36 Digital Marketing Truths I Discovered in My First Year

One year ago, I dove headfirst into the world of digital marketing. As a fresh-out-of-college, eager to learn 22-year-old, I was given the title “Content and Digital Strategist.” To give you an idea of how ill-equipped I was, I’m pretty sure I didn’t know what a click through rate or a conversion was. I had no idea what marketing automation was, how it worked, or why it was valuable.

I had taken one single class in college called E-Marketing and that was my basis for anything digital marketing related. You get the point — I knew very little about the world of digital marketing.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I had learned some solid marketing basics. I knew the four P’s of marketing, how to do a SWOT analysis, and all about the importance of a target market. But when it came to implementing marketing tactics digitally, I had zero know-how.

Fast forward to today. I’m our resident PPC specialist, part of the email marketing team and I dabble in worlds of SEO and digital analytics.

One statement I would use to sum up my first year in this field? I HAVE LEARNED SO MUCH — and I knew nothing when I began. I didn’t even know how much I didn’t know when I began. It’s kind of sad, but also encouraging. I’ve realized how much will be possible if I continue to learn at this rate.

It will undoubtedly become harder along the way, but I’ve been inspired and convinced of this one truth: Successful people never stop learning.

Here are some other, more specific truths I have discovered in my “learning to walk” phase of being a digital marketer (plus some of my favorite marketing memes.) Many of these truths were learned the hard way — my least favorite method of learning. But I’ll tell you what, those ones sure stuck.

1. A good website is 100% essential to success in any digital marketing strategy.

2. There actually is a difference between a jpg and a png. I’m not a designer, so this is my way of differentiating: a png has a transparent background, a jpg does not. (Apologies to any designers reading this who find these definitions absolutely cringe-worthy.)

3. Web traffic is great. Conversions are better.

4. Don’t underestimate the power of one single space in HTML. No one likes 404 pages :(

5. “The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.” — Tom Fishburne

6. When you get excited about things like multivariate testing and learning HTML, just embrace the nerdiness.

7. Describe the benefits, not the features.

8. A juicy A/B is exciting.

9. Take the time to collect and analyze meaningful data. Without data, you are making decisions based on opinions.

10. Don’t mislead people. It never works out well in the end.

11. Metrics vs. dimensions. Learn it. Know it.


12. Email development is not for the faint of heart. #outlookisyourenemy

13. CTAs don’t always need to be above the fold. In fact, they often perform better when they are placed below the fold. Logical placement should take priority. But above all, run tests to find out what works best for you.

14. 400 engaged email subscribers are way better than 10,000 unengaged email subscribers.

15. Opt-ins are important. Be activists in the war against spam; don’t contribute to it.

16. Developing an addiction to signing up for newsletters is totally normal. (Or is it? Someone plz halp. #SOS #drowninginmyowninbox)

17. Email marketing is permission-based marketing. Don’t try to turn it into a channel that isn’t. People don’t dig that.


18. Having a blog page ≠ content marketing

19. Provide value. Then provide more value. Give away so much stuff for free that your audience feels like they owe you something. Then ask them to buy.

20. Removing a large amount of your blog content can actually boost your traffic! In other words, do a periodic content audit. No one cares about your blog post from 2013 about using Vine to market a small business.

21. Don’t be afraid of long-form content. Google likes it. Readers value it.

22. How-To blogs are thebomb.com. “The Ultimate Guide to (insert marketing topic)” also are pieces of content to really get fired up about.

23. Never go for frequency over quality when it comes to blogging. If it isn’t a quality piece, don’t publish it.

24. Many will not do what it takes to create truly valuable, unique content. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. Don’t be lazy.


25. When it comes to anything SEO-related, all hail the mighty Moz. (Side note: I kinda have a crush on Rand Fishkin)

26. Keeping up with new algorithms is a part of your job. Get used to it :)

27. Searcher intent is key to your keywords.


28. A good landing page can make or break a campaign.

29. Do yourself a favor and use Google Tag Manager. It rocks.

30. Location targeting is set at the campaign level in Adwords. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise…

31. You don’t know it all.

32. If you haven’t broken something at least once, you aren’t trying.

33. Ask for opinions and contributions from others.

34. Help people solve their problems.

35. Delight your readers.

36. Learn something new every single day.

So there you have it. Perhaps some of you digital marketers out there can relate. Shout out to all the newbie digital marketers out there learning and making mistakes and executing and innovating. And to all the veterans, thanks for paving the way and showing us youngins the ropes.

What were some of the biggest lessons you learned in your first few years as a digital marketer? I’d love to hear them. Thanks for reading!

Content and Digital Strategist for @marketingSJC. Graduate of Tabor College. Passionate about elephants and desserts.