Traditional marketing methods have largely been relegated to the dustbin of history. New technology, the increased cost of doing business, and the ramped-up need for accountability have sparked the transition to digital marketing. But the objectives remain the same.
"Digital marketing is, at its core, the use of digital tools and tactics to support marketing objectives — the same basics around which marketers have worked for decades," said Scott Rutherford, a marketing technologist and instructor at UCI Extension.
The transition from traditional to digital marketing, however, can present both pros and cons.
"Digital marketing is harder because you have to continually learn new tools and stay abreast of emerging trends, which feels like a never-ending uphill task — because it is," Rutherford said. "But it's also easier because digital tools allow immediate and granular control of advertising and other digital messaging and content in ways that were impossible 15 or 20 years ago."
These issues and more are addressed in digital marketing curriculum offered by UCI Extension's Business Programs Department. Offerings include an Internet Marketing Certificate program, Social Media Specialized Studies Award, and a Marketing and Communications Certificate program.
The courses are invaluable to a wide range of professionals. For those new to marketing, they're an ideal way to acquire real-world guidance and quickly get up to speed on digital marketing tactics and strategies. For experienced marketing professionals, they're a way to take a focused look at current and emerging practices, and to understand how time-tested marketing fundamentals can be applied using a new toolkit and, for many, a new perspective.
Digital marketing is immediate, interactive and measurable. It also encompasses a wide array of tools, channels and strategies: websites, mobile experiences and apps, location-enabled content, keyword advertising, digital advertising and re-targeting, and suggestive selling driven by customer behavioral data and predictive analytics, among others.
These capabilities have transformed the standing of the marketing department at many companies and organizations.
"For a very long time, many businesses looked at marketing solely as a cost center," Rutherford said, who explained that digital tactics enable marketers to better justify their contributions to the bottom line. That's because return on marketing investment can be measured, reported and tracked, rather than just guesstimated, as it was in the good old days.
Current and former students have used their UCI Extension digital marketing studies in a variety of ways.
Even though she had degrees from three major universities, Lisa S. Morel decided she needed an Internet Marketing certificate to succeed as a marketing analyst or marketing manager. While enrolled in the certificate program, she interned at a digital marketing agency.
"That practical hands-on experience —plus the program education — helped me qualify for my current job at Symantec in search engine optimization and content marketing," Morel said. "It was helpful to know the material we had learned in the courses and to have used some of the tools (like Google Analytics) in my internship."
Raj Gupta is currently taking an online video marketing class at UCI Extension, his last step in completing an Internet Marketing certificate. "I have been involved in social media for a long time and have a basic understanding of it," Gupta explained. "But I lacked technical knowledge, which is why I enrolled in the program."
Although Gupta already had 15 years of experience in the field, he said the program has allowed him to hone his digital marketing skills and apply them to his job as a senior dealer operations manager for Infiniti Motor Co. in the Bay Area.
Michelle Sztupkay worked in marketing for a decade, then took time off for extended maternity leave. Returning to the workforce, she noticed a significant increase in the importance of digital marketing and felt that she needed formal training.
Four courses into an Internet Marketing certificate program, Sztupkay said what she has learned in the classroom has already translated into "tremendous real world applications."
"The digital format for the courses was brilliant," Sztupkay said. "Each instructor had a slightly different approach, all equally useful. I had never taken an online course before, and given the subject matter it only made sense for the courses to be offered online."