Award worthy digital marketing course: JEMSS

The JEMSS project created digital marketing course – or using its full name Digital and Social Media Marketing MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) – has been recognised at the prestigious Northern Digital Awards 2016 in the UK after being nominated in the ‘Best Digital Marketing Campaign in the Third Sector.’


There has been much hype around the MOOC within the 3rd Sector’s Digital Marketing arena across Europe and particularly within the platform’s MOOC host iversity. It was here that the MOOC became one of the most popular courses within its category and lead to a surge of sign ups across the 6-week course.

Digital marketing course with 3k students

The objective was to create a marketing campaign that would successfully promote the MOOC, which focused on Digital and Social Media Marketing to the global audience. The target number of subscribers to the MOOC was 3,000 so a multi channel approach to the promotion was needed and it eventually reached a subscriber base of over 13k students! These students had the opportunity to take part in the MOOC or go to the next stage and get a certificate for completing the exam questions, which ran alongside the basic MOOC.

This course is aimed at two audiences:

  • Organisations who want to establish and improve their digital and social media marketing footprint.
  • Everyone interested in digital and social media marketing who might consider studying or working in the field.

Course demonstrated how theory can become practice

It offered a great foundation in digital marketing with case studies from Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Europe on how they have successfully integrated digital marketing techniques to grow their business. Ultimately, the key for any MOOC is to demonstrate how theory can become practice, as is the hands on nature of digital marketing within SMEs.

A range of channels were adopted to promote the MOOC including Social Media, email, blogging, iversity promotion and development of this very website to promote the activity. The multichannel digital strategy has attracted sign ups from all channels used and learnings taken from this for future activity. In addition, the MOOC saw its digital enthusiastic students create their own impromptu discussion groups across other social media platforms relating to the MOOC including a Facebook private discussion group, WhatsApp group, experimental Smoocer group and Linked In. These in themselves helped to generate interest organically as well as offer students the opportunity to share opinions and thoughts on elements of the course and the exam questions.

How to develop a core social media skill – blogging

A BuddyPress WordPress platform (Creative Hive) was set up and encouraged individual MOOC members to engage in the blogging process where weekly reflections of learning on the MOOC would be published. This had a dual purpose of allowing students to develop a core social media skill – blogging and sharing their blog posts with peers as well as attracting future students by sharing their study experience. This proved to be a great support platform for the MOOC allowing students to present their practical work and theoretical understanding of the content for assessment.

This new blogging system was used by the learners as part of their real world activity on the course of creating a search engine optimised blog post using industry standards of WordPress and the Yoast SEO plugin.

This proved to be a popular activity, with over 500 users logging in on the assignment’s key days and lots of lively conversation and questions coming in from the platform and activity. This activity and use of an innovative digital community platform demonstrated the high quality and real world industry practise nature of the online learning experience.

#passion4digital community

Using the hashtag #passion4digital students were able to tag their content across multiple networks and taking the course to places and platforms where the team did not anticipate them to go. In this example one of the students developed a video homework for one of the exercises:

As you can see the background of the video is branded with #passion4digital

In this case a learner took to their creative illustration

Again, the #passion4digital is visible in the core of the image

Digital marketing course results

In addition, the MOOC saw the following successes:

  • The MOOC attracted over four times as many students as originally anticipated at 484 which is 449% of the target.
  • The number of paid learners who have signed up for the certificate is currently 220 as of 15th December 2015, potentially helping create a business model for future activity.
  • The number of students who engaged on Creative Hive has reached over 1,000 across the 6-week period of the course as of 12th November 2015.
  • The promotion of the MOOC has meant it’s significantly more successful than other MOOCs ran on the iversity platform. More than 4 times more people have completed it than its nearest competitor as of 12th November 2015.
  • The successful promotion of the MOOC has lead it to be considered as a potential business model for a global masters degree, resulting in the final survey where students have expressed this.

The marketing activity for the MOOC spanned 5 countries in total as partner universities involved in the course development was co-funded with the support of the European Commission. These partner universities included the

  • UK’s Salford Business School who was lead partner,
  • City College in Greece,
  • University of Lodz in Poland,
  • University of National and World Economy in Bulgaria and
  • Kaunas Technical University in Lithuania.

The digital marketing activity was executed by The Candidate Ltd alongside Salford Business School to gain its impressive reach for the MOOC campaign.