Why MBAs Need to Learn Digital Marketing. Now! Its a shame that MBAs don't believe in acquiring skills beyond their MBA course. The fact is that in the long run each one of us MBAs will require peripheral skills that will impact the way we think about our business strategy. Here's my take where I elaborate on how it is crucial for MBAs to learn Digital Marketing.

Why learn digital marketing after MBA? That’s a question people always ask.

I am always surprised when I hear people ask why it is important to learn digital marketing after MBA.

Fine, MBA gives you mastery over running a business and managing people, but not when it comes to the digital world.

That’s because a general MBA program from any of the top B-schools imparts conventional (traditional) marketing skills. And those are essential no doubt.

But what you do beyond that, yourself, is what will give you an edge over the others. It’s the kind of skills that you acquire that will support the conventional wisdom and make you excel at your job.

In fact, if you ask me, I would re-frame the entire question. You are better off asking questions like 'Why learn digital marketing before MBA?' or 'Why learn digital marketing during MBA?'.

Trust me, if you are thinking about learning Digital Marketing before your MBA, you will be way ahead of so many others during your B-school interviews and summers.

Anyway.

You may be wondering, and probably have questions like ‘What is Digital Marketing’? ‘Is it worth doing a Digital Marketing course’?

Hang on, I will address your questions soon.


What is Digital Marketing?

Neil Patel defines Digital Marketing as “any form of marketing products or services that involves electronic devices”.

HubSpot also suggests that digital marketing “encompasses all marketing efforts that use and electronic device or the internet”.

And that’s broadly what Digital Marketing really is. There are many different things under this umbrella term “Digital Marketing”. But at the end of the day, all of those ‘things’ come together to make a formidable digital marketing strategy.

The major difference between digital marketing and its traditional counterpart is the fact that, digital marketing makes it easy to target a predetermined online audience using online tools like social media, emails, blogs, etc.

All over the world, it is known that digital marketing is cheaper and cost-effective.

A lot of people I know disagree with this. One of the company’s that I worked for acquired a lead for as high as ₹350!

But the reason you would call Digital Marketing cheap is that fact that it is affordable. Most businesses can digitally promote their goods or services even with a low budget.

A new start-up guy or a person like me with a blog can start-off a Facebook campaign in no time and at a limited budget. I did! And I acquired leads at less than ₹7 per lead.

Imagine, would I or a new start-up person have been able to spend the kind of money that it takes to run a TV ad? No!

Further, Digital Marketing is considered cheap as it is possible to target the right audience that is in tandem with your customers’ persona. Hence, the more targeted your marketing efforts are, the lesser you will need to spend to acquire a lead or a customer.


Why Should you Learn Digital Marketing after MBA?

Mind you. When I say ‘after MBA’ I mean that you should be a 'ready-to-implement-strategies' kind of a person at the end of your MBA.

And for that I always advice that you learn Digital Marketing either before or alongside your MBA.

There are so many reasons why you should learn digital marketing after MBA. Whether you are an MBA aspirant or first year student. Or, maybe you are already in your final year ready to job-hunt.

Taking digital marketing courses will definitely be a plus to you, but how? Is digital marketing course useful to you?

It is. Let’s see how.

1. It is easy to learn

First thing first. While this may not seem like a reason to pursue Digital Marketing, it surely comes across as a deterrent for those who don’t pursue it.

People think Digital Marketing is tough. They think that it involves coding and is just too many things to learn.

Digital marketing is not something with so many technicalities, instead, it is mainly traditional marketing done through tools.

So, at the end of the day, you need to learn to use the tools. And learn what all is a tool capable of.

A lot of data can be compiled about your target audience, but you need to analyze these data to be able to derive the right facts. Don’t worry, as I said, there are tons of tools that assist with this, you only need to know how to use them.


2. It is broad and diverse; hence you can specialize

The field of digital marketing is broad and there are aspects you can decide to specialize in. So, there isn’t everything that you need to learn.

If there are some aspects of Digital Marketing that you like, you must go deeper in that.

Although, it is recommended that you “learn about everything but specialize on one thing”, this will give you an edge over your pairs.

This type of marketers is what Rand Fishkin called T-shaped marketers.

Source: T-Shaped Marketer, by Moz


3. It will further enhance your resume

I think this is one of the reasons why you should learn digital marketing after MBA. Here’s the thing. I have been to a premier B-school myself.

And I know that beyond your GPA, there isn’t much of a differentiator.

If you are in a Tier 1 B-school like the old IIMs and a few others, you need to learn digital marketing not to run an execute the campaigns yourself but to be capable of making digital factor in as a part of your business strategy.

Trust me, Tier 1 B-school kids are the most ignorant about learning digital marketing, but the reality is, they somewhere need it the most.

A colleague of mine, from one of the top B-schools confided in me. He is a strategist, but he cringes when he thinks of how his peers from ‘smaller’ B-schools trump him every time when it comes to digital and lead generation.

Guess what, he is learning Digital from one of the courses that I advised him for.

Adding this skill to your belt will prove to your prospective employers that there is an extra, keenly sought-after knowledge that you possess.

Just like every other professional course, it will boost your resume. But, unlike other professional courses, it does not require any previous related knowledge.

 Having an MBA will additionally present you as an authority in the field of marketing.  


4. You can start a freelancing career

Ever thought of making money on the side during your MBA? Did you just say it is not possible or not easy?

Well, I felt the same way during my MBA. But here’s what happened.

Someone mailed me after reading my article on how I made my articles reach Page 1 of Google within 2 weeks. And that mail was a freelancing offer, to do the SEO of his website.

This guy was an American, so just imagine the kind of money that could have been made in lieu of these specialized services.

The fact is, almost all the established digital marketers started as freelancers before becoming a big brand in the industry.

With your new knowledge, you can pitch your service to companies that are in need of digital marketers.

 Trust me, your MBA is an advantage and will place you ahead of other pitchers.


5. Possibility of gaining lots of experience before landing your first job (If you want one)

Interestingly, the more freelancing gigs you do, the more you build your portfolio. While being a student, you can offer them to pay you only if they see the results.

That’s a great way to get some practical experience.

You don’t even have to depend on internship and the rest before you can gain relevant experience that will easily land you your first job. This is really a big plus for you. (winks).


6. High growth rate causing high demand with short supply.

Statistically, the rate at which the digital marketing industry is growing is exponential, especially in India. As at 2017, 80% of businesses increased their digital marketing budget. In 2019, the number has not reduced but keeps growing.

According to digitalmarketinginstitute.com, India is the second country with the highest demand for digital marketers, coming after Canada.

Clearly, there is not enough digital marketers to satisfy these demand. With this revelation, if you weren’t planning to learn digital marketing after MBA, I think you should have a rethink.


7. The chances of getting a job is higher than that of your counterparts

Getting an MBA in any field already gives you an edge over ordinary marketers with no MBA. Good enough, right?

But the world is going digital and businesses are trying to catch up, as a result, most firms are now looking for marketers that can help to drive sales online and further get more customers.

If you are developing yourself in this digital field, your chances of getting a job or becoming gainfully self-employed is rapidly increasing.


8. Continuous learning

Digital marketing is a field that is continuously evolving and new ways of doing old things consistently spring up. Consequently, if you want to remain relevant and updated, you need to keep close tabs with the industry.

Personally, I feel this is a great thing. A question - who likes doing the same thing over and over again? Nobody.

Even if it's the same job, at least, getting to do it use a different approach is something everyone desires.

Digital Marketing poses a new challenge every single day.


Difference between Non-MBA Digital Marketers and MBA Digital Marketers

When you begin to think, in the long run, an MBA Digital Marketer is really different from a Non-MBA Digital Marketer. And it boils down to the way the two kind of people think.

One already has extensive knowledge of business, strategy and marketing.

Some differences are listed below.

  • In terms of knowledge, MBA Digital Marketers have more in-depth knowledge on marketing than non-MBA Digital Marketers.
  • Seeing that Digital Marketing follows almost the same pattern as traditional marketing, MBA Digital Marketers are more likely to produce better results in this field than non-MBA digital marketers.
  •  Digital marketing course may be easy for non-MBA, but it’s a lot easier for MBA students because of the pre-existing knowledge they already have.

How to Start Learning Digital Marketing

After highlighting the benefits of learning Digital Marketing, you are probably convinced that it is worth doing. You have already decided to learn Digital Marketing after MBA. Or better if you decide to do it right now. But you may now be confused about how to start your digital marketing journey.

It’s quite easy; if you can afford it, you can simply take a digital marketing course online or at an institution.

If you can't afford it, there are tons of free courses and resources you can check too.

Either ways, you have to lookout for some things before taking any digital marketing course.

What are these things?

These are the aspects of Digital Marketing that you can consider specializing in. So once you learn the basics of everything, just specialize in one that you are extremely good at.

Different Aspects Worth Specializing in:

  • Web analytics and conversion tracking: This skill is used to analyze the results of the digital campaign over time, using the available data collated.
  • Email Marketing: As the name implies, it is the use of email in marketing. It is useful during the stage of nurturing leads.
  • Social media marketing: Using the social media platforms for marketing.
  • Search engine marketing: It is divided into Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Inbound Marketing
  • Display Advertising: Remarketing and Retargeting.

Where can you start to Learn Digital Marketing?

As stated earlier, there are various platforms where you can learn digital marketing. Most platforms require payment from you, but some are free of cost too.

1. Course: I can recommend to you the course that I did to learn Digital Marketing during my MBA. This course is the Digital Marketing Mastery course from Pixel Track. The instructor Deepak Kanakaraju has been a great leader and coach.

As a matter of fact, this blog Super Heuristics is a result of inspiration I got after doing his course.

The course offers a bundle of different courses and is extremely structured so that you know exactly what you need to do every other day.

2. Blogs: There are some blogs that are dedicated to digital marketing and releasing posts that you can learn from. Although, this kind of learning is not organized but you can still learn a lot from them.

The blogs that I follow are BacklinkoMoz and Neil Patel.

3. YouTube: Just like blogs, but this is in a video format. Some YouTube channels tutor people who are interested in digital marketing.

Again, the YouTube channels that I follow are that of BacklinkoMoz and Neil Patel.

Also, Google trains digital marketers for free and issues certificates too.

4. Free Downloadable Materials: Books written by successful digital marketers, PDF materials, white papers, etc. can all be used to learn.

Since you already have the idea of what you want to learn, it will be easier for you to sieve through the resources and pick only the relevant ones.


Skills Complementing Digital Marketing

Although, unlike traditional marketing, digital marketing can be done without having to invest any money at all, just time.

Moreover, to get a fast result, digital marketers resolve to running ads. This aspect of digital marketing is very delicate and a lot of money can go down the drain if care is not taken.

That is why you need to have some skills before you can successfully run ads as a digital marketer. When I say skills, you can consider them as the things you must focus on while studying in MBA.

These could be the electives that you need to take. Or these could be just the skills and topics that you should be good at. They are:

1. Marketing Management: This tells you about the basics of Marketing. This is a mandatory course in every B-school and it will tell you about the core principles that one needs to learn.

2. Integrated Marketing Communication: The backbone of every digital marketing campaign is consumers engagement and interaction. Hence, understanding the communication bit of it is important. Again, this is an elective in most of the B-schools.

3. Consumer Behavior: Consumer behavior online (psychographics), demographics, customers journey through the sales funnel, and customers experience are all considered to segment the consumers.

4. ROI for corporate brands: Every penny channeled into digital marketing must be accounted for and it should be justified by the number of sales acquired.

As a digital marketer, you must learn how to calculate the 'Return on Investment’ using the right KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).


Conclusion

Nothing can downplay the influence and importance of Digital Marketing, not even MBA. An MBA without Digital Marketing skills may be of less importance in the coming future if you wish to pursue a career in Marketing.

That's why a lot of MBA holders are adding Digital Marketing to their skill set so as to remain relevant in this dynamic world.

I explained to you why Tier 1 B-school and all other B-school students must consider pursuing Digital Marketing and acquiring those skills.

I hope you make the decision and learn digital marketing after MBA.

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About the Author:

Darpan has worked as a Marketing and Product development strategist at an edu-corporate in New Delhi. He has also worked at a multinational business process outsourcing company in their Marketing & Artificial Intelligence business. He is an engineer by qualification and is currently pursuing MBA from Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Udaipur.