On a regular basis, a lot of people ask me these two questions;
- Is it a good idea to embark on a digital marketing career today?
- How they can I get started?
This post is a comprehensive response to those questions.
I will explore all the dynamics of digital marketing. My major goal is to make it easy for you to get started with digital marketing, for free, right away.
Here is a breakdown to what you will learn: (you can click on a sub-heading to jump straight to that section)
- What is digital marketing?
- Why is there so much interest in digital marketing lately?
- Why should I be interested in a career in digital marketing?
- What are the digital marketing specialisations and where can I learn more about each of them?
- Google Hosted Free Digital Marketing Courses
- Non-Google Hosted Free Digital Marketing Courses
- Learning Digital Marketing via Blogs
Let’s dive right into it.
What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is quite a broad field.
At its most basic, the term is used to refer to all the marketing efforts that are performed via digital channels. These digital channels include search engines (like Google), social media, websites etc.
In digital marketing, companies make use of these channels to connect with current and prospective customers. The digital (online) channels that are used differ from the offline channels used in traditional marketing.
These offline channels include billboards, magazines, radios and TVs.
Just like in traditional marketing, the ultimate goal in digital marketing is to increase sales and profits.
By utilizing different channels of digital marketing, businesses cannot just share their
product and services online; additionally, they can gain clients for their business, entice
them and can convert them to boost their ROI. The speed and straightforwardness with
which the digital media transmits data and supports business is astonishing.
Why is there so much Interest in Digital Marketing Lately?
Digital marketing is a relatively young field that has exploded in popularity over the last few years.
This image from Google trends shows just how search interest in the term ‘digital marketing’ has exploded in the last 5 years.
On a personal level, the fact that you are sacrificing your precious time to read this article shows that you are also interested in digital marketing!
Why is digital marketing becoming popular?
For starters, more people are coming online for the first time with the passing years. Added to this, people are also spending increased amounts of time and money online.
Naturally, advertisers want to connect with these people online and thus they are turning to digital marketing to do just that.
This is why companies like Facebook and Google have grown into multi-billion dollar empires on the back of advertising revenue.
Other reasons for the increased interest in digital marketing which I won’t explore further here include:
-Digital marketing is cheaper as compared to traditional advertising and when done right it can give massive ROI. For example, you can run ads on Facebook for $30 (a $1/day for a month) and reach a lot of people depending on your industry. In contrast, can you imagine the cost of say buying a 30-second slot during prime time TV?
-Digital Marketing can be targeted, measured and continually improved
Every aspect of a digital marketing campaign can be measured in the image above you can see the number of people reached and the number of messaging conversations started. It’s difficult to do the same with, say, a radio ad. How many people who visit your shop will be the result of a radio ad campaign?
-Small businesses can compete with bigger businesses via digital marketing channels
-E-commerce sales are continually increasing and companies want to tap into these buyers via digital marketing
-Digital marketing makes it easy and affordable for businesses to keep in touch with their customers
-Digital marketing campaigns can be developed quite rapidly and with digital tools,
channelizing Digital Marketing campaigns is easier. Eg you can set up a Facebook
ad campaign in 10 minutes and begin to see results almost right away as the ad
-Communication is bidirectional in Digital Marketing as businesses can
communicate with customers and customers can ask queries or make suggestions
to businesses as well. You can easily respond to a Facebook ad and get responses
in real-time. Customers can’t respond to a billboard ad.
Ok, enough about that now. Let’s bring this closer to home. What does all of this mean to you? In other words, you are probably asking..
Why should I be Interested in a Career in Digital Marketing?
I’m glad you asked!
There are a number of compelling reasons for developing an interest in digital marketing.
Let me explain them in detail below.
Digital marketing professionals are very much in demand the world over
As I said above, digital marketing is a young profession that has seen phenomenal growth. This growth in demand for digital marketing professionals has not been matched by supply.
This has created what is called the digital skills gap.
According to the Digital Marketing Institute, there will be 150 000 digital skills jobs in 2020 but not enough digital marketing professionals to fill them!
If you learn digital skills, you will be readying yourself for an industry in which demand far exceeds supply!
There aren’t too many fields that have such exciting prospects! With a digital marketing qualification, you have high chances of getting employment.
2. If you are job hunting your digital skills qualification will be a great advantage
I stated earlier that every business today needs digital marketing to connect with old and prospective customers and digital marketing is perfect for that.
This means that any organisation will be eager to have someone who possesses these skills as part of their workforce.
If you have the same qualifications as another candidate who does not have digital marketing skill you will most likely get that job.
3. You can offer your digital skills to businesses as a Freelancer and create your own employment
Do you know that Africa produces about 10 million graduates/year while only about 3 million jobs are created by businesses in the same period?
This explains why it takes the average graduate up to 6 years to get employed.
Now, under these circumstances, wouldn’t it be refreshing and liberating if you could create your own employment and possibly employ others in the future?
Well, a digital marketing qualification can make that a reality for you.
We have already established that all businesses need digital marketing services to reach their customers. Now the thing is not many companies can afford to hire a full-time professional to carry out those duties.
This is especially true for small businesses and startups. Such businesses may resort to outsourcing these digital marketing services.
And this is where you come in!
You can sell your services to them as a freelancer. As a freelancer, you can begin offering these services from home (that’s how I started) and do away with some costs.
- create content for their websites, emails, eBooks, adverts etc
- design and manage their advertising campaigns on Facebook and Google
- design and manage e-mail marketing campaigns etc
- manage their website/social media pages etc
If you can provide results then you will have an endless supply of potential clients and you may soon end up forgetting about your academic field of study.
This happened to me as well, I have a degree in Sociology but digital marketing has taken over me and I will never do anything Sociology-related.
As your business grows, you will need to employ others and you will, in your own small way, help reduce unemployment in your country!
4. You can learn digital marketing for FREE!!!
Yes, you read right. Despite all these massive benefits, you can learn digital marketing for free and even get certified and launch your career.
While there are paid courses out there, you can get quality digital marketing education for free from online courses, blogs, vlogs and e-books.
I will give you links to these resources in the next section.
Since you can learn for free, your only payment is time, dedication and discipline.
Now given these potential benefits, is that too high a price to pay?
5. You can learn digital marketing at your own pace
The free online courses are self-paced. This means that you determine the pace at which you want to learn.
If you have a fulltime job you can choose to learn over lunch instead of engaging in idle chatting with workmates.
If you are in school or college, you can learn during the vacation or over the weekends.
This makes the digital marketing courses available to virtually everyone.
6. Digital marketing is very broad
There are many areas of specialisation under digital marketing.
Some of the specialisations include:
–Content/Copywriting (my personal favourite)
-Search Engine Optimization. (SEO) (my second personal favourite)
–Search engine marketing (SEM)
-Social Media Marketing & Management (get paid for spending time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc)
-Search Engine Marketing
-Web analytics/marketing automation
You can even narrow it down and specialise within these specialisations.
You are bound to get something that catches your fancy and it will be easy for you to fit in.
Love writing? Then content writing will probably be right up your street
Love playing around with numbers, doing A/B tests and tweaks? Then you may find web analytics and marketing automation appealing
Why not explore these options and see the one that fits you?
7. Digital marketing is fast-changing
I had to put this last because it may be an advantage or a turn-off depending on the person.
If you are someone who does not like continuous self-education then you will find digital marketing daunting.
This is because the digital marketing landscape is fast changing. What worked a few months ago may not work today due to algorithm changes by major players like Facebook and Google.
The fast-changing nature of the game is emphasized by the fact that some of the certifications you can get are valid for only one year. After this period, you will have to go through the course again and write exams if you want to maintain your qualification.
You will flourish in digital marketing if you like being continually challenged.
What are the digital marketing specialisations and where can I learn more about each of them?
Now let’s talk practical stuff on how you can launch your awesome, challenging digital marketing career. You should start with a free but very comprehensive course from Google.
The course is called Fundamentals of Digital Marketing.
The course is very, very comprehensive.
I just had to emphasize lest you may think its a walk in the park.
The course has 26 modules with over 40 hours of video tutorials!
I know a bunch of people who got started but never managed to complete their studies because the course is quite demanding. I hope you have more determination than these people.
Afterwards, that’s if you persist, you will need to pass the final 40-question online exam to get certified.
You will get a certificate like this.
The certificate is verifiable by Google.
Attaining this certificate will open a lot of options for you to then specialise and become Google certified.
Please note, acquiring this certificate only does not make you Google-certified. You will need to attain another certificate in an area of specialisation for you to be Google-certified.
Links to specific digital marketing courses and other sources of information
Google Hosted Free Digital Marketing Courses
After attaining the fundamentals qualification you can now take any of the specialisations below. All the Google courses listed below are certified.
These courses will teach you how you can create and run successful advertising campaigns on Google platforms. Some of the courses you can take are:
Under the YouTube courses, you will learn how to set up, grow, manage and monetise your YouTube channel. This course is essential if you want to run your own YouTube channel or if you want to manage someone’s channel for a fee. The specific courses include:
Learn how you can track important website data including the number of visitors, popular pages on, bounce rates etc. The course includes the basic and advanced analytics courses.
Non-Google Hosted Free Digital Marketing Courses
Outside of Google, there are also other places where you can learn digital marketing for free.
Some of these courses are certified and you can use the certificates when job hunting.
Others are not but that does not mean that they do not have valuable content.
The titles are rather self-explanatory so I will just list them.
Learning Digital Marketing via Blogs
Remember digital marketing is fast changing and you will need to keep up to remain relevant. You can follow these blogs to keep learning.
As you can see, there are tons and tons of great digital marketing courses and blogs out there. If you only have the discipline and the patience to learn nothing will stop you.
Are you still interested in a career in digital marketing? Would you be interested in taking any of these courses? Share your thoughts in the comments below.