Question: “How do I make the transition from a
traditional marketer into a digital marketer?” --
I’m going to talk about my own
personal journey of making that transition.
I started out as a marketing
operations manager. I did mostly back-end stuff, meaning I set up
tools, processes, vendor sourcing, training etc. Then I moved
into event marketing, and from there I worked on print ads. My
first encounter with digital was banner ads. I remember
tinkering with various different shapes of banner ads: square,
rectangle (vertical and horizontal). Sometimes we’d run into
glitches, like the ads were not working properly. Mostly I just
remember that anything digital was a lot of work to get right in
From there, I moved to a
strategist role. As a strategist, I was tasked to create global
Go-To-Market (GTM) plans for our local marketing teams to help
build their campaigns. Even though I worked closely with social
media, paid media, events, search, and even creative services, my
knowledge of the digital side of things was still limited. That’s
because my job didn’t require me to get my hands dirty. I had this
urge to understand digital marketing more, but
Here’s what I did:
1. Ask for help:
I was fortunate enough to work
in a global company that had access to lots of resources, so I’d
reach out to media, web, event MKT, and search agencies. I’d ask
them to give me special 1-on-1 training to help me better
understand their fields, and most of them were happy to share their
knowledge with me. While there was the initial risk of a client
surpassing them in knowledge, it ended up being a non-issue since
digital technology changed so rapidly. As a result, we all
landed on mostly equal footing in terms of having to play catch
Around 2005-2006, my company
sensed the marketing landscape changing. A “disturbance” in the
force, if you will. Our marketing operations team worked with our
agencies and sought out influencers to create on-demand training
videos. We had over 60 videos covering a range of various topics.
Some videos, like Search 101, were mandatory for us to watch. We
were also required to watch three other courses, similar to picking
college electives. Now, that might seem like kind of a drag,
but honestly, watching a bunch of videos was Ok with a glass of
wine in hand, plus… they were tied to our employee bonus! Our
company did these mandatory digital training courses for about 2
years. That was a great move to propel the whole marketing
organization forward toward the digital marketing
Now, everything is on
So no excuses! Asking
questions, reading, and watching videos are all great first steps
to making that transition.
2. Learn new tricks by
Whoever said you can’t teach an
old dog new tricks is a LIAR. The best way to learn is to get your
hands dirty. To understand social media, do social media. If you
want to understand AB testing, you guessed it, do AB testing!
Create different ads with different copywriting messages to test
and see what works. I, personally, was terrified of Twitter back in
2007, but I decided to get myself out there and see what happens.
Nothing bad happen and I ended up making a lot of virtual friends.
Here is another thing I did: I wanted to understand paid search and
paid social, so I paid out of my own pocket for some ads to learn
how it worked firsthand. Another example: I had no idea how to
create a blog, so I decided to dive in headfirst by launching a
blog website. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty! Do or do
not, there is no try!
If you can’t get your hands
dirty, ask your agencies and have them show you how they buy media
and what tools they use.
3. Understand technology
and the back-end
When I say understand
technology, it doesn’t mean that you need to learn how to code.
It means understanding how everything works together at the
back-end. For example: even though I have a person in mind when I
write a blog post, it doesn’t mean I can write about whatever
topics I like for that person. In the digital marketing world, I
need to understand what keywords and phrases my target audience
uses when he or she searches specific topics. Then, I make an
effort to seamlessly integrate these keywords into my blog post.
Why do I do that? Because it will impact the organic search and
ranking of my website and the blog post. To elevate the domain
authority of my website, I need to reach out to relevant sites to
make sure that they do a link back to my site. The more sites
that link to my site, the more apparent my domain authority becomes
to Google’s algorithm. It’s like the more people mention you, the
more popular you probably are. (Unless you’re an airline, in
which case the opposite may be true.)
So when you create content, you
really need to think in advance about Search Engine Optimization
(SEO) and your content syndication channels. If you are working on
nurturing your leads, you need to understand what content they have
downloaded to gauge their interests and purchase intent. To
do that, your back-end needs to be integrated to help you do the
You won’t know how digital
works until you know how the back-end works.
Digital marketing is
complicated, because it touches on technology. That also means
there are endless possibilities to integrate and remix to various
channels. When you are a traditional marketer, you can be a
generalist and still do a good job. When you are a digital
marketer, you need to be both a generalistandaspecialist. It’s likely that you will
focus on a specific discipline, but you still need to understand
how everything ties together.
Yoda said it well. You need to
unlearn what you’ve learned. It took me 3-4 years to really
understand the intricacies of the back-end and how everything
works. The journey never stops. When you stop learning, you
About the Podcast
The host of this podcast is all about B2B, Digital, Content Marketing and Sales Enablement. Are you looking for useful marketing tips and insights? You’re also in the right spot! Each show is seven minutes and the topic is based on a question that is asked or Pam's reflections, and then it is addressed with actionable takeaways in 7 Minutes or Less. You will receive practical advice and unique perspective from each and every episode that can really help you connect the dots between marketing and life. Focusing on content marketing strategies, B2B, Digital Marketing, Sales Enablement and so much more in the sphere of online marketing, Pam Didner has you covered! Interesting topics inspired by the research of Gary Vaynerchuck, Richard Branson, Zig Ziglar, Dan Brown at Read to Lead, Jordan Harbinger from The Art of Charm, Les Brown, Seth Godin, Daymond John, Chris Ducker, Lewis Howes, Amy Porterfield, Joshua Smith from GSD Mode, , Tai Lopez, Joe Rogan, Patt Flynn, John Lee Dumas, Andy Frisella at the MFCEO project Podcast and many more. You will be able to digest each and every Episode in 7 Minutes or Less of Pure Marketing Advice.