Powerful Resources for Digital Marketing Teachers

An overview of the Stukent Digital Summit

Fort Meyers, Florida.


Lisbon, Portugal.

At the start of the inaugural Stukent Digital Summit, participants were asked to post their locations.

Buffalo. Boise. Canada. Zurich. Connecticut. Texas.

Individuals in these places and more were brought together thanks to the virtual nature of the conference—each connecting to hear from leaders in education and industry speak on what is current in digital marketing.

Attendees, most of whom being instructors in higher education, were provided insights on a range of topics—from building business partnerships into student projects, to analytics, to qualities of effective marketers, and more. Sessions drew on experience from the likes of Scott Cowley of Western Michigan University, Buffer strategic partnerships manager Brian Peters, and BlitzMetrics co-founders Dennis Yu and Logan Young.

“Hands down the best virtual conference I’ve ever attended,” Kevin S. Trowbridge, an assistant professor of public relations at Belmont University, tweeted after the summit. “A full day of exceptional speakers and rich information. So many ideas for teaching! What a way to jump start the fall semester.”

In all, the conference provided over 9 hours of instruction in an event stacked with respected presenters. Those who attended were not only served insights but given opportunities to submit questions for speakers to field.


The first to present was Stuart Draper, founder and CEO of Stukent, who talked about effective email marketing, including the need for an email address list and ways companies build these lists. Draper suggested having a helpful reason to reach out to people via email and communicating in personalized and conversational ways, noting the importance to “ask questions and start conversations.”

Text communication was looped into the presentation with email, and Draper expressed that when communicating to recipients of text or email messages to not talk “at them or like you are talking to a crowd. You want to talk to them individually.” He also gave attention to the importance of a quality email subject line and having goals associated with your emails.


Jeff Larson, an associate professor of marketing at Brigham Young University, presented a session entitled “Practical Skills Integration in the Classroom.” He spoke of marketing skills residing on a spectrum, beginning with the skill of “understanding,” moving to the skill of “implementation,” and then “tool facility.”

After acknowledging the importance of students having a theoretical understanding of marketing, Larson explained, “In order to give our students the skills that employers want from the very start we want to do some skill building inside the classroom.” He then proceeded to present five assignment options that instructors could implement to help students build practical skills.


Next up was Scott Cowley, an assistant professor of marketing with a research focus in social, interactive, and digital marketing strategy. His presentation, “Infusing Realism into Digital and Social Media Courses” drew on projects he uses as an instructor. He provided a guide for gauging the value of what instructors provide their students, framed in the acronym “REAL”: relevance, entrepreneurship, audience, and leverage.

“We are in a golden age right now as far as resources for teachers,” Cowley taught, but warned against the temptation to settle on tools that are not helpful for student learning.

Alex Abney, an attendee and assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, was on board with what Cowley shared. “Loved hearing all the awesome digital/social marketing ideas for my classes from @scottcowley today,” she tweeted.


Associate professor Brennan Davis of California Polytechnic State University added to the conference by providing solid perspective on teaching marketing analytics. He talked of marketing analytics compared to marketing research, “Learn by Doing” activities for the classroom, and visualization in storytelling, among other topics.

Marketing analytics is “more about data analytics for marketing than it is about marketing research, and it’s more about the marketplace than it is about academic experience,” he said.


Following Davis, the final speaker representing academia took the floor. Atefeh Yazdanparast, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Evansville, shared how she has found success in bringing students in connection with businesses to provide practical, hands-on marketing instruction.

“By doing these projects, I have identified that it’s actually a ‘win, win, win’ strategy. It’s a win for me … It’s a win for students as it’s going to help them with their job search, and they will gain more confidence in their digital marketing planning skills,” she said. “Also it’s also a win for businesses as our clients and also the local community.”


After the instructors presented, industry got its turn, starting with Heather Dopson, community builder at GoDaddy.

Dopson poured water on the idea of someone being a so-called “social media expert” and called social media “one sliver of a piece of a marketing pie.” She explained that “we really need to be talking about marketing and business as a whole as opposed to just focusing on a social media platform.”

Her presentation included content around the concept that “marketing is customer experience” and addressed “full stack” characteristics that a marketers should have.


Vice president of strategic growth and development at SEMrush and a founding member of SEMrush North America, Maryna Hradovich, then gave perspective on website optimization, SEO, and artificial intelligence (AI).

She shared that “82.89 percent of sites have issues that negatively affect page load speed,” and told her audience that 70 percent of mobile websites take over seven seconds to load, but that 53 percent of visitors leave after just three seconds. Hradovich gave ideas on how to deal with website speed and also spoke of the future, explaining that “Mobile-first SEO is where we are today. AI-first is where we are going.”


Brian Peters, who in addition to his post at Buffer co-hosts “The Science of Social Media” podcast, was next, emphasizing that “a lot of brands treat [ social media ] as a broadcasting platform rather than a platform to engage.” His presentation, he said, was “in the context of creating content and engaging with your audience in a meaningful way and not just broadcasting out your message.”

Peters also drew attention to a concluding thought that “the power of social media isn’t in the individual platforms. The magic’s in the content and right now video is magical.”


Travis Chambers, creator of the “Ad of the Century”—the Kobe vs Messi Turkish Airlines social video ad which has generated over 140 million views—brought insights about the current condition of social media, emphasizing that what used to work for creating viral videos does not work now.

He explained that “everything has gone paid,” and that “if you want to make money on social, then plan on paying for it.” Chambers talked of how to consider ROI and expressed that when dealing with “direct response social video ads you need to be looking at it with a long-term play and with funnel.”


The final conference presenters were Dennis Yu and Logan Young. The session dealt with topics such as building a personal brand for $1 per day, networking, and expressing thanks.

A central message they shared was the power of one-minute videos. “Whether you are advertising on social media trying to sell a product, whether you are trying to promote your personal brand, whatever your objective is, really, one-minute videos are the key,” Young said.

Later in the presentation, Yu explained, “When you build these [one-minute] videos you start to tell a story, just like building relationships with frequent light-weight touches.”


From the start of the conference to the end of the last session, there had been a lot of information shared, a lot of insight provided, and a lot for instructors to incorporate.

In all, a fitting overview of the event could be drawn from an email by Lancie Affonso, an instructor at the College of Charleston:

“This is a terrific marketing knowledge overload. Thanks for organizing such a great lineup of speakers who are willing to share their experiences and expertise—It’s like drinking from a marketing fire hose, and I can’t wait to implement some of their suggestions in my class.”


If you, too, would like to benefit from the insights and instruction of the 2018 Stukent Digital Summit presentations, request access to session recordings below.


Stukent’s mission is to help educators help students help the world. With the range of locations represented by conference attendees, it looks like the company is off to a good start in accomplishing that mission. Stay tuned for next year’s conference to see how the world of digital and social media marketing is even bigger—and more closely connected.

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