Back when I was in college, my career aspirations were to be employed in a job that supported my expensive hobby. I rode horses, so I had to pick a career path that would not only support me but also support my collection of equines. While I loved English and Art, I chose computer science and therefore had a number of job offers waiting for me once I crossed the stage at graduation.
Although I was happy with the income and found it mildly interesting to architect large scale relational databases, at the end of the day Computer Science was all that you would imagine; slightly boring and overly cerebral. Fortunately, computer science led me to technologies supporting social media, which then led me to digital media, then to digital marketing and then a plethora of very cool technologies, innovations and opportunities.
Today, there is a much better path to the same professional destination. A path where instead of courses in data structures, operating systems and Cobol programming, you are learning mobile trends, web analytics, SEO and social media marketing. I highly recommend this digital marketing path, and below are a just a few reasons why:
1. There is a high likelihood you will find a job after you toss your cap into the air at graduation
Given the growth and popularity of all that is digital, it is no surprise that there is a dearth of talented professionals with digital marketing expertise and creative talents to fill the growing number of job openings.
Until now, most companies were reluctant to dedicate resources to managing social media. I remember having lunch several years ago with a friend who worked for a large legal firm in Boston. When I told her I teach Social Media Marketing she laughed. Literally LOL’d at me! “You got a Ph.D. so that you can teach people how to surf Facebook all day!” She chuckled.
Well, fast forward five years, and she stopped laughing when she realized her competitors were levering digital and social media to find new clients, building new relationships and increase revenue. Her social media platforms, once managed by the receptionist, now are managed by a dedicated employee.
It’s not just legal businesses that are worried about their digital presence, it’s every type of business; small, medium and large. Small businesses hire consultants which opens up opportunities for independent contractors or entrepreneurs who wish to launch a small boutique style digital consulting firm. Medium and large businesses hire full-time staff and are changing the composition of their existing marketing staff to include more digital expertise.
# 2. There are no experts
The best part of digital marketing is there is no experts – yet. If you ask Siri in your smart phone, she will tell you that it takes 10-20 years to become an expert at any given thing. Since digital marketing hasn’t been a marketing strategy for businesses for 10-20 years, then I would argue that there are no experts. Instead the digital marketing community has adopted an inclusive ‘learn together’ culture. We love to share ideas and help each other.
# 3. Digital Marketing, web analytics and big data = increasing income and job opportunity
While the good news may be that you can land a great job after you graduate, but your next question is “What is the opportunity for growth?
Glad you asked.
First, it is important to recognize the future of digital marketing and traditional marketing. Digital marketing focuses on the online platforms and traditional marketing focuses on media like print, television, radio, and direct mail. However, over the next 5 to 10 years we will see a convergence of digital and traditional into one single term: “Marketing.” During this same period the role of marketing professionals will change from the 4-Ps (price, product, place, promotion) to the new “data-driven” marketing professionals who peers into digital data streams to find critical answers and predictions for the future of a business or industry.
In 2016, marketing research and analysis in modern business is based on collection, aggregation and analytics of “Big Data”. The trend of Big Data analytics is to converge massive amounts of digital data and uncover previously unknown correlations, marketing trends, consumer preferences and key business/marketing metrics that reduce expenses, maximize revenue and drive business decisions. It’s all about DIGITAL and knowing the digital platforms is essential to the success of any marketing campaign. Once you know the baseline of the digital world, the next logical (and exciting) step is to begin to explore data correlations that surface from Big Data Analytics.
It seems that expert reports corroborate this theory on the role of marketing professionals in the future. For example, Salary.com suggests that marketing research and marketing analysts are among the 11 fastest growing jobs in the United States. Combine that with the report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics which recognizes the marketing manager among the highest paid occupations in the United States and among the highest job growth (18% between 2014-2024).
# 4. Be on top of the digital world
Data-driven market professionals who understand digital marketing are in high demand for midsize and large companies. However, understanding digital marketing may also help those who wish to start their own ventures.
The Digital Divide is narrowing. Solar and wind technologies combined with mobile devices are exposing isolated communities to the virtual world of possibilities. Connections, business transactions and social communications are effortlessly expanding the globe and reaching remote populations. In this inclusive, global playing field we have a perfect storm of entrepreneurs with great ideas developing valued products and services, combined with more and more populations coming online.
New digital business models require little barriers to entry, but they do require a strong (and sustainable) marketing strategy. Companies like Uber, the world’s largest taxi company (that owns no taxis). Or Airbnb, the largest accommodations provider (that owns no real estate). Or Alibaba, the world’s most valuable retailer (that holds no inventory).
These companies demonstrate the power of the evolving digital world we now experience. If you understand the power of marketing, you can be on top of this new world and maybe even come up with a great idea and launch a new business model of your own.
If you don’t have an idea, just wait until the Internet of Things takes full stage. In the near future, connected devices and products become fully integrated into everyday activities. When consumer products communicate status and consumption data ubiquitously over digital media channels, a marketers dream is realized. Years of consumer behavior, market research and predictive analysis will be replaced with actual streaming data.
SO if you think digital marketing is fun and interesting now, just wait – it’s getting better!