For the last 11 years of my life, I’ve been an online marketer…and a pretty decent one at that.
How did I get good at it? Most people say it’s because I am creative. Sure, creativity does play a role in it but not as big as I you think. What it really comes down to is 4 things:
So, let’s dive into each of those 4 things as they will teach you how to learn online marketing and become good at it.
You learn by doing
Have you ever heard the saying that you learn by doing? It’s actually true. By trying different marketing tactics on your own site, you will learn what works and what doesn’t.
When I first started out, I paid a few Internet marketing firms to help me out, and I got no results. I ended up losing all of my cash, and I had no choice but to learn on my own.
Here’s how I learned how to market my own site:
- Learn the basics – with most forms of marketing, you’ll need to learn how to modify basic HTML code and upload changes. You can either watch YouTube videos on these topics, or you can just signup for Treehouse to learn HTML.
- Read blogs – create a list of a few marketing blogs to follow daily. You don’t need to read a lot of blogs. Search Engine Land and Marketing Land will give you general industry news, and Moz and Quick Sprout will teach you the tactics. Each of these blogs also have email subscription options, which means you can have the content delivered to your inbox for free.
- Watch videos – online marketing is broken down into a few main categories: SEO, link building, content marketing, social media, paid advertising, email marketing, conversion optimization and reputation management. By watching these free videos, you will get a good understanding of how to work on each of those categories for your own business.
- Implement – this is where you just need to go and do it. But don’t focus on all forms of online marketing at once. Otherwise, you will be spreading yourself thin, and you’ll never become great at one thing. Instead, try to focus on one section until you feel that you are pretty good at it. For example, I got good at SEO first, then social media marketing and then content marketing. Now, I am focusing my efforts on email marketing.
- Analyze and tweak – through Google Analytics, you can track how things are going. If your traffic keeps going up and to the right, you are doing something right. If it doesn’t, you will have to continually try new marketing tactics so that you can get growth.
You learn by teaching
My favorite way to learn is by teaching. I didn’t really become great at online marketing until I started teaching it. From speaking at conferences to helping out people who emailed me to even blogging about marketing, I constantly try to teach it.
To be a good teacher, you have to make complex information easy to understand and digest. If your students don’t understand the points you are trying to make or the concepts you are trying to teach, they won’t learn anything.
In addition to that, if you just keep cramming information down your students’ throats and never give them a chance to implement anything they have learned, they will eventually forget everything you have taught them.
You also don’t have to be an expert to teach. The first time I taught was at a conference called Search Engine Strategies Chicago, where I gave a speech on Wikipedia. I didn’t know anything about Wikipedia marketing at the time and actually learned about it through a few Google searches. Yet, that didn’t stop me from teaching.
You don’t have to blog or speak at conferences to teach. It can be as simple as helping out your friends with their marketing initiatives or just going to a local meetup group, where you give people free marketing tips.
By talking about marketing and discussing it with others, you will eventually learn more about online marketing.
You learn through questions
As a teacher, you’ll notice that you get questions from your students. If you aren’t getting any questions, it either means you are exceptionally good at teaching or you are boring and just putting people to sleep.
From people doubting what you are preaching to students giving you ideas, you will get a wide variety of questions. By answering these questions, you’ll increase your knowledge.
My version of questions is comments. You, as well as other Quick Sprout readers, post hundreds of comments a day on a variety of marketing-related subjects. By answering them, I stay on top of everything that is changing in the marketing world.
My favorite part is when you actually correct me and tell me how to do something better. For example, through comments on Quick Sprout, I learned how to collect emails on YouTube and how to leverage social sites like Twitter and Facebook more efficiently.
All of us sharing our tips with each other helps ensure that we are all improving our marketing skills.
The more you teach, the more questions you will get. If people are shy, pick on them and get them to ask you a question. If you can’t get anyone to ask you a question, head over to the Quick Sprout Forum and help answer other people’s questions.
You learn through process
The best way to take your skills from being an intermediate marketer to an advanced one is through process. If you can create a process for every single marketing technique you are leveraging, you are more likely to find ways to improve each tactic.
Why? To create a detailed process, you have to think things through.
Plus, as you grow your business, you’ll eventually hire people to help you out with your marketing efforts. By creating a detailed process for all marketing tactics, you’ll find that new employees will learn faster, make fewer mistakes and provide better results.
When creating processes, make sure you create an execution plan and audit it to ensure its thoroughness. Here are the components to think about when auditing:
- Design – the comprehensiveness of the specification of how the process is to be executed.
- Performers – the people who execute the process, particularly in terms of their skills and knowledge.
- Owner – a senior executive who has the responsibility for the process and its results.
- Infrastructure – information and management systems that support the process.
- Metrics – the measures the company uses to track the process’s performance.
There are many ways in which you can learn online marketing. The strategy above is just my way of doing it. It’s not necessarily the right way or the wrong way, but it is effective.
If you follow the steps above, you will start seeing results within the first 3 months. Within a year, you’ll become effective. Just don’t expect to become a rock star within a few months as it takes years to get great at something.
So, in what other ways can you learn online marketing?