Should I Major in Digital Marketing?

As technology advanced, the size of the digital space followed suit. With these constant changes, whole industries continue shifting to the new standard of digital marketing. 

To meet the demand of new careers, academic institutions now offer digital marketing majors. Before deciding whether or not you should major in the field, it is important to understand what digital marketing means. 

marketing major

Digital Marketing 

Digital marketing are activities aimed to leverage a company’s online presence to advertise their brand to ultimately sell products or services. Today, digital marketing has become an incredible huge field, given the accessibility of digital usage. 

More users interacting with the Internet results in more ways businesses can access customers. Smart Insights co-founder Dave Chaffey summarizes these virtual opportunities as the 5Ds, all starting with digital:

  • Devices  
  • Platforms 
  • Media  
  • Data 
  • Technology 

Unlike traditional marketing, there are new technological tools to measure and analyze   performances. In conjunction with creative production aspects, these analytical resources allow marketers to better optimize marketing strategies. 

Types of Digital Marketing 

Within 5Ds, there are different types of digital marketing.

Owned Media

A company’s internal media sources. A few classic examples are a  company’s website or social media pages.   

Paid Media

A company’s market their product or service through external promotion. 

Earned Media

This media is also external, however, a company can not necessarily leverage it as it depends on customer feedback and interactions with the company and its digital content. 

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) 

Some of the most common paid media comes in forms of advertising campaigns. The terminology means that the company only pays per customer interaction in the forms of click. 

Email Marketing

Another way to communicate with customers and prospects is through their inbox. Part of content creation overlaps here in conjunction with exclusive deals, promotional material, sales, etc. As of recently, newsletters have caught on to be a very effective tool

Search Engine Optimization

Focuses on a brand’s relationship with search engine results page (SERP). Optimizing this section means the business appears more immediately and frequently, where suitable, on the SERP. 

Social Media Marketing

As mentioned earlier, all forms of owned, paid, and earned media can exist on social media. People live in an age where social media dominates the attention spans of prospects. Some platforms even integrate tools to promote advertising, such as Facebook and Instagram. There’s even the use of influencers now. 

digital marketing

Inbound versus Outbound Marketing versus Digital Marketing 

On the note of how the marketing landscape is changing, it’s important to know the difference between inbound, outbound, and digital marketing

Outbound Marketing 

Traditionally, marketing fundamentally focused on companies finding customers through mediums such as TV advertising and junk mail. The ads were put out in hopes that customers would come across it and be hooked in. However, there is a good reason why this method is outdated; it’s just not as effective and more costly. 

Inbound Marketing 

Today, the narrative has changed to customers finding the companies instead, through methods such as search engines, tailored ads, and social media. While this method can still be costly, it’s more efficient and accurate.

Digital Marketing 

Digital marketing can be both inbound or outbound. Its distinction comes from how the marketing is performed in the online space. A company’s digital profiles, as mentioned in the inbound marketing section, are examples of where the two can overlap. 

best college majors

Digital Marketing Major 

When choosing a marketing related major, colleges will offer slightly different versions of the same curriculum. However, there is a broad but important distinction between marketing, also known as the more “traditional” version, and digital marketing.  

Marketing Major 

The marketing major is based on the foundation of the market when the Internet was not the powerhouse it is today. Majoring in general marketing allows you to study marketing theories and strategies, i.e. how to present and promote a product of service to its intended audience.. Students learn consumer psychology, sales research, and advertisement. However, it doesn’t necessarily encompass the digital techniques used now. 

Digital Marketing Major 

On the other hand, digital marketing majors tailor to the online space – such as tools that enable a focus on customer interaction and engagement – while including traditional marketing curriculum.

The distinction is subtle but it vastly contributes to what one will be studying and will carry as a future employee. Not all marketing is digital marketing but all digital marketing is marketing. 

There are other majors related to digital marketing that are worth considering to either major, double-majoring, or to minor in.  

  • Public Relations 
  • Media studies 
  • Data science/analytics 
  • Advertisement
  • Communications  

Benefits of Working in Digital Marketing   

Demand for Digital Skills 

Companies are still in the search for employees to fill a digital talent gap. Capgemini reports, “More employers (59%) say that their organization lacks employees who possess soft digital skills than hard digital skills (51%).” They specify these digital hard skills, such as data analytics, and soft skills, such as adapting with the times. 


Given the fact that digital marketing is such a huge field, there’s different ways to pivot within. The skills needed for one position will overlap with different types of job opportunities.

Evolving Field  

As trends come and go, and technology keeps advancing, the digital space remains active, allowing any related-position to be just as evolving. The field requires people to be adaptive, dynamic, critically think, and problem solve. As a result, there are always opportunities to learn new skills and content.


Likewise to how digital skills are in demand, so are digital marketing jobs are in demand; the wages show. Burning Glass reports say employees with digital marketing skills on average earn $7,000 more, in comparison to other marketing roles.  

digital marketing major

Related Careers 

There is a wide range of potential jobs and careers that came out of the digital transformation of the markets. Here is just a few: 

  • SEO Expert – Entails optimizing search engines; makes sure company-related content and business information shows up on SERP; gains appropriate traffic. 
  • Content Specialist – Makes timely relevant and valuable content to be spread across all platforms; can develop with brand awareness and help with SEO practices; follows and researches trends. The type of content itself can be narrowed down to writing, blogging, filming, etc.  
  • Social Media Manager – Directly runs social media presence, such as on Instagram or Facebook; work with influencers; plan and implement media campaigns. Depending on the specific company, the duties can vary as this position can overlap with creating content.  
  • Marketing Automation Coordinator – Manages automated technology that executes marketing campaigns. 

Best College Majors

The value of degree types is ultimately in the eye of the beholder, which in this context would be you and any future employers. Nowadays, most employers do require a degree as a standard of entry, especially if the position ranks higher within the workplace 

Degree Type Completion 

  • Associate’s degree – Approximately two years to complete 
  • Bachelor’s degree – Approximately four years to complete 
  • Master’s degree – Approximately two years to complete 
  • Doctorate’s degree – Varies from four to six years to complete 

Some argue that the process of getting a degree could be very time-consuming. Marketing is a field that is constantly changing. 

After all, being able to proactively adapt is an important asset to maintain. Fortunately, there are education alternatives to a digital marketing degree.  

Digital Marketing Certificates 

Universities offer structured academic curriculum to learn digital marketing certificates. To those already in the labor force, it’s also an alternative to relearning or brushing up on some skills. The time and costs needed to earn one varies but, typically, it is less of the needs to earn a degree. 

The bonus perk: most can be completed solely online and at your own pace! At the end of it all, you can earn an official certification that verifies the completion. As part of their Top 28 Digital Marketing Certificate Programs to Enroll List, The Search Engine Journal cites the following five schools at the top for marketing programs

Duke University

Reviews search engine and website conversion rate optimization, content marketing, social media, mobile marketing, ppc, web analytics, email marketing. Duke also offers on demand webinars and mentoring sessions. The curriculum is completely online and self-paced within a year’s duration. Students are required to be a digital marketing certified associate before enrolling, because the curriculum is advanced.  

University of Vermont

Ranks nationally as one of the best online marketing degrees. The curriculum includes display advertising, analytics, careers, and even a capstone project. The content is taught by professional practitioners who worked with Fortune 1000 companies in the marketing sector. Its intended audience are both new and trained marketers. 

DePaul University

Teaches both communications and digital marketing strategies. The certificate can be earned either online or in-person. Its intended audience is for marketers who are shifting to the digital realm. Students are required to finish their associated courses and seminars.

University of California, Irvine

Provides overview on customer engagement, social media, search engine marketing, and mobile and email marketing. Students are required to finish a set of regular and elective courses to earn the certificate.   

Oregon State University

Focuses on SEO, search engine marketing, digital content, and Google AdWords. The curriculum is taught by top marketing professionals within the industry. 

should i major in digital marketing

Online Courses

While both certificates and online courses can overlap, this option allows for users to narrow down a certain niche that they want to hone in on. They can even make those decisions on an individual course-to-course basis. It depends on where your starting point is and what you’re hoping to get out of it.  

In HubSpot’s recommended 38 free online marketing classes, there’s a range of instructors, from education institutes to technology companies to marketing specialists. 


For current college students pursuing a career in digital marketing, SEO Chicago Design is here to provide some support. As a full service digital marketing agency, we are awarding two $500 scholarships for 2021. For more application details and information, please visit our website.  

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