully understand the fair market value for the position, taking into account background and experience. Know your worth!
  • Provide a salary range. Determine a range for yourself, then ask for the upper half of it, so you can negotiate down if needed. Giving a range demonstrates flexibility. It gives you the opportunity to ask for more when an offer is presented, and negotiate other variables, like 401k contribution, remote work options, or vacation days. Tell the hiring manager, “I’m targeting roles with a range of X, but I’m focused on the entirety of the package including culture, growth, and mission.”
  • Consider the whole package — not just salary. Compensation goes beyond your paycheck. When weighing a job offer, look at factors like bonuses, equity, health care and retirement plans, transportation costs, schedule flexibility (e.g., working from home and vacation time), and potential for growth at the company.
  • Ensure your pay increases with funding. If you’re joining an early-stage startup, equity (stock options) is oftentimes part of the compensation package, since these offers often fall below market salary. However, you should be be earning a fair market-value salary as soon as the company raises real money. I recommend signing a written agreement with your employer to guarantee a pay increase once the company has more capital.

How to Land Your Dream Startup Job

Working in the startup world can be one of the most challenging, exhilarating, sometimes heartbreaking, and oftentimes fulfilling journeys of your life. But before you find first startup job, there are terms to learn, steps to take, and skills to grow to make you a candidate who stands out from the crowd.

In our eBook, How to Get a Job at a Startup, we’ll help you find your dream startup job through the knowledge of startup job-hunters, founders, and employers. Get firsthand tips on how to break into a startup career, clear up confusing industry jargon, and learn about important resources that will aid you on your journey as a startup employee.

General Assembly believes that everyone should be empowered to pursue work they love. We hope you’ll find this book to be a helpful first step in getting there yourself.

How to Land a Job at a Startup

Learn how to start your journey with our exclusive guide.

Get the eBook

User Experience Jobs: 7 Options & How to Choose a UX Career You Love

By

If you have ever done a quick job search for “user experience design,” chances are you’ve seen a number of titles and descriptions that aren’t always as simple as “UX designer.”

User experience has a variety of specializations, and as a job seeker and practitioner, you should know the skills and applications that come with each. Understanding these differences will help you decide your UX career path and and help you find the appropriate job to fit your interests and skill set.

Continue reading

Impostor Syndrome: What It Is & How to Overcome It

By

We live in a world where our careers largely define us, where the average person experiences about 12 job changes in their lifetime. That translates to a job (or even full career) change — and possibly, a new identity — every few years. Many people are recently flocking to join the tech industry during a career pivot, as UX, data, and software roles are in high-demand, even within this competitive job market. 

Although we’ve established that job change is incredibly common and that change is new and exciting, impostor syndrome can still creep in. When transitioning roles or industries, you might feel like your experience isn’t relevant, you don’t know the lingo, or you’re the new, inexperienced kid on the block. Whatever impostor-like thoughts are sneaking into your brain, understand that this, too, is normal. 

Let’s talk about what impostor syndrome is, the different forms it may take, examples of impostor syndrome in action, and how to combat it. 

Impostor syndrome: what is it?

Impostor syndrome is when a person doubts their accomplishments, doesn’t feel good enough, and has a persistent internalized fear of being found out as a fraud. It feels like inadequacy, constant self-doubt, and like you don’t belong where you are. Impostor syndrome is overwhelming, isolating, and prevents you from being your best. This could look like being afraid to ask questions in a meeting, not seeking out mentorship, or not negotiating a salary you deserve, etc. Over 70% of people claim to experience impostor syndrome. So, if you experience any of these symptoms, you’re certainly not alone.

Now, let’s break down the different identities and behavior patterns of impostor syndrome, and how to overcome them.

The Super Person

A Super Person takes on too many tasks and feels like they have to execute every single one flawlessly — this person will always think that they could’ve done more. People exhibiting Super Person tendencies feel like their worth is attached to how they perform and not in who they are, so they push themselves harder and harder to exhaustion. 

This can look like raising your hand in a meeting to volunteer taking on yet another task in addition to the three other extra projects you’re managing, plus your regular workload. As a result, you’re overwhelmed by all the tasks you’ve taken on and all the time needed, so you end up working 70 hours versus your usual 50. 

While it’s great to work hard and perform well, it’s important to know that you are more than your output and performance. The Super Person is chasing an unhealthy, unsustainable “high” that will only wear them down and let them down. Take a deep breath, relax, grab coffee with a coworker, or take a walk. The world won’t come tumbling down if you decide to trust others, have faith in their capabilities, delegate tasks to them, or take much-needed time for yourself. It’s all about balance!

The Expert

Experts have a deep-seated belief that they are not as smart or as capable as others think they are. Their confidence can be validated not by what they know but by how much others perceive their apparent expertise. This type is often found in a first or junior-level role or when someone moves into a more senior role within a completely new company or industry.

This can look like prematurely taking the lead in a meeting and faking the answer to a question you don’t know the answer to rather than saying, “That’s a great question, I don’t know, but I’ll let you know by the end of the day.” By faking it rather than admitting your knowledge gap, you’re jeopardizing your reputation instead of strengthening it. 

It feels great to feel prepared and know all the answers to all the questions, but you don’t need to know everything — you just have to be smart enough to find people who can help. We easily forget that “I don’t know, but I’ll find out” is a great answer (while also showing a little humility)! You know more than you think you do, so give yourself a little grace. And remember, no successful person really got to where they are without others’ help and expertise. 

The Natural Genius

Natural Geniuses feel like they should know things without being taught and believe their coworker’s success comes so easily to them. If something isn’t effortless or requires minimal learning, they think it’s wrong, not meant for them, or that they’re a failure. Natural Genius is a form of impostor syndrome where people feel like they have to get things perfect on the first try – if they don’t, they feel shame and embarrassment. 

This can look like getting frustrated while exploring a new field, like digital marketing, at General Assembly. The course is difficult and takes a lot of work, but all you see is that everyone else seems to get it so easily. So, you quit and pick a different “easier” focus. Meanwhile, you wonder what digital marketing would have been like despite getting a new job or achieving other goals. 

Manifestations of Natural Genius impostor syndrome prevent people from trying new or difficult things and don’t allow them to learn from failure. Remember that success takes time and hard work; you might even fail the first couple of times before getting it right. Consider yourself in good company with Michael Jordan, who didn’t make the varsity basketball team in high school. You, too, can push through challenges and build resiliency. Don’t let your Natural Genius expectations get in the way of hard-won success.

The Soloist

A Soloist avoids help at all costs; they feel like working on a team diminishes their success. They feel like they have to do everything on their own to prove their competence. For them, asking for help is a terrible thing that would reveal their worst fears, that they are a fraud, not smart or good enough, and don’t deserve to be where they are. 

This can look like taking on a project that you have no capacity to take on — it’s due at the end of the week, and your coworkers ask if you need help, but you say no. You’re stressed, overwhelmed, your other tasks suffer, and to top it off, the project doesn’t turn out as well as you wanted it to.

Independence can be empowering, but it can also be isolating. You might miss out on collaboration, camaraderie, and learning new skills. Diversity of opinion doesn’t cheapen success; it makes your work better and more well-rounded. Invite people in, share your knowledge, and listen to others. Asking for help isn’t a weakness; it’s a strength.

The Perfectionist

Perfectionists simply feel like they have to be perfect and errorless, or everything will fall apart. It’s hard for them to believe others’ praise or their success. Perfectionism is a form of impostor syndrome that manifests as feeling like you have to be impeccable and present yourself and your work in a particular way. There is a sense of safety in having people see them in an ideal, faultless way, and when that safety is compromised, they think everything could fall apart. 

This can look like taking the lead on a project and delegating tasks to teammates, but then taking over because you don’t believe that their work will be good enough. You might micromanage people and drive them away. You may wonder why you don’t have close relationships at work.

While perfectionism gives a false sense of security, it holds people back, inhibits success, and strains relationships. Extend yourself some grace and kindness, and don’t focus on the little things or controlling others’ behavior. Sometimes “good enough” really is good enough!

Going into a new field is scary — no matter how much experience you have or how hard you’ve worked, self-doubt and impostor syndrome can take over. You may have found yourself nodding your head to one or more of these behaviors or identities. As previously stated, 70% of people suffer from imposter syndrome, so you don’t need to feel alone. Now that you have an awareness of the type(s) of impostor syndrome you may tend toward and tips on how to combat debilitating self-doubt, you’re in a better position for a smoother transition to a successful career in your new chosen field.

Explore Free Workshops at GA

Brooke McCord is a certified Career Coach at Ama La Vida. She enjoys working with people who are ready to take the next step in life and helps others work through the things that hold them back. Featured in publications like Chief Learning Officer and as a regular speaker on the topic, Brooke specializes in battling impostor syndrome. Whether it’s figuring out what people want next, helping them overcome impostor syndrome, or building up general confidence, Brooke helps her clients achieve their ultimate goals and get to where they want to go!

This Holiday Season: Learn. Give. Grow.

By

Our Free Fridays are back — with a twist.

In the spirit of bettering our community and serving those in need, from November 20 to December 30, 2020, we donated $1 USD to the International Rescue Committee for every person who joined us at select free weekly workshops. While this promotion is now over, we always have free intro classes and eventscoming up. From coding to data, marketing, and career development, explore the tech skills that will keep you in demand and in the know in 2021.

Explore Workshops

12 Must-Read Digital Marketing Books in 2021

By

A question I often get asked by students is, “What is the best digital marketing book?” 

It’s not easy to answer; the majority of digital marketing books don’t have a long shelf life. The information around best practices needs to be fluid as algorithms change, tactics lose their effectiveness, and the platform rules constantly shift. 

While digital marketing books that are rich on tactics continue to be updated and recycled, there are a number that have managed to withstand the test of time. Included in the list below are also the books that every digital marketer should read for developing a well-rounded understanding of behavioral psychology, growth mindset, and a few other areas that will help you stay ahead of the pack.

1. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

It may have first been published in 1984, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a list of best marketing books that doesn’t include this ageless text.

Widely regarded as the marketer’s bible, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” provides a succinct and effective outline for understanding what leads to us making decisions. Cialdini uses storytelling and real-world examples to seamlessly guide readers through six principles of persuasion of which many a marketer have called upon to compose email copy, frame social media ads, and devise practically every memorable marketing campaign in recent history.

While you can’t expect to learn specific channel tactics from this digital marketing book, the application of reciprocity, consistency, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity will ensure your digital marketing strategy is laser-focused on achieving conversion outcomes.

2. Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins

Claude Hopkins was a man far ahead of his time. While A/B testing and statistical significance are commonplace in today’s digital marketing world, Hopkins was teaching early interpretations of these all the way back in 1923 in “Scientific Advertising.”

I find myself regularly returning to this book when looking to return to fundamentals surrounding ad creative and influencing buyers. At just 120 pages, you can almost read it in one go and won’t find a page that doesn’t offer a quick tip applicable to effective digital marketing today.

3. Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson

You will find iterated teachings of “Expert Secrets” within countless social media and digital marketing courses across the internet. Yes, it may have been published 4 years ago (which is like 40 years in digital marketing) but its valuable content is likely to remain a mainstay in the years ahead.

The appeal of “Expert Secrets” is that it provides a practical framework that takes the guesswork out of email marketing, content marketing, and copywriting. It helps you recognise expertise in areas and how your intimate knowledge of a subject can lead to the development of a successful business. Author and ClickFunnels founder Brunson is one of the most recognised figures in the digital marketing world, and the book really reads as a collection of the best practices he has discovered through the constant refinement of his own digital marketing strategy.

While everybody will have unique takeaways from this digital marketing book, I am constantly revisiting his tips towards the end on conducting the perfect webinar. He outlines the structure, the perfect timings between sections, and evergreen tips for keeping audiences engaged — a must read!

4. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

I read this book cover to cover on a plane trip from Sydney to Los Angeles and it’s fair to say it had me, well, hooked! 

“Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products” is an excellent product and marketing book for learning what it takes to create habits in consumers. You’ll learn how to create triggers, get customers to take action, reward them, and encourage investment following the fundamentals adopted by many of the world’s leading technology companies. There are few digital marketing books that will provide you with better end-to-end insights into optimising the user journey of your audience. 

It’s packed with relevant examples of these techniques in practice and I found it refreshing that author Nir Eyal ended the book with some wise words on how to apply these teachings ethically while keeping your consumer’s well-being top of mind.

5. Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk

In my opinion, this is the best book that’s been written on social media marketing strategy thus far. “Jab Jab Right Hook” was my first exposure to the teachings of Gary Vee, and his celebrity status should be of little surprise to those who have read about the common sense approach he preaches here.

The book asserts the importance of social media marketing in today’s landscape while providing a winning blueprint for developing an engaging community that will reward you in the long run. We all want sales, but it’s through adding value to our audience first that we earn the right to ask for something in return.

The audiobook is read by Gary Vee himself and he frequently deviates from the script to adding yet another nugget of social media gold. Whether you’re wanting to learn about creating content specifically for a social media platform or how to build an Instagram following from scratch, you’ll find something here to put into practice.

6. Content Machine by Dan Norris

“Content Machine” is an absolute must read for anyone looking to develop an epic content marketing strategy that drives commercial success.

The book details the exact content marketing strategy used by Norris to build a 7-figure business that was fuelled by an outstanding blog. You’ll learn that there is far more to winning the content marketing game than just creating the most blog posts, and the search engine optimization techniques and tools mentioned by Norris remain as relevant as ever in today’s digital marketing landscape.

7. Lean Analytics by Benjamin Yoskovitz and Alistair Croll

I won this book at a startup event and I’ll admit that the title didn’t win me over at first. However, after a colleague recommended it I decided to give it a try and couldn’t put it down.

I haven’t come across a book that better equips you for doing digital marketing in a tech startup than “Lean Analytics.” You’ll learn how to measure, but more importantly what to measure depending on the stage and focus of the company. 

If you’re intimidated by digital marketing jargon such as AARRR, CAC, CTR, and Virality, then this should be your first step. It’s as close to a startup digital marketing textbook as I have found, and will equally help B2B and B2C marketers level up.

8. Permission Marketing by Seth Godin

Any book by Seth Godin is a worthwhile read, but few have influenced my own approach to marketing strategy more than “Permission Marketing.”

While other digital marketing books will jump straight into tactics, Seth’s 1999 guide focuses on the importance of building a relationship with your customer over time. Marketing is most effective once your audience has given you permission to market to them, and to get to this stage we need to provide consistent value from the get-go.

A true highlight of this book for me was the variety of case studies Godin uses in detailing the evolution of marketing over time. You’ll certainly walk away with plenty of things to try for yourself.

9. StoryBrand by Donald Miller

In the words of Donald Miller, “Pretty websites don’t sell things. Words sell things.”

There are plenty of great books on copywriting, including classics like Gary Halbert’s “The Boron Letters” and David Ogilvy’s “Confessions of an Advertising Man.” My personal recommendation however would be to start with “StoryBrand” for a more holistic and modern take on how to delight your customers with your digital marketing creative.

Too often businesses position themselves as the hero in the story. What customers really need is a guide who can help them successfully solve their problems. Miller will help you use content to make your customer the hero of your story and how to create your digital marketing assets accordingly.

10. Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got by Jay Abrahams

This book helps us understand how incredibly simple it is to have an impact on the commercial success of a business.

While they’re not specifically about digital marketing, the teachings of this book will help shift your mindset to one that is always on the lookout for internal growth opportunities. You’ll end up with a range of ideas surrounding email marketing, search engine marketing, social media promotion, and conversion rate optimisation.

Abrahams helps us to identify the value of our customers, what we can do to increase that value, and how to find more of our ideal customers. So simple, yet so very effective!

11. Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

It’s a mistake to consider a user who gets stuck on our website as foolish. If a potential buyer is unable to complete an action on our website, then it’s on us to change.

“Don’t Make Me Think” is a book you’ll find on virtually every UX designer’s bookcase and with so much of digital marketing depending on an excellent user experience, this is a book we simply can’t ignore. The journey from an ad click to conversion depends on reducing friction, limiting distractions, and maximising accessibility. You won’t find a better guide to achieving this than Krug’s classic, which remains the go-to resource on web design 20 years on from its first publication.

12. Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown

It’s only entered our vernacular in the past decade, but growth hacking has quickly made its way to the top of every company’s digital marketing wishlist. Growth hacking focuses on finding faster and more cost-effective solutions to success, and it’s only fitting that the godfather of the movement’s work makes the list of must-read digital marketing books.

Sean Ellis coined the term growth hacker in a blog post back in 2010, and went on to co-author “Hacking Growth” seven years later alongside renowned marketer Morgan Brown. The book walks through the humble beginnings of some of today’s biggest companies — Airbnb, Facebook, Uber — and the methodology behind their unprecedented growth. 

You won’t find a better methodology for attaining, retaining, engaging, and motivating customers than “Hacking Growth.” It will completely change the way you approach your digital marketing strategy and help you to use data to deliver driving cost-effective results.

Explore Digital Marketing Workshops

6 Must-Know Digital Marketing Trends of 2021

By

Every business is trying to find that edge that sets them apart from competitors. Digital marketers are constantly looking at new channels and techniques that haven’t yet reached a point of oversaturation, and with more advertising dollars being spent on online mediums, these are becoming increasingly difficult to find. 

2020 has brought its own set of challenges for digital marketers. Email service providers have reported a four point increase in open rates, conversion rates have plummeted in certain industries, and for the first time ever both Google and Facebook have reported quarterly declines in ad revenue.

While the goalposts have shifted, there have been a number of emerging digital marketing trends that we’ve seen innovative marketers adopt with early signs of success. Here we’ll discuss 7 digital marketing trends that every business should explore.

1. Conversational Marketing

We’re increasingly seeing conversational marketing make its way into businesses’ digital marketing mixes. While this is not a brand new trend in 2020, it’s definitely something that more businesses are trialling as barriers to entry are reduced and customers become more comfortable with the interactions. 

It’s difficult to put an exact definition on conversational marketing, but the term essentially covers the use of conversations between brands and customers to personalise each step of the buyer journey. It commonly involves using targeted, personalised messaging combined with chatbots to engage with users via your website, your social media marketing pages, and anywhere else where conversations with customers take place.

In today’s always-on world, innovative marketers have looked to adopt conversational marketing to provide customers with an instant stream of personalised information. The effectiveness of such messages is unquestionable, with message platform open rates north of 70% and clickthrough rates averaging around 20%. Customer service is also becoming more comfortable with assisting clients via conversational marketing, with surveys showing that 54% of customers would prefer to choose a chatbot over a human if it saved them time.

Despite this, the potential of such technology is still being realised. Take Facebook Messenger for example, where over 1.3 billion people use the platform. Facebook has 9 billion advertisers, yet the last reported number of chatbots was just 300,000

Chatbots are moving beyond a mere text offering as well, with voice-based chatbots with advanced speech recognition capabilities set to become commonplace in 2021. We’ve also yet to see smart speakers such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home introduce conversational ads delivered by these devices. With voice search growing year on year, most believe it is only a matter of time. 

2. Personalisation

There isn’t a trend that has captured the imagination of digital marketing publications more in 2020 than personalisation. It’s usually a bit of a concern if too many marketers are all focusing on the same idea, but there’s no doubt that there are some definite benefits to having customers experience your products and services through a personalised lens. 

We’ll see many businesses try to personalise experiences for each individual customer with one key aim: conversions. As competition for customer attention continues to increase, any friction one can remove from the customer’s decision journey is an advantage. A web experience that focuses on showing you listings based on your preferences and previous activity will reduce the path to purchase and help to increase retention and customer loyalty.

When we think of personalisation we immediately think about some of the titans of the industry. Netflix has a hand-picked selection of shows for me at any moment, as does Amazon when it comes to products, or Spotify when it comes to songs. There’s also examples such as Cadbury, who recommended products for customers based on their Facebook profile, or even new influencer marketing tools like Influencersphere, which recommend Instagram influencers for your business based on your account. 

A Gartner study showed that companies making investments into personalisation technology are outselling competitors by 30%, and while many of us won’t be able to create recommendation engines, personalisation efforts can still be useful and effective. Companies such as conversational platform Intercom have adopted personalisation into their selling by sending prospects video demos of how their software looks when embedded into their website. There’s also software such as Bonjoro that allows you to easily send a quick personalised video to your customers or prospects to delight and convert.

3. Smarter Bid Strategies

There’s a lot more to Google Ads than just keyword bidding these days. The introduction of Smart Bidding allows advertisers to leverage Google’s machine learning and automate their bidding based on their advertising goal. It then looks to optimise towards a goal by adjusting bids based on a range of user signals, including location, time of day, audience interests and the type of device used.

Many ‘traditional’ digital marketers have steered away from smart bidding with a preference to own more control of their client’s budget. However as Google becomes more and more precise in their ability to predict, this is becoming harder to ignore. There is simply no match for a real-time bidding engine that works 24/7 to bring you the best results. 

Facebook has followed suit, announcing a strategy at the end of 2019 called the Power 5. The Power 5 tools place great emphasis on simplifying your ad account setup in order to best leverage the platform’s machine learning and drive better results.

These shifts to account simplification mean that the barrier to entry for new advertisers is significantly reduced. Take Google for example, where advertisers are now able to use the latest Smart Bidding strategies by simply providing a list of keywords to target and some ad creative to support this. The use of such technology puts greater emphasis on the quality of products and services and the usability of the website to ensure performance targets are achieved. 

In a Smart Bidding digital marketing landscape where we are all optimising towards ROI, it will become increasingly difficult to cut through the noise and have your message seen. This is likely to continue a shift back to the importance of effective creative that can stand out and pique your audience’s interest.

4. Interactive Content

Content marketing is here to stay. While buzzwords come and go from surveys looking at marketers’ focus for the year ahead, content is one of the few constants in every top digital marketing strategy.

The content marketing trend to watch relates to interactive content. I’m sure you’ve all had some kind of experience with interactive content, whether that be a poll, a quiz, a survey or something else. Interactive content is an attempt from marketers to cut through the clutter of content now available at our fingertips. Instead of writing another blog post on a topic, interactive content gives marketers the opportunity to keep their audience engaged for longer and have a more long-term impact on their decision making.

DemandGen found that interactive content delivers twice the engagement compared to that of static content, and we’ve seen the top platforms follow this trend as a means of keeping users engaged for longer. In the video marketing space, Facebook has rolled out video poll ads while YouTube announced in June 2020 a new ad format that turns video ads into shoppable experiences for viewers.

While the future of interactive content may lie in augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) experiences, there are some easy ways to see if interactive content will work for your content marketing strategy. Companies such as Typeform offer free, easy solutions for making quizzes while we can all run polls across Instagram Stories or Facebook Stories.

5. Marketing Automation

A study by Invesp found that 63% of marketers planned to increase their marketing automation budget in 2020, and despite everything that’s gone on throughout the year it’s hard to see a more pertinent use of these funds.

Never has there been a greater emphasis on marketing to your existing leads and customers. With advertising budgets reduced across the globe there’s been a shift in focus from organisations towards keeping customers engaged in an effort to increase lifetime value.

Marketing automation can cover all stages of the customer journey, although where it is most commonly utilised is at later stages of the customer lifecycle to prompt interactions that help us to gauge how warm the prospect is. This has seen marketers look to break apart the customer journey and create an omnichannel marketing experience, in which they include themselves as part of the conversation by means of email, content, social, push notifications, and retargeting. It also allows marketers to personalise the messages customers are receiving and to segment based on previous behavior. 

While this is commonplace among larger organisations, there is an increasing number of self-serve platforms that are bringing these capabilities to businesses of all sizes. Software such as Kit allows Shopify store owners to automatically send emails to customers based on their purchasing behaviors, while self-serve email marketing providers such as Mailchimp allow you to retarget customers you have sent emails to on Facebook with a few clicks. All signs point to a more even playing field in which those failing to automate are left behind.

6. More AI in Marketing

Applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) are already widespread in marketing, and Gartner recently predicted that 80% of digital technology will be built on an AI foundation by 2021.

AI is already being leveraged to help B2B marketers score leads, converse with customers via chatbots, and improve conversion rates through variation testing. OpenAI’s GPT-3 technology has written content articles published by many organisations (including The Guardian) and companies such as VWO are A/B testing GPT-3 copy against human copy to determine which has a better impact on conversion rates.

As the data gathered from marketing campaigns and platforms continues to increase, AI in marketing looks set to grow exponentially. We’ll soon be able to hyper-personalise campaigns at scale, provide comprehensive persona research, and even use predictive scoring that could estimate the future value of your existing customers. This will help marketers to seamlessly create an effective infrastructure for their marketing strategy to be built on, allowing teams to focus on delighting the customer at all stages of the purchasing journey.

Conclusion

The bar is rising in digital marketing. Technology has made it easier than ever to connect with customers online, and with customers’ attention being increasingly divided, digital marketers are required to do more than just ‘show up.’ Audiences are expecting more of brands, and we need to shake up our digital marketing strategy in order to delight them in new and exciting ways. It’s time to take action before you get left behind.

Explore Digital Marketing Workshops

Free Lesson: Coding Essentials in 30 Minutes

By

More than half of all jobs in the top income quartile show significant demand for coding skills.* Spend half an hour with expert GA instructor Madeline O’Moore to write your first lines of code and learn how coding knowledge applies to so many different fields. She’ll give you an overview of:

  • How HTML and CSS function together to form the backbone of the web.
  • Key coding terms and principles.
  • Tools you can use to practice.

If you’re curious to keep exploring, discover our popular short-form workshops like Programming for Non-Programmers. To dive deeper, check out our upcoming Front-End Web Development course to cement a versatile foundation in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Or start exploring what it takes to launch a career in web development with our Software Engineering Immersive career accelerator.

Browse Coding Workshops and Courses

*Source: Burning Glass, Beyond Tech

Best Resources for Learning Digital Marketing in 2021

By

Whether you’re looking to learn to do your own digital marketing for your business, get into the life of a digital marketer, or add new skills to your existing arsenal, there are plenty of free and affordable resources out there to help you learn your CPCs from your CPMs, and how to master the tools of the trade.

Below is a list of our favorite resources and certifications to help you learn digital marketing in 2020!

Guides + Blogs

Moz

Search Engine Optimization is key to any digital marketing strategy, and Moz is the go-to free resource for all things SEO. It’s got everything you need whether you’re a complete newbie to keyword research and optimization, or an experienced digital marketer looking to refresh your skill set.

Best for: SEO

Our pick: The One Hour Guide to SEO is a quickfire lesson in 6 easy-to-digest videos, covering all the need-to-know SEO essentials in just one hour.

Content Marketing Institute

Explore blogs, resources, and guides on all things content marketing with the Content Marketing Institute. They also have a killer daily newsletter that you should definitely sign up for to keep on top of all the latest trends in content marketing.

Best for: Content marketing

Our pick: Getting Started in Content Marketing is a “back to basics” series designed to get you started, offering content marketing essentials, processes to implement, and helpful templates.

Ahrefs 

Ahrefs is one of the best hubs full of tutorials, case studies, and opinion pieces from some of the best in the industry. Check out some of their great free tools for when you’ve mastered your SEO skills!

Best for: SEO

Our pick: Once you’ve learned the SEO basics, one of the best free tools out there is the Ahrefs SEO toolbar, a chrome extension that allows you to do top level SEO audits of any website with the click of a button.

Neil Patel

An icon in the digital world, Neil Patel hosts an amazing comprehensive suite of educational content on anything and everything you need to learn digital marketing.

Best for: SEO, content marketing, email marketing, social media, e-commerce, and search.

Our pick: Instagram Unlocked is part of the free digital marketing training series, and offers a free two-week training module to help you learn social media marketing strategies specifically for Instagram growth — something everybody wants.

AdEspresso Academy 

AdEspresso Academy includes step-by-step guides to learn both Facebook and Google Ads that are easy to understand, as well as regular webinars, blogs, and downloadable ebooks full of great free content.

Best for: Facebook Ads and Google Ads

Our pick: On the Academy page, there’s a great list of 6 easy steps to getting on top of Facebook Ads; start with an eight part guide that covers everything from setting up an account, all the way through to reporting and optimisation.

Social Media Examiner

With guides, studies, webinars, and a great podcast to help you keep up to date with the world of social, Social Media Examiner is your hub for social media knowledge. 

Best for: Social media marketing

Our pick: While we typically hear a lot about Facebook and Instagram, it’s not often people talk about the power of social media marketing on LinkedIn — a no brainer for B2B companies. This guide to LinkedIn ads is a great starting point for anyone new to LinkedIn ads, and provides a huge number of helpful Linkedin articles and strategy templates.

Search Engine Land

What started as a major resource for all things search-related, Search Engine Land has now branched into email, social, and retail. It offers free webinars, how-to guides, handy resources, and tools for auditing to help you understand almost all aspects of digital marketing.

Best for: Search, Email, Social and Retail

Our pick: Google Ads can be confusing (don’t worry, we get it!) but this beginner’s guide to paid search is incredibly easy to follow and understand, with things like glossaries for common terms and how to do keyword research — a must read for those who are new to paid search!

Unbounce

UnBounce is a landing page building platform, but also has a very good resource and learning centre to help you understand everything you need to know about landing pages, conversion optimisation, and where landing pages sit within the wider digital marketing landscape. 

Best for: Landing pages and conversion rate optimisation

Our pick: Never given landing pages a thought until now? This 8 module introduction is a great way to understand the fundamentals of landing pages, why they matter, and how to use them.

Certifications

While there’s plenty of free guides, resources and blogs out there, a certification can help you stand out from the crowd when looking for a job as a digital marketer, or give you an easy to follow holistic overview of a topic, coming out with the confidence to action your learnings. Here’s our picks for the best online certifications out there:

Google Analytics Academy + Google Digital Garage

Get certified in Google Ads, Google Analytics, and Google My Business while also completing non-certification short courses in more niche areas, or explore courses on topics like Google Shopping and YouTube.

Cost: Free

Facebook Blueprint

After utilising the library of free resources Facebook offers through their learning centre (there are over 90 courses!), you can apply your knowledge of social media marketing and beyond to their Blueprint Exams and obtain a Facebook certification in a few key areas. The best part? They’ll guide you through exactly what you need to learn for each course.  

Cost: $150 USD

Hubspot Academy

With both short courses and certifications, HubSpot Academy is globally recognised, and has many different digital marketing courses to help you learn digital marketing essentials, covering almost all areas including social media marketing, SEO, and business analytics.

Cost: Free

Hootsuite Academy

Hootsuite Academy offers socially focused certifications and courses with an exam at the end of each certification. As a leading social media platform, the Hootsuite brand is very well respected within the industry, and their certifications are too.

Cost: $99–$999 USD

And lucky last, we can’t go past one of the best resources for learning digital marketing — General Assembly! GA offers part-time and full-time digital marketing courses, as well as short hands-on workshops across all areas of digital marketing, and is one of the industry’s most respected education providers. Want to know more? Get in touch!

Learn Digital Marketing Online