How To Learn Digital Marketing [Guide to Getting Started] 

Maria MunteanMaria Muntean | 12 minute read | June 29, 2022
how to learn digital marketing

In this article

Digital marketing is a fast-evolving field with new trends emerging every day. So if you’re trying to launch a career in digital marketing, it can often feel like you’re trying to hit a moving target. This is the dilemma that most aspiring marketers face today: how do you balance the need to learn about digital marketing’s latest developments while also grounding yourself in its fundamentals? 

That’s why we’ve written this guide. Below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to launch your digital marketing career, what specializations are most in-demand, and what education path is right for you. 

What Is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing is the use of digital channels to promote a product or service. There are many subsets of digital marketing (which we’ll detail below), but at the core of each subset is a desire to build relationships with consumers through digital channels. Because no matter the platform, digital marketing relies upon promoting a brand online while personally engaging with your customers.

Related Read: Why Is Digital Marketing Important?

What Does a Digital Marketer Do?

A digital marketer leverages the internet to generate leads and increase a brand’s visibility online. They use a variety of channels to do this, including company websites, email marketing, social media, search engines, and blogs. 

A digital marketing expert uses strategy and creative thinking to identify the best ways for their company to achieve these goals, relying on their knowledge of trends in technology and marketing.

Related Read: A Day in the Life of a Digital Marketer

Is Learning Digital Marketing Hard?

Learning digital marketing isn’t hard, but it can be intimidating to sift through all the online tutorials that don’t provide helpful information.

Learn digital marketing from people willing to share their knowledge and genuinely want to help you succeed. Good digital marketing tutorials are easy to spot: they start with the basics so everyone can follow along, then they give out specific details about what you need to know as you move forward.

How To Learn Digital Marketing From Scratch

  1. Pick a Specialty

  2. Build Your Foundation With Free Resources

  3. Follow Digital Marketing Influencers

  4. Do an Internship

  5. Build Or Participate in Related Projects

  6. Take a Related Job to Refine Your Skills

  7. Complete a Course

  8. Get a Certification

Here’s how to learn digital marketing if you’re starting from square one. 

Pick a Specialty

Digital marketing is a vast field that has several different specialties. The first step in learning digital marketing is to pick one of the specialties that appeal to you.

Let’s take a closer look at the most popular options:

  1. Social Media Marketing is the art of using social networks to engage with customers and promote your brand. 
  2. Digital marketers use SEO (search engine optimization) to help their sites rank well in search engines like Google and Bing and drive more traffic and potential customers to their website.
  3. PPC (pay-per-click), Search Engine Marketing, or Google Ads specialists promote products through online advertising campaigns. You pay for each click on the ad link, which means that one of your jobs is optimizing budgets for a lower acquisition cost.

Other digital marketing specialties include:

  • Email marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Copywriting
  • Conversion rate optimization
  • Account-based marketing
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Inbound marketing

If you’re not sure which specialty to pick, here are seven things you should consider as you make your choice:

  1. Do you think you’ll enjoy the work?
  2. What type of business do you think will be most likely to hire someone with your skillset?
  3. What do people in the industry say about it?
  4. How much money do people who work in this specialty make?
  5. Is there a demand for this kind of work, or will it be challenging to find a job if you get into it?
  6. What is your skill and interest level in this area?

Build Your Foundation With Free Resources

It’s now easier than ever to learn digital marketing, as you can find plenty of free resources online. Many digital marketing experts offer webinars, articles, and tutorials that you can access anytime, so you’ll never have an excuse to be uninformed.

You can:

  • Sign up for free webinars. You’ll get a chance to meet other people who are just like you, and you can ask questions and get advice from them.
  • Read digital marketing articles from reputable sources. There are some great blogs out there that offer nothing but information about digital marketing. You can learn how to apply this information to your own business.
  • Watch online tutorials. Seeing someone else do it is a great way to pick up the basics quickly and accurately if you’ve never done something before.

Follow Digital Marketing Influencers

how to learn digital marketing - Digital Marketing Influencer

One of the best ways to learn digital marketing is to keep up with the people in your field who are good at it.

You can find digital marketing influencers through social media channels like Twitter or LinkedIn. These people are good at sharing what they’ve learned, their failures, and how they’ve gotten where they are.

Do an Internship

how to learn digital marketing - Internship

There’s no better way to get a comprehensive education than through an internship. These give you hands-on experience in the digital marketing world and offer you the opportunity to work alongside experienced professionals.

Plus, an internship gives you great experience to add to your resume as you look for an entry-level digital marketing job.

Build Or Participate in Related Projects

There’s much to learn from trying out different things in your spare time.

Start your side hustle or take on a side job. Best case scenario—you can launch or run a project that turns into quite a bit of money, but even if you’re unsuccessful, you’ll have learned something along the way.

Take a Related Job to Refine Your Skills

It’s essential to get some experience in a related field before diving into digital marketing so that you can understand what makes this type of work unique—and learn how your skills can translate into something different than what you were used to doing in your previous job.

For example, if you’re a software developer, dip your toes into technical SEO and learn about search engine algorithms.

If you come from a web design background, learn the principles of persuasion and find out what makes people buy.

Complete a Course

If you want to improve your knowledge or digital marketing skills, consider taking a free online digital marketing course. Courses are an efficient way to get practical training, make new connections in the industry, and learn about recent trends.

For those interested in digital marketing courses for beginners, plenty are available online for free. There are options for those with more experience too. You can even find MOOCs on platforms like Coursera or EdX that let you take digital marketing courses from top universities for free.

Get a Certification

One of the most important ways to set yourself apart in the job market is to have a digital marketing certification. If you are looking for a job in digital marketing, the chances are that you will be just one of many applicants with similar experience. The more you can do to differentiate yourself, the better your chances of finding a great position and earning a good salary.

Springboard offers a Professional Digital Marketing Certificate that allows students to gain hands-on online marketing experience. The program is designed for students interested in learning about the digital world and getting a foothold in this field. Professionals can also take the certificate path to further their digital marketing careers.

In just eight weeks, you graduate from the Professional Digital Marketing Certificate program with skills that make you more attractive to employers and a great addition to your digital marketing portfolio.

Resources To Help You Learn Digital Marketing on Your Own

Blogs

Conversion Optimization & Marketing Blog by CXL

how to learn digital marketing - Conversion Optimization & Marketing Blog by CXL

CXL has a blog focused on conversion optimization, including but not limited to copywriting principles, digital psychology, and digital marketing analytics. It’s a place that helps readers understand the latest tactics and strategies in these fields.

The blog includes templates and guides to help you execute the exact strategies they use in their experiments, as well as a weekly newsletter that gives you tips, tricks, and best practices from all areas of conversion optimization.

MarketingProfs Articles

MarketingProfs Articles

The MarketingProfs blog is one of the world’s most popular digital marketing blogs. It’s run by Ann Handley, the author of a best-selling book and a leader in social media. The articles are clear and concise, which makes for good reading even for those with little time on their hands.

MarketingProfs shares insights into all areas of online marketing, from SEO to content marketing strategy, through guest contributors with diverse areas of expertise.

Youtube Channels

Adam Erhart

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Adam Erhart spent his last decade running successful businesses. He shares everything he’s learned on his YouTube channel, from the most essential marketing principles to the most advanced digital marketing strategies. His videos are easy to digest and entertaining, making for a smooth learning experience.

Ahrefs

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The team behind Ahrefs runs this YouTube channel, an SEO tool that helps you research keywords, plan your content strategy, and run technical SEO audits.

Naturally, the channel’s host, Sam Oh, talks about digital marketing topics such as link building, guest posting, and behind-the-scenes insights on the digital marketing industry.

Podcasts

Everyone Hates Marketers by Louis Grenier

how to learn digital marketing - Example 1 to inspire you

“Everyone Hates Marketers” is a podcast for people sick of marketing nonsense. It features interviews with marketing veterans who cut through the noise and share valuable insights about practical marketing strategies. 

Marketing School

how to learn digital marketing - Example 2 to inspire you

Marketing School is a beginner-friendly podcast by Neil Patel and Eric Siu.

The podcast not only takes you through the basic principles of marketing but also touches upon hidden opportunities such as:

  • Is Tumblr still a valuable channel to market on?
  • Why aren’t your YouTube ads working?
  • Is Amazon better than eBay for e-commerce?

Examples to Inspire You

There are many reasons why people share their learning journey online. 

Some people just want to show off what they’ve been working on, others want to seek advice from the community, and some just want to share their stories and encourage others with similar goals. 

In any case, there is so much we can learn about our field from those willing to share and contribute.

“I’ve Talked to 8,000 Business Owners in the Last Four Years at My Day Job. Here’s What I Learned About Marketing”.

Over four years, a Reddit user gathered digital marketing insights from over 8,000 business owners. These responded with various helpful strategies that can be applied to any business. We liked this because:

  • They emphasize the importance of stories over products
  • They emphasize fundamental marketing principles like listening to your customers or the importance of word of mouth
  • They provide a comprehensive resource list for further learning

“The One Lesson I Learned From Spending $304,000 in Facebook Ads!”

how to learn digital marketing - Example3 to inspire you

In this Medium article, Sidney Pierucci shares his lessons on launching successful Facebook Ads. 

We loved this article because:

  • The author uses numbers and statistics, which shows credibility
  • They teach practical insights, such as how to calculate your return on investment and return on ad spend
  • Although the author uses marketing jargon, the takeaways are easy to grasp even by a beginner

“11 Full-Time Bloggers Share How They Did It”

Income School on YouTube shares practical tips on launching and monetizing your website through SEO or paid ads.

They share case studies and teach their audience the fundamentals of launching a blog and becoming a content marketer. Although all their videos are valuable, we like this particular one because:

  • It features insights from bloggers who’ve made it as creators
  • It shares key learnings like spending actual time to find new ways to monetize a website

Learning Digital Marketing: Where To Start

How To Learn Digital Marketing as a Beginner

While it’s tempting to sign up for every course, you find and watch everyone on YouTube talk about their journey, make sure you start by understanding digital marketing fundamentals and then picking a specialty that interests you. Try to learn as much as possible about that one specialty and deepen your knowledge through online marketing courses.

How To Learn Digital Marketing With a Related Background

If you already know digital marketing, a great way to get an edge over other digital marketing professionals is to gain hands-on experience and learn from the experts. The skill set of a good digital marketer is not something that can be learned through books or online marketing courses alone.

Get an internship and work closely with the digital marketing department to learn the ins and outs of the industry.

The Benefits of Learning Digital Marketing

In-Demand Skills

When you enter the digital marketing field, you’ll interact with clients and coworkers from different cultures and walks of life.

So, not only will digital marketing help you acquire fundamental skills like budgeting and analytics, but it will also teach you soft skills like communication, team management, and empathy.

These are in-demand skills that help you advance in your career, regardless of your path.

Applicable to Any Industry

Digital marketing is applicable in every industry, from retail to education, healthcare, or government. It can be used to promote a local business, a national brand, or an international company. 

It’s hard to imagine any business that wouldn’t benefit from at least some form of digital marketing.

Dynamic Career Opportunities and High-Paying Jobs

Digital marketing is a dynamic field that offers the excitement of constantly changing technology and the chance to earn a high wage.

The digital marketing field encompasses many jobs, ranging from social media specialists to search engine optimization experts. Moreover, digital marketers also work on long-term projects, including developing brand strategies and designing and executing digital marketing campaigns.

An Evolving Industry That Rewards Curiosity and Creativity

One of the greatest things about working in digital marketing is that it’s a constantly evolving industry. 

It lets you try new things, take risks, and learn about exciting topics. Specialization is also a huge part of digital marketing—you can focus on social media, mobile marketing, content marketing, SEO, and more. 

When you work in this field, you’ll be the one to have your finger on the pulse of what’s up and coming next.

Easy To Transition to Self-Employment or Side Hustles

Marketers have many more opportunities for side hustles and self-employment than ever before, thanks to the emergence of the creator economy.

Digital marketing is a booming field, which makes it an ideal way for people who already know how to do it to earn extra income on the side. 

With the right amount of research and experience, you can start as a part-time freelancer, work your way up to being a full-time freelance marketer, and eventually open up your own business that could potentially support you entirely.

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FAQs About Learning Digital Marketing

We’ve got the answers to your most frequently asked questions. 

Can You Learn Digital Marketing on Your Own

You can learn digital marketing on your own from books and online video classes, but what you get from those will only be as good as the information you’re getting. To get good at digital marketing, you will eventually need hands-on experience, ideally through marketing mentorship from someone who has already experienced some success and is willing to help you navigate through the less-than-perfect parts of this career path.

How Long Does It Take To Learn Digital Marketing?

You won’t be an expert from the get-go, but if you put in the hours, you can reasonably expect to learn digital marketing in about a year. At that point, you’ll have enough skill and knowledge to start applying for jobs as a junior marketer, which will enable you to gain experience more quickly.

Related Read: How Long Does It Take to Become a Digital Marketer

Which Is the Easiest Digital Marketing Specialization To Learn?

It depends on your interests and strengths. What’s easiest for someone else to learn may be harder for you because it’s not something you’re naturally familiar with. And if you’re in a situation where you have to work on something outside of your comfort zone, learning it will be an uphill battle.
Choose something you enjoy and are interested in most. This will make the learning process much easier, keeping you motivated along the way.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before choosing a specialization:
+ What do I enjoy doing most?
+ What do I have experience in?
+ How would I describe my personality? 

Once you know what digital marketing specialization most appeals to your personality, it’ll be easier for you to find resources that help and lead you there.

Is Digital Marketing a Good Career?

A job in digital marketing can be highly competitive, but the industry has a lot to offer for those who can land it. In terms of job outlook, digital marketers have an advantage over many other occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs in marketing will increase by 10% by 2030. Digital marketing also makes it easy to start immediately with a relatively low level of resources and experience. This makes it a great career path for ambitious individuals who aren’t afraid to step out of their comfort zone.
And don’t forget — the faster you start learning, the better. So go read a blog, watch a video, listen to a podcast or sign up for a course. As time goes on, your knowledge will build and you’ll be qualified for an entry-level position or even freelance work.

Since you’re here…
Ready for a career in digital marketing? Our Digital Marketing Bootcamp promises fresh digital marketing skills and a professional certification in just a few months. Test our curriculum with this free digital marketing learning path, and check out our salary guide to see what you could be making.

Maria Muntean

About Maria Muntean

Maria-Cristina is a content marketer with 7 years of experience in SEO and content strategy for SaaS and technology brands. She holds an MA thesis on the effects of emotions in written and video content. She loves to spend time near the ocean and watch horror movies.