My inner marketing geek is thrilled to begin the digital marketing course this quarter. My name is Angie and I’m just beginning my final quarter at Western Washington University. In December I’ll graduate with a degree in marketing and a minor in communication studies. After spending the summer interning at Nordstrom, I have spent endless hours considering my next career move after graduation. Regardless of what my marketing niche becomes, it is evident that digital will be one of the core practices in my career. For that reason, I’m excited to learn what it means to be a digital marketer in our society today.

Through the evolution of AIM to Snapchat, my relationship with the digital world began at the young age of eleven. I quickly became a coding queen as I built my online persona on the unforgettable social gaming site, Neopets. Little did I know that feeding my virtual pet online would turn into everyday interactions with technology in a professional setting. My passion and desire to pursue digital marketing started a few years ago with a Marketing Coordinator position I had at RE/MAX Whatcom County Inc. I began to translate my basic HTML skills into thoughtful and visually appealing content. After taking charge of our monthly email newsletter, I started to grasp how data collected online can heavily improve your reach. I was able to see which links had the most clicks and what types of clients were reading through our content. This gave me the power to deliver truly meaningful content to our readers.

 

Since the world of digital marketing is constantly evolving, I want to develop these skills even further during this next quarter. I believe that as a young marketer, digital experience is one of the most crucial to have under your belt. Businesses are striving to hire the next generation of SEO and social media experts. These experts, are us. My role at RE/MAX taught me that in order to make a small business successful, you have to learn how to own your business. My hope is that this digital marketing course will give me the groundwork needed to take a small businesses marketing to the next level. From there, the possibilities are endless.

After taking a look at what is needed to be a successful marketer, it quickly became apparent that digital is the key. There are three main ways that the future generation of digital marketers will be successful.

1. Balance of Conceptual and Technical

There are only a few more months before my intensive job hunt begins. One of the most important ways to prepare is to understand exactly what companies are looking for in candidates. Regina Schlee and Katrin Harich, both marketing professors at prestigious universities, took a closer look at 500 marketing jobs across the U.S. The data that they collected from Monster.com provided insight on what type of knowledge was required for different positions in Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New York City. They quickly discovered that higher positions require more conceptual skills whereas entry level positions entail more technical skills.

This pattern presents a problem for current curriculum in universities throughout the U.S. Ideally, marketing courses would be able to focus on developing technical skills and overarching conceptual concepts at the same time. However, Schlee and Harich found that marketing curriculum is currently geared more towards philosophical teaching than specific skills. This curriculum is leaving graduates without the proper preparation needed to fulfill the job descriptions of entry level positions.

Another issue that current marketers face is that current practical skills used on a daily basis will be completely different five years from now. This means that professors need to consistently update curriculum and assignments to better prepare future generations. Both professors concluded based on the data that universities need to focus the content of courses more towards technical skills. The best way for marketing students to succeed is by building additional management information systems and computer science courses into the major. This will allow future generations of marketers to learn the newest technology trends and techniques to keep up with society.

2. Invest in Digital

Want to know how to best spend your time? Start to learn the tricks of the trade. Becoming a top notch digital marketer will give you an edge when applying for future jobs. A forecast was released of the expected digital trends for 2014-2019 by Shar VanBoskirk. The data and projected spending all point to one conclusion.. digital is what it’s all about. Here is what we know:

  • Digital marketing spending will reach $103 billion by 2019
  • Paid and organic search spending will exceed $45 billion by 2019
  • Social media will have growth of 18%, the steepest of the digital categories
  • Digital spending will finally beat television by the end of 2016

These numbers emphasize the realization that digital marketing is here to stay. We need to adapt to our new reality and learn how to best use these platforms. Since businesses are investing more and more of their budgets into digital, it makes sense for students to invest more of their time into digital as well. This will allow marketers to give businesses what they need, and for businesses to give consumers what they want.

3. Always Be One Step Ahead

With the constant transformation of the digital world, we must continually look for ways to be ahead of the trend. Consumers need fresh and innovative marketing to maintain interest in our products. This means that the best way to grow both your career and your business is to be up to date with the latest technology.

In a research study by Dave Chaffey and Robert Jones, it was found that tools to learn digital skills are becoming more and more accessible. Even though there is a substantial need for digital marketers based on the growth we expect to see over the next few years, we are lacking digital specialists. The research study by Smart Insights found that marketers find themselves to be great at planning and strategy but lack the technical skills needed for digital. The study also mentions there is a gap between the skills needed for careers in digital and the skills that have been acquired. A recent article from Hubspot found that on a scale of 1-100 (100 being best practice), the average marketer only ranked themselves at a 57 in terms of digital marketing skill.

Even with such low confidence, 32% of the marketers surveyed by Smart Insights hope to develop careers in digital marketing over the next several years. Chaffey and Jones believe that in order to make these careers possible, there are seven core skills needed.

  1. Integrated Planning
  2. Multi-Channel Analytics
  3. Email Marketing
  4. Social Media Marketing
  5. Paid Search
  6. SEO
  7. Content Marketing

We have the desire to harness these digital capabilities, so what is holding us back? Hubspot suggests that in order to raise the bar we must identify our weaknesses, learn everything we can, and practice.

Over the next several weeks, I hope to develop my technical skills as well as gain a better understanding of the future of digital marketing. The reality is that technology is shaping our society and transforming our business practices. As a young marketer, it is crucial that I invest my time and education in the current trends of our digital world.

Until next time,

Angie

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