Companies need to connect with audiences online to compete in today’s multimedia business environment. Websites, apps, social platforms and search engines all help consumers find their next favorite brands.
To achieve their marketing goals, organizations need specialists who understand the best ways to identify and engage target customers. Earning an online Bachelor of Science in Digital Audiences can help students interested in marketing acquire the technical skills and critical thinking abilities necessary to create, measure and optimize such campaigns.
Marketing and digital media
As more consumers gained access to the internet during the past decade, brands across the globe realized the information superhighway could be a valuable marketing resource. Digital media, such as online content, images, animations, video and more, offered new ways to engage with customers, build brand loyalty and increase sales.
Consider how, according to Google’s Micro-Moments: Your Guide to Winning the Shift to Mobile, 51 percent of smartphone users discovered a new product or brand after conducting a mobile search. The digital landscape expands brands’ reach, and understanding effective online marketing strategies helps these organizations connect directly with consumers.
In addition, research from venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins found multichannel shoppers spend three times more than single-channel ones. Digital media doesn’t just increase transactions — it can improve average order values so businesses earn more from each customer.
Brands have realized, however, that simply having an online presence isn’t enough. Competition on the internet is saturated, so companies need to think strategically about how they can approach customers and stand out among other advertisers. Some tactics, like personalization and influencer marketing, are proving to be effective. However, brands must be cautious in their efforts. For instance, search engines may penalize companies using methods that can misdirect users. Additionally, a few critical missteps (such as a tweet that a brand’s target audience finds distasteful) can do irreparable damage.
Today’s businesses want competent experts who understand what works in terms of digital marketing. These professionals need specific skills, tools and strategies to plan and execute an online campaign effectively.
Skills needed for digital marketing
A degree in digital audiences can teach students the marketing skills necessary for a successful career. Such programs generally include classes or coursework on the following:
- Search engine optimization: These techniques align web design, content and metadata to help a brand appear as high as possible in the search engine results pages (SERPs) when users look up specific terms. Engines like Google and Bing use complex algorithms and criteria to rank web page relevance so users find exactly what they’re looking for as efficiently as possible. SEO spans topics such as keywords, markup languages, mobile web design and more.
- Search engine marketing: SEM uses search engines’ native paid advertising tools to promote a business. With this, companies pay to have their websites or landing pages associated with certain keywords and displayed at the top of a SERP. An effective SEM strategy requires thorough analysis and budgeting so brands can get the most return on investment.
- Social media: Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook have become critical tools in attracting audiences and engaging customers. Free profiles and posts allow brands to advertise themselves with little investment, while sponsored posts and paid ads can boost impressions and engagement. Most importantly, these platforms allow brands to converse with consumers in real time.
- Audience research: Digital marketers need to understand how their audiences interact with content online to optimize their marketing strategies. For example, as charts from Pew Research Center show, far fewer adults age 65 and above use social media compared to young adults ranging from 18 to 29. Key performance indicators for a brand’s social media strategy should take such trends into account. In addition, online audience research can help businesses create detailed marketing personas to help plan future digital media campaigns.
- Digital analytics: Brands must analyze their digital content to ensure their strategies are effective. Such metrics can include insights ranging from websites’ page views and unique visitors to the number of shares and average time played for social media videos to email open and click-through rates. Businesses look for marketers who understand common tools like Google Analytics, Hubspot, SEMrush and others.
- Digital devices: Desktop computers, smartphones and tablets all display content in different ways. Understanding this relationship is a key component to creating a unified cross-channel experience for customers. People also engage with online content through devices such as smartwatches, game systems and streaming media players, adding a complexity that marketers must be familiar with to create campaigns that best resonate with their target audiences.
- Digital content creation: All of the above skills help digital marketing professionals create compelling content that increases brand awareness, affinity and, ideally, loyal customers. For instance, personas developed through audience research allow writers to convey information in a style that’s most engaging to the brand’s target consumer. Similarly, keyword research and digital analytics show marketers what words and subjects are most successful at attracting people from search engines.
Learning about digital audiences
A degree in digital audiences focuses not only on teaching students about the functions of different online marketing channels, but it also helps them learn more about how to identify and reach target customers. Studying these concepts can help marketers answer questions such as:
- Who makes up a specific company’s digital audience?
- How do digital audiences behave?
- What digital strategies work most effectively to connect with a specific target market?
A digital media degree, such as a bachelor’s in digital audiences, can provide students with the expertise and qualifications needed to successfully pursue a valuable position in the growing field of online marketing. Students should look for a program that offers real-world case studies and projects in areas such as audience research and analysis. This will allow them to better understand the techniques and best practices of the discipline and can help prepare them to lead content and marketing strategies throughout their own engaging careers.
Possible positions graduates can pursue include:
- Social media manager
- Digital growth strategist
- Content marketing specialist
- Public relations associate
Earning a BS in Digital Audiences from ASU Online
The ASU Online Bachelor of Science in Digital Audiences focuses on technical skills, hands-on experience working with real clients, communication theory and up-to-the-minute industry research, preparing students to earn positions in marketing and succeed in their careers. In addition, the 100 percent online format allows for a flexible learning environment.
The program aims to teach students how to apply their studies to create effective digital strategies based on specific audience insights and industry best practices, setting strong marketing goals that will meet business objectives. Courses such as Audience Acquisition and Engagement, Audience Research and Behavior and Digital Audience Analysis can give students the expertise to qualify for various digital marketing positions.
According to the Arizona State University economic modeling tool, Emsi, there were 173,000 average monthly postings for related jobs over the past year, indicating an abundance of positions available for graduates to pursue. In fact, because many types of organizations (Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, community groups, small businesses and more) need online marketing strategies, graduates can find work in a variety of industries.
A digital audiences degree can tell employers that an applicant is well-prepared for an internet marketing position, helping differentiate that candidate from the competition. Such a program can also prepare students for a range of graduate-level studies, including business, communications, journalism and more to help further advance their careers in marketing.