Pioneering accredited online education for Marketers and Leaders since 2001.
MMC Launched the First CIM Digital Marketing Qualification and the World’s First MSc in Digital Marketing
MMC Launched the First CIM Digital Marketing Qualification and the World’s First MSc in Digital Marketing
As the first CIM study centre in the world to offer a digital marketing qualification, MMC Learning was at the forefront of the switch to digital and embracing new technologies.
Humble beginnings- Marketing before the millennium
Imran Farooq sniffed, ‘well, goodbye old friend’, he thought, finally pulling the plug.
Weeeeeee booooopppp er chhhh er chhhhhhh, the fax machine replied, before falling silent. Alas, this would be its final hurrah.
‘Nothing personal, yeah? Email just does it better’.
Still, Imran mused as he lugged it to the tip, he would rather miss the days of the machine in the corner of the office suddenly springing to life and depositing copious amounts of paper containing unsolicited marketing.
Those were the days, when all you needed was a business directory of fax numbers, and hey presto, your marketing could be sent to clients on a mass-scale.
Ah the glory days when marketing was through newspapers and radio, and those posters on the walls of Tube Escalators.
Well, sort of. Relying on untrackable brochures and flyers wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, all that money for so little reward, half the time they probably ended up in the bin anyway.
And as useful as chain emails were at the time as a marketer, he had to admit it was nice to be- mostly- rid of junk mail these days.
It’s easy to forget that before the millennium, marketing consisted, for the most part, of traditional, analogue methods of communication such as newsletters, magazines and billboards.
There was no easier way to get your company message in front of an audience than getting an ad in that prime dinner time tv slot.
Sure, they didn’t have google analytics effortlessly measuring how many people had responded to leaflets, but most companies had it easy. After all, you didn’t have to pander to your potential customers when you had them cornered. A browse of the tv schedule to see what programme your customer demographic might be likely to watch, pay for an ad and bobs your uncle.
The world of marketing was at peace.
But in the mid-90s, something came along to shatter the tranquil world of marketers forever.
A whole new world
Our story starts in a newly globalised world where vast numbers of people became connected at the click of a button.
Many marketers were initially skeptical of the usefulness of this new tool to their trade. After all, the marketing environment had trucked along nicely for 100’s of years without this ‘internet marketing’ and they knew what they were doing, thank you very much.
However, as the internet became more accessible; the power of the web became clear.
The internet offered marketers the ability to reach a global audience on a mass scale in a way that would have been impossible just a decade before. Companies began to create websites and build an online presence.
However, the more companies embraced this technology, the more consumers started to gain control. Early internet browsers like Nexus, Lynx and Mosaic, made it easy for internet users to find and scroll millions of websites.
For the first time, consumers were spoilt for choice, over-run with competing marketing messages and becoming increasingly hard to reach using traditional methods.
In 1998, Google launched and around the same time, online chat forums, the pre-cursors of social media, were growing in popularity. Consumers relationship with marketing began to change as they looked to non-traditional media to share and search for information about products and services, rather than having marketing unavoidably pushed upon them.
Left with little choice, marketers had to adapt quickly to stay ahead of their competition.
One of these early champions of internet marketing was Imran Farooq.
E-Learning for E-marketing?
A successful marketer by trade, Imran saw the potential of so called ‘internet marketing’ for the future of business and unlike others, wasn’t afraid to embrace it. E-marketing, as it had come to be known, had presented marketers with many challenges but also great new opportunities.
That was when Imran had a brainwave.
It seemed to him that the issue was technology growth was exponential while organisations struggled to keep up. Technology was being adopted by consumers quicker than marketers could figure out how to incorporate it.
But like with any new piece of kit, they first had to learn how to use it!
Marketers had these incredible new tools and networks available to them but how could they take advantage, if they hadn’t yet been taught how to operate them?!
It was hardly surprising that marketers- working professionals with busy lives- were struggling to get to grips with this new technology, let alone miraculously figure out how to incorporate it into their business’s marketing plan!
What they needed, thought Imran, was specialist training, a flexible distance learning course which would educate them in these new technologies and develop their skillset as marketers for the modern day whilst maintaining their work commitments.
It seemed a no brainer but to Imran’s amazement, he had spotted a gap in the market!
In 1996, Imran founded MMC Learning in conjunction with Manchester metropolitan University with the aim of educating marketers in the latest innovations in the field.
Around the same time, the internet also began to open the door to new ways of educating. Online learning, utilising the internet to deliver distance courses, was beginning to take off. Early software such as PlaceWare and WebEx allowed study centres to experiment with web conferencing and webinars.
However, creating a brand new qualification which would give marketers the skillset they needed to thrive, all from the comfort of their own home, was easier said than done.
Despite huge advancements, the internet was far from being advanced enough to deliver an entire, professional qualification with! Those who remember the achingly slow speeds of dial up connection using a landline and modem before the days of broadband, settling in for the wait for a website to load with a magazine kept specially next to the computer, will testify the internet was far from reliable!
If that didn’t make Imran’s job hard enough, he was shooting blind. How did one go about creating a qualification in an area which hadn’t yet fully formed?! What was ‘e-marketing’ exactly? What specific skills did marketers need to know? There were no blueprints after all!
To understand the scale of the task, let’s take a look at how ‘e-marketing’ was evolving and the skills Imran would need to impart to learners.
Evolution of marketing/ birth of digital marketing
By the early 2000’s the internet had improved dramatically. With the rollout of broadband, what was once slow and clunky began to transform into what we know today.
As the millennium dawned, marketing became more web-centric. Traditionally businesses used various marketing efforts; the internet was just one of various mediums that marketing messages were shared though, including traditional tv and newspaper advertising. But as ‘e-marketing’ gained dominance, marketers realised the opportunities for growth and started exploring online channels.
Search marketing and Search Engine Optimisation
As the internet grew and searches yielded more results, a new problem emerged for marketers, how to get their business to that all important first place? After all, who goes beyond the first page on google?
Getting the coveted top spot could be achieved through paid advertising- shelling out to have your product or service placed higher in the listings as an advertisement.
Or you could try to generate traffic to your website organically by making it a space people were compelled to visit and return to, in what became known as Search Engine optimisation.
To do this, companies would need to furnish their websites with content worth reading!
The first ever blog was created by college student Justin Hall in 1994, and consisted of a plain background with some text and hyperlinks, a far cry from blogs today!
Blogging began to gain traction as a marketing tool in the early 2000s.
As marketers realised the potential of blogging, the idea of ‘content marketing’ (a term first coined by John F. Oppedahl in 1996)- producing content around an industry to engage customers, took off.
Marcus Sheridan, author of ‘They ask, you answer’, was an early pioneer of this. He used his website to answer consumers’ questions, and increased his customer base by establishing his company as a reliable information source and rapidly increasing traffic to his website.
However, for the most part, blogging in the early 2000s wasn’t as customer centric as it is today. In a time where there was less content, audiences were often intregued by this exciting medium, but the articles being produced were somewhat chaotic!
Marketers were posting random content, seemingly unrelated to what consumers wanted, focussing instead on what they wanted to communicate to customers.
While there was less competition, allowing companies to somewhat get away with poorer quality content, marketers were clearly struggling to utilise blogs effectively.
Imran knew he could teach marketers how to get their blog noticed and create the most effective content for drawing in consumers.
The Rise of Ebooks
Additionally, ebooks became popular among marketers when Seth Godin published ‘Unleashing the Ideavirus’ in 2000.
With ebooks, marketers could generate sales by reaching a wider audience.
Email had presented a new marketing opportunity in the 90s, and became one of the earliest ways of spreading viral content.
The late 90’s saw email truly take off, with Hotmail gaining 30 million users from 1998 to 1999.
Companies began collecting email addresses of clients and potential customers to databases, known as “tribe-building”, marking the beginnings of strategic email marketing.
Chain emails (forwarded emails passed from account to account) could spread information to consumers quickly.
However this quickly lead to unwanted messaging cluttering up inboxes with what we know today as spam.
The early 2000’s saw the introduction of restrictions on chain email forwarding, which transformed the email inbox back into a serviceable marketing channel that consumers were in control of.
Imran would need to teach marketers how to utilise email to engage customers with updates sharing industry news and useful content.
The Beginnings of Social Media
The first recognisable social media platform six degrees launched in 1997, and the early 2000s saw the birth of other popular sites like Friendster and Myspace which quickly became valuable marketing tools.
In a trend that continues today, people were starting to absorb their information through social media. Rather than the ad pages of newspapers, consumers looked to non-traditional media sources for their products, newly aware of their purchase power.
Marketers realised the opportunities social media presented for engaging new audiences, especially the younger generation.
At the time there were no paid ads or targeted advertising on these sites but it was an opportunity to connect with potential customers for free.
Until now, marketers had to learn ‘socials’ through trial and error, Imran hoped by informing them on social media they could maximize its potential.
A Digital Marketing Journey
Despite the challenges, Imran was determined that delivering world-class teaching of the very latest developments in the newly named e-marketing would be at the heart of MMC Learning.
Businesses were desperate, falling sales and incomprehensible advancements had them wondering where their nice easy consumer base had got to!
Practitioners of e-marketing needed a course that would help them navigate this new era. By educating them in e-marketing strategy and providing them with in-depth knowledge of the latest trends, Imran hoped they could use these tools to gain a competitive advantage.
Despite the rapidly changing environment, Imran was confident he could provide marketers with the skillset necessary to thrive.
But he couldn’t do it alone.
A Hand To Hold
As the internet threw the marketing world into chaos, Imran’s efforts to embrace new technologies and educate marketers through MMC Learning were getting noticed.
In the early 2000’s, MMC Learning became an accredited study centre for the Chartered Institute of Marketing, the foremost awarding body of marketing qualifications in the UK.
The CIM strictly governs course content and delivery at all its accredited centres to ensure their materials provide students with the best teaching of the most up to date practices in marketing.
The CIM have always championed courses designed with awareness of real-world requirements. Working in collaboration with experts there and utilising the CIM’s research into the needs of employers, Imran could identify necessary skills and knowledge for marketers.
CIM qualifications traditionally combined the latest in theory with more practical based learning. Imran began to formulate a course teaching learners both online marketing strategy and how to put it into practice in their workplace.
Eventually after months of meetings, sleepless nights and negotiations with experts from CIM and leading voices in digital marketing, the world’s first CIM qualification in Digital Marketing, called the e-marketing award was born!
Today MMC Learning has been a CIM accredited study centre for over 20 years and offers multiple digital marketing qualifications, making them the longest serving e-learning provider of CIM digital marketing qualifications. The partnership has reaped many benefits for students including access to CIM resources. To date MMC’s programmes have educated thousands of marketers. Graduates have gone on to director level jobs or even set up their own businesses!
The World’s First MSc in Digital Marketing
As the 2000s wore on, it became clear the digital marketing training market was still lacking. As more employers looked for high-level graduate or postgraduate qualification, Imran realised the award wasn’t always suitable for already highly qualified marketers.
Some working professionals were looking for higher level academic study. What the newly named online marketers needed, thought Imran, was an official Master’s level qualification in the subject, which would give them the brains and the brawn when it came to online techniques.
As luck would have it, in 2007, MMC Learning had the opportunity to take over management of the world’s first MSc (masters) in Digital Marketing. Run by E-Consultancy, the course was the first ever master’s level qualification in digital marketing available, but needed an expert touch to breathe new life into it!
When MMC Learning stepped in to take over management, the course was a traditional face-to-face qualification with an outdated and uninspiring syllabus.
Due to the limits of technology, many providers had either stuck to face-to-face or relied on older methods to deliver distance courses. Imran was determined to raise the bar from sending out DvDs in the post! If there was one thing he knew it was how to design a qualification!
Utilising all their skills and expertise in online learning, the guys at MMC entirely redeveloped the MSc’s syllabus to meet current industry needs and reworked the modules for online delivery, using the latest in technological advancements to open the course to an international audience.
Collaboration With MMU
Course content and structure? Tick! Delivery…? Designing a syllabus was one thing, delivering this more academic course was another!
Imran would need support from academic tutors who had the skills and experience. A truly effective masters course would need to be delivered and accredited by a UK university.
He turned to his friends at Manchester Metropolitan University for help.
Since 2001 MMC Learning had been collaborating with MMU to pool their resources. With MMU’s connections to academic leaders in marketing and MMC Learning’s expertise in designing and delivering E-learning programmes, Imran hoped to provide students with the very best resources.
Partnering with MMU’s business school, renowned for its high quality postgraduate education, Imran could deliver a course that reflected the latest thinking and offered solid links to industry.
Support from MMU reaped many benefits for students. MMU’s online library gave students access to thousands of industry and academic journals, including Digital Marketing e-books and planning templates.
Delivered entirely online through live lessons from industry experts, the new MSc allowed learners to fit studying around their schedules and was designed to be applied to the workplace, giving them practical skills.
The course was a roaring success, enroling professionals from around the world. Imran had finally realised his dream to educate the digital marketers of the future!
Today, many universities offer traditional face-to-face Digital Marketing Masters programmes. However, MMC remains the longest running and leading study centre for professionals looking to pursue online courses in digital marketing.
Being the longest-running means MMC Learning has a highly experienced team with a proven track record in delivering courses to help marketers succeed.
The MSc in Digital marketing continues to attract Marketing Professionals from around the world. With a refreshed syllabus, the course has built on past successes, constantly evolving to focus on emerging industry changes. The MMC team have reworked the syllabus from the ground up to cover core concepts and practical skills in Digital Marketing.
MMC invests 10,000 hours every year improving their craft, allowing them to offer the very best materials, teaching and assessments.
2000s to Today- We’ve Come a Long Way!
It’s amazing to think how far digital marketing has come over the last few decades.
What began as a new-fangled invention, has made its mark on the history of marketing, changing the very job description of a marketer forever and is now helping businesses reach customers across the globe.
How will marketing change in years to come? It’s fun to imagine the campaigns of the future, would we even recognise them?
Digital marketing is constantly evolving! With platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and influencer partnerships, content marketing has evolved from simple blogs to more engaging forms of video content catering to people’s short attention spans.
We can measure the effectiveness of online platforms using technologies like Google Analytics and Hotjar, and interactive tools like assessments and calculators increase lead generation.
Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon offer targeted advertising and audience profiling on a massive scale, allowing for greater personalisation.
There’s no end to the weird and wonderful ways marketing could morph to keep up with consumer trends.
It’s impossible to say what the marketing landscape of the future might look like, but one thing for sure; where there’s a will there’s a way, and digital marketing is here to stay!
Beth is a content writer at MMC learning. She contributes content to the Management and Leadership blog. She has a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Lancaster University and an NCTJ Level 5 diploma in Multi-media Journalism. She is passionate about the creative industries, in particular film and TV and has undertaken several personal creative projects around her favourite science fiction films and series.