The digital marketing revolution is moving so fast that traditional learning institutions are having a hard time keeping up.

Here’s how to reinvent yourself in a meaningful way – without falling prey to questionable online only training programs that don’t pass the smell test. Don’t kid yourself: becoming a successful Internet marketer requires core skills, determination and a lot of hard work.

Core Skills

Communication, sales and analytics – if you have a knack for all three skills, then a career in ecommerce SEO may be for you. Not a programmer? Fear not: you don’t have to spend hours every day typing line after line of code. Internet software is so user-friendly that it does the heavy lifting for you.

Excellent writing skills – including a clear and engaging style, impeccable grammar and yes, even spelling – are essential. While writing for the Web is different than writing for print, if you have an expert grasp of style, then the other tweaks will come easily.

You should also have a knack for sales. Have you ever worked in a clothing store, waited tables or sold cars? If you have a gift for turning visitors into customers, then you have a skill that businesses with an online presence are willing to pay dearly for. Keep in mind that unlike many sales jobs, website visitors prequalify themselves when they click on a site. That means they’re already interested in the product – your copy has to convert that visitor to a sale.

Yes, but how will you know that your copy works, you’re wondering. Easy: analytics. Quite simply, every Internet marketer worth her salt knows that checking a website’s activity tells you not only what works, but what doesn’t. Want to find out what keywords brought people to your site, and what sales copy converted a visitor to a customer? Then use your analytics.

Brick-and-Mortar Versus Virtual

Although the number of digital marketing degrees offered by brick-and-mortar institutions is growing, digital marketing as an academic pursuit appears mostly among online education programs.

Beware: the value of these programs is highly debatable. Some employers won’t accept online degrees, so it’s wise to thoroughly investigate your options before spending a lot of money on a potentially worthless degree.

Many reputable schools offer certificate programs that may be ideal for the adult learner. For example, New York University offers certificates in both marketing and digital marketing at a fraction of the cost of graduate tuition. Class sizes are small, entrance exams aren’t required, and you can learn at your own pace.

But even though the NYU name (and its location in the advertising capital of the world) is sterling, the value of a certificate is debatable. If you’re starting or expanding your own business, have a degree and some marketing experience but need to learn practical digital strategies, this approach works. But earning a certificate in place of a college degree probably isn’t wise.

New students may be interested in the University of Michigan’s bachelor’s program in digital marketing and ecommerce SEO. If you’re unsure, speak with a school or career counselor – or with an Internet marketing professional directly.

That Pesky Caveat

Perhaps the most essential tool you’ll need is the gift of the work ethic. Digital marketing is the fastest growing field in marketing and there are a lot of competitive players. Getting people to pay for marketing requires not just the ability to sell someone else’s product, but the ability to sell yourself.

As the late, great management consultant Peter Drucker told Forbes magazine, get good or get out.

About the author: Guest blogger Michelle enjoys writing about the digital marketing revolution. And now that you’ve learned more about the skills you need in the world of digital sales, find out more about how to become an Internet marketer.


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