Digital Marketers will play an exciting role in the future. It is their job to develop new methods of communication and persuasion, to access innovative forms of creativity, and to give identities to the products and services that may one day become household names. For their teachers and lecturers, the task of helping these budding minds blossom in multi-talented and proficient marketers is not an easy one. In fact, it’s a constantly evolving minefield of theory and application that can be adjusted every few months as technology changes.
So, knowing that the marketing world can reinvent itself overnight, what consistency can be taught in a world of volatility? Read on as we deliver five effective ways to teach digital marketing to university students, helping them build long-term transformational skills.
Method one: Opt for group projects, rather than essays
An essay that is written today only assesses the past and perhaps present state of marketing, but it does little to relate to the future. Students don’t want essays that make them recite and rewrite information they find online, in books, and in lectures, they want excitement. They want projects. They want campaigns.
It’s a great idea to develop projects that allow them to investigate, use their intuition, and get creative, in groups. One great way of doing this is a marketing campaign investigation, which can be done many times over by looking at different case studies. This practical research skills exercise will be interesting, fun, and give an opportunity to present their findings at the end.
Another idea is to get the students in groups and let them execute a marketing strategy themselves. Perhaps they have to promote a local charity, or grow a Facebook page – there are plenty of opportunities to put their skills to the test. The campaign can go on for as long as you decide, perhaps a whole term or school year. At the end of the project, students can present their findings to the other groups and build a collective knowledge of what works and what doesn’t work.
Method two: Experiential learning through digital marketing simulations
The didactic approach to teaching, in which lecturers stand and talk at the front of the room to a bunch of university students, has lost its engagement factor. The current crop of students just don’t resonate with this style of learning, and besides, it’s not the best way of teaching marketing, which in itself is multi-media, constantly evolving, and based on current culture.
Active learning methods, such as experiential learning, are far more stimulating and effective for the modern student, as these challenging environments allow them to form their own conclusions through trial and error.
Digital marketing simulations offer perhaps the best method of delivering an interactive, engaging, and stimulating learning experience that provides opportunities for teamwork, decision-making, critical skills, judgement, and more. Students can even engage with their lecturers during these simulations, approaching them for real-time knowledge in a relevant situation. A lot of the time during these simulations, the students are learning things about themselves and about marketing that no lecturer could ever really show them.
Method three: Test their skills on world-class platforms like Google Analytics
As we’ve reiterated, marketing is a real-time activity, it relies on popular culture and things that are happening right now. To make sure students are equipped to be marketers, you have to make sure that they are using the platforms that offer skill development and longevity. You can rest assured that most of them are well versed in Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, some will be users of YouTube, TikTok and WordPress, but how many of them can confidently navigate their way around Google Analytics? How many know how to use HubSpot, Moz, MailChimp, Asana, Eventbrite or Meet Edgar?
Without learning the basics of pivotal tools like these, strategies may be formed without a way of analysing the results. How could a marketing campaign come to a close if there’s no data? If marketing is a way of promoting ideas in the future, we have to look at the performance of the past to find meaning and direction. Analytics is unmissable. Fail to teach your students how to use these leading platforms and they might find themselves feeling quite lost upon graduating.
Method four: Show them the creative possibilities of content marketing
As far as contemporary marketing theory goes, content marketing is about as useful and as popular as it gets. Without realizing it, your students may be very competent at content marketing already. If they post on Facebook, share photos and stories on Instagram, or upload vlogs to YouTube, they are already halfway there by being content creators.
Find some famous and groundbreaking content marketing case studies (Gary Vaynerchuk is a master of this) and invoke discussion and debate among your students. Challenge them to get creative with content whenever possible.
Method five: Speak their language – mobile, mobile, mobile
It’s funny, for the last couple of decades most educators have been fighting to keep mobiles out of the classroom. Now, in a bizarre twist, many educators are looking to encourage mobile use in the classroom. When it comes to digital marketing for university students, mobile is key.
Tools, apps, and the potential to create content and enact communications on-the-go is absolutely essential. Desk-based marketing roles may be the norm, but in a world where remote work and globalization continue to grow, being able to tune into a mobile device and accomplish high levels of work performance is vital. How educators go about trying to do this will depend on the topic they’re teaching, but interactive classrooms where apps allow the students to engage with the whiteboard is one idea, another idea is a #hashtag particular to that class.
Students these days are mobile natives, they’ve had a phone for most of their lives and they feel uncomfortable when they get separated. It’s easy to lose sight of that.
Unlock Experiential Learning with A Robust Digital Marketing Simulation
Our latest simulation, Digital Markstrat is built on the solid model of our flagship simulation, ‘Markstrat’, and integrates digital & traditional media as well as digital initiatives. It is entirely cloud-based with no software download allowing your students to engage remotely in a realistic business challenge.
Key learnings for your learners:
- Blend digital and traditional marketing strategies towards a common goal
- Segment, target and position a portfolio of brands on a digital-sensitive market
- Develop a long-term vision to grow their firm
- Manage digital marketing as a profit-center
With Digital Markstrat, your students will be able to put concepts into practice and get real experience managing digital marketing efforts that will prepare them for the marketing world.