Updated: Jan 14
You've probably watched many videos on YouTube, seen many people with thousands of followers on Instagram selling courses on how to become a master of digital marketing, and maybe even read some books on this topic. After following a few "gurus" and buying a few online courses, you might think you're ready to succeed in the marketing world. But let me tell you the truth: getting into marketing is relatively easy, but staying successful and delivering results for years is challenging. I speak from my own experience.
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If you're still in high school, prepare to enroll in a college or university by pursuing an academic degree in marketing. This may seem like a long way off, and you may be looking for a more immediate solution, but there are no shortcuts to a successful career. Academic training will give you a base that can be applied in any segment of digital marketing because digital is just a vehicle for applying traditional marketing concepts.
"It's no use having a Bugatti La Voiture Noire ($19M) if you don't know how to drive fast." - Andre Havro
In fact, there is no such thing as Digital Marketing, but rather the application of fundamental marketing and communication concepts to digital media. Therefore, aspiring digital marketing professionals must take, as a first step, a good college course in marketing or advertising to acquire the fundamental concepts that will be applied later in the online environment.
But calm down! You don't have to wait four years to complete college to enter the digital world. The academic base will be much better employed if you start your preparation today, using what is already available online. On the other hand, if you are already studying marketing or communication, this is the time to start your online certifications.
One of the first guidelines I give in my digital marketing mentorship program for young professionals and entrepreneurs is the need to constantly study and seek certifications to help build a successful career. In this article, I share a list of some essential certificates needed to become a successful digital marketing professional, most of which are free and can be done online.
3 tips for building your marketing career
Here are three valuable tips to get you started on your professional preparation.
1. Know the Latest Trends
Digital marketing is a career that is always on the move and constantly changing. If you choose this as a way of life, you must keep up with the latest trends 24/7. The needs of this industry vary over time, and if you fall behind, someone else will be waiting to take your place. So attend virtual seminars, take online classes, follow the news, and do your best to stay ahead of the game instead of simply following along.
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2. Become a Master in Analytics
Knowing how to analyze data and turn it into information will be crucial for your marketing career. For example, you will need to master analytics to understand the success of your campaigns. This is also one of the most in-demand skills in the market, given its importance to understanding your results and the competitors.
3. Get Trusted Certification
Someone may have said that anyone can get into digital marketing without a college degree. Still, I can guarantee that the candidates who are getting the best positions are those who have an academic background and up-to-date certifications in digital marketing. Unfortunately, much useless information is spread around the internet, so be wary! Seek certifications and courses from institutions related to marketing or big brands to reduce the risk of learning something useless. So, instead of going around buying online courses, start your journey by looking for certifications from the big players. This will help you gain the theoretical background that will be crucial in your career and make you stand out from a crowd of digital marketers who may be even more experienced but don't have certifications.
Top Courses and Certifications on Digital Marketing to Start Your Career
These are some of the certifications I recommend to my mentees in the first few sessions. The mentoring work is a long-term relationship in which I follow the mentee's development for months or even years, as a successful career is not built overnight. The certifications listed below are just the beginning of a long search for certifications indicated according to the profile and needs of each mentee. I recommend you start looking for some of the certificates below; they will enhance your academic knowledge and draw the attention of professionals who select candidates for digital marketing.
Get Started with Social Media at Meta Certifications
Meta offers many fast, free, and self-guided courses to help build your marketing skills across Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Depending on your knowledge, you will need to take several courses on the Meta platform before scheduling the certification exam.
These are the Meta Professional certificates I often recommend to my mentees. They are designed to give students a deeper understanding of the Meta marketing landscape. This list may contain both free and premium courses.
Meta Certified Community Manager - The community manager certificate exam identifies candidates who can build, scale, and sustain an online community using community-building strategies and tools.
Meta Certified Creative Strategy Professional - Meta Certified Creative Strategy Professionals understand mobile fundamentals, can apply insights, develop briefs, and evaluate creative effectiveness.
Improve Your Knowledge on Google Skillshop
Skillshop is a Google training platform that can be used to improve your knowledge of Google's tools and solutions. It is available to anyone who uses the related products. When you register, you will have access to the online courses and can complete them at your own speed. The courses I recommend to start with are:
Google Analytics 4: Learn how to set up a GA 4 property for any company and how the newest version of Google Analytics can enhance your measurement strategy. A Google Analytics certification will put you on the same level as professionals who know how to measure the results of any online marketing campaign.
Google Ads Search Certification: This certification will demonstrate your mastery in creating and optimizing Google Search campaigns. In addition, certified users can leverage automated solutions like Smart Bidding and Audience Solutions to increase campaign performance for specific marketing objectives.
Email Marketing Still Strong
With more than 350 billion emails sent daily (Statista), email marketing is still alive and strong. It is an essential tool for many businesses to communicate with customers, generate leads, deliver a great return on investment, and become more efficient through the use of artificial intelligence.
HubSpot Academy Email Marketing: Learn how to build an email marketing strategy that is human and helpful and builds trust with your contacts.
ActiveCampaign Certified: Unlock new opportunities to showcase your expertise and support ActiveCampaign customers with customer experience automation.
SEO Knowledge is an Asset
I simplify the definition of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as a set of processes that improve your page naturally so that your site is in the top positions of a search page, such as Google. Of course, placing your website at the top of Google is not easy, as everyone wants to be there, but when we combine SEO techniques and strategies with Content Marketing, this task can become possible!
Ahrefs Certification - Ahrefs is one of the most popular tools utilized by the SEO and digital marketing sectors. You may use it to measure the website's attributes and the links' quality while gathering all the necessary data about backlinks.
Semrush Academy - Semrush brings together experts who offer a variety of valuable free courses. I'm sure you'll find one that will match your learning interests. Look for Brian Dean's courses. They're great!
A graduate degree is always a plus
Finishing the digital marketing professional's educational journey, having a postgraduate degree is always a great addition to their resume and is essential for constructing their academic background. Therefore, selecting a graduate program with experienced professors in the field who can share their professional knowledge in addition to the course material is vital. In many cases, theory and practice differ.
The marketing field is expanding rapidly and will continue to grow for many years to come, even as AI becomes more popular, which means you have many opportunities and, at the same time, much competition. So it's not enough to be prepared; you must stand out from the crowd.
To stand out, focus on mastering your fundamental communication skills and continue to specialize and build your network.
Create a Medium account and produce relevant and unique content. Reach out to other blogs and produce content for them to help build your name's authority.
Volunteer your marketing skills with a non-profit organization to polish your sample pieces. That's how I got my first job as soon as I arrived in Canada!
Networking is still vital in getting a job, as more new hires come through employee referrals than job boards.
A marketing career can be challenging, but it doesn't have to be overwhelming. Follow these tips and get the correct certifications to jump-start your career and stay on top of the trend line.
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