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.
Located at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and providing a vibrant culture and setting for active lifestyles, Denver is not only one of the most livable cities in the United States, it’s also a burgeoning tech hub. With a favorable tax rate, a lower cost of living, Denver is also one of the best places to start a business, and the best place for female founders. It’s just one of several cities in Colorado — including Boulder, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs, in close proximity — with a growing tech community.
And community is at the center of everything we do: GA Denver cultivates thousands of connections and learning opportunities throughout the year by leading expert-led classes and workshops and panel discussions each week. Since opening our doors, we’ve attracted more than 220 hiring partners across the state, many of whom have hired multiple GA graduates.
Companies and Jobs
Top industries: aviation, bioscience, financial services, energy, and more.
Companies like Ibotta, Fivetran, Guild Education, Home Advisor, Zayo, Gusto, Ball Corporation, and VF Corporation have large presences in Denver, and Silicon Valley giants like Amazon, Facebook, Slack, Salesforce and Google are growing their Denver based teams.
With an unemployment rate of 1.9% in 2019, Denver’s job market grew in 2020, adding 80,000 jobs despite the pandemic, and is projected to grow another 12% over the next few years.¹
The Denver Tech Community
The Denver tech community fosters a sincere spirit of collaboration, with support from business associations like the Colorado Tech Association, the Downtown Denver Partnership, Commons on Champa and the Denver Metro Chamber.
Denver’s annual weeklong Startup Week is the largest free conference in North America and demonstrates this energy and excitement around tech growth and innovation.
Stay in the Know
Here are just a handful of resources to help you to dive deeper into Colorado tech:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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!
Digital marketing can’t be ignored, no matter what industry, business, or location you’re in. However, there isn’t just one option — the opportunities are endless. Whether you’ve got a small budget and are looking for something incredibly cost efficient to help launch your new startup, or a big brand with even bigger budgets looking to make some serious noise, there are many different channels, platforms, and types of digital marketing you’ll be able to use for your digital marketing strategy and learn while becoming a digital marketer yourself.
Before we jump into the different types of digital marketing, it’s important to know why this space is so exciting, and why you should care about the wide world of digital marketing. What makes us so excited?
It’s affordable. Most forms of paid digital marketing are incredibly cost efficient, and allow a much more targeted approach to your marketing spend. While costs can vary across each digital marketing platform, there’s something that fits everyone’s budget. Facebook ads start at a low $1 per day! If you’re not utilising digital marketing for paid (e.g. content marketing — we’ll get to that), you can distribute your content for free through your own digital marketing channels.
It’s targeted. Speaking of targeting, digital platforms take advantage of the ability to know exactly who’s online and to show them specific messaging. Traditional marketing involved a lot of hopingyour message was seen by your target audience, but digital gives us the confidence to know.
It’s full of data. Ever seen a television advertising report? There’s not a lot of reliable data, nor actionable data. Digital platforms give you the ability to see who’s seeing your content in real time, whether it’s through running a paid campaign on Google Display Network, or checking your website data through Google Analytics.
Yep, there’s plenty to be excited about (we could write a whole article just on that!), so where do you begin? Below are 11 types of digital marketing to consider when trying to reach your target audience.
Social media marketing
Search Engine Optimisation is one of the most important tools in digital marketing — so what is it? It’s optimising your online content to appear higher in search engine result pages (SERP), and it’s free. SEO tactics are used to increase your organic search position on sites like Google and Bing, and take advantage of one of the best things about search: incredibly high intent levels. When thinking about intent, there aren’t many traditional or digital marketing channels out there that give you the ability to get in front of potential customers who’ve shown such high intent to convert (we’re talking way down the funnel). Customers are telling you what they’re looking for, and SEO helps your business give them exactly what they need in that moment.
A quick crash course on SEO. Search engines rank results by three main factors: quality, relevance, and authority. So we’re making relevant content, giving users a quality experience, and building authority throughout — simple right? Organic SEO is generally split into two types, content-related and technical, both of which are of utmost importance for your digital marketing strategy and for gaining what’s considered golden in digital: free traffic to your website. Whether you are creating a new blog post or boosting your on-page website copy, implementing an organic SEO strategy will not only boost website traffic, but it will also help support your search engine marketing as well.
2. Content Marketing
Content marketing actually encompasses a lot: social media, blogs, video content, and emails just to name a few. However, it’s the concept of content marketing that many are referring to when looking at jobs in this field, or building out a digital marketing strategy for their business. Content marketing is simple: it’s giving information and solving problems through high quality and useful content; whether that’s a blog post just like this one, or a quiz on what type of bread you are (maybe not so useful!), it all falls under the field of content marketing.
Generally used as a “top of funnel” approach within marketing, content marketing is a way to establish your authority and influence user behaviour later on in the journey. It’s also a part of many other digital marketing tactics like blog posts for SEO (did someone say authority building?). Ever heard the phrase, “content is king”? There’s a reason for it. Almost all types of digital marketing rely on good content at the core, and you’ll find better success across the board if you start with your content first.
3. Social Media Marketing
Social media isn’t new (we’re sure you’ve read your fair share of content on social media marketing), but there are constantly new platforms entering the market, new formats, and new ways to make the most of one of the most popular platforms out there (more than half of the world’s population are on there!). You’ve got two options when creating a digital marketing campaign: where to play and how to play.
Let’s start with the where. With so many platforms out there, picking the right social media platforms depends on your digital marketing strategy as well as where your customers typically are. Are they a younger more savvy audience spending their days scrolling through TikTok, or are they an avid Twitter user? Figure out who your customers are, and you’ll know where it makes the most sense to put your efforts. Wondering what the top social media platforms are? We’ve got you:
Secondly, the how. You’ve got two options when it comes to social: organic (publishing your content on social media regularly for free) or paying for ads to reach specific audiences. Organically, using social media helps brands build their community, keep their audiences updated, and humanize the brand (for a level up, read about social listening as a business tool), while paid social advertising gives brands a way to reach very specific audiences in a social context, and to push them to complete a desired action, all for a very affordable cost. As one of the most long-standing and in-demand skills in digital marketing, social media marketing is a must have for any business or aspiring digital marketer who is looking to up their digital advertising.
4. Paid Search
We’ve covered SEO; paid search operates on the same premise. Paid search is used for immediate returns when you don’t have time to invest in a long-term digital marketing strategy like SEO, and encompasses paying to get your business in front of people when they search for specific related terms. Most of the time, this is a PPC (pay per click) solution, meaning you only pay when someone clicks on your search listing. Sounds great right? It definitely is. However, with users showing such high intent, it means big competition for that top spot, which can often come with a hefty price tag depending on the terms your bidding on. You’ll need to think about things like quality score (yep, Google is judging you) and specific landing pages to ensure you keep your costs down.
Still confused? Let’s say I want my business to show up when someone searches for “digital marketing services”; I’d bid on the chance to be seen for that keyword and tell the search engine how much I’m willing to spend to get someone to click, which will be cheaper if I have a quality website. Think of it as an almost instantaneous auction between advertisers that happens every single time someone searches.
5. Display Advertising
You know the banners you see on websites encouraging you to take notice of whatever they’re selling? They’re utilising display advertising! Advertising your business through any sort of visual — images, video, GIFs, text — on publisher websites can be one of the most effective types of digital marketing for reaching the masses in contextually relevant places. Want to show your banner to a female business-savvy audience? Buy up some banners on women’s networking websites!
Often referred to as “more valuable than gold”, an email list is the holy grail for any business. Build a strong email list, and you’ve got a free platform to reach a qualified audience every single day. The question is though, what do you do with your email list and how can you make the most of it? That’s where email marketing comes into play.
Email marketing allows you to keep your subscribers updated with useful and relevant content — new collections, sales, or sharing your blogs each week for example, are all great ways to help you find success on the platform. The biggest rule to remember? While promoting your products and services seems like a great idea, there’s a fine line between useful emailing and spamming your audience, so use email marketing strategically! Start with the basics
, newsletters and updates, and work your way up to creating a powerful automated and segmented email series, built for purposes like onboarding, or winning back lapsed customers.
7. Messenger Marketing
We hear a lot about 1:1 marketing, and digital platforms helping brands achieve more personalised messaging to their audiences. Well, messenger marketing takes that to a whole new level. Rising in popularity over the past few years, brands have utilised conversations to build personal relationships with their customers in a place where they feel comfortable, helping push them to convert, or answer any questions that might influence their decision.
Messenger marketing is something that can be used either manually, or in combination with chatbots to automate much of the conversational workflow. With the proliferation of messaging apps like WhatsApp and WeChat, plus the fact that almost all social media platforms have their own direct messaging features, many brands are using messenger marketing as a way to qualify leads, or to provide 24/7 customer support without needing to pay a team to be available at all times. With over 2.6 billion people using messenger apps worldwide, it’s imperative to think about how your brand can utilise the medium to connect with your customers.
8. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing sometimes sits within influencer marketing, content marketing, or both, and involves paying commission to content producers for any conversion events that are attributed to them. Let’s say we ask a publisher to write a content piece for our business with a link to buy our product. We might offer the publisher 10% off all sales that come through their site, and they become an affiliate for our business.
You may have seen this happen through tracking links (e.g. the long URL string that helps a business track where their sales come from) or a special discount code. There are many affiliate marketing networks globally, some more general and some specific to a niche like fashion or tech. There’s also the option to start your own affiliate network, which takes a bit of work, but can cut out the fees that go along with signing up with a pre-existing network.
However you choose to do it, affiliate marketing is loved by digital marketers. It encourages publishers and content creators to produce original content for your brand, and you only have to pay if a sale happens. How good does that sound?
9. Influencer Marketing
We’ve all heard of the Kardashians making millions of dollars per post. So where does influencer marketing fit within the digital marketing landscape? Typically influencers help a brand with social proof and brand awareness, almost like a paid form of word-of-mouth referrals. We’re hoping that if an influencer tells their loyal audience to buy a product or service, they’ll trust the recommendation. Digital Marketers have found a plethora of uses for influencers, whether it’s the typical payment for posting that many are familiar with, a collaboration on a product, or a guest writer on a company blog. Any time you’re using someone for their credibility and audience, you’re engaging in influencer marketing.
When selecting influencers, think about who influences your audience. Who do they listen to or turn to for advice? Align your passions and brand values with someone who feels the same way — this is where the magic happens! Want to make the most of your influencer marketing efforts? Call out your influencers in your paid advertising to further push the social proof for your brand.
10. Video Advertising
Ever find yourself in the black hole of YouTube? You’re not alone. Over 2 billion people per month are right there scrolling with you. Often falling under the category of content marketing, utilising video as part of your marketing is an easy way to reach people not only when they’re looking for content to watch (#dogvideos anyone?) but also when they’re looking for reviews, how-to guides, and product information. The same way people use search, they’re using video!
As with many other types of digital marketing platforms, you have two options: paid and organic usage. With organic, we’re treating video similar to how we would our website and our socials — keeping people up to date, and sharing useful relevant content. With paid advertising however, we’re taking advantage of contextual moments to deliver relevant video content. For example, if I’m a new health food company, I could target people watching workout videos with a relevant message.
11. Audio Advertising
With podcasts on the rise, and music-listening habits shifting thanks to major players like Spotify and Apple Music, we’ve got a new medium to play in and for reaching our audiences. Branded podcasts can fall under content marketing, too. With more basic options like inputting audio ads within podcasts relevant to your business, or more advanced options like audio ads targeted to specific demographics, interests, or contextual moments on Spotify, the world of digital audio advertising is only just beginning. While we’re still looking at ways to track listens that result in purchases or sign ups, there is a big opportunity in audio advertising that opens up a new creative way of thinking and reaches audiences in key moments throughout the day.
The world of digital marketing really is endless, with new platforms, ideas, and new types of digital marketing popping up daily. While it’s always hard to know where to start, we recommend starting with you, your business, and your customer. Who are you talking to, where do they spend their time, and what makes sense for your business? There’s plenty out there, and now is the perfect time to jump in!
Whether you’re a business owner that’s ready to begin marketing your product or service online, or you’re a marketer looking for guidance on how to develop a comprehensive digital marketing strategy, this guide is for you. Creating a digital marketing plan is critical to success for any and all businesses in today’s digital world. No matter your industry or vertical, your target audience is online in some capacity. If your brand isn’t out there to seize the opportunity, your competitors will be. According to Google, 54% of consumers say they made a purchase from a brand that was new to them in 2020. That new brand could be yours! Developing a strong digital marketing strategy allows your brand to be there at the right time, in the right place, with the right message, for the right target audience.
Before you can develop a comprehensive digital marketing strategy for your brand, there are a few things you need to know to build a strong foundation. Let’s cover the basics.
The 3 Digital Marketing Pillars
There are three different pillars within digital marketing, all of which are important to invest in and tap into when developing a full-funnel digital marketing strategy: paid media, owned media, and earned media.
Paid media: Any advertising you can put money behind.
For example: paid search, social media, youtube, display ads, affiliate marketing, influencer marketing, print, radio, etc.
Owned media: Marketing that your brand has complete ownership and control over.
For example: email marketing, your website (think: SEO and content marketing), social media such as your brand’s organic Facebook page or Instagram page, your physical store, events, etc.
Earned media: What you earn for being a good brand. It’s the hardest to obtain, but sometimes can be the most powerful.
For example: word of mouth referrals, reviews, good PR, etc.
Within the owned media pillar, one large area of focus for many brands is SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. At a high level, SEO allows search engines to understand what your website is about (Check out Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO). This way, when someone searches for something that is relevant to your website, the search engine is able to show your site as one of the many “organic” results. Organic simply means it’s not a paid listing; rather, it’s a listing occurring “organically” from Google or whatever search engine you are using. Within SEO, there are two big branches: technical SEO and sitewide SEO (this can encompass on-site SEO, off-site SEO, and local SEO). It’s critical to your digital marketing strategy to incorporate SEO optimizations and learnings, alongside considering your site’s user experience and design, as your website is typically at the center of all digital marketing efforts and it is the cornerstone to online success. As they say, “All roads lead to Rome.” Your website is Rome. 🙂 Prioritize it.
The Digital Marketing Lingo
There are a few key terms you’ll want to become acquainted with and consider with regards to your brand before developing a digital marketing strategy:
Conversions: The ultimate goal you are trying to achieve (sale, lead, call, appointment)
Conversion rate: The percentage of people who visit your site (or click on your ad) and convert
CPA/CPL: Cost per action/acquisition or cost per lead (take total cost of advertising and divide it by the total leads or sales you have acquired)
ROAS: Return on Ad Spend (typically a ratio or percentage. For example, if $1 in ad spend results in $4 in revenue, that’s a 400% ROAS; a 4:1 ratio)
CPC: Cost per Click (in paid search advertising, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad)
Impressions: The number of times your ads are shown or served
Bounce rate: Percentage of site visitors who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page (you want this percentage to be below 50%)
Target audience: The predetermined qualities and aspects of people who are most likely to want or need your products or services
KPI:Key Performance Indicators, used to evaluate the success of a digital marketing campaign based on predetermined objectives
Media Mix Diversification
Think about your own digital behavior. Do you search for things on Google or Bing? Do you use Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, or all four? Do you scower your email for coupons and deals? Use affiliate sites like RetailMeNot or Rakuten? It’s likely that you didn’t answer yes to just one of these questions, but that you participate in many of these activities across these channels. One of the key aspects of building a successful digital marketing strategy is diversifying your ad spend and marketing efforts to create a well-structured media mix.
“Media mix” refers to the different channels and platforms your brand is investing in. Think of it like you would the stock market. You never want to put all your eggs in one basket. No successful advertiser is only on social media or only does email marketing or only does content marketing. Rather, successful brands develop marketing strategies that span multiple platforms, allowing them to reach their target audience no matter where they are.
Considering “The Funnel”
If you look back at your most recent purchase, it’s likely that you purchased from a brand you were familiar with, rather than one you’ve only heard of once. Brands with successful digital marketing strategies know that there’s value in being patient and taking time with their prospects by “bringing them down the funnel.” As digital marketer Martin JoJarth says, “repetition is effective communication.” In essence, most people tend to explore and consider for a little while before they commit. That’s how successful brands approach their prospects; they consider the three key phases of the marketing funnel: awareness, consideration, and conversion.
Awareness: This is the phase in the funnel where brands are getting in front of their target audience for the first time. The ad copy and CTA (call to action) are not going to be too direct or aggressive (e.g. “Learn More” or “View Options”). Brands are working to show prospects that they exist, and that they are the solution to problems or needs that consumers have.
Digital marketing campaigns brands could leverage: prospecting or brand awareness campaigns across social media, YouTube, or display
Consideration: In this phase of the marketing funnel, brands are reminding users of their existence (often called “remarketing” or “retargeting”), and sharing more reasons as to why users should choose their brand over the competition. CTAs may include verbiage that indicates that the brand knows the consumer has already engaged with the brand in some capacity, for example, “come back and shop.”
Digital marketing campaigns brands could leverage: non-brand search, email marketing, local, or social media remarketing campaigns
Conversion: This is when brands can get very customized in their approach to advertising. This is oftentimes when you see a specific product you’ve recently viewed or you’re being offered a specific coupon based on your most recent digital behavior. Calls to action will be more direct, and asking for the sale (ex: “Buy Now” or “Try Today”).
Digital marketing campaigns brands could leverage: brand search, dynamic remarketing campaigns across social media, display, or youtube
One of the common pitfalls brands encounter is serving the wrong message to the right audience. This can occur when a brand develops ad creative to incorporate into their digital marketing campaigns before they consider the target audience, or the phase in the funnel they are working to nurture. This is why when brands develop their marketing strategy, it’s critical to first pin down the target audience, determine what phase of the funnel is being used, then develop ad creative for execution.
For social media, take a look at what other brands are doing from an advertising perspective. Use this tool to view other brands’ ads. What ad format are other brands using on social media? How frequently are they posting new ads? What verbiage or CTAs are they leveraging?
Putting Your Digital Marketing Strategy into Action
Every digital marketing strategy will be different for every business. It will take time to learn, improve, and tweak your strategy once it is initially developed. In a world where things can change from one day to the next, it’s important to be versatile and willing to learn. Digital marketing strategies evolve over time as the brand grows and evolves over time.
The key things to remember are:
Tap into all 3 digital marketing pillars: paid, owned, and earned media
Diversify your media mix. Your prospects are on multiple channels. Don’t develop your strategy around a single marketing channel. Find the balance across multiple tactics.
Consider the funnel. Create a content marketing strategy that caters to each of the three primary phases in the marketing funnel. The more people are aware of your brand, the more people search for and consider your brand, the more people buy or choose your brand. Take your time to educate your target audience on how your brand is a solution to a need or problem they have.
Learn from others. There are plenty of free classes and resources out there for brands to learn from. As you build out your digital marketing plan, take the time to dig in to other brands’ approaches that led to customized, integrated, profitable digital marketing campaigns.
Ashley is a Senior Specialist on the Atlanta Paid Search team at Tinuiti. Tinuiti is the largest independently owned performance-driven digital marketing agency in the US. Tinuiti enables brands to accelerate their business across the triopoly of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and beyond. Within the Digital Marketing industry, Ashley specializes in paid media strategy and execution for b2b and b2c brands with $1M-$15M+ annual media budgets. She builds and executes integrated digital marketing campaigns across search, display, shopping, video, social, and email. Her passion is to work with her team to help her clients’ businesses thrive. At General Assembly, Ashley has taught more than 70+ Digital Marketing classes over the last 2 years covering topics including: Digital Marketing, Google Ads, Paid Search, Paid Social, and YouTube. Outside of work, Ashley enjoys spending time with her husband, family, and friends. Ashley enjoys traveling and documenting her adventures and money saving tips on her travel blog, Travel Cash With Ash. Ashley and her husband will be welcoming their first child into the world in October 2020.
In fact, at this very moment, there are over 150K digital marketing jobs available on LinkedIn alone, which makes digital marketing a perfect opportunity for young professionals and career changers to enter the tech industry and future-proof their job prospects for the years to come. But what is digital marketing? What are the digital marketing skills needed to get started? Is digital marketing a technical or creative skill?
First of all, digital marketing is not a monolith, but rather a collection of skills and competencies. As a senior digital marketer, you need to combine creative analytical and technical skills to communicate the right message at the right time to the right audience. At the same time, you need to understand the nuances of how various digital channels work to be able to track, analyse, and optimise your marketing plans.
Digital marketers come in many shapes and sizes. As a digital marketer, you will be required to wear many hats and work on a diverse range of projects and challenges during your career. In principal, there are two broad types of digital marketing:
Each type requires digital professionals with a different set of skills to succeed. However, there are some digital marketing skills that both types need to “check” as prerequisites for the role. Here’s adigital marketing skills list that every digital marketer needs to master:
Digital Marketing Foundational Skills
Required for performance, content, and social media marketing roles.
1. Search Engine Marketing and SEO
Understanding how search engines index websites and rank pages will not only enable you to grasp one of the most sought-after digital marketing skills in the market, but also provide you with all the foundational knowledge required to project manage web development and content marketing projects. Moreover, SEO skills are essential for optimising product pages within e-commerce ecosystems such as Amazon, Lazada, and eBay.
Copywriting is an absolute essential skill for every digital marketing professional. Digital marketing is all about communicating the right message to the right audience at the right time. The art of crafting compelling messages is at the heart of everything a digital professional does. Whether it’s for social media advertising, building landing pages, developing banner ads, or crafting paid search ads, there is always an element of copywriting involved.
3. Data Analytics and Visualization
Data-driven marketing is not only a recent buzzword but an essential digital marketing skill. Every digital marketing activity comes with data, so at minimum, digital marketing professionals ought to know how to work with and visualize data using tools like Excel or Google Analytics. In today’s digital marketing industry, every role comes with a wealth of data to be collected and analysed. For example, a social media marketer will need to report on the effectiveness of social media campaigns, the same way a pay-per-click (PPC) executive is required to report on paid media performance.
4. Basics of Business and Finance
Understanding the basics of business and finance is an absolute must-have to succeed in the digital marketing industry. The end objective of digital marketing is to generate profit for the business. Upon entering the digital marketing space, you will be bombarded with jargon such as CPA (cost per acquisition), CPL (cost per lead), CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) and more! The ability to understand these metrics and connect them with the “big picture” is one of the very first skills you will need to master.
Performance Marketing Skills
Required for media buying and analytical roles.
1. Pay-per-Click Fundamentals
Pay-per-click or PPC covers the most popular kinds of digital advertising such as Paid Search, Facebook Advertising, Amazon advertising, etc. Every digital marketer needs to understand the PPC advertising auction logic as well as some platform fundamentals to be able to set up and optimise PPC campaigns successfully on various digital marketing channels.
2. Media Planning and Buying
Media planning and buying are some of the oldest advertising skills that are still relevant in the market. Understanding how to purchase media inventory directly or via programmatic advertising, the targeting options, as well as the pros and cons of each approach, is essential for every marketer who wants to build a career in the numerical side of digital marketing. Lastly, being able to deliver a complete media plan is an absolute must for both agency and in-house digital marketing roles.
3. Digital Tracking and Analytics
Performance marketers need to be experts in digital tracking — meaning they should be able to put together and implement a digital measurement plan. Moreover, they should understand how to set up conversion tracking on various platforms, make use of UTM tags or various tracking codes effectively, and how to take advantage of third-party tracking tools if necessary.
Content Marketing Skills
Required for content marketing and social media roles.
1. Social Media Marketing Know-How
Social media has become an integral part of our lives. At the same time, the social media marketing landscape is constantly expanding and evolving. Every content marketing professional should understand the basics of how social media algorithms operate to be able to conceptualise and develop impactful, relevant, and attention-grabbing social media content. Moreover, as a social media professional you should be the first to embrace and explore new social media channels and tactics.
2. Intermediate Design Skills
In an ever-expanding digital marketing ecosystem, the need for marketing visuals is greater than ever. The ability to ideate, develop, and modify marketing assets and collateral on the fly is a must-have skill for every content marketing professional. Experience with tools like Photoshop and online platforms such as Canva or equivalent will give you a competitive advantage in the digital recruitment market.
3. Endless Creativity
Marketing and creativity go hand in hand! As a digital content marketer, you should be able to conceptualise, project manage, and implement creative digital marketing campaigns as needed. Furthermore, you should familiarise yourself with concepts such as marketing seasonality and campaign-thinking, as well as being able to deliver click-worthy creatives for various advertising purposes. Experience with video production and editing will be a huge plus in the years to come.
How can I improve my digital marketing skills?
Digital marketing is evolving fast! No matter how senior you may become, always remember that every digital marketer needs to upskill and reskill on a yearly basis to stay relevant in an ever-changing industry. On this note, it’s worth pointing out the skills required to improve your digital marketing know-how for future trends:
1. Project Management and Collaboration
Digital marketing is a fast-paced and multi-faceted job. You’ll need to be on top of various projects, channels, and marketing initiatives at the same time. Moreover, you’ll have to communicate effectively with a diverse range of internal and external stakeholders. Consider actively investing in and growing “soft skills” such as teamwork, empathy, adaptability, and problem solving.
2.Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
As mentioned, data is at the heart of every digital marketing initiative. The ever-growing data protectionism and the rise of marketing automation means that the internet will be a safer place for all of us, but it also fuels the need for customer relationship management (CRM) as a key skill within the digital marketing space. Understanding how to work with first-party data, the media opportunities they open, and the fundamentals of marketing automation, is an essential skill for all senior digital marketers.
3. Email Marketing
Email is still the number one most effective digital marketing channel. Why? There is a lot more than meets the eye to strategizing and implementing an effective email marketing campaign. Crafting an intriguing subject line, writing an engaging click-worthy email, and leveraging marketing automation in the context of email marketing are extremely valuable skills in the digital marketing industry.
4. User Experience Design (UX)
UX or user experience design is a relatively new entry in the long list of digital marketing skills to master. UX is the area of digital marketing or product design that ensures intuitive, meaningful, and positive interactions throughout a customer’s journey. Think of UXers as the architects of the digital space. Understanding how to best structure a website or mobile app, the empathetic design thinking involved, and what a good user experience entails is a very practical must-have skill for any senior digital marketer, product manager, or project manager.
5. Presentation and Communication Skills
Last but not least, whether you end up working in-house, within an agency environment, or running your own business, you will always have to present your ideas to various stakeholders, teammates, clients, or investors. The ability to deliver clean, clear, and impactful presentation documents, as well as being able to communicate with confidence, are key skills you should aim to master.
Digital marketing includes a diverse collection of skills and competencies you should aim to develop depending on which part of the industry you’d like to build your career on. Assuming you are a beginner in the space, the safest way to land your dream digital marketing role is to invest in a structured course, launch your own side-hustle to gain practical experience in the above areas, or both! As an experienced digital marketer, you should aim to regularly upskill yourself through credible workshops, seminars, and industry-specific events.
Financing education is a huge decision at any point of life—even more so in such uncertain times. That’s where an income share agreement (ISA) might be a great option to invest in yourself. In professional education, an ISA is not a loan, but rather a financial structure where tuition is repaid as a percentage of your monthly income for a fixed number of years.
At General Assembly, our ISA, Catalyst, allows students to learn in-demand tech skills in our full-time immersive courses and land a job with the help of our career services team. Repayment begins only once you secure a role earning at least $40,000 per year. After you’ve reached the minimum income threshold, you’ll start paying back 10% percent of your monthly earned income over 48 months.