The digital marketing landscape is always evolving. Whether you’re a seasoned marketing professional or new to the field, marketing classes can help you stay on top of current industry trends or skill up.
However, signing up for a bootcamp or going to university for traditional courses can be quite expensive. This is where self-paced online courses come in — but which do you choose?
Why take marketing classes?
It’s no secret that individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher are more likely to find employment and earn higher incomes than those who don’t. But did you know that earning a certification can follow this same trend?
Given the rate at which new digital marketing technologies and software are developed, it can be overwhelming to learn through blog posts and ebooks alone. Online marketing courses and certifications make it easy to sharpen your skill and expand your knowledge.
- Content Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- SEO Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Web Development and Site Design
- Online Advertising Courses
- Other Digital Marketing Courses
Even if you’ve been in the marketing industry for several years, online marketing courses can still be of use. Whether you’re interested in a refresher course or want to learn something new — like creating a website from scratch — online courses can help you acquire the skills needed for continued success.
Want to learn more about brands and organizations that offer free courses on the list below? Scroll to the end of this post, or jump to the section.
Online marketing is a broad category. We’ve removed the guesswork out of searching for the best marketing classes and categorized them by topic below.
Free Content Marketing Courses
Successful marketing efforts begin with excellent content. Whether you’re just starting your content marketing journey or need a quick refresher, the courses below will help you up your marketing game.
HubSpot Academy’s content marketing certification is an ideal start for anyone who wants to learn about content marketing. With lessons on storytelling, content idea generation, and content promotion, this course will prepare you to tackle the biggest challenge of standing out in oversaturated content platforms.
This sweet and short post gives you an overview of content marketing in the general context of online marketing. You can print it out and scan it once, or sign up for Copyblogger’s email series, The Killer and the Poet, to learn more. This is a pleasantly asynchronous way to get your feet wet with content marketing.
Coursera offers a wealth of content marketing classes — so many that it might be dizzying to the first-time entrant. We recommend starting with the following courses:
- Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content: If you’ve ever come across a piece of viral content and wondered how you can create something similar, this Wharton-taught course is for you.
- The Strategy of Content Marketing: Created by UC Davis and Copyblogger, this course will teach you how to leverage your content marketing efforts to generate leads.
Copywriting is the lifeblood of any serious content marketing effort. In this course, you’ll learn the basics of copywriting as they relate specifically to online marketing. The course focuses on standing out among millions of other publishers in your niche, attracting your audience’s attention, and positioning your product’s features as top-tier benefits.
Like Coursera, Udemy offers a wide range of content marketing courses, including:
- Content Marketing for B2B Enterprises: If you work for a B2B company, even if it’s small, this course is a must. It covers how to write high-converting content and how to launch offers that entice downloads.
- Copywriting Quick Start: Top FREE Writing Tools & Hacks: New to copywriting? This course will cover hacks to help you write winning pages, posts, and articles from headline to conclusion.
Where to Start: We recommend newbies start with the Copywriting Quick Start Guide from Udemy while more seasoned marketers will benefit from Coursera’s Viral Marketing course.
Free Social Media Marketing Courses
If you’re not using social media for marketing purposes, you’re missing out. Each social platform requires specialized content so you’ll want to keep current on best practices and trends. For example, what may work on Facebook may not be as effective on a platform like TikTok.
The courses below will help you make killer social media campaigns in addition to learning how to analyze campaign metrics.
Looking to master Instagram marketing without diving into tangential social media marketing topics? HubSpot’s free Instagram training course is an excellent choice. Marketers have limited time, but stakeholders may be asking for an ROI now. Use this course to master the basics of organic and paid Instagram strategies.
TikTok used to be a new, rising platform, but now it’s a preeminent social media channel — sitting among major players such as Instagram and Facebook. With this course, you’ll learn all you need to know about marketing your business on the trendiest social platform and get thousands of views on your short videos.
Alison’s diploma in social media strategy is an excellent foundation for those who’d like to expand upon platform-specific skills or jump into social media marketing. This course will not only prepare you for a social media strategist role, but teach you cross-over skills such as community management and social media customer service.
Hosted on Coursera, this Meta Blueprint certification course is a strong primer on using the Meta Business Suite (formerly known as Facebook Business Manager) to jumpstart your social media strategy. It also includes introductory coursework on social media marketing and management, so that you can build a strong foundation before applying your knowledge on a capstone project.
The posts you create on social media platforms are only a portion of the story. What about the likes, shares, and comments you receive? How can you glean insights so that you can improve your strategy? Quintly’s free social media analytics course is a strong platform-agnostic introduction on analytics, goal-setting, and reporting.
This set of social media marketing blog posts from Constant Contact offers in-depth, practical information about marketing your brand on four major platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest (with Google Business Profile as a bonus). If you don’t love video-based courses, this is the social media course for you. You can read the sections at your own pace and return as you wish.
Looking for a LinkedIn credential to display while also learning the fundamentals of social media marketing? This course from LinkedIn learning will position you for success as you seek social media marketing roles. It focuses on three platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You’ll also learn about measuring your social media marketing ROI.
Where to Start: We recommend Constant Contact’s Social Media Quickstarter to get started crafting your own campaigns, followed by Quintly’s course on Social Media Analytics.
Free SEO Marketing Courses
Your superb content is only effective if users can find it. That’s why search engine optimization (SEO) is so important. Learn SEO best practices with the courses below.
Whether you’re a general marketer looking to strengthen your SEO skills, or a professional applying for SEO marketing roles, you can create a strong foundation with HubSpot Academy’s SEO Training Certification. It covers all facets of the discipline — from on-page optimization to SEO reporting.
This SEO training course by Moz delves a little more deeply into technical SEO topics, such as site audits and structure. For that reason, we recommend it if you already have some SEO knowledge and are looking to skill-up in your role.
Created by UC Davis, this SEO course is an excellent primer for true beginners in the field. You’ll learn how Google ranks websites, which factors it takes into account, and which other branches of marketing — such as content marketing — can help you rank better.
This SEO toolkit course is specifically suited to current subscribers of Semrush, one of the leading SEO tools in the market. In this class, you’ll learn how to use each of Semrush’s reports and tabs — such as Keyword Analytics and Organic Traffic Insights — to boost your SEO strategy. We also recommend it if you’ve accepted a role where Semrush will be a primary tool, or if you’re applying to roles with Semrush as one of the required skills.
Yoast’s SEO training course is a fantastic choice for current WordPress developers looking to build their SEO skills, and for prospective SEO professionals who know they’ll be working primarily on a WordPress website. In this class, you’ll not only learn SEO basics, but how to use WordPress and the Yoast SEO plugin.
Where to Start: We recommend HubSpot’s SEO Certification for beginners, but if you’re already familiar with SEO basics, try Udemy’s Moz course. If you’re already using Moz as your preferred SEO tool, this course will help you get the most value from it.
Free Email Marketing Courses
Email campaigns feeling a little lackluster? We’ve got you covered. Increase open rates with snappy subject lines that make your audience want to click. Create engaging copy that has them asking for more.
Learn how to create email campaigns that stand out with the list of courses below.
This short course from Google Digital Garage is a fantastic way to build foundational knowledge on the topic of email marketing. You’ll not only learn how to build a contact list, but how to choose a tool to personalize content and track the success of your campaigns. The best part is that you can complete this entire course in under an hour (not including quizzes).
Udemy’s Email Marketing Made Easy course focuses specifically on generating sign-ups for your email list. If you’re not sure how to even begin attracting subscribers, this course can teach you the basics while providing foundational knowledge on writing B2B and B2C emails. It’s ideal for marketers just delving into a role with email marketing responsibilities, or for any professional looking to build their email marketing skill set.
This email marketing course from Neil Patel is ideal for intermediate-to-advanced email marketers looking to improve their workflows and boost their ROI. You’ll learn how to calculate the lifetime value of your emails, test and tweak them, and identify what is working for your strategy.
Where to Start: Our top pick is Google’s Email Marketing Course. It gives you a great foundation of basics and best practices to follow to craft a winning email campaign. The quizzes between each module will also ensure that you’re retaining information along the way.
Free Web Development and Site Design Courses
Web development and design may not be considered part of a marketer’s wheelhouse but knowing the basics could make things easier in your day-to-day — especially if you are uploading content yourself.
Being familiar with HTML and CSS is increasingly valuable as a marketer since they are the foundation of many marketing tools. Check out our top picks below.
If you’re looking to dive headfirst into web development, CodeAcademy is an excellent resource. You can either pick a potential career path or dive into individual courses, such as the ones below:
Not sure where to start? Web development languages such as HTML and CSS are useful for most marketing and content management roles. Python is another great language for data analysis.
Where to Start: If you’re just getting started with web development, CodeAcademy’s Make a Website course is the most accessible for newbies. Got the fundamentals down? Try out their course on Ruby instead.
Free Online Advertising & PPC Courses
While organic traffic is great, paid ads will also be part of an effective marketing strategy. Whether choosing pay-per-click ads on Google or your social media platform of choice, it’s important to use your advertising budget wisely.
The courses below will walk you through creating your first paid campaign to researching the best keywords for PPC ads.
Advertising can be a difficult topic for beginner marketers. Is it expensive? What is the best place to advertise? Get answers to these questions and more with HubSpot Academy’s free digital advertising course. You’ll also learn what successful advertising looks like through a real-world example.
When you’re ready to build upon your knowledge, you can dive into other advertising courses from HubSpot Academy:
WordStream’s PPC University is one of the most thorough pay-per-click courses on this list, containing more than fifty self-paced lessons on online advertising — specifically social and search pay-per-click advertising. We recommend this course for marketers who are or will be in a role with a major PPC component.
This pay-per-click course from Semrush is an excellent alternative to WordStream’s if you prefer video-based learning. You will immediately delve into campaign optimization and landing page creation, making this a highly practical and actionable course for the experienced marketer in a hurry.
Just as copywriting is essential for content marketing, so it is for advertising. I would say it’s even more important, because in an ad, you only have one or two lines of text to capture your audience’s attention. Learn how to craft click-worthy ad copy in Skillshare’s Copywriting 101 course. It’s not only geared toward digital ads, but to TV and radio ads, too.
Affiliate marketing, while not technically advertising, is another way for businesses to generate leads and sales by paying external publishers a commission. If you’re a freelancer creating an affiliate website, or a marketer working at a company with an affiliate program, this course is an excellent place to begin.
Where to Start: If you’re completely new to digital advertising, HubSpot Academy’s What Digital Advertising Is and How to Do It is the perfect starting point. You’ll learn advertising fundamentals and a step-by-step guide for creating campaigns.
Those wanting to dig deeper into PPC should opt for WordStream’s PPC University.
Other Free Digital Marketing Courses
Now that we’ve covered some marketing basics, it’s time to have a little fun. Maybe you are already a wiz at creating email and ad campaigns and want to enhance your graphic design skills.
These courses will help you create eye-catching designs, utilize video content, or become an image editing pro.
Graphic Design Courses
Graphic design is an in-demand skill in most marketing roles. Get started with the courses below:
- Graphic Design Basics – Canva
- Graphic Design Specialization – Coursera
- Photoshop 2021 Essential Training: The Basics – LinkedIn Learning
- InDesign Essential Training – LinkedIn Learning
Where to Start: Canva is a widely used tool to quickly create visuals for everything from email campaigns, to infographics to resumes. Their course on Design Basics will help you become a better visual communicator and embrace your inner designer.
Video & YouTube
Video is one of the fastest growing marketing mediums today. Prepare for a video marketing role or strengthen your skillset with the following courses:
Where to Start: HubSpot Academy’s video marketing course will help you create a video marketing strategy from scratch, even if you have no experience with this medium.
Experiential marketing is an effective and personable way to connect with potential customers and generate leads. Learn how to create a winning in-person or virtual event with the following courses:
- Event Marketing Strategist Certificate – Meeting Professionals International
- Successful Events: Event Planning, Marketing & Management – Udemy
Where to Start: If you’re serious about becoming an experiential marketer, try Meeting Professionals International’s certificate. If you’re looking to learn more about the topic, Udemy’s course makes for an excellent foundation.
Free Marketing Certifications
Perhaps you’d like to go beyond learning a new skill for fun and are looking for something with more structure that can be used to validate your knowledge or increase your earning prospects. Completing a certified program will do just that. You get the benefits of learning a new skill and also the credibility of completing a course from an industry-recognized institution.
The good news is you don’t have to spend a ton of money to achieve that. Below are our top picks for the best free marketing certifications you can get online.
- HubSpot Inbound Marketing Certification – HubSpot Academy
- HubSpot Content Marketing Certification – HubSpot Academy
- HubSpot Email Marketing Certification – HubSpot Academy
- Free Social Media Certification – HubSpot Academy
- Semrush Content Marketing Toolkit Course – Semrush
- Email Marketing Course – Sendinblue Academy
- Digital Marketing Course – Google Digital Garage
Where to Start: HubSpot Academy’s Inbound Marketing Certification is an all-around effective primer for any marketing role. But if you’re specifically interested in digital marketing, try Google Digital Garage’s digital marketing course.
Benefits of a Digital Marketing Certificate
The most well-known benefit of earning a marketing certificate is the potential for better pay and career advancement, but there are plenty more rewards to reap by honing your skills. Here are a few of the top advantages of earning a digital marketing certificate.
1. Specializing in a Marketing Niche
The “jack of all trades, master of none” mantra is the marketer’s enemy.
Any experienced marketing professional will advise someone looking to enter or grow into the field to narrow their focus.
There are simply too many roles within marketing to specialize in all of them.
Certifications come in handy because they’re narrow enough in scope to give you a high-level overview of how the skill fits into a larger marketing strategy but tactical enough to show you exactly how to execute the skill in your day-to-day work.
2. Communicating Advanced Marketing Concepts
Whether you’re interviewing for a marketing role or pitching a client, one thing’s for sure — you’ll need to sound like a skilled marketer.
Sure, you can fake it ‘till you make it, but I don’t advise this route. Shibboleths will only get you so far before someone notices a gap in your experience.
Certification courses are comprehensive education tools that will teach you essential marketing lingo and exactly what it all means.
Best of all, you’ll be able to communicate advanced concepts confidently without over or under-explaining which can undermine your credibility.
3. Building Your Resume
When it comes down to it, your resume will almost always precede your presence.
Before an interview or a client meeting, people will look to your resume and portfolio first to verify your skills.
Adding the certifications you’ve received after completing marketing courses is a smart way to get picked up by resume scanners and it’ll catch the attention of human eyes, too.
Even if you have several years of experience, a certificate can still help get your foot in the door so you can speak in detail about your experience during an interview.
Where to Find Free Marketing Courses
The free courses we mentioned above are amazing resources for budget-conscious marketers. They’ll teach you the basics of the subject and give you some tactical knowledge you can apply right away.
If you want to become more competitive in the job market or if you have a bit more time and resources to dedicate to furthering your education, check out the following platforms. They’re not all free, but they’re affordable and will provide you with up-to-date course material.
HubSpot Academy offers certification and training courses to teach people how inbound marketing and HubSpot software work. Classes are often taught by marketers at HubSpot and are made up of video lessons, quizzes, and tests.
Most HubSpot Academy classes are available free of charge, and if you pass the certifications, such as the two below, you get a nifty certificate and badge to share on your social media profiles.
Copyblogger is a content marketing company that creates content about content (so meta).
Its blog provides a ton of great resources about digital marketing, and this class, “Internet Marketing for Smart People,” is made up of ebooks and emailed lessons, and other course materials.
Copyblogger adopts four pillars of content marketing success, which it delves into over the course of this class.
Coursera offers MOOCs (massive online open courses) created and taught online by universities such as Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of California system.
These courses start at various times throughout the year, so browse the catalog to see when one lines up with your schedule.
Udemy is another online learning platform that focuses specifically on courses related to skill building for working professionals.
One thing to note about Udemy: The classes we’ve highlighted are free, but the site features a myriad of other paid options for as little as $10, in some cases. Additionally, while some of the courses are free, they may require a Pro membership to get an official certificate.
If you have a good experience with a free course, try a paid one to get even more value from the content on this site.
Wordstream is a search engine and social media marketing software company that helps marketers drive the greatest ROI from their paid search and social media campaigns.
These free guides and ebooks distill learnings and best practices for users with varying levels of expertise running pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. Here are some of its topics and offerings:
edX is another MOOC provider that features free courses offered by top-tier universities, including Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Boston University.
Like Coursera, classes are taught online and start at specific times throughout the year.
7. LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com)
LinkedIn Learning hosts hundreds of courses taught by industry experts from all around the world.
The best part of LinkedIn Learning is that the course suggestions are customized to your profile.
If you have content marketing as a skill in your LinkedIn profile, the algorithm will suggest relevant courses, such as how to start a podcast or track the ROI of a content marketing strategy.
Similarly, your role will also influence the suggestions you see. As a marketing writer, I get recommended copywriting, SEO, and social media marketing courses. If I were a data scientist, I may be recommended courses on programming languages and machine learning.
To access the platform, the first month is free then up to $39.99/month.
Alison offers over 4,000 online classes in various professional skills users can take at their own pace.
This content repository includes courses that lead to certificates and diplomas — you choose which is best for your goals.
For an even more rigorous curriculum, you can choose a learning path that combines several lessons and courses into one learning track that gives you a well-rounded learning experience.
At this point, you probably already know what Meta is (formerly Facebook) and what it does.
What you might not know is that the platform offers several training and certification programs.
Meta Blueprint offers self-paced and live e-learning courses for marketers seeking to grow their organizations using Facebook. While the course materials are free, the certification exam is not and can range between $99 to $150.
Blueprint offers classes in different languages on how to use Facebook and Instagram.
10. quintly Academy
quintly is a social media analytics tool that offers courses through quintly Academy.
The self-paced course provides an overview of social media analytics, benchmarking, and goaling using downloadable written materials and video lessons. These courses are available to take at no cost — simply sign in to enroll for free.
Google is another company you’ve probably heard of before, and its digital marketing course offers a ton of valuable information if you plan to advertise on the search engine.
You can even take a Google AdWords certification at the end of the process that helps you beef up your resume.
Google has expanded its course offerings to include other types of digital marketing, too, so check out the site for up-to-date insights in the marketing world.
Codeacademy offers free, interactive coding classes that take you from bare-bones to building a fully functioning website.
The courses we’ve highlighted below just scratch the surface, though. Codeacademy offers a variety of course topics so you can truly focus on your niche.
These classes include lectures and a workspace in the same browser window so you can see the effect of your work as you create it — how cool is that?
13. General Assembly
General Assembly offers live online courses that can be accessed for free or for a fee.
Each one is categorized as one of five types that range from full-time immersive learning to on-demand learning. Once you choose your time commitment, simply find a course that works with your schedule.
Canva helps people easily make beautiful images for web design, and Canva Design School offers design courses that are valuable for any kind of storyteller.
The Creativity course explores the challenges of constant creation and innovation and how to do it well — with visuals, of course.
Become a Marketing Powerhouse with These Free Certifications
I’m sure all marketers (myself included) can agree that furthering our education in this field is a worthwhile way to advance our careers or businesses.
Earning a certificate from a reputable online course is one of the most convenient ways to accomplish this.
Whether you want to take a free online marketing class or you’d like to devote more time and resources to a paid one, you can’t go wrong with one from this list.
Just remember to focus your studying on a specific sector of marketing and develop a niche skillset — you’ll be well on your way to success as a consummate marketer.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in May 2018, but was updated in July 2020 for comprehensiveness and freshness.