Digital Marketing Skills

What to do when your university didn’t teach you any practical digital marketing skills.

You finished or have almost finished your studies and are finally ready to start your professional marketing career. However the more you think about it the more you are scared that you are unmarketable because of the lack of practical, digital skills which you need to have to be able to obtain a marketing job these days.

Maybe you did an internship in marketing along the way but besides that everything you learned in university was very theoretical, maybe even outdated and not applicable for a first marketing job.

So now you are uncertain what the steps are to make yourself more marketable or skilled for a marketing role.

Does this sound familiar? A lot of recent graduates (or those who don’t have a marketing or business degree out of college but want to shift careers to pursue marketing) have those or similar thoughts and they are actually quite common.

Now imagine, if you had something to put on your resume, which would tell your future dream employer that you actually have some relevant practical, digital skills and that you are ready to go for that first marketing job.

The good news is there is a whole ecosystem of courses, trainings and certificates outside of the traditional educational system, which teach highly relevant digital marketing skills. And even better news: most of them are either cost free or very inexpensive. However because there are thousands to choose from this obviously leads to a follow-up question: which certificates and courses are actually the good ones? What trainings should you take to make yourself more marketable or skilled for landing a marketing job?

Out of my experience having worked with hundreds of marketers and entrepreneurs at Google in the last few years I believe the following trainings will get you a good introduction to digital marketing, covering all important major areas. They will fulfill both roles of teaching some practical digital marketing know-how as well as boost your CV due to their well known issuing institutions.  

Google Ads: Google Ads certification

This certification is part of the Google Academy for Ads which will not only teach you about Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords) but about online marketing in general. You’ll learn how to look into what people are searching for, how to write good ad texts, how to A/B test and how to track and report properly on performance. It will actually prepare you for any kind of digital marketing channel.

After getting certified you will not only know the basics of paid advertising, but will also know how to use different ad formats (search, display, video, shopping) including what you should look out for on mobile advertising.

I would also highly recommend to look further into other courses Google Academy for Ads has to offer depending on the kind of job/employer you are looking for. E.g. Google My Business training, if it’s a brick and mortar company or the Digital Sales Certification, if you want to work for an agency.

This certification is very well known and will definitely be noticed, when you put it on your resume.

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Google Analytics: Google Analytics Individual Qualification

Also part of the Google Academy for Ads this will teach you how to track performance properly not only for paid advertising but for all marketing channels including content marketing, social media marketing and everything else.

After taking this course you will know exactly which of your marketing efforts works well and where to invest more of your time and resources. Configured right you can even put a monetary value next to each channel knowing exactly how much revenue it generated.

Knowing Google Analytics is a quite data-driven, technical skill, which not every marketer knows. You definitely have to put some work in to get the certificate. However as such it will definitely impress your future employer and help you stand out during the application process and later on.

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Facebook Ads: Facebook Blueprint

Probably the fastest way to get targeted traffic to your website. While Google Ads’ strength is mostly in its intent based targeting possibilities Facebook Ads trumps with it’s many audience based targeting options. It is less complex than Google Ads and easy to scale. If you quickly want to test things such as target audiences, copies or creatives use Facebook ads to get some initial traffic.

When you did Facebook Blueprint as well as the Google Ads certificate you will have a very solid basis in paid-per-click advertising covering two of the largest networks.

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Inbound Marketing: Inbound Certification Course

Content marketing is what everybody is talking about. If your marketing budget is small and you don’t have any money to spend on paid advertising try inbound marketing instead. It is low cost and a very viable long-term strategy for user acquisition.

HubSpot is one of the absolute thought leaders when it comes to inbound marketing. It’s brand is very well recognized and taking the certificate will give you an edge, when you put it on your resume.

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SEO: SEO Training Course by Moz

While you cover the paid search engine marketing side with the Google Ads certification organic traffic generation or SEO is a huge topic on its own. It can be very technical and advanced, but knowing the basics will be enough to have a good understanding when creating your content. Together with inbound marketing SEO often is a long-term strategy. However investing in it right from the start can pay huge dividends down the road – not only as a business but also for you and your marketing career.

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Social Media Marketing: Hootsuite Social Marketing Training

While you probably know most of the social networks as a consumer you should also get to know them from a marketing perspective. If you understand how they work it will make your advertising campaigns a lot easier to run and more successful.

This course is very applicable for B2B as well as for B2C strategies and you could start crafting your social media strategy right away afterwards.

Hootsuite is an established authority and one of the leading social media management platforms with a decade of experience. As such this training will provide a lot of value for a starting digital marketer.

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Excel/Google Sheets: Excel for Marketers

Data-driven marketing and big data have been one of the biggest buzz words in the marketing world in recent years. However I estimate that more than 90% of the data analysis done in marketing is actually done either in Excel or Google Sheets. But unfortunately still a majority of marketers has either low or almost not existent skills when it comes to spreadsheet software. Though especially in digital marketing, which is quite data heavy this is actually a crucial skill to have.

So, if you want to show that you are an analytical thinker and have some data-crunching skills have at least a basic to intermediate understanding of Excel or Google Sheets. This course will bring you there easily as it is focused on marketers teaching you all the relevant topics. Nothing else will make you stand out so easily during an application process and later in your career than a little bit of analytical and data-driven thinking.

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HTML/CSS: Codeacademy Make a Website

To many marketers still rely on developers to make simple changes and implement things to their websites, landing pages  and email templates. Save some time and money by knowing how to do those yourself with some basic HTML and CSS.

By knowing HTML and CSS you will be able to demonstrate some technical know-how when applying for a job. Later on the frontend developers of your company will love you because you don’t take up their time (plus they won’t think anymore that you are one of those non-technical marketing idiots).

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Design: Canva Design Tutorials

Even-though most marketing and especially digital is quite data-driven these days being decently good at design is still a strong skill to have. The first things people notice when they see an ad, landing page or blog is not necessarily the content but the overall design. And having a basic understanding here will make huge difference for all your marketing campaigns.

You don’t have to be an outstanding creative artist and design can be a very complex topic in itself , but knowing the fundamentals of color, font and layout theory is easy to learn and will bring you a long way in the marketing world (and why not use these skills already on your CV to stand out?).

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But what if you want to stand out?

Above should give you quite a well rounded basic stack for digital marketing. But what do to, if you really want to stand out? What should you do to have an advantage on other job applicants? I’ll write about this in my next article on data-driven analytical skills for marketers. So be sure to check back!


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