Can I Learn Digital Marketing On My Own? One of the most coveted skill-set to acquire today is Digital Marketing- undoubtedly. More and more MBA students are upgrading themselves with this new-age non-negotiable skill. To address the immediate question – Can I learn Digital Marketing on my own?

“Can I learn digital marketing on my own?” is something you would wonder. Also, one of the much asked questions is - How to learn digital marketing at home free of cost?

The answer is a mixed bag – ‘Yes’, if you’re really dedicated to learn the art of Digital Marketing. But ‘No’ - if all you’re aiming for is raking up certifications and not applying your knowledge anywhere.

As we adjust to the realities of this modern era and industry, the relevant knowledge and abilities to be successful are also evolving.  MBA graduate, the peripheral skills will only do half the job. One must research about their field well and make space for ‘differentiators’ in their profile.


What are differentiators?

The skills and qualities that help you stand out in a lot of equally talented MBA graduates. These enable you to get a head-start over others in context of that specific industry or job profile.

In case, you aspire to be a successful marketer in future, you might do well if you manage to equip yourself with Digital skills and Analytics.

You can refer to this article if you’re willing to deep-dive into why Analytics would be beneficial for a new-age marketeer- Why Analytics for Marketers.

To obtain more clarity on the answers to the question- Can I learn digital marketing on my own?, I will share with you a detailed plan.

This plan not only entails what you need to do but also guides you how and why you need to follow certain steps.

In case, you want to really learn marketing and transform your passion into skills & clear understanding, you would love this course offered by Super Heuristics- Five Steps Ahead -Course to Ace Marketing in 5 simple steps.

You might be wondering why I am talking so highly about Digital Marketing.

Let’s understand the basics of Digital Marketing and its worth to the business world and brands briefly.


What is Digital Marketing?

I am sure you must have heard of this fancy buzzword – digital marketing a lot these days.

There is no dearth of online courses claiming to teach digital marketing. However, have you ever sat down to demystify what exactly it entails?

Digital Marketing can be described in simple terms - as an ecosystem of marketing efforts for any product/service which utilizes electronic devices and Internet (digital channels).

In lay man terms, if you advertise your business online, you’re doing digital marketing.

You can also refer to how Hubspot defined Digital Marketing –

Now that we are done with elementary blocks, let’s concentrate on the various elements of digital marketing.

If you thought digital marketing is only about creating awesome content and posting it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc, you are wrong. Sending personalised emails to your email list tends to be a very small fragment of digital marketing.

Some of the different aspects and components of digital marketing have been listed below for your clear understanding –

1. Content Marketing
2. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
3. Pay-per-click Advertising (PPC)
4. Social Media Marketing
5. Email Marketing
6. Affiliate Marketing
7. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
8. Analytics
9. Viral Marketing
10. Radio/TV Marketing

If you wish to know in depth about the various activities performed by a digital marketing professional, you can refer to - Digital Marketing Manager Basics.


Why is Digital Marketing the New Normal?

It is the 21st century and we have around 4.9 billion active internet users on a daily basis.
Further, the global internet penetration is growing at the rate of 8.2 % annually.

This indicates that modern day audience is consistently ‘online’ and businesses have long identified this drastic change. Traditional models of marketing can no longer deputies in evolving go-to-market strategies. Digital marketing is cheaper, measurable and undoubtedly effective.

It’s always imperative to target the right target segment at the right time. Guess where one would find them these days? – On the internet, on their mobile phones(mostly).

You reach a larger audience using cheaper means and you can also derive analytical insights to position your brand better.

Digital marketing is not complex, but it is more of traditional marketing done through tools and digital channels.

There are so many diverse channels through which we can implement digital marketing like -Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Email Marketing, SEO, Google Ads, Facebook Ads etc.

You can identify the landscape shift to digital forms of marketing with the below illustration.
Digital vs Traditional Marketing

Consider if you’re a start-up or a newly conceptualised blog/channel, you might not be able to take on the might of the bigger players. Digital marketing being cheaper gives you an equal opportunity to have a go at implementing fruitful and exquisite campaigns to grow your brand.

One might easily feature on the first page of Google if they analyse the keywords, competition, and landing page metrics in advance. The search engine results would reward quality content over repute if your blog/channel answers the audience queries.

You might find this resource useful if you are planning to start your blog - How to reach page 1 of Google in 2 weeks?.


Can I Learn Digital Marketing On My Own?

Let’s breakdown the answers to this pertinent question.

Digital Marketing in itself is a vast domain. Initially, you would require some patience to sit and go through the basics.

How to learn digital marketing at home free?

Thank the Internet and lots of independent content creators today. You can learn digital marketing amidst the home comforts conveniently.

Go ahead and search for Digital Marketing basics in Google. There are tons of free resources available on the Internet in form of courses, tutorials, blogs or illustrative videos.

Don’t worry about the authenticity or quality as all of their content is more or less similar. I have curated a few resources on the basics of Digital Marketing for your reference.


How many days it will take to learn digital marketing?

It all depends on your ability to be ‘confident’ about what you learn. Ideally if you devote 1-2 hours daily to study the basics, two weeks would do.

When I say two weeks – it only helps you cover the basics and elementary know-how. Say you start learning SEO initially as an aspect of digital marketing. You get through all the theory in 2-3 weeks but you need to apply it & practice the acquired skill as well.

Implementation takes more time probably a few more months, try and fail at instances and gradually you become efficient at SEO.

Well- Practice makes a man perfect!

Now, you should go ahead and take up Analytics or Paid Ads etc to unravel as a part of digital marketing. You would take a good amount of time to understand how to acquire leads and that too at cheaper prices.

Once you get a hang of the broad topics, you would want to take up some intermediate level courses and test your acquired knowledge.

You must start researching about the various individual tenets like SEO, content marketing, paid ads, email campaigns.

Start with your Gmail inbox, analyse the flow of content from a brand/company, check out their social media campaigns, curate their website.

One great way to extend your understanding and pit your wisdom against real-life situations, you can take these Google courses.

You can visit their Skillshop- Google and take up Google Analytics, Google Display and Search Ads courses as these certifications impart a lot of practical know-how.

Another important aspect about aspiring to be a successful new Age Digital Marketer is to develop holistically.

Industry and brands are increasingly preferring T-shaped Marketers over the ones with one-dimensional concentrated skills.



Why so?

A team of T-shaped marketers would entail more overlapping knowledge about issues and would spark creativity and self-dependency.

 Imagine having a team of 8 and only one or two having good wisdom of Paid Ads. If the situation demands, the whole team has to wait on these two people to tackle the challenges (if any)

How to practice digital marketing

Here, let me warn you!

You might do 5-10 such certifications from Coursera, Hubspot or Google and stack them up in your CV.

Does that help?

Only partially! Only theoretical knowledge takes you nowhere. You need to practice and implement what you learnt in real-time projects.

That’s why I recommend you follow the BASIC framework as specified in the - Five Steps Ahead -Course to Ace Marketing in 5 simple steps.

And how to go beyond the theory?

Try your own independent venture/product/offering and then try to pitch it to target segments.

You might have a passionate hobby - say cooking! What you can do here – Go ahead and start your own cooking blog where you share recipes & culinary experiences.

Your blog becomes your own product – you can work on it and trace its performance after applying the concepts your just learnt. Improvise each day and you learn all those ‘digital’ skills in real-time and you get to improve your product offering as well.

It also answers the question – How can I teach myself digital marketing?



How can I teach myself digital marketing?

Plan out your marketing plan (one that is economically feasible for you and achieves its immediate target or reach for your blog) and how digital marketing will help you to achieve that. Experiment with driving traffic organically, or making engaging social media campaigns or go for paid ads.

Digital marketing would enable you to review the comprehensive & vital metrics including impressions, conversions, clicks, bounce & churn rate and mobile friendliness of the landing page among many.

You need to fail, learn, and go on with real-life projects (a Software as a Service or an application or platform) in order to call yourself a digital marketer.

For example- say you love product management. You start a blog where you talk about the basics, explore various insights about products and how one can make a career in that field.

This blog is your own ‘Digital Asset’ more specifically your ‘Owned Media’.

Next, in order to garner reach, demand &impressions, you decide to get featured on social platforms through Google Ads/ Facebook Ads. This is an example of ‘Paid Media’.

Next, say you seek help of your network and connections to get reviews, backlinks and the word-of mouth marketing for your blog. This is an example of Earned Media.

The main objective is to gradually spend less on Paid Media and get more Earned Media.

In context of an MBA graduate, you might require a balance of inbound and outbound marketing skills. Inbound is where user come to you and outbound is where you might reach out to the user.

You can refer to the below illustration as to what kind of digital know-how you should look to take up-

Digital Marketing

Future in Digital Marketing

Are you wondering – Is there any future in digital marketing?

Look around yourselves.

Do you find that Internet has become the go-to-medium for everything?

People are spending more and more time on digital channels. A mobile phone has become the basic need for everyone.

Even if you want to try out a new recipe, one uses YouTube to learn more about it. And when it comes down to the business, no doubt the trend of digital marketing is on the boom.

Digital marketing techniques emulate traditional advertising in objectives except that they are structured for numerous competitive advantages to advertisers, including measurable ROI.


Scope for Digital Marketing

A company can calculate what it spends annually and even weekly on a campaign & compare the figures with the leads generated. With the availability of analytics and metrics such as clicks and bounce rates, business owners can gauge performance and improve drastically.

In the coming years, marketers are bound to find excessive scope for digital marketing, and that means an increase in work opportunities.

The budgets allocated for digital marketing for brands are already on the rise as the dominance of online advertising continues. Online retail stores have become mainstream as consumers embrace the power of shopping online.

That makes digital marketing a lucrative career option for so many. SEO, Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing, Email Marketing are just some of the fields that are set to experience a boom.

Digital Marketing will emerge as a powerful way of Marketing in the future. But as the modalities of digital marketing take a toss every now & then, a digital marketer must be agile, alert, smart and adapt to latest changes.

So if you’re still wondering or confused about the future of this domain, its explicably time to adopt the ‘new normal’ – adopt the ‘Digital’


Conclusion

In this article, I walked you through digital marketing as a core new-age skill set for budding marketers of tomorrow. Digital Marketing as a field is constantly evolving and one has to adjust to its pace.

There exist very few brands/businesses that do not employ digital marketing to lower their spends on marketing and achieving their targets. In this scenario, it is a must-have for MBA graduates.

I clarified the doubts surrounding the question – Can I learn digital marketing on my own?

The simple answer here is – Yes, as there is a host of great content out there that acclimatizes you with basics.

Is that all? No, you can never learn Digital marketing unless you practice and find real-time projects to implement it.

I also spoke about the ways to practice Digital marketing and the different types of skill sets one must look to acquire You should go ahead and start a venture like a product, Software as a Service, or a blog that sets you apart from the crowd. Implement all your learnings from digital marketing can constantly improve your metrics.

This is the best way one can efficiently gain mastery over digital marketing. The future potential of digital marketing is set to skyrocket as more and more brands take to the Internet to engage and reach out to their target audience.

That’s why one should take up the challenge and be prepared to undergo a digital transformation and adopt Digital Marketing as a non-negotiable skill set.

I hope I could answer all your doubts and questions about – Can I lean digital marketing on my own? You can start today and embark on a journey of transformational learning.

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About the Author:

Tamal Sarkar is an MBA student at the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT). Tamal graduated as an Electronics & Communication engineer from Meghnad Saha Institute of Technology, Kolkata. He has worked as an Assistant System Engineer in the CPG domain at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Hyderabad for 22 months. Along with being a marketing enthusiast, he also has great interest in product management & strategy.