Is Digital Marketing Hard to Learn? [2023 Career Guide]
In this article
Digital marketing is an in-demand profession that offers strong career prospects, competitive salaries, and the chance to work in a rapidly evolving field. The profession also presents diverse opportunities across many different industries and specialization paths—digital marketers can help companies launch social media campaigns, devise a content strategy, increase conversion rates through SEO, and reach potential customers in all corners of the internet.
The allure of a digital marketing career has led many prospective digital marketers to ask about the catch. Is digital marketing hard to learn? And how challenging is it to get your foot in the door once you’ve picked up digital marketing skills? Read on to learn more about what it takes to get into digital marketing.
What Is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing refers to advertising and marketing efforts that rely on digital technologies. This includes social networking and web-based publishing platforms, targeted ads for mobile devices, display advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, email marketing, and affiliate marketing. Digital marketing professionals use these digital tools and technologies to reach current and potential customers, raise brand awareness, increase web traffic, and ultimately help their companies achieve their marketing goals.
Related Read: Why Is Digital Marketing Important?
What Makes Digital Marketing Hard to Learn?
Digital marketing skills generally fall into two broad categories: technical skills and soft skills. Whether an individual finds digital marketing difficult to learn will depend on their disposition in relation to those skills, background, and prior experience.
On the technical front, some people find it challenging to learn multiple disciplines, which can include SEO, pay-per-click (PPC), search advertising, social media marketing, content strategy, influencer marketing, referral marketing, and data analytics. Although digital marketers aren’t expected to have in-depth knowledge of all these disciplines, they need to be an expert in at least one, in addition to having a broader knowledge of digital marketing channels.
The soft skills required for digital marketing—communication, project management skills, and adaptability—may come naturally to some people and present challenges to others.
Can You Learn Digital Marketing on Your Own?
Many of the skills required for a career in digital marketing can be self-taught. For example, there are plenty of free online resources that teach digital marketing processes such as social media audits, creating video content, and SEO. That said, in order to develop core digital marketing skills and ensure that there are no glaring holes in your knowledge, you should consider enrolling in a marketing degree or online bootcamp.
Some of the benefits of taking a course include structured learning, support from instructors and mentors, the ability to have your questions answered by an industry expert, hands-on work experience, and the chance to practice some of the soft skills required for the job.
Tips To Learn Digital Marketing
There are many ways to go about learning digital marketing skills. Below are some tips to get you started.
Utilize Free Resources
There is no shortage of free online resources that teach different facets of digital marketing.
Watch Videos and Webinars
If you have a question about digital marketing, Google can probably point you toward an answer. Whether you’ve chosen to teach yourself digital marketing or you simply have a skill or knowledge gap you’re looking to fill, a quick Google search will direct you to helpful resources.
Video tutorials and webinars are particularly useful for explaining specific digital marketing tools (such as Google Analytics and Hootsuite), processes (such as how to conduct social media audits), and platforms.
Read Blogs and Books
Digital marketing experts often share best practices and teachable case studies in blog posts and books, which makes blogs and other published materials excellent sources of up-to-date digital marketing knowledge.
Listen to Podcasts
Podcasts offer a window into the conversations digital marketing experts are having with each other and can be a great way to learn about digital marketing trends, pick up career advice, and stay on top of the zeitgeist.
Follow Digital Marketing Experts
Digital marketing experts often share advice and hot takes on where the industry is going, which can be a valuable way to learn about the changing tides within the digital marketing field. Consider subscribing to industry newsletters to get the latest takes sent directly to your inbox.
Join Groups on Facebook and LinkedIn
Online groups and communities offer information sharing and networking opportunities that are beneficial to both newcomers and seasoned professionals.
One of the best ways to learn digital marketing is by doing it. Instead of waiting for a job opportunity, be proactive and learn from your own projects.
Create Your Own Blog
Starting your own blog offers many learning opportunities: you can practice digital marketing skills such as content strategy, SEO, copywriting, content planning, and affiliate marketing.
Start a Side Project
Starting a digital marketing side project will allow you to practice creating relevant content for a target audience and measure the results. For example, if you start your own campaign on a social media platform, you can learn to set campaign goals, create a social media marketing strategy, execute the campaign on different social channels, and iterate based on your metrics.
Network With Other Professionals
Networking is one of the leading methods of hearing about job opportunities. It can also be an effective way to learn from others and potentially collaborate on future projects.
Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether you’re reaching out to a mentor, an industry professional you’ve met at a networking event, or posting a question to an online group or message board, the ability to ask for help is an important soft skill.
Consider a Course in Digital Marketing
While there is no set path to becoming a digital marketer, those who enroll in digital marketing courses have the competitive advantage of a structured learning experience, guidance from industry experts, mentors who can help them navigate the job market, and hands-on experience with both technical and soft skills.
All work experience, whether acquired through personal projects or working with others, can be useful in bolstering your digital marketing skills.
Work on Projects
Working on your own projects gives you the chance to practice valuable digital marketing skills such as content creation, engaging with different digital marketing channels, creating and curating social media posts, and developing a digital marketing strategy.
The digital marketing landscape has room for people with all experience levels. If you’ve developed some digital marketing skills but are still filling in knowledge gaps, consider freelancing for businesses that need help with their digital marketing strategy.
Do an Internship
Internships are a great way to be immersed in a digital marketing environment and to learn from experts. An internship might expose you to facets of digital marketing that are difficult to learn on your own, such as online advertising, app advertising, and business intelligence tools.
Become an Expert On
- Keyword research
- Google Ads
- Content Marketing
- Organic Social Media Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Data Analysis
How To Get Better at Digital Marketing
Many digital marketers believe that it’s easy to learn the basics of digital marketing, but hard to achieve mastery. Here are some tips on improving your skills and becoming a better digital marketer.
Pick a Specialty
Digital marketers have to be familiar with most types of digital marketing disciplines, but it helps to have at least one area of specialization. For example, some marketers specialize in SEO while others work exclusively in influencer marketing.
Learn from Digital Marketing Brands
Sometimes, the best teachers are other brands. Look at successful digital marketing campaigns and reverse engineer them. What did they do right? What can you draw from their campaigns that might be applicable to your own?
Keep Up With the Latest Trends
Digital marketing is a rapidly changing industry. If you stop paying attention to the latest trends, you risk being left behind.
Replicate the Practices of Successful Digital Marketers
Find digital marketers you admire and learn from their practices. In addition to being the sincerest form of flattery, imitation can also give you practice with new and different digital marketing processes.
Find a Mentor
Mentors offer invaluable guidance, advice, and networking opportunities for digital marketers of all levels.
Earn a Certificate
Online bootcamps and certificates can give you a competitive advantage both when it comes to learning new skills and showing hiring managers that you are committed to continuing education.
Attend Events and Presentations
Digital marketing events and presentations are a good way to connect with peers, learn about the latest trends, gain exposure to new tools and technologies, and feel like you’re part of a broader community.
Network With the Professionals
Networking with industry professionals—whether through events or bootcamps and courses—can lead to internship and job opportunities, help you meet potential mentors, and give you exposure to a community from which you can learn.
FAQs About a Career in Digital Marketing
Still have questions about a career in digital marketing? We answer some frequently asked questions below.
Is It Hard to Acquire Digital Marketing Skills?
Most industry experts agree that foundational digital marketing skills are not hard to learn. However, it can be challenging to master those skills and put them to effective use in digital marketing campaigns. This is why it’s best to learn digital marketing in a supportive environment, whether through an online course, marketing degree, internship, or an in-person or online digital marketing community. It takes work, but mastering digital marketing can lead to a rewarding career.
Do You Need a Degree to Learn Digital Marketing?
Although a marketing degree can be useful, it is not the only way to learn digital marketing. Many people have had success learning digital marketing through online courses and bootcamps or by taking an entry-level digital marketing role that doesn’t require prior experience.
Is Getting a Digital Marketing Job Hard?
There are many entry-level digital marketing jobs that are open to people who don’t have industry experience, and high demand for those who have experience under their belt. The application process can still be competitive, though, which is why it is useful to bolster your skills and highlight any relevant experience when applying to digital marketing roles.
Do You Need the Experience to Work as a Digital Marketer?
Many hiring managers are willing to consider candidates who do not have any digital marketing experience. That said, having some transferable technical or soft skills from other related jobs and projects—professional or personal—can help you gain a competitive advantage.
Since you’re here…
Want to bring your marketing skills into the 21st century? Check out our free digital marketing curriculum for new ideas and insights.