At first glance, data science seems to be just another business buzzword — something abstract and ill-defined. While data can, in fact, be both of these things, it’s anything but a buzzword. Data science and its applications have been steadily changing the way we do business and live our day-to-day lives — and considering that 90% of all of the world’s data has been created in the past few years, there’s a lot of growth ahead of this exciting field.
While traditional statistics and data analysis have always focused on using data to explain and predict, data science takes this further. It uses data to learn — constructing algorithms and programs that collect from various sources and apply hybrids of mathematical and computer science methods to derive deeper actionable insights. Whereas traditional analysis uses structured data sets, data science dares to ask further questions, looking at unstructured “big data” derived from millions of sources and nontraditional mediums such as text, video, and images. This allows companies to make better decisions based on its customer data.
So how is this all manifesting in the market? Here, we look at three real-world examples of how data science drives business innovation across various industries and solves complex problems.
After studying statistics, probability, programming, algorithms, and data structures for long hours, putting all the knowledge in action is essential. An internship at a great company is a great way to practice your skills, but at the same time is one of the most difficult jobs. Especially with such vast competition.
Nowadays, many other opportunities are branded as “internship experiences” but they’re not actually internships. A key distinction is as follows: if you’re asked to pay for an internship, then it’s not an internship. An internship is a free opportunity to work in a specific industry for a short period of time, usually shadowing an existing employee or team.
This article will provide you with five tips to help you secure your first data science internship. However, first we’ll discuss what exactly data science is and what the job entails.
What is data science?
Data science focuses on obtaining actionable insights from data, both raw and unstructured, often in large quantities. This big data is analyzed by data analysts as it’s so complex it cannot be understood by existing software or machines.
Ultimately, data science is concerned with providing solutions to problems we don’t yet know are problems or concerns. It’s essentially about looking into the future and finding fixes for things that may happen or might be implemented. On the other hand, a data analyst’s role is to investigate current data and how this impacts the now.
What is the role of a data scientist?
As a data science intern, you will be responsible for collecting, cleaning, and analyzing various datasets to gather valuable insights. Later, with the help of other data scientists, these insights will be shared with the company in an effort to contribute to business strategies or product development. Within the role of a data scientist, you will be expected to be independent in your work collecting and cleaning data, finding patterns, building algorithms, and even conducting your own experiments and sharing these with your team.
5 Tips to Finding Your First Data Science Internship
As a data scientist, you’re expected to possess a variety of complex skills. Therefore, you should begin learning these now to set yourself aside from your competition and increase the likelihood of landing a data science internship.
In fact, regardless of your internship role, you should be actively learning new skills all of the time, preferably skills that are related to your industry (e.g. data science). There’s no set formula to acquire skills; there are numerous ways to get started, such as online data science courses (some of which are free), additional University modules, or conducting some data science work yourself, perhaps in your free time.
The more relevant data science skills you have, the more appealing you’ll be to employees looking for a data science intern. So, start learning now and distinguish yourself from your competition; you won’t regret it.
2. Customize each data science application
A common problem many graduate students make when applying for internships online is bulk-applying and using the same CV and cover letter for each application. This is a lengthy and tedious process, and rarely pays dividends.
Instead, students should customize each data science application to each company or organization that they’re applying for. Not all data science jobs are the same — their requirements are somewhat different, both in the industry and the company’s goals and beliefs. To increase your likelihood of landing a data science internship, you need to be genuinely interested in the company you are applying for, and show this in your application. Be sure to read through their website, look at their previous work, initiatives, goals, and beliefs. And finally, make sure that the companies you are applying for are places you actually want to work at, or else the sincerity of your application may be cast in a negative light, even if you don’t realize this.
3. Create a portfolio
To stand out in such a saturated market, it’s essential to create your very own portfolio. Ideally, your portfolio should consist of one or several of your own projects where you collect your own data. It’s good to indicate you have the experience on paper, but showing this to potential employers first-hand shows that you’re willing to go above and beyond, and that you truly do understand datasets and other data scientist tasks.
Your portfolio project(s) should be demonstrable, covering all typical steps of machine learning and general data science tasks such as collecting and cleaning data, looking for outliers, building models, evaluating models, and drawing conclusions based on your data and findings. Furthermore, go ahead and create a short brief to explain your project(s), to include as a preface to your portfolio.
4. Practicing for interviews is crucial
While your application may land you an interview, your interview is the penultimate deciding factor as to whether or not you get the data science internship. Therefore, it’s essential to prepare the best you can.
There are several things you can do to prepare:
● Research what to expect in the interview.
● Know your project and portfolio like the back of your hand.
● Research common interview questions and company information.
● Practice interview questions and scenarios with a friend or family member.
Let’s break down each of these points further.
Research what to expect in the interview.
Every interview is different, but you can research roughly what to expect. For example, you could educate yourself on the company’s latest policies and events, ongoing initiatives, or their plans for the coming months. Taking the time to research the company will come through in your interview and show the interviewer that you’re dedicated and willing to do the work.
Know your project and portfolio like the back of your hand.
To show your competence and expertise, it’s essential to have a deep and thorough understanding of your project and portfolio. You’ll need to be able to answer any questions your interviewer asks, and provide detailed and knowledgeable answers.
Prior to the interview, familiarize yourself with your project, revisiting past data, experiments, and conclusions. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be.
Research common interview questions and company information.
Most data science internship interviews follow a similar series of questions. Before your interview, research these, create a list of the most popular and difficult questions, and prepare your answers for each question. Even if these exact questions may not come up, similar ones are likely to. Preparing thoughtful answers in advance provides you with the best opportunity to express professional and knowledgeable answers that are sure to impress your interviewers.
This leads us to our next point: practicing these questions.
Practice interview questions and scenarios with a friend or family member.
Once you’ve researched a variety of different questions, try answering these with a friend or family member, ideally in a similar environment as the interview. Practicing your answers to these questions will help you be more confident and less nervous.
Be sure to go over the more difficult questions, just in case they come up in your actual data science internship interview.
Ask whomever is interviewing you (the friend or family member, for example) to ask some of their own questions, too, catching you off guard and forcing you to think on your feet. This too helps you get ready for the interview, since this is likely to happen regardless of how well you prepare.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback
You’re not going to get every data science internship you apply for. Even if you did, you wouldn’t be able to take them all. Therefore, we recommend asking for feedback on your interview and application in general.
If you didn’t land the internship the first time, you can use this feedback and perhaps re-apply at a future date. Most organizations and companies will be happy to offer feedback unless they have policies in place preventing them. With clear feedback, you’ll be able to work on potential weaknesses in your application and interview and identify areas of improvement for next time.
Over time, after embracing and implementing this feedback, you’ll become more confident and better suited to the interview environment — a skill that will undoubtedly help you out later in life.
How do I get a data science job with no experience?
Getting a data science job with no experience will be very difficult. Therefore, we recommend obtaining a degree in a relevant subject (e.g. computer science) if possible and creating your own portfolio to showcase your expertise to potential employers.
What does a data science intern do?
Data science interns perform very similar roles and tasks to full-time data scientists. However, the main difference here is that interns often shadow or work with another data scientist, not alone. As an intern, you can expect to collect and clean data, create experiments, find patterns in data, build algorithms, and more.
Data science internships are few and far between, and landing one can be difficult. But it’s not impossible and the demand for these roles is slowly increasing as the field becomes more popular.
The role of a data scientist intern includes analyzing data, creating experiments, building algorithms, and utilizing machine learning, amongst a variety of other tasks. To successfully get a data science internship, you should begin acquiring the right skills now, customize each application, create your very own portfolio and project, practice for interviews, and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback on unsuccessful applications.
Best of luck to all those applying, and remember: preparation is key.
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.
“digital marketing refers to any marketing methods conducted through electronic devices. This includes online marketing efforts conducted on the internet. In the process of conducting digital marketing, a business might leverage websites, search engines, blogs, social media, video, email and similar channels to reach customers.” This definition includes what I like to call the digital marketing ecosystem.
What’s in the digital marketing ecosystem?
These are the core types of digital marketing around which to plan a digital marketing strategy:
Website / landing pages
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Search engine marketing (SEM)
Photos and visuals
Social media marketing
What is the role of digital marketing?
The digital marketing process starts with determining goals. Are the marketing efforts focused on building brand awareness? Generating and nurturing leads? Increasing conversions? Increasing sales? Increasing website traffic? Be sure the goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely — SMART goals.
For B2B companies, goals tend to be centered around lead generation and lead nurturing. Prospective clients are drawn in via content or inbound marketing and the sales cycle is typically longer. Marketing efforts lead prospects to eventually have a conversation with a member of the sales team. In B2C companies, digital marketing goals are focused on leading the customer through the buyer’s journey as quickly as possible resulting in a purchase. Marketing efforts lead buyers from website visit to sale via CTAs (calls-to-action) and drip email campaigns.
After goals have been determined, an overall digital marketing strategy or plan is mapped out. Digital marketing campaigns are the building blocks by which the overall marketing plan is achieved.
How does the digital marketing process start?
In the customer journey, awareness of your brand is the first step. When consumers begin research to make purchases, where do they typically start? By doing a search online via Google or another search engine. The results serve up websites or other online properties which match their search terms or keywords. This starting point is where you can take proactive steps to help consumers become aware of your brand.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a method of improving your ranking among search results. The higher you rank, the more visible you are to a consumer. SEO best practices include optimizing for keywords and search terms. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is paid advertising to rank higher in search results. SEM may be used together with SEO to increase visibility in search results and drive traffic to a company’s website. If you’ve taken all the appropriate steps to optimize your site, your brand can rank high among the organic results. It’s not a guarantee which is why many brands take advantage of a mix of SEO and SEM efforts.
Content marketing is another avenue which contributes to SEO efforts and by which a brand may be found. What is content marketing? The use of content to educate, inform, and draw in potential clients or buyers. This includes blogs, articles, videos, podcasts, social media posts, webinars, downloadable resources, etc. Using content can lead prospective customers to take a desired action, such as exchanging their email address for a resource or to receive a product discount. To develop the right content marketing strategy, draw upon the SMART goals which were established.
What role does social media play in content marketing? Social media posts can distribute and share content. Social media posts can direct prospects to where you want them to go online. Deciding the channels on which to have a presence depends on who the company wants to reach and connect with. Social media channels, such as Facebook, enable people to build a relationship with a brand. In the buyer’s journey, social media brings awareness of a brand as well as nurture consideration. Further in the journey, social media is a useful tool for brand advocacy.
A company is able to run ads on social media networks for not only brand awareness but also for targeting specific audiences. Most companies will have the Facebook pixel installed on their site. When a prospective customer visits the website and leaves, the pixel enables retargeting via ads in their social feed. Websites typically have cookies installed so that the companies can benefit from targeted online advertising. Their ads are served to potential customers as they move around on the internet visiting other websites.
While visiting a website, an offer for a discount may be made to the potential customer in exchange for their email address. The site visitor gives the company their email address and chooses to opt in to receive messages. The potential customer then receives a series of emails designed to lead them through the buyer’s journey and get to the end goal of a purchase. Or in the B2B space, a piece of content or other resource is offered in exchange for contact information. This begins the lead nurturing process with the end goal of a closed sale.
Each piece of the digital marketing puzzle fits together to make a whole digital marketing strategy which meets a company’s marketing and sales objectives. It’s a digital marketer’s responsibility to determine the right mix which will achieve campaign and overall marketing goals. Along the way, the mix may have to be revised or course-corrected after reviewing metrics and data. This is the beauty of digital marketing — data and metrics are readily available to guide decisions and planning. “Old-school” offline marketing couldn’t offer this. Not only can ROI be determined more accurately, missteps are less costly because the strategy can be revised mid-campaign rather than waiting for results after it’s all said and done. Digital marketing can be effective for any business in any vertical.
Digital Marketing Example
Ansley needs a new vacuum cleaner that cleans not only her carpeting but also works well for her hardwood floors. She searches on Google by typing, “vacuum cleaner for carpet and hardwood floors” and “best vacuum cleaner for carpet and hardwood floor.” ABC Vacuum Cleaner Company is served up at the top of her search results due to their SEO. Ansley clicks on the link which directs her to their website. She looks at a couple of their products and decides she needs to do further research.
Part of her research is asking for recommendations from friends and family on her social media. Ansley goes to Facebook to post that she needs recommendations. While scrolling through her Facebook feed, she sees ads for the specific products she had viewed on ABC’s website. In fact, the ads have an offer of a 10% discount. She clicks on the ad and is led to a landing page which asks for her email address to send her the discount code. Ansley shares her email address. She receives the 10% discount code as promised. She also begins receiving carefully timed email messages in a sequence, crafted to lead her through the buying process.
After doing additional research and visiting other vacuum cleaner companies’ sites, Ansley feels confident that she has enough information to make a purchase. She buys from ABC because they’ve educated her about all the product features (through the email marketing drip campaign) and offered free shipping. ABC’s goal was met by converting a prospective buyer.
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.
While digital marketing books that are rich on tactics continue to be updated and recycled, there are a number that have managed to withstand the test of time. Included in the list below are also the books that every digital marketer should read for developing a well-rounded understanding of behavioral psychology, growth mindset, and a few other areas that will help you stay ahead of the pack.
1. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
It may have first been published in 1984, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a list of best marketing books that doesn’t include this ageless text.
Widely regarded as the marketer’s bible, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” provides a succinct and effective outline for understanding what leads to us making decisions. Cialdini uses storytelling and real-world examples to seamlessly guide readers through six principles of persuasion of which many a marketer have called upon to compose email copy, frame social media ads, and devise practically every memorable marketing campaign in recent history.
While you can’t expect to learn specific channel tactics from this digital marketing book, the application of reciprocity, consistency, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity will ensure your digital marketing strategy is laser-focused on achieving conversion outcomes.
2. Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins
Claude Hopkins was a man far ahead of his time. While A/B testing and statistical significance are commonplace in today’s digital marketing world, Hopkins was teaching early interpretations of these all the way back in 1923 in “Scientific Advertising.”
I find myself regularly returning to this book when looking to return to fundamentals surrounding ad creative and influencing buyers. At just 120 pages, you can almost read it in one go and won’t find a page that doesn’t offer a quick tip applicable to effective digital marketing today.
3. Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson
You will find iterated teachings of “Expert Secrets” within countless social media and digital marketing courses across the internet. Yes, it may have been published 4 years ago (which is like 40 years in digital marketing) but its valuable content is likely to remain a mainstay in the years ahead.
The appeal of “Expert Secrets” is that it provides a practical framework that takes the guesswork out of email marketing, content marketing, and copywriting. It helps you recognise expertise in areas and how your intimate knowledge of a subject can lead to the development of a successful business. Author and ClickFunnels founder Brunson is one of the most recognised figures in the digital marketing world, and the book really reads as a collection of the best practices he has discovered through the constant refinement of his own digital marketing strategy.
While everybody will have unique takeaways from this digital marketing book, I am constantly revisiting his tips towards the end on conducting the perfect webinar. He outlines the structure, the perfect timings between sections, and evergreen tips for keeping audiences engaged — a must read!
4. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
I read this book cover to cover on a plane trip from Sydney to Los Angeles and it’s fair to say it had me, well, hooked!
“Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products” is an excellent product and marketing book for learning what it takes to create habits in consumers. You’ll learn how to create triggers, get customers to take action, reward them, and encourage investment following the fundamentals adopted by many of the world’s leading technology companies. There are few digital marketing books that will provide you with better end-to-end insights into optimising the user journey of your audience.
It’s packed with relevant examples of these techniques in practice and I found it refreshing that author Nir Eyal ended the book with some wise words on how to apply these teachings ethically while keeping your consumer’s well-being top of mind.
5. Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
In my opinion, this is the best book that’s been written on social media marketing strategy thus far. “Jab Jab Right Hook” was my first exposure to the teachings of Gary Vee, and his celebrity status should be of little surprise to those who have read about the common sense approach he preaches here.
The book asserts the importance of social media marketing in today’s landscape while providing a winning blueprint for developing an engaging community that will reward you in the long run. We all want sales, but it’s through adding value to our audience first that we earn the right to ask for something in return.
The audiobook is read by Gary Vee himself and he frequently deviates from the script to adding yet another nugget of social media gold. Whether you’re wanting to learn about creating content specifically for a social media platform or how to build an Instagram following from scratch, you’ll find something here to put into practice.
6. Content Machine by Dan Norris
“Content Machine” is an absolute must read for anyone looking to develop an epic content marketing strategy that drives commercial success.
The book details the exact content marketing strategy used by Norris to build a 7-figure business that was fuelled by an outstanding blog. You’ll learn that there is far more to winning the content marketing game than just creating the most blog posts, and the search engine optimization techniques and tools mentioned by Norris remain as relevant as ever in today’s digital marketing landscape.
7. Lean Analytics by Benjamin Yoskovitz and Alistair Croll
I won this book at a startup event and I’ll admit that the title didn’t win me over at first. However, after a colleague recommended it I decided to give it a try and couldn’t put it down.
I haven’t come across a book that better equips you for doing digital marketing in a tech startup than “Lean Analytics.” You’ll learn how to measure, but more importantly what to measure depending on the stage and focus of the company.
If you’re intimidated by digital marketing jargon such as AARRR, CAC, CTR, and Virality, then this should be your first step. It’s as close to a startup digital marketing textbook as I have found, and will equally help B2B and B2C marketers level up.
8. Permission Marketing by Seth Godin
Any book by Seth Godin is a worthwhile read, but few have influenced my own approach to marketing strategy more than “Permission Marketing.”
While other digital marketing books will jump straight into tactics, Seth’s 1999 guide focuses on the importance of building a relationship with your customer over time. Marketing is most effective once your audience has given you permission to market to them, and to get to this stage we need to provide consistent value from the get-go.
A true highlight of this book for me was the variety of case studies Godin uses in detailing the evolution of marketing over time. You’ll certainly walk away with plenty of things to try for yourself.
9. StoryBrand by Donald Miller
In the words of Donald Miller, “Pretty websites don’t sell things. Words sell things.”
There are plenty of great books on copywriting, including classics like Gary Halbert’s “The Boron Letters” and David Ogilvy’s “Confessions of an Advertising Man.” My personal recommendation however would be to start with “StoryBrand” for a more holistic and modern take on how to delight your customers with your digital marketing creative.
Too often businesses position themselves as the hero in the story. What customers really need is a guide who can help them successfully solve their problems. Miller will help you use content to make your customer the hero of your story and how to create your digital marketing assets accordingly.
10. Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got by Jay Abrahams
This book helps us understand how incredibly simple it is to have an impact on the commercial success of a business.
While they’re not specifically about digital marketing, the teachings of this book will help shift your mindset to one that is always on the lookout for internal growth opportunities. You’ll end up with a range of ideas surrounding email marketing, search engine marketing, social media promotion, and conversion rate optimisation.
Abrahams helps us to identify the value of our customers, what we can do to increase that value, and how to find more of our ideal customers. So simple, yet so very effective!
11. Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug
It’s a mistake to consider a user who gets stuck on our website as foolish. If a potential buyer is unable to complete an action on our website, then it’s on us to change.
“Don’t Make Me Think” is a book you’ll find on virtually every UX designer’s bookcase and with so much of digital marketing depending on an excellent user experience, this is a book we simply can’t ignore. The journey from an ad click to conversion depends on reducing friction, limiting distractions, and maximising accessibility. You won’t find a better guide to achieving this than Krug’s classic, which remains the go-to resource on web design 20 years on from its first publication.
12. Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown
It’s only entered our vernacular in the past decade, but growth hacking has quickly made its way to the top of every company’s digital marketing wishlist. Growth hacking focuses on finding faster and more cost-effective solutions to success, and it’s only fitting that the godfather of the movement’s work makes the list of must-read digital marketing books.
Sean Ellis coined the term growth hacker in a blog post back in 2010, and went on to co-author “Hacking Growth” seven years later alongside renowned marketer Morgan Brown. The book walks through the humble beginnings of some of today’s biggest companies — Airbnb, Facebook, Uber — and the methodology behind their unprecedented growth.
You won’t find a better methodology for attaining, retaining, engaging, and motivating customers than “Hacking Growth.” It will completely change the way you approach your digital marketing strategy and help you to use data to deliver driving cost-effective results.
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.
As the owner of a startup, you are going to wear many hats. The roles you’ll assume may include project manager, paralegal, bookkeeper, and perhaps most challenging of all — digital marketer. Becoming a successful digital marketer requires some strategic and technical skills that might be a bit new to you since there’s a dizzying array of digital marketing tools at your disposal. From search engine optimization (SEO) management, to ad builders, to analytics packages, choosing and integrating the right set of digital marketing tools will be one of your first hills to climb.
The quality of your digital marketing will help shape the perception and ultimate success of your business, so establishing and growing a well executed digital presence can’t be overstated. To illustrate just how far the exposure of your online presence can reach, take a look at a these statistics:
According to Verisign as of August 2020, there were 370.1 million domain name registrations across all top-level domains (.com, net, .org, .co, etc.) and domain name registrations grew by 15.3 million (up 4.3%) vs. August 2019.
According to Hubspot as of January of 2020, there were 2.6 billion monthly active Facebook users, and roughly two-thirds of U.S. adults report that they are Facebook users.
In 2023, Instagram is projected to reach 120.3 million monthly active users in the U.S., up from 107.2 million users in 2019.
In an always-connected world that contains a vast multitude of digital properties, the challenge is obvious. How does your startup break through all the noise that currently exists online? Moreover, how can your business gain customers with so many other companies online vying for attention? The simply put but less easily achievable answer to digital marketing for startups is proper planning and precise execution.
This article will walk you through some of the most important steps in creating and managing a successful digital marketing plan for your startup. While the methodologies presented here are based on years of research and practical experience, it’s important to note that this is not a comprehensive guide to all of your digital marketing practices. The concepts offered here should be individually researched, vetted, and planned out. Deeper dives into these and other digital marketing topics are also part of General Assembly’s Digital Marketing Course.
Quick note: Throughout this article, we’ll use the term digital property instead of website when the concept being presented extends to both websites and mobile applications.
Marketing Funnel Overview
Before we get started, let’s take a look at a fundamental marketing concept. Many people have heard the word funnel used in one business context or another. A marketing funnel is a representation of how customers engage with your brand through all of their interactions with you. A customer’s life cycle generally starts with finding a business, then utilizing that business, and then (hopefully) becoming a repeat customer and a brand advocate. The most effective marketing campaigns are deliberately built around a specific phase in the marketing funnel. As your company and your digital marketing mature, make sure to focus on the specific area of the marketing funnel you are planning campaigns for.
How to Approach Digital Marketing for Your Startup
“Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.”
– Thomas Edison
As a startup, your initial marketing efforts will be focused on the top and middle sections of the marketing funnel: awareness, consideration, and conversion. Begin your digital marketing plans by identifying the funnel section you’re targeting. And while you should give proper thought and planning to each digital marketing strategy you will use, it’s acceptable, and even advisable, to use several strategies at the same time. We’ll take a closer look at strategy planning and execution in a moment.
In this part of our journey, we can think of your digital marketing program like a building. What you put together can look really nice, but if it’s not built on a solid foundation, you could be wasting time and money on a structure that will ultimately fail you. The following three steps are a high-level guide for constructing a solid and well-functioning digital marketing program for your startup. We’ll start with describing the foundation, then the framing, and lastly we will touch on the wiring, the walls, and decor.
1. The Foundation: Create Your Personas
The American Marketing Association defines marketing as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” As digital marketers, the ways in which we accomplish this lofty mission are where our skills, talents, and creativity are put to the test. Too often, would-be digital marketers approach campaign planning by looking at their industry (or the world) through their own eyes instead of their customer’s. Without exception, empathy, or the ability to understand someone else’s situation or feelings, is a primary and fundamental skill for every marketer.
Creating personas offers a way to step outside of yourself and create a typical customer you can view the world through. There are many ways to develop personas. Most personas are created using the demographics, behaviors, and attitudes of some of your typical customers, and may also include a picture to add to the subject’s realism. Xtensio provides a free online template you can use to build personas with. Lay your digital marketing foundation with a group of personas that represent the various facets of your business.
One very effective tool for building personas involves creating empathy maps that help you diagram how a customer thinks and feels about the industry your business is in. Empathy maps are built with data that you gather through both qualitative research (like surveys and interviews) and quantitative data (like web analytics or testing tools). UX Booth has a very good guide for developing empathy maps that you can use to build your personas.
2. Define Your Marketing Strategies
Marketing strategies map out exactly how you want to execute your digital marketing. Before you start planning your marketing strategies, however; you need a clear picture of your business objectives and your marketing objectives; the measurable goals you have for your business for a specific timeframe. Business objectives define the goals you have for the business, and may include areas outside of digital marketing in your business. Below are a few examples of measurable and time-based business objectives:
Our business objective is to sell 20 new software licenses in the 3rd quarter.
Our business objective is to increase sales on custom t-shirts by 10% during the month of November.
Our business objective is to gain 10 new clients this year.
Marketing objectives are goals that support the business objectives. Your objectives are the maps for your digital marketing to follow, so make sure you have realistic business objectives before you start this journey. The timelines will be the same, but the measurements will be based on the digital marketing activities you engage. Below are some marketing objective examples to support the business objectives above:
Our marketing objective is to drive 1000 visitors to our website in the 3rd quarter.
Our marketing objective is to drive 2500 visitors to our custom t-shirt landing page.
Our marketing objective is to increase the number of visitors who fill out our contact us form by 50%.
Defining marketing objectives requires data in order to understand what goals are feasible and realistic. Since most startups don’t have a statistically significant dataset of their own yet, we can use industry standards to build our marketing objectives. Per technology industry standards, we know that roughly for every 100 visitors to our website, we can expect 2 licenses sold (more about conversion rates later). This means we will need at least 1000 visitors to our website in the 3rd quarter to sell the 20 software licenses we need to. Granted, this is a high-level example, but the point here is you will need to use some detective and math skills to arrive at goals for your marketing objectives. Knowing your objectives will be necessary for the campaign-building tools inside of social media and Google Ads.
Remember, when you put objectives and strategies together, your business objectives inform your marketing objectives; and your marketing objectives inform your marketing strategies.
Choosing Strategies to Use
It is important when building out your digital marketing strategy to prioritize your efforts. You can apply an 80 / 20 rule to define your marketing strategies where 80% of your marketing efforts will be conversion strategies and 20% will be awareness and consideration strategies. The digital marketing analytics you collect will over time reveal the specific approaches that work best for your business.
Awareness and Consideration Strategies
Awareness and consideration are strategies that are designed to get the word out about your business and more specifically, your business’s value proposition. Well established businesses often use awareness and consideration strategies to bolster themselves to what are called love brands.
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO, also called Organic Search) is the practice of optimizing web pages to rank best on search engine results pages (SERPs). Google has over 200 considerations for how it ranks pages with updates to its algorithms happening all the time. Keeping up with these changes can be a daunting task, but the value of a high ranking on Google cannot be understated. Make optimizing your SEO for branded searches (i.e. for your company’s name) your first priority and then focus on applicable keywords for your website. Tools like Google’s Search Console can help you make sure your digital properties follow best practices for SEO.
An important note about SEO:While search engine optimization is certainly a viable top-of-funnel strategy, organic search should be a standard and ongoing practice for every startup. Your rank with Google not only increases your brand’s visibility and reach, but it also promotes trust and confidence in your brand. Kent SEO expounds on five compelling reasons why SEO is so important:
User-friendly websites that result in faster and more responsive pages.
More customers from your increased exposure.
Better conversion rates from your increased exposure.
Increased brand awareness with higher rankings.
Ability to bypass competition with higher rankings.
Content Marketing involves creating social media and blog posts that help establish yourself as an authority or thought leader for your industry. One of the best ways for startups to break through the pack in their industry is to focus their content on niche topics and capitalize on the niche keywords. In this way, writing for the web and creating social media posts combines both strategy and purpose. Your posts should always make use of the keywords you are targeting while reflecting the proper tone and voice for your audience. If you are using Google Analytics to measure your digital efforts, make sure to add UTM codes to links in your social media posts so you can track the effectiveness of the traffic that comes to your digital property. You can use a tool like the Google Keyword Planner to help you decide what keywords will be most effective for your posts.
Social Media Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is a more recent phenomenon amongst digital marketing strategies, and as such, there are a lot of differing opinions on approaches and effectiveness. According to Linqia, nearly 39% of marketers increased their influencer marketing budgets in 2019.
One of the major pitfalls to watch out for are people who use fake — or even paid for — followers to try and pass themselves off as influencers. Startups also have to be careful about the bonafide influencers they partner with. Certainly not all influencers are a good representation of all brands. Ensure that having an individual influencer promote your brand does not damage your reputation. If you are considering influencer marketing, give some thought to the type of influencer that will fit your brand and marketing budget best, and then thoroughly research the influencers in that category.
Social media influencer categories are not an exact science and there is no governance around these definitions, but below is a generally accepted hierarchy of social media influencers:
Elite Influencers While top-tier celebrity personalities with over 50 million followers have the largest reach and arguably hold the most sway over consumers, celebrity endorsements are also the most difficult and most expensive endorsements for a startup to secure. Media personality Kylie Jenner has over 197 million followers on Instagram, and according to Business Insider, she commands an astounding $1.2 million per sponsored post. While $1.2 million is well out of budget for most startups, major established brands find top-tier influencer endorsements invaluable, especially when one post from someone like Jenner can garner over tens of millions of engagements.
Mega Influencers Mega Influencers with over 5 million followers are lofty goals for most startups as well. YouTube personality Casey Neistat has over 12 million subscribers to his channel, and he will often demo products like drones for brands that have mass appeal. You may want to look for a mega-influencer if your product or service has a relatively high price point.
Macro Influencers While engagements with Macro Influencers (people with over 50,000 followers) can still be relatively expensive, these can be good potential fits for influencers that match your brand identity or niche. DJ Jazzy Jeff’s promotion for Serato Studio is a perfect example of a macro-influencer matching a niche market.
Micro Influencers Local musicians, community activists, regional figures, and content providers can provide excellent endorsements with the right match. Partnering with a cooking personality like Tiffy Chen who has over 12,000 followers and 12 million likes on TikTok, having could bring excellent results for your business.
Loyalists These are followers, customers, fans, etc. that have moved all the way along the marketing sales funnel and are now devoted to your brand. Promoting advocacy campaigns with these influencers can prove invaluable when your startup has enough traction to start looking at bottom of the funnel strategies.
Every digital property should have a conversion point (sales, downloads, contact us, etc.) and conversion marketing strategies should be geared towards getting visitors to that conversion point with as few distractions as possible. For example, a Facebook ad that features a product should send people to a product page where that item can be purchased directly. Likewise, a Google Search Ad for a service business should lead users directly to a page that contains information about the service and a contact page to sign up or get more information.
Your conversion rate can be thought of as the number of conversions you have divided by entries to your digital property. So if you have 1000 entries to your website that resulted in 100 purchases, your website’s conversion rate is 10%. Conversion rates are very site specific, so a 1% conversion rate may be phenomenal to some sites, while 50% may be perfect for others.
While SEO is technically a strategy for free placement on a SERP, Search Engine Marketing (SEM, also called Paid Search) is where you pay for SERP placement. SEM still employs the techniques of choosing the proper keywords, however, your SERP listing also comes from outbidding competitors for space on a page. SEM can get expensive for popular and generic (“broad”) keywords, so it is important to capitalize on the niche keywords mentioned earlier to give you the best results. Since SEM is most-often a conversion strategy, paid ads should almost always send users directly to a landing page to complete the conversion.
There are several bidding strategies for running SEM ads, but the most common is the cost per click (CPC) method. With the CPC method, you pay when a person clicks your ad according to the current rate for a keyword. This rate fluctuates during the day, so the number of times your ad is shown and the cost when someone clicks the ad is all factored by a search engine’s algorithms. Each click then counts against the ad budget you set for the ad.
Social Media Paid Advertising
Social media paid ads on channels like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and now even TikTok are a lot like SEM. Like SEM, placing ads on social media requires keyword research, ad design, and bidding. The advantage of social media advertising is the ability to target ads on a much more granular audience than SEM. In addition to the areas and keywords that you can target with SEM, social media ads allow you to narrow your target audience by demographics like marital status and ethnicity; and sociographics like gender identification, religion, and political affiliations. Building these precise audiences comes from the massive amounts of data social media platforms collect. As people interact with social media, they contribute data points that provide the basis for the campaigns we create.
Much like Google Ads, the most common bid strategy for social media is cost per click (CPC); although some businesses choose the cost per mille (CPM) method where you essentially pay for the number of impressions (views) your ad gets. The CPM method can be advantageous for brand awareness campaigns. You can look at the potential effect of different bidding strategies as you are setting up social media marketing campaigns.
Retargeting / Remarketing
Social media advertising, email marketing, and display ads all work extremely well for retargeting strategies. Retargeting is basically a marketing campaign that launches based on a user’s previous behavior. For example, you can trigger ads for specific people on Facebook based on what they did on your site. So if a person visits your site, places an item in a cart, but does not complete the purchase, you can have an ad served on Facebook for that product and/or send the visitor a personalized reminder email to come back and complete the purchase.
While the terms “retargeting” and “remarketing” are sometimes used interchangeably, the main difference is retargeting is mostly about serving ads to potential customers based on cookies while remarketing is usually based on email.
3. Measure and Optimize
One of the most important aspects of digital marketing is having a mechanism to measure success and there are several tools you can integrate into your digital properties. While Adobe Analytics, Chartbeat, and Decibel are all good paid solutions, Google Analytics is a free digital analytics solution and the most-used analytics package in the world. According to Nerdy Data, there are 3.4 million instances of Google Analytics installed across the web.
One the most important aspects of a digital analytics tool Google Analytics is its ability to measure the effectiveness of your marketing channels. Marketing channels are the various ways visitors get to your digital property (SEO, SEM, social, etc). For example, using the UTM codes mentioned earlier, you can track social media channels to their conversion points and you can see how different social media posts result in different online behaviors. Google Analytics also allows you to measure other important online behaviors for your properties like:
How many times were specific pages visited?
What was the average time spent on a specific page?
How many times did visitors leave a specific page without any other site interactions?
The key to digital marketing for your startup is the proper planning and precise execution of top and mid funnel marketing strategies. Start your marketing plans by creating empathy maps to and building personas that represent your potential customers. Understand your business objectives, and let those inform your marketing objectives. Use your marketing objectives to guide your marketing strategies.
The top of funnel (awareness and consideration) marketing strategies we covered included search engine optimization, content marketing, influencer marketing, and display advertising. The mid-funnel (conversion) marketing strategies we covered included search engine marketing, social media advertising, and retargeting.
Remember that proper measurement is a mandatory component to any of your marketing efforts. Measurement advises how your current efforts are performing and informs you how to proceed with future marketing strategies.
Lastly, startups need an effective way to select and integrate the digital marketing tools they will need. Gathering your marketing tools under one umbrella creates what is often referred to as a marketing technology stack (or martech stack). While companies like Mailchimp, Hubspot, and Constant Contact are excellent email service providers, they are also fully integrated digital marketing platforms that allow you to manage almost every aspect of your digital marketing strategies in one place. Companies like these are excellent ways to gain a prebuilt martech stack.