Even before a pandemic-induced lockdown rendered most forms of offline marketing almost worthless, digital marketing was utterly dominant, and for good reason. The internet would occupy our attention 24/7 if we didn’t need to sleep – as it is, many of us go directly to browsing our smartphones in the event that we wake up in the middle of the night.
Whatever you’re trying to promote, digital marketing is going to be the most effective avenue for yielding results, as well as the most convenient and economical. But if you’ve never attempted it before, you might well be intimidated. There are so many options available to you, after all, with an online landscape packed with resources and tools – and a fierce level of competition.
Let’s say you’re ready to try, though. How should you begin? Well, in this post we’re going to set out five tips that will help you adjust to the learning curve and start succeeding. Here they are.
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Brush up on the terminology
Digital marketing involves a lot of terms that seem obvious to those who’ve worked in the field but can puzzle those who haven’t, and it’s important that you become familiar with them. At the same time, you should extend your research to include terms for overlapping fields: fields like eCommerce, social media, PR, and even AI.
Can you say what PPC stands for? What should you submit for a HARO request? Do you know what dropshipping involves? What does machine learning mean? Each of these things can be important to know during a digital marketing campaign, and you’ll struggle to get far in digital marketing if you don’t know how to parse any of the resources you should be using.
Join relevant online communities
Whenever you’re trying to learn something new, a great way to find appropriate support (and nudge you to take it seriously instead of giving up after a short while) is to join some relevant communities. If you were trying to learn how to play the guitar, you might look for local musician meetups – so if you’re trying to get to grips with digital marketing, you should look to the online world for gatherings of other people interested in the field.
Reddit is the perfect place for this. It’s full of communities (or subreddits) built around specific topics, and there are many topics that pertain to digital marketing. There are r/digital_marketing and r/DigitalMarketing, of course, and then there are more niche subreddits such as r/SocialMediaMarketing.
Each one is free to join and full of people willing to help you. If you’re not that comfortable talking to strangers, you don’t need to: you can simply follow along with existing conversations and glean insight that way.
Take advantage of free resources
I mentioned during the intro that the online landscape is full of useful resources, and you should absolutely be taking advantage of them as you become more familiar with digital marketing. Firstly, there are countless guides and tutorials that can run you through the simplest matters or painstakingly explain complex issues once you’re ready, and finding them is easy: just search.
If you’re struggling with Facebook Ads, run a search for “Facebook Ads guide” and you’ll have thousands of results to choose from. If you’re looking for SEO assistance, use that term instead. Modify your search with terms like “basic” or “advanced” to narrow things down helpfully. The amount of great content out there is quite remarkable.
Secondly, there are plenty of tools (many of which are completely free) that can help you carry out digital marketing tasks more quickly and easily. Whether you need to schedule social media posts, compose long-form content, create a PPC ad, or research your competitors, you’ll be able to find something suitable. Buffer has a solid list here.
Run projects in your spare time
Learning while doing is generally a great idea, but concentrating on serious digital marketing projects will always limit what you can discover since you’ll be taking sensible precautions (more on that next). Due to this, it makes a lot of sense to run some test projects with no budgets – or extremely limited budgets – so you can try out new methods and tools.
This can be as simple as volunteering to help friends out with projects that aren’t high-value (so it won’t matter too much if you make a mistake), or even setting up some low-cost websites that you can brand and use for digital marketing. If things go well, you can apply those tactics to your priority projects – and if they don’t, you can learn some valuable lessons and move on.
Start with a modest budget
When you’re ready to run a serious digital marketing project for something that matters, you’ll need a suitable budget, but you mustn’t make the mistake of thinking that more spending will naturally lead to better results. Successful marketing will produce ROI soon enough, and you can feed that returned value back into the budget, so you don’t need to invest heavily.
If you start out with a modest budget and everything goes horribly wrong (nothing you try works, and all your marketing investments amount to nothing), then you’ll lose that budget but have money left over to start again. On the other hand, if you throw everything you have into your first attempt and fail, you’ll be left in a really difficult position. It’s the practical move.
Digital marketing is a huge field, and people who’ve worked in it for many years still haven’t scratched the surface of what’s possible. That said, it’s fairly accessible these days, and the amazing resources available online allow even novices to get some decent results if they’re careful. Use the tips we’ve been through here, and you should do well.