How to stay agile in the digital space – are you a digital trailblazer or a digital dinosaur?

Digital marketing today isn’t an ‘add on’ or a ‘maybe’. Whether you work in the digital space or you run a busines­s you will be using digital. As a fundamental, contemporary and fruitful marketing tool, that reaches worldwide, the question is ‘how to do you stay up to date with digital marketing?’.

In such a fast-paced industry with many different components and facets, how do you know what the latest changes are or what is most effective for your business and the objectives that you are trying to achieve? – if you’ve read a book on the subject – the principles will likely still be valid but what channels you use and how you maximise them is most definitely a moving goal post.

One thing we can all agree on, is that when digital is used correctly it can be your best sales person, but on the flip slide, when it’s not, it can be a total zap to you and your business. Having worked in digital since 2001, I’ve seen an awful lot of changes and developments in this space and know only too well that staying ahead of the game is a mission in itself.

The other prominent problem I often see is non digital people recruiting and struggling with digital recruits. Digital skills are a high priority for organisations but in many instances, they don’t actually know what they are looking for when recruiting digital talent. This frequently can result in the blind leading the blind scenario. There’s also the additional issue of companies relying on those within the business who are more familiar with digital technology rather than upskilling the digital skills of their wider workforce.

So how can you stay ahead in digital?

First things first this article isn’t a magic wand, its takes time, dedication and a constant want to learn. Even going on holiday for a week means extra catching up – yes, things really change that quickly!

Unfortunately, there isn’t a digital holy grail or one place that you can go to read about all the latest digital changes. Keeping up with digital trends, channel updates, the latest digital advertising strategies and not forgetting advances in the technology we use, is all a mammoth and daunting task.

Whilst there are websites and blogs that may help, it becomes even more difficult when the digital channels themselves (e.g. Google or LinkedIn) do not always announce the changes they make themselves. Often these changes are noticed by chance when people within the industry come across them and report on them.

Over the years, I’ve formed some simple habits in order to stay ahead and prevent feeling overwhelmed by such a fast-changing industry. Here are my six favourite tips to stay updated and educated in the digital marketing industry.

Tip One

Dedicate time – book time in your diary each week to learn something, upskill yourself with an online qualification, reading articles or watching videos. When you are busy it can be easy to not see these as a priority, but digital marketing is likely (or could be) the life blood of generating you business so it needs weekly investment. On top of weekly dedicated time if you find an article that might be of interest either save it for reading on a train trip you might have planned later in the week or take 5 mins out of your day that day to read it.

Tip Two

Make a plan – review what you are looking to achieve with your digital marketing – and use this information to identify questions you can’t answer. This simple action not only helps to create a learning plan for you, but also ensures you keep on top of your digital goals. For example, if you don’t know how the traffic gets to your website and how to measure the number of enquiries you should upskill yourself on Google Analytics.

Tip Three

Be curious – I’m always asking ‘why’ – why did ABC website not generate the traffic it was due to? Why did we beat the client’s revenue objective by over 100%? When you ask why it gives you a reason to search for the answer enabling you to take the appropriate action, while adding to your knowledge base through the learning process.

Tip Four

Use Google – type in to Google the questions to your problems – for example – How can I measure traffic to my website? How can I reduce the cost of my Facebook ad? There is a plethora of websites, blogs, YouTube channels and podcasts out there on these subjects and 99% of the time this information is absolutely free. The internet is a great resource for this, providing endless amounts of material, so don’t feel you will get better information by paying to read articles or watch videos. While training courses can be hugely valuable and give you amazing foundations, you will still need to stay up to date once you have completed a course.

Tip Five

Sign up – when you find content sources you trust subscribe and sign up to their emails that way you can save time by reading articles or watching videos when they arrive in your inbox. Remember ‘Tip One’ – make sure you set aside some time out of your working week to read them.

Tip Six

Digital recruiting – whether you are managing someone in a digital role, or you are doing it yourself, make sure you set some KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Too many people who recruit for a digital role without digital knowledge look at vanity metrics (i.e. the number of likes on a Facebook page). Focus on your business objectives – for example, increasing revenue by 20% and share that objective with the digital team member. If you are at interview stage ask them for an example of how they increased revenue using digital, what digital channels they used and how they rolled this out. You can then ask them as part of the interview, having reviewed your businesses digital channels (which having come for an interview with you you’d like to think they would have done this), how and what would you do to help us achieve a revenue increase of 20%.

If you work in the digital space, you simply don’t have the luxury to rely on one channel or a single technique for long. Digital is galloping along at such speed if you want to stay ahead and stay successful you have to keep your eyes and ears wide open in our constantly shifting and evolving digital eco system. The quote ‘change is the only constant in life’ by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, has probably never been truer than within the world of digital.

Lynsey Sweales
CEO & International Digital Marketing Strategist

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