Marketing a small business used to be an apparently simple, if time-consuming affair. Adverts in the local newspaper, on the radio, or promotion through word-of-mouth, were some of the few avenues available. But since the rise of the internet as an integral part of our day-to-day lives, new opportunities have appeared. ECDL Foundation’s new Digital Marketing module addresses this new realm of marketing opportunities for small and medium enterprises by certifying key skills.

Businesses live and die by their success at reaching their customers. It makes sense then, that they should be active where their customers are active. Increasingly, that means being online. Thankfully, digital marketing makes it easier than ever before to reach customers, be they in your own town, or even on the other side of the world.

There are many examples of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) using digital marketing techniques effectively. From a café using Facebook to let regular customers follow updates about special offers, or events in store that might entice them to stop by, to fashion retailers using email marketing to engage shoppers in new collections.

Unfortunately, there is one problem in all of this. Digital skills. We know already that many people lack the fundamental digital skills that are essential to work effectively with technology. The same extends to digital marketing. While there are many simple and very easy to grasp elements of digital marketing, the breadth and depth of the area, and the possibilities that exist, mean that it can be a challenge to even know where to start, or how to work most efficiently with limited resources to achieve a worthwhile benefit for your business.

According to the EU’s Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), almost half of Europeans lack basic digital skills. Studies of digital competences by ECDL National Operators in Europe back-up this finding, showing that in many cases, people aren’t even aware that they lack basic skills. In a study conducted in Austria, only 39% of participants achieved ‘average’ to ‘very good’ scores, despite 94% of them rating their skills in those brackets. At the same time, e-Business continues to grow, with the European Union’s statistics showing that, “65% of European internet users shop online”, while, “only 16% of SMEs sell online.”

ECDL Foundation’s new Digital Marketing module aims to solve this problem by allowing people to build and certify the core skills and competences that they will need to use digital marketing techniques to help their business. The module is ideal for people working in SMEs, marketing and communications professionals in the public and private sectors, and even marketing students looking to add practical skills to the knowledge gained on their courses. The module has been developed with the input of international experts on digital marketing, and can be used to certify your abilities to the same high standard as with other ECDL modules.

Aimed at a range of people working in SMEs, students, and marketing and communications professionals, the module covers essential topics, like understanding and planning digital marketing activities, establishing a web presence, using social media to reach customers, using online and email advertising, and tracking the performance of digital marketing campaigns using analytics tools.

Both for entrepreneurs running SMEs and for employees of small businesses, marketing skills are a crucial part of modern commerce. LinkedIn, the professional social network, published the top in-demand skills earlier this year, placing ‘Marketing Campaign Management’ at number 3 on the list of “25 skills to get you hired in 2016”, and following it with ‘Search Engine Optimisation/Search Engine Marketing’. This demand for skills, coupled with the inexorable rise of ecommerce in Europe means that digital marketing skills are indispensable to business today.

You can find out more about the new Digital Marketing module by visiting our website, and you can find out how to get started with the module by contacting the ECDL or ICDL National Operator in your country.