Digital Marketing Training: 5 ‘Need to Know’ Topics

Paul Boag

Organisations need to start providing better digital marketing training if they are to remain competitive. Training that extends beyond how to use the content management system.

In my experience, corporate training in most organisations woefully lacks in the field of digital, and nowhere more so than digital marketing training.

I have written before about the immense challenges employees face in adopting digital and then staying abreast of digital best practice. Yet companies consistently underinvest in helping those employees stay up to date or for an older generation, make the transition to digital.

Why Digital Marketing Training Is of Particular Concern

The reason I highlight digital marketing training in particular, is that in my experience most digital projects are driven from marketing. What is more, marketing is increasingly responsible for the customer experience in a world in which customers are ever more demanding in part because of the power digital has given them.

Digital Marketing Training
Marketers need to do more than adopt digital channel, they need to adopt digital thinking and they need training to encourage that.

But this lack of investment in training and in particular digital marketing training does not just impact the employee. It is also damaging for business, as digital projects are routinely mismanaged and fail to fulfil their potential even within large and supposedly experienced organisations.

In my previous post about corporate training, I wrote about why training should happen. In this post, I want to look at digital marketing training in particular, and outline five areas that I believe need specific attention.

Let’s start by diving into the most obvious.

Conversion Rate Optimisation Training

Most marketing people I work with are competent at driving traffic to a website. However, encouraging people to act when they arrive on the site often turns into an exercise in frustration. A frustration made worse by the ridiculous pressure they find themselves under from management to meet revenue targets.

Digital Marketing Training
Aggressive revenue targets are forcing marketers to adopt ever more manipulative techniques. Training would show them this is not the only way.

That inevitably results in marketers adopting increasingly desperate techniques, as I discuss in my post on dark patterns and aggressive persuasion. Methods that are ultimately damaging for the business.

For these reasons, most organisations could benefit from at least some digital marketing training around conversion rate optimisation.

User Research Techniques

Another component of digital marketing training, in my mind at least, is an introduction to user research techniques.

I still see marketers making a considerable number of assumptions about user behaviour, and few spend time with users to ensure that those assumptions are correct.

I am not suggesting marketers need to become experts in user research, but they should at least have some experience with techniques such as empathy mapping, customer journey mapping and top task analysis.

That also leads into another topic for digital marketing training – usability testing.

Usability Testing

Usability testing should be the backbone of any digital project, especially when combined with other forms of testing like multivariate. However, often this is skipped over because those running projects (often marketers) have little experience with it. They see it as time consuming and expensive.

Tools like makes usability testing so easy but marketers need to be aware these tools exist.

In truth, just a little training would enable any digital marketing team to carry out their own lightweight usability testing as part of their everyday operations. That would allow them to improve conversion, better target their campaigns and avoid costly mistakes.

But integrating usability testing into their workflow will also mean that marketers need to reconsider how they run digital projects.

Digital Project Management

Marketers are not digital experts, and neither are they project managers, and yet they often have to fulfil the role of both with little or no training. They, therefore, fall back on traditional project management techniques that are not a good fit for the digital world. The result is projects that often go over budget, miss deadlines and fail to reach their potential.

Organisations need to ensure that they are educating their marketing staff about modern digital project management techniques as part of any digital marketing program.

They need to be introducing staff to agile working, minimum viable products, lean UX and continual iteration.

Marketers need training introducing them to modern digital project management techniques.

Writing for the Web

Finally, no digital marketing training would be complete without a deep dive into writing for the web.

Don’t get me wrong, most marketers are excellent copywriters, who know how to write engaging, compelling copy. What they are less good at is knowing how to write for the specific medium that is the web.

Whether you are talking about eye strain from reading online or the sheer quantity of material clamouring for our attention, users are rarely giving our copy their full attention. We, therefore, need to approach writing online in a completely different way and marketing teams need training in how to achieve that.

Marketers need to learn a different writing style when producing online copy.

Don’t Take My Word for It

I am biased. I offer digital training, so of course, I am going to say that your marketing teams need more. But don’t take my word for it, ask them. I can pretty much guarantee they will be desperate for more support in this area, because at the moment they are expected to be experts in fields for which they have never received any training. That is a tall order for anyone.

Thanks to Inspiring from Shutterstock for allowing me to use this image.