Degree or no degree? That is the question most future marketers ask. But we are here to reassure you that even though having a degree can help get you in the door, it isn’t necessary to get a marketing job.
With the hoards of free digital marketing courses out there on the web these days, it is possible to learn everything you need to know without spending a dime. New small businesses can also benefit from learning digital marketing online rather than getting a formal degree.
In this article, we will go over the basics of digital marketing you’ll want to be familiar with, and how to learn digital marketing for free.
The Fundamentals of Digital Marketing
Budding marketing managers, entrepreneurs, brick-and-mortar business owners, and those with online businesses will all have different digital marketing interests. Depending on what your career goals are, there are certain aspects of digital marketing you will want to focus on.
We will go over the different aspects and give you some suggestions on how to learn each one online. And they’re all free!
Content marketing is the creation and sharing of content like videos, blogs, and posts. It is meant to stimulate interest in the company’s products/services to its target audience.
To be a great content marketer, you must be skilled in writing, copywriting, editing, SEO, and data analysis.
Check out these free resources for learning about content marketing:
- Content Marketing Certification Course: This free course by HubSpot Academy will strengthen your content marketing skills with lessons, videos, and quizzes.
- Promote a Business with Content: Here is a glance at Google’s perspective on content marketing.
Search engine marketing (SEM)
Search engine marketing (SEM) is a digital marketing strategy to increase a website’s visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs). It consists of two main components: search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) marketing.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
SEO is a set of standards to follow that will help a website rank higher on SERPs. And when you rank higher, more people are seeing your website. More organic traffic is flowing into your site and you will likely be getting more conversions.
Although the SEO process is slower than simply paying for ads that will show up at the top of the search page, it is worth it. This is because to organically rank at the top of the page means you are well known in the industry and trusted by Google or other search engines.
Keep in mind that SEO standards are always changing. To be a successful SEO professional, you must always be up-to-date on the latest algorithm changes that occur frequently every year. As a result, you will be constantly updating your SEO strategy to keep your site ranking high on search pages.
If you’d like to learn SEO, check out these free online courses and resources:
- Official Google Blog: Google’s blog talks about all its news and announcements on all things digital.
- Google Search Central Blog: Keep up with Google’s latest algorithm changes here
- Search Engine Land: A helpful resource on digital marketing, including SEO.
- Search Engine Roundtable: Another resource updating us on SEO changes.
- Introduction to Search Engine Marketing: Quick free class done by Google covering keyword research basics and PPC ads.
- SEO Unlocked: Neil Patel, one of the top SEO marketing experts, talks about organic strategies.
- Website Optimization: HubSpot Academy teaches you how to improve your website for search.
Also known as paid search advertising (PSA), PPC advertising specializes in getting paid traffic to your site. PPC means you will be paying every time your ad is clicked on.
One of the most well-known ways to use PPC is through Google Ads, formerly known as Google AdWords. When you place an ad with Google Ads, your ad can be shown at the top of Google SERPs, on Google properties, and Google AdSense websites.
If you’d like to become skilled in PPC and online advertising, you can take some free online courses and even gain a certification. However, to be a digital marketing professional, you will need to get some hands-on experience by actually managing PPC marketing campaigns.
Here are some places you can learn PPC for free online:
- PPC Fundamentals: This course from SEMRush covers PPC campaigns and Google Ads fundamentals.
- Google Ads For Beginners: This free Coursera course will get you started on Google Ads.
- Google Ads certifications: Get certified for free! Participating in the certification programs for Google Ads demonstrates that Google recognizes you as an expert.
- Wordstream’s PPC University: Wordstream offers an abundance of classes for beginning to advanced PPC topics, including social ads and Facebook ads.
Social media marketing
Social media marketing has become one of the most important sectors of digital marketing. Why? Because it enables you to develop trust with your audience, which is vital for business success.
Social media marketing entails the use of social media platforms to connect with customers to build brand awareness, increase sales, and get more traffic to websites. The ability to market on social media has become one of the most sought-after digital marketing skills employers look for.
Some of the biggest social media platforms today include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Getting to know these social networks will give you a head start in learning how to market on them. Yes, this is the one career it pays to hang out on your phone all day!
Here are some free resources to learn more about marketing on social media:
- Meta Certification: Learn online marketing for Facebook and Instagram and get certified.
- Social Media Marketing Certification: This Hubspot Academy course and certification focus on social media strategy and inbound marketing efforts.
- Social Media Marketing Foundations: LinkedIn offers beginners a broad perspective of the social media marketing landscape.
- Twitter marketing: This blog post by Hootsuite is a great overview of successful marketing on Twitter.
Email marketing is one of the best ways to nurture leads, not to mention it has the highest ROI. Sending emails is a much more efficient use of resources; it costs much less to nurture prospective customers than trying to drum up new leads through ads or social media.
There is more than meets the eye when it comes to email campaigns. You must have a certain finesse that will keep your leads interested enough to not immediately delete your emails. First, you must get to know your customers. Then you must know how to close the deals.
Here are some free resources to learn the art of email marketing:
- Email Marketing Strategy: MailChimp has a very thorough blog post on the topic.
- Email Marketing free course: YourPrimer offers quick and actionable information on crafting effective emails for your audience.
- Email Marketing Essentials: This course by SkillShare focuses on what to write. It is free for 7 days only.
- Email Marketing Basics: Google’s course on email marketing covers the basics and how to manage a successful email campaign.
More than half of website traffic comes from mobile devices. It is more important now than ever to have a basic understanding of mobile marketing. Mobile marketing involves promotional activities meant to engage target audiences who use smartphones and tablets.
To be versed in this subject, you will need to learn how to make a website mobile-friendly and how to incorporate SEO, email, SMS, and social media marketing as part of your mobile strategy.
Here are some helpful courses on mobile marketing:
- Advanced Mobile Marketing: Simplilearn offers a free course with 12 modules focusing on things like mobile advertising, app marketing, and more.
- Mobile Marketing, Optimization Tactics, and Analytics: Coursera explores mobile marketing strategy as well as how to choose the right mobile platform for your business.
Knowing how to interpret the data is key to success in Internet marketing. If you don’t listen to the signals of your customers, you will find yourself missing the mark over and over again.
Using analytics tools is the best way to really grasp what your audience does and does not respond to. With this information, you can then harmonize all your marketing channels together to gain success.
Some of the main tools to be aware of are Google Analytics, Google Data Studio, SEMRush, and Google Search Console. Luckily there is a ton of free information online to help you learn these analytics tools. Here are some of those resources:
- Google Analytics for Beginners: To learn how to measure website traffic and input specific parameters and goals, check out these lessons on Google Analytics.
- Search Console Training: Google has a series of YouTube tutorials regarding all things related to Google Search Console.
- Google Data Studio: This quick guide will tell you how to use Google Data Studio to create charts and reports based on your website data.
Affiliate marketing refers to an affiliate promoting someone else’s products/services. The promotion can occur on a blog post, social media post, podcast, or website. The affiliate gives a unique link or promo code, then he or she will earn a commission off of every product/service that is sold from their promotion. The affiliate can be another retailer or an advertiser.
Besides the commission, sometimes the affiliate is rewarded for other things like leads, clicks, free trial sign-ups, or app downloads.
Affiliate marketers must have the necessary skills to build a following and create captivating content that will attract the attention of their audience. Also, be sure to know and follow FTC regulations regarding deceptive marketing practices.
Here are some courses and resources to get you started in affiliate marketing:
- Affiliate Marketing Course for Beginners: Udemy offers this free course on building a website for affiliate marketing and picking out the best strategies for you.
- Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: This Ahrefs tutorial gives a good overview of affiliate marketing.
- FTC Affiliate Disclosure: This blog post goes over how to properly disclose affiliate relationships.
- The FTC’s Endorsement Guides: The FTC thoroughly covers endorsements.
Free Online Courses
As you can see, there are so many courses and resources to discover online. But finding a good free course can be difficult. You will find much more value from paying for reputable courses and certifications, especially if you are looking to turn digital marketing into a future career.
But if you are just looking to learn about digital marketing topics, these lists contain some of the best free information out there.
To go more in-depth into digital marketing, take a look at these other free online digital marketing courses:
Alison is an online learning community that offers free courses. You will find tons of digital marketing courses to choose from; everything from marketing strategy to advertising to analytics. Learners can earn diplomas and certifications, which are valuable for resumes.
For a large overview of the topic, and to get a digital marketing certification, try HubSpot’s free digital marketing course. It includes 38 lectures covering topics like SEO, inbound marketing, landing pages, conversion optimization, lead nurturing, blogging, and email marketing. It also discusses how to implement all the aspects together into a cohesive strategy for your business.
Google’s Marketing Challenge
To get some real-world, hands-on experience, consider signing up for Google’s Marketing Challenge. Google offers free courses covering subjects like digital marketing, SEM, advertising mobile marketing, social media, analytics, and video.
Additionally, Google will grant you money to use to run an ad campaign for a business or non-profit. They even have prizes for the most successful campaigns, giving learners an extra incentive.
See also: What does a digital marketer do?
Become a Digital Marketing Rockstar
Digital marketing includes many aspects, including content marketing, SEM, social media, email marketing, mobile marketing, analytics, and affiliate marketing. It can be very overwhelming for new businesses or marketing manager prospects.
However, signing up for any of these self-paced courses will help you gain the knowledge you need to get started. Step-by-step, and combined with hands-on experience, you will soon gain the new skills needed to become a digital marketing rockstar!