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12 Must-Read Digital Marketing Books

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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, marketing tactics lose their effectiveness, and the platform rules constantly shift

While digital marketing books that are rich on marketing 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 a B2B marketer has been 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 and massive audience. 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 your target audience 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 target 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 and the business owner 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 marketing to make your potential customers the heroes 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 loyal customers, what we can do to increase that value, and how to find more of our ideal potential 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 digital 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.

Best Resources for Learning Digital Marketing in 2021

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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!

Top 15 Skills Every Digital Marketer Needs to Master

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Tech is booming, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for organizations of all sizes to move away from traditional marketing and establish a competitive online presence as swiftly as possible. This need fuels the demand for skilled digital marketing professionals worldwide.

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:

  1. Performance Marketing
  2. Content 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 a digital 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.

2. Copywriting

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.

Conclusion

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.

Should You Consider a Career in Digital Marketing?

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These days you would be hard-pressed to find a business, regardless of its size, that isn’t investing in digital marketing to assist in their promotional efforts. Businesses must try their best to keep up with their fast-paced consumer markets and are challenged with staying in tune with the ever-evolving digital marketing technologies and strategies available to them.

As a result, digital marketing budgets are increasing by double digit increments year after year, projected to hit a total global spend of 306 billion by 2020, keeping the field of digital marketing both challenging and exciting.

What exactly is digital marketing, anyway?

Well, it’s not too far off from what you might think of as traditional marketing: businesses or organizations connecting with their audiences to promote their brands, services, and/or products, ideally bringing them closer to purchase as they span the customer journey. However, as consumers consistently spend more time online, marketers are shifting their promotional efforts to meet consumers where they are. Thus, digital marketing has come to the forefront, with marketing strategies spanning a variety of online channels such as social media, search engines, email, online publications, and other key business websites.

Today, the field of digital marketing is more interesting than ever and encompasses a wide range of knowledge and skill sets. It appeals to those that consider themselves creative types as well as those who are more analytically or technically minded. A digital marketing career includes a mix of desired skills to be successful in the field — such as data analysis, automation software expertise, and user experience design — as represented in the Altimeter State of Digital Marketing Report.

Digital Marketing Career Opportunities

While the skill sets required of digital marketing specialists are vast and diverse, it’s typically not expected that a single digital marketing role take on all of these skills. Instead, digital marketing careers are more commonly made up of a variety of roles and responsibilities that span areas such as:

Content Marketing 

Content marketing entails the creation and distribution of consistent, valuable, and engaging content — emails, blog posts, videos, ads, social media posts — to clearly defined audiences. It’s the content marketing manager’s job to decide what kinds of content will resonate most with key audiences and keep them coming back for more. Content marketing managers work with their team members to decide how to use or repurpose pieces of content to suit the various digital channels leveraged by the business, ensuring that the content created has a long shelf life and reaches as many viewers as possible.

Search Engine Marketing

While a solid content marketing strategy is important for digital marketers to develop, it’s just as important for them to optimize their content and websites for search engines, as search engines are primarily what people use to find the information they need. Digital marketers have put various search engine optimization (SEO) techniques in place to improve the ranking of their content on search engines like Google. SEO can be a full time job; it’s the SEO Manager’s job to ensure content and websites are optimized as much as possible and are adapting to the requirements of continually changing search engine algorithms, such as Google’s PageRank.

Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing takes SEO one step further, applying a lot of the foundational aspects, but offering content through a digital ad on the search engine that viewers click on to access. Advertisers are charged per each click on the ad, hence the name of the practice. Putting money behind these ads yields a higher chance that the ad content will be seen. PPC managers are hired to determine which keywords to associate with the promoted ads, how large of a budget to allocate towards the advertising campaign, and which content to promote as part of the advertisement itself.

Social Media Marketing

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are available for digital marketers to use to promote their brands, generate followers, and drive traffic to their websites for future lead generation. It’s the role of the social media marketing manager to determine which social media platforms are best suited for the company’s audience, what content should be shared at what cadence and time of day, and which topics will interest followers based on monitoring conversations through specific keywords, phrases, or hashtags. Social media is an exciting part of digital marketing for people new to the field to dive into, and its use cases and features are always shifting and expanding.

Email Marketing 

Email is another channel digital marketers can use to reach their prospects and customers. When done right, it allows email marketing managers to strategically send emails that rise above the noise of crowded inboxes and provide a relevant and personalized touch to their subscribers. Emails can come in many forms such as monthly newsletters, event promotions, educational product tips and tricks, and holiday discounts. Email marketing is often in place to point subscribers to a company’s website, with the hopes of driving further engagement or product purchases. Email is a tried and true digital marketing method that’s always improving and challenging digital marketers to do better, ensuring that email marketers stay challenged and subscribers stay informed and engaged.

Marketing Automation

As the options available to digital marketing professionals continue to evolve and campaigns become more sophisticated, so must the technologies that digital marketers use to maintain them. Enter marketing automation: the ability to utilize software to automate marketing operations that might otherwise be done manually. For example, marketing automation can allow digital marketers to set up processes on the back end of their various marketing tools to automatically send welcome emails to their new newsletter subscribers or schedule their daily social media posts. Marketing automation managers collaborate with many of the above mentioned roles and are most effective when they’re able to fully leverage both their creative and analytical attributes.

The Earnings of Digital Marketers in 2020

Digital Marketing, no matter which direction you go within the field, is in high demand and the earnings that can be made are in direct alignment. According to Mondo’s 2020 Tech, Digital Marketing, & Creative Salary Guide, you can expect to make upwards of $60,000 USD as a starting salary in most areas within digital marketing, progressing (upwards of $110,000 USD in some cases) as you develop in your career. This of course varies across regions and disciplines, with more technical roles tending to align with higher earnings.

Plan for a Digital Marketing Career

Digital marketing is an exciting field to get into and is only going to get more exciting over time as technology continues to advance. Should you find yourself interested in pursuing a career in digital marketing, don’t be afraid to explore the various ways you can dive into the career path. You’ll find that there are a number of great resources you can invest in to get you on your way. Whether you just recently finished school or you’re switching careers, digital marketing holds un-capped potential that’s yours to take advantage of in 2020.

Six Steps To Getting Your First Job In Digital Marketing

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Are you a recent college grad or in search of a new career path in digital marketing? Landing your first entry-level digital marketing job with no experience can seem challenging, especially during a pandemic.

With the consumption of digital media on the rise, companies are opening up digital marketing opportunities to keep up with everyday online communication and content creation, changing the way we communicate and do business. It’s time to be opportunistic and creative in these challenging times to take charge of our careers!

Not sure how to get a job in digital marketing or where to begin? Here is a step by step guide in how to start your career in digital marketing from the safety and comfort of your own home. 

1. Know Your Desired Role

Do your research on what your ideal digital marketing job or role might be. If you look up, “What kinds of jobs are there in digital marketing?”, you’ll find lots of resources on current digital marketing roles. Start by reading job descriptions and understanding the different roles that are available. Once you get a sense of what’s out there, start narrowing down roles to certain categories that you gravitate to such as search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), content marketing, digital marketer, marketing manager, digital marketing specialist, social media marketing, social media ads manager, and more. Once you get a list of the types of digital marketing roles you prefer, expand your search to different industries. Have you ever wanted a career as a digital marketer in the sports industry? What about a social media manager in the fashion space? Get to know the types of digital marketing job opportunities that are available in the industries that interest you most.

2. Know the Latest Trends

Digital marketing is ever-evolving. With new algorithms, features, and platforms emerging, the needs of the industry vary and continue to shift. Keep up with your areas of interest by engaging on the platforms weekly (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Google Ads Manager, Mailchimp). You can also stay current by attending virtual workshops, taking online courses, and subscribing to newsletters that provide up to date announcements on your platforms of interest.

3. Learn the Skills

Getting your start in digital marketing requires your investment of time and resources. There are a ton of free resources online via newsletters, blogs, articles, social media, as well as masterclasses and workshops that companies like Shopify, General Assembly, and Later are offering during this time to enrich our communities and help individuals develop new skill sets. Longer, more in-depth certification courses can help you build, practice, and retain your new skills. Additionally, certification helps you stand out to other digital marketers who may be experienced but not certified. 

4. Create an Online Presence

Prepare yourself for your future marketing job and test out your new digital marketing skills on yourself! Create your own social media accounts and showcase your content marketing skills with creative original content, running ads, and linking your accounts to websites you’ve set up or newsletters you’ve started. Hone in on the areas that you’ve expressed interest in when you were doing your career exploration research. Show people what you are capable of in digital marketing within your prospective industry. An online presence will help your prospective employer get to know you as a candidate as well as your passions and interests, which is incredibly helpful to the hiring process.

5. Build Your Experience

By this point, you may have completed certification, honed in on specific skills, and created an online presence. Now it’s time to build your digital marketing experience. Reach out to friends, family, classmates, colleagues or cold email individuals to offer your recently acquired digital marketing skills for their projects. Volunteer your skills to local small businesses or organizations you align with who could use help with creating a digital presence, content marketing, getting started on social media platforms, or keeping up with communication during this particular time of crisis. Build up your confidence as you practice your skills. As you become comfortable, transition to taking on paid clients that can help you build your portfolio as you start applying for a long-term digital marketing role.

6. Create a Network

It’s important to get your name out there online. Do your research on where to find your online community. For instance, if you identify as a woman in digital marketing, find Facebook groups centered around Women in Digital Marketing, join and connect with the members in the group. Be open about your current job search and ask for advice. Members of groups and forums are more than willing to help you in your journey. Get your introduction to the digital marketing world by asking industry professionals for one-on-one career development sessions. This will help build your network while learning about the various possibilities out there for you. Join a variety of virtual meetups, panels, and workshops. Get your name out there, offer your services, gain a list of experts, and connect with them. Have your cover letter, resume, social media handles, and portfolio ready to share.

Get ready to learn, and to be resourceful and entrepreneurial. Don’t be afraid to reach out, cold email, and ask for mentorship and guidance during this time. There’s a warm community of digital marketers out there willing to help you get your start in digital marketing.

Filling the Gap Between Learning & Engagement

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The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a rapid and forced transformation of many businesses. Plans that companies previously anticipated rolling out over many years have been decided and implemented in weeks.  

Amid this rapid change where many are scrambling to adapt, leaders should ask themselves what other “five-year plans” should fastrack to keep pace with these critical business plans. One of the plans that companies should evaluate is talent development: how can businesses develop strategic plans to meet the needs of their rapidly evolving businesses?   

Creating talent development work isn’t as easy as providing online learning to employees. Our Marketing Standards board members met recently and uncovered an unexpected commonality. While all of them are making learning available to their employees, the primary area for improvement on their employee engagement surveys continues to be upskilling. This revelation brought on a layered conversation about the common challenges employers face when it comes to engaging employees in training and development — especially when these pieces of training are online. So, what’s causing the disconnect between desire and action on upskilling employees, and most importantly, what can leaders do about it?   

Understanding the Disconnect

Upskilling is urgent for employers — especially for newer professionals who aren’t going to be satisfied in their jobs if there are no learning (or advancement) opportunities. Employees don’t merely want a job; they want to work for companies they can learn from and grow within; employees wish to build careers.  

In a Deloitte survey, 90% of employees said their organizations were redesigning jobs. The World Economic Forum reported that more than half of all its employees would require reskilling or upskilling to address the digital skills gaps driven by changing job requirements over the next three years.  

For many reasons like these, our board members agree that it’s an employer’s responsibility to make learning available and an integrated part of the employee experience.  

So, what’s getting in the way of learning — from the employee perspective?  

Two big factors are time and incentive. Many employees feel like there’s not enough time during the workday to take the training accessible to them. Others don’t prioritize upskilling because although they want new and updated skills, there is no extrinsic motivator for learning them. One of the clearest opportunities for extrinsic motivation often isn’t clearly connected to training: it’s the idea that training and skills are requisite expectations for the job or performance. The right jobs motivate all of us.  

Possible Solutions

Providing employees with upskilling opportunities signals to them that they are valued and that they have a future within their workplace organization. However, offering a training program isn’t enough — the implementation of these programs must be intentional, structured, and relevant. During our conversation, board members came up with tips that can help companies foster a learning-positive workplace. These tips include:  

1. Partner With Leadership to Allocate Time During the Workday

Big roadblocks employees face: blocking time to make learning important and creating company-wide time blocks, like “No Meetings Fridays,” to provide designated time for employee upskilling. Making these time blocks company-wide is critical. If some teams aren’t participating in it, they’ll throw a meeting on the calendar that conflicts with the learning time. At that point, you’ve lost the consistent open time and original initiative purpose you’re trying to create for your team.   

2. Extrinsic Incentives: Compelling Rewards

Extrinsic incentives are tangible motivators that can encourage employees to take an upskilling training course. Offering incentives gives employees a clear prize at the end of their experience, plus an added incentive to complete learning by a particular due date. This specific incentive is a nice touch from board member Gretchen Saegh (CMO of L’Oréal USA), who plans on rewarding “the best re-scorer” of the CM1 assessment with being “CMO for the day.” These empowering incentives give employees a sense of purpose, a structured career path, and long-term vision, giving them valuable real-world experiences and advice that can be difficult to get elsewhere.  

Extrinsic Incentives: Executive Messaging on Expectations

Source: https://learning.linkedin.com/resources/workplace-learning-report

When employees see their managers endorsing upskilling, and also see the executive team pushing for the same thing, it speaks volumes about the value of upskilling within that organization and the expectations around completing tasks and initiatives surrounding it. The bottom line is that upskilling gains immediate credibility when employees see it supported by leadership. A message from the CEO and executive team is imperative when it comes to setting the tone for a company, as a message from “the top” can have a ripple effect throughout the organization.   

Getting employees to translate the desire-to-action key values of online learning is particularly pertinent as more employers look for efficient and effective ways to train their employees remotely via online training providers. It’s a new world, and there’s no magic bullet, hidden secrets, and there are certainly no shortcuts. The right online training is thoughtful and methodical: it considers human behavior, personal motivations, and leadership alignment + support to get online training to occur and resonate for employees — from entry-level positions to the C-suite.  

Finally, there’s the process of trial and error. Although initiatives often start with the strongest and best of intentions, the most successful training results adapt and fluctuate over time. No plan is flawless right out of the gate — however well-planned or well-intended.  

Learning is always a journey.

To learn more about how General Assembly can help guide your company’s talent transformation, check out our enterprise marketing solutions.

How to Write the Best Problem Statement for Your Startup

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The Lean Startup Methodology changed the way we go about starting businesses. Instead of creating a business plan worthy of a Harvard Business School case study, we go out into the market space that we know and find a real problem. Then, we validate the pain point and see how the market is dealing with, compensating for, or otherwise working around that specific problem. Next, we determine if the market participants are willing to pay for a solution to the problem. If they see value, then we solve the problem.

Of course, it’s never that simple, but that’s the basic process in a nutshell. Atlanta entrepreneur David Cummings recently wrote that this process, from discovering the problem to getting to product market fit, generally takes about two years. Finding a problem is usually fairly clear. Validating the problem takes longer. Finding customers who are willing to pay takes a little longer, and building a product that fits the market takes a long time and usually includes several pivots or small deviations from the original product idea.

At the core of everything involved in creating a startup is the customer pain point. But many times, the best product for solving that problem doesn’t win. Why? Because the makers of that solution are really good at solving said problem, but not good at all at explaining what exactly the problem is or what its root cause consists of. In other words, the entrepreneur who can communicate better usually wins. That is why it is so vitally important to be able to explain the problem you are solving to anyone so that they understand it completely. But how do you do that?

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Skills Needed For Marketing

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Building Marketing Leaders of The Future

Looking inside of a new roadmap of core skills to drive vision and leadership in the industry to see what it takes to be a leader in marketing?

This ideal skill set has changed dramatically in recent years as the responsibilities and experience of today’s marketers have expanded in scope. While strengths that used to set marketers apart — like crafting a powerful brand voice and a brilliant go-to-market strategy — are still more important than ever, leaders today need to be savvier with marketing technology, data fluent, and measurement focused. They must be equipped to decide which systems power their strategies, connect the customer experience across an array of channels, and address new innovations such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence. They are also accountable for demonstrating and optimizing ROI. 

As marketing’s purview has widened, we’ve seen individual roles become increasingly narrow and specialized, creating silos of digital capability. Budding marketers often focus on technical skills around a specific set of digital tools such as Optimizely and AdWords that translate to growing sub-fields, including conversion rate optimization and SEO/SEM. 

The problem with this approach is that by focusing on a limited set of tactical skills rather than the broader goals those skills help achieve, marketers risk losing visibility into how brands grow. They also lose the ability to solve complex problems that span beyond their immediate domain. 

This creates several human capital challenges: 

  1. Lack of leadership development: A narrow skill set is not suited to leadership roles in marketing, which increasingly require synthesis across social channels and touchpoints.
  2. Lack of career guidance: To grow beyond narrow domains, marketers need clear guidance on what skills and industry experience they should develop and what career options become available as a result.
  3. Lack of clarity in hiring: Without clarity around the essential marketing skills or how to assess for them, recruiters can only guess at who might be a high-potential candidate. And without clear expectations, new hires are not set up for marketing success. 

To better prepare the next generation of marketers, leaders across the industry urgently need to come together to explain the broad skill set needed for marketing success in the field today. As a wide-ranging set of good marketing leaders across the consumer goods, technology, publishing, and education sectors, we formed the Marketing Standards Board to channel our collective experience toward this purpose. With the goal of defining excellence in the field and providing transparency into marketing careers, we’ve crafted a framework that will help provide this clarity for individuals, teams, and business partners. 

What Makes a Marketer?

Marketing is comprised of four major functions, each with a distinct goal:

  1. Brand: Define and communicate brand purpose, value, and experience.
    • Brand marketers are responsible for brand strategy, brand communications, and working across the organization to create a holistic customer experience.
    • Sample job titles: VP of global brand, director of integrated marketing, brand manager
  2. Acquisition: Win new customers for your products and services.
    • Acquisition marketers are responsible for acquiring customers within a given budget. They run campaigns and think strategically to improve performance.
    • Sample job titles: Director of search engine marketing, lead generation specialist
  3. Retention and Loyalty: Retain customers and expand share of wallet.
    • Retention and loyalty marketers are responsible for engaging customers. They deeply understand consumer behavior and work to maximize customer lifetime value.
    • Sample job titles: Manager of CRM, director of brand activation
  4. Analytics and Insights: Get business insights and drive ROI using data.
    • Marketing analysts are responsible for analyzing increasingly large volumes of data to derive insight that informs business decisions.
    • Sample job titles: Marketing analytics manager, data scientist — marketing.

These four functions are common threads of marketing success, and they frame goals that haven’t changed over time. They were true when TV, print, and radio were the dominant media, remain true today with the prominence of web and mobile, and will remain true for whatever media and products come next. Although the execution required to achieve these goals has changed due to new tools and technology, the underlying purpose provides a stable frame of reference to understand and explain our profession.

Experienced marketers will often prioritize the skills needed for their role spread across more than one of these functions, given that a single role is often accountable for multiple goals that require a blend of skills.

A Career Framework for Marketing

With the four functions of marketing in mind, we have drafted a framework that captures our collective thinking about the career paths and associated skills required in marketing today.

Let’s break down each section of the framework and how we see it being used to guide career progression.

Level 1: Foundation

To begin a career in marketing, individuals need the bundle of skills in Level 1, from understanding customer insight to marketing technology. These skills allow them to be valuable early-career professionals, and are essential irrespective of company type, stage, and industry. From an HR perspective, Level 1 encompasses the set of required skills for most entry-level and early-career marketing candidates. They are the building blocks of marketing success that are needed and can be assessed for, regardless of one’s future career path.

Level 2: Application (Mid-Level)

Level 2 is for mid-career professionals and includes the four key functions we identified above. After demonstrating strong fundamentals from Level 1, most marketers will find that their career paths grow into a mix of Level 2 applications. Not all mid-career professionals need or desire expertise in all four areas — many will find their talents best suited in one or two. However, awareness of the full spectrum can identify strengths on which to double down and gaps that may lead a marketer to seek more support from others on their team.

For example, there are brand managers who are incredible at building out brand identity and communicating the value to consumers. They are clearly Level 2 marketers specializing in brand, even though they use acquisition and retention strategies to execute on their objectives. Similarly, there are search engine marketing managers (Level 2 marketers in acquisition) who are tremendously effective at finding new customers, and CRM managers (Level 2 marketers in retention) who specialize in engaging and delighting existing customers. Finally, new roles have emerged that are as much data professional as marketer, and as such we see Level 2 marketers in analytics.

It’s our job as leaders to guide team members toward Level 2 applications based on talent and interest, and define with our HR colleagues which (and how many) Level 2 skills are needed in each role, at each stage of seniority. Skills across these Level 2 applications, paired with strong vision and judgement, will prepare individuals to become marketing leaders.

Level 3: Leadership (Senior Role/Management)

For team members who seek leadership roles, Level 3 contains the bundle of additional skills needed to be successful marketing directors, vice presidents, senior vice presidents, and, ultimately, chief marketing officers. While having Level 3 skills does not make a leader, a leader typically possesses all of the Level 3 skills. At the leadership level, overall domain expertise and verbal communication skills becomes as important as setting the vision and strategy for the marketing team. Because these roles require problem-solving across the specialties of marketing, from customer experience to tech and data, successful Level 3s have often covered more than one Level 2 during their careers.

Next Steps: Putting Words Into Action

We formed the Marketing Standards Board six months ago to provide clarity into marketing careers for individuals, teams, and business partners. Our career framework is a first step toward achieving this goal, but it’s only effective if followed by action.

Our goal is for this career framework to be a valuable tool for:

  • Aspiring marketers who want to understand what skills they need to enter the field.
  • Mid-career professionals who want to understand their career options.
  • Marketing leaders who want to build capable, well-balanced teams.
  • HR leaders who want to build transparent, consistent career pathways.

To put this theory into action, we are going to use this framework within our organizations to:

  1. Explain career progression and roles across our teams. We’ll use the framework to guide development conversations by linking individual marketing activities to strategic objectives on our marketing teams.
  2. Guide high-potential employees on how to round out their skills. Point to individual strengths and gaps in Level 2 applications and Level 3 skills to support conversations with team members who show potential to take their career to the next level.
  3. Evaluate job candidates based on the function for which they are applying. Use one or more assessments to define and validate skills needed in open positions.

If you could benefit from these same actions, we encourage you to join us in using the framework for similar purposes in your own organizations. Our industry needs to use a common language around marketing, and that language extends beyond our board. 

In parallel, we’re seeking feedback from our colleagues and friends to refine this framework. We’re starting with partners in our executive teams, industry associations, and peers around the world. We’re also asking you. If you have feedback on how this could be useful for you, let us know at credentials@ga.co

By coalescing on what it takes to succeed in marketing businesses, we can begin to examine some of the big talent strengths and weaknesses in the profession and better prepare the next generation of successful marketing leaders. We analyzed 20K+ Certified Marketer Level 1 assessment results; download The State of Skills: Marketing 2020 report to find out what we discovered.

Digital Marketing 101: How the Loyalty Loop is Replacing the Marketing Funnel

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marketing funnel image

During the past few decades, the marketing funnel served as the primary model for how people learn about a product, decide to buy, and (hopefully) become loyal customers, helping spread the word to others.

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Digital Marketing 101: Creating Your Digital Marketing Calendar

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This post is part of our Digital Marketing 101 series. Sign up to get the full series!

Everything we’ve discussed so far in this Digital Marketing 101 series has focused on what to do and a bit about how to do it. But in marketing, timing is everything, and the two parts of timing in marketing are frequency and consistency. So here we’re going to move past what and how and look into when. The most valuable tool in your digital marketing arsenal will help you know when to do something, help you maintain your frequency, and, more importantly, your consistency. That tool is your digital marketing calendar.

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