Sam Noble: State of Digital Summer School, Learning from the Experts
This summer we have been taking you back to school! We have been focussing on education in Digital Marketing: what is the best education, what background is important? Questions you have seen answered throughout the summer by those you can learn from the best: the experts. Those that already earned their stripes and are now willing to share with you how they got there and what you should do to get that far as well.
It is now time to close the series, since the summer is officially over. But not before we have just a few more insights from the experts closest to us: our editorial team!
What type of education did you have?
I attended the state school until I was almost 16 year old and then I went onto college to study Travel and Tourism. Sounds crazy looking back at it now as I never wanted to work in that industry but I think when you are 16 years of age, you don’t really know what you want to do. Well, I didn’t anyway.
Is your education related to what you do now?
Not at all. College life as a Travel and Tourism student only lasted a few months; it wasn’t what I wanted to do and I realised that pretty quickly. After leaving college I went out and got a job working for a holiday company as an administrative assistant.
How did you get into digital marketing?
During the first year at the holiday company, I worked closely with the marketing team and was offered a job as the PA to the Marketing Director. It was in this role that my passion for marketing really started to show.
Back then (we are talking about 12 years ago now) (blimey, where have those years gone) offline marketing was the main focus and the real money maker for the company. Being a PA to the Marketing Director really opened my eyes to the world of marketing and I owe him a huge amount. Without his help and guidance, I don’t think I would be in the role that I am today.
About 18 months into the role, the Marketing Director offered me a role in the Marketing Team. Online marketing was only just getting started for them so my core focus was on was offline with the likes of direct mail, brochures, exhibitions etc.
I learnt so much doing this role and after a few years, moving into online marketing seemed like the natural course to take. I left the holiday company and went to work for a financial services provider where the role was purely digital with a big focus on Pay Per Click marketing. This is where my digital background started and my traditional marketing background came to an end.
How do you think the state of education in marketing is these days? Do marketers learn what they need to learn?
If we are talking about traditional learning such as universities, I don’t think there is anywhere near enough modules or courses related to digital marketing (I can only speak about the universities in the UK). Students that have recently graduated with a degree in Marketing and Advertising are still mainly learning about offline marketing. In my opinion, that is not the future and universities need to diversify, change and adapt to the world of digital.
There are a lot of online resources that people can read and sign up to but the best form of education is to actually get out there and teach yourself. Nothing will help you learn faster than getting a website to test things out for yourself alongside all the online resources to help you put things in place step by step.
How do you feel about online training courses?
This all depends on the type of person that you are and how dedicated you are to learning the skill put in front of you. If you are willing to invest the time, then I think online courses can be a real benefit but as I said above, nothing beats having a website to try things out on to get that hands on experience.
What is your tip for those that want to learn more?
Find something you are interested in and focus your attention on being the best you can at that skillset. Digital marketing is such a broad topic with many different disciplines and trying to learn everything is not going to serve you well.
I do think that in this industry you need to have a good understanding of the various marketing channels but that doesn’t mean you need to be an expert at them all.
Focus on what you want and go get it. Whether you are working in-house or for an agency, there is a lot that you can do outside of work hours to further your knowledge. Show your employer that you are keen and many of them will support you by investing time and training to improve your knowledge further.
What resources are best to learn marketing?
I am biased of course, but State of Digital is packed full of knowledge from industry professionals sharing their tips and ideas so that is a good place to keep up to date.
If you are just getting started in digital marketing online resources such as DistilledU can be a great place to start.
Networking at conferences has been a brilliant resource for me personally. Going out and having a few beers with other attendees after the event and sharing stories of successes and failures can be a great way to learn and broaden your marketing skills.
What’s the last lesson in marketing you learned?
I learn lots! Every day is a school day and I like to try and learn something new every day if I can, even if it seems one of the most simplest things like a keyboard shortcut that will make my life easier.
However, one of the more practical things I learnt recently was at the BrightonSEO conference in September, Matt Beswick did a talk on why content marketing and paid marketing should work together. One of the tips he shared was to take the visitors brought into your site from your content marketing projects and add them to a dedicated remarketing list. Follow them round the web with targeted ads promoting your brand to generate more conversions off that traffic that may not have converted before. I am yet to try this but it is on my to do list for the next couple of weeks. Thanks Matt!