Academy Xi Blog

Why Marketing degrees are often out-dated

By Leola Small

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I’ve been in marketing for 20 years now. I started in a shop-front business which was part of a global conglomerate. A lot of our Marketing Strategy and efforts were driven from our parent company based in the USA. I recall having shared folders and waiting for them to upload promotional campaign collateral for our offices to print and place at our POS and window displays. Back then I thought it was so easy.

Four years into that role saw me become the Head of Marketing at a very young age. Looking back at the role I had, I was basically a Marketing Coordinator for Australia. I took direction from the US and formatted the collateral to fit AU standards and ensured marketing campaigns were running, the sales team had the right sales tools and was the point of contact for inbound enquiries.

You could say that I “fell into” Marketing, and although it certainly wasn’t planned, I found that I enjoyed what I was doing and that I was good at it. Having said that, Marketing is a totally different ball game to what it was then.

I ended up studying Marketing part time while working as I wanted to learn more about the fundamentals. It served me well then, and I felt I understood broader marketing as a concept for various markets and audiences.

That was 15 years ago.

If I walked into a Marketing interview now (in 2021) with the knowledge I had learned while studying in 2006 – I absolutely would not get the job. Heck, I wouldn’t hire me!

So what does that mean for traditional education and degrees? Are they still relevant? Do you need a degree to get a job in Marketing?

As a Marketing Manager, these are the 5 things I consider when hiring:

  1. Passion and Curiosity – My favourite values. Over the years I’ve come to value passion and curiosity so much more. I know I can teach someone a new skill, but I can’t teach them to be passionate about it, or instill curiosity to want to learn more. Lifelong learners are my kind of people.
  2. Relevant & Timely Study – Believe it or not, I never look at degrees or qualifications. The reason I don’t is because I know that marketing, especially Digital Marketing, is continuously evolving. The theory you learned 15 years ago (or even 5 years ago!) is either out-dated or has improved. Look at shorter industry-recognised courses which teach content that is on-trend and up to date – such as the rise of influencers, social media marketing and Google Certifications.
  3. Technology Adoption – This one is quite important when seeking new talent for your Marketing team. Tech adoption matters because it identifies your ability to learn new technologies, if you’re tech-agnostic and it can also provide a gauge as to how quickly you might grasp a new system. Martech is constantly evolving and you should be across most technology, with at least an understanding of the function they perform.
  4. Practical Experience – This is a tricky one, especially for applicants who have never worked in Marketing before. But if you can demonstrate that you’ve used marketing principles or concepts before and understand the logic behind it, then you’re one step closer. You just need to be able to nail your pitch around Marketing Strategy or a Marketing Plan – if you can demonstrate your understanding and explain it in practical terms you’re on the right track.
  5. Cultural fit – I didn’t realise how important cultural fit was until I started building larger teams. This (in my opinion) is just as important as experience. You can hire the most skilled person to do the job, but if they don’t work well with the team, it’ll fall apart.

So, do you need a traditional qualification to work in Marketing? The short answer is no, but  you do need to understand relevant and up-to-date marketing concepts, trends and technology.

Good luck!

Academy Xi Blog

How growth marketing differs from marketing

By Academy Xi

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Nick Chernih is a former marketing instructor at Academy Xi and has experience in both the digital and growth marketing space. From working at Airtasker, Nvoi and Koala Mattress, Nick shares his insights on the industry and why growth marketing is becoming a highly sought after role in Australia.

What is the difference between marketing and growth marketing?

Digital marketing has always been around acquisition and just getting people in the door. Growth marketing, on the other hand, is the entire user journey. A growth marketers role is to try and nurture people through the entire funnel.

I see growth marketing as more encompassing of a lead. Once you get them in, you still have to worry about them forever. You have to think about how you’re going to nurture them into becoming revenue, how you’re going to solve their problem, how you will keep them as active users and how you will encourage them to talk to their friends.

 How do you get started as a growth marketer?

I started as a digital marketer, working agency side for a long time. Then I started doing digital marketing for startups and I saw what it was like on the other side of the fence.

From a business perspective, you can’t just look at the top of the funnel, that alone doesn’t tell you if you’re product is actually working. To quantify the users you’re bringing in and to see if they’re of value, you have to look further down the funnel. That’s how I got into growth marketing, by seeing how I could increase the quality of people that I’m bringing in.


What’s an example of a growth marketing success story in Australia?

Canva are probably one of the biggest success stories. They’re famous for not using any paid advertising, and they’re really big on hiring growth people there.

Their design school is probably one of their bigger wins. It’s a resource for designers or people wanting to learn design to educate them on how to become better designers and how they can do that via Canva.

There may be over a million people reading their blog per month and that’s a great way to cross-sell that into their business. They educate people to become better designers and therefore more people want to become designers and want to use their product.

Check out our digital marketing online courses and how they could help elevate and transform your career

Data Analyst Working area

Academy Xi Blog

How to Become a Data Analyst

By Academy Xi

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Data Analytics explores the methods, processes, algorithms, and systems used to extract knowledge from data. Data analysts are investigators, storytellers, and most importantly, problem solvers who use raw data to draw actionable insights.

As the backbone of any well-informed decision, data has become vital in driving the strategy and future roadmap of many businesses. Statista found that the big data industry is expected to be worth US$49 billion in 2019, and by 2027 is expected to reach US $103 billion worldwide.  

As more industries become heavily data-reliant, new opportunities for data science roles have emerged including; data scientists, data analysts, data architects, data engineers, statisticians, and database administrators.

A snapshot of the data analytics industry:

  • Over 300,000 people were employed in data analytics in Australia between 2016 – 2017
  • Annual forecasted growth in the data industry is expected to be 2.4% YoY by 2022
  • 76% of companies expect to invest more in data analytics capabilities over the next two years
  • Forecasted average income for a Data Analyst is AU $130,176 by 2022.

How data analytics provides business value

With data becoming the new currency for business decisions and strategic roadmaps, some key benefits of data analytics include:

  • Helping businesses define decisions and goals: By dissecting previous performance, businesses can use data to prioritise their goals according to highest importance and optimal results. Rather than making decisions based on gut, data can prove what has worked well within a business and define what future goals they should work towards.
  • Adoption of best practices: Applying analytics to the design and control of processes enables businesses to optimise their activities to fulfil customer expectations and achieve operational excellence.
  • Test informed decisions: Effective data collection enables businesses to stay competitive by testing and validating informed decisions and anticipating market demand.
  • Reduce risk and fraud: Data Analysts are able to identify data patterns that can be used to make frameworks to detect fraud. These alerts help businesses track unusual activity and respond in an appropriate timeframe.
  • Deliver personalised experiences: By using data to tell stories, Data Analysts are able to empower sales and marketing teams to better understand their audience. With increased knowledge of buyer behaviour and motivations, organisations are then able to make personalised, well-informed solutions.

Key attributes of a Data Analyst

According to LinkedIn, data mining and statistical analysis were the second most in-demand skills requested by employers, with the most number of job openings, listed in 2016.

As the main driver of strategic business decisions and high industry demand, here are some key attributes of a successful Data Analyst:

  • Critical thinking: Before developing any hard skills such as programming, it is vital that a data analyst adopts a critical thinking mindset. To ensure useful insights can be drawn it is necessary that a data analyst has the ability to ask the correct questions in the first place. The role of the analyst is to then uncover and synthesise connections, make sense of the information connected, and present their findings in an easily digestible manner.
  • Understanding the data lifecycle: Familiarity or knowledge of the acquisition, management and pre-processing of data, as well as mathematical and statistical analysis, reporting and decision making is extremely useful. It allows a Data Analyst to interpret data and present it in a meaningful way that can be used to support business decisions.
  • Computer programming: Competency in programming languages such as R, Python, SQL, SAS, MATLAB and Excel are invaluable for Data Analysts, who use programming skills to extract, discern, and manipulate data. This information can then be presented into digestible visualisations in tools like Tableau.
  • Data visualisation and presentation: Data visualisation and presentation are hand-in-hand skills for a Data Analyst. The ability to tell a compelling story with data and drawing valuable insights is key to making any data useful.   
  • Machine learning: Machine learning and predictive modelling are increasingly becoming the most popular topics in the field of data science. To develop these skills, a Data Analyst is required to have proficiency in programming languages in order to make predictions and automate existing data systems. 

Data Analytics aligns results in a quantifiable commercial outcome that is realistic and applicable to each situation. This takes a lot of patience and creativity.” — Felipe Rego, Analytics Partner.


Opportunities in the world data analytics

On a global scale, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created each year, with over 90% of all the data that exists today only created within the last two years. That’s a lot of data!

With increasing demand for Data Analysts, there is a multitude of benefits of kickstarting a career in data including:

Huge job opportunities

  • With increasing demand for Data Analysts, there is a significant skills shortage in the market. With the number of unfulfilled roles set to rise, McKinsey predicted that in the US alone, there was a shortage of over 190,000 Data Analysts in 2018. For anyone on the front foot of driving a future-focused career, embarking on a career in data would avoid making their skills obsolete and assist in riding the next wave of digital change in the workforce.

Increased earning potential

  • As with the basic economics of supply and demand, a shortage in the number of Data Analysts in the market automatically means increased earning potential. For those Data Analysts currently in, or looking to transition into the field, an increasing trend of year-on-year income is set to continue.  

Expanding career development

  • Organisations of all sizes are beginning to prioritise data as an important part of their business operations. With new technology enabling increasingly sophisticated Data Analytics with large and diverse data sets, there is a multitude of different types of roles across various pathways. Anyone entering or progressing in the field can also choose from three types of Data Analytics to work in: prescriptive analytics, predictive analytics, and descriptive analytics.

Ability to work with some of the world’s biggest brands:

  • The world’s largest brands such as Apple, Amazon, and Uber are all looking into data to make well-informed decisions. For Apple, data is used to understand what additions and modifications customers need to deliver exceptional user experience. For Amazon and Uber, predictive algorithms are used to map out recommended purchases and travel routes.

In the last 30 years, the rise of data, and how it is produced, consumed, and stored has dramatically revolutionised the way businesses make decisions. With the number of career opportunities set to increase, transitioning into a role in data presents a plethora of exciting pathways.

Learn how you can use data to make informed business decisions and present compelling stories with our upcoming Data Analytics course.

Academy Xi Blog

The Digital Marketing Funnel

By Academy Xi

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The internet has revolutionised marketing. Therefore, the way brands connect with customers has also changed. A brand’s relationship with a customer no longer ends after they’ve completed a purchase — that’s only half of it.

The classic marketing funnel was straightforward, accounting for the buyer’s journey with a brand through the AIDA model:

  • Awareness: marketing that creates brand awareness for a target audience.
  • Interest: campaigns that generate interest that encourages potential customers to do more research.
  • Desire: establishing a connection with the buyer to make them want the product or service.
  • Action: encouraging the buyer to engage with the brand.

The AIDA model above is designed to lead customers through a sales funnel and considers the buyer’s first contact with your brand down to the point of sale.

In the past, the ‘Action’ stage would be represented by a buyer’s purchase of product or service. Now, the AIDA model is used by marketers as more of a communication model.

According to Smart Insights, the AIDA model assists brands in knowing how and when to Engage with buyers, which platforms to use, and the kind of information the brand should provide.

But then stepped in the new wave of marketing: the digital marketing funnel.


The new digital marketing funnel

The push for traditional marketing to evolve has been driven by technological advancements, but also through the rise of social media. It is believed that we are bombarded with over 10,000 messages a day. For brands to cut through the noise, it’s in their best interest to foster a strong relationship with consumers even long after the buyer has made a purchase.

Thus the new digital marketing funnel expands the AIDA model to consider this new brand and buyer relationship:

Top of the Funnel (ToFu)

At the top of the digital marketing funnel, are leads or potential customers that visit or engage with a site. At this stage, the main objective is to attract and capture their interest. Objectives for brands at ToFu include:

  1. Engagementcreate awareness through content on social media platforms. This is also typically how people discover new brands.
  2. Education: release content that educates buyers about the brand, including content that addresses pain points and offers solutions.
  3. Research: brands provide informative content that helps with the buyer’s purchasing decision rather than just pushing a sales message.


Middle of the Funnel (MoFu)

When potential customers further develop a relationship with a product or brand, they are considered at the middle of the funnel. Here, they may engage with a brand on social media, attend company events, or seek further information about their products and services.

  1. Evaluation: a straightforward way of presenting the brand as a provider of a specific solution. Typically, comparisons with competing brands are provided.
  2. Justification: addressing a buyer’s objections, obstacles, and inertia that keeps them from making a purchase. 

Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu)

The final segment of the funnel is known as the bottom of the funnel where potential customers are likely to convert into paying customers. At this stage, they become advocates after having established a strong connection with a product and brand.

  1. Purchase: provide support to the customer by answering questions to boost confidence with the product or service.
  2. Adoption: communication should continue to flow seamlessly between the brand and the buyer, with brands providing advantages and directions on how to use a product or service.
  3. Retention: through consistent high-value communication, brands continue to leave customers with high satisfaction.
  4. Expansionat this stage, brands will be able to upsell higher-end products and premium services, as well as sell products and services that complement what customers have previously purchased.
  5. Advocacy: encouraging loyal customers to become brand advocates helps nurture the brand with future customers.

The digital marketing funnel puts the buyer first, considers their needs, and directs the brand to create campaigns that meet those needs.

By understanding the different stages of a robust digital marketing strategy, it is also crucial that brands are able to iterate and improve their efforts through the ability to measure success.


The Pirate Metrics 

According to 500Startups co-founder Dave McClure, there are 5 key metrics of which marketers should focus on to measure their marketing efforts. Marketers can use these metrics as key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess the effectiveness of their campaigns at any specific stage of the digital marketing funnel.

Acquisition: In the acquisition stage, brands measure a person’s first contact with a product or website. Initially, this can be measured by unique views. For websites, this can also be measured by bounce rates.

Activation: Activation refers to the product or service use. How many of the people you’ve acquired and engaged with actually use your product? Measuring what constitutes an activated user or buyer depends on the product or service offered, or the brand itself.

Retention: You want people to come back for more, not just use your product or service once. How often they return varies, and you can choose according to what is appropriate for your brand.

Referrals: How many users ended up advocating for your product, and how many people did they bring in? You can measure according to how many views or people inquiring about your brand, or how many a customer referred and ended up being customers themselves.

Revenue: Measuring revenue isn’t just about the total profit, but also considering the LTV (lifetime value) of a customer. The LTV metric is why there are 4 other stages or metrics that are crucial to measure before revenue.


Lead generation tactics for the digital marketing funnel

Marketing is no longer simply launching a campaign and obtaining once-off purchases from buyers. It’s a long game, that if done correctly can generate rewarding results for businesses. Avinash Kaushik’s See-Think-Do-Care Model gives strategy suggestions depending on where the buyer is at on the digital marketing funnel.

At the top of the funnel during the Engagement or Acquisition stages brands can employ:

  • Social media: it’s an effective, low-cost strategy for this stage because people use social media to engage with their friends and family, and find social proof for products and brands.
  • PPC display ads: you want your brand to be seen, even through subliminal messaging for your target market.

When customers are in the middle of the funnel, during the Research, Evaluation or Justification stages brands can use:

  • SEO: aimed at helping boost the organic search results for a brand, which will support prospects who are seeking to make more informed choices about their purchases.
  • Video marketing: YouTube is the second largest search engine, and video is the preferred form of content.

At the bottom of the funnel, during the Purchasing stage, marketers can use:

  • Email marketing: you want to nudge your customers to make a purchase, and then nurture them for repeat business. Email allows you to personalise your marketing efforts too.


Marketing automation

Now that you know what to do, why do it, and how to measure your success, the last step is execution.

There’s a lot that needs to be done and done well. How do you balance your time or your marketing team’s resources when there are 10 stages to the buyer’s journey, each requiring different strategies to be implemented?

This is where marketing automation comes in.

Marketing automation, according to Hubspot, “refers to the software that exists with the goal of automating marketing actions.” It is often done for repetitive tasks like email marketing and social media posting.

Here’s how you get started on automating some of your marketing tasks:

  • Identify the repetitive tasks. These lend well to marketing automation because you can find software as a service (SaaS) options that will help you publish or post at optimum times without manually doing it yourself every time.
  • Prepare content beforehand. When you have automated systems in place, you can set aside a time block to create content for the upcoming week or even month. This ensures you have something well-crafted to put out when necessary.
  • Segment your audience. Not everyone will be on the same stage of the buyer’s journey, and you need to be able to quickly assess and respond to them appropriately. Segmenting keeps you on track on who’s where on the sales marketing funnel.
  • Personalise your content and campaigns. Establishing a connection with the buyer encourages loyalty to your brand. Remember that you are communicating with people who like communicating with other people.

Some common tools used to automate tasks in your digital marketing funnel include:

  • Mailchimp or Drip for emails
  • Zapier
  • Buzzsumo
  • Buffer or MeetEdgar
  • Marketo
  • Pardot (Salesforce) 

The shift to an expanded marketing funnel compared with the classic AIDA model has accommodated our current area of digital disruption, but this is by no means the end of this marketing shift.

Experts predict that the future of marketing includes Account-Based Marketing (ABM), where brands instead identify their target companies or groups, expand to decision makers, engage with them through personalised marketing plans, and convert them to advocates.

This trend essentially ‘flips the funnel’, where brands will start off with a narrow list of target entities. This targeted approach hopes to help address the problem of marketers having a hard time getting their prospect’s attention.

As brands and companies (especially B2B) start adopting the ABM approach, one thing is clear: marketers and brands need to stay on top of industry practices and adjust rapidly to changes.

Agility is key to growing your brand, and agility in marketing strategies is now more important than ever.


Learn how to maximise your funnel’s effectiveness and drive results by developing a solid digital marketing strategy. And check out our range of digital marketing courses here.


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