To learn digital marketing, you need to gain knowledge and first-hand experience with a number of different digital marketing skills and disciplines, including search engine marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, marketing analytics, social media marketing, content marketing, and more.
To be more specific, to start learning digital marketing you must build your skills in each of the following areas:
Search Engine Marketing
You could be developing compelling, creative, and persuasive content, but it won’t matter if no one sees it. Learning digital marketing means learning search engine optimization (SEO) — or how to conduct keyword research and drive traffic to your site by creating content that will reach the top of search engine rankings — and learning how to use tools like Google Ads to best leverage paid advertising efforts in search engines.
Social Media Marketing
All digital marketing professionals should have an expert-level understanding of social media content, platforms, and audiences, and how they relate to the overall marketing strategies of a brand.
Creating engaging email campaigns – in other words, figuring out how to craft emails that a target audience might actually open – is an important part of a digital marketing professional’s skill set.
Above all else, the strength of your content and your content marketing strategy will likely determine your success as a Digital Marketer. Learning content marketing means not only learning how to develop unique, creative, and compelling content, but also determining the right content for the right audiences.
It’s crucial to know how to measure the ROI of your digital marketing efforts. Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and other tools – including the robust analytics offered by nearly all social media platforms – are useful to gain insight into a company’s consumers and customers (and overall consumer behavior), as well as the performance of current digital marketing campaigns.
Rather than a specific set of skills, learning inbound marketing means understanding how to combine and co-ordinate the other digital marketing efforts mentioned here to ensure that all of these online marketing techniques are being used together effectively and efficiently to ultimately build your customer base and generate leads.
Do You Need a Degree for Digital Marketing?
No, you do not need a specific degree for digital marketing. When you look at job postings for Digital Marketers, many will require a Bachelor’s or equivalent diploma, but very few digital marketing jobs will require that you specifically have a marketing degree or a degree in digital marketing.
Is a Marketing Degree Worth It?
Although any educational credential will have value, a marketing degree might not be worth it if your goal is to get a digital marketing job. There are a number of reasons for this, including the cost of traditional university programs, the fact that college marketing courses might not offer experience with the latest digital marketing tools and techniques, and the fact that employers in the digital marketing field have increasingly started to place a greater emphasis on skills and experience than education.
Depending on your professional goals, here are some of the reasons a marketing degree might not be worth it for you:
Marketing Degrees are Expensive
If you are wondering whether a marketing degree is worth it, you will certainly need to consider the cost.
According to recent data published by the College Board, the average cost of attendance to study marketing at a four-year public college in the United States is just over $10,000 annually for in-state students and over $27,000 per year for out-of-state students. Private colleges are even more expensive.
When you consider that cost, it’s clear not all students will see a strong ROI from a marketing degree.
Bootcamps Offer Job-Ready Skills Faster
Aside from the financial cost of a marketing degree, you also have to consider the time commitment. Unless you have just graduated high school and are looking into post-secondary options for the first time, you might not want to devote years of your life to pursuing a marketing degree from a traditional college.
Instead, more and more people are turning to more intensive digital marketing courses and bootcamps. In programs like BrainStation’s Digital Marketing bootcamp, you can build all the job-ready skills you need to become a Digital Marketer in as little as 12 weeks.
Employers Prioritize Skills
It’s worth noting that even with a degree in marketing, you may still lack many of the core competencies crucial to many digital marketing roles.
A study from the Digital Marketing Institute recently showed that more than 70 percent of marketing executives say that there is a talent shortage in marketing owing to a lack of digital marketing skills in the workforce (including experience with Google Analytics, social media marketing, search engine marketing, email marketing, and content marketing).
Although a marketing degree would help you grasp marketing theory and history, you would be more likely to build the kind of digital skills and proven real-world experience that employers are looking for in a digital marketing course or bootcamp, which tend to be more hands-on and project-based.
The Digital Marketing Field Changes Too Rapidly
Whether you decide to pursue a marketing degree or not, it almost certainly will not be the end of your educational journey in digital marketing.
Digital marketing changes as rapidly as any field in tech, and the top techniques, channels, and tools for things like social media marketing, search engine marketing, content marketing, and SEO strategy change almost constantly. Even the question “how to learn digital marketing?” could have a dramatically different answer in a few years as technology evolves. In other words, Digital Marketers must be continuous, lifelong learners.
As you decide whether a marketing degree is worth the large investment, consider that you will likely have to continue seeking out digital marketing certification courses and other programs to keep your skills current.
How to Get Into Marketing Without a Degree
To get into marketing without a degree, you should explore digital marketing blogs and resources online, follow top industry experts and influencers on social media, begin building up your web presence, and ultimately consider gaining formal training through digital marketing courses and bootcamps.
It is certainly possible to establish a career in marketing without attending a four-year college program. Follow these steps to get into marketing without a degree:
Explore Digital Marketing Resources
Although it is hard to learn digital marketing online simply through free online marketing resources, they can help you get started.
There are plenty of blogs, webinars, tutorials, and free digital marketing courses available online, and although free online courses can’t compare to the comprehensive level of depth you would find in paid digital marketing courses, these resources could at least help you get familiar with some core marketing concepts as you get started.
Establish Your Own Web Presence
If you want to try marketing something online, why not try marketing yourself?
If you want to become a Digital Marketer, it’s worth investing time in creating and maintaining your own social media accounts or starting your own digital marketing blog. That gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your creativity with content, your understanding of different social media channels, and that you have some experience with community management, even if it’s just your own group of social media followers.
Attend a Digital Marketing Bootcamp
The fastest and most efficient way to develop the skills, knowledge, and hands-on marketing experience that you need to begin qualifying for marketing jobs is to attend a digital marketing bootcamp.
The best digital marketing bootcamps could take someone with no marketing degree and no marketing experience and give them all the job-ready skills they need to qualify for a job in digital marketing in just a few months. BrainStation’s Digital Marketing bootcamp is offered with flexible delivery options — full-time or part-time, online or in-person — that will allow you to train for your new career without having to completely rearrange your life.
Project-based digital marketing bootcamps like BrainStation will also give you the opportunity to gain first-hand experience with social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, and Google Analytics, allowing you to develop a professional marketing portfolio. That portfolio will be crucial when it’s time to begin applying for digital marketing jobs.
Build Your Professional Network in Digital Marketing
Even if you haven’t officially started your digital marketing career, it’s never too early to begin networking.
Try every avenue you can to forge some connections in digital marketing. There are a surprising number of robust online marketing communities, Facebook groups, Slack channels, and subreddits devoted to discussing the latest in marketing topics including growth hacking, social media management, SEO, content marketing, and PPC hacks.
You should also explore digital marketing conferences, meetups, or discussion events near you. If you do attend a digital marketing course or bootcamp, you should also take advantage of any opportunities for networking or professional development. BrainStation, for instance, regularly holds panel discussions with leading industry experts, which offer a great opportunity for students and alumni to connect with more experienced Digital Marketers and expand their professional networks.
Apply for Entry-Level Digital Marketing Jobs
Once you’ve built out your skills, knowledge, and portfolio, you should be ready to step into an entry-level marketing job or digital marketing internship.
As you look to get your foot in the door in digital marketing, you could look for a niche role specializing in a specific area of marketing — for instance, Social Media Coordinator or Email Marketing Coordinator — or try to find a jack-of-all-trades role like Digital Marketing Intern that could help you build your competency in a wider number of marketing disciplines.
It’s important to note though that just because you have no marketing experience, does not necessarily mean you have to start at the bottom. If you can pair some professional experience either in marketing or a related field — for instance, communications, sales, design, development, or even journalism — with a digital marketing certificate and strong technical skills, you might qualify for a more senior marketing job role.
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