When digital marketing, customer experience, and technology are combined, businesses experience change.
And change isn’t always good. It can be very scary.
One of the best ways to embrace change, however, is if you’re committed to lifelong learning.
It’s what leads to innovation and growth with a clear focus on delivering value to customers.
This is especially true for digital marketers—we live in a world that is constantly evolving.
Yet, according to a Forrester study, 60 percent of executives believe they are behind in digital transformation.
Businesses are looking for digital marketers who understand this transformation and how data can be used throughout the customer journey.
In any industry, digital marketers must differentiate themselves by staying ahead of emerging trends.
As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that as the competitive landscape changes, learning from others helps broaden our careers.
Here are six ways digital marketers can add value through lifelong learning in data and tech.
Lifelong Learning Means Taking a Risk
Four years ago, I was a consultant designing websites for individuals and small businesses.
One day, a colleague said, “I have a proposition for you. I want you to work with me marketing mobile apps and coding with LiveCode.”
“But, I don’t know anything about apps … hire a younger person,” I said.
Undeterred, my colleague suggested I read up on the subject.
So I read up on marketing mobile apps during one weekend.
Hesitantly, I accepted the offered position but felt unqualified because I was not familiar with the industry.
However, by using my marketing skills we orchestrated a community outreach program teaching individuals to code.
And even though I didn’t know much about it, we created a crowdfunding campaign using Kickstarter and Indiegogo as a guide.
In the end, our campaign was successful.
And this led up to being invited to Nasdaq to ring the opening bell on behalf of our software client, LiveCode.
Working alongside a software veteran catapulted my career.
I took a risk and learned so much about technology.
Learn More by Doing More
Although I never learned to code (I may someday), technology became a passion and helped expand my marketing skills.
While watching weekly coding webinars, I became more proficient at digital and mobile technology.
Today, companies need to have mobile-first strategies.
Sixty percent of consumers use mobile devices to search for products and services.
To tap into this sector, businesses must be mobile-friendly and provide an omnichannel experience.
Regarding apps, digital marketers need to be more hands-on about gathering data from patterns of customer behavior.
This includes data from location, activities, interests, and ecommerce usage.
By using this data, they can offer more personalized customer experiences.
When you learn by doing, you get a deeper understanding of your customer.
After all, it’s not just about creating an app; it’s about user-experience and exceeding expectations.
Digital Marketers Need to Understand Fintech
When I first started working with a financial technology (fintech) startup, I knew nothing about the industry.
To find out more about this field, I did research and asked the CEO a lot of questions.
Lesson #1 is don’t be afraid to ask questions. People will respect you when you’re honest about what you don’t know.
Lesson #2 is many people don’t realize when they’re using PayPal, Venmo, or Uber that they’re using fintech—data which provides services to people where and when they need them.
Digital marketers can use their storytelling skills to educate consumers and businesses about the value of fintech, including how it makes lives easier and more efficient.
Connect the Dots and Become Self-taught
Having learned fintech and supply-chain, I was able to apply what I learned to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) startup client in supply-chain.
Mastering new skills is not optional in today’s business environment.
And, it’s easier than ever to become self-taught.
There’s even a term for it, autodidact.
If you watch TED talks, read business books, and like to learn new things, you’re a lifelong learner.
You must make self-education a priority every day.
For example, when I was unable to get earned media for a client, I taught myself how to use Twitter effectively.
Using Twitter, I was able to connect to journalists and obtain global coverage for my client.
If one tool doesn’t work, don’t give up. Find another.
Adopt a Growth Mindset
Openness to lifelong learning gave me the confidence to continue my journey and work with companies that were using artificial intelligence (AI) in their marketing.
Nearly half of marketers think AI is a buzzword, but it isn’t going away.
In 2017, the data we produced was more than all the data captured within the last 5,000 years.
Google knows what we search, Facebook knows what we share, and Amazon knows what we buy.
Machine learning and AI take massive amounts of data, aggregate it, and scale in milliseconds to provide insights about consumer preferences, interests, behaviors, and actions.
Typically, we group audiences into large demographic sectors.
AI uses personalized information to predict when a customer is ready to buy and provides real-time content for better results.
Communicators should look for ways to incorporate AI into content marketing, such as using chatbots, augmented reality, image optimization, and social media outreach.
Tap into the Knowledge of Peers
These days, businesses want speed, agility, and transparency.
They need to be able to track the ROI of their marketing and communications efforts.
Gathering data about customer intelligence is the most important predictor of revenue growth.
With online social data and intelligence, we can learn what customers value and create more personalized solutions.
Research is critical to measuring how our efforts generate value, and it helps us remain relevant in changing times.
We Must Evolve with Our Profession
Last year, I covered a PRSA event, “Earned Media Analytics in the Digital Age”.
At the end of the event, I spoke with panelists about research and lifelong learning.
Keynote speaker, Deirdre Breakenridge, CEO of Pure Performance said:
If you know about data, teach another person. If you don’t know, ask 10 people to explain it to you. We’re all students in one big classroom.
Allyson Hugley, president of measurement and analytics at Weber Shandwick suggested:
O’Reilly podcasts, video courses, such as Coursera, and researching business analytics.
As digital marketers, we must evolve with our profession.
Understanding the uses of fintech, machine learning, AI, and other emerging technologies is not enough.
Digital marketers who help create and innovate through lifelong learning of new skills will have a competitive edge.