Today digital marketing is central to strategic marketing plans of businesses of all sizes and categories around the world. Experts say it’s little wonder, as digital marketing is increasingly outperforming more traditional channels—a trend that is expected to continue.
Bryant’s Digital Marketing program, launched Fall 2019 and recently ranked by College Factual as the No.1 digital marketing program in the country, offers students an invaluable entry point into this growing field. In the program, students combine digital marketing tactics—advertising, websites, video, social media, email and more—with strategy, consumer behavior, research and measurement. Under the mentoring guidance of Professor of Marketing Sharmin Attaran, Ph.D., a digital marketing expert and faculty lead for Bryant's digital marketing concentration, students learn a wide range of digital marketing skills and strategies and apply them in experiential learning projects, including projects where students act as consultants and create strategic digital marketing plans for actual clients.
“Our goal is to help students understand how marketing theories and concepts can be amplified using digital tools.”
One such consultancy project takes the form of an international Digital Marketing Competition, offered during the first half of the major’s capstone course, where student teams develop and pitch their digital strategy for a real-life client. Winners are flown in to present their plan to the client and win cash prizes.
Energizing campaigns—and results
Last spring, student teams in the capstone course developed a digital marketing campaign for Super Coffee, the fastest-growing food and beverage company in the U.S. The teams produced 8-minute video summaries of their campaigns, which were judged by industry experts on research, owned strategy, paid strategy and media evaluation. Over 145 teams participated in the competition, representing institutions stretching from North America to Asia. Four of Bryant’s teams placed in the top 25, and one team placed 9th overall.
“We seek to prepare leaders in digital marketing and have each student walk away with industry-recognized certifications and a portfolio consisting of client projects they have not only designed but also implemented.”
What was the secret to their success? Attaran runs the capstone like a marketing agency, working closely with the teams as they continuously iterate their ideas. But not least, she says, are her students’ passion for digital marketing and the program’s innovative focus on preparing for success in the real world.
“We seek to prepare leaders in digital marketing and have each student walk away with industry-recognized certifications and a portfolio consisting of client projects they have not only designed but also implemented,” explains Attaran. “Our goal is to help students understand how marketing theories and concepts can be amplified using digital tools.”
It all adds up to learning outcomes that are relevant to the field.
“Throughout the project, students learn various digital marketing tactics to help build brand awareness and drive conversions. Students then evaluate the client’s goals, research the competitive landscape and structure a digital marketing approach inclusive of paid and organic tactics,” says Attaran.
The industry-recognized certifications the students learn in the course include Hubspot certifications in email marketing, content marketing and social media marketing; certifications in Google Analytics and Adwords; and other related certifications such as SEMrush and Facebook Advertising Blueprint.
“The digital marketing competition helped me understand how a wide variety of pieces of a campaign can come together to create synergies in a holistic way.”
This semester, the students are competing again—this time creating digital strategies for Wondr Health, a digital weight loss program targeting millennials.
Already, alumni who participated in the 2021 spring capstone are in demand by employers, and note valuable takeaways from the experiential course.
“The digital marketing competition helped me understand how a wide variety of pieces of a campaign can come together to create synergies in a holistic way,” said Peter Elder ’21, who graduated with dual concentrations in Digital Marketing and Team and Project Management and is now a Strategic Marketing Analyst at Aetna/CVS Health.
“The competition provided me with real life experience working with a client …[it] was an awesome experience being able to prove my knowledge of digital marketing,” said Meredith McDonald ’21, Marketing Communications Specialist at Virgin Pulse, who studied digital marketing and communication at Bryant.
“I learned that persistence is key. Even after our team revised the strategy multiple times, we still had to keep editing and revising. Although it was hard work, it paid off,” said Sarah Nowick ’21, who graduated with dual concentrations in Digital Marketing and Psychology and is a Social Media Specialist at Wikimotive.