Note: This piece is based on work largely written by Jon Bishop, former Director of Growth at Heap and the CEO of Better Marketing Decisions.
Digital marketing encompasses a huge variety of tactics, tools, and platforms – and learning all of them doesn’t happen overnight. There’s a ton of material out there, and most of it is niche-specific; there are very few comprehensive guides on the entirety of digital marketing, and how to apply the different tactics within it.
Below you’ll find an outline of all the topics you should learn and the exhaustive, free course behind it. By the end of this article, you’ll have a broad understanding of digital marketing topics, and an organized learning path set for you to learn digital marketing.
Fundamentals and strategy
Strategy is the structure/foundation to your marketing work. It helps you prioritize your marketing projects and measure their progress.
Lots of people skip past strategy and go straight to marketing tactics – that’s a mistake. Strategy is the most important piece of effective marketing work. You have to understand the strategic foundation behind marketing before you can apply it to digital marketing tactics.
When it comes to digital marketing, branding is often an afterthought as the effect of branding work is hard to measure and digital marketing is so focused on data. This is a mistake though, as consumers expect a buying experience consistent with what they desire. Great brands still win out online, whether corporate or personal. You’ll want to understand exactly what makes for good branding if you want to master digital marketing.
A company’s value proposition is the reason people buy a product from them. It comes in the form of a statement that summarizes why a consumer should buy a product or use a service. You should be able to finely hone down your value proposition to excel at digital marketing.
Messaging is the foundation of how you speak to your customers. It includes how you want them to see your product against competitors, which is called positioning. Your messaging strategy will include certain words that appeal to your audience while avoiding those that don’t.
Campaigns and channels
Marketing campaigns and channels are key components to any marketing strategy. Marketing campaigns are marketing projects with a specific theme. Marketing channels are the mediums through which marketing campaigns are pushed.
Measurement and metrics
Once you’ve grasped marketing fundamentals, you should move onto learning about metrics and how to measure the effectiveness of what you’re doing. You can’t improve what you can’t measure. This is why measuring the effects of your marketing work is a foundational topic for Digital Marketing. Data helps you optimize your current work and to guides you towards new opportunities. From improved targeting with your ads to writing the copy that improves your referral rate by 50%, Data plays a part in all areas of marketing.
Metrics are the specific data points or combinations of data points that give insight into the health of your business. This is why getting your metrics right is so essential to your work in marketing. You should learn how things like churn, lifetime value, and customer acquisition cost work with each other to impact your business.
Attribution is the process of assigning value to marketing channels. It’s a surprisingly complex process as very few customers buy online without having touched two or more channels. There are many models used to determine which channels to credit and how much credit to give them – deciding the right attribution model will help you determine where to spend your budget.
Analytics is the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data. Analytics software allows you to more easily discover these patterns by tracking your metrics. Analytics make monitoring the key areas of your application and determining the weak points and providing feedback as you test out new improvements.
You know which metrics you’re going to track. Your analytics software is set up. Now you need to make sense of your data. This is where data analysis comes in. Make sure that you’re able to understand your data and use it to answer any marketing questions you might have.
Conversion Rate Optimization
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) involves experimenting with changes to your website and product to achieve higher rates of conversion, measuring small changes and seeing how users react to them. CRO allows you to get more out of what you already have. It’s one of the main tools of growth hacking. CRO isn’t magic, though. It requires a lot of hard work to see gains and the process includes far more failures than successes.
A landing page is the first page a visitor hits when they come to your site. Landing pages are the Walmart greeters of your site. They set the mood for how a potential customer expects their interaction with your company to go.
Funnels are made up of a series of steps with a certain percentage of people dropping off at each step down. They are widest at the top where you will be working with the most people. Funnels provide a very helpful structure for viewing the paths your customers take in buying and using your product.
Marketing experiments and conversions
When working on conversion, you will run experiments. The most common form is the simple A/B test where a control and a variable of an element are tested. The more items you test (such as a headline, image, CTA button, etc.) the more complicated your test becomes. These are called multivariate tests where multiple page items are tested at once. We always recommend you start with A/B testing and keep things simple in the beginning.
Now that you have the analytical framework and marketing foundation to build on, it’s time to look into digital marketing tactics. Organic marketing channels are those that don’t require money to produce results. They are popular because they can be utilized with little cost compared to paid advertising, though they require more time and employee resources to bear results.
Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing content such as blog posts, guides, and tutorials to drive actions in your target market. While content marketing typically takes longer to produce results than other approaches, it often drives higher quality leads through your marketing funnels.
When you go to Google and search for something, you’re seeing the results of SEO or Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the process of trying to get your webpages higher in search results. The beauty of SEO is that you’re appearing in front of customers who have a clear interest in what you’re selling.
Social media marketing
When you see a company’s Facebook post or their tweet you’re seeing their social media marketing at work. Social media marketing uses channels such as Facebook or Youtube to reach potential customers.
At smaller companies, there often isn’t much of a budget to use paid channels. At medium to large companies, though, advertising is almost universally used and can bring in the majority of business depending on the product.
Paid search (Google AdWords)
Paid search involves the ads that you see at the top and bottom of search results. A marketer will do research on the keyword searches they want their ads to appear on and then create ads to market to people searching for those terms. There’s a large focus on Google’s Search Ad program, AdWords as it has significantly more reach than competing programs such as Bing.
Paid social media (Facebook)
When Facebook first started advertising, many marketing people were sceptical of the efficiency of its ads. Facebook was considered a casual hangout where people were just interested in interacting with their friends instead of products. Over the years, it’s become clear this perception is wrong as more and more companies use Facebook ads to efficiently drive sales.
Display ads (Google Display Network)
Before social ads or even search ads became an option, there were display ads. Display ads are the ad images you see across the web. It’s more common for small companies to start with a specific display technique called retargeting (or remarketing in Google’s case) as it will show ads to people who have already been to your site and is more effective.
Other marketing channels
There are many other marketing channels available than those listed above and new ones, such as Snapchat, are popping up every day. In this section, we’ll cover a few of the more common channels that marketers have been using to drive business over the years.
Email marketing involves the use of email as a channel to interact with potential and current customers. Even after all these years since the first marketing email was sent, email is still a highly preferred medium among customers and an efficient way of driving business.
In an affiliate program, a website (affiliate partner) will link to a product page and try to drive traffic there to buy it. They do this because the affiliate program pays them each time a sale is made. Many ecommerce sites offer them and they are rising in popularity among subscription software companies. You can use affiliate marketing to drive customers at a price point you control.
Referral marketing is the process of getting your current customers to refer others to buy from you. Referral programs are common and you’ve probably interacted with one before if you’re an Uber or Dropbox customer.
Hopefully this article has given you an organized way to think about learning digital marketing. If you want to access free resources for each topic, check out the Springboard Digital Marketing Learning Path. If you’d like to work through real-life digital marketing situations with somebody who is an expert in the field, check out Springboard’s Digital Marketing Career Track. With an expertly curated curriculum, individualized mentorship from mentors that have worked at Times Warner, Facebook, Twitter and more, and personalized career coaching, you’ll be ready to take the next step in your career.
Guest Author: Kayleigh Karutis, Content Strategy Lead, Springboard
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Springboard, but as always I am dedicated to providing content that is helpful and valuable to the reading audience.