How much did you learn about digital marketing in your college career? Research shows that students who graduated before 2013 may not have learned enough. There is a sizable gap between the marketing skills taught in schools and those required in today's marketplace. Below are five subjects we believe universities should teach their marketing students.
Content marketing is still one of the latest fields added to the marketing department. To be a good content marketer, you need to have a variety of skills: strong writing, efficient time management, solid analytical chops, and strategic planning, just to name a few. Content marketing uses various digital tools and software to produce, collaborate on, publish, promote and measure content. It's a deep stack!
What makes content marketing interesting to practitioners is that it's an attractive combination of creative and analytical skills. It requires the ability to analyze different situations, understand objectives, discover trends, and develop custom writing skills. This balance of art and science can be challenging to those who specialize heavily on either side, so it pays to be well-rounded.
It's shocking to think how many marketing students are not taught digital analytics in their courses. In today's world, the best marketing strategies are based on data. As marketing shifts from product centricity to customer centricity, marketing professionals should know how to monitor customer behaviors and make decisions with that data.
The big players in digital analytics today are:
- Heap Analytics
- Google Analytics
With a little practice on these services, you can easily learn how to track basic goals, page views, and conversion events. New marketers should be ready to measure, test and optimize their efforts using insights from these services and other sites like Optimizely and Unbounce.
Search engine optimization
Google processes over 40,000 queries per second, translating to more than 3.5 billion searches every day. Increasingly, customers are identifying their own needs and turning to the web for research, reviews, and purchases. Despite this, traditional colleges have not been proactive in teaching marketing students how to target audiences through search.
Many lecturers are still teaching the traditional methods of marketing and advertising, reminiscing about the heady days of highway billboards and TV ads. And while there's certainly something to be said in defense of the fundamentals, marketing students are graduating without the skills they'll actually be using every day. A working knowledge of search engine marketing is vital for today's marketers—and it should start in the classroom.
Social community building
Relationships are critical to the success of any brand. Regardless of the size, industry or revenue, building relationships should be a high priority for every business. Our relationships have a strong impact on our reputation, our mindshare, and our bottom line.
With the growth of social media, it's now even more important to build strong online relationships. However, many universities haven't caught up, focusing instead on old-school tactics (no pun intended). And while social media might feel intuitive to many students today, managing a large public community is a whole new ballgame.
Email is an established pillar of online marketing. Even though it's been around longer than many digital marketing specialties, it still remains an effective way to nurture and convert potential prospects into paying customers.
Knowing this, why not create email-centric classes for marketers? Students could focus on the art of crafting a compelling subject line. The curriculum could incorporate case studies on successful email campaigns, teach students how to use form fields, and emphasize the beauty of brevity. The skills required for email marketing—strong copywriting, effective A/B testing—can be applied across a variety of digital marketing strategies.
So, what do you think? Did your college days prepare you for the fast-paced modern world of online marketing? What do you wish you'd learned in school? Leave a comment below, or give us a shout on Facebook or Twitter.