Digital marketing is poised for a nearly double digit growth for the foreseeable future. Quite a few universities have latched on to this growing demand and have started offering MBA degrees that offer specializations in digital marketing. While there is no gainsaying the fact that there are tremendous career prospects for digital marketing, is such a degree worth it? Or would you, as an MBA student, be better off specializing in a conventional marketing degree?
What Does A Course In Digital Marketing Offer?
Regular MBA degrees in marketing offer electives in digital marketing that cover the following topics:
Search Engine Marketing – Google Search (and the smaller competitors including Microsoft Bing) are an important part of the web and businesses, large and small, depend on search visits from Google to bring new customers to their business. The chapters on search engine marketing focus on two components – SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (Pay Per Click advertising). Besides these, the chapters may also include references to other newer areas of search engine marketing like remarketing and mobile advertising.
Social Media Marketing – Another dominant component of digital marketing is social media which includes the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. Chapters on social media marketing too focus on two specific components – organic social media marketing which is essentially the use of social media to create brand awareness and the use of social media advertising tools.
Web Analytics – A critical component of digital marketing is analytics which makes use of online tools like Google Analytics to understand visitor demographics and behavior and tweaking the website experience to align with what they are looking for. This chapter focuses on terms like unique visitors, conversion rate, goals and funnels along with emphasis on how to make sense of user behavior with analytics tools.
How Is A Specialization In Digital Marketing Different
An MBA degree in digital marketing is a lot more comprehensive and goes well beyond covering the above topics superficially. Besides courses on the topics above, students may also study on topics like content marketing, email marketing, web design & user experience and growth hacking. An emerging area of expertise is marketing automation – this is the use of specialized tools to automate the marketing process of customer acquisition, engagement, sales and customer conversion. Automation helps businesses scale up their marketing efforts and is thus forms a core element of digital marketing.
In addition to the theoretical aspects of the course, a specialization in digital marketing may also come with practical learning. Students are required to launch their own websites and are taught to rank their websites on search, market them on social media and set up email marketing campaigns. All this provide students with a firm grasp on what awaits them in the corporate world in a real digital marketing job.
Is An MBA In Digital Marketing Worth It?
There is no doubt that an MBA in digital marketing prepares you for a career in the field. But is it worth it? There are two reasons I would argue against it. Firstly, a conventional degree in marketing prepares you better for a role in management – you spend more time understanding customer behavior and the role of branding, positioning and product management. You also get to spend significant hours learning digital marketing. So while an MBA in marketing can prepare you for a role in digital marketing, the opposite may not be possible.
Secondly, and most importantly, a degree in marketing is beneficial from a long-term perspective. No matter how large digital marketing becomes, it still shall remain a subset of the marketing department. From a career perspective, it is important to graduate beyond digital marketing at some point when you are expected to take on larger roles. Restricting yourself to the digital marketing domain may narrow down the scope of career growth and this is something you must consider before taking a call on specialization in digital marketing.