#12 – Dear Universities, Teach Internet Marketing
Hello, hello again, banditos of our humble cantina. This is a double-shot week of the Saloon, and be expecting more guest posts from Saloon enthusiasts. We’re forming like Voltron up in the Saloon.
United we stand at the Saloon, until the fourth to fifth scotch on the rocks is poured. Then we wobble and sit. Be on the lookout for more shots coming from our friends in the community.
Veni, vidi, vici, bitches. Much like the military genius of the Three Amigos,
we have ingrained in the community of the people and have all surrounded. There’s no escaping this.
Today, we are proud to welcome a guest post by Alex Morask. I don’t need to introduce homeboy; he’s inquisitive and will grab your attention himself. We were all impressed by his thoughts on teaching Internet marketing at universities. Being a student, he can walk the talk, giving insight about what’s on the mind of younger practitioners eager to learn more.
He’s a sharp guy and great writer. Dude’s coming out guns blazing. Say hello to our younger friend.
For those of you who don’t know me, which I assume is almost everyone, I’m Alex Morask, a 21 year old college student studying advertising and marketing at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In addition, I’m an aspiring inbound marketer, and for the past two years I’ve been reading, theorizing and learning about this ever-evolving field as it has truly become a wonderful passion of mine.
I gained what online marketing knowledge I have now by routinely following an assortment of blogs, signing up for a lot of newsletters, pounding through all sorts of marketing Ebooks, pestering industry experts for advice (sorry Mr. Pulizzi), attending webinars and in person events and even taking online certification courses. Basically, if your company gates valuable marketing content behind lead gen forms, then I’m the annoying kid who downloads it as a completely unqualified lead.
What I have never done is taken a college course that has developed or amplified my skillset and understanding of internet marketing. This is not because I was scared of increasing my workload, or because I ever thought I was intellectually above these courses, it’s because they simply do not exist.
As all of you know, online marketing is experiencing tremendous and rapid growth. Hubspot’s 2012 State of Inbound Marketing declares, “The distribution of marketing budgets is shifting towards inbound channels and the difference between inbound and outbound marketing expenditures grew by 50% from 2011 to 2012”. The report goes on to state that 47% of the businesses surveyed planned on increasing their inbound marketing budgets in the coming year.
The Content Marketing Institute, in their 2012 B2B Content Marketing Research Report, stated that 9 out of 10 organizations market with content marketing and, on average, spend over a quarter of their entire marketing budget on this specific channel. Now, I know not all inbound/content marketing is done online, but I think it’s fair to say that the most important parts are.
I cited the statistics above as evidence of the increasing importance of holistic and strategic internet marketing, especially for B2B firms in competitive sectors. Yet, despite this growth, and the growth of online marketing’s various components such as content strategy, SEO, web analytics, PR, PPC and social media, I bet you’d be hard pressed to find an accredited university that teaches internet marketing (as a degree) on their campus. “But Alex,” someone might ask, “What about all of the online degrees available?”
The Problem With Online Degrees.
I’m well aware that you can earn an internet marketing degree through various online schools, sometimes even from accredited programs such as Full Sail. However, if you really think about how college selection works for recently graduated high-schoolers, how many of them have an online university in their college consideration set? Better yet, how many of them do you think are unwaveringly sure of what they want to do in terms of their careers? My guess would be not many. And you can’t sign up for an online university without knowing exactly what you want to study, because online schools lack the general education requirements that brick and mortar universities have. This means that students don’t have those preliminary two years (freshman and sophomore year) to feel out what they like and don’t like while fulfilling their gen-ed requirements. Thus, a student like me who became infatuated with Internet Marketing halfway through my college career, has no options to choose from besides paying for additional, online schooling on top of an already exorbitant college tuition.
Colleges teaching internet marketing would allow the field to universally become an acceptable undergraduate degree, such as human resources or journalism is. It can be a discipline with a set itinerary and a list of course requirements that would further solidify standards for the field. Students can choose it, declare it and learn it from the ground up. They’ll be taught definitions, theories and strategies and have the chance to implement those strategies in a classroom of their peers, under the guidance of a trusted professional. Online schools that currently offer courses could be used as graduate or masters programs (Full Sail’s already is). And unaccredited, online certification courses, such as Market Motive or the Online Marketing Institute could be used to teach new practices as well as hold professionals up to an agreed upon industry standard. If this works for other disciplines, then why can’t it work for us?
Yes, the field is constantly changing. I understand that this presents a major challenge in the system I’m proposing. However, I feel like this problem can be overcome by allotting a certain of amount of class time to discussing the industry’s emerging trends. In addition, there’s always the blogs, Ebooks, webinars and other frequently updated resources to fall back on. As the expanding mass of online certification courses has shown; internet marketing will always be taught, no matter how frequently it changes. So if the subject is going to be taught, why not organize the teaching method using respected, accredited institutions that have a larger and more developed network than most online programs? Not only would this better prepare internet marketing students for work outside of school, but it would also aid prospective employers in hiring the right kind of talent for their digital marketing needs because they can target their efforts on actual internet marketing students. Do you realize how little my advertising degree means to an employer considering me for position in content strategy or SEO?
Now, I haven’t even graduated college yet. In other words, I have absolutely no experience in creating or administering an educational course. I simply crafted this curriculum so that we, as a community, have a starting point for discussion and refinement of this topic. The chosen courses are based on a skillset that I believe would be most beneficial for an internet marketer coming out of college. Please note that freshman and sophomore years are often used to fulfill general college requirements and, in my experience, are rarely slated with major-related courses. Therefore, I’ll start with junior year.
Junior Year – 1st Semester
- Internet Marketing Fundamentals
- Marketing Research
- Introduction to Information Technology
- Applied Business Economics
- 2 Non-Major Electives (Courses required by the school such as Literature, Sociology, etc.)
Junior Year – 2nd Semester
- Introduction to Search Engine Marketing
- Analytics & Web-Based Measurement
- Introduction to Content Strategy
- Social Media Marketing Fundamentals
- Public Relations Principles
- Non Major Elective
Senior Year – 1st Semester
- Consumer Behavior
- Web Conversion Optimization
- Digital Marketing Ethics
- Major Elective (See below)
- Non Major Elective
- (Add another elective based on credit requirements)
Senior Year – 2nd Semester
- Inbound Marketing Management
- Internet Marketing Tools
- Non Major Elective
- 2 Major Electives
- (Add another Non Major Elective based on credit requirements)
Major Related Objective Examples:
- Advanced PPC Strategy (Required: Intro to Search Engine Marketing)
- Advanced Social Media (Required: Social Media Marketing Fundamentals)
- Advanced SEO (Required: Intro to Search Engine Marketing)
- Advanced Web Analytics (Required: Analytics & Web-Based Measurement)
- Web Copywriting & Content Production
- Graphic Design Fundamentals
- B2B Marketing Specialization
- Web Design & User Experience Fundamentals
- Technical SEO & Information Architecture
- Introduction to Computer Programming
- Other IT or Web Development Courses
I believe the curriculum above has a solid mix of both internet marketing courses and general business courses that can appease the universities. The curriculum appears incomplete because it only sets a solid base from which students can further choose a niche or discipline by taking the major-related elective options. Also, the requirements for non-major related electives obviously varies from college to college. At Marquette, the requirements are particularly high and I fit that into this curriculum. At other schools, more Major related courses may be able to fill those spots.
Now Over to You.
What do you think of the curriculum above? Do you think it’s feasible in major universities? The purpose of this post was to drive discussion amongst us marketers so I’d love to hear your opinion. Also, any education professionals, please chime in!