The demand for digital marketers has exploded, with the United States projected to approach $120 billion on digital marketing spending by the year 2021. As this growth continues, an increasing number of digital marketers are struggling to maintain a firm grasp on the latest industry developments. There are so many moving parts in the digital marketing realm that it can feel like an insurmountable task to remain abreast of all of the emerging channels and software advances. The key to maintaining a competitive edge in the digital marketing industry is to continually educate yourself so you can always put your best foot forward. Below are seven simple tips for staying up to speed as a digital marketer.
Why is it so important for digital marketers to stay abreast 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“It doesn’t take long for a marketing strategy to become outdated.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
Today’s consumers are more savvy and sophisticated than ever. They seem to have a sixth sense for outdated marketing strategies, and are quick to recognize canned approaches. Prospects can pick up on mistakes made by novice marketers, who often fail to realize that marketing technology is evolving every day. Unfortunately, this failure to stay on top of industry changes can quickly set your business back in more ways than one. Public Relations specialist Fabrizio Moreira outlines some key consequences of failing to remain on top of the latest marketing technology:
- 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
What can you do to remain on the cutting edge of the digital marketing industry?
While the hazards of a passive approach to marketing can land your business in hot water, the good news is that there are some specific steps you can take to maintain your position as an industry expert. Here are seven steps designed to help digital marketers remain on the cutting edge of the digital marketing industry.
1) Remain active on Social Media and LinkedIn
As a digital marketing professional, you likely already have an established presence on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. However, you might not be capitalizing on some of the resources that are available to you. Today’s social media platforms are full of eye-opening articles prepared by today’s top marketing minds. Some tips for maximizing your social media experience include the following:
- Prepare a list of the most influential marketers who regularly post on LinkedIn and Twitter
- Allocate at least 30 minutes per day to read articles published by the influencers on your list
- Use LinkedIn Pulse to customize the influencers, news, and articles that are most relevant to your industry
- Use specific hashtags to stay up to date on trending topics on Twitter and LinkedIn
2) Participate in key industry trade shows
Industry trade shows and conferences offer exposure to the latest groundbreaking digital marketing strategies recommended by industry leaders. They also provide an exciting venue to network with digital marketing influencers and establish valuable connections. Here is a brief look at a few of the top digital marketing trade shows held in the United States:
- Confab: The primary aim of Confab is to help digital marketers improve their content and deliver a stellar user experience. Held in Minneapolis, the show focuses on optimizing analytics, improving content design for AI and bots, and optimizing workflows. Confab is typically held at the end of April.
- DigiMarCon East: Held in May, DigiMarCon East offers an impressive collection of digital marketing experts from companies such as Microsoft, Oracle, and HubSpot. Attendees can choose from sessions on boosting brand awareness, increasing traffic, and the latest cutting-edge digital tools.
- INBOUND: INBOUND is known for providing attendees with immersive learning environments and innovative discussions that focus on the latest inbound marketing techniques. Additionally, the show is known for having its own stand-up comedy show and for featuring A-List speakers such as 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 so multi-faceted that there are now dozens of clearly defined specialties and career paths within the digital marketing realm. If you would like to sharpen your expertise in one or more of these specialties, you can enhance your competencies by exploring some of the online courses and resources offered by Hubspot Academy, Adkills, and Digital Marketer Lab. Many of these resources, including those specified below by the Convertful team, are free of charge:
- Hubspot Academy Inbound Marketing Certification: This popular course covers topics from blogging to conversational growth strategy.
- Google Digital Garage: Networking and developing a solid online presence are two of the topics covered by Google Digital Garage
- WordStream PPC University: Marketers have access to webinars and whitepapers that help them build their PPC skills
- Alison Marketing Courses: Topics covered include marketing management, public relations, and social media marketing
4) Monitor your competitors
Keeping an eye on your fiercest competitors will help ensure that you stay a step ahead of their marketing tactics at all times. There are many ways to monitor your competitors, beginning with regular reviews of their website. You can also sign up for Google alerts so you can learn when your competitors have posted blogs, videos, and other content. Other subtle ways to keep an eye on their progress include monitoring which trade shows they are attending and which new customers they are now serving. You can also read online reviews to identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Be sure to note any industry awards they receive.
5) Join local community-based marketing groups
Community-based marketing groups are often overlooked as a valuable forum for learning. Even more importantly, you can connect with local marketing masterminds who can provide you with the firsthand guidance that you may need to tackle a particularly challenging issue. You can learn what new strategies are working for local leaders and which techniques they have abandoned as their digital strategy has evolved. Steps you can take to maximize your participation in local marketing groups are as follows:
- Step One: Register with your local chamber of commerce. Remain active by attending networking meetings and ribbon-cutting ceremonies.
- Step Two: Join existing local marketing associations. Your local Small Business Association (SBA) can provide a starting list of groups.
- Step Three: Create your own customized marketing group dedicated to topics you are passionate about.
6) Set up an RSS feed reader
Feed readers are another valuable but overlooked tool that digital marketers can use to remain in-the-know about the latest digital marketing trends. An RSS feed is a service that delivers content from the internet to you. The content can take the form of a journal article, podcast, or social media post. Users can review content on a weekly basis or more frequently if they wish. Duke University Press highlights some of the primary 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 an example of a feed reader that is popular due to its mobile-friendly design and user-friendly reading experience. Feedly also allows you to easily bookmark your favorite articles and e-mail relevant information to friends and colleagues. In a nutshell, Feedly and other RSS feed readers will help you stay organized as you receive and review online content.
7) Share your knowledge
One of the best ways to keep your knowledge base and skills sharp is to share information about your favorite areas of digital marketing expertise. You can do this by signing up to be a presenter at a local marketing conference and by publishing articles on your blog or on LinkedIn. You can also offer to be a guest speaker at a local college or university. By regularly committing to share your knowledge, you will be prompted to remain abreast of the latest industry trends.
The Bottom Line
Digital marketing excellence does not unfold on its own. Success is best achieved with a proactive approach that involves reading, networking, and active participation in trade shows and marketing groups. Professional development activities and regular reviews of articles on social media will also help you stay up to speed in the rapidly evolving marketing landscape. By following the steps outlined above, you can help establish yourself as a leading force in the digital marketing industry.
This article first appeared on Jefflizik.com