Digital marketing has a dizzying array of terminology. Terms like search engine optimization, A/B split testing, website pixels, look-alike audiences, click-through rates, and costs per impression are just some of the things that drive results in the online space.
To help students stay current in this dynamic field, Pitt Business now offers a Digital Marketing Institute to complement its academic curriculum.
The institute helps students to become certified in Google Ads, Google Analytics, and search engine optimization. Sessions are taught by Zack Duncan, the president and principal digital consultant for Root and Branch, a Pittsburgh marketing agency focused on digital marketing and strategy.
“In the agency world, these basic certifications are a must, so I was excited to pursue them so early on in my career and establish a foundation to learn more about marketing analytics,” says Logan Yovetich (Sophomore – Marketing).
Yovetich was among nearly 40 Pitt Business students who completed the Digital Marketing Institute this past semester. Offered in both the fall and spring terms, the institute quickly reaches full capacity. All business majors can enroll.
The beginner’s course of the institute is Digital Marketing Fundamentals, which provides an understanding of the digital marketing philosophy, key vocabulary and terms, and digital platform knowledge in order to achieve industry certifications. The intermediate course is Digital Marketing Strategy and Implementation, which provides students with practical experience in applying digital platform knowledge to a local business. Along the way, the students received coaching from a mentor who specialized in digital marketing.
“For any students planning a career in marketing, I believe it’s critical to have a solid foundation on the digital side,” Duncan says. “This year, for the first time, digital advertising spend will outstrip traditional advertising spend, and the trend will only accelerate in the future.”
This spring term, the two local businesses that worked on projects with the Digital Marketing Institute were Lifespace Real Estate and the Fuel and Fuddle restaurant.
Emily Bernot (Senior – Marketing) was part of the student group for LifeSpace. Their marketing plan used Google Ads, Google Analytics, and the SEO software tool Moz.
“We found out what our client wanted to gain from this experience, what his budget was, and the area he wanted to focus the most on improving,” Bernot says. “Then, we were instructed to come up with a digital marketing plan based on what would benefit LifeSpace the most.”
Jesse Wig, the owner of Lifespace Real Estate, says the students’ recommendations addressed a void in the company’s marketing strategy.
“Although I was impressed by their overall knowledge on the subject, I was more impressed by their creative thinking,” Wig says. “They used creative thinking to give us marketing strategies that were outside of the box, and that is exactly what Lifespace is looking for.”
Chelsea Dempsey (Junior – Undeclared) also worked on the project with Lifespace. She says the hands-on experience let the information that she previously learned in digital marketing truly sink in.
“In the first semester, I was able to obtain certification in Google Ads and am working towards getting certification in Google Analytics based off that class. This semester we were able to create a marketing strategy and pitch it to a business. The experience is so useful and is so much fun,” Dempsey says.
The Digital Marketing Institute is offered in the fall and spring terms. Registration typically begins at the very beginning of a term. For more information, or to be added to a waiting list for the next session, please contact Becky Rhoades, the program manager at the Pitt Business Career Development Office, at firstname.lastname@example.org.