You don’t need extensive knowledge of marketing-related websites to start pursuing your bachelor’s in marketing, which is among the top degrees for the highest-paying business careers. However, by the time you start working in the field, you will need more than the basic computer proficiency required of a new college student. To succeed in marketing, and especially digital marketing, you should become familiar with Google, social media websites, digital marketing analytics tools and the websites of marketing experts.
Basic Computer Skills Needed for Marketing Students
Although there are parts of marketing that are highly technical, you won’t walk into your first undergraduate marketing course and be expected to know how to use marketing analytics websites, to code programs and websites or to conduct meticulous keyword research. These are digital marketing skills you will develop along the way, either as part of your college curriculum or as you begin making your way out in the workforce.
Of course, basic computer proficiency is valuable for college students, including the ability to use the Internet to do research, word processing programs to draft your assignments and spreadsheet programs to track and organize information. Most marketing students today also have basic knowledge of websites like Google and social media platforms from their own use of these sites. Although marketers use Google, Facebook and other common websites in ways that are very different from the general public, having some familiarity with these websites is helpful.
In the increasingly digital world of marketing, any knowledge of computer programming you may have can only be beneficial. Research conducted by Gallup and Google found that the number of high schools offering some computer coding coursework is on the rise.
It’s the number-one search engine in the world, commanding as much as 90 percent of all web search traffic, and its usage has become so popular that the household name is also used as a verb. By the time you get to college, you have surely used Google – but you might be surprised at how little of Google you know.
There’s a whole other side of Google that companies must work in to perform well in searches by their prospective consumers or clients. Google Search Console is Google’s free tool that reports on your website’s search traffic and performance. Google My Business is a tool for creating a free business listing – the same one that shows up on Google Maps when a potential customer or client searches for a keyword relevant to your business, like “hair salon near me” or “restaurant.” Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) is the company’s paid advertising platform, offering businesses pay-per-click, or PPC, advertising.
Of course, marketers also use Google in other ways – like finding trending news stories relevant to an industry, identifying influencers and organizations with which to form relationships and publishing content on YouTube, Google’s video-based social media site.
Social Media Websites
Businesses use social media to promote their brands, products and services in both paid and organic, or unpaid, ways. If you aspire to work in social media marketing, then you will need to become skilled at using different types of social media platforms effectively in your organic posts as well as creating paid advertising campaigns that get results. In business social media pages and profiles, there is often a section where managers can view reports and analytics to see the impact their marketing efforts are having on an audience and to manage advertising campaign content, spending and preferences.
Some marketing degree programs include optional or required coursework in social media marketing, and students at some schools may even pursue an academic track specific to social media marketing.
Digital Marketing Analytics Tools
Impressions and unique visitors and bounce rates, oh my! The analytics tools used by digital marketers look at every imaginable aspect of web pages to understand their search engine rankings performance and how well they convert visitors to customers or clients. Analyze competitors’ web presence and performance with tools like SEMrush, get detailed SEO data from Moz Pro, visibly see what draws a site visitor’s attention with heatmap technology integrated into tools like HotJar, and much more with an array of constantly evolving digital marketing analytics websites and applications. You don’t have to use every analytics website out there, but having some familiarity with a variety of these tools can help you be effective at your job in a digital marketing role, appeal to prospective new employers and more easily learn new technologies as they become available.
Many analytics and SEO tools require paid subscriptions, but there are free tools available that can help you conduct keyword research to find out what terms people are searching for and see what sites are ranking for certain search queries.
Marketing Experts’ Websites
For digital marketers, understanding the algorithms that guide how Google ranks search results is as essential as it is impossible. Since Google keeps its algorithms mysterious and updates them frequently, marketing professionals must glean what they can about how to create website content that ranks from methods such as analyzing well-ranking content and experimenting with new content strategies.
As a result, professionals working in digital marketing often follow experts and “gurus” who seem to have figured out strategies that allow a webpage or website to perform well according to Google’s unknown algorithms. It’s particularly important to keep on top of what is considered best practices in SEO because periodic major updates and minor tweaks can affect a company’s rankings, as can changes in search volume and competitors’ digital marketing efforts. Frequently checking the blog posts, videos and podcasts of digital marketing experts can help you keep up with the most current information long after you leave the classroom.
One thing to be wary about is that there are no credentials needed to call yourself a digital marketing expert. Before blindly trusting a marketing guru, look at their results and how their strategies compare to those of others in the industry and to Google’s own guidelines.