Every business on earth needs online marketing to be profitable. The customer journey is data-driven and you have to stay informed to gain a competitive edge. Digital marketing is dynamic. Every day, a new prototype, a new app, a new technology shifts our paradigm and alters everything we thought we knew about how to get people to buy things online.
Whether you choose free courses through Google or take a more buttoned-up approach at Penn Foster, the idea is that you’re taking action.
It’s about testing and re-testing theories that can help you grow and scale your business from the get-go. So, if you want to be a master of online marketing in the next six months, the only question left is “when do you want to begin?”
Let’s dive in.
Educational Marketing Options
Blog posts and ebooks are a great place to start but to get ahead of the competition, you’ll need to do a deeper dive into what is truly affecting your business. Therefore, it’s important to explore all educational options when it comes to digital marketing.
Self-paced online learning takes all the guesswork out of trying to build your own curriculum. In most cases, the classes you’ll need are offered free of charge by industry leaders who designed some of the protocols you’ll be learning.
What’s great is you can take as many courses, as often as you’d like. New lectures are added almost as quickly as changes are implemented so if you don’t see something you like, wait five minutes.
What’s not so great: You’ll have to build your curriculum on your own if you choose to take any additional classes à la Carte. In the beginning, you’ll want to stick with the courses as they’re laid out in your certificate plan. As you master those, move on to more advanced classes if they’re offered.
Check out this short list of websites offering learning resources:
Google Digital Garage
Google Digital Marketing Course – You’ve heard of Google. What you might not have heard of is their course in online marketing. Over the past 8 years, 100,000 people from over 100 countries have taken the course.
It offers modules covering topics like:
- Introductory Digital Marketing
- Search Engine Marketing
- Search Advertising
- Display Advertising
- Video Marketing
Not only are the courses comprehensive, but students also receive a $250 Google AdWords budget to spend over three weeks. They use it to run a real online ad campaign for a non-profit. Uber-successful students can even win cash directly from Google.
And, oh yeah, it’s 100% free.
HubSpot Inbound Digital Marketing Course Plus Official Certification – Another comprehensive course in online marketing. This one boasts a current roster of more than 3,000 students. Offered through Udemy, the course encompasses 4.5 hours of content in 38 lectures.
Participants learn about:
- The basics of inbound marketing
- Landing pages
- Conversion optimization
- Lead nurturing
- Email marketing
In addition, all students participate together to build a community of eager, like-minded learning adults. After a certification exam, grads get a nice badge for their CV and LinkedIn profile.
Yep, it’s free, too.
There are also a ton of accredited online universities that can help you obtain your associate’s degree in Marketing. Much like the free courses, these are also designed for you to take at your own pace.
The difference is only accreditation. For some, a college’s accreditation status doesn’t factor into their decision to enroll. Which makes sense considering everything you learn about a field as dynamic as online marketing. Businesses can go through generations worth of tech in a quarter. Technology is iterative, and it has no time for slow pokes.
The real advantage with online colleges is technological novices don’t need to know much on day one. Your course and course materials are assembled into a neat package. What links to visit, where to start and end, where to find outside help – these considerations are all covered by the course and institution. If you have a lot of anxiety about where to begin, this type of environment may be the best choice.
Here’s a program worth checking out:
Penn Foster College
Associate’s Degree in Marketing – It’s an accredited degree you earn at your own pace. The program is designed to help students pursue a variety of marketing careers. It covers topics like:
- Product analysis
- Product development and sales
- Advertising principles and statistics
- Marketing research and business law
This may be a good option if you seek an accredited school but are on a budget. It’s the least expensive associate’s degree out there at $1,099.
Work as an Intern/Freelancer
And finally, there’s always jumping in the deep end while wearing a blindfold and being tied to a cinder block. It’s not a good idea. Because of the nature of this business, you’ll be learning most of what you’ll know in a year while working in a position. For this reason, jumping in doesn’t sound that bad provided you made a few considerations.
Devote more than six months to this option. You’ll need plenty of room to hop over the steep learning curve. You’ll do that by experimenting, learning from the data, and trying again. But you’ll want to do the research, too. Go through some of the blogs and books on this list. They’re chock full of helpful information:
- Matthew Barby
- Andrew Chen
- Grow & Convert
- 4-Hour Workweek
- Growth Lab
- Sumo Blog
- Social Triggers
- 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing
- On Writing
- On Writing Well
- Elements of Style
- The Boron Letters
- Words that Work
- Made to Stick
- Hello My Name is Awesome
- Blue Ocean Strategy
On your path from novice to expert, remember never to stop:
- Testing your assumptions
- Researching new experiments to run
- Using proactive analytics
Choosing to start a new career in online marketing at this pivotal time is something you won’t regret. Dedicate yourself to investing time and other resources into your education by committing yourself to the learning experience. Then, put it all into practice.
The rewards are huge. It’s estimated that by 2020 there will be 150,000 digital marketing and video marketing jobs, and not enough trained professionals to fill them. This gives newcomers a real competitive advantage. Think wisely about your education now, and it can propel you against future competition.
Whether you’re a marketer or a business owner, it is critical that you continue to learn. Digital marketing waits for no one and if you lag behind, the internet will consume your content. Stay on top of your skills and consistently work to acquire new ones. Although you should never stop asking questions, you’ll know you’re ready for your own team when you’re marketing “guesses” turn into predictions!