Alexis Hall

5 Tips for Digital Marketing Newbies to Survive and Thrive

Alexis Hall     Digital Marketing


Nearly 5 years ago, I walked into the TopRank Online Marketing offices eager to start my first day. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I was sure that the team could all tell that I was a total digital marketing newbie.

Those first 8 hours were both exhilarating and overwhelming. Lingo that I had never heard of was flying fast around me (what did a Panda have to do with marketing and what was a MQL?). I felt both intimidated and impressed by the smarts, expertise and experience of those around me. And I remember thinking, would this ever be me?

Since then, TopRank Marketing has changed and grown in many ways, just like I have. In fact, TopRank has doubled in size in the past year and will soon be moving to a larger office space.

Now, as a Senior Account Manager at TopRank Marketing, I have the pleasure of training and working with my own digital marketing newbies. I know many companies are hiring marketers as fast as they can find them and as new marketers come onboard at companies and agencies, I can’t help but share advice that helped me during my first year:

Tip 1: Play to Your Strengths

If you are starting a new gig in marketing, remember you were hired for a reason! While you are learning the basics, add value and build confidence by modestly displaying what you can bring to the table. Maybe your previous experience called for extensive project management, or perhaps you’re an Excel wizard.

Take the opportunity to show off the skills you do have to begin adding immediate value. Volunteer to project manage a new project or step in to help your manager create reports for a looming presentation.

Tip 2: Always Be Learning

As digital marketers, there is no end to training or learning, as we are fortunate enough to work in a dynamic, exciting industry. Especially as a newbie though there are so many opportunities to soak in all the expertise surrounding you.

How to do it:

  1. Coworkers: Listen more than you talk in that first year and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I am always impressed when a newbie follows up with me to elaborate on something I mentioned during a client meeting – it shows me they were paying attention and they want to learn more.
  2. Industry Events: Sign up for local meet ups or industry events, they are fantastic opportunities to network and get inspired.
  3. Blogs and Social Media: The internet is an endless source of information for all your digital marketing questions. Go ahead and ask your coworkers what blogs they subscribe to and who they follow on social networks. These streams of information will help you nail the basics, while keeping up on the latest. 

Tip 3: Start Broad, Then Narrow Your Focus

Starting out as a bit of a generalist will help you a gain a more integrated understanding of a digital marketing mix, and will also help you find something you really enjoy and excel at. You can’t be a generalist forever though. You will be the best at your job if you have the opportunity to really hone in and be an expert social media manager, content marketer, analytics guru, account manager, etc.

Set up meetings with subject matter experts within your organization to learn more about the channel and what they do. Ask your manager if you can help out with a project to practice a new role.

Tip 4: Measure & Learn

I’ll let you in on a little secret: Even the most experienced digital marketing experts don’t guarantee a new tactic or proposed strategy is going to be successful. As a digital marketer you will regularly have the opportunity to test new tactics, messaging strategies or marketing mix. However, each time you test something, measure the results compared to your objective and learn something from it. Critically evaluating tactics and learning from successes and failures is how you build the experiences which will transform you from new digital marketer to a seasoned expert.

How to do it: Get ready to dig into your analytics platform! If you’re testing a new type of content (like an eBook or video) with the objective of driving awareness of your company for a certain topic, then pay close attention to key performance indicators, like traffic or social media shares, that will show success.

Tip 5: Be confident in What You Know

After that first year, you will have soaked in all the training, racked up real-life experience implementing and measuring tactics and read all the books and blog posts you can. Sure, you’re not an expert yet, but you’re on your way as an eternal student! The next step is having confidence to share what you know, consult with a client or to share your opinion with a team member. If you’re transitioning from newbie to expert, be confident in the things that you have learned.

Bonus Tip: Be Passionate

Now as a manager, I am always impressed by passion and excitement. Most digital marketing managers and peers will be marketing nerds. And they will be excited to see that passion matched in a new hire. Passion means you are probably eager to learn and do something awesome. Not to mention, caring about your craft sure makes the workday seem a lot more enjoyable.

What other tips do you have for new digital marketers?

Image: Shutterstock




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  1. azeckman azeckman says

    Great post Alexis! 🙂

  2. Great post Alexis,
    On the long term being passionate is the best help to keep you on the rail….

  3. Avatar Dan D Killmore says

    So very true. Passion in what you are doing and confidence in doing it are paramount, will propel you and get you noticed. Speaking as someone whom has had the chore of hiring and firing a fair few, my tip to anyone starting a new job is to make their priority for their line manager or boss or whatever to move up or move on. And work towards making that happen. I can guarantee when that does happen they will be pulled along in his or her wake.

  4. Nice work Alexis! One thing I always remember as a great benefit to my knowledge growth in the early days, was volunteering to represent the company and speak on subjects at digital conferences. Forced me to learn quickly and built my confidence.