The importance of continuous learning
I started working in the digital marketing industry in 2009. At the time, most small businesses did not have a website yet. When we built websites, it was design-first and content was an afterthought. SEO was non-existent because there wasn’t enough competition online to worry about it. Facebook hadn’t created separate profiles for business accounts yet and Instagram didn’t even exist. And if you’d told me that in a few short years, mobile phones – which would have evolved to act more like a small portable computer than a telephone – would be the main focus of most of our marketing and advertising activities, I probably would have laughed in your face.
I’m telling you this to highlight how far digital marketing trends and technology have come in just a decade.
Marketing and advertising have been an important consideration for business since… well, ever. But it is constantly evolving and if you don’t stay up to date with the latest digital marketing trends, technology and best practices, then you risk falling behind. It can be difficult to follow every single change happening – I work in the industry and even I have trouble staying up to date with everything!
But over the years I have learnt how to filter out (most of) the junk to focus on the new platforms, updates and technology that will have the biggest impact, both for my own business and for my clients. I have two tricks up my sleeve for cutting through the clutter:
Identify Critical Digital Marketing Channels:
Identify those marketing channels that are most important to you and that play a critical role in your business – think about the customer journey and how they find, research and purchase from your brand. If you know that Google searches are the biggest source of your new customer enquiries or sales, then you cannot afford to miss a major update from Google. Likewise, if you know that Facebook drives a lot of traffic to your online store then you do not want to miss any changes to their platform.
Most of the major platforms – Facebook and Google included – have a news or blog area where they announce any big changes to the platform. Once you have identified the marketing channels that your business relies most heavily on, make sure that you subscribe to their blogs, news channels or social media feeds to stay on top of any upcoming updates, upgrades or changes.
Identify New Trends and Technology Opportunities:
Identifying new digital marketing trends or opportunities such as platforms or technology that your business can leverage could give you a serious boost in business, especially if you are the first from your industry to incorporate it. But with so many different platforms and technology advancements launching every single week, it can be hard to identify which ones are worth your time and which ones to let go.
My advice for sorting through the many options is to think about two things – brand and customers. Technology’s role in digital marketing is actually quite simple – it’s all about making the journey easier for your customers. It is about making it easier for people to find you, research you, connect with you and purchase from you.
That is why you should ask two questions of every new opportunity:
- How can this new platform, update, strategy or piece of technology help you build a stronger brand (and therefore stronger connections with your target audience)?
- How can this new platform, update, strategy or piece of technology help you make the process of purchasing your products or services easier, faster or more convenient for your customers?
If you don’t see a clear answer for either of those questions, then brush it aside and move on.
Staying up to date and constantly learning is an essential part of every business and requires commitment – making sure you subscribe to a handful of blogs, social account or even podcasts ensures that the information is being delivered directly to your inbox every week. You can then use my tips above to filter and prioritise the information, taking the time to learn only that which will make your business stronger.