Wow 2016, what a year you turned out to be.
Let’s put that stinker behind us and focus on making next year better.
So here are 5 quick, no bullshit tips to make 2017 a success!
1. Get certified!
Your easiest win of 2017 is racking up some free certifications. The ones I recommend are Google and Hubspot, as both are free and give you a serious leg-up on the career ladder. It’s quite common to find either certification as a hard requirement when applying for jobs:
Although this might seem like a lot of extra work at first, fear not, they’re both easily obtainable within a day.
To get your Google certification, head over to their Partners page, fill in your profile, then click on certifications. You can then choose to start with either the Adwords or Analytics test. If you’re short on time and can’t do both, I would recommend completing the Adwords certification. Analytics is important too, but experience tells me that employers care less about it than Adwords.
Next you will have to complete the fundamentals entrance test. This involves answering 100 questions in a 120 minutes, while allowing you to search for the answers online. You will need to get 80% of your answers correct in order to pass, but can re-sit the exam after 7 days should you fall short. It’s a very basic test however, so don’t worry about failing too much.
Once this step is completed, you are free to choose from the following options:
Search Advertising = 100 questions, 120 minutes, 80% passing score, 9 lessons
Display Advertising = 100 questions, 120 minutes, 80% passing score, 6 lessons
Video Advertising = 74 questions, 90 minutes, 80% passing score, 3 lessons. This is the one you should do.
Shopping Advertising = 63 questions, 90 minutes, 80% passing score, 4 lessons
Mobile Advertisement = 70 questions, 90 minutes, 80% passing score, 4 lessons
I started with the Video Advertising test and found it to be challenging but passable. It’s also one of the shortest exams, saving you some additional time. Once completed, you will be Adwords certified!
The Hubspot exam is less extensive. To get certified, head over to their Learning Center and choose the Inbound Certification. I’d recommend doing the others as well, but this is the certification I see requested most by employers, so start with that.
The exam is a little easier than Google’s, requiring a 75% passing grade over 60 questions. You also only need to complete one exam to get certified, and can re-sit after 48 hours in case of failure.
Don’t get thrown off by the estimated time shown for each certificate, and go straight to the test. That’s what I did, and I passed….barely.
As a next step, be sure to include both certifications in your LinkedIn profile and share your accomplishment across your social networks.
Not only will this attract recruiters, but it will also strengthen your case to potential clients.
If you’ve been working as an Online Marketer for 6 months or more, you should be able to get both certifications in 3/4 hours. Not bad considering the significant increase in salary which you can now negotiate.
2. Use these tools for maximum efficiency
With each passing month, Online Marketing Tools become more and more important for my work. The number of accounts keeps piling up, the reports multiply and the KPI’s never stop, so here are the tools I use to stay on top of everything. (These are not affiliate links)
Here we go:
Website: Quickly creating high-converting websites/landing pages is an important part of my everyday marketing activities. I use Thrive Themes, because it looks good, converts well, and doesn’t require coding.
Organisation: Trello is a slick, easy-to-use organisational tool that let’s you keep tabs on all the accounts and tasks you have piling up. It’s free, so definitely check this out.
Email: If you neglected Emails in 2016, let 2017 be the year when you discover Emails as your most valuable Marketing channel. For this I use Mailjet, because it’s reasonably priced, offers A/B testing and has great open rates.
Scheduling Appointments: If you’re still manually updating your calendar, 2017 is the time to stop. Use SimplyBook.it to help leads book an appointment and sync automatically to your Google Calendar.
Social Media: In 2017, Social Media will be more important than ever. Research your ideal customer, identify their preferred channels and focus your efforts on the top 3. To schedule posts use Buffer, and use CliClap to add your CTA to any third party content.
Push Notifications: 2016 was the year of Push Notifications for me. Easy to set up, and very affordable tools like PushCrew, allow us to communicate with leads regardless of location or device. Implementing Push Notifications in 2017 is a must!
Link Building: Ahrefs is simply the best tool for link building. Check it out.
There we have it! For more information on any of these tools, check out my comprehensive Online Marketing Tools guide.
3. Create your own project
Make 2017 the year you create your very own “thing”. It doesn’t have to be amazing, but it does have to be something new you can sink your teeth into.
The reason this is such a good idea, is that you really don’t know what you don’t know until you’re on your own.
For this reason I started historyhub.info in 2016. It’s totally unrelated to the niche I typically work in and has taught me a huge amount about marketing with zero budget and on my own terms.
The creative licence you get working on your own project is challenging but the benefits are great. Just a few things I’ve learned:
- How to launch and maintain a website
- How to research niches and ecosystems
- How to create meaningful relationships with gatekeepers
There is no limit to what you can learn by spearheading your own projects. Make 2017 the year you set out on your own.
4. Taking your Visuals to the next level
December was the month I invested in Photoshop. Prior to that I had been using Canva; a free and passable tool, but lacking the professional finish that is going to be important in the year ahead.
2017 is the year in which visual content is going to surpass written content, and we need to be prepared. This means excellent videos, images, Emojis and even GIF’s to engage our audience, and help our branding efforts. Looking forward to this one 💜
5. Bookmark Google’s Webmaster blog
If you haven’t done this already, you need to bookmark Google’s Webmaster blog in 2017! We saw huge shifts in the ranking algorithm last year, and there is no reason to assume that next year will be any different.
To illustrate just how important this point is, take a look at the organic traffic of one of my clients over the past year:
As we can see from the screenshot, updates in the Google algorithm coincided with huge increases in traffic. The same can be said for the number of ranking keywords:
So in order to understand, and take advantage of, the changes we experience in traffic volume, we need to stay up-to-date with the changes Google announces – and there have been a ton in 2016.
The most important are:
- Adwords Shake-Up – February 23rd
- Mobile-friendly 2.0 – May 12th
- Possum – September 1st
- Penguin 4.0 announcement and implementation – September 23rd
Taking advantage of new Google updates should be at the forefront of your work in 2017. It’s worth noting however, that not all updates are recognised by Google, which is why you should regularly check out other influencers in the space as well, to stay on top of all major changes.
Thanks for reading, happy new year and all the best for 2017!