Many small business owners are pursuing a digital marketing certificate to understand the marketing world better. The BizHack Award-winning, five-week course is designed for growth-minded, ambitious business owners and professionals in marketing, sales, communications and public relations. With minimal capital investment, the Cohort 13 graduating class saw a return of more than $105,000 from their time with BizHack. 

Here are the biggest takeaways this group of successful female entrepreneurs had while earning their digital marketing certificates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

TL;DR: 7 Takeaways From Seven Successful Digital Marketing Certificate Cohorts

  • Use advertising to revive your dormant campaign and drive traffic to your site
  • Understand the basics of digital marketing 
  • Facebook advertising can generate award-winning leads
  • Use audience personas to understand customer behavior 
  • The world is finally ready for digital business models 
  • #NeverGiveUp on your passion project
  • Take a stand with your digital storytelling 
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1. Use Advertising To Revive A Dormant Campaign And Drive Traffic To Your Site

“Kerline Jules is an extraordinary case study of how a public relations and communications professional can pivot in the digital world,” Dan Grech, the founder, and CEO of BizHack, said at the #BizHack Digital Marketing Training Academy graduation celebration. 

Kerline Jules, the founder of Jules Management Group, graduated from the BizHack Academy digital marketing certificate program after launching an incredibly creative and impactful online campaign. 

“I turned my quarantine period into a professional and self-development season,” Jules said. “I wanted to sharpen my skills as a digital marketer and help my clients navigate what will become the digital new normal.” 

Jules increased awareness around one of her dormant advocacy campaigns called “Your Seat Ain’t Safe.” By running advertisements on various social media platforms, her campaign reached more than 10 thousand people with more than 200% return on investment. 

“The campaign was all about empowering voters and building awareness during the election period,” Jules said. “It is their vote that elects seats.” 

Jules emphasized the importance of understanding different target audiences. 

“This campaign was designed to target Millennials to get them hyped about voting in every election,” Jules said. “But when I got my results back, the top two groups were between the ages of 45 to 54 and 55 to 64 years old.” 

Jules created additional buyer personas by using her case study results to provide the community with empowering and informative information.

2. Understand The Basics Of Digital Marketing 

“The main reason why I took this class was so I could be a better customer to my future marketing agency,” Ebony Smith, founder, and CEO of Ebenum Equation, said. 

After terminating an eight-month-long marketing contract, Smith decided to take matters into her own hands by enrolling in the digital marketing certificate program. She wanted to understand the basics of digital marketing to be an effective leader in the digital world. 

“I need to understand what it would take in order for me to have a better provider,” Smith said. 

Smith did not launch her ads during the course, but she gained a clear understanding of her marketing funnel. Ebenum Equation is a leadership development program that offers coaching services and dynamic masterclasses of thought. With high proximity events at the top of her funnel, Smith realized that her business needed to pivot. 

“I revamped my website so as the industry changes, I have the funnel already set up for virtual speaking,” Smith said. 

Erika Mayor, a marketing coach for BizHack, shared how impressed she was by Smith’s ability to learn a new trade during times of crisis. 

“I think Ebony is the type of entrepreneur that takes the bull by the horns,” Mayor said. “I commend you for really learning everything in the background so that you can get your money’s worth.” 

After completing the course, Smith now has the confidence to find a marketing company to help her build a solid digital marketing strategy. 

3. Facebook Advertising Can Generate Award-Winning Leads

Antoinette Patterson, the owner of 1 World Learning Center, wanted to understand social media marketing better to promote her childcare center and summer camp program. 

1 World Learning Center was founded to provide a safe learning environment for children after Patterson’s son suffered a severe injury in a local childcare service. 

“I wanted to take the course to understand the verbiage of setting up a Facebook advertisement,” Patterson said. “I needed to figure out how I wanted to grow my after-school program and summer camp.” 

Patterson started by researching the Florida Standard Assessment (FSA) results of elementary schools within a three-mile radius of her childcare center. Patterson knew she wanted to increase traffic to her after-school program after seeing low test scores. 

“I spoke to a few parents whose kids attend my center for aftercare, and they are supporting the program because their children are struggling in reading.” 

To target local mothers online, Patterson ran a lead generation advertisement on Facebook with a daily budget of $15 per day. As a result, she reached more than 5,000 people and gained five new customers. Patterson also assessed her lifetime value to be more than $60,000 above her customer acquisition costs. 

“Antoinette’s campaign is officially the single most profitable campaign in the six years of BizHack,” Grech explained. “Not only did Patterson gain the knowledge she was looking for, but she also learned important digital marketing strategies to help her grow her business.”

4. Use Audience Personas To Understand Customer Behavior

Mandy Diaz, the owner of Pawty In-A-Box, founded the first birthday party decor kit for dogs. 

She decided to take the digital marketing certificate workshop to understand better how to target her audience effectively.

“Even though I have the first product like this in the market, getting people to find me is a challenge,” Diaz said. 

Throughout the course, Diaz created specific audience personas on Facebook to learn more about her customers’ needs. 

“I have two different types of personas,” Diaz said. “BizHack helped me create a targeted focus on who these two people were.” 

Diaz designed her digital marketing campaign around her two audience personas and received a record number of clicks on her Facebook advertisements. Diaz then made crucial changes to her website and email marketing strategy. 

“Now that I know what I’m doing, I can convert traffic to sign up for my mailing list and newly-crafted newsletter,” Diaz said. 

Diaz hopes to create a few more audience personas to continue testing different products and advertisements. 

“As Mandy’s coach, it was really fun to see how her audience evolved,” Mayor said. “She did a really good job of looking internally at who her top clients were and developed a formula to create an audience that I think is going to keep improving.” 

5. The World Is Finally Ready For Digital Business Models

Michele Benesch, owner, and operator of Menu Men Inc, used our digital marketing certificate program to develop further a touchless menu product for her restaurant business. In 2017, Benesch worked with 10,000 small businesses to promote the product. However, the business model didn’t lend itself to be active in the hospitality industry at that time. Benesch witnessed her sales drop by 98% in four business days as a result of the crisis. So, by going back to the drawing board, Benesch was able to reopen her business using the past QR Code Touchless Menu idea. 

“The QR code is an interactive touchless menu,” Benesch said. “Any iPhone or Android can just simply scan, and the menu will pop up on your screen.” 

Benesch launched two different campaigns to promote her new product. To improve her first advertisement, she focused on improving her content quality and targeted specific audience members. As a result, her impression grew by 180%, and more than 35 restaurants and hotels signed up for the product. 

“You’ll actually be able to order from your phone and get nutrition information,” Benesch said. 

Alex de Carvahlo, a marketing coach for BizHack, shared how big the potential is for digital products in today’s business world. 

6. #NeverGiveUp On Your Passion Project

Shakira Johnson, founder of Love by OMG and award-winning Public Relations professional, was the recipient of the Cohort 13 BizHacker Award. 

“The BizHacker award is our highest honor—it’s for the single participant in each class who exemplifies the Bizacker mentality, the embracing of the new, the constant experimentation, and the willingness to dare to fail gloriously,” Grech said 

After nearly losing her life to COVID-19, Johnson took the digital marketing certification course to pursue her passion project in a more mindful and focused way. 

“Love by OMG empowers women and girls through etiquette to vision boards to how you can improve your look at work and beyond,” Johnson said. “It really is purpose-driven.” 

She needed to find a new way to connect with customers after noticing that her website only attracted traffic when she posted on social media. Johnson was able to increase her website traffic by 100 percent using advertising bots.

“One purchase was made, processed, manufactured, and shipped by bots,” Johnson said. “The goal is to have everything that happens on the site be maintained by artificial intelligence.” 

Johnson also made more than 14,000 impressions on her advertisement. 

“I’m just so happy that I took the risk to invest in my personal development and did the BizHack course,” Johnson said. “It has changed my life, and now I have a path to financial wellness.” 

7. Take A Stand With Your Digital Storytelling

Juana Jones, the owner of Jali Creatives, a boutique marketing agency, helps women build creative solutions to content and design challenges. As the keynote speaker at the BizHack graduation celebration, Jones shared what it means to take a stand as a small business. 

“Taking a stand in 2020 means having solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, specifically with anti-racism and against police brutality,” Jones said. It can also mean having a stay-at-home message supporting CDC guidelines or supporting the current legislation behind the LGBTQIA+ community, Jones added. 

Many small businesses want to take a stand but may not know the right steps to get there. To avoid virtue signaling, companies need to be educated on how to support diverse populations effectively. 

Jones provided five tips on how small businesses can take a stand: 

  1. Check alignment with brand values
  2. Make sure you’re comfortable with supporting it
  3. Use mindful messaging
  4. Be transparent
  5. Make sure your messaging is strategic 

“Your storytelling is built on your values, and as small business owners, we need to make sure that we have a corporate and social responsibility aspect to our business,” Jones said. 

Small businesses can increase brand value by intentionally seeking out diverse images. Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians, according to a McKinsey Study

Want to learn more about our next digital marketing certification cohort? On Wednesdays, join BizHack Academy for our FREE #Bizhacklive Webinars and hear experts discuss the latest and best small business marketing strategies. For a list of upcoming events, click here.