It is quite astounding just how many people across the UK are currently on furlough or finding they have additional free time.
A very non-scientific poll of friends and family showed that on average 60% were furloughed and over 90% said they had more free time in general.
This should not really come as a surprise I guess, as even those who are still working, are mostly doing so from home and therefore they have the additional time during which they’d usually be commuting. Add to this that most clubs and leisure activities have been halted and gyms and pubs are closed and that has meant there’s also more free time in the evenings and at weekends.
This is great for catching up on sleep, binge-watching box sets and generally chin waging with friends and family, but it seems that improving skills is also on people’s minds.
Several of my circle have been baking, gardening, and doing DIY but many are also turning their attention to how they can upskill themselves in digital marketing.
For some, this is because they wish to improve their employability in the future and for others, it’s to support their own business activity.
As I work in digital marketing, I am being asked what training would be most beneficial and what to look for. I thought others may also find some of the information useful, so I’ve popped it together in this post.
Digital marketing is a large and ever-evolving subject and the pace at which things move can sometimes be phenomenal. The investment needed in training and software to keep on top of the latest updates can be significant and is one of the reasons many businesses decide to use an agency such as Koozai.
However, understanding the basics of digital marketing can really help both individuals, and businesses of all shapes, sizes, and sectors. But before you even get on to which area of digital marketing to start with, here are a few general tips.
First, you need to consider what you want the result to be, why you want, or need, to upskill. Is it just something you want to understand a little more about, in which case a podcast or a blog giving a broad overview may be best? Or, do you want to be able to follow some step by step instructions to manage the activity yourself?
For example, it could be that you’re a marketing manager who has had their budget dramatically reduced and it now means you’re going to have to run your company’s paid social activity yourself. How are you going to ensure you maximize the budget and that you don’t make any mistakes that could end up being costly?
Watching a 30 min overview video is not going to cut it. You will need to seek out a resource that clearly explains everything, from start to finish. Shows you in easy to follow steps what to do and identifies and illustrates how to avoid common pitfalls.
This is also an important consideration if you run a business and have some of the team on furlough, or, come July, on part-time hours and you’re considering using this time for their personal development.
Most business owners are aware of how important training is, but often commercial priorities can mean that learning and development is not always the focus it should be. So, using the time the team now has is a win-win for all.
Again, you need to work out what it is that you want the result to be – work with the team member to agree on what areas of upskilling would be most useful.
Research what resources are available and what would best suit their needs. Agree on how you’ll monitor progress and measure any outcome.
Finally, you could be self-employed or a small business owner and be finding that your usual route to market has been curtailed by the lockdown measures. So, you want to understand how to identify and target potential customers with a message that will lead them to your product or service now and in the future.
There is a myriad of reasons that someone might want to upskill, and the key is finding the right materials to suit those needs.
There will be a suitable resource out there to suit you, but you need to understand what you want the end result to be, or you could end up being disappointed and waste both time and money.
The next thing to consider is how you or your team member learn best. Some people are quite happy reading the theory in a book, whereas for others, being able to follow a step-by-step video, which they can pause, rewind and re-watch, whilst implementing the steps, works best.
A lot of us learn by doing whereas others prefer to follow written instructions. Understanding how you learn best will help you get the most from your investment, so ensure you’re getting material in a format that works for you.
There are many courses and materials currently being provided either for free or at a reduced rate. Just be mindful and do your due diligence. For example, it may be worth investing a small amount in a course that has a known brand or some proven expertise behind it, rather than a free one, which does not. Likewise, a hefty price tag does not always mean it’s a quality course either. So, ensure you research properly.
As mentioned earlier, digital marketing moves at a pace and so then should the training materials. You don’t want to find you’ve paid for a course that’s then out of date within a matter of months. Or, that you have to shell out again for the latest version.
Many reputable providers will offer lifetime access. This means you pay once, and all future updates and versions are included.
On a similar note, ensure there’s no time limit on how quickly you need to start and complete the course. For some, it might not be an issue and you’ll be able to sit down and work through it all swiftly but for others, life will get in the way and you may need weeks or months to find the time to work through everything properly.
The whole area of digital marketing is vast. There’s so much you could learn; it could easily become overwhelming.
For most people, the reason they want to upskill falls broadly into one or more of 4 categories:
I’m focusing on the top two, as they seem to be the reasons the majority of the people I’ve spoken with recently are looking to upskill. Of course, as a bonus, it will also be good for their mental health and give them additional skills to put on their CVs but that’s not their main aim, currently.
As we’re focusing on the more commercial reasons it’s important that any decisions made on the training will actually result in either making or saving money. You could, as one person suggested to me, they were considering, leave your agency and try and undertake all your digital marketing in house. This would save money. However, if the revenue being generated also drops and the saving is outweighed by the loss of revenue, then this will be a false economy. And this outcome is very likely.
This is obviously an extreme example but even if you’re starting a new business venture or looking for a new way to reach more potential customers, trying to do it all yourself from the outset is unlikely to work, there’s just too much to learn. My suggestion would be to focus on one area to begin with, and then branch out from there.
So where to start? That’s the question.
If you’re anything like me then I’m sure your screen time has increased during the lockdown. Particularly in terms of social networks. Even before all this mine was terrible (albeit I do have an excuse as it’s my job) but now it’s grown further. And I’m not alone.
According to Netimperative.com, a digital intelligence business, social network time for adults is up by more than 5 minutes compared to their pre-COVID forecast.
Everyone is glued to their screens and people are spending a lot of time on social media. With all these eyes on the social channels, it’s never been more important to ensure your brand is there too.
For this reason alone, I have recommended to most of the people I’ve spoken with to start their training there. By learning about paid social. And more specifically about Facebook Ads.
Paid Social and Facebook Ads, in particular, is focused enough that you will not be overwhelmed and is one area of digital marketing where you can see positive results quickly. Other disciplines such as SEO for example can take longer to realise returns.
This, coupled with the fact that over two billion people use Facebook each month means it’s a good place to start.
No matter what your business, in terms of the audience you’re after, you WILL find them on Facebook. You just need to know how to target them to get the best result.
The Facebook Ads Manager interface, once you know your way around, is also quite simple to navigate and can be used across different devices, meaning you can access it from pretty much anywhere.
Facebook has been created so that you don’t need to be an expert to use it. However, it does help if you’re aware of how it works and when (and when not) to use it’s built-in learning and self-service tools.
So, whether you’re an individual, a small business owner, or an in-house marketing manager, that is looking to upskill; you could do worse than start with a paid social training course that focusses on Facebook Ads.
As I mentioned earlier there are many courses and materials available in many different price brackets, so do your research and find the one that works best for you.
Hopefully, that will give you a solid place to start.