Digital transformation is everywhere, and companies are desperate for it. Emerson College is launching a new program in Digital Marketing and Data Analytics to meet demands for marketing professionals who can combine both the art and science of the discipline in the digital age. Executive-in-Residence and Graduate Program Director Mike McGuirk explains what prospective students should expect and how we as consumers will all benefit from data marketing transformation.
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Liz Glagowski: Hi, I'm Liz Glagowski editor-in-chief of the customer shot at his journal. And today I'm here with Mike McGuirk who is a educator at Emerson College. Right now he's the executive in residence for the college's marketing department and he is the graduate program director for a brand new marketing grad program called digital marketing and data analytics. So welcome Mike.
Mike McGuirk: Thank you Liz. I'm very glad to be here.
L: I'm excited to talk to you today because data analytics is a very hot topic for marketers and business executives of all types and finding out what students are learning and how they'll be prepared to work in this new environment where data is involved in everything is really a topic that people are hungry to learn more about. So to start can you just give us a background of how you got to Emerson and what the program is?
M: I've been here at Emerson for two years now and and I spent the prior 25 years in the marketing analytics industry but really knew I wanted to take my expertise and experiences within the industry and really start to use it in the higher education field and part of the reason why I chose Emerson and thankfully Emerson chose me is that their marketing communication department has a really strong reputation for being very Innovative and forward-thinking and really developing both undergraduate and graduate programs that look to fulfill unmet needs in higher education.
And to that end Emerson is fully aware that in today's environment that marketers are increasingly expected to incorporate customer feedback and data analysis into their decision-making and they also understand that marketers are expected to use consumer insights to create very data-driven marketing strategies that really can be implemented across any digital or more traditional media channel.
So it is my belief that that companies that don't make this shift to incite driven marketing really run the risk of losing customers to their competitors and so as a result of of these marketplace changes and dynamics that are going on today's marketing and communication professionals must really develop a new set of skills, including skills in customer Analytics, digital storytelling, social and mobile marketing and even marketing performance measurement that is they need to be skilled in the art and the science of marketing and in Emerson's digital marketing and data analytics master's degree and the associated graduate certificate programs are really uniquely designed to prepare graduates for these very rapidly changing demands that are going on in the marketing environment.
L: So how does this then follow along from the traditional marketing communications curriculum that Emerson's got so what do they learn in maybe the undergrad that then they can hone in on and learn more about in the grad program?
M: In the undergraduate and graduate programs that Emerson currently has there's certainly different tracks that students can pursue and in most cases those tracks would include preparing students to be very strong on the creative aspects of marketing and also very strong on the management side of marketing. So the execution of marketing programs and managing those campaigns and strategies over time what we're really starting to push and develop is this idea of insights track, the ability to use research techniques and research methods as well as analytic techniques and methods to really even further inform the creative and the execution of these campaigns and again not just across traditional channels. But but many of the emerging digital channels.
L: So tell me a little bit about the program itself. Are you looking for students who are just out of undergrad? Are you looking for mid-career students? Are you looking for people who have marketing backgrounds or don't? Give me an overview of the actual program itself when it's going to start that sort of thing.
M: The program's going to start in Fall 2018. And you know, what I would say is the real, you know ideal student for for the program are working professionals. Folks that that might have three five or sometimes I've talked to plenty of perspective students that have 20 years of experience in marketing or or some closely related field and what they understand is that they need to advance their skills in both the digital marketing side as well as the data analytics.
And so because we know a good percentage of the students that will enroll in the program are going to be working professionals. We we made the decision to make it a hundred percent online. So this really provides the flexibility for those students to pursue a graduate degree while either working full-time or part-time and you know, another thing I would say is that we're not expecting incoming students to have prior knowledge of digital marketing and communication platforms and in addition, we're not not expecting students are going to have extensive knowledge in data analytic techniques as well. But what we're really looking for are our students that are passionate and really are eager to begin to apply these emerging business practices in the workplace.
L: So I think you mentioned earlier. There's eight courses in the program. Can you explain what they are?
M: Sure. Yeah. So we wanted to create nice bounds between the marketing courses and the analytic courses. So we have four courses in the digital marketing track and those range from courses that are focused on online consumer behaviors, digital storytelling, and branding of course specifically designed to help students understand what's different in the social and mobile marketing areas, and then really a course that =brings a lot of those marketing skills together in designing digital campaigns and then those are very tightly integrated with the data analytics courses and there's four of those as well.
There's two what I would call really foundational courses, one is in customer segmentation and descriptive analytics a second is in the area of Predictive Analytics, which again helps students use tools to become what we call a proactive instead of a reactive marketer. And then we also have two courses that again are really focused on you know these emerging channels. So one is a course on social media listening and it's using analytics to understand what's being said in the the social environment and the last course is specifically in the area of web analytics and using analytics to drive more traffic to your Brand's website and create greater conversion once customers do get to your website.
L: So with a mix of this of really getting immersed in the digital marketing tools and and strategies along with actually completing some of the analytics work. How do you see those preparing students to compete in the new digital driven world?
M: Yeah. So I think students are going to come out of the program feeling like they have many practical, really in-demand skills. So our ultimate goal is to really help students turn what I'll call, you know, very broadly accepted theories and methodologies and digital marketing and analytics and really show how those can become very practical skills that can be immediately applied in the workplace. So it's a nice balance of the quantitative skills, which is kind of the science of marketing and creative skills, which is more of the the art of marketing and so specifically graduates of the program will be extremely well-versed in digital campaign development, digital storytelling and branding, social and mobile marketing customer segmentation, Predictive Analytics, campaign testing and measurement and really analytically driven decision making.
And so those types of skills are really going to prepare graduates for some really highly sought-after roles including jobs such as digital campaign planners, social media marketers, customer experience, Consultants or managers content marketers.
And if you flip over more towards the the quantitative side students would be prepared for roles such as marketing analyst more specifically digital analyst, campaign measurement analyst or even data visualization, which is becoming very popular being prepared for role such as that.
So, you know, these are just a sample of the the types of jobs that graduates would be prepared for because it's even hard to keep up with how things are changing as more companies shift to be more customer centric insight driven. So, you know, these roles are likely to be, you know, only a subset of very insight driven, analytically driven roles that we'll see in the next three or four years.
L: And you mentioned being more proactive and personalized, and in the work we do with the Customer Strategist journal we do see a lot of companies that are really trying to get to more real time interactions that are relevant and then obviously drive value for the business as well as the customer. So it seems like there is a need for using data to be able to figure out when and how to interact with customers at the right time and with the right sort of message. Using data now it seems like there are a lot more tools to do that. So can you talk about then how some of these businesses can benefit from the types of skills the students are going to have?
M: That's a great question. Collectively I would say that students are going to be able to use their marketing skills and their analytic skills to truly tap into the voice of the customer and they'll be able to do that in both traditional and newer digital media channels.
They're going to be able to use their skills and web analytics, social media listening, predictive analytics to again really understand what are the specific needs of consumers, and it's interesting, those needs really need to be discovered throughout the entire consumer's decision making and buying journey.
What we've seen and I've seen this a lot when I was on the industry side is that there is really a coming together or merging of research in analytics to be able to compile the information that is happening across that entire journey and so we are looking to build that type of understanding into the courses that we've developed so that students really will feel comfortable collecting information across that journey and using it to really develop very targeted, very proactive programs that really are meeting the specific needs of consumers and doing it in a very timely fashion and a way that it really increases the quality of those interactions that consumers are having across that journey.
L: So when I think of marketing and marketers and people who I know in marketing it seems that there is sort of a typical marketer, a very outgoing and creative person, you think of flash mobs and fun advertising and things like that. And the analytics side can maybe be thinking of statistics and math and computer programs and how do you get people who are more of those traditional marketers to maybe not be scared of the word analytics when it comes to marketing, how do they embrace the fact that it's okay to be a little bit scientific in some of your marketing activities?
M: (Laughs) Yep that's a really good way to describe things, you know, I think what's important to get across immediately to maybe the folks that have come at this more of the creative side is that adding a little bit of science, analytics and research into the process is only going to make their job that much easier. Instead of starting the creative process with a base level of understanding of what the consumer needs are, a further injection of analytics and research is going to allow creative professionals to really grasp on to a very specific understanding of what consumers are looking for.
The idea here is to not disrupt and hamper the creative process in fact the idea of joining analytics with the creative side of marketing is really "push it forward and advance it." So we're creating marketing advertisements and marketing promotions that really are getting at the heart of what consumers are asking for and what customers expect.
L: Now I can't let you go without asking about the whole Facebook backlash and some of the data privacy issues that are now coming up in the marketing space so how does the program approach that idea and just make sure that students are aware of making sure they take the customer's point of view while also serving some business needs?
M: It's always uncomfortable in my field when you see something happen such as the Facebook incident but it also is a reality and it's a good teaching moment to show that if you're not careful in terms of how you keep consumer information secure and how you allow third parties to use information for other purposes then it can lead to very bad disasters.
So I see it as an opportunity to explain to students the importance of keeping consumer information very protected and very secure but also teaching students how important it is to understand what are the right things and what should we be focused on in terms of using information that consumers are allowing us to capture and using it in a way where it's really going to be a win for the consumers. It's going to allow us to develop programs and strategies that are going to improve the consumer experience.
I wish I could say that I would expect based on this Facebook incident that all companies would tighten up the security of customer information but I'm sure we will see other incidents happen in the future and again it's important to explain to students that we need to be the people driving the importance of securing that type of information, of being good stewards of that information and using very ethical practices in terms of how we translate that information into marketing and customer experience campaigns.
L: You mentioned that the program starts in the Fall, how's it being received so far in the market and with prospective students?
M: It's off to a great start and I would say one of the more exciting and rewarding things that I'm going through is when I talk to perspective students about joining the program I've been hearing many times that these folks have been looking for a program that really tightly integrates analytics and digital marketing and they haven't been able to find it for some time and so they are excited that this is being launched, it's a direct fit what they feel like they need to focus on in their career so that's been really encouraging.
I would also say that we are getting really good input and feed from companies, these companies certainly understand the challenges finding and hiring marketers with a mix of quantitative and creative skills, and so these companies are also telling me they believe this type of program will definitely help students be more prepared in today's insight driven marketing environment.
L: Great, and I'm excited as a consumer to be able to have marketing that is more relevant, focused, and proactive and predictive to make my life easier as well so ultimately it'll help in the consumer side too.
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