Is there a good FREE digital marketing course that you can recommend?— Tim Soulo (@timsoulo) August 17, 2021
Courses from Google’s Digital Garage, HubSpot Academy, and Ahrefs Academy all got a seal of approval. But what else met the mark?
To narrow my search, I looked at the:
- Instructors behind the courses.
- Ratings and reviews.
- Level of experience expected of students (beginner, intermediate, expert).
- Relevance of the course material in today’s marketing landscape.
Here are the free digital marketing courses that made the cut:
- How to Use TikTok for Business by Later.com
- Context is Key: Social Media Strategy in a Noisy Online World
- Instagram for Business: Build an Engaged Community
- Blogging for Business by Ahrefs
- SEO Training Course by Ahrefs
- Digital Skills: Digital Marketing by Accenture
- Content Marketing Certification Course by HubSpot
- Introduction to Social Media Advertising by Buffer
- Digital & Social by Twitter Flight School
- Google Ads by Skillshop
- SEO Training Course by HubSpot
- How to Use Instagram Stories (IGS) for Business by Later.com
- Microsoft Advertising Certification
- Email Marketing Certification by HubSpot
- PPC University by Wordstream
- Google Primer: Marketing & Measurement
- Google Digital Garage: Fundamentals of Digital Marketing
- Bonus: LearningSEO
Taylor Loren, the former director of content marketing at Later, leads this short online course that’s guided mostly by her experiences on the popular social media platform.
With over 26,000 followers on TikTok, she doles out useful tips you might not have known—like the fact that using trending audio clips or video-editing effects could boost your chances of landing on the For You page.
Some things to note: The 35-minute video lesson is essentially a primer into the world of TikTok Business for complete newbies. Having used the short-video platform myself, I’ve found it to be rather intuitive anyway.
Still, Taylor’s tips are especially helpful if you’re looking to make full use of the algorithm to expand your reach through eye-catching content and TikTok ads.
So it’s no surprise that over 50,000 students have completed this Skillshare course, of which 81% indicated it either exceeded or met their expectations.
Spread over 23 video lessons, this course looks at how to develop tailored strategies for social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as tips on building a solid brand narrative.
While we think the case studies on Pinterest and Tumblr aren’t particularly relevant today, this course is still worth a shot. You’ll learn some tactics that Gary used to grow major brands like General Electric and PepsiCo.
There’s also an optional project involving the creation of a channel-specific social media strategy for a brand of your choice, although this is more for practice since it isn’t graded.
As a freelance Instagram marketing strategist, Tyler McCall knows the ins and outs of the platform.
In this 13-lesson course, he invites marketers and business owners to relook at the basics of building an engaged community. While the course was developed in conjunction with Iconosquare, you don’t need to use the social media analytics tool to follow the lessons.
Besides sharing how you can define your audience and set the right objectives, Tyler looks at how to craft attention-grabbing visuals, measure success through Iconosquare, and capitalize on comments and hashtags to build a community.
There’s also a bonus lesson on leveraging Instagram Stories to convert followers to your website or newsletter, plus class worksheets for an optional hands-on assignment.
Over 22,000 students have completed the course. And of those who rated it, 96% said it exceeded or met their expectations. Tyler walks the talk too: He’s got close to 50,000 followers on Instagram.
How did we grow the Ahrefs Blog to hundreds of thousands of monthly visits? That’s what this course aims to teach viewers. It’s part of Ahrefs Academy, our online school that features four detailed courses to help you improve as a content marketer with the Ahrefs toolset.
Led by Ahrefs CMO Tim Soulo, Blogging for Business is spread over 11 modules and 40 lessons. These include foundational videos, such as key customer acquisition channels and growth strategies to know, idea generation tips, as well as tips on optimizing and promoting your content for further growth.
There are also bonus videos, including an in-depth chat with Noah Kagan, who is the brains behind the daily deals platform Appsumo. The best bit: No sign-up is required for this free course.
This course will arm you with a foundational understanding of applying the SEO basics—including keyword research, on-page SEO, and link-building strategies to help you rank higher in search engines.
Guided by how Ahrefs achieved compounding growth through SEO, the course is broken into four modules and spread over 14 lessons. It concludes with a look at the importance of technical SEO and best practices to know.
Curious about the different digital marketing strategies you could use to grow your business or career? This introductory course could steer you in the right direction. The proof is in the pudding, with more than 200,000 students having completed the highly rated course.
Over roughly two weeks, the 19-lesson video course covers the basics of:
- Digital marketing
- Display and PPC advertising
- Email marketing
In the concluding lessons, you’ll then learn how to apply these techniques to your work. This elementary course includes tests to validate your learning, as well as a PDF certificate of achievement (accredited by the CDP Certification Service) upon completion.
Creator(s): Justin Champion, Guillaume Delloue, Abigael Donahue, AJ Beltis, Matthew Howells-Barby, Corey Braccialini, Lindsay Thibeault
Topic: Content marketing
Duration: 6.2 hrs
Available at: HubSpot Academy
This one received multiple shouts in Tim’s Twitter thread. To get access to the free content marketing course, you’ll need to set up a HubSpot account.
It’s well worth your time, though. I did so in minutes by linking my Google account and answering a few simple questions.
The course opens with a foundation on content marketing fundamentals and storytelling tips, followed by 12 lessons on developing a content creation framework and measuring the efficacy of your content.
Led by various industry professionals, most of whom are from HubSpot’s marketing team, the course includes multiple quizzes to test your knowledge of the topics covered.
At the end, you can opt to take the three-hour exam. It comprises 60 multiple choice questions—of which you’ll require a score of 45/60 to pass.
Formerly a digital and social media manager at Buffer, Brian Peters introduces beginners to the potential of paid social advertising and how to create a social media ad campaign from scratch.
The 10-lesson course looks at key terms to know, the marketing funnel, goal- and budget-setting, and optimizing campaigns for long-term success.
Over 21,500 students have completed it thus far, with almost 50% of reviews indicating the course exceeded expectations—thanks to Brian’s engaging teaching and the helpful examples used.
Topic: Social media advertising
Certification: Yes (for Twitter Video Badge course only)
Duration: 5.2 hrs
Available at: Twitter Flight School
Ever wondered how to leverage Twitter as an advertising platform? Let this course show you through 13 modules, further whittled into digestible articles that each concludes with a multiple-choice knowledge check pitstop.
Given this course is for experienced growth marketers, topics covered range from an introduction to Twitter Ads Manager to launching and measuring campaign success rates on both mobile apps and websites.
While we generally favor video lessons, having the information listed via short articles allows you to check on covered pointers more quickly. To get started, log in to your Twitter account, and you’ll be all set.
If your bigger goal is to score a badge for display on your Twitter and LinkedIn profiles, try the #TwitterFlightSchool Video Badge course instead. It covers video ads on the social media platform.
Topic: Search engine marketing (SEM)
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Certification: Yes (Google Ads Certified)
Duration: Dependent on your commitment
Available at: Skillshop
Skillshop by Google is an online academy of sorts that offers courses for some of its major tools, including:
- Google Ads
- Analytics Academy
- Google Ad Manager
- Google Marketing Platform
- Google My Business
While Google Ads brands itself as ideal for beginners, we reckon you’ll at least need some working knowledge of SEM to follow the lessons easily.
They’re formatted much like the courses on Twitter Flight School, except in greater depth. Start with a pre-self-assessment, then go ahead with checking off each topic, some of which include optional videos to deepen your knowledge.
We like that the learning is self-paced. But fair warning: The sheer number of courses (and topics) could leave you feeling overwhelmed, so take your time perusing the lessons before committing to a topic.
Led by Rachel Sheldon, an inbound professor at HubSpot Academy, this introductory course to SEO covers all the basics you’d expect. These include website optimization, on-page and technical SEO, and keyword research. There are worksheets and three-question quizzes too, followed by a three-hour exam to test your knowledge.
Like the other HubSpot Academy courses in this list, you’ll be certified should you score a minimum of 45/60.
Taylor—who is also featured in the above course on using TikTok for business—hosts this hourlong course alongside Lexie Carbone, a marketing campaign manager at Later.
While this course was developed in 2019, the content remains up to date since most of the videos have been replaced with a series of 11 articles. Through these, you’ll learn how to leverage IGS to grow your business on the social media platform.
The course is split into three tracks: design, growth, and strategy, all of which play a crucial role in capturing and retaining Instagram users’ interest. We find the growth track particularly useful; the lessons explain IGS analytics and how to make sense of each metric to improve your Stories strategy.
Certification: Yes (Microsoft Advertising Certified professional badge and printable certificate)
Duration: Dependent on your commitment
Available at: Microsoft.com
You’ll be doing far more reading than watching in this text-heavy course, which features a 230-page study guide. Still, we reckon it’s worth your time if you intend to add the badge to your social media platforms, including LinkedIn.
The free downloadable includes a checklist of accreditation topics. Among them:
- Basics of Microsoft Advertising and how pay-per-click advertising works
- PPC bidding, traffic estimations, and cost-per-click strategies
- Budgeting and billing
- LinkedIn Profile targeting
To avoid the monotony of pure text, the study guide is supplemented with screenshots from Bing ads, as well as diagrams of fictitious case studies.
Bland, impersonal emails are overdone and ineffective. So why are people still relying on them? This course challenges you to rethink tired email marketing tactics through nine topics and 28 videos that come with quizzes to keep you on track.
Hosted by Courtney Sembler, a senior manager at HubSpot, you’ll learn how to “humanize” your copy, develop relationships through lead nurturing, and apply these lessons using the software company’s free email marketing tool.
As with all HubSpot courses, you’re given three hours to complete a 60-question exam at the end, with the chance to secure an email marketing certificate.
Duration: Dependent on your commitment
Available at: Wordstream
Curious about the PPC model? Then let Wordstream be your guide. Its PPC University features three guided courses to arm you with the knowledge to do keyword research, participate in Google AdWords auctions, as well as optimize your Google Ads campaigns.
As a beginner, I find PPC 101 helpful: There are 11 articles explaining the basics, such as click-through rates and cost per action, as well as a step-by-step guide to setting up your Google Ads account.
If you want to go into greater depth, there’s also a 32-page PPC 101 guide to make use of—and it’s free to download upon sign-up.
Topic: Marketing (general)
Level: Beginner to advanced
Available at: YourPrimer.com
Google Primer is a free app for business owners and marketers, with five-minute lessons covering digital marketing, measurement, social media, analytics, and more.
There are three key tracks for your picking: Business & Operations, Brand & Identity, and Marketing & Measurement.
The latter is particularly well rounded and relevant, with 10 overarching topics for both beginners and experienced marketers. Some interesting lessons include crowdsourcing your user testing, making the most of a creative agency, and reaching the right audience through an app campaign.
Few courses offer on-the-go lessons in as digestible a format as Google Primer, so we highly recommend it.
Topic: Marketing (general)
Duration: 40 hrs
Available at: Google Digital Garage
For a deep dive into the basics of digital marketing, start with this course that’s accredited by the Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe and The Open University. You’ll be introduced to Digital Garage and taught to build and grow your online business strategy over 26 modules.
The course also delves into SEO and SEM, mobile advertising, and even building an ecommerce business.
Considering how much you’ll stand to learn, a 40-hour course really isn’t such a heavy commitment—especially when you’re free to pace yourself while led by video tutorials and practical exercises.
To secure your certification for use on LinkedIn and in your CV, pass the final 40-question exam. Google Digital Garage was also one of the top mentions in our Twitter thread, if we may add.
LearningSEO isn’t a course per se. Rather, it’s an extensive (and regularly updated) repository of resources for anyone looking to boost their SEO knowledge.
I like how detailed and organized it is: There are external guides, courses, and videos categorized based on your experience level. It covers SEO basics (measuring and reporting SEO) and even discusses the technicalities of crawl budget optimization and developing SEO contracts.
You’re even able to make a (shareable) copy of the SEO list, which comes complete with checkboxes in a color-coded spreadsheet.
Completing a course takes commitment (I should know!). So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, first consider what gets you excited. If it’s content marketing, start from there. Then, progress to more technical areas you’d like to improve on, such as developing and measuring ad campaigns.
All the courses featured here are self-paced too, so take all the time you need to fully grasp each topic. Having a solid foundation truly is key to getting better at digital marketing.
Got questions? Ping me on Twitter.