Marketing March 14, 2016 Last updated September 18th, 2018 1,658 Reads share

How to Keep Digital Marketing Efforts Current and Effective

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Does your business or career success depend on your knowledge of the most current digital marketing tactics? Do you think you must keep up on current trends and innovations in everything from social media marketing to display ads and content?

You can’t. It’s impossible to be the most up-to-date marketer in all digital niches AND run your business or carry out your day job. You simply cannot listen to every marketing podcast, read every new blog and try out every new tool. Instead, follow these guidelines to remain current, effective and in demand.  

Specialization Is the Key to Success

The Internet is about 23 years old; Google is 15 years old and Snapchat just 5 years old.

Despite their youth, each of these astounding inventions has already spawned thousands of third party tools and publishers, editors, writers, coders and analysts. Volumes of blog posts, articles and books tackle the features, best practices and benefits of every new tool and concept. Marketers got used to “drinking from a fire hose” of information as they tried to master the latest, greatest “shiny new object” online. Do that long enough and you run away to join the circus.

The only solution is to do what medical professionals started doing from the 1930s through the 1950s: specialize. Before this period, the majority of doctors were generalists. When research exploded, they could no longer keep up with the progress in surgery, medications and other treatments. Clearly, specialization was the only solution. Today there are dozens of medical specialties going as narrow as pediatric cardiology to surgery of the hand. Deep, narrow knowledge creates desired outcomes more often than broad, shallow understanding. Marketers and business owners must take a page from the medical industry and determine where their skills best meet the demand.

If you are a business, hopefully, you (or your marketing agency) have carefully selected the digital marketing tools with the best chances of reaching your audience. There are infinite ways to combine email, social media, display ads and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Your marketing mix will depend on your current audience or the audience you want to connect with and how they behave online.

Whichever tools you use, make sure you’re constantly testing, gaining deeper knowledge from “thought leaders” and refining your approach. Even though new social media channels and direct response options keep popping up, take your time diving into something new. Blog post headlines can imply a frantic pace (“3 Tools to Test Now!”), but a wary, learned approach saves budget. Give the new tactic or platform a chance to prove itself and give yourself a chance both to monitor its success and learn how to use it most effectively.

Like business owners, most marketers have learned first-hand that, while they need to have general knowledge of surrounding specialties, they’ll never be an expert in more than one or two areas.

Review the chart below to determine which niche most draws you.

Stay up to date on each publication and follow each guru on his or her social media channels. At the same time, pick no more than three publications and three gurus. Consider attending the conferences in your niche. While they’re expensive, going as a volunteer gets you in free in exchange for 10–15 hours of your time handing out lanyards or setting up chairs.

SEO/SEM Content Marketing Social Media Marketing Email Marketing

Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal,

Content Marketing Institute, CoSchedule, CopyBlogger Social Media Examiner, Social Media Today, Simply Measured blog, Convince and Convert

Constant Contact


Gurus Matt Cutts,

Rand Fishkin, Danny Sullivan,

Mark Traphagan/Eric Enge

Joe Puluzzi,

Neil Patel,

Suzanne Baran, Brian Clark, Ann Handley

Mari Smith, Gary Vaynerchuck, Ken Krogue, Michael Stelzner, Andrea Vahl, Jill Rowley Matt Hogatt, Justine Jordan, Jordan Cohen
Conferences Search Marketing Expo (SMX), Mozcon, Pubcon,
Content Marketing World, Intelligent Content Conference, Confab Social Media Marketing World, Direct Marketing Association conferences, Email Evolution, Constant Contact Conferences, Pubcon


Turn staying current on digital marketing from daunting to delightful when you specialize either for your business OR your marketing career.

Neither you nor anyone can absorb every facet of digital marketing. Narrow your focus to succeed.

Attitude Shifts Are Necessary for Survival in the Digital Era

Many tried and true business strategies are falling out of favor, and the shift can be a shock. First, no longer do we train, apprentice and then practice our skills, with the expected end of coasting in our final two decades. Instead, we must set aside time to constantly train and apprentice while practicing. Many of us did not see this constant catch-up game coming.

The technological landscape hurtles us ahead, forcing marketers and business owners to adjust and even abandon hard-won new skills and education that cost money to acquire. This is the new reality. Rest assured that each new talent you acquire is never wasted. Instead, the latest, greatest webinar you’re sitting through probably builds on it. Get used to the new climate of constant upgrades both in software and in your own knowledge. It’s both challenging and thrilling at the same time.

Put yourself on your own educational track by looking for opportunities for growth. Always review projects once they are completed, looking for areas that could be improved. Listen to customer feedback closely and consider how your team or company can improve their experience. Mistakes, the best teacher, may warrant one or a few team meetings. If you repair as you go along, the trajectory is up.

Constant catch-up isn’t the only shift in the new, digital economy. Shorter time horizons may be taking over the previous era’s propensity to favor long-term strategy and commitment.

Consider: “short-term gratification” and “short-sighted.”

Don’t both have negative connotations? Today’s pace, however, could turn this bias on its head. Constant upgrades, right-sizing, and even the freelance, fluid, telecommuting workforce makes carving business vision in stone feel a bit old-school these days.

Images: ” Interactive digital marketing channels illustration /


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Matt Walker

Matt Walker

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