The rapidly increasing power and relevance of digital marketing tools and tactics are causing a dramatic shift in the way marketing is done, and where marketing dollars are spent. The following are a few of the most important marketing trends you should be aware of:

Content marketing is increasingly important (and valued)

Content marketing — loosely defined as the marketing of company-owned blogs, articles, infographics, and similar items — is becoming increasingly important. No longer is it enough to throw some keywords into a post for SEO purposes; companies are instead expected to provide genuinely valuable and interesting content to gain prominence in Google searches. Companies clearly understand the importance and value of content marketing, as an estimated 59 percent will be increasing their content marketing budgets over the next 12 months.

Social media marketing is becoming increasingly refined

As the analytics tools on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter continue to become increasingly robust, expect to see greater spending — and greater returns on investment — associated with these marketing channels. Of course, social media users are particularly susceptible to marketing fatigue, so it is even more important for marketers to provide interesting and engaging content (supported by analytics data) to those users.

Video — especially mobile video — is one of the most effective marketing strategies

Video has quickly been growing in importance within the marketing industry for the past couple of years — helped along significantly by the growing capability of mobile devices and mobile network speeds. It should come as little surprise that YouTube is now the second-largest search engine in the world (behind Google, which owns YouTube), and it is only positioned to grow in the coming quarters and years. Video advertising on mobile devices has also proven to be particularly valuable because of the significantly increased user engagement those marketing efforts receive when compared to desktop and laptop browsers.

Mobile optimization is no longer optional

Mobile optimization — responsive interfaces for smartphone and tablet use — is no longer an option, thanks to a recent Google update that severely penalizes websites that are not optimized for mobile devices. Expect to see increasing functionality of mobile websites, along with innovative ways to make those websites even more user-friendly.

These are just a few ways that marketing is trending. Keep an eye out for new developments in this rapidly evolving field!

Business degrees are one of the few degrees that are almost universally agreed to be well worth the cost. In fact, a recent report from Pew Research Center indicates that MBA holders earn an average of $45,000 per year more than their non-MBA counterparts. Additionally, the leadership and management skills learned in a business degree program are directly applicable to a successful career in business — which explains why so many people are opting to earn an MBA.

Of course, life can make it difficult to actually earn that MBA. From the expense to the time commitment, finding an alternative way to earn the degree has never been more relevant or necessary.

Earning a business degree online is one of the best ways to receive the benefits of an MBA while avoiding many of the challenges that earning a traditional MBA can involve. Here are just a few ways an online business degree is a viable alternative for those seeking the benefits of a business degree.

You can learn while keeping a full-time (or part-time) job

Online business degree programs make it much easier to work at the same time, thanks to the flexible schedules that most online programs provide. Not only can you continue gaining relevant work experience while in school, you can help offset the cost, as well!

Build your time-management skills

Even the most flexible online business degree program will demand a significant amount of your time and attention. This provides the perfect opportunity to practice time-management skills — skills that are essential for achieving in the business world!

Prove (to yourself and others) that you can be self-disciplined

While traditional business degree programs provide a fair amount of structure, an online business degree program requires you to be self-disciplined enough to get your schoolwork done without someone checking in on you during class once or twice a week. In addition to being great practice, most employers will recognize the fact that your online business degree required a significant amount of self-discipline. And of course, you can mention this in interviews to really drive the point home!

Opens the same doors as a “traditional” business degree

Ultimately, an online business degree opens many of the same doors that a more traditional degree would, without many of the hassles that come with driving to a campus at a set time every week. For students who are serious about gaining the benefits of a business degree, the online route is a viable — if not ideal — setup.