These days, an abundance of information about virtually any topic, industry or skill set that can be found on the internet. Digital marketing is but one of many topics with readily available information that is easy to access and understand for the layman.
Oftentimes individuals who are from vastly different disciplines can easily switch to the marketing industry since the advertising landscape has grown increasingly fragmented and social media has taken the center-stage from the mid-21st century.
Since every one has had ready access to social media platforms from the early 21st century and with the proliferation of mobile phones later on, the rapid pace of change in the media environment led to most people thinking that they would be able to perform marketing since traditional print, broadcast, radio and outdoors are not as relevant as they used to be.
As a result, anyone with little to no experience, background or formal training in marketing can easily claim to understand and be entrusted to perform marketing tasks.
It is one thing to be expected to learn on the job and another to be to be capable and perform up to standards on day one.
The marketing industry is over-saturated which it makes it increasingly harder to distinguish between a real marketer and a wannabe marketer especially if one is not trained in the discipline.
Solution to bridge the gap: Online training courses
Online training courses are growing in popularity as they promise quick results and are cheap and easy to operate.
From Coursera to a wide variety of brand new "digital marketing training" organisations where training was never their core area at all, there is a plethora of online marketing courses available for non-marketers a.k.a. complete beginners and intermediate-level professionals.
So how does one decide which course is better than the other?
Pros and Cons of online training courses
1) Monetary investment
Instead of investing large amounts of money for a full-time diploma or degree, the advantages of digital online courses is that it usually costs significantly lesser.
Online training courses are often seen as a supplementary learning platform for professionals and a fast-track to becoming an "expert" for beginners.
In a short span of weeks or a matter of days, attendees can learn about everything one would learn typically study over months or years in one or a few hyper-condensed sessions.
Just like working from a remote location from the office, an individual can take a course at their own time or convenience at their preferred location, on-the-go, at home or virtually anywhere as long as they have access to a device which connects to the internet.
1) Lack of human interaction
Most of the time, online learners do not get access to a trainer but video recordings of a presentation or readings from online resources.
The lack of interactivity is one of the reasons why physical or real-life courses may be better if you're looking to network, communicate and ask questions.
2) Lecturer quality
One of the disadvantages of online digital marketing courses is the quality of the trainer. While finding an online course that meets your needs and budget at the same time is challenging, the quality of the trainer is of utmost importance.
This will determine the quality of content produced, relevance and whether the subject expertise was covered well enough.
Not every person is suitable to be an educator. Just because one has the knowledge does not necessarily mean they would have the character, ability and practical skills to be an effective teacher.
There is a distinct difference between a genuine educator or lecturer and a part-time/ freelance one who sees the salaried hours as the sole reason to do the job.
Not all courses are created equal and there is a rise in the number of companies that are setup to provide courses and claim government funding hence be wary of courses that have instructors that have no relevant or proven experience and courses with vague description.
These scam companies provide a bad name to other established companies that provide genuine, decent courses.
3) Course qualifications
In terms of qualifications, one should look at the reputation of the company and certifying body to see if its accreditations are worthwhile.
For instance, Coursera works with various actual universities and industry leaders like Google employees to provide online training courses that have more credibility than other companies that do otherwise.
There are a plethora of government certified training courses which are not created equally. For instance a course accredited from a public school with curriculum approved by lecturers who are trained in the discipline and have industry experience would greatly differ from a public organisation whose decision-makers are more academic-based and theoretical in general education, public service and may not even be trained in the course subject.
Although there are some established online training course providers, naturally some are worse than others.
4) Eligibility requirements
Oftentimes, there are no minimum requirements or pre-requisites for most online digital marketing courses which does speak volumes about the level of marketing knowledge, experience or expertise of the types of people who are looking to take such courses.
5) Negative reviews of some online digital marketing courses
While some online training course providers allow reviews of their courses on their website, many don't and some select a few positive testimonials that may offer some insights into how beneficial or not a course may be.
A few attendees find some courses, theoretical and outdated.
Most 5 star reviews are brief with comments like "good" and do not provide any details as to why a course that costs thousands of dollars and takes months to complete is just "good".
With the proliferation of bots generating positives comments and fake reviews, this could be a growing area of concern when it comes to verifying real people over computer programmes.
From data analytics to formulation of a marketing plan, all digital marketing courses attempt to address the knowledge gap between wannabe marketers and hands-on, experienced individuals.
From two-day courses to stretched-out six-month part-time courses, companies with such offerings often promise large increments in salaries to certificates that would help increase a candidate's chance in being hired or promoted.
If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.