Like many aspiring Digital Marketers, you might want to learn how to do it but worry that it will take too much time. It takes most people one to three months to learn the different digital marketing tools and techniques, and it takes six months to a year to perfect those skills through practice. Of course, this depends on several factors. Keep reading to discover how you can learn digital marketing and some resources to help speed the process along.
What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing uses online channels and tools to promote products and services. As the popularity of the internet continues to grow, digital marketing has become one of the most effective ways to publicize a business and help it succeed. Knowledge of digital marketing can be an asset to entrepreneurs and owners of businesses large and small, and many companies are hiring Digital Marketers to conduct research, build brand loyalty, and create community. Digital Marketers also analyze data collected from online marketing efforts to make a business more efficient and profitable.
Because it is based on data, digital marketing is highly targeted and measurable. With digital marketing, you can adapt and make changes in real-time to reflect your advertising. You can also create targeted ads to ensure products and services reach an interested audience.
Using analytics, you can quickly tell how many people see your ads, how they react, and what action they take. Measuring your success (and where you need to improve) can help overall strategy. Plus, digital marketing levels the playing field, allowing businesses of any size to compete for clicks. Additionally, there’s a low barrier to entry: you can start your paid digital marketing campaign for a minimum amount and build as the company grows.
Read more about what digital marketing is and why you should learn it.
What Can You Do with Digital Marketing?
Marketing has changed drastically since the advent of the internet. While early ways to promote a business included yellow page listings, print advertisements, and ads on buses and billboards, many marketing efforts have now moved online. With digital marketing, you can adapt and make changes in real-time to reflect your advertising. You can also create targeted ads to be sure your products and services reach an interested audience.
Digital marketing efforts are highly measurable. Using analytics, you can quickly tell how many people see your ads, how they react, and what action they take. Measuring your success (and where you need to improve) can help you develop your overall strategy. Plus, organic digital marketing levels the playing field, allowing businesses of any size to compete for clicks.
Additionally, there’s a low barrier to entry to advertise with digital marketing. You can start your paid digital marketing campaign for a minimum amount and build as your company grows. Digital marketing offers the unique chance to control where you spend those crucial advertising dollars.
Average Time it Takes to Learn Digital Marketing
The time it takes to learn digital marketing depends upon how you choose to study. Getting a college degree takes four or five years, and a self-taught approach is more variable. Classes are the most efficient and economical way to acquire the skills you need to switch to a career as a Digital Marketer. You can complete a certificate course in two to four months.
Acquire Some Skills to Start
Before you can begin working as a Digital Marketer, you will need to acquire some skills. Some important digital marketing skills include learning data analytics tools, website optimization, copywriting, social media marketing, or search engine marketing. You can acquire these skills through self-directed study, a college degree, or by enrolling in a digital marketing certificate course.
Learn Digital Marketing
There are several ways to learn digital marketing. You teach yourself with books, podcasts, and tutorials, you can take marketing classes in college, or you can enroll in a training program.
Teach Yourself Through Books, Podcasts, and Tutorials
Although taking classes is a more efficient way to learn digital marketing, you can pick up some tips on your own. You can choose from many books, podcasts, and free tutorials. Here are a few resources to help with that.
While books are technically not free, you can borrow them from the local library without paying for them. Here are some that are highly recommended.
- Digital Marketing Strategy: An Integrated Approach to Online Marketing by Simon Kingsnorth: This classic book on digital marketing has just been updated. Kingsnorth covers social media, website optimization, user experience design, content strategies, automation, and data analysis.
- The Digital Marketing Handbook: Deliver Powerful Digital Campaigns by Simon Kingsnorth. This practical, step-by-step guide shows readers how to create different kinds of digital marketing campaigns.
- Digital Marketing for Dummies, by Ryan Deiss and Russ Hennesberry. The Dummies series offers good introductions to many topics, and digital marketing is no exception. It covers paid and unpaid marketing, email, social media, and data analysis, focusing on how-tos.
- Digital Mastery for Women: The First 5 Digital Marketing Components You Need to Master in Your Business, by Vanessa Collins. Women often lack confidence where technology is concerned, but Collins encourages women entrepreneurs and shows them how to embrace Digital Marketing.
Podcasts are a great way to learn about digital marketing and keep up with current trends. Here are some popular offerings.
- Paid Search Magic with Amy and James Hebdon is on Apple Podcasts. The Hebdons run a marketing agency of the same name and share their wisdom on paid search marketing.
- PPC Rockstars Podcast is a long-running show about Pay Per Click strategies available on Apple, Spotify, and Podchaser.
- Entrepreneur on Fire with John Lee Dumas is on iTunes. Each week, Dumas interviews different guests about marketing and entrepreneurship.
- The Suitcase Entrepreneur with Natalie Sisson is on Apple, iTunes, and Stitcher. Sisson built a successful online business to have the freedom to travel and live how she wants. She is especially good at helping listeners discover what they are passionate about in their product or service.
- The Strategy of Content Marketing through Coursera covers how to plan, organize, and implement a successful content marketing campaign.
- Fundamentals of Digital Marketing by Google is a free class including practical exercises in digital marketing.
- SEO Training Course by HubSpot Academy covers search engine optimization (SEO) to improve website performance and offers lessons in link building and keyword research.
- The Pillars of Digital Marketing on Noble Desktop’s YouTube channel teaches students about different types of digital marketing and strategies for success.
One way to learn digital marketing is to study the subject in college at the associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s level. You can also earn a minor in digital marketing with a major in another area, like business, advertising, marketing, or another field entirely. If you decide to pursue a digital marketing degree, ensure that the school is accredited by a respected agency. Accreditation assures students that the school’s program has been audited by experts and is certified for quality.
The downside of college is that it takes a long time to complete. Earning a bachelor’s degree can take four or more years, depending upon whether you attend full-time or part-time. Students are expected to study core classes in science, math, humanities, and others in addition to courses in the digital marketing major. Students must earn around 120 credits (typically 40 courses) to complete a bachelor’s degree.
College is can also be very expensive. According to the US Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, the average college tuition and fees in 2020 were $9,400 at public four-year institutions, $36,700 at private nonprofit schools, and $19,100 at private for-profit colleges. At two-year institutions, tuition was $3,800 at public institutions, $18,600 at private nonprofit schools, and $15,700 at private for-profit colleges. However, some students may be eligible for financial aid to offset the full cost of tuition.
Certificate programs are designed to equip you with the skill set you need to succeed as a Digital Marketer within in a manageable time frame. Many schools offer online courses in digital marketing, some of which are asynchronous classes you can take in your spare time. Certificate programs typically take two to four months to complete, a considerably shorter time frame than college. These intensive courses focus exclusively on digital marketing subjects. Certificate programs are also significantly cheaper than four years of college. Some employers require a bachelor’s degree, so someone with a digital marketing certificate would not be eligible unless they have also earned a college degree (typically in any subject), but those positions are increasingly rare. The most important part of a career in digital marketing is what you can do on the job. As with other tech jobs, employers are more interested in your abilities than in your education.
Noble Desktop offers a Digital Marketing Certificate course that includes classes on digital marketing strategies, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, Google Ads, and Google Analytics. Participants learn to develop, execute, and measure marketing strategies using various tools and metrics. Students work with each tool to launch campaigns across Google Ads and social media channels, analyze web data with Google Analytics, and learn about other key digital marketing strategies. This course is excellent for individuals looking to start a career in digital marketing, entrepreneurs leveraging digital marketing for their startup, or business owners growing a business using digital marketing techniques. This program also includes a free retake so students can come back to refresh the material.
You can take digital marketing classes in-person or live online anywhere in the world. Live online classes have a set-up similar to in-person instruction, with a real-time, remote instructor who can answer questions and share your screen to show you how to perform digital skills. In addition, you get the same level of attention as in in-person classes. When you complete a digital marketing certificate from Noble Desktop, you will receive a verified digital certificate of completion licensed by the New York State Department of Education.
Other options for certificate classes include Thinkful’s full-time Digital Marketing Immersion, Jelly Academy’s six-week Digital Marketing Course, and BrainStation’s Digital Marketing Course. These courses are all available online.
Once you have some skills, one of the best ways to get started in digital marketing is to create a website and some social media accounts to pratice your skills. You can start with a website for yourself (or help a friend!) and use it to test different techniques. The ability to implement a range of strategies and compare what works and what doesn’t will help you later when the stakes are higher. A web presence of your own gives you a chance to work on content marketing skills, drill down on the ins and outs of email marketing, and figure out search engine optimization.
Creating social media accounts helps you to refine your skills for how they work in practice. You can start an Instagram account and begin creating content to see what resonates, what people respond to, and what flops. Creating a YouTube account will help you practice making videos.
Another way to practice your digital marketing skills is to do volunteer work for friends or non-profit groups. You can help optimize websites, write blog posts, or set up email marketing campaigns to get real-life experience.
Build a Portfolio
Save screenshots of your work and add them to a portfolio on your website. Samples of your work are the best way to get jobs. Use the best examples of projects you’ve done, including blog posts, videos, SEO keyword articles, and any other types of content you’ve created and marketed. SEO copy turns over quickly, so include links and .pdf copies of your samples just in case they become inaccessble at their original location.
Level of Difficulty, Prerequisites, & Cost
Whether or not digital marketing is difficult to learn depends upon your level of interest, the time you have to devote to study, and your motivation. Do you love having a passion project? Do you enjoy multitasking and keeping track of data? Is creating content for social media followers your idea of a good time? Then it probably wouldn’t be hard for you to learn digital marketing and change careers, especially if you sign up for a certificate course.
Enrolling in a class doesn’t necessarily require any prerequisites to learn digital marketing, but a few skills can make the experience easier. Being comfortable with technology and enjoying working with numbers will make learning to use digital marketing tools easier. Some familiarity with social media and good communication skills are a plus, too. Beyond that, a solid writing ability, creativity, persistence, and the ability to multitask will make learning digital marketing smoother.
Beyond the cost of a class, learning digital marketing is not very expensive. Some of the most widely used tools like Google Analytics are free, and others like Moz have a free version to get you started. SEMRush is another useful digital marketing tool, and while it can be expensive, you get a seven-day free trial to try it out first.
Read about how difficult it is to learn digital marketing.
Watch a Free Digital Marketing Online Course
If you are unsure if digital marketing is for you, free courses and tutorials can help you decide. You can check out Noble Desktop’s YouTube channel, where you will find The Pillars of Digital Marketing Success and other introductory tutorials.
You can find plenty of free digital marketing video courses online. Google offers a class called Fundamentals of Digital Marketing as well as free tutorials on its digital marketing products. HubSpot Academy offers a free course on search engine optimization, as does SEMRush. If you want to explore social media marketing, you could watch a free video on the subject from Constant Contact.
Read about more free digital marketing videos and online tutorials.
How long it takes to learn digital marketing depends on your chosen method.
- Selt-taught: It is difficult to say how long this will take. Much depends upon the amount of time you can devote to study and how easily you find resources.
- College: It can take four to five years to earn a bachelor’s degree.
- Certificate classes: Classes are the quickest way to learn digital marketing. You can complete a certificate course in two to four months.
Learn Digital Marketing with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop
Noble Desktop’s digital marketing courses teach skills that can help you start a career in the industry. Classes are small, with expert instructors, and you can retake a course for free up to a year after you take it. Those ready to dive into the field can attend in-person classes at Noble Desktop’s New York City location or attend live online digital marketing courses from anywhere in the world.
Noble Desktop also offers more detailed courses for those looking to hone their skills on specific channels. Students can take individual classes on Facebook Marketing, Email Marketing, Social Media Content Marketing: Blogs & Twitter, and Video Marketing: TikTok & YouTube. Students can also study for a Digital Marketing Certificate and learn a comprehensive set of tools and skills for digital marketing. Another Noble Desktop resource that can help prepare for a career in digital marketing includes its digital marketing blog, which has detailed articles about social media marketing, SEO, and other essential tools for digital marketers. Students can also watch Noble’s seminar on The Pillars of Digital Marketing Success, which is available on YouTube.