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Digital Marketing with person using a laptop on a white table

How to learn digital marketing

Digital marketing is increasingly becoming the marketing tool of choice for brands and businesses the world over, boosted by its accessibility, affordability, analytics-led approach, and limitless reach. As of last year, the global digital marketing market is estimated at around $321 billion – and it’s only projected to grow.

In today’s interconnected, technology-driven world, everyone is now online – and businesses who wish to remain competitive must meet their audiences there, or risk losing out. Talented marketers who are able to navigate the evolving, fast-paced and highly competitive digital marketing field are more valuable than ever.

How is digital marketing different from traditional marketing?

Traditional, tried-and-tested marketing refers to marketing activities that don’t take place online – think television, newspaper and radio ads, billboards, sales calls, direct mail and so on. It helps to reach specific audiences, and it’s worth bearing in mind that there are some audiences who can only really be reached via traditional means. Digital marketing, on the other hand, refers to any marketing that takes place online – such as Google ads, social media ads, influencer marketing, pay-per-click (PPC), website marketing and email marketing. Not only is it more cost-effective for businesses, it has the potential to reach huge numbers of potential customers, anywhere in the world, and offers real-time feedback and insights.

In terms of marketing techniques and marketing channels, a combination of both is still advisable for most organisations.

What skills do you need for digital marketing?

Digital marketing is applicable across all industries, making it a highly varied, creative and evolving practice that requires a wide-ranging skill set.

In order to stand out from other digital marketing professionals, and be able to present yourself as a full digital marketing package, there are several skills that are essential, including:

  • content creation. Content creation and content marketing is big business and, as HubSpot state, ‘the ultimate inbound marketing practice.’ It involves developing content that delights and attracts customers, for example blog posts, videos, podcasts, webinars, infographics, testimonials and white papers.
  • SEO and SEM. Search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are, in many ways, the backbone of digital marketing. They enable potential customers to find your content via search engines, and require specialist skills such as SEO copywriting, keyword research, link-building expertise and knowledge of Google search, information architecture and accessibility.
  • social media. Social media marketing is an undeniably important aspect of any strong digital marketing strategy. Social media platforms – such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn and YouTube – are used to drive traffic to websites, reach customers and build brands. There are different strands to designing a successful social media campaign, from choosing appropriate platforms, to growing a community, to strategies such as affiliate marketing, to setting success metrics.
  • data analysis. Marketing analytics provide critical insights that are fundamental to shaping wider strategies and campaigns. They enable you to assess who your customers are and how they interact with your content, which products or services are the most popular, and much more. Popular analytics platforms include HootSuite, Google Analytics, PowerBI, Tableau and Semrush, and knowing how to use them will allow you to get the most out of your data.
  • CRM. CRM (customer relationship management) refers to the strategies, technologies and practices used to manage interaction throughout the customer lifecycle. They are used for lead generation, targeted marketing, contact management and sales automation.
  • design. A basic understanding of design practices is a golden thread running through many of your digital marketing activities, supporting the development of aspects such as your website, campaign creatives, marketing collateral and wider brand image.

Of course, these aren’t the only aspects of digital marketing – far from it. In terms of knowledge and expertise, effective marketers must possess a solid foundation in the different marketing techniques and the best methods for achieving their goals and key performance indicators (KPIs).

What is the best way to develop digital marketing skills?

Ready to become a digital marketing expert?

Fortunately, there are a wide variety of routes to learning the fundamentals of digital marketing before you put them into practice in real-world settings. First of all, it’s a good idea to assess your individual marketing goals and skills gaps to focus your professional development. From there, you can identify the best sources; this may include online digital marketing courses, networking groups and online communities, or resources such as podcasts, eBooks or blog posts.

It’s then a case of gaining practical experience, putting your knowledge and skills into practice in real-life settings by testing out various marketing tools, platforms, tactics and strategies. As well as reflecting on what works and what doesn’t, finding a mentor who can support and guide your digital marketing journey – and even open doors to new opportunities – can be a fantastic way to develop your skills.

Digital marketing is a constantly evolving industry, so keeping your skills and expertise up to date is a continuous process. Stay alert to new developments and innovations in the field, and understand that there may be new, alternative ways to reach potential customers and ensure marketing activities stay relevant and impactful.

Which digital marketing course is right for you?

The right digital marketing course can provide you with the specialist skills, experience, tools and insights to further your career in marketing and give your business a competitive advantage.

There is a wealth of online courses, tutorials and seminars – including free courses – that offer a great starting point. Of course, you can also pay for more formal courses, many of which offer a digital marketing certification upon completion. Popular, well-regarded courses are run by a number of universities, as well as providers such as the Digital Marketing Institute, The Chartered Institute of Marketing, and Udemy. As well as the certification course content itself, check key aspects such as how you’ll learn, what level the course is pitched at, how learning is assessed, and course duration, and gauge which option is best for your needs.

As well as the cornerstones of digital marketing – such as, SEO and content development – it may be necessary to acquire specific skills related to your career ambitions or the market/industry in which you operate. For example, if you are selling products online, gaining specific knowledge and skills in ecommerce is likely beneficial. Ensure you tailor your learning to your individual needs, and select courses with modules that cover what you’ll need.

Carve out a successful, creative and varied digital marketing career

Develop as a transformative digital marketing manager – with the skills to design and deliver impactful digital marketing campaigns – with the University of Lincoln’s online MSc Management with Marketing programme.

Choose a flexible, online course that offers you comprehensive marketing training with a practical focus to help set you apart in the world of marketing. You’ll explore the wider aspects of leadership and management needed to succeed in challenging, fast-paced environments, as well as specialist marketing expertise to give your strategies the edge. Engaging modules include international marketing, consumer behaviour, project management, relationship marketing, digital marketing and more. Plus, with an online learning environment designed to help you fit studies around your commitments, you can invest in yourself and your career at your own pace.