The demand for digital marketing has exploded; just two years ago the United States projected to approach $120 billion on digital marketing spending by 2021. As you might imagine, those projections were far surpassed. As this rampant growth continues, digital marketers are struggling to maintain a firm grasp on industry developments. There are so many moving parts in digital marketing that it's almost a chore to keep track of all the emerging channels and software advances. But that's what makes things harder because the key to keeping a competitive edge in digital marketing is continually educating yourself. Below are seven simple tips to stay up to speed as a digital marketer.
Why Do Digital Marketers Need to Keep Track of Industry Changes?
"It doesn't take long for a marketing strategy to become outdated. This makes it all the more important for digital marketers to stay abreast of the changes and know exactly how they will affect your business."
- Jaykishan Panchal, Business.com
Consumers are more savvy and sophisticated than ever. They sniff out tired marketing strategies and spot canned approaches from a ball field away. That means prospects can pick up on mistakes made by novice marketers, who don't adapt to marketing technology as it evolves. Unfortunately, failing to stay on top of industry changes can quickly set your business back. Public Relations specialist Fabrizio Moreira outlines some key consequences of failing to stay on top of marketing technology changes:
- A tarnished industry reputation
- Inability to achieve your full potential as a marketer
- Failure to reach a broad audience
- Poor online reviews from customers
- Lack of access to the best opportunities and customers
How Do You Keep Your Edge in Digital Marketing?
Being passive with your marketing can land your business in hot water. The good news? You can actively use several tips to stay up to speed as a digital marketer and maintain your position as an industry expert.
1) Be Active on Social Media
As a digital marketer, you already live on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. But you might not be capitalizing on some of their best resources. Today's social media platforms are full of eye-opening articles by top marketing minds. A few of my favorite tips:
- Make a list of the most influential marketers who regularly post on LinkedIn and Twitter
- Allot at least 30 minutes per day to find and read articles by your favorite influencers
- Use LinkedIn Pulse to customize the influencers, news, and articles that are most relevant
- Use and follow hashtags to stay up to date on trending topics
2) Participate in Key Industry Trade Shows
Trade shows and conferences offer exposure to groundbreaking digital marketing strategies. Another perk? They also provide opportunities to network with digital marketing influencers. While there are countless events to check out, a few tops the list. Don't miss these top digital marketing trade shows:
- Confab: Confab helps digital marketers improve their content and deliver stellar user experiences. The Minneapolis-based show is usually held in late April and focuses on optimizing analytics, improving content design for AI and bots, and optimizing workflows.
- DigiMarCon East: Held in May, DigiMarCon East showcases the top digital marketing experts from companies like Microsoft, Oracle, and HubSpot. Attendees can choose from sessions on boosting brand awareness, increasing traffic, and the latest digital tools.
- INBOUND: Hubspot's annual INBOUND conference in Boston provides attendees with immersive learning environments and discussions on the latest inbound marketing techniques. But it's not all about learning. The conference features a stand-up comedy show and appearances by A-List speakers like Michelle Obama and Katie Couric.
3) Register for Online Digital Marketing Courses
"In a world where change is constant, there is a perpetual need to learn new skills, acquire knowledge and gain qualifications that are relevant in today's technologically driven marketplace. In such a competitive and time-starved world, online learning provides people with the tools to add value to their current skill set and broaden their horizons without the constraints of time or place."
- Clodagh O'Brien, The Digital Marketing Institute
Digital marketing is multi-faceted, so there are dozens of specialties and career paths to choose from. One of the best tips to stay up to speed as a digital marketer is to explore the online courses offered by Hubspot Academy, Adkills, and Digital Marketer Lab. Many of these resources are free, too, including the ones listed below by Convertful:
- Hubspot Academy Inbound Marketing Certification: I bet you've seen other companies talking about team members being inbound certified. Hubspot's course covers topics ranging from blogging to conversational growth strategy.
- Google Digital Garage: Want to level up your networking game? How about developing a solid online presence? Those are just two topics covered by Google Digital Garage
- WordStream PPC University: PPC still has value in digital marketing. Thanks to WordStream, marketers can access webinars and whitepapers to build their PPC skills.
- Alison Marketing Courses: Sometimes it helps to get some variety. Alison courses cover marketing management, public relations, and social media marketing.
- Coursera is a massive online learning platform for any and every aspect of business you desire. You can learn a specific company's approach to a specific business operation if you would like, or gain professional certifications from organizations like google.
4) Monitor Competitors
Keeping an eye on your competitors ensures that you stay ahead of their marketing tactics. And you can do it in several ways, too. One easy step? Start by monitoring their websites. You can also sign up for Google alerts to know when competitors post blogs, videos, and other content. Use sites and services like tools like BuiltWith to identify their marketing software stack.
Of course, you can also fly under the radar and keep an eye on which trade shows they attend and which new customers they serve. Other quick tips? Read online reviews to identify your competitors' strengths and weaknesses, and take note of their industry awards.
5) Join Community-Based Marketing Groups
Community-based marketing groups are often overlooked. You can learn plenty, but more importantly, you get opportunities to connect with local marketers who might be able to give guidance on challenging issues. Join these groups to learn what strategies are working for local leaders and which techniques they've abandoned as their digital strategy has evolved.
A few steps will maximize your participation in local marketing groups:
- Register with your local chamber of commerce. Stay active by attending networking meetings and ribbon-cutting ceremonies.
- Join existing local marketing associations. Turn to your local Small Business Association (SBA) for some ideas.
- Create your own marketing group for topics you're passionate about.
6) Set Up an RSS Feed Reader
Feed readers are valuable, but they're often overlooked tools for digital marketers to use to remain in the know about industry trends. RSS feeds deliver content from the internet to you. That might include journal articles, podcasts or social media posts. Duke University Press highlights some advantages of RSS feed readers:
"The advantage of RSS feeds is that you don't have to constantly monitor all the websites that you follow. The new content comes straight to you on an RSS feed reader like Digg Reader or Feedly, which are both great apps and typically free."
- Duke University Press
Feedly is one feed reader that's popular because it's mobile-friendly and provides a user-friendly reading experience. You can easily bookmark your favorite articles and share them with friends and colleagues. This and other RSS feed readers keep you organized as you receive and review online content.
7) Share Your Knowledge
One of the best ways to keep your skills sharp is to share what you know about digital marketing. Try signing up as a presenter for a local marketing conference or publishing articles on your blog or LinkedIn. You can also offer to be a college or university guest speaker. Regularly sharing your knowledge gives you even more motivation to stay on top of the latest industry trends.
Be Active to Achieve Digital Marketing Greatness
Digital marketing excellence does not unfold on its own. Success comes with a proactive approach—reading, networking and actively participating in trade shows and marketing groups. Professional development activities and regular reviews of articles on social media can also help. Follow these tips to stay up to speed as a digital marketer, and you'll become a leading force in the industry.