The decision to change careers is typically not made lightly.
It’s usually the result of endless conversations with loved ones and a lot of planning. So when I decided a few months back to leave my management-position job at a news website after almost three years for an entry-level marketing position, I was embarking on a new path and hoping I wouldn’t regret the decision in the future.
My first month at the inbound marketing agency Penguin Strategies was filled with new experiences, valuable lessons and many ups, alongside some downs. I was in a new workplace, living in a new city, learning a new field and making new friends.
Now, with several months of experience under my belt, let me share the top 10 things I learned in my first month:
1 – What’s inbound marketing and why does it work?
In short, inbound marketing is the new form of marketing that aims to talk to people where they want, instead of disrupting them when and where they don’t.
Think of those cold calls that always interrupted your family dinners in the middle of the week. That was a form of outbound marketing, the old-fashion type of marketing.
So, why does inbound marketing work?
Many before me have done an outstanding job at answering this question but let me try to sum it up for you in a nutshell: people are tired of feeling pressured into purchasing a product or service. Inbound marketers understand that the power is in the buyer’s hand; the buyer will come to you when he/she sees that you are an expert in providing the product or solution they’re looking for.
But don’t get me wrong.
Salespeople are still important. As a non-tech example that will resonate with the Millennial “Do-It-Yourself Generation”: If you go into a retail store and can’t find the right size or you want to know if a specific shirt is available in a different color, you’ll need a salesperson.
However, you will be the one who approaches them to ask your question.
The same type of use case exemplifies inbound marketing at its finest. Feeling comfortable with the research he/she has already done, the buyer is now reaching out to the seller, who in turn can now guide the buyer through a process – but without any aggressive tactics and without wasting time talking to a ‘prospect’ who actually has no interest in the product or service.
2 –The world of Google extensions is endless
From grabbing and editing screenshots to copying the color hex of any element on a live webpage to quality assuring web pages for desktop and mobile devices, to inserting a SEO-boosting meta description, there’s an online solution for any issue or challenge you may need help with creating and optimizing your digital marketing assets.
Some of my favorites so far are:
- Web Developer (for resizing pages)
- Skitch (for easily taking screenshots and adding text if needed).
3 – Pillar pages & topic clusters can do wonders for your SEO
While keywords are still important, companies that have implemented the strategy of developing pillar pages and topic clusters instead of individualized, keyword-focused pages are seeing phenomenal results. Well-designed and strategically-planned pillar pages can greatly improve your company’s SEO ranking.
Now, if this is the first time hearing about pillar pages, you might be asking yourself: “But what about my target audience? Shouldn’t I be gearing my content toward them, not a search engine?”
The answer is you should be doing both! You need to find the right balance, the perfect recipe, and create a content-based strategy that both humans and search engines love.
4 – Social media and email marketing: Partners, not competitors
In recent years, social media has become an integral part of marketing. Companies must have a social media presence because that’s where their customers are likely to spend a good amount of their time.
However, this isn’t to say that there’s no need to invest in email marketing. Email marketing is still an effective tool and can improve your company’s ROI (return on investment) if done correctly.
5 – Content images should be chosen with care
Everyone’s heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but this is especially true for the image of a blog or social media post.
You don’t want just any picture; you want the right picture. An on-target blog image can often be the trigger that entices readers and causes them to click on the blog, or it can be the reason why they continue skimming the page, overlooking your blog.
6 – It’s okay to ask for additional directions
I have a confession, I like to do things right, preferably on my first try, and I like being independent. I would rather learn on my own, if need be by trial and error, than constantly ask for help from my peers.
But sometimes, especially when you’re in a new environment, you really need more guidance and directions. This is especially true when you are learning a marketing automation software program and those around you have more experience with it.
7 – Don’t underplay the importance of training resources – like the HubSpot Academy videos
As part of the on-boarding process, I completed several HubSpot Academy courses. Initially, I wanted to race through them, showing off my learning speed and wanting to focus on the other tasks I’d been given.
However, I quickly realized that there’s really no better place to gain the basic inbound marketing knowledge and that these lessons would serve as the basis for my training.
8 - Social media post crafting is an art that isn’t acquired overnight
If you’re struggling with crafting the right social media posts, look at your company’s previous posts that performed well. Try to mimic that style as much as possible. Chances are that if the style performed well before, it will succeed with your audience the second time around.
Editor’s note: I’d like to add an age-old adage that one of my first mentors shared with me about posting on social media: ‘You can learn it in a day, but it takes a lifetime to master.’
9 – How to use Google Analytics
Once you’ve learned how to use Google Analytics, you will have no problem finding out how many people visited your site on a specific day, how long they stayed or where your main audience is located.
All this information and more gives you a pretty good overview of how your website is doing and can help you when you’re making decisions or presenting new ideas about your marketing strategy.
10 – You can learn a lot in one month, but you’re still pretty close the starting line
Hitting that one-month mile-marker at a new company is certainly a milestone, but if you really like your new workplace, you’re likely hoping to stay there a couple of years as you develop your career. Therefore, the initial few months, not just the first, will be viewed in retrospect as your training period.
Try to make the most out of the on-boarding process.
Long-time employees are usually eager to share their knowledge with the new kid. This is especially true if the new employee shows an interest in learning the material.
After a few years, when you’re nearing the finish line, you’ll be able to look back and see how much you grew at the company and how important those first months were for your career development.
What do you think? What other tips or lessons would you add for an aspiring marketer? Let us know in the comments below!