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New to digital marketing? Your questions, answered

While the notion of being ‘new’ to the digital marketing industry might seem strange, there will always be a client, graduate or employee who is ‘new’ to the trade, new to the jargon, to the work processes, to the concept and the endless stream of information. The question is, however, how does someone go from being ‘new’ to being the person who can chime in with educated opinions or offer valuable advice? Some might argue that it all comes with experience, while others may argue that once you’ve dipped your toe into the pool that is digital marketing (regardless of how junior or new your role), your evolution in terms of growth and knowledge is in your own hands.

Whether you’re a start-up company that requires a concentrated dose of digital marketing assistance, a mature enterprise that is slowly making the necessary marketing changes, or a young graduate who has landed your first full-time position, the fast-paced world of digital marketing, with its flashing lights and confetti, may be overwhelming. However, there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel of confusion, and we have the many industry heavyweights, leaders and veterans to thank for it.

While experience counts for a large percentage of your success while following a career in digital marketing, the amount of information that is available on the internet can be likened to the final blow to a candy-filled piñata – satisfying, sweet and rewarding. So, while experience counts for something, becoming a contender in the race of sweet success, the bucket-loads of information at your fingertips will define whether or not you manage to cross the finish line.

In an effort to simplify life for those who wish to become digital marketing savants, we’ve taken the most commonly asked industry-related questions and have given it our best shot at answering them!

What is digital marketing?

According to Wikipedia, digital marketing is an “umbrella term for the targeted, measurable, and interactive marketing of products or services using digital technologies to reach and convert leads into customers and retain them”. While this definition reveals the essence of what we do, it is important to note that the role of digital marketing is far more complex than simply achieving measurable results. If sustainable, meaningful relationships with customers, supporters and users are at the heart of your marketing efforts, then digital marketing is your solution.

How does digital marketing compare to traditional marketing?

While digital marketing focuses on online marketing efforts, like that of web design, SEO, web content, PPC and email, traditional marketing is focused on marketing activities that happen offline. However, as the concept of digital marketing takes a more stable shape, industry leaders are making an effort to converge the two in an effort to ensure a more rewarding, balanced and user-specific experience.

Do I really need to invest in digital marketing?

Despite the fact that a digital marketer is pressed to make the sale, our honest answer (regardless of whether or not you plan to sign on the dotted line) remains the same – yes, it is highly recommended. Not only does digital marketing assist in achieving your desired results, it also ensures that your business keeps up with the ever-changing consumer market.

Whether you’ve only got around to building your company’s website or are about to embark on a digital facelift for your organisation, digital marketing will ensure that you create and maintain a digital presence. It is important to keep in mind that customer engagement is changing with more and more people around the world turning to their mobile devices or computers to shop, conduct research, review and observe.

What is it like to work at a digital marketing agency?

While university provides you with the skills with which to do your job, all of the information on the internet and in your grandmother’s collection of Encyclopaedia Britannica cannot prepare you for life in a digital marketing agency quite like the advice from those who have spent time in the trenches. Despite my aversion to using my own professional experience as an example, I feel that it best exemplifies what young graduates can expect.

Making the move from print media and journalism to that of digital marketing was a steep learning curve – while magazines and print publications can make use of the same production formula for years on end, digital marketing required a production speed that changed as quickly as industry juggernauts churned out industry-related updates. Not only was I required to write, but I was also required to learn a new set of skills by the close-of-business deadline on my first day on the job.

However hectic my experience was at first, my journey within a digital marketing agency continues as one of excitement and growth, and the learning never stops. Not only do digital marketers get to meet new clients on an almost-daily basis, but they are exposed to an industry that is ever-changing and growing at impressive speeds. While your job title might sound like your task is singular and defined by the business unit in which you work, you will quickly learn that digital marketers are required to make use of their skills in a variety of different roles and responsibilities.

Can’t I just manage my own Facebook page?

Let’s take a step back – if you are new to the digital marketing industry and are unsure of the different concepts and buzzwords, how are you going to effectively manage your own Facebook page? Unless you’ve decided to internally manage your social media marketing, we suggest that you invest in an agency that can offer you the best bang for your buck.

While social media is just a fraction of the whole, it is important to take into consideration your end goal – do you hope to improve sales by creating a social media campaign? While I’m in no position to tell you what you can or cannot do, I’ll offer you something in between – if your goal is similar to what I mentioned above, then the answer is… we don’t suggest that you manage your own Facebook page.

How do I find out about updates and trends?
While doctors suggest that you refrain from using Google to diagnose your symptoms, we highly recommend using Google to up your ante! Digital marketing, although a solid concept, has an infinite number of descriptions – all of which portray the concept as a multi-faceted world that is kept in orbit by the motion of its ever-shifting data, trends and updates.

Thankfully, the data, trends and updates can all be found on the hub that is the internet. While the world of digital marketing may be your oyster, the industry-relevant information is the pearl – from blogs and creative collectives to online resources and industry-related platforms. If you’re unsure about a concept, need to find a template or simply need to take a look at the wreckage left behind by one of Google’s infamous algo-updates, the trick is to search for it.

Can someone teach me how to ‘SEO’?

If you’ve just broken into the industry, you’ll be required to complete, among others, a number of search engine optimisation (SEO) tasks. While SEO involves varying degrees of coding, most young employees will be able to learn the tricks of the trade within the first few months (read weeks) of their employment. Despite the number of people who will probably have the responsibility of teaching you how to go about the respective company’s SEO practice, there are also a number of online resources from which you will be able to learn.

And so, while you aim to grow your skillset or educate yourself on the ever-changing digital marketing industry, keep in mind the fact that even the most experienced, most knowledgeable industry heavyweights are consistently learning something new. In the end, rest assured that you will soon be able to deliver educated opinions, offer valuable advice and assist ‘new’ colleagues and clients with their understanding of digital marketing.

Author | Chloé Holenstein

Chloé Holenstein
Chloé Holenstein is a Senior Content Strategist at National Positions SA. She studied English and Journalism and started her career in PR and print media. In 2013 she joined the digital marketing industry and has since then made it her home. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, traveling... More