If you search for ‘how to learn digital marketing in India’ in Google, the chances are that you will reach this page after seeing a barrage of ads. The rest of the organic searches will list a minimum of ten courses. The first course in the list will often be from the website that has published the article. If this doesn’t explain the state of digital marketing education in India, nothing else will.
If you take a different approach, head over to a neutral platform like Quora, the question ‘how to learn digital marketing’ has over 800 replies. It’s challenging to get an unbiased answer to your question. Maybe there is no one size fits all response to the question. All of us learn differently, and perhaps a course can be an excellent value add-on if you’re looking for a structured approach to learning digital marketing.
But here is the catch, just like you can’t learn a sport by reading theory, digital marketing can’t be understood by taking courses alone. If you’re expecting a placement at the end of a course, you might find one if you’re lucky but trust me; it won’t make you a digital marketer.
Ultimately it’s your choice to make; if you want to pursue a course, go ahead, but if you wish to learn digital marketing in India by becoming a practitioner, continue reading. But before we begin, let’s start with the basics of digital marketing and why learning by doing sits at the foundation of this specialization.
What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is the act of selling products or services using digital channels. These digital channels include search optimization, search marketing, email, social media, mobile, etc.
People often get obsessed with the channels when they should be focused on learning the fundamentals first. Fundamentals include understanding communication and storytelling, consumer psychology, basics of technology, and business strategy.
You have to balance technical knowledge with an intrinsic understanding of how a business operates ultimately. We have written about this extensively in one of our earlier articles on approaching a marketing career from first principles thinking, so we’ll skip explaining it again.
While formal courses provide you structure, they don’t necessarily teach you tools and techniques that are effective in the market. They are usually ineffective for the following reasons.
- Digital marketing is in a constant state of flux, what is important now may become obsolete in a year.
- In formal courses students learn via assignments and simulations, which may not reflect real-world situations.
So that said, how do you learn digital marketing in India the unconventional way.
10 Ways to Learn Digital Marketing in India Using Unconventional Methods
1. Build your website, social media presence, and more
If you’ve tried teaching either your parents or grandparents how to use a smartphone, then learning to build a website is as simple as that. Of course, there is a layer of complexity involved based on what you are developing. But as you learn more about the processing of building a website or a social media page, you get comfortable with the idea.
But what you will also discover in the process is a series of skills that you will need to develop and maintain a website, which you would have otherwise never been exposed to, including:
- Hosting & Domain Selection: Right from registering your website to choosing a hosting plan which has it’s own nuances based on whether you’re tying to build a blog or application.
- Design & Content Creation: You’ll learn how to create content for your pages to writing blog articles which will be valuable for your audience.
- Search Engine Optimization: As you develop content for your website, you will also realize the value of search engine optimization and what it takes to rank your pages on the search engine.
- Marketing Tools: To get people to your site you will also have to leverage a bunch of marketing tools that will help you to manage email marketing, marketing analytics and beyond.
Six months to a year into building your site, you would have acquired a set of skills that would have otherwise taken a lot longer to learn. You’ll also make mistakes in the process, but that’s all part of the learning process. Above all, it feels terrific to own a tiny piece of the web that you can call your own.
2. Watch Videos & Listen to Podcasts
YouTube has made it easier to access well-made educational content. Marketing practitioners from Neil Patel to Brian Dean publish content on the platform to help marketers learn about the latest in marketing. Podcasts feature interviews with experts in the field, which will often expose you to nuggets of wisdom that you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.
But it is important to note that YouTube has also led to the emergence of fake gurus who claim to be experts but have very little to offer knowledge-wise. It’s essential to follow the best in the field to ensure you access the best information on the platform.
3. Follow the best marketing experts in India & beyond
Where should you begin your search engine optimization education? Begin by following the best experts of the search engine optimization community – Aleyda Solis, Tim Soulo, and Brian Dean. They have vast experience in a profession and are continually sharing their knowledge with the community through their writing. Several of these experts also maintain an active blog where they share their insights.
It is uncommon to find an expert in every aspect of digital marketing. Anyone claiming to be an expert in all facets of digital marketing is probably lying.
Create a similar list of influencers for each area of digital marketing and begin by following them on social media or subscribing to their blog posts. You may have observed that these influencers are not usually individuals but rather corporations (or groups of people) actively involved in community education.
Here is a sample list to get you started:
|Content Marketing||SEO||Performance Marketing||Email Marketing||MarTech|
|Ann Handley||Aleyda Solis||Niel Patel||Mail Chimp||Scott Brinker|
|Melanie Deziel||Tim Soulo||WordStream||HubSpot||Kim Davis (MarTech Today)|
|Animalz||Brian Dean||Will Reynolds||Campaign Monitor||John Miller|
|Joe Pulizzi||Siege Media||PPC Hero||SendGrid||David Lewis|
|Andy Crestodina||Moz||Search Engine Journal||Aweber||David Cancel|
4. Read Books and Blogs from Practitioners
Everybody Writes by Ann Handley was one of the best books I purchased when I initially wanted to begin writing. Ann’s years of experience managing and expanding the platform Marketing Profs have been condensed into a few paragraphs. The book’s pragmatic advice has established it as the de facto guide for content marketing practitioners just starting on their writing journey.
Additionally, books bring a new viewpoint; the more you read, the more you form your worldview. When you go for your first marketing interview, the interviewer knows your inexperience. They are, however, more interested in determining if you have a unique perspective or solution to the situation. Books are an excellent tool not only to learn but also to broaden your viewpoint on any subject.
To get you started, here is a sample list of recommended books:
|SEO||Content Marketing||Performance Marketing||Branding|
|The Art of SEO||Everybody Writes||Predictable Revenue||Start With Why|
|SEO Secrets||The Storytelling Animal||Measure What Matters||Brand Leadership|
|SEO for Dummies||Content Inc||Web Analytics 2.0||Ogilvy on Advertising|
Also, if you’re looking for a list of marketing books from Indian authors, we’ve got you covered.
5. Consider Side Projects & Freelancing
To begin with, I want to emphasize that you should not consider freelancing or taking on a side project unless you are positive that you have a firm grasp of digital marketing. Considering side projects or freelancing is a wonderful way to hone your digital marketing abilities.
Side projects can assist you in gaining a better understanding of the subtle differences in how digital marketing varies by industry. That is an experience you will not be able to acquire while building your website.
6. Opt for free courses
While you’re still learning the ropes of digital marketing, you may enroll in several free digital marketing courses to learn digital marketing in India. Several of these courses provide certifications that you can add directly to your LinkedIn profile or include on your Resume.
Here is a sample selection of courses depending on the learning curve you might examine.
- Digital Unlocked by Google
- Google Analytics Certification
- Google AdWords Certification
- HubSpot Certification
- The Strategy of Content Marketing by UC Davis (Coursera)
- Moz SEO Courses
- Tradedesk Certification
- Ahrefs Academy
- SemRush Academy
- Demandbase ABM Certification (for B2B Marketing)
The majority of the free courses I’ve included above are updated regularly to guarantee that learners continue to obtain high-quality information. If you take the courses as mentioned earlier and use what you learn via your website or a side business, you will not need a formal degree to get employment.
7. Find a Mentor
Marketing is a very interpersonal profession. I was lucky early in life to encounter individuals who believed in my skills and opened opportunities for me that I would not have discovered on my own. Often, all we need in life is a little nudge to reawaken our inspiration, purpose, and confidence to accomplish.
Find a mentor that inspires you and helps you find the right direction. We often look for mentors at work, but the likelihood is that you will not find them due to how businesses are structured. It need not be a friend, but rather someone whose work you like. I began blogging more seriously after meeting Jeff Bullas at a 2015 workshop. I doubt I’ll see him again, but that little push motivated me to improve as a blogger and marketer.
8. Start Writing
If you’re new to digital marketing, this may seem counter-intuitive. However, I believe that writing has assisted me in gaining a better understanding of digital marketing than some of my peers. When I initially started studying digital marketing, I took the initiative to learn a new topic each week, experiment with new strategies on my website, and then write about my findings and learnings.
Over time, the website expanded into a repository of material that I could refer to. Additionally, by publishing my results and lessons learned, I was able to get feedback from peers and industry experts.
Consider this: Even at the age of 61, Seth Godin, widely regarded as a top marketing strategist, wakes up each morning and publishes his weekly thoughts and lessons on his blog.
9. Pro-bono Consulting
Numerous businesses were in severe need of assistance during and after the pandemic. As a new digital marketing consultant, you can help small businesses in your neighborhood. Even if it requires pro bono effort, you will learn and discover a great deal in the process. Even the most prestigious agencies participate in pro bono initiatives to work on causes close to their hearts.
Occasionally, pro bono projects pay off in the long run, as customers refer you to another prospect due to the impact you might have on their firm. Even if it doesn’t pay off in the long run, you have found a new way to learn digital marketing in India while helping a local business to thrive.
10. Tech Others
Teaching others is a highly effective form of self-education. Technically, writing has the same impact since it makes you more aware of your thoughts and ideas. However, teaching takes it a step further since it teaches you what you may be missing out on as you are often questioned by your learners.
Some of the best marketing experts share their knowledge because they learn from you in the process. As Author Austin Kleon mentions, “Teaching people doesn’t subtract value from what you do, it actually adds to it. When you teach someone how to do your work, you are, in effect, generating more interest in your work. Teaching doesn’t mean instant competition. Just because you know master’s technique doesn’t mean you’re going to emulate it right away.”
Learning is continuous process
Nowadays, digital marketing courses are sold as commodities, from ₹99 rupee workshop to ₹15,000 for a three-month course. Perhaps you’ve received a limited-time offer to buy the course at a lower price. Before you purchase these courses, take a moment to reflect on what are you are trying to accomplish.
A formal degree will not transform you into a more effective marketer, and a university diploma will not guarantee employment. What will assist you in getting employed is your knowledge base, perspective on the subject, and readiness to learn and unlearn.