Greg Jarboe signing his book at SES San Francisco 2010.

Digital Marketing Fundamentals: OMCP’s Official Guide to OMCA Certification

Matt Bailey, Michael Stebbins, and I are the co-authors of a new book entitled, Digital Marketing Fundamentals: OMCP’s Official Guide to OMCA Certification. Brad Geddes, Kim Krause Berg, and Cindy Krum each contributed a chapter. Wiley is publishing the first edition of the paperback on March 1, 2023.

Digital Marketing Fundamentals is available on Wiley’s website, Amazon, as well as Barnes & Noble because the first official OMCA certification guide is written for experienced digital marketers looking for a new certification to boost their career, as well as novice practitioners trying to expand their skillset.

But I’m excited that it’s also available on Chegg because our target audiences include the faculty and instructors who teach courses at 900 universities around the world that attract over 70,000 students each year, which are built upon the OMCP Digital Marketing Certification standards.

Now, this isn’t a shameless plug for the book. No one needs that.

But you may be interested in an instructor’s guide to teaching college students what they need to learn about eight basic digital marketing disciplines in an industry which changes so rapidly that OMCA Certifications last only two years – and they are only renewed for the second year if someone:

  • Submits proof of participating in recognized events, training programs, and communities to earn 100 Professional Development Units (PDUs).
  • Passes the OMCA exam again, which costs US$225.

In other words, Digital Marketing Fundamentals should come with a “best if used by” date stamped somewhere on the cover. Why? Because a significant percentage of the content is as perishable as meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, and all cooked leftovers.

Now, this isn’t some lame attempt to sell you the second edition before the first edition has even been published. I’ve been teaching online courses in this field since 2007. And what I teach today is significantly different than what I taught back then.

And the first edition of my book, YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day, was published by Wiley on Aug. 1, 2009. The second edition was published on Nov. 1, 2011. And in the 27 months between the two editions, I had to thoroughly update 75% of the content of this step-by-step guide.

If you do the math, then this means about a third of the content was out-of-date within 12 months, half was out-of-date within 18 months, and two-thirds was out of date within 24 months.

This means that faculty and instructors who add Digital Marketing Fundamentals to their syllabus for the Spring Semester of 2024, Fall Semester of 2024, and Spring Semester of 2025 will need to be able to tell their students which parts of this 448-page textbook are now out of date.

How do you do that? Well, you may need to attend a conference, speak at a conference, write an article, complete a platform/tool course, complete accredited training, and/or pass an exam in the next year or two to teach a course or write an exam question about the ever-evolving digital marketing standards.

So, let me provide some guidance and share some tips for tackling that challenge successfully.

Digital Marketing Strategy

By the end of Chapter 1, your students will be able to:

  • Repeat some of the lessons that other fast-moving consumer goods and consumer packaged goods brands have learned from the struggles of Kraft Heinz.
  • Describe what other retail brands in the U.K. have observed just by watching the annual Christmas adverts created by John Lewis & Partners and Adam & Eve/DDB.
  • Use the modern marketing model (M3) as a framework to develop an effective digital marketing strategy for their organization.

They will also have a concept-level understanding of why creating an effective digital marketing strategy is a challenge. There are three key reasons:

  • There is no “one-size-fits-all” way to build an audience.
  • Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory.
  • Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.

Now, the first half of this chapter uses two case studies to get your students to do some critical thinking about why some digital marketing strategies work, but other don’t. You may also want to use the case method, which was first introduced at the Harvard Business School back in 1921. Unlike textbooks, cases teach you how to think instead of what to think.

But you may want to replace the two case studies that I’ve shared in Chapter 1 with ones that let you demonstrate what Google’s latest update to it quality rater guidelines calls “Double-E-A-T” or E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.)

Heck, I do this myself when I teach social media marketing courses at the New Media Academy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Instead of using an American case study from 2019 and a British case study from 2021, I use recent case studies from the Emirates.

Why? Because the objective of the case method is not to reach consensus, but to understand how different people use the same information to arrive at diverse conclusions.

Now, the ongoing development of OMCP standards and practices has been a cooperative effort by the industry’s leading marketers, authors, employers, and educators. But there are no generally accepted standards and practices for developing a digital marketing strategy.

So, if you want to teach your students how to develop one, then I recommend using M3, which I outline in the second half of Chapter 1. Ashley Friedlein, the founder of Econsultancy, unveiled this framework in October 2017. It fuses digital and classic marketing into one future-facing framework.

But tackling the challenge of creating a digital marketing strategy isn’t paint-by-numbers. It is a real art. And your learning objective isn’t to get your students to recall the 10 elements of the M3 flywheel.

Heck, I was a member of a team of subject matter experts who taught a bespoke (customized) digital marketing training program for marketers at a Fortune 500 company in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industries. And I can say without violating my non-disclosure agreement that we used five elements in our flywheel.

So, your learning objective is to ensure that your students will be able to demonstrate critical thinking when things change. Why? Because things are constantly changing.

Content Marketing

By the end of Chapter 5, your students will be able to answer 24 questions, including:

  • What is content marketing?
  • Why should you increase the time spent talking with your customers?
  • Why should you revisit your customer/buyer personas?
  • Why should you reexamine the customer journey?
  • When should you change your targeting/messaging strategy?
  • Whenshould you change your content distribution/promotion strategy?
  • When should you adjust your editorial calendar?
  • When should you put more resources into social media?
  • When should you change your website?
  • When should you change your products/services?
  • When should you adjust your key performance indicators (KPIs)?
  • When should you change your content marketing metrics?

I know, that’s a lot of questions. But in response to the pandemic, content marketers needed to find answers to all of them. And post-pandemic, many companies woke up to power of content marketing.

As one content marketer said, “Without in-person events and face-to-face selling, many who had previously paid little attention to content marketing suddenly became aware of its power. More content marketers got a seat at the table and helped keep many businesses on their audiences’ radar. Some discovered new audiences altogether.”

Or, as Bob Dylan once sang, “The Times They Are a Changin’.”

A decade ago, it was okay to teach a content marketing course that explained how to use a dozen different tactics and illustrated how content differed on half a dozen different social media platforms. But that won’t cut it today.

Being able to describe a case study, white paper, and research report, or compare the content on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube isn’t going to help your students:

  • Stand out to employers and clients looking for verified digital marketing skills, education, and experience.
  • Earn between 16-26% more than non-certified digital marketers.
  • Operate more effectively as a marketing professional, sharing a common language and generally accepted practices across multiple disciplines.

Heck, I taught an online class about Content Creation last month at the New Media Academy in the UAE. And I kicked off the session by showing my students the response that I got that morning when I created a free account on ChatGPT, the chatbot developed by OpenAI, and asked it to “Explain content creation in simple terms.”

And I told my students they had to come up with a better answer than the chatbot if they wanted to verify that they had the skills, education, and experience necessary to drive digital marketing initiatives.

So, what do you need to teach your students about content marketing that an employer or client can’t use ChatGPT to accomplish?

Well, ChatGPT’s knowledge is still limited to 2021 data, which means it can’t answer current questions.

So, you could go to AnswerThePublic, enter “content marketing” in the box, and discover the 75 questions that people are currently asking about this topic. Even if you remove the duplicates, there are still 58 questions, but some are more highly searched than others. So, your content marketing course could tackle as many of them as time allows.

Or examine the image below and note that many (but not all) of these 58 questions fall into the six categories that are considered basic in information-gathering:

  • Who.
  • What.
  • When.
  • Where.
  • Why.
  • How.

I’ve often used this outline to structure the content marketing modules that I’ve taught at the Rutgers Business School Executive Education’s Mini-MBA program in Digital Marketing.

A second option is to organize your content marketing course around Google’s August 2022 helpful content update. This took place after Matt had sent his chapter on Search Engine Optimization and I had my chapter on Content Marketing to Wiley’s editors, but before the book will be published.

And you might find Google’s “helpful content update,” which is part of a broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results, enables you to teach your students important lessons about creating people-first content that ChatGPT can’t accomplish.

For example, Google says, “Answering yes to the questions below means you’re probably on the right track with a people-first approach:

  • “Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
  • “Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?
  • “Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
  • “After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
  • “Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
  • “Are you keeping in mind (Google’s) guidance for core updates and for product reviews?”

I don’t know about you, but I could teach a three-and-a-half-hour class on Content Marketing that tackled each of these six questions.

A third option is to download the Content Marketing Institute’s recently released 2022 Video & Visual Storytelling Survey sponsored by Vidyard. Why? Because video has become a critical piece of many successful content marketing strategies, but only 12% of content marketers say their organization uses existing videos to their full potential.

So, what can you teach your students to get better results with video? Well, suss out the factors that generate excellent results. They include:

  • “Engaging content, storytelling, finding topics that the audience is looking to watch videos about; length one to three minutes.”
  • “We’ve made good videos; our competitors don’t have a similar quality, and our audience doesn’t have the time for longer content.”
  • “Storytelling … real, authentic stories told from the people the stories are about.”
  • “Understanding the audience and what they want/need. If something doesn’t work, we discontinue it. We also serve the content up at times our audience is active on the various channels.”
  • “Don’t deliver content that leaves your customers thinking, ‘I could’ve done that myself,’ or worse, ‘I could’ve done that better.’ To earn the attention of today’s media-savvy buyer, you need to wow them with quality over quantity.”

Once again, I could teach a Content Marketing class that tackled each of these five questions in three-and-a-half-hours. Your mileage may vary.

But at the end of the day, our learning objectives are the same: Teach our students how to demonstrate critical thinking about content marketing that a chatbot can’t help them bluff their way to answer.

Social Media Marketing

One of the hardest chapters to write in Digital Marketing Fundamentals was the one on Social Media Marketing. We knew that ahead of time, so we scheduled it as the last one to be delivered to Wiley, even though it appears around halfway through the book as Chapter 6.

In fact, it was so hard to write that Matt and I decided to talk about social media marketing and turn our conversation into a podcast. Then, we’ve edited down the important bits to meet the OMCA requirements, but we thought that presenting our content in a conversational format would help our students get through a jam-packed chapter on a subject that changes frequently.

If you want to tune in and listen to our discussion of Chapter 6 on the Endless Coffee Cup podcast, then go to:

If you listen to the podcasts, then you will hear how we danced around the topic of the “Top Social Media Channels Today,” especially at a time when Twitter had agreed to a $44 billion buyout by Elon Musk, but Musk had terminated the deal. (As you know, since Musk’s takeover of Twitter on Oct. 27, 2022, things at the social media company based in San Francisco have gone from bad to worse.)

Because we had to ship our chapter to the publisher before July 1, 2022, we had to come up with a list of the top social media channels to talk about. So, I asked Similarweb, a digital intelligence platform, for their latest data, which was for May 2022.

But that was then. What about now?

Well, Similarweb has just provided me with data for December 2022. Spoiler alert: It shows that monthly visits from desktop and mobile devices worldwide was:

  • 34,581,050,642 for
  • 18,137,068,150 for
  • 6,934,632,099 for
  • 6,336,587,889 for
  • 1,855,007,525 for
  • 1,801,826,981 for
  • 1,491,548,832 for
  • 1,040,647,491 for

Now, you may not be surprised by some of these results, but I was. Based on the data in Chapter 6, I already knew that YouTube was ahead of Facebook, but I was astonished to see that the online video platform owned by Alphabet got 91% more visits last month than the social networking service owned by Meta Platforms. And you could have knocked me over with a feather when I discovered that Twitter got 9.4% more visits in December 2022 than Instagram. And I was flabbergasted to see that TikTok got only 3.0% more visits worldwide than Reddit.

And if I were you, then I’d get my hands on even more recent data for my country before teaching social media marketing courses in the next year or two. You wouldn’t include MySpace or Google Plus in your course now, and who knows which other platforms will join them in the social media graveyard during late 2023, 2024, or early 2025.

Digital Marketing Glossary

Last buy not least, let me encourage you to use the Digital Marketing Glossary when you are preparing to teach college students what they need to learn about eight basic digital marketing disciplines. Yes, you know these terms. But knowledge of these common terms is imperative for your students to create a successful digital marketing presence and ongoing strategy.

The terms are listed within their marketing discipline and then alphabetically within those sections. I recommend that you select the ones that will give your students a concept-level understanding of the components and practices across eight basic online marketing disciplines.

Who knows, they may need to answer approximately 70 multiple-choice questions about these terms on the OMCA exam to demonstrate their concept-level understanding of the components and practices of content marketing.

Get it? Got it? Good.

In summary, the faculty and instructors who teach courses at 900 universities around the world that attract over 70,000 students each year will find Digital Marketing Fundamentals to be a helpful guide.

But you need to go beyond teaching what’s in the book. Why? Because some of the competencies and skills required to qualify for employment in a supervised associate position in digital marketing have changed significantly over the past few months, although many of the concepts have remained remarkably the same.

And only you can help your students to successfully navigate through the uncharted areas where medieval mapmakers once put illustrations of mythological creatures along with the phrase: “Hic Sunt Dracones” (Here be dragons).

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