digital marketers

What’s the Market Demand for Digital Marketing Education?

Marketing is a traditional industry as the need to spread awareness, make people aware of products or services has been around for as long as capitalism itself.

In today's economy, marketing has become a very sophisticated, complex, and ever-evolving industry. It’s something that every business in Hong Kong relies on and there's no question in anyone's mind that if you want a successful business, you need a strong marketing presence.

For those in the education sector, this presents great opportunities. As marketing becomes more complex and specialised, it's a skill that needs to be continuously nurtured and cultivated making a comprehensive digital marketing education crucial for professionals across industries

In this article, we explore the evolution of marketing and the growing demand in the marketplace. 

Does Market Demand Exist?

The first question any organisation needs to ask is if there is any kind of sizable demand for digital marketing education in digital marketing? Is there a need in the workforce for people who are trained in this field? While sectors such as medicine, engineering, and law have decades of proven demand, digital marketing is a relatively new field.

Regardless of digital marketing’s age, the answer to that question is “yes.” Even taking the digital aspect out of the equation, the general field of marketing has a sizable spectrum of demand. Public relations, brand management, and of course, traditional advertising like television and radio commercials and print ads are still important parts of the industry in Hong Kong.

When you add the digital component to this equation, the actual demand for marketing jumps up by orders of magnitude. In fact, current estimates say that the demand for digital marketing specialists outstrips the currently available supply, with 56% of the companies in one survey saying they needed people with digital marketing expertise.

With that type of demand, it is simply impossible for the existing job pool to meet current needs. New blood is needed. But where do businesses get it? They can get it from a qualified group of graduates or even their own employees, as long as the person has undergone substantial digital marketing training and education.

Digital Marketing is a Global Phenomenon

One of the most interesting things about the market demand for digital marketing is that this demand is universal.

The list of potential countries with a high annual salary for people with digital marketing training and expertise are:

  • Australia: $44,000 for entry-level positions, up to $87,000 for senior.

  • Netherlands: $38,000 for entry-level, and $65,000 for senior.

  • USA: $35,000 for entry-level, with $64,000 for senior.

But of course, while that’s the top three, there are plenty of other regions like Canada, the United Kingdom, ,Singapore, and of course, Hong Kong, that are placing increased importance on securing staff with education in digital marketing.

But why is this demand growing? What is it about digital marketing training that makes it such an “exportable” skill to so many different parts of the world?

Digital Marketing is Growing in Relevance

The relevance of digital marketing continues to grow, with over $111 billion spent on advertising. By 2019 that figure is estimated to account for 55% of total media ad spend. 

The biggest reason for this growth is the migration of the market. More and more people are spending their time using internet-connected devices like smartphones or desktop and laptop computers, rather than watching broadcast television or free-to-air radio. At the same time, traditional print ad venues such as magazines and newspapers are experiencing contractions in their audience. It’s not that people have stopped consuming media, they’ve simply decreased their consumption of traditional media and moved onto digital, online platforms.

So, the traditional career route for a marketer of joining a large established advertising agency is changing. More and more businesses are taking advantage of the smaller, more approachable and customisable nature of digital marketing. They might choose smaller or more nimble agencies that give them the attention they need. Or managers might bypass ad agencies entirely and hire their own in-house marketers.

More often than not, people now talk about something they saw on Twitter or Facebook, not on a commercial in last night’s latest episode of a popular television series. Digital marketing is rapidly passing traditional marketing in importance and audience reach, and more and more businesses need specialists in this industry so that they can be where the customers are. 

Digital Marketing is Diverse & Education Must Be Too

There’s more to digital marketing than just having an instinct for smart promotion or coming up with an enticing slogan or striking ad concept. Good digital marketing training doesn’t just focus on marketing; it embraces all things digital.

Advertising in the digital era provides massive, global reach, but it is not simple to achieve. The algorithms social media uses to find popular topics, the optimisation of content so that search engines can more easily find it, and the multi-media nature of the digital landscape means that there’s a surprising amount of technical proficiency employees need.

The most compelling sales content in the world does no one any good if it’s hard to find on the internet or created in such a way that search engines actually ignore it. Digital marketing is far from a straight transference of advertising skills to a digital platform. 

It demands an understanding of the parameters of search algorithms, paid ad techniques, what content inspires consumers, and more. As such, digital marketing education, whether from a school or business-developed program, needs to cover these topics and skills. 

Change Is a Constant, So Frequent Updates Are a Must

Perhaps one of the most important points to keep in mind about digital marketing training is that this is not a static discipline. New technologies are always developing, so there’s always a cutting edge to the technical side. One example is the algorithms that Google uses to rank content. These algorithms are being tweaked regularly, so what works well in 2019 may no longer be as important or as crucial in 2022. Marketers need to realise that education isn’t over once they get their degree. Digital marketing is in a constant “arms race” as better techniques and tools are invented.

But even more crucially, fashions change. If digital marketing had been as important 15 years ago, marketing experts would have been focused on MySpace. Today, marketing focuses on Twitter and Instagram, as the dominance of Facebook gradually erodes in favour of the platforms preferred by millennials and Generation Z.

In other words, new social media platforms and algorithms will come and go. That means there will always be something new to learn or a program to adjust to. As the demographics change, and new technologies emerge, so too will new digital marketing possibilities for people willing to experiment, innovate, and gain the first-mover advantage by pioneering these spaces. 

Digital Marketing Is a Growth Industry

Developed nations have moved past the point of being industrial-based, manufacturing economies. The forces that move modern nations are services and technology. The growth of the internet has made digital marketing not just a local concern but a global one as well. Digital marketing will continue to grow as the audience, the market, and businesses increasingly put their attention on the digital space.

Unlike some professions that are threatened by automation, digital marketing is something that machines simply cannot do. There’s a certain amount of “future-proofing” built into this career that ensures that students looking to graduate and enter the workforce will have viable career tracks open to them.

For professionals already established in their careers, digital marketing education is needed to keep up with competitors. Companies can add value to existing employees by expanding their skill set and providing them with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in the company and to help the business maintain an important marketing presence in a changing digital landscape - a good start will be enrolling them in a practical digital marketing course.

Conclusion

“The skills are in demand and businesses are wanting to power their marketing efforts by strengthening their digital marketing offering” – Mark Ashbridge, General Manager of The Left Bank

Digital marketing is not going to go away. In fact, digital marketing is only going to grow in importance for all businesses. The demand for people with digital marketing training is already at the point where there’s a deficit of qualified personnel. 

Organisations and educational institutions that have the foresight to develop strong programs and train people in this area are a critical need.

Source: Digital Marketing Institute

The State of Content Marketing in 2019

There's a saying that content is king. That applies to all industries in Hong Kong, to any business trying to reach and inform their customers. For advertising to work on a targeted audience, there must be something there that initially draws them in. In the old days of pre-digital marketing, that content was entertainment. People didn't normally enjoy commercials on TV for their own sake but viewed them because they were interspersed with the content that really engaged them, such as dramatic TV series, documentaries, or even news broadcasts.

In the digital world of the internet, content has a similar value. Not only is content marketing one of the top skills that every digital marketers should hone, it also is the next logical step of taking material that has appeal to a market and making it a marketing tool itself, rather than a "lure" to get the audience to view marketing. After all, why spend time creating content only tangentially related to your business, when you can make ads that are already a topic of interest? By making the content a part of the marketing, rather than an "assist" to the marketing, you have improved your chances of success. Content marketing has become an effective tool, and it's not going away anytime soon. In fact, content marketing is actually increasing in value and usefulness thanks to the tweaks and developments made in search algorithms.

So if you're looking into getting the most out of your content marketing, what should you be considering? These are things you need to think about going into 2019.

Value Is Your Primary Target

Content marketing is about providing meaningful content, but the interpretation of meaningful can vary. In the past, with simpler search engine algorithms, "fluff" or filler content was perfectly acceptable because simpler algorithms only looked at basic parameters, like how many times a particular keyword was used. So it wasn't unusual for early websites to have nonsensical gibberish, with a keyword placed at the bottom of the page 100 times to get the attention of a search engine.

Today, of course, that doesn't work. Search engines are smarter and will even hand out penalties for this unethical practice. Consumers are also looking for reliable content to inform purchasing decisions. Your content must have value, which can be broken up into three types based on its benefit to your target market.

  • Useful:

This kind of content assists readers. Useful content helps consumers or potential clients achieve a goal. When your content provides help, that creates a lot of value and generates positive feelings for your business and its image. People may also come back looking for more help in the future, establishing trust, loyalty, and authority.

  • Informative:

In some ways a parallel of useful, informative content creates value through education. The goal here is not necessarily to help a consumer achieve a specific goal in the way that a guide or tutorial might. Here, the aim is to teach a consumer something interesting or new that may potentially have uses in the future, even if it doesn't right now.

  • Entertainment:

The value of engaging content should never be underestimated. Just think about the fun people have interacting with and sharing memes or videos, the kind of things that go viral and are consumed by millions of people across the globe. Entertainment, when done well, has high value, perhaps the highest of all. Trying to create viral content with global entertainment value deliberately is a daunting task. Don't aspire to go viral but instead set out to truly engage your audience with a compelling piece of content.

Looking to improve your content strategies already? We have not one, but six helpful tips for you.

Distribution Is Always a Concern

Once you create good content marketing, where are you putting it? Do your customers know where to find it? Do they even know that it's out there? Marketing basics tell you to put your business out there on social media and through a website to build awareness, but make sure that your content itself is getting the same spotlight and consideration as your products and your marketing efforts.

The creation of a "content hub," for example, may deserve some marketing and creative attention of its own. If you're finding that your customers are increasingly coming to you for the usefulness of your content, make sure you continue to impress them. Useful content is "evergreen," and new customers will go to that old content again and again if it continues to remain relevant. Create a place where your articles, videos, podcasts, and other content can all be easily found. Then, do a little bit of marketing to make sure your ideal customers know about your useful library of resources.

Content Is Advertising

One of the most significant advantages of content marketing is that can operate as an ad in disguise. When you make your content the advertising itself, it is no longer an interruption to what people are searching for, but it is the goal. As an example, 615 million devices used AdBlock software in 2017, and that number has only been growing. So if you're creating an ad, banner, or another traditional type of internet advertising, millions of people aren't seeing it. They've taken the trouble to download and install software that blocks any attempt to interrupt their browsing.

However, with content marketing, the content is the advertising. That means you need to create content apart from cut-and-dry ads. Blogs, articles, podcasts, and videos are all better ways to advertise to your customers subtly. When you work toward creating valuable content that will entertain and educate your audience, you remain unaffected by things like AdBlock. People are deliberately seeking you out instead of shutting you out. Focus on positively driving people to seek out your marketing tools, your content, rather than interrupting what they're trying to achieve online.

Content Is Changing the Customer Relationship

In the past, the classic marketing funnel concentrated on building up awareness and creating a "short-term relationship" with a customer that lasted only until a purchase was made. Once that goal had been achieved, customers tended to be regarded as "spent assets" and were subsequently ignored unless they had an issue that required customer support to deal with it, so as not to impact a business's reputation.

Today, content marketing is now viewed as a way to create an ongoing relationship with a customer beyond making the initial purchase. Content marketing expands the way a customer interacts with a business, going beyond just giving that business money or requiring technical or customer support.

For instance, people who buy a musical instrument from an instrument manufacturer establish an ongoing connection with that business through content marketing. The might return to that business's website for FAQs or video tutorials or any other content. They might even scan the business's social media for answers to their questions or to connect with fellow customers. That customer is now in a "long-term relationship" with the company. The addition of good content on a regular basis extends the length and quality of that relationship.

Divert Resources to Video

If content is king, and content marketing is one of the biggest movers in marketing, then the undisputed king of kings is video. New studies indicate that in 2019, 80% of general consumer internet traffic will be the viewing of videos. That figure does not even account for video chat but refers merely to the consumption of pre-recorded videos or live video streaming.

Video is one of the best ways to get attention for content marketing because it is easy for the viewer to consume. Video also combines all three benefits of valuable content; it is useful and informative while also being entertaining. For companies that are willing to invest in a good production team and set of equipment, video can be a great way to quickly create content on a regular basis. When your content strategy is combined with other uses for video, such as live video broadcasts—especially with social influencers—you can quickly establish a relationship with customers and maintain it. Two types of video content are especially useful to customers, and they include:

  • Testimonials:

In the same way that the user review is one of the most critical pieces of research that potential customers undertake, video testimonials can be even more sought after. By showing other customers highlighting uses and positive aspects of your product or service, you are inspiring consumer confidence.

  • Tutorials or Demos:

People are always interested in learning new things and guaranteeing that a purchase is worthy. While detailed articles can be very enlightening, but sometimes, especially when involving an action, it is better to use a video. Create or share customer videos with actions, animations, and explanations to reinforce learning.

The important thing to note with these popular types of video content is that they are centred on enriching the customer's understanding of your products and furthering the customer's goals. Make sure that any actual marketing or advertising is secondary, and not pursued in an aggressive manner. You want these forms of video to build trust and authority. Consumers are very wary of being sold to. Like content marketing itself, the value of the content takes precedence over product or service promotion.

SEO Integration Is Still Important

Some may make the mistake of thinking that with the importance of quality content and the dominance of video as a marketing tool, SEO or search engine optimisation may not be as crucial in 2019. Nothing could be further from the truth. While the content is ultimately what your customer engages with, good SEO practices are still what enabled those consumers to find your content, if they were only inputting a general query into a search engine.

While SEO is important for "conventional" computer users on desktops and laptops, the push to prioritise mobile search and content consumption will continue into 2019, and there will be an even greater emphasis placed on optimising for voice search.

The rules and practices for voice search optimisation are not yet set in stone, and it will involve a bit of tweaking and experimentation. After all, search engines themselves will have to see what works best for people conducting searches via smartphone, and how it differs from other computer use. In the same way, the interface and outputs for verbal searches are very different. You don't have a visible SERP with meta descriptions to inform your next time. There are a lot of unknowns, so this is pioneer territory for SEO that you'll want to keep tabs on. Do not be daunted if you feel like SEO is an uncharted territory for you, there are courses for you to improve your knowledge of the subject quickly.

Social Media is Your Best Option for Sharing

Social media has become one of the most important means of communication and entertainment for the general public. And that means it has now become one of the most critical virtual spaces for marketing, including content marketing. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and many, many more are where people are digitally these days. As a result, it's no surprise that social media is where a lot of digital marketing takes place. Even customer support systems are moving over to social media, with some companies establishing reputations for themselves, such as the humour now associated with the Netflix Twitter account.

But general digital marketing isn’t limited to social media. Content marketing can be just as at home here as well. Videos can be published anywhere, whether it's on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or directly on a company website. However, other types of content marketing, like blog articles and photos are still being successfully promoted on social media or linking back to fuller sites. A combination of proper social media usage, the careful selection of accompanying captions, tags, and cover images, and consistent engagement with consumers will all provide great results for your content marketing campaigns.

Produce High-Quality Content

The one thing that should never be forgotten is the cornerstone of content: quality. When you create a reputation for producing high-quality content, it will draw in new and repeat viewers. Quality is the more attractive part of content, and the market will reward you for it with more new customers and greater success! Don’t forget to keep learning and improving to keep yourself abreast of the latest trends, especially if you want to excel in the digital marketing career.

Source: Digital Marketing Institute

7 Essential Skills Every Digital Marketer Should Know

Even in a small city like Hong Kong, the digital industry is always vast, so it can be difficult to navigate for newcomers or those looking to find their niche; how do you set yourself apart from the competition and fast-track your way up the corporate ladder?

Check out these 7 essential skills to keep you relevant in the ever-changing digital industry.

1. Video

Video is taking the internet by storm and this isn’t about to stop. According to MarTech, videos have the potential to hold customer’s attention on retail sites for two minutes longer than average (which is really like a lifetime in the digital world) and a well-optimised video can boost your chances of being in a top Google ranking position by at least 50. In addition, more than 80% of customers are more likely to purchase a product after seeing it detailed in a video.

Bear in mind that these are just loose statistics are going to vary depending on who you ask, but the point is that most statistics point to much higher conversion, engagement and higher SEO rankings when it comes to video.

What makes it so engaging? Because it’s personal. When people can see your face (or the face of the person promoting the brand), they are more likely to trust the entire enterprise. It’s also a wonderfully versatile content to use through different platforms.

Digital marketing professionals don’t have to know everything about video production, of course, but knowing how to create a quick intro video from your laptop is a good place to start. And if you have some training in this area and you love it, your skills and talents will not be wasted as video will continue to be in demand.

If you want to learn more on your own, you can try out video editing tools like Apple Final Cut Pro X or Adobe Premiere Pro.

2. SEO & SEM

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is key to all levels of digital marketing and as such, anyone going into the field must have at least a basic handle on it. You can certainly leave the highly technical, back-end stuff to the more technically-oriented people on the team, having a solid understanding of best practices and how to optimise all forms of content is crucial for running a successful digital marketing campaign.

Both SEO and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) inform your entire digital strategy on both a data and content level, and you need to be able to communicate to other teammates about this, so you just won’t get far if you don’t make a point of learning the basics.

3. Content Marketing

Content is the core of digital marketing and content marketing will continue to be a crucial part of the game no matter what happens. But content marketing is a huge job in itself. You have to be able to understand how to not only create high quality, SEO-friendly content of various sorts, you also have to understand how to effectively get audiences to engage.

And to make things a little more challenging, it’s important to note that content can take many forms, from video to social, emails, web content, blogs, e-books, videos, whitepapers…the list goes on. You also have to have a firm grasp on social media marketing as this will tie in to most content marketing type of work. You’ll need to be able to strategise based on a given client’s overarching business goals, develop a campaign that involves an effective strategy, and monitor analytics as well

3. Data / Analytics

No matter what facet of digital marketing you are going into, Google Analytics will probably be central to your strategy. Monitoring and reporting via such tools is pretty straightforward, but the tricky part is how to gather and use that information to help you learn more about consumer behaviour and apply it to new solutions that boost traffic and conversions.

Most businesses (even small ones) have huge amounts of data to track, and great digital marketers need to understand how to gather and use this to their advantage. Most companies will always be looking for people who to only know how to “read” this data, but to know exactly which data to use towards improving business strategy in the future. If you can show that you can do this in innovative ways and that the way you do it ends with important results, you’re going to be a valuable asset in the industry.

4. Understand Design-Based Thinking & Planning

Design Thinking is a term that basically refers to a way of approaching problems from a user-centred perspective. The approach essentially encourages us to think in a human-centred way when solving large-scale complex problems.

According to The Interaction Design Foundation, there are 5 key phases to this process: empathise, define, ideate, prototype, and test. The reason why this works so well in the digital marketing sphere is that so much of it is (or should be) centred on the user experience. Another interesting thing about this approach is that it can be used in a non-linear way – so that in some instances you may get to the testing phase and then come back to the middle phase, for instance, to re-consider ideas.

Designers and developers are likely to use an approach like this, so even if you’re not one, it’s a good idea to at least have a solid understanding of it and apply it when feasible.  

5. Be Tech Savvy

Because the industry is really technology driven, you have to have a decent grip on technology as well as be able to learn it quickly. If you’re millennial-age or younger, this is probably going to be second-nature, but older generations may want to put a bit of elbow grease into teaching themselves not only specific technologies but also just getting familiar with the most commonly used software and tools in their focus area.

Generally, if you understand the basics of web coding, as well as having a clear idea of how to use the basic Content Management (CMS) systems like WordPress, you’re likely well on your way to landing that dream job, especially if you have a resume that highlights such points.

6. Be Persuasive

A great digital marketing leader will not only show up with great people skills; but they’ll also be able to combine analytical thinking with creative-problem solving to help teams come up with innovative campaign ideas to drive businesses forward.

And a big part of this is being persuasive. Can you convince someone else to purchase? What about convincing other team leaders that your idea is the best? This isn’t about arguing as much as having the confidence that you know what you’re doing and showing this in detail.  

7. Highlight Unusual Skill Sets

As far as soft skills go, great digital marketers should be curious, enjoy versatility, forward-thinking, business-focused and strategy-centred. But there is plenty of room in this field for all kinds of personalities and skills sets. To this end, it’s important that you leverage your own unique blend in order to stay competitive in the industry.

It may, for instance, be unusual to find someone well-versed in both back-end SEO strategy as well as be able to take on a managerial role, or it may be unusual to find someone with a computing science degree that also loves social media.  

Conclusion

A great digital marketing professional will have the ability to adapt quickly and learn on their own, even being ready to pivot into different digital careers as they choose or as needed should old skills become less in-demand. They will be working with diverse teams and clients, so they will have to know how to communicate well and build strong teams.

While there are a number of things that you will have to do in order to be competitive in the digital marketing career field, it’s important not to forget about leveraging and improving your hard and soft skills as you move forward into exciting new positions. Having a solid breadth of basic knowledge alongside depth in a few areas (what Rand Fishkin calls a T-Shaped Marketer) will help you get further than if you try to be a jack-of-all-trades.  

Source: Digital Marketing Institute