How I Managed to Embrace the Shift to Digital Marketing

As a 2009 graduate with a degree in Business Administration, a concentration in Marketing and a minor in Communications, I really thought I was ready to take on the marketing world. Or, maybe I had just drank too much of the liberal arts kool-aid (#GoBulldogs).

The first few years of my career were great. I started as a Marketing Analyst, learning the ins-and-outs of the client experience, calculating MANY a cost-per-sale analyses and making recommendations as to which campaigns needed to be accelerated and which needed to be trashed.

As I progressed into marketing generalist roles, all things digital quickly became part of my daily responsibilities. I was creating banners, landing pages and social assets on the fly. Even though YouTube and blogs proved to be fantastic resources for learning more about my new responsibilities, I felt like I had a GAPING hole in my skill set and education in regards to all things digital marketing. Yes, I could brief a designer on how to create an appealing banner, write a clever social post or develop drip email campaigns… but what did this all mean? How did this all work together, and what the heck were we really spending our resources on?

I realized that even graduating in 2009 (wow – less than 7 years ago) was still TOO EARLY to have any formal education on digital strategy. I knew all about consumer behavior, retail marketing and integrated campaigns, but there wasn’t a single digital course or project to speak to from my undergraduate transcript. And not at the fault of my alma mater – this digital takeover just happened so fast.

After a lot of research and networking with the best minds in St. Louis digital, I discovered that Digital Marketing Certificates from universities are starting to be “a thing.” They usually landed in the Professional Studies or Schools of Continuing Education in my research experience. In true Sarah fashion, I jumped right in and decided since I was starting a Digital Certificate, I might as well just complete a full-on MBA in the process since many of the classes could be credit toward an MBA anyway.

This education has completely changed both my skill set and overall confidence in digital tactics. There are still things I don’t know that come up, but I now feel like I have the right base level understanding to attack these issues head-on. Here’s a sample of the coursework I recently completed to acquire my certificate:

-Digital Media Marketing Strategy & Measurement
-Clinical Study in Digital and Social Media Marketing (this was like a mini-internship to help non-profits with their digital strategies)
-Social Media Strategies
-Mobile Marketing
-Blogs to Buzz
-Digital Media Buying

Going back to school or fitting in classes on the weekends is definitely not the answer for everyone. It’s about timing. Here are additional non-school resources I have used to round out this new knowledge:

1. Digital Marketing Conferences | Here’s a sample of ones I attend in St. Louis and one I attended in New York this year. Google what’s happening in your city.
Social Recruiting Summit
Digital Marketing Conference

2. HubSpot.com Blogs | One of my best and most visited friends. Search for anything social or digital, and you’ll find very tactical descriptions and tips.

3. Lynda.com | Did you Lynda.com is now a LinkedIn company? Great (and cost effective) resource to pick up more “formalized” training.

4. Hootsuite University | I cannot say enough about how much Hootsuite makes the lives of social media managers easier. As an added bonus, they now offer an entire suite of classes that teach you not only how to best use their platform, but also how to effectively build, target and deploy social campaigns.

5. Networking | Meet with the best digital talent that will reply to your emails. Is there a local Social Media or Digital Marketing Club? I know St. Louis has several. Admit you’re clueless and talk to the experts about how they “figured it all out” in the city you are in. And, these are awesome connections for later when you “get it.”

Digital and social are not only here, they are speeding away. It’s part of our jobs as effective marketers to keep up.

How do you stay ahead?

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