The Ultimate Digital Marketing Course

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The problem with Digital Marketing is that it can’t be taught at the university level.

Between trying to find educators who are well-informed in this space and getting a proper text book vetted and approved, we’re probably a long ways away from seeing real accreditation in this industry. The major universities know this is a new media channel that they are not integrating into their marketing, communications and advertising programs, and would probably love to make the addition, but grapple with the traditional structure of how a course makes it way into the curriculum.

How do we educate those at the university level in Digital Marketing?

How do we train those in other media channels (radio, TV, out of home) to think about a shift to Digital Marketing?

The CMA – Canadian Marketing Association offers the only certificate e-marketing program in Canada. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching the course in Montreal for the past few years (they also run a session in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver). It’s about fourteen weeks with one session every week that runs about two and a half hours long. It’s filled with content, it’s fun to teach and, most importantly, it’s amazing to see the different levels of professional marketers and students come together to share.

The new sessions are about to start (in fact, if you’re interested in attending, there are still some spots available here: CMA e-Marketing Course Registration). This semester (like the last), I will be co-presenting with another Twist Image member (Dave Haber). I wanted to point you to the curriculum here: CMA e-Marketing Course Outline, some of the top-level topics that will be covered include:

– Introduction to the Internet.

– Defining Online Marketing.

– Building an online strategy.

– Website best practices.

– Usability and functionality.

– Social media and online communities.

– Tagging and sharing.

– Online social networks and virtual worlds.

– Permission and Privacy.

– Email Marketing.

– Search Engine Optimization.

– Search Engine Marketing.

– Online advertising.

– Rich media advertising.

– Behavioural targeting.

– Viral, Buzz and Word of mouth online.

– Domain names.

– Cross-channel strategies.

– Web analytics.

– Web research.

– Testing and Optimization.

– Building An Online Marketing Plan.

We even finish up the course with a panel discussion where industry experts talk about the changing space. Granted, each bullet-point above could be its own course, but the premise is to give an introduction into the world of Digital Marketing.

Forget the geography of attending an e-marketing course like this, can you share with the rest of us:

What content would you want to learn/teach if you could build the ultimate digital marketing course? 

By documenting what’s important to you, the curriculum for anyone looking to build a course of this nature is facilitated and may point people who are currently teaching in a different direction.


  1. I might add some information on communities beyond just “social networks” because the concept of not just broadcasting messages on a network, but participating as a member of a community is key to being effective.

  2. Hi Mitch,
    Sorry, a bit off-topic, but is there any word on these courses being offered online anytime soon? It would surely fit the material! The course looks great, and would be a great refresher.
    As for your list, you’ve covered pretty much all of the bases, but I’d add CRM (or eCRM) as it’s very much the basis for most initiatives, starting with email plus contests and promotions. The lack of a good, solid CRM as the foundation to your marketing plan can render all of your hard work as useless.

  3. I would certainly want to include something on web rhetoric (or how we tell web stories!). Storytelling on the web, in a corporate sense, is still very much text-based. Trouble is not enough CEO understand how important it is to tailor copy for the web.
    Now that some folks are beginning to get this, online video has tossed a curve ball into the frame.
    I think, as a digital marketer, you need to know how to juggle different kinds of rhetorical strategies with different online media (text, twitter, vlogs, etc).
    Sounds a great course you’re putting together. Shame I am in Stockholm, Sweden!!

  4. I would add a session (or two) specifically about mobile marketing. Most marketers in Canada are just beginning to realise the importance of integrating a mobile strategy within their marketing mix, but many don’t know what’s involved or where to start.

  5. Personally, I think this is a common problem with most of this field, e.g. web design, web analytics (though UBC teaches this), etc. The nature of the field is so fast paced and so young that it would be hard to teach anything current.

  6. Heh Mitch. Can’t tell from the curriculum topics, but would certainly hope to hear about the role of internal communication in digital marketing. The reality of transparency and the pressure for authenticity make reaching and engaging employees in a digital strategy critical.

  7. I would touch on basic manners too. You’d be amazed at the people who communicate sometimes without saying please and thank you — it’s a common courtesy … unfortunately, fast disappearing in this “immediate” world.

  8. I would have to ditto Jon’s request for an online component for the Ultimate Digital Marketing Course. Without it, sounds like a curiculum based on the traditional theory of “do as I say, not as I do.” I’m sure you guys have already thought that far ahead but worth noting.
    Also, I didn’t see any discussion topics on “Marketing with Content.” Maybe it will be covered in the “Defining Online Marketing” or “Online Advertising” but it seems like an entire course could be constructed on how businesses are using content to market, brand, and sell their wares.
    I dare say this type of course/degree could start appearing in college handbooks soon. Kudos to you guys for taking the lead and setting up a model to be emulated.
    Stefan Holt

  9. I will support Crispin’s point about Mobile. It’s clear that the mobile device is going to not just become the center point of many marketing experiences but the device itself will spawn new marketing opportunities in the advertising, networking, search and subscription spaces. Mobile is still a nice-to-have, but it could become a must.

  10. I must say I am perplexed. I am teaching a course in digital media at Singapore Management University but nobody bothered to tell me it can’t be taught at the university level. Hopefully this has not been a waste of time.
    I guess I would begin with the presumption that textbooks are required to teach a university course (I assume along with a teacher’s manual, test bank, case studies, etc). While this issue may slow down or stop some educators, it will not be a problem for the good ones. Some educators will even be excited by the idea of a course without a textbook, or writing their own wikitext.
    Going a bit further, I think of the digital media programs being started in J-Schools, the many faculty who attend Edelman’s summit for educators, and the stack of academic research I am reading this week regarding blogs, wikis, and more. Quite frankly, I am pleasantly surprised by the level of activity displayed at a global level. Educators are very active in this space.
    And this idea of the “global level” brings me to my addition to the list. There is from my personal perspective an ethnocentric bias in our conversation. On the one hand, that is perfectly fair because everyone must do work within particular markets and adapt their work to local demands. North America and Western Europe have been leaders, so the conversation should reflect that fact. On the other hand, the way we use the Internet in Asia does differ, for example, from some practices (not all) we see in North America generally. So if we are training in or consulting with a global company, we must teach them to ask the right questions which allow these regional differences to emerge. Only then can we avoid clear lessons fgrom the past when we learned that practices effective in one country may translate very poorly to another. This applies at both the planning and execution stages.
    And I cannot help but second the comment about hand held devices….these are quickly becoming second or even first screens in several different markets globally. An absolutely critical issue that marketers and communicators must address.

  11. This became a wealth of information and insight. Thank you very much.
    Whitney – we cover off that exact topic under “Social Media and Online Communities”. But, you’re spot on – there’s a huge difference between advertising and being a community member.
    Jon – no word yet on taking these courses digital, but trust me, I have asked and it is a possibility. I’ll Blog about it here when/if it happens. Also, eCRM is a huge part of the email marketing section – take a look at the full course outline.
    Crispin – we usually don’t have time to focus on mobile marketing, but rest assured, we talk about the shift in how people consume media over the duration of the course and mobile is a huge part of understanding where your consumer is and how they want to interact.
    Stefan – Content is king. Content is media. The entire course is littered with the, “if you’re not making great content, you ain’t marketing online” mantra, but your comment is an excellent reminder 😉
    Michael – I always knew you were a special person. I wonder how many major universities and colleges really have professors like you to not only teach these types of courses, but who have a passion for it and will push it forward. Thanks for letting us all know that there is hope for the young people yet 😉
    I think the comments above really illustrate that together we can create a great and organic curriculum that changes and adapts as needed.
    Let’s keep this one going.

  12. Mitch, I agree with you totally.
    That’s why I took this certificate with you last year although I am enrolled at the MBA program at Concordia University which has a very strong graduate program in marketing. I did suggest to the department that such field need to be tought , however, such decision wil take time and a lot of paper work. I have gained a lot of confidence because I learned a lot and did well in the projects. Mitch and Dave gave their best to pass their knowldge to us.
    Thanks Mitch and Dave

  13. Strange post I must say.
    I feel like the only one to approach this post, and especially its subtitle (The problem with Digital Marketing is that it can’t be taught at the university level.) on the way content is delivered.
    I find it amusing that despite all the content being about “spreading the word”, there’s no innovation or suggestion on how the content is transmitted.
    Michael says books are needed to make a course, but also that someone would be excited to make its own text, or even without. Personally, I would find it difficult to justify a course for such a fast moving context with some books that took me 2 years to write and one more to be accepted. It would be old already. (not sure about the time required to put a course together).
    Coming back on the content delivery, I am considering this for MBA’s more than University classes, but why do we have to go somewhere to receive the information when it can be delivered online?
    Why having a paperbook while I can have an e-book?
    Or, even more interesting, why should we keep the same format that we have been using for years while we can have a e-university. (search e-university in google, second result (IBM – Univ. of Cyprus – Confidential – March 2005))
    Mitch, I believe you are the same person if you deliver a marketing course at University of Montreal, or via the e-university project.
    Recognition? Yes, Univ. of Montreal gives some credentials which are widely recognized, this is true for “classic courses”. However, in this specific context, aren’t you recognized too?
    Costs? You can have much more benefits by delivering it online and having participants paying a participation fee.
    Really, if you had to hire a marketing manager today, would you ask him about the 4Ps or having a more open discussion on how he plans to do the job? How he keeps informed and what he reads?
    Personally, I had a Ms. with a different approach. Learn to learn.
    Maybe it was specific to my curriculum, Technology and Management, but I was teach to apprehend the unknown by documenting myself, validating the sources, and share my thoughts to the team. (which is also what is in this post).
    Market and technology complexity, easier and wider interaction to any point in the world, collaborative tools. They all lead to one simple point: we are all experts in our specific context and we have no excuses not to share and collaborate.
    This means to me that books are valid, but there’s more, the change is now and live, are you updating Twitter every hour?
    Why keep the knowledge under the chains of an outdated educational structure?
    May be I should go out and make a e-university platform!

  14. Hi Mitch, been enjoying your podcast and today is my 1st visit to your blog.
    Down here in South Africa, we have the same problem with education and text books covering emarketing. I actually decided to do something about it and wrote South Africa’s first emarketing book: the e of marketing.
    Hopefully every little bit helps.
    About that book of yours……

  15. Hello Everyone,
    I have a question, or perhaps it’s more of a concern…I’ve been doing web marketing now for the past 2 years, but it’s not something I planned, it just sort of fell in my lap at the company I am working for. I feel like I’ve learned quite a bit since being in this position (I’m a marketing coordinator), but I think it’s really important for me to also have the education to go along with my experience. Do you think this particular course would be too advanced for someone like me? Would it make more sense if I started by doing a “beginners” course to start? It seems like most of the people here really know their stuff and have been doing it for a very long time…Thanks for your advice!

  16. I want to do an online course in Digital Marketing, do u also provide job placements? what is the fee?
    Shrikant Raipure

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