Despite a lingering stigma around professional certifications as “resume padding,” the evolutionary nature of martech means there’s an ongoing need for customer product enablement programs and vendor-sponsored certifications.
From product-focused programs to platform-specific badges, and even professional marketing associations to distinguished universities, there are numerous continued education paths — particularly in martech — designed to help marketers enhance their careers at any stage.
“Martech companies are leaping at the opportunity to educate their audiences in return for something truly value — a credential demonstrating a third party verifies their competency, said Mary Barba, content marketer and founder of Barba Digital. “Martech companies offer these credentials to build trust with their audiences, establish credibility and authority in their industries and snowball momentum for their businesses’ growth by prioritizing their customers’ success.”
When evaluating options for continuing martech education, Barba encourages marketers to ask themselves these three key questions to help determine the best path.
Is the course content current, accurate, comprehensive and valuable to my career?
For marketers who focus their careers on building skills around a specific platform (Salesforce CRM administrators, for example), taking advantage of the free Trailhead learning programs is a no-brainer. Other vendors offer a variety of training models based on the customer’s subscription level with the pricing baked into the cost or as an add-on.
“The sustained growth of thought leadership offered by these organizations speaks to the rigor they use to vet and make current their instructional design model,” said Barba. “It also speaks to the comprehensive processes they use to ensure the content’s accuracy and high value-add to avid learners.”
Ongoing training from vendors that marketers rely on is also regularly updated as the technology changes. In order to stay on top of these updates — and maximize value — marketers should work with their account teams and take advantage of available training. These programs can add value to your current role and establish a strong foundation for continued learning and martech enablement within your company.
Will I realistically be able to finish this course on time?
While many certifications from universities and professional associations such as the American Marketing Association (AMA) that offer professional certifications, some put a time limit on their programs. Other organizations offer self-paced learning programs with unlimited access to product tutorials.
Finding the best fit can feel overwhelming, and Barba maintains that people learn differently; self-awareness is key before committing to a program.
“Some learners are akin to marathon runners; they can go at a steady, sustained pace for seemingly infinite amounts of time,” said Barba. “Some learners are like sprinters; they cover brief distances with robust vigor as fast and as agile as possible. The key here is this: neither runner is wrong in their running method.”
Is the cost worth the effort?
Some employers will pay for or reimburse employees’ continuing education programs that will enhance their skills and advance their careers.
“The icing on the cake for many martech certifications is that they are either free or low-cost,” added Barba. “Some companies offer free courses and exams. Other companies allow you to take the courses for free but require a small fee to sit for the exam. In comparison to other high-value continuing education opportunities, you can save hundreds, thousands, tens-of-thousands or even hundreds-of-thousands of dollars and still see positive career-altering results.”