COVID-19 has left me with alot of free time on my hands, and apart from reading, I have been spending my down-time working on sharpening up my digital marketing skills. There are a heap of tools, systems and platforms out there, and it can get a little daunting. In this post, I’ll share the ones that I think are fundamental for any digital marketer in 2020.
SEO – My tool of choice is Moz, who I’ve been following for a decade and a half. I love the way they’ve grown from a blog talking about SEO tactics to an entire self-contained solution. The training syllabus covers everything from the very basic fundamentals all the way to using Moz Pro. I was fortunate to be able to sign up for a bunch of the courses for free as they generously allowed all new users to register for free during the COVID-19 lock down.
Paid Media (Search, Display & Video) – No surprises here that I’m recertifying myself on Google Ads, which is the 200 pound gorilla in the ad space. You can get certification for individual products like Search or Display, but I’d recommend that you work your way up to the platform certification (Display and Video 360/ Search Ads 360), as this allows for more holistic campaign reporting. You can sign up at the Skillshop. Wether you are a hands-on campaign manager or a strategic director who relies on an agency to do management, its always good to know about the latest innovations from Google.
Social Media Advertising – I would also recommend that you do the Facebook ads essential course, as the audience targeting can tell you so much about your potential customers. Of all the platforms, I feel they have the most streamlined ad interface, and its so fun to play around in it and see your audience size get more targeted as you add more filters. You can learn more here. Alternatively, if your audience is more B2B, then LinkedIn is the place to be. Their ad interface is not as full-fledged as Facebook, but the ability to filter by company names and job titles makes it a must have for your Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategies. Learn how to use it here.
Web Analytics – We head back to the Skillshop to get our Google Analytics certification at the Analytics Academy. You can work your way up from the beginners course all the way to Google Tag Manager. I managed to complete all the courses in the space of a week, but that was with me spending 12 hours a day dedicated to it. One thing that I realized is how much the suite has changed since I last did my certifications roughly 4 years ago. Its probably a good idea to get recertified once every 2 years, which is right about when the certification will lapse.
Coding Language – Now this is something new! Python is all the rage these days, and is positioned to be the defacto language for data science/ big data/ analytics. To stay relevant for now and future opportunities, this would be the special trick up my sleeves. It is still very early days for me, but I hope to develop some competency with the language by the end of this year.
Marketing Automation – The hardest training of the lot has to be Marketo, which (along with Eloqua) are the standards by which all other MA platforms are measured. The course takes you from the fundamentals, to email basics, to CRM sync and ends with system administration. I’ve been slogging away at this for 2 months, and am only about 30% of the way through it. The content is dense but absolutely essential if you intend to use the system everyday. You sign up for the free training at the Marketo University, and have to arrange for an in-person exam at a later date once you pass the mock online exams. I’m targeting to complete the training and mock exams, but I’ll hold off on the certification until I find an employer to sponsor it!
AWS Cloud Practitioner – Last but not least, this very basic course gives you a very broad understanding of AWS services such as Compute (EC2) and Storage (S3). Its not a technical certification, but helps you understand how and why a cloud infrastructure operates the way it does, and the benefits it can bring for businesses. I’m technically still certified, but with the speed of innovation at Amazon, it does no harm to check in every now and them to see what’s new.
Well, that’s the list of of trainings I’ve embarked on in the past 4 months. These should be prerequisites for any digital marketing professional to stay sharp and up-to-date with the industry. There are other tools that I would recommend, but they would be dependent on the role specific needs such as:
- Social Media Listening (e.g. Synthesio, Digimind, Sprout Social)
- Social Media Management (Sprinklr, Hootsuite)
- Advanced Analytics/ Business Intelligence (Tableau, Microsoft BI)
- CMS (AEM, Sitecore, Drupal)
(If you are struggling to get a grip on the Martech space, the Martech 5000 graphic would be an eye-popping place to start. Be warned, you are going to need a magnifying glass! )
Are there any tools that I’ve missed that you think are essential? If so, let me know in the comments below.