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. That’s where self-paced online courses come in — but which do you choose?
Below are the best free online courses you can take to strengthen your digital marketing skills.
Want to learn more about brands and organizations that offer the courses on the list below? Scroll to the end of this post, or jump to the section.
Free Online Marketing Courses
Free Content Marketing Courses
Free Social Media Marketing Courses
16. Semrush Social Media Toolkit Course – Semrush 17. Become a Social Media Marketer – LinkedIn Learning (one month free)
Free SEO Marketing Courses
Free Email Marketing Courses
Free Web Development and Site Design Courses
Free Online Advertising & PPC Courses
37. PPC University – Wordstream
Other Free Digital Marketing Courses
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 and Affordable 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.
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:
6. Social Lock
Social Lock is a social media consulting, management, and strategy agency that also provides educational content and courses.
The Standout Social Content Course is a comprehensive guide for small business owners who want to grow sales through social media. Although this course isn’t free, it’s available at an affordable rate and can even be paid in installments if you’re on a tight budget.
edX is another MOOC provider that features 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. Here are just a few of the many courses you can find on edX:
8. 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.
10. Meta Blueprint
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.
Blueprint offers classes in different languages on how to use Facebook and Instagram.
11. 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?
14. 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.