Are Digital Marketing Courses Worthwhile? Pro Marketers Respond
Digital marketing courses are everywhere. Everyone submits them.
You can take digital marketing courses from colleges, external organizations, and the same platforms.
But are digital marketing courses worth it?
I’ve been in digital marketing for 20 years and I’ve been in marketing for even longer.
Digital marketing classes didn’t exist when I was in college – because digital marketing itself didn’t exist.
So I asked my colleagues what they thought about digital marketing courses and if they were worth the time.
Digital marketing courses have their challenges
Some marketers felt the courses were too basic and unwieldy.
@employee I have digital marketing course in my masters syllabus but it was very basic and far from practical and it also depends what kind of course we are taking either in university degree/course.
– Karthik (@karthikbv33) March 1, 2022
The undergraduate courses I took were outdated and not applicable in the current state of marketing and e-commerce, I think it is because marketing and e-commerce are changing rapidly at the operational level. In terms of strategy the college was very good.
– Benjamin Wenner (@BN_Wenner) March 1, 2022
Both posters make good points.
University courses in general, not just marketing courses, can be very theoretical, which makes them impractical.
It is difficult to apply theoretical concepts in real life.
And digital marketing is changing so quickly that, in Weiner’s view, course content gets outdated very quickly.
In an internal discussion at work, we discussed how creating detailed process documents for paid search is kind of a waste of time. Things change so fast that we spend a lot of time updating them.
To help keep course content fresh, some savvy digital marketing instructors bring real-world practitioners as guest speakers or lecturers into their courses to keep course content fresh.
I’ve talked to a few classes at MSU about what it takes to be successful in paid search and paid social networking.
Learning from real-world speakers is effective because they are aware of the latest developments in the field of digital marketing.
Basic marketing strategy is still important
However, marketing strategy does not change as quickly as technical knowledge. Many concepts do not change at all.
There are marketing concepts I learned in my college courses that I still use today, 30 years later.
Many advertising professionals refer to David Ogilvy, who is widely considered the “Father of Advertising”.
Ogilvie was born in 1911. The high point of his career came during the Mad Men era of the 1950s and 1960s—more than 50 years ago.
However, his sayings about advertising strategy are still applicable today.
This quote applies just as much to paid search today as it did to print advertising in Ogilvy’s day:
“On average, five times as many people read the headline as they read the body copy. When you write your headline, you’ve spent eighty cents of your dollars.”
A “how-to” course on setting up a Google Ads campaign or managing bids may not be as useful, but a course in marketing strategy is certainly helpful.
He started many jobs with digital marketing courses
Although digital marketing seems to change daily, most professionals say digital marketing courses are worthwhile.
Some of the digital marketing courses were the reason they are working in this field today.
My introduction to marketing class, which was a requirement of my original international business degree, is literally the reason I’m in the space. It wouldn’t be in marketing without it @employee. I don’t use most of what I’ve learned in the past in everyday marketing… 1/2
– Alex Smolen (@alxsmolen) March 1, 2022
It was an introduction to digital marketing through a university course. One of my favorite classes I’ve taken.
It was worth it to me because it introduced a lot of concepts/ideas that I still use and helped me choose PPC as my area of focus.
– Sean Ely (@ selley2134) February 28, 2022
Same here! Primary year. The professor entered the class in the International Google AdWords Competition powered by Google and the rest is history
– Jeremy Krantz (@JeremyKrantz) February 28, 2022
Good teachers make a difference, too, as Lee and Krantz point out above.
Go beyond digital marketing coursework
Becoming a successful digital marketer is more than just taking marketing courses.
Many experts have cited a good education as the foundation of a successful digital marketer.
Michael Stebbinswho co-founded OMCP to bring standards to digital marketing and courses, says:
“There are courses out there that can fill up to 70% of the hard skills a marketer needs to practice on the job.
Recently, the majority of digital marketing practices can be evergreen; For example, landing page agreements with ad servings, analytics reports linked to business goals, or even keyword research methodologies.
The best combination for someone entering the industry combines three things: completion of an accredited course covering generally accepted practices, some completion of a platform course, and real-life experience.”
Brad Geddeswho has taught digital marketing courses since 2011, agrees:
“In general, it seems that people are more suited to a PPC service if they do a combination of digital marketing with a minor in Psychology (or a double major since there’s a lot of math involved when you get into the Psych BS majors).
My background was personality psychology (0 marketing courses), and it serves me well in managing PPC campaigns.”
Will digital marketing courses help me find a job?
The answer goes beyond yes or no.
We have proven that digital marketing courses can get old quickly, especially those that focus on technical training.
It is likely that a course taken 5-10 years ago is outdated.
However, candidates, especially those new to digital marketing, can fill in some challenging skills with reputable courses.
But soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving, are hard to teach.
Soft skills are essential for success in digital marketing.
Actually, it is OMCP® 2019 Role Assessment Study I found that strategy and practice continuity were top priorities for most digital marketing majors across all job responsibilities.
Think about that for a second.
Strategy and practice communication were more important to employers than technical skills such as keyword research, bid management, audience development, and content development.
Thus, a marketing strategy course would definitely be worthwhile.
And work on developing your personal skills.
What should I look for when hiring digital marketing professionals?
If you’re hiring digital marketing professionals, most experts agree to look for hard skills, including digital marketing certifications, and soft skills, such as communication and critical thinking.
to me Matt Bailey From SiteLogic:
“When I had my agency, I looked for people with excellent written and spoken communication skills, since most of the work is dealing with clients, reporting constantly, and working with a team. I hired for soft skills and trained for digital skills.”
Bailey is looking for individuals who “share the core of critical and creative thinking necessary to get their work done and to solve problems.”
Problem-solving is a huge part of digital marketing, and people who don’t have this proficiency often struggle in digital marketing roles.
Stebbins suggests that hiring managers recruit from unexpected majors. “When John Marshall and I were building ClickTracks, our local university didn’t have a strong marketing program. We did, however, have interest from students to join our web analytics team.
Added Stebbins, “We learned that recruitment takes place reliably from the economics department for marketing talent and the genetics department for digital analytics. We also learned that salespeople tend to make great PPC and digital advertising specialists (with minimal training).”
In my own experience, I have found that digital marketing courses and certifications are not a good indicator of success.
I’ve had people who have gone through so many certifications that we ended up giving them away and others who came to us without a single course and were top performers.
In terms of soft skills, in my opinion, the biggest skill digital marketing professionals need is Curiosity.
As Billy mentioned above, digital marketing involves a lot of problem-solving.
To solve problems effectively, one must be curious about why the problem exists.
Asking why a campaign has suddenly stopped performing, or why a particular keyword isn’t converting, is crucial. Looking at the performance changes, being indifferent, and saying “it is the way it is” isn’t going to cut it.
Successful digital marketers can think critically and ask “why”.
Digital marketing courses can be beneficial.
Completing coursework shows that the person is loyal and capable of completing a task.
Those who have demonstrated skills, experience, and education industry certifications stand out as more invested in the practice.
But courses and certificates are not the end, it’s everything.
A lot of successful digital marketers have not taken a single course.
Such as Derek Mullins Of Brainlabs said, “There is no substitute for running a live campaign.”
If you are not currently working in this field, volunteer at an organization that needs help with digital marketing.
You will learn a lot and can help a good cause at the same time.
Combine digital marketing courses with developing your skills and experience, and you’ll give yourself the best chance of success in this field.
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