Applying Principles from a Digital Marketing Certification
Certifications Are Like a Driver's License
Practice Makes Perfect
|Students and their clients in Social Media class, Fall 2016, St. Edwards' University|
Applying HubSpot Inbound Marketing Certification and Google Analytics
This project allows students to practice the good blogging principles of HubSpot Inbound Marketing certification such as the use of white space, headings, the effective use of headings and good titles. Students also learn the basics of analytics that prepares them to become analytics certified in our Marketing Metrics class. The Google Analytics certification allows students to practice on an e-commerce database provided by Google, which is another great way to practice their certification knowledge.
Applying Google AdWords Certification
Google Adwords certification is great and gives students a resume builder and an understanding of paid search. To apply these concepts, one approach is simply to have the students create sample ads and critique them in class. Another approach is to use a marketing simulation.
However, arguably the best way to practice AdWords is to have the students compete in the Google Online Marketing Challenge (GOMC) or to work with a client on a project. In the challenge, students get a $250 budget to work with a company that has not had a paid search campaign on AdWords at least in the last six months. In a client project scenario, I have worked with companies that provided a similar budget and we have worked on paid search campaigns of interest to them. Each approach has it's pros and cons, which I will discuss in another blog post.
The good news is that Google now allows students to take AdWords Certification for free, which involves passing the Fundamentals exam and an exam on one other on a topic such as search, video or mobile advertisements. In fact, Google recommends that students become AdWords certified before or during the GOMC. We have restructured our courses so that students do the GOMC in the senior course in the Marketing major, having previously been certified in the required Digital Marketing and Analytics course. I know other Universities where the challenge in the sole focus of a course and I have taught it that way also. The projects can be done simultaneously, but, as I covered in a prior blog post in this series (check out the blog archive), the Challenge is so time consuming that involvement in it can take away from other classroom learning in digital marketing.
Applying Hootsuite Platform Certification
In our social media classes, students also write a blog related to their professional aspiration in the context of a personal branding exercise and plan. Students then use the Hootsuite social media management tool, which is available while they are getting Hootsuite Platform certified, to promote that blog and their personal brand. This free certification is just how to use the tool and a bit about social media, but does not include the Social Media Marketing Certification, which is now, unfortunately, a paid exam. They learn how to use the Hootsuite. platform and also how to analyze the effects of their posts.
Students also apply the Hootsuite Certification material when they work with real-life clients in the second half of the class. In addition to making suggestions as to how to manage the process of a social media management tool, students recommend which platforms to use and how frequently to post. Clients have then implemented these suggestions and had applicable results in just a few weeks of working with students in our class.
Plan, Implement, Measure
In all of these examples of applications of certification, the students learn how to plan, implement and measure a marketing campaign, whether it be it be promoting their personal brand, launching a blog or creating a paid search campaign. Certification programs on their own are not effective in helping students understand the material or get jobs after graduation. These projects provide application for deeper learning and professional preparation. We also incorporate HubSpot Inbound Sales and Salesforce Trailhead in to our Sales class, but I will cover this approach in a later blog post.
Please let me know what other approach you take in your classes to apply the tools of digital marketing certifications. All of these certifications an be used in conjunction with textbooks that I have co-authored with Cengage to bridge the gap between theory and practice. Comment on this blog, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or catch me on social media. Good luck!