Five years ago, digital marketing was still in its infancy. It existed and companies were using it, but few actually understood it. Digital marketing consisted of nothing more than a weekly blog and the occasional social media update.

But the landscape has changed and now doing business online revolves entirely around your ability to function within the world of digital marketing. Content marketing, for example, generates three times more leads than traditional outbound marketing.

It's led to the rise of organizations like Digital Marketer, which are releasing curriculums designed at helping aspiring digital marketers to gain qualifications that employers recognize.

This is not something that can happen because one company says their certification means something. It's happening because companies understand what they can get out of such an arrangement.

Digital Marketing is In-Demand

Today, the most powerful form of marketing is digital marketing. This shouldn't be taken to mean that traditional marketing is dead. Traditional marketing can still play a big part in your success if you use it correctly. Companies are often struggling to grasp what digital marketing is and how to best take advantage of it.

CEOs want qualified digital marketers, preferably with real experience. Digital marketing certifications are one method of showing companies that a new hire is qualified to deliver results.

At Digital Marketer, since their now VP or Marketing and Digital Marketer Molly Pittman was brought on board as an intern, she has helped grow their female digital marketing audience by 60 percent in 3 years. She said:

"The exciting part about this industry is that it's changing every minute. If you're willing to pursue growth and learning and stay in the trenches, you'll be successful...no matter your degree or prior work experience." ~ Molly Pittman, VP of Marketing/Digital Marketer.

And here's the big trend that's causing this: In the past, companies could outsource their advertising and marketing to agencies, and even Yellow Page and newspaper/radio ad reps. Today, that just doesn't work.

With the emergence of social and content marketing and the continued emphasis on "transparency" and "authenticity" in marketing, businesses of all sizes are finding that they must bring these capabilities back in house. That's why digital marketing careers are so in-demand, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

Certifications Better Than College Degrees

Another sign that digital marketing is in-demand is that it's one of the few jobs where you can earn a six-figure salary without the need for an advanced degree. This is because this is a business largely based on results. If someone succeeds one year and fails the next, they are out the door.

According to Yahoo! Finance, "Digital Marketing" is one of the ten highest-paid jobs you can get without an advanced degree, with an earning potential of over $200,000.

It's a performance-based industry and whether you hold an advanced degree or not really doesn't matter.

Looking Elsewhere

Another revelation for companies is that they are unable to find the right talent when looking at the education system. There are marketing courses available at universities and colleges across the nation, but these courses rarely include anything on digital marketing. If they do include anything on digital marketing, it's rarely relevant and it's not a subject that's dwelt on for long.

There are signs that this is beginning to change because colleges are increasingly reaching out to CEOs and well-known marketers to help them craft courses for students, but right now the best course is a digital marketing certification.

These certifications are designed to focus on the issues of digital marketing and nothing else. The information is targeted and specific, which allows students to develop actionable skills. The same can't be said for a lot of college courses, where the information is outdated and students are forced to unlearn what they have learned when they actually get a job.

How Personal Branding Has Changed How Companies Operate

Believe it or not, digital marketing certifications have taken some time to take off because of what most companies have been doing. It was easy to simply outsource the problem. By finding people who already had proven track records, companies didn't have to worry about training anyone in-house.

This worked for a long time, and marketing agencies were able to make a killing. Now this is changing as a result of personal branding. The way brands are portrayed online and offline is having a huge impact on the success of those companies.

Increasingly, customers are looking for transparency and authenticity in marketing. How can you deliver that to someone when the person handling your marketing has never worked for your company and has likely never even set foot in its offices?
With a lot of marketing focusing on the 'behind the scenes' of companies, organizations are increasingly having to think about developing digital marketing expertise internally. All the signs are pointing towards the benefits of an in-house digital marketing team for personal branding purposes.

Making Certifications Work

Companies were extremely unsettled when they realized that certifications existed. There have been certifications for practically every aspect of doing business online. Most of them have failed simply because they weren't taught by experts and the information wasn't that relevant.

People are looking for real value when they take an online certification. Digital Marketer has gone out of its way to make sure that all their certifications are conducted by marketers with proven track records of success in the digital marketing industry. They are there to unveil the latest tips and tricks so your staff comes away with strategies they can put into immediate use.

Will your company be considering digital marketing certifications for your employees?

Published on: May 4, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.