On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, I scuttled to the wilds of Teddington (South West London) for the Institute of Direct Marketing’s Complete Digital Marketing course. While the IDM offers some of the few respected qualifications for marketing in Europe, this particular course was not a qualification but an intensive, ambitiously comprehensive introduction to the foundations of digital marketing.
Of course, I am already a digital marketer, having been doing it for a year. But I had no marketing background and a lot of the time knew what I was doing and that it worked, I just didn’t know why. And I didn’t have an entirely confident grip of what I should be testing and how. This course aimed to begin to address this, and now I’m thoroughly set on doing the Certificate in Digital Marketing qualification as soon as I can find out whether there’s anything left in the training budget (if not, I’ll work out a way to do it privately).
The CDMC (as I shall henceforth refer to it) is three days covering the tools in the digital marketer’s arsenal – email, mobile, display / banner ads, etc – as well as the techniques they can use to keep honing their methods, always aiming at best practice.
Some of it is covered at breakneck speed, and it was unfortunate that email marketing and constructing a solid digital campaign plan were rushed through at the end (with a session on online-offline integration not being covered at all). Search Engine Marketing (SEO + PPC, basically) was covered in just two hours with some very crowded slides. But then I understand that the IDM is up against it; any longer than three days and it feels like too much effort, yet there’s so much more to cover every year. I did wonder if it would be worth cutting down the initial introductory segment, or having one extra optional day to cover the areas that get missed.
The course tutors are generally excellent, field leaders who have worked with the IDM for years and know their onions. Though there was a slight lack of interactivity, bar one useful card-sorting exercise with Tobias Misera of user experience specialists Foviance, discussion was encouraged. Main course tutor David Hughes of Non-Line Marketing is engaging, interesting and invites any question or challenge.
The best session was probably a toss-up between one focussing on the importance of testing (David Hughes) and a rather complementary session from Matthew Tod of Logan Tod on web analytics. The latter really did serve to open my eyes about just what I’m tracking and why I’m tracking it.
The weakest session was probably one from Eric Mugnier of Inside Mobile who, to be scrupulously fair, had not been the original speaker and had to fill in at the last moment for his MD. Mobile’s been the future for, oh, the last ten years, and although Eric convincingly argued for its eventual dominance, he also ended up assuming a level of understanding about the mobile marketing arena that most of the course attendees (myself included) didn’t have. That said, it was a worthwhile two hours, even if I was left believing that there’s still a way to go before we as an organisation will find a really effective use for mobile marketing.
The most useful thing I learned was a good sense of how to implement a constantly moving, rolling series of tests and improvements. I hope to be able to put that into practise soon!
In the end, despite some hasty sessions and content compromises that had to be made to fit the format, this was still a very useful way to spend three days away from my inbox. The facilities of the IDM are comfortable and more than fit for purpose. The comprehensive set of slides that are given as both paper copies to annotate and later sent as electronic copies are very useful. The booking process for the course, which costs roughly £1,400 is swift with judiciously timed follow-ups by post, email and text (as well they might be, given the source, eh?).
In short, if you’re new to digital marketing or don’t have a formal background in it, this is an excellent choice.