Infoxication, infobesity, data smog, call it whatever you want but the fact is, we live in a world overloaded with information. This is not news however and some academics were already referring to these terms long before the Internet even became mainstream. In 2015, we are expected to see the number of online websites (as in active websites) to exceed one billion and the number of webpages to exceed 47 billion. Yep, you read that right!
The sole ability to find the most appropriate and relevant content sounds like an exploit. Thankfully search engines led by Google continue to evolve to improve their index and classification all these pages for you, so that the right information is easier to find.
As a digital marketer, you also must very well know how fast-paced this industry is. Take 6 months off and you’ll be left behind! We are required to constantly educate ourselves in order to stay on top of the game. Finding the most up-to-date information about our industry in close to real-time is therefore key in staying a highly knowledgeable and savvy digital marketer.
Since knowledge is power, I thought I’d share the following 10 habits for anyone looking to become a thought-leader and influencer.
1. Read books, lots of books
Writing a book, a good one at least, is not an easy task especially in an industry which isn’t an exact science.
But some industry experts have done an excellent job at it, providing a wealth of IP, from theories to easy tips, from general concepts to real-world case studies.
A quick search for ‘search engine optimization’, ‘google adwords’ or ’email marketing’ on online bookstores will return many results. Take the time to read many of the user reviews and compare user ratings to identify which books are great to begin with.
Whilst some general ideas may last, most books will be outdated within 6 to 12 months from the publishing date, so always look for new releases and new editions.
Here’s our humble yet growing book library at the Reef office!
2. Read blogs, lots of blogs
The beauty of our industry is that many of us enjoy sharing our thoughts, our findings, our experience, our knowledge.
Most of this information is shared on blogs, whether personal or professional, and it would be unwise not to take advantage of that!
There are many sources of information available, some good, some bad, but also some ‘must read’s.
Our best recommendation is for you to use a RSS reader or news aggregator to keep all your sources in one place. I have hundreds so this is a lifesaver! RIP Google Reader and Netvibes (now a social analytics platform), but rest assured there are many alternatives out there. Feedly, for example, does the job very well.
Here are a few great sources of information for digital marketing which you’ll surely find useful to follow:
3. Be active on social media
This is a no-brainer. Social media has become a part of everyone’s life and is most likely where you spend a large portion of your personal online browsing time.
But social networks are also a place where influencial industry peers share great resources and articles.
Whilst most websites will have Facebook, Google+, Linkedin and Twitter profiles, we recommend the latter two for industry news (I like to keep my facebook for personal use only and Google+ is just dead!);.
Use tools such as Topsy to find top influencers about a specific topic, then check out their Twitter lists for similar profiles. Also begin following agencies on Twitter for news updates (by that I mean start following Reef Digital Agency!).
Also find the content on a specific topic currently/recently most shared on social networks using Buzzsumo.
On Linkedin, join industry groups and start engaging with fellow members.
Oh, and don’t forget to be socially active yourself! Interact with marketing peers, grow your own follower base and build your personal brand and influence
4. Learning centres
Sometimes, the best place to find the information is at its very source.
Most platforms in digital marketing have their own learning or help centre that will provide up-to-date precise information about how they work. These are great places to look at when you’ve identified a specific topic you need to sharpen your skills on.
A few examples
- Google Partners Exam Study Centre
- Google Adwords help centre
- Google Analytics Academy
- Facebook Blueprint
- Bing Ads Courses
- AB Tasty support library
5. Pass industry-recognised certifications and accreditations
This is probably the easiest way – especially if you are starting in the industry – to showcase your knowledge, experience and familiarity with various advertising networks.
Being certified will also give you access, in most instances, to Beta features, industry events, discounts, etc
Here are some industry-recognised certifications search marketers should look at obtaining:
- Google Adwords Certified Partner
- Google Analytics Qualified Individual
- Bing Ads Accreditation
- DoubleClick Search Certification
- AB Tasty Certification
- Kenshoo Certification Program
I am the type of person that will listen to smooth jazz or classical during work hours. I simply cannot concentrate if I listen to lyrical music! Podcasts do require you to pay attention and are probably best listened to when commuting or at the gym.
I once thought they were a thing of the past, but I have recently rediscovered them and became hooked.
Using apps such as Pocket Casts or Stitcher, you can easily find, bookmark and listen to podcasts relating to specific topics, such as digital marketing, search engine marketing, but also internet entrepreneurship, productivity hacks, etc.
Some of my favourites are Startup Podcast, Marketing Optimization w/ AlexDesigns, PPC Rockstars, I Love Marketing with Joe Polish, Marketing Nirvana and Foundr Magazine Podcast.
7. YouTube Channels
Video has undoubtedly become one of the most consumed media types and YouTube is leading the way.
I won’t go into details as to how large YouTube has become (it’s ginormous!) and consequently has content just about anything imaginable. There are a number of great YouTube channels out there which I recommend you subscribe to.
Here’s a few I recommend:
- Official Google Analytics channel
- Official Google Adwords channel
- Digital Marketing Institute channel
- Digital Marketing Power channel
- DoubleClick Digital Marketing channel
- Reef Digital Agency’s channel!
- SMX conference videos
8. Attend Networking events
Building relationships is also creating yourself opportunities on many levels. Start going out and meeting like-minded people. Don’t know where to stat? Check out if there are any local Linkedin groups, some of which will regularly organise networking events in your area. Also look at joining meetup groups for marketing professionals. This platform is all about face-to-face networking. Sydney has a SEO meetup group with 700 members, for example.
9. Attend Industry events
Industry events are an amazing way to hear some of the best thought leaders around, get updates on the latest industry trends and developments, discover new features and technologies, not to mention network with industry peers (again!).
Here are some of the largest events for digital marketers (sticking to Australia!):
- World Social Media Marketing Conference
- Ad:tech Australia
- ADMA Advancing Analytics, Global Forum and Creative Fuel
- Online Retailer Conference and E-Commerce Expo
Sometimes the best way to learn is simply by doing.
If you adopt the previous 9 habits, you will develop a level of knowledge and understanding of digital marketing that you will be able to use on a daily basis on your account(s), whether you work agency-side or client-side. Start experimenting some of the techniques others have successfully implemented.
Trial-and-error is sometimes unavoidable as you pioneer your way through the ever-evolving world of digital marketing.
I certainly hope the above will help you become a better digital marketer.
If you’d like to share some other resources or sources of information, feel free to comment down below.