The 6 Stages of Learning Digital Marketing

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Have you ever been curious about digital marketing but didn’t know where to start? Even though online marketing can seem complicated, there are really only six stages that you need to go through in order to learn digital marketing effectively. In fact, it’s possible to skip right over the first two stages without even realizing it! Luckily, this guide will help explain these six stages and help you get started with digital marketing today!

Generalist leaner

On day one, you’re just a newbie to digital marketing. You know you should know something about it, but aren’t quite sure what. In order to be an effective generalist learner at stage one, it helps to start by focusing on gaining an understanding of digital marketing as a whole rather than getting caught up in minutiae and specifics.

 If you know what digital marketing is, but aren’t yet able to apply it in practice, that’s okay. In fact, it’s quite common and happens to many marketers as they progress in their careers. As a generalist leaner at stage one, your focus should be on getting a broad overview of everything related to digital marketing.

 If you’re already proficient in a specific niche, stage one doesn’t apply to you. If that is your case, you should jump ahead to stage two.

Successes and Failures

When you’re first learning digital marketing, success is easy to define: You do what you need to do to get traffic and signups. But there are lots of ways to get traffic and signups, some right and some wrong. That’s why it’s critical to study your successes and failures—so you can figure out what works and what doesn’t.

 Successes provide data on what you’re doing right. As you can with failures, you need to ask why things are working. If they don’t, figure out how you can adjust your strategy and content to reach more people. For example, if your email campaign got low clickthrough rates (CTRs), check your subject lines and make sure they’re engaging. If that doesn’t work, change them up until you find something that works better.

 Failure can often provide insights you never thought you’d discover. If a strategy isn’t working, it can teach you something valuable about your audience or prospects. Look for patterns and trends—and dig into what worked and what didn’t. That way, you’ll learn how to adjust your strategy and content so it resonates with more people in the future.

 No matter what you do, you’ll have successes and failures. It’s inevitable, and it should be expected. This is a valuable stage in your learning—as long as you pay attention to what worked and didn’t work, you can adjust your strategy for better results in the future.

Niching Down

When you first decide to start learning digital marketing, you’re often full of excitement and enthusiasm. But, as you get started and find out how much there is to learn (and how fast), your motivation can quickly dwindle. That’s why one of the best pieces of advice we can give you at this stage is to narrow down your focus as much as possible. Being a jack-of-all-trades may be impressive, but it doesn’t always equate to success.

 If you can’t decide on a specific niche to focus on, why not just choose multiple niches? That way, if one doesn’t pan out as you hoped, you have a backup. Just be careful with your time commitments—it may seem like there are dozens of different paths for success in digital marketing.

 Each has its own learning curve and resources to master. Because it can take a lot of time to fully immerse yourself in one specific area, you should definitely consider niching down as soon as possible. That way, you can specialize in your chosen area from day one and focus on success. When you learn digital marketing, focus on niches that are highly relevant to your current career path or interests.

The Portfolio

No matter what stage you’re in, it’s important to have a digital marketing portfolio to showcase your hard work. Hiring managers and recruiters will look at your resume and cover letter, but they might also spend time looking at your personal projects and experiments. Having a variety of samples (some traditional, some more outside-the-box) can help convince hiring managers that you’re someone worth hiring.

 Here are some good pieces to include in your portfolio: 

 An About Me page on your personal website with a few lines about you, where you came from, and why you’re interested in digital marketing. The homepage for any professional websites that you’ve made or had a major hand in developing. Any advertising campaigns that you’ve worked on.

 You should also link to your Github account from here as well. If you’re a developer, that’s a big deal, and it can help make sure hiring managers know what you’re capable of doing.

 If you’re still in school, have professors and instructors look over your digital marketing portfolio. They can give you insight into what makes good content and what recruiters are looking for from recent graduates. Keep their feedback in mind when refining your portfolio later on.

 Do you have a digital marketing portfolio? What did you include in it? What are some things you wish you’d done differently with your portfolio?

Scaling Up

If you are just getting started with digital marketing, your first step will be to learn about basic SEO and how to implement it for your business. Once you have that mastered, you’ll want to think about scaling up your efforts. You’ll want to learn about advanced tactics such as native advertising, PPC ad campaigns, video marketing, and social media management.

 These more advanced marketing strategies are important to master because they will help you expand your reach to new audiences and introduce new products and services. You’ll also want to study how competitors are using these tactics, so you can choose which ones to invest in and where your business might benefit from changing its approach.

 Once you’ve scaled up your digital marketing efforts, it’s time to consider going even further. Once you have a good understanding of how digital marketing can improve your business, think about how you can apply it more effectively and comprehensively across all areas of your operations.


Your journey into digital marketing is a path. You have an end goal in mind, but every journey has a few stages along the way. As you gain experience and knowledge about digital marketing, you progress through these steps to reach your destination. From novice to expert, these are stages that all marketers experience on their way to becoming masters of their craft.

 The journey is never easy, and it’s never over quickly. For some, it can take years to reach expertise. That’s okay though—the length of your journey has no bearing on whether or not you can become an expert in digital marketing. With a little dedication and effort, you too can become a master! The following steps will help you on your journey from digital marketing novice to expert

 1. Gaining awareness of digital marketing:

When you begin your journey into digital marketing, you’re painfully aware that there’s a whole lot to learn. You may not be sure what digital marketing is, but at least you know it exists! The first step towards expertise is gaining awareness—learning what digital marketing actually means and how it works.

 2. The dawning realization that it’s not easy: 

Stage two is marked by a moment when you realize just how much digital marketing isn’t easy to learn. At first, you were just having fun learning about your new subject—but now you’re faced with a mountain of knowledge, skills, and tools to master before moving on to stage three. This can be frustrating! It seems like there are thousands of things to learn and they all seem difficult or confusing…

 3. The dawning realization that there’s no magic pill: 

After you get over stage two, you’ll start to accept that digital marketing is a difficult field to master. You won’t find any quick fixes, easy shortcuts, or miracles in an ebook—at least not in any that are worth your time and effort! That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth mastering though; after all, there are huge rewards on offer at stage four: expertise.

 4. You learn digital marketing and gain expertise: 

In order to reach stage four, you’ll need to be humble enough to accept that you don’t know everything, while simultaneously being dedicated enough to stick with it long enough to gain your knowledge. That takes perseverance—but what it rewards you with is a deep understanding of your field and true expertise in digital marketing. It’s an incredible feeling!

 5. You become a digital marketing expert: 

Congratulations, you’ve made it to stage five! This is a big deal; few marketers ever get here. It’s an incredibly rewarding place to be, with very little left for you to learn and achieve. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t still things for you to master though—you could always focus on new tools or techniques, or even become involved in teaching others about digital marketing if that appeals to you.

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