October 24, 2019
How To

The Beginner's Guide to Digital Marketing: 53 articles (and 1 video) to help with onboarding


A new hire recently asked me for a good place to start to get a better feel for digital marketing. He liked our content but felt it was a little too advanced for him.

So I’m putting together this article, an extensive compilation of 101 (entry-level) articles aimed at the new marketer.

There’s too much here to go through all at once, but you can bookmark it (or if you’re a more advanced marketer, include in a new hire onboarding plan for your intern or junior-level marketer to bookmark) and go through a few articles a day until you yourself are a grizzled veteran throwing around comments about CRO and link juice over by the water cooler.

Read on to learn about conversion, writing, design, data, content marketing, email marketing, mobile marketing, social media and websites.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

(As seen in the MarketingSherpa Inbound Marketing newsletter. Click to get a free email subscription to the latest from MarketingSherpa.)



While the 53 articles mentioned below are very entry level, basic explanations of key marketing terms and concepts, the first resource is more advanced. However, it covers such a fundamental topic — budget strategy — that it is the best place to start this article.

If you’re a senior-level leader, it can help give you a new approach to how you approach budgeting. And if you’re sharing this with entry-level marketers, it will help ground their understanding of what it takes to get access to some of the tools we discuss or what is necessary to implement some of the tactics — namely, a smart fiscal strategy with a clear business benefit.

You can watch the video embedded in the article above or go to Reprioritize Your Marketing Spend and Transform Your Results: Learn a radical new framework.


Conversion articles

What is conversion? – Conversion is the goal of marketing. This article explains the term.

What is CRO? – CRO is conversion rate optimization, the practice (and now industry) of working to improve the conversion rate.

Heuristic Cheat Sheet: 10 methods for improving your marketing – Here are a series of heuristics (thought tools) you can use to help you increase conversion.

What is an A/B split test? – Testing is a key tactic used by many CRO professionals.

The A-Z of A/B Testing – Handy guide to nearly 200 conversion optimization definitions

Orphan Forms: Marketing 101 change drives 32% increase in form completions – Read this article and then look at all the forms on your website to see if you’re making the same mistake.

Email Marketing Optimization: Email messaging 101 – Conversion optimization in email.

Internet Marketing: Landing page optimization for beginners – Landing page optimization (LPO) is a subset of CRO aimed specifically at increasing the conversion rate on what is often the central point of conversion for many marketing organizations: the landing page.


Writing articles

Copywriting vs. Copy Editing vs. Content Writing – These three areas are used to get across a message but are often confused with each other. Here’s a quick explanation of what each one is and how to use them.

Earfeel – It’s not just what you say with your writing, it’s how you say it.

Blandvertising – Actually say something with your copy.

Don’t forget about the “Holy Smokes!” – Make sure your writing and marketing get a reaction from the customer.


Content Marketing articles

What is a squeeze page? – You can either choose to make your content truly free or have potential customers pay for it with their information on a squeeze page. This article explains the technique, so you can better understand it.

What is big rock content? – Not to be confused with the Big Rock Candy Mountain, this is the big major content in your content marketing plan. You can often produce lots of smaller content pieces from it. I also like to borrow a film industry term and call it tentpole content.

Content Marketing 101: 8 steps to B2B success – If you’re new to content marketing, this article will give you some basics to help you get started.

What is link juice? – The more links you have pointing to your website, and the more authoritative those links are, the better your website will do in search engines. You can often get those links by having good content.


Design articles

What is a lightbox? – It’s a way to show and emphasize a pop-up message on a webpage.

The rule of thirds – Learn how to compose and frame images in videos and other forms.

What is a GIF? – It’s a moving picture. Don’t ask me how to pronounce it though.

What are widows and orphans (in design)? – This has to do with typesetting.

What is lorem ipsum? – It’s placeholder text in a design or layout.


Data articles

Taxonomy – Taxonomy essentially just means classification. In marketing, it most frequently refers to the classification of data so it is organized in a way that aligns with your organization's goals. Data without taxonomy is just raw information. Data with taxonomy that aligns with goals helps shed light on customer behavior.

A Simple Guide for the Busy Marketer: Using data from online marketing and web analytics tools – This is a description of key types of website metrics and how to use them.

What is a unique visitor? – While I think you, dear visitor who is reading this article right now, are a unique special snowflake in life that brings a singular glow to existence that no one else can replicate, “unique visitor” is also a specific website traffic metric you should understand if you engage in digital marketing.

What is deduping? – Databases can have duplication. De-duping removes that duplication.

What is pogo sticking? – Customers who click back and forth between webpages because they are confused, do this. You can learn to recognize this behavior in your analytics.

Data Analysis 101: How a nonprofit used data to secure a critical business decision and help find 125 missing children – Here’s a basic example of data analysis put into practice to help you understand how it can be used. In this case, it did more than just meet organizational goals, it helped achieve a public good.


Website articles

What is a radio button? – Radio buttons are used by customers in forms to select from among different options when they can choose only one option, for example, different subscription options.

What is the happy path? – An explanation of how customers navigate the conversion steps on your website. 😊

What are ad blockers? – They are software that blocks ads on websites. But here’s the tricky part. They can have unintended consequences, like blocking forms as well.

What is above the fold? – It’s the part of the webpage you see before scrolling down. Learn why it’s called that in this article, and how to use it.

What is a vanity link (or vanity URL)? – You’re so vain, you probably think I wrote this article for you. Well, I did. A vanity URL is a clean, easy way to redirect someone to a clunky URL when you have to show the URL in writing (like in a print ad or video). So for example, I made the vanity URL MECLABS.com/fish to redirect to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26ivRNDJOOQ which would be far more difficult to type in if you saw it in a video.

What is website usability? – How usable your website is. Seems obvious, right? But it’s difficult and often horribly overlooked. Don’t believe me? Just go to your web browser and type in www.[anythingrandomhere].com ten times. I bet eight or nine of those times you won’t quickly understand what the website is about or what you can do there.


Email Marketing articles

Email Marketing 101: How to determine the right email content for your subscribers – Building the right content begins with a focus on the customer.

Internet Marketing for Beginners: Email marketing optimization 101 – A look at the MECLABS email messaging optimization sequence and email messaging optimization heuristic.

Email List Hygiene 101 - How to Clean Your List, Plus 7 Ways to Stop Names From Going Bad – People leave jobs or simply stop responding to your emails. There are other things that can make your list ineffective as well. List hygiene is the practice of ensuring you send your emails to a high-quality list. You can read more about it in this article.

Mobile Email Marketing Optimization: Tips for beginner and advanced marketers from four experts – Email is harder than traditional marketing, like a newspaper ad, because it will be read on so many different types of devices.


Social Media articles

An intro to social listening, why you should become an undercover social media agent (and where to begin) – Social media provides unprecedented access to learn from your customers. The types of conversations that used to happen over the fence by neighbors or around the water cooler are now public, and your company can learn from them to better serve customers.

How to Write an Effective YouTube Description: 7 steps – Even the best videos won’t help you achieve your inbound marketing goals if they don’t get viewership. Good titles and descriptions help attract views to your videos.

Social Media 101: Branding for the PR-impaired marketer – How some of the social media platforms are different than each other, and how you can use them.


Mobile Marketing articles

What is a mobile breakpoint? – A key element of mobile marketing is optimizing for different screen sizes. Mobile breakpoints help you do that.

Mobile Marketing 101: 5 ideas to help you begin a conversation with your team – Don’t know where to being with mobile marketing? Start by having a conversation with your team. This article can give you ideas to get started.

Time Inc.’s Mobile Marketing Approach: 4 Strategies & Mobile 101 Tips – An early look at mobile marketing (from 2007). To understand the present, you must understand the past.

Mobile Marketing 101: Should you make the leap to a custom mobile site? – At this point, probably yes. But reading this article from 2011 can still give you a good idea about some basic mobile considerations for your mobile website.

What is a hamburger menu? – It’s a way to provide site navigation in a compact area for visitors who are viewing mobile websites.


General Marketing articles

Marketing 101: How to get started in lead generation – You often need lead generation for a complex sale, which is especially common in B2B (business-to-business). This marketing approach can be very different than consumer marketing for a simple product sale, like bubble gum or deodorant.

Startups 101: How and why a green retailer chose to bootstrap instead of accepting venture capital – If you’re working with startups, it helps to get an understanding of different funding models.

What are decoy marketing and price anchoring? – Provides a high-level look at some pricing theory.

What is baking in? – Including a feature into the product design as an integral part from the very beginning, or including all the features needed into a pricing model, or … Actually, it can mean several (similar yet distinct) things based on the industry you’re in. Read this article for an exploration.

Intro to Lead Generation: How to determine if a lead is qualified – Not everyone who fills out a form on your site is really a lead. A qualified lead is one that can purchase from your company and has a decent likelihood of actually purchasing.

Market Competition 101: The 3 types of competitors to keep an eye on – Some marketers focus intensely on the first kind of competitor and ignore the other two.

What is funnel creation? – It is rare for people to buy a product the minute they hear of it. They often have to go through several steps before they get to the final decision of purchase. A funnel is the path they take through those steps from initial discovery to ultimate purchase.

Green Marketing 101: How and why you should be interested – Customers make decisions based on cost and value. One value or cost to an increasing number of customers is the amount of harm a product does to the environment. After all, the earth isn’t just some random planet flying through the universe to your customers. It’s their home.


Related Resources

MECLABS Institute’s online, on-demand conversion marketing courses will give you a foundational methodology to improve your marketing conversion and can help you lift results whether you’re an experienced marketer or just starting out.

Value Proposition Development – Learn how to identify value and utilize it in an optimized value proposition based on proven research and discoveries from the MECLABS Institute team.

Landing Page Optimization – Learn to improve page efficiency for converting a higher percentage of landing page visitors to sales leads.

Online Testing – Learn methodologies for testing which version of a landing page leads to the greatest improvement in conversion.

Email Messaging – Learn to test and optimize your email campaigns with real case studies and proven techniques.



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