The appetite for digital learning is gaining momentum within higher education. Demands from students wanting to acquire relevant digital knowledge especially around the tactical side of digital, knowledge on types of digital channels and how to form a digital marketing plan is paving the way for both universities and online training academies to up their game and adapt their syllabuses to stay relevant.
I caught up with Jonathan Saipe, founder of Emarketeers who provide specialist internet marketing and technology training, and we discussed the growing demand for digital marketing training, the growth in online training and the role digital agencies have to play in utilising their digital knowledge to use this as a way to train students.
Tell us a little about Jonathan
Like many digital folk, my career has been a little unorthodox. I qualified in 1992 with a psychology degree from UCL, after which I attempted a career as a musician, which was easier said than done. Having cut my multimedia teeth in recording studios, I eventually ended working for ad agencies in their nascent digital teams. The rest is history. Over a 20 year period I moved from account exec, to web developer, to head of digital and subsequently founder of Emarketeers. The late ’90s was a romantic time in digital agencies. Everyone was learning by doing and teams were made up of an eclectic mix of creatives lending their skills to digital. I was lucky to be part of that scene and found the constant change fascinating. In that sense, not a lot has changed between then and now.
Emarketeers.com – can you sell it in a tweet?
We help people and brands successfully achieve digital transformation through actionable learning.
What audience do you attract signing up for courses on emarketeers?
In the early days we attracted a lot of marketers, but over nearly a decade this has broadened as job titles have evolved. In a single course we might have a digital marketer, CRM manager, project manager, producer, UX specialist, SEO manager, community manager….this list goes on. We attract a lot of brands and increasingly more not-for-profit orgs. We train in the region of 1000 brands per year.
The more traditional routes for higher education eg Universities seem to have a distinct lack in digital marketing courses – what are your thoughts?
I’m always surprised by the amount of grads that come on our courses having just studied marketing for 3 years. University courses tend to be very strategic and focus on more traditional marketing principles, but
they lack tactical content which gives grads on-the-ground experience running campaigns. As a small business we can adapt quickly to changing digital landscape, which Universities may struggle to do.
Do you see this as an opportunity for alternative modes of training?
We often discuss the differences between traditional face-to-face training versus online or blended learning. There are clearly pros and cons to both depending on your circumstances (location, budget, availability etc). I still think online learning is in its infancy, so time will tell how it evolves. At Emarketeers we pride ourselves on delivering the best possible CX, which includes the venue, the food, the course material, the pre-sales support and post course support, in addition to the actual learning itself. In this instance, face-to-face learning is hard to beat, but if you’re living somewhere fairly remote, or if travel is tricky, I totally get why online learning is the way to go.
Digital marketing has a forever learning ethos due to new technologies and ways market to audiences, by this very nature do you think this is why it’s hard to create a flexible syllabus for university courses?
As I mentioned earlier, Universities tend to focus on the strategic side of marketing which gives students a great grounding and helps them reach a level of maturity. This provides a great foundation for more tactical skills that will need to evolve as technology evolves. Indeed it may well be hard for Universities to adapt so efficiently, which is why providing “evergreen skills” seems to be their focus for now.
There has been a growth in digital agencies providing online learning e.g. DistilledU, Moz – is this a good thing?
It’s a good sign when agencies and software companies start providing courses, as it’s a barometer of the growing learning needs among the digital community. The main challenge is for students to understand the
differences between each provider be it the content, the outcomes and the delivery mechanism. We often get asked why should I book an Emarketeers course versus “brand A” and it often comes down to the
audience, the learning objectives and the convenience factor.
What do you see as the key traits for someone to develop for a successful digital marketing career?
Without a doubt a passion for learning, intense curiosity, and as little fear of technology as possible! In my student days I would regularly take my car to bits, one, to fix it, but two, because I was extremely curious. There’s no better way to learn than to have that curiousity and lack of fear. It reminds me of the Susan Jeffers book, “Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway”.
What’s on your reading list?
Good question. There are too many blogs to mention so let’s opt for books only. I’d recommend the following:
“Creative Mischief” – Dave Trott
“Permission Marketing” – Seth Godin
“The Facebook Effect” – David Kirkpatrick
“Crossing The Chasm” – Geoffrey Moore