How Long Does It Take to Learn Digital Marketing in 2023?

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Axel DeAngelis

Updated on: June 20th, 2023
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To understand the time and effort it takes to learn digital marketing and apply it to real-world projects, we asked eight industry professionals to share their experiences. From CEOs to Operations Managers, these experts reveal their learning journeys, from around three years to at least one year or a few months.

3-Year Learning Journey and Adaptation

Getting good at digital marketing wasn’t a matter of a few short months for me. It was more like a 3-year-long grind, with plenty of hurdles and triumphs along the way. The timeline might be a bit fuzzy, but the hustle and grind I put into building my own companies, and those for a principal investment firm in New York, contributed massively to my learning curve.

Building companies provides a unique learning sandbox. It’s not a heavily regulated environment like a large enterprise, but a dynamic arena where experience is the best coach. And what a coach it was! This training ground equipped me with highly marketable skills, which I used to scale my current business rapidly.

But it’s important to remember, the world of digital marketing, just like any business aspect, is ever-evolving. Just when you think you’ve mastered the game, new trends appear. So, think of yourself as always in a lab: keep experimenting, stumbling, and learning. After all, standing still is moving backward.

Rafael Sarim Özdemir, Founder and CEO, Zendog Labs

From Startup to Digital Marketing Expert

I learned digital marketing starting with my first startup in 2013. At the time, however, we were focused on many ways to bring our product to market, so I didn’t really learn the craft of digital marketing until a few years in. This required researching, self-teaching, and then of course finally approaching experts on LinkedIn and sending in questions.

Once I mastered the basics and got myself out there, I was able to be hired full-time as a digital marketing expert, which is where I’ve continued to hone my skills as an entrepreneur, consultant, and advisor.

Matthew Ramirez, CEO, Rephrase

Still Seeing Change After a Decade

Digital marketing is a slippery and constantly changing field, but it has very few barriers to entry. 

Over a decade ago, I started doing my first digital marketing work with very little training. I wasn’t working at a particularly sophisticated level, but I was doing real in-house work. Even now, all these years later, I’m still learning new things and applying them to my work with my clients. The ever-evolving nature of digital marketing means you need to constantly be learning if you want to stay on the leading edge.

Temmo Kinoshita, Co-founder, Lindenwood Marketing

Initial 10-Month Foundation and Growth

The duration of learning digital marketing and its practical application can vary based on several factors such as prior knowledge, dedication, available resources, and the complexity of the projects undertaken. In my personal experience, it took approximately 10 to 11 months to acquire a solid foundation in digital marketing principles and tactics.

After completing my initial training, I began applying digital marketing strategies to both client and in-house projects. This integration phase allowed me to consolidate my theoretical knowledge and apply it in real-world scenarios. Over time, my skills in digital marketing steadily improved as I worked on diverse campaigns and collaborated with a wide range of clients.

Digital marketing is a rapidly evolving field, and continuous learning is essential to stay up-to-date with the latest trends, algorithms, and best practices. Embracing a growth mindset and being adaptable to change are crucial for success in this dynamic industry.

Ansub Durrani, Digital Marketing Specialist, APPExperts

Stay Up-to-Date After Your Solid Foundation

Learning digital marketing is an ongoing process that requires continuous effort due to its ever-evolving nature. Even after acquiring a solid foundation, staying up-to-date with the latest trends, strategies, and algorithms is crucial. It’s a field where continuous learning and adaptation are key. As new technologies and platforms emerge, it’s essential to stay curious, explore industry resources, attend webinars, and engage in professional communities.

Applying digital marketing knowledge to client or in-house work is a dynamic experience that involves trial and error, analyzing results, and refining strategies based on data-driven insights. Embracing a growth mindset and actively seeking opportunities to expand your skill set ensures that you can navigate the rapidly changing digital landscape effectively.

Gabe Roy, Founder and Creative Director, Zest Media Productions 

Continuous Process Along Practical Experience

In terms of learning digital marketing and applying it to client or in-house work, it was a continuous process that unfolded alongside my practical experience. I believe that true expertise in this field comes from a combination of theoretical knowledge and hands-on application. While I was gaining a comprehensive understanding of digital marketing concepts and strategies, I was simultaneously implementing them in real-world scenarios.

During my time as an e-commerce manager, I had the opportunity to apply my digital marketing skills in an in-house capacity. This role allowed me to refine my expertise and understand the nuances of implementing digital marketing strategies within a specific business context.

In 2012, I transitioned into a freelance role as a Google Ads (AdWords) PPC Consultant. This shift gave me the opportunity to work with a diverse range of clients and further expand my knowledge and skills.

John Cammidge, PPC Trainer, Jcammidge

Embrace the Ongoing Learning Process

By the time you think you know it all, you are likely experiencing the Dunning-Kruger effect. This is a well-known phenomenon in psychology that, when you learn something new, your self-perception of expertise rises dramatically at first as you understand the core essentials but underestimate the scope of the field. 

Later, you realize how much there is you don’t know, so your self-perception of expertise collapses to a more Socratic level. From there, the slow real climb begins, and it never ends. 

But don’t let the eternal imperfection put you off. You learn the fastest by doing. 

Digital marketing and growth hacking are very much data-driven, bottom-up activities. That means; getting out there, trying things on a small scale, and learning from the market’s response. Also, remember that the digital playing field is in constant change. So, to think you have learned the matter is a mistake. Learning is a mindset, not a destination.

Dag Flachet, Co-founder and Professor, Codific

Months to a Year but Keep Learning

Learning digital marketing through personal study typically takes several months to a year, depending on the time and effort invested. It involves self-guided learning, exploring online resources, tutorials, and practical applications. 

Applying digital marketing skills to client or in-house work may vary depending on the complexity of the projects and the ability to adapt to specific requirements. Continuous learning and staying updated with industry trends are essential to refine and optimize digital marketing strategies over time.

Jason Cheung, Operations Manager, Credit KO

About the Author

Axel is the founder of Jumpcoast, a blog and agency that helps people jumpstart the growth of their online businesses. He also founded NameBounce, a popular domain name and business name generator. Previously, he worked as a commercial real estate investments manager.

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