Oct 3, 2023
Do you struggle to keep up with the constantly changing digital marketing landscape? Rest assured, you’re not alone!
According to our research, ‘The Marketing Evolution- Leadership, Transformation, Skills, Challenges & the Future’; 46% of senior marketers have seen the leadership's vision of digital transformation has changed over the past two years, while 58% have moved their marketing budgets from traditional to digital channels.
The landscape gets more complicated when you add emerging technologies into the mix. Just look at how AI in marketing is developing in an extraordinary way, activities, or how new technologies, like Google’s Search Generative Experience, might change how we do search marketing.
However, successful marketers understand that while branding, features, and formats inevitably change across digital tools and platforms over time, the fundamentals of how to use the tools and platforms to support your goals evolve at a steadier pace.
Keeping up to speed is about having the skills in place to adapt while keeping on top of changes and developments to create opportunities where and when you can.
“Marketers need to keep up-to-date and think critically (and strategically) about what any change means, but every change doesn't reset your aptitude to do your job to 'zero' either.” Tadhg O’Connell, Head of Product at the Digital Marketing Institute
Before we look at the most effective ways to keep up-to-date and your skills relevant, you need to have a digital marketing strategy that will inform and support all your marketing activities.
An effective strategy can guide your marketing team. It will allow you to understand your customers, know what digital channels drive leads and revenue, and help your team make data-driven decisions to have a positive business impact.
There are many benefits to having a digital marketing strategy. These include ensuring you:
When it comes to creating a strategy, research is crucial. You need to understand the business objectives, the target audience, the outcomes of the research, and include any key questions you want answered.
Following that you can use a strategy action plan to set out timelines, budgets, goals, tactics, channels, KPIs, etc. With a strategy in place, you will have a great basis to work from and can adapt your tactics, budget and goals if things change.
Ultimately the pace of digital marketing can be unforgiving, so be prepared to pivot and adapt if circumstances change, but use your strategy as a blueprint you can return to for guidance.
Now you’ve got to grips with the fundamentals of creating a strategy, let’s look at useful resources to keep on top of trends and developments in the world of digital marketing.
With the ubiquity of social media and other digital channels, some companies question the necessity of newsletters. But with the demise of cookies and the increased popularity of platforms like Substack, being able to communicate with and influence your customer base via email is essential.
There are some successful newsletters out there that can be a mine of information for marketers such as:
Never underestimate a good newsletter, it can inspire what you most need - and best of all, it arrives in your inbox with no effort!
There are lots of great online publications and blogs that offer a range of content, from articles to podcasts to handy toolkits or guides.
It’s worth keeping some bookmarked so you can check them regularly to see what’s coming down the line or get advice. You can set up an RSS feed or subscribe so you get updates to your inbox.
Some of these are specialized, so if you work in social media or search marketing you will get information that can help in your daily role. Here are some to check out:
Many of these sites offer podcasts and webinars, many of which are free. You should also look at the publishing platform Medium for articles from experts on a variety of topics.
Social media offers marketers effective ways to communicate, engage, and influence consumers. It’s also a great way to tap into conversations, monitor trends, and keep an eye on competitors!
It’s worth noting that social media platforms are prone to change. This could be their name - need we mention ‘X’?!. It could be the look of the platform or the replacement of a feature (goodbye IGTV).
Often these changes have a small or negligible impact on the way you use them and have little bearing on the day-to-day duties of a social media marketer. So don’t panic if something is different.
Make sure to consider hashtags when using social media. It helps people to discover your content and links your content to a category or topic. For example, #digitalmarketing is a popular hashtag along with others as shown in the graphic below.
Let’s look at how you can use some of the most popular social platforms effectively.
The professional networking platform is an ideal place to connect with leading industry experts and influencers. You can join online communities and forums to interact with other marketers, get updates, and ask questions.
There are also blogs and newsletters on LinkedIn that you can subscribe to in niche areas. You can also build a community by writing articles or creating a newsletter for everyone on the network using the Creator Hub.
LinkedIn Live allows you to watch live events and videos from industry leaders and competitors and there are also audio events.
You can create a stream on X using carefully chosen hashtags. Stay away from ones that are too generic, such as #marketing or #technology, to avoid being bombarded by irrelevant tweets.
Due to its real-time nature, X is great for getting the scoop on breaking news or new developments. You can also follow other brands and industry leaders to get opinions on new developments or tips on how to use a new platform - like how to build a custom report on GA4 for example.
Instagram users can search for content by specific terms or hashtags using the platform’s ‘Explore’ feature.
It also offers related searches that allow you to broaden your results. It can be a powerful tool to stay on top of trends and discover valuable data, infographics, and videos.
A strong influencer platform, Instagram allows you to follow creators - big and small - to track new trends and tap into any hashtags or conversations. It can also help you identify influencers on the up that may align with your brand that you could use in activities or campaigns.
Like other networks, Facebook has groups and communities that brands can tap into to see what customers are saying and start conversations. This could be to discover more about your customers, create brand awareness, or simply drive engagement.
As a platform, Facebook has embraced AI due in part to its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, and his metaverse. In 2024, users and marketers will become more adept at using AI content creation tools and AI technology for A/B testing, so it’s worth keeping an eye on developments to see how you can leverage it to boost paid campaigns or optimize customer service.
TikTok has gained users quickly since its inception and passionate ones at that. The platform is awash with great content creators and influencers to tap into for inspiration and insights.
You can use TikTok to keep up to speed by:
For any marketer, Google Alerts is an invaluable free tool to stay on top of the news and industry announcements. It allows you to monitor the web and notifies you through email when a new result matching your search query appears
Set up some Google alerts built around relevant keywords and phrases. You can also create alerts for influencers, industry leaders, and competitors. It’s also an effective way to track brand mentions (you should include common misspellings too so you’re not missing anything).
Google Trends analyzes the popularity of queries on the search engine across various locations and languages. It uses graphs to compare the volume of queries over time and can be filtered by location and topics to give you interest over a timeframe. There are also advanced trends that take context into account.
Google isn’t the only online solution for gathering news from online sources. A news aggregator app is a web application that gathers syndicated web content such as blogs, online newspapers, videos, and podcasts in one location for easy viewing.
Agreggators save you time and effort as you can tailor what content you’re receiving into one place and get updates at a glance. Examples are:
Industry-specific conferences and trade shows provide an excellent opportunity to learn about the latest marketing and technological developments.
This is often where brands or tech developers unveil their latest features or solutions. Even if they don’t, seminar topics are likely to cover interesting topics that can help advance your knowledge in an area.
Conferences that enable you to meet others in the digital marketing field and exchange ideas can be incredibly beneficial. When you expand your peer network, it gives you a deeper pool of resources to tap into when you come face to face with a problem or challenge.
If attending conferences in person isn’t always an option, you may be able to get recordings or follow the conference on social media to stay informed about the subjects covered.
Popular marketing conferences are:
Podcasts about digital marketing and technology can be an outstanding source of news and information. The podcast landscape has exploded over the past few years, and many shows featuring industry experts dive into all areas of digital marketing to help you learn and keep up-to-date.
Popular podcasts for marketing are:
Webinars are another content format that’s gained in popularity over the past few years. They provide a forum for marketers not only to learn but also to ask questions in real-time on specific areas.
Along with the Digital Marketing Institute webinar series, there are many out there from the online publications listed above that you can tap into to keep track of developments and innovations.
Let’s be clear – we’re not suggesting corporate espionage! However, it’s worth keeping your eyes and ears open about what others in your field are doing from a marketing and technology perspective.
You can do this by conducting a digital competitive analysis. The outcomes will help understand your competitors’ digital strategies to leverage your strengths, minimize your weaknesses and drive growth.
You can do this by:
There are a lot of great tools to help you conduct an analysis such as SEMRush, Brandwatch, Ahrefs, and BuzzSumo.
Understanding your competitors will help you create a benchmark to gauge your performance and get insights to help you make new opportunities.
As the digital marketing industry moves so quickly, it’s important to build a peer network to tap into and participate in discussions. It’s also helpful to connect with or follow industry leaders to get insights and advice on different areas.
So, when you come across an article or news item that’s interesting or insightful, share it with others on your team or in the company and ask them to do the same. Use social media networks such as LinkedIn or Twitter to showcase research or articles your network or groups may find useful.
It may even be worth including knowledge sharing as an agenda item in your regular internal meetings. This could develop a culture of sharing and content ideation.