The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
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Combine study and practice
There is only so much studying you can do to keep up to date on marketing metrics. I find that when you combine reading up on new information and actually putting that information into practice, you'll be better off with your education. See what's working, try out new tactics, and explore the results.
Keep working with new clients
One way to keep up with new marketing trends is to continually work with new clients and different businesses. Each company will have mentors to learn from, tactics to test, and methods to adopt. If you work in a marketing agency, getting access to different clients and business models is simple. If not, see if you can do some freelance work for companies with great marketing.
Narrow your field of study
Be wary of adding too many metrics to your dashboard, lest you become a jack of all trades and a master of none. While it's important to stay responsive to new indicators, it's more important to limit your metrics to those that you have the capacity to understand and follow over time.
Guest-contribute content to marketing blogs and publications
As a guest contributor to several marketing blogs and publications, I am forced to constantly educate myself on the latest and greatest marketing tactics. Each article I write requires me to spend hours researching particular topics to make sure my contribution is current and relevant. To keep your education up to date, consider guest contributing to marketing blogs and publications too.
Listen to the questions clients are asking
There's a lot of noise online about marketing metrics. If you listen to all the noise, it's easy to fall victim to data analysis paralysis. Instead, listen to clients. What are the questions they have about marketing and how can marketing metrics reveal the answers? By researching the metrics that can help answer client questions, you'll naturally keep your education relevant and up to date.
Follow industry influencers
While metrics may be constantly changing, there are people who have dedicated their businesses to educating others on the latest and greatest in marketing metrics and data. Make a point to discover who these people are and follow them on social media. They'll share all the important updates you need to know in their emails and social media news feeds.
Subscribe to marketing communities
Instead of trying to hunt for the best information, simply subscribe to the top growth-hacking and marketing communities, such as Inbound and GrowthHackers.
I regularly attend conferences that are focused on marketing, online marketing, and marketing analytics. These conferences include workshops, seminars, and panels that help me stay on top of the latest marketing metrics. I try to attend at least one a quarter. And, if I can't attend in person, many of them offer online viewing and participation.
Learn by doing
It's much easier to learn by doing than by mimicking others' strategies. By the time good articles or books are out about certain new media, you might already be behind. The marketing expert of our co-founding team stays on the cutting edge by reading voraciously, but credits our success to sampling new tech and media in smaller doses and analyzing down the road.
Talk to your true marketing peers
Find marketing peers who have a similar team size, amount of traffic, price point, client demographic, and/or marketing budget. Thought leaders and friends at smaller or larger companies are great for some big picture industry context, but their advice can often be abstract or their recommendations and experiences may not be applicable to your business.