What I have Learned During My Career That I Did Not Learn in School
5th April 2017
What I have Learned in My Digital Marketing Career That I Did Not Learn in School
In my six years of undergraduate and post-graduate education, I have studied every aspect of business. My Diploma in Marketing taught me the fundamentals and how to deliver on them. My Degree in Business Administration further developed these skills while adding other skills vital to business operations. After University I decided to take a Research Analyst postgraduate certificate to strengthen my analytical and reporting ability. I’m grateful for my years of learning and am fortunate to have spent many years as a student.
But there are some things you don’t learn in school.
After school was over, I embarked on a career as a Giant. A lot of the bigger picture things I do on an everyday basis as a web presence coordinator (strategy, planning, implementing, reporting) came naturally — I was prepared to take on these tasks with confidence based on what I had learned during my studies. But when it came to some of the tactical aspects of digital marketing, It’s not like you just finish your assignment and submit it. Not everything works the first time. A large aspect of what makes our work so effective is finding out what works and what doesn’t and then optimizing what is working to improve upon it and increase its performance.
As someone who worked toward a degree based on traditional marketing principles, I had a bit of a learning curve to adjust to. I’ve been with Digital Giants for almost a year now, and I can confidently say that the learning never stops.
Here’s what my career in digital marketing has taught me that school never did:
Advertising / Ad Performance
Throughout my academic career, I wrote a number of marketing plans and strategies. These all had different requirements and levels of detail. Some were a simple project while other were more in-depth and presented to real businesses. They all had one thing in common, they were theory.
When I finished school I knew what to propose and the key performance indicators to measure. But I never had the opportunity to put this into practice. I would simply have an idea and put it into the plan. Writing strategy and putting it forward is only part of what I do here at Digital Giants. Coming up with ideas for content and how to get engagement from our audiences is often the first step. Once we have content published and start looking into the performance data I need to identify what is working, what is not, and why. This is done by testing the ads. Using combinations of different copy and images, taking the best of both and pairing them together or trying to improve the ads that are underperforming.
One of the most important things I learned in school was how to create a presentation for different types of clients. The largest report I have produced is a summary of the client’s performance for the quarter. This was challenging to draft as the audience is a combination of upper management and those more familiar with what goes into our work. I had to present the data in a manner that was not confusing but also detailed enough to answer the questions from those who are more directly involved with the campaigns. Finding the balance is a work in progress. I often find that the CEO and General Manager are concerned with the overall performance and improvement from quarter to quarter. While the Marketing Manager will have more in-depth questions about specific things such as why there is traffic from out of market locations. Working at Digital Giants has provided me with the opportunity to further develop my skills in reporting and I get to work with a variety of clients. As I continue to work with them I get a better understanding of what they want to know and also how to report it in such a way that there is no confusion.
Another challenge is representing the data so that it is easily readable and the report does not become a bore. It is easy to insert tables and charts over and over and write walls of text. This will lose the audience’s attention within ten minutes. Data is best represented visually, where it is easily understood. Working at Digital Giants has allowed me to explore different types of representation to find what works best. Being in the work field provides me with multiple clients and opportunities to find what works the best.
Keyword Research & Search Engine Optimization
While in school I took an internet marketing class. This class taught us the fundamentals of optimizing content and basic keyword use. We learned about keywords, how they worked, and their importance. To test this we wrote blogs and implemented our keywords. We used traffic as a measurement of how well our content was performing. I led the class in traffic but I can’t say keywords were the reason why. Looking back I can say that I had no idea what it took to optimize my content and choose the appropriate keywords. My subject was pretty popular so I’m sure I had some good keywords but it was mostly by accident.
Since I have started at Digital Giants I have developed a better understanding of keywords and content optimization. Using tools such as Google’s keyword planner and SEMrush’s keyword research, I am able to predict what keywords should be used. This is a skill that I will always be developing, the more I work with this the better I will be able to choose the best keywords for campaigns and specific pages. This is an important skill for what I do on a regular basis. I often review web pages and optimize them so they maintain or improve their search rankings.
Website Design and Optimization
While I was in University I had a small sample of what goes into a website’s design. I had a basic understanding of user behaviour and a bit of Google Analytics experience. Since starting at Digital Giants I have learned so much more.
I have learned how to optimize websites for search engines and the importance of the different page elements. One of the challenges is to keep the copy as close to how it was originally written but change it just enough so that the keywords are included and it ranks on search engines. Sometimes I will receive a blog or a web page that is missing many of the important elements. Sometimes the copy format did not originally have headers or a web page appears to have the elements but they are not set up correctly. To be able to correct these I have learned a bit about coding. This helps with understanding the different sections of the web page and where to make the changes. I have also improved my writing. I often have to change the copy to include the keyword but keep the messaging the same. This becomes challenging when the keywords are phrases or more defined.
My Future as a Digital Marketing Professional
Although my exposure to digital marketing during my academic career was limited I had enough exposure to know this is a field I could be successful in. Schooling provided me with the fundamentals and a better understanding of how I learn. I think these are essential to those who are considering a career in digital marketing, This is a field where things change all the time. To be successful you need to always be learning and adapting.
As a Digital Marketing Professional, one of the best parts of the job is when you apply your new skills or tactics in a client’s campaign/website and see it exceed expectations. I wrote marketing campaigns in school and they received good marks, but these were theory. When our strategies and campaigns at Digital Giants receive praise from our clients it’s awesome. I know that I am improving and becoming better at what I do.
Do you think that you have the skill set for a career in Digital Marketing? Reach out to us here at Digital Giants. You can reach me through LinkedIn.