No intro, skip to the five marketing topics universities should teach their students.
Marketing is overwhelmingly broad, so it isn’t surprising that students and even graduates struggle with some of its areas. What is surprising, however, is that many fresh graduates don’t actually have the skills needed in the job market. They might know the basics and theory well enough but they lack deeper knowledge of the marketing topics that actually matter.
Being a private tutor for over eight years, I’ve faced this situation many times. Despite how impressive a student’s academic background might be, they could still struggle with some job functions that would be very important in their future profession. I don’t blame them and understand why this happens.
The reason is simple. Quite often, universities fail to maintain marketing education at a proper level or keep it up to date. This isn’t surprising, considering how quickly this industry is developing. However, probably no student would want to find out that they are falling behind, especially after receiving a degree in marketing.
That’s why I want to focus on the five areas that are often neglected by universities but are important for the job. Today, I’m a self-employed tutor and blogger, but I’ve had to master many marketing skills on my own. I’ve learned how to write strong copy, how to promote myself on social media and optimize content for search engines. And so now I want to share some of this knowledge with you.
The five marketing topics you should study to succeed
1. Social media
Sure, there are plenty of college students that are experienced in social media, considering how often they use them in their personal lives. According to Pew Research Center, 79% of adult Americans use Facebook. But knowing how to use Facebook in general isn’t equal to knowing how to use it for business. Same goes for every other social media network you are already using, be it Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.
Social media can be a great promotional tool if used right. The statistics provided by Ambassador show that 71% of the consumers who have had a positive service experience with a brand would recommend it to others on social media. But it doesn’t end there.
Social media can also generate referral traffic and improve search engine rankings. Publishing good content and presenting it right on social media enhances a brand's visibility online. You can also use it for networking with clients which helps to improve your reputation, increase customer loyalty, and so on.
Every social media network requires a different approach. What works for Facebook, could fail to work for Twitter, and what’s appropriate on Instagram is less so on LinkedIn.
That’s why it’s so important for students and recent graduates to start exploring social media from a business point of view. One of the best and simplest ways to start doing so is by studying how to create a social media strategy and explore examples of successful marketing campaigns - after all, learning by practice is always useful.
While blogging is a big part of content marketing (more on that below), there’s a reason why marketing students should pay special attention to it. These days, blogging can be successfully used for many things, for example:
- You can build a career from your own blog
- Run one for a business to raise brand awareness and attract leads, or
- Use blogging to promote your goods and services on other sites.
Even if you are a person with a goal to start your own business, you should still consider adding a blog to your website. Based on research provided by TechClient, websites with blogs tend to have 434% more indexed pages while companies that blog have 97% inbound links.
Of course, not every blog can achieve such impressive results. In order to succeed, you need to choose the right niche and be experienced enough in writing and research to provide new and fresh information on the topics your cover. You also need to know how to promote your blog on social media and how to do blogger outreach. Most importantly, you need to learn how to create compelling posts that attract readers and hold their attention until the very end.
While universities do encourage writing by giving students various assignments and asking them to come up with topics for argumentative essays, this type of writing differs from blogging.
It’s possible to try blogging long before graduation, learning everything by practice. Set up a personal one or ask if someone you know needs content written for them. Another good option to grasp the essential aspects of creating good content is to work for an essay writing service company and write blog articles for their clients. This way you will learn how to do research and create content that corresponds to the needs of a specific target audience.
3. Content marketing
The importance of content marketing cannot be undervalued. According to a 2016 study by Curata, 74% of the companies claim that content marketing helps them increase their marketing teams’ lead quality and quantity.
53% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority. (Source: HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2017)
It isn’t surprising. With people being so overwhelmed with data and content these days, it’s important to always try to offer something new, fresh, and truly valuable to them. And this means not only writing great content but also making it as engaging as possible.
That’s why a content marketing strategy doesn’t end with blogging only – it also includes video creation, design (infographics, for example), email writing, and so on. There are plenty of channels and areas which good marketers need to acknowledge in order to integrate them into content strategies in the most effective way.
While it’s possible to promote a brand with the help of written content exclusively, a great marketer has to think bigger than that. They need to use various content types and have enough technical knowledge in order to use a variety of digital tools.
Moreover, content marketing isn’t only about creating content – it is also about setting the right goals that align with business objectives, analyzing data, monitoring trends and developing your own ones, and much more. Luckily for students, this marketing topic can be mastered online as well.For example, there are plenty of content marketing guides on Content Marketing Institute and HubSpot that are pretty detailed and allow to understand the basics pretty quickly.
4. Behavior knowledge
Tech knowledge is not all that is needed to become a good marketer. Marketing is about understanding human behavior and creating relationships. It helps develop the right strategies, tailoring content to the needs of a target audience and knowing which buttons to push to create an impression or to awake certain emotions, in other words, generate clicks and conversions.
People base their decisions on emotion - and while the patterns they follow can be understood and manipulated, this doesn’t mean that they will last. As time goes, trends and patterns change.
For example, consumer behavior has changed in the digital age - online reviews have become increasingly important, users spend a lot of time on social sites and millennial customers trust their peers more than an ad online.
Online reviews impact 67.7% of respondents' purchasing decisions [..] and 54.7% admitted that online reviews are fairly, very, or absolutely an important part of their decision-making process. (Source: Moz)
The best marketers are usually very skilled in the behavioral science. They are able to define buyer personas quickly, adjust their writing voice and tone, find out what exactly people love about a brand, what makes them come back and how to find ways to delight them.
5. Search engine optimization (SEO)
As Neil Patel puts it, SEO is not dead. According to data shared on SearchEngineLand, SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate while outbound leads have a 1.7% close rate. However, far from many are satisfied with the number of leads generated organically.
Only about 22% of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates. (Source: Econsultancy, 2016)
Every website and blog still needs to be well optimized in order to succeed. The tricky part here is that SEO is a long game and strategies change quickly – and so, while universities might pay attention to the topic, the information they provide can be a bit outdated.
For example, a couple of years ago writers stuffed articles with as many keywords as possible in the hope to improve search engine rankings. These days there’s no need to spam your copy with keywords – while there should still be a good mix, they need to fit in naturally and include variations.
While students and fresh graduates may struggle with SEO without practice, they can still master the basics very quickly using resources available on the Internet. There is an abundance of blogs and case studies that can be just as effective as online courses. One of the best digital marketing blogs, Moz Blog is a great place to start learning about keywords and optimizing content for search.
And the same goes for other marketing topics that are often overlooked by universities. They might not be included in the program but they can still be studied and mastered. After all, there are so many online courses enlightening students about all aspects of digital marketing. There are also plenty of case studies and articles written by niche experts, allowing you to learn by example.
So if you do want to learn, there’s always a way. Find time to study the practices you are most interested in, monitor trends, read expert opinions. Seize every opportunity to learn something new and you will build all the necessary skills by the time you graduate or land your first job.