If you want to be a successful digital marketer, there are dozens of skills you could hone.
Hundreds of different tools, products, and solutions you could decide to master. But there’s not enough time in the day – or even in a lifetime – to learn them all.
Every now and then, it’s good to take time to step back. To reflect.
To ask yourself the big question that the newest generation of markets should start with:
What’s the one idea that ties all of modern digital marketing together?
At Bluleadz, we are all about inbound marketing. And, without a doubt, inbound marketing is the best way for organizations of any size to appeal to modern decision makers. But even this powerful strategy is just one way of looking at marketing.
Inbound marketing had to be defined, discovered, and perfected.
What goes even deeper than that? What one idea can take you even further?
I’ve got an idea: Continuous learning and improvement.
Because the most fundamental thing about digital marketing isn’t content.
Continuous Learning Is What Makes Everything in Marketing Work
To really grok what’s going on in marketing, you have to go back to a simple concept.
This is something people talk about a lot in the context of education: Getting more kids to go to college, of course, but also getting more adults to build their skills or even re-train in new fields throughout the course of their lives.
As a marketer, this might make sense to you. You’re always out there, picking up new ideas and putting them to work. But keep this in mind: If that’s how you feel, you’re a rare breed. Life-long learning is an old idea, but it’s a very new practice.
For most of history, people learned as much as they needed to and not much more. That was true no matter if they were guild apprentices back in the medieval days or the first wave of post-war college students in the 1950s and 1960s. Once “learning time” was done, it was done.
People can’t survive that way now. And that goes double for marketers.
Marketers who are either too busy or too complacent to commit to continual learning will experience a downfall.
In marketing, as in so many other fields, it’s easy to get caught up in “putting out fires” and start to think that’s the most important thing you do in a day. It’s easy to find yourself exhausted and feel like you don’t need to do anything different – that there’ll always be time later.
On the flip side, marketers can always get too comfortable with success. This is especially true of younger marketers, just getting started, who have had the skills and good fortune to enjoy early wins. They might start to feel like things will always be just like they are right now.
In the end, both groups end up in the same place: Stagnant and, eventually, defeated.
If you don’t move forward – every single day – the market will move on.
And so will your customers. Yes, even the most loyal ones.
A Quick Reminder: Marketing Is Changing As You Read This Post!
Just think about the radical transformations marketing has undergone over the last 20 years:
Organic Search and Search Engine Optimization
Back when Google launched in 1998, no one could have imagined that it would forever change the way we use the web – not even Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Google wasn’t the first search engine, but it was the first to professionalize the concept and bring it down to Earth.
Today, Google is inseparable from how every one of us thinks about the web.
As you read this, Google is handling approximately 40,000 search queries per second. That’s a grand total of 3.5 billion per day or 1.2 trillion per year. Even if Google disappears tonight, we would all still be looking to someone to organize, curate, and present the web for us.
When you look at search, it’s easy to see the rise of mobile technology tracks in a very similar way. The first-ever Blackberry handset released in 1999, inaugurating an executive mobile phone culture that continues to influence the way B2B decision makers live their lives now.
Since then, mobile has become a core part of life, work, and even the future of technology as a whole. A whopping 95% of Americans own a mobile phone, and everyone is in on the act: Even 85% of adults aged 65 and over have a cell phone, with nearly 50% owning a smartphone.
Big Data and Data Analytics
Mobile has vastly increased the volume and velocity generated every single day, and search has put an increasing quantity of it at our fingertips. According to the latest estimates, web users create an average of 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day.
One of the most exciting things about marketing is that we get to uncover the meaning in that data.
Forbes estimates more than 3.7 billion humans use the internet. If you think that’s impressive, consider this: That’s a 7.5% gain over 2016. And there’s still a way to go. There are 7.6 billion people on Earth, so we aren’t even at the halfway mark yet.
But we’ll get there ... and beyond!
If you remember Myspace – opened back in 2003 – you can really appreciate how far we’ve come on social. From 2005 to 2009, it was the place to be. Even then, organizing your coveted top eight spaces and competing for those of others was addictive.
Facebook is now the reigning champ with something like 2.23 billion monthly active users. The brand has had some rough days lately, but the social media landscape as a whole is vibrant: Twitter has a respectable 335 million MAUs. B2B king LinkedIn offers 260 million.
Artificial Intelligence: The Next Frontier for Digital Marketing
It would be hard to overstate just how profoundly AI will shape the world of tomorrow. What it can do for marketing – and the web experience as a whole – is just the tip of the iceberg. AI could become the force that unleashes transformation not seen since the Industrial Revolution.
As of March, AI is the fastest-growing marketing technology. Usage of AI is expected to grow 53%, well outpacing mainstays like marketing automation and social listening tools. AI gives marketers the power to be proactive in segmentation, tracking, and keyword planning.
And this is only the beginning – the very beginning.
So What Can YOU Do to Stay Ahead of Digital Marketing Trends in 2018 and Beyond?
What is digital marketing really all about? In 2018 and beyond, it’s this: Don’t get complacent.
You’re already doing the right thing by reading marketing blogs like ours. Get new perspectives and new insights from experts you can trust.
Look for mentors who can challenge your thinking and push you further, especially those who’ve been where you are and are where you’re headed.
Don’t just think about it; do it.
Pick a new skill, a new tool, a new idea, and challenge yourself to master it. Push yourself. Demand accountability from yourself and let others help you achieve it.
Everything else will change, but embrace that change and it can always serve as your North Star.