Get the edge with free digital marketing certificationPosted by Ryan Jones on Feb 24, 2019. Reading time: 18 mins
How do you get training on industry-specific platforms and technologies when you haven't broken into the industry yet? Or you're a small business owner looking to learn how to market your own business?
There are some great free digital marketing courses you can take online. These offer certifications that are recognised in the industry and help you show your skills. These online marketing courses are delivered via online learning with video tutorials, so you can study when it suits you.
In some cases, these certifications are prerequisites for digital marketing roles. If you take these courses and earn these certifications, your resume will stand out from other candidates.
The certifications show that you are prepared to invest in your own learning, taking the initiative to improve your skills. This is important when you're graduating from your marketing degree. It would help if you had something on your resume to separate you from all the other graduates. If you're serious about becoming a marketer, taking accredited courses helps a prospective employer see that.
While certifications alone aren't a replacement for experience, they can help you secure marketing jobs.
You'll also get an excellent grounding in the fundamentals of digital marketing and online advertising, even if you don’t use the tools.
These free online digital marketing courses aren't just for students and job seekers either. Small business owners, entrepreneurs and marketing managers can benefit from the background knowledge.
Let's look at the free certifications we look for in Refuel Creative recruits.
Google Analytics Academy
Google Analytics is the go-to website metrics platform on the internet. It can give you a great picture of how your website, social media, email marketing, and other campaigns are performing. It's free and integrates with other Google tools to give you a complete picture of your performance.
To succeed as a marketing professional in 2021, you must know how to use Google Analytics.
Fortunately, Google Analytics Academy offers a range of training, from beginners to power users. You can prove your knowledge by taking the Google Analytics Individual Qualification.
There's also a new short course on how to use the latest Google Analytics 4.
Google Academy For Ads Certification
If you've ever searched for something on Google, you've seen a Google Ad. Formerly Google AdWords, it's the internet's dominant ad platform. But it's not the easiest platform to learn. The basics you'll discover will put you in good stead across all online advertising.
Google's digital marketing courses include Google Ads and Google marketing platforms. If you're new to Google Ads, start by learning the fundamentals of Google Search. It covers the basic concepts you need to understand Google Ads.
While it's impressive to get all of them, we recommend you complete the Google courses in this order:
- Google Ads Search Certification - Covers basic and intermediate management of search ad campaigns.
- Google Ads Measurement Certification - Learn how to measure campaign performance
- Google Ads Display Certification - You'll learn how to use Google Display Ads. This includes ad formats, campaign management and more. This will help you run graphic Google Ads on websites that accept Google Ads.
- Google Ads Video Certification - Learn how to manage and optimise video advertising campaigns on YouTube.
- Google Shopping Ads Certification - Learn how to set up and manage Shopping Campaigns.
- Google Ads Apps Certification - If you're working with mobile apps, this will help you run effective Apps campaigns.
There are also courses on other Google products, such as Google My Business, Google Marketing Platform, Google Cloud and more.
These are ideal for showing your PPC and Google Ads expertise to potential employers. As a Google Partner, we need people certified in Google Ads. It makes these valuable certifications we look for in job applicants.
Bing Ads Accreditation
Microsoft also offers a certification program for Microsoft Advertising, formerly Bing Ads. Microsoft Ads is often the forgotten ad platform, but people forget that Bing is the Windows default search engine.
Even if you've completed your Google Certification, you'll still need to take this course to understand the differences. When you complete the course, you can take the exam to become a Microsoft Advertising Accredited Professional.
The HubSpot Academy is a brilliant way to upskill in a range of different digital marketing areas. You don't have to be a HubSpot customer to benefit. It's free to sign up, free to get started, and free to take their digital marketing short courses.
If you're looking to get started in digital marketing, we recommend you begin with Inbound Certification. It covers the basics of inbound marketing and is an excellent digital marketing grounding.
There are certifications on sales, email marketing, HubSpot Software, and more. There are also other courses which are still valuable knowledge, so this is a great training option.
Getting started with HubSpot Academy
For those just getting started in their digital marketing career, we recommend you look at basic certifications. Consider some courses aimed at inbound and content marketing. These will give you a good grounding in the tools, techniques and expertise you will need to succeed. These courses are:
- Inbound - Learn the inbound methodology, and get a good grounding on how it works.
- Inbound Marketing - This builds on the Inbound certification adding more practical techniques and how to create an Inbound strategy.
- Content Marketing - Covers how to start with blogging, creating effective content for your inbound marketing efforts.
- Email Marketing - Learn how to create an email strategy for today, with the segmentation and personalisation your audience wants. You'll also learn how to use the HubSpot free email tools.
- Social Media Marketing - Recently updated, this course will help you build an effective social media strategy to drive your inbound marketing efforts.
Courses for salespeople
There are some great courses for those working in a sales role and wanting to improve their digital skills and efficiency. Other than the Inbound course above, you should also consider:
- Inbound Sales - This course is for busy sales reps looking for actionable tips to increase your close rates and efficiency.
- Sales Enablement Training - Designed for marketing managers, but of benefit to others, this course helps you align marketing and sales teams.
- Frictionless Sales - Learn how to reduce friction in your sales process. Align your sales team with your buyer and improve your customer experience.
- Sales Management Training - If you're leading a sales team, this is for you. It focuses on building a scalable sales process, then hiring your dream sales team.
Courses for HubSpot users
If you're looking to get the most out of your HubSpot tools, you'll want to take some specific courses:
- HubSpot Marketing Software - A practical course to help you improve your usage of HubSpot Marketing Hub tools. Recommended for any marketers using HubSpot.
- HubSpot Sales Software - Recommended for salespeople using HubSpot CRM, and designed to improve your usage and efficiency with the sales tools.
- HubSpot Service Hub Software - For those using Service Hub, this will help you understand the Service tools to improve your customer experience.
- HubSpot Reporting - Get hands-on with HubSpot's reporting tools to help you incorporate data-driven decision making in your organisation.
- CMS for Marketers - If you have Marketing and/or CMS Professional, you have access to HubSpot's new CMS. This course will help you learn how to use the CMS for your website, landing pages and more. Just like its name, this course is designed for marketers, not developers.
- Contextual Marketing - People now expect personalised experiences. This course shows you how to do just that using HubSpot CRM and CMS. You'll need Marketing Professional or Enterprise, plus enough users to perform segmentation, 500+ is ideal.
Drift Conversational Marketing Certification
Drift is one of the fastest-growing tech companies on the planet. They offer a range of certifications focused on adopting more conversational practices for your business.
Don't use Drift? Their certifications still provide a simple blueprint for developing a conversational strategy for any business, using any chat tool.
Conversational Marketing Certification
The Drift Conversational Marketing Certification will help you understand how to build a conversational marketing strategy for your website.
The course offers real-world examples of the power of conversational marketing. This includes tips on how to use chatbots to move leads through your funnels.
Learn how and when to use chatbots for the best effect, how to roll out conversational marketing, and more.
Conversational Sales Certification
Another course launched in 2021, the Drift Conversational Sales Certification is primarily targeted at salespeople. In particular, how Conversational Sales tactics can shorten their sales cycle and provide a better user experience.
It's also worthwhile for marketers working with sales teams. You will learn how you can work with your salespeople to improve marketing return on investment.
Playbook Basics Certification
The Drift Playbook Basics Certification is one of the most practical certifications we've come across. You will actually build chatbots, or 'playbooks' in Drift-speak, in this course. As a result, it's one of the less universal Drift courses, but Drift's concepts can be carried across to other platforms.
I'd recommend this for someone looking to build chatbots in any general, and looking for ideas to get started.
As with the HubSpot Academy, the Semrush Academy is not all about Semrush. Semrush offers digital marketing short courses on a range of SEO topics and how to use the Semrush software.
These are now helpfully grouped into learning paths based on your area of interest:
- SEO Learning Path - SEO fundamentals and other essential SEO topics to give you a foundation in the key concepts.
- Technical SEO Learning Path - Get technical with courses that give you background on technical issues that can restrict your ability to rank.
- Content Marketing - Learn how to use content to boost your search engine rankings effectively.
- PPC - These courses are mostly about how to master PPC and automation. It is great for budding PPC practitioners looking to level up their skills.
- Social Media Marketing - More practical tips for how to grow your social media presence.
- Competitive Research - This one is all about Semrush tools, and how to use their tools to spy on your competition.
Semrush is industry-standard search engine optimisation software, but it isn't cheap. This makes it hard to get experience with the tools. The Semrush Academy can help you learn how to use the software without having to buy it. However, understanding the concepts of search engine optimisation is more important here.
You'll need to create a free account to take the courses, but you don't need to be a Semrush customer.
Less of a digital marketing industry certification and more of a resource for general upskill and learning. Want to sharpen your skills in Google Sheets or Excel? Lynda is perfect.
Australian marketers can access Lynda free through their local library, making this a great resource. It's also free in some other countries, so check with your local library.
Honourable mention: Facebook Blueprint
I really wanted to cover only free online courses in this blog. Still, Facebook offers social media marketing certifications that are almost free. These centre around Facebook advertising.
Facebook Blueprint is a Facebook marketing course by those that know: Facebook! With Facebook Blueprint, you can take over 80 free social media marketing courses to increase your knowledge. Learn how to manage Facebook Ads, develop a social media marketing strategy, and more.
But… if you want to earn the official Facebook Blueprint Certification, you need to pass at least two exams. Each exam attempt costs US$150. Passing Facebook's accredited social media marketing courses is a massive boost for your career in social media.
Are all these certifications really valuable?
Yes! But which certifications are valuable depends on the job you're applying for.
If you are looking for a job in online advertising or Google Ads management, you need the Google Ads certifications. Google Partners must have certified staff managing accounts. We won't let any of our staff manage a client Google Ads account without the appropriate Google Ads Certifications. So you'll need to pass these at some point, and already having them looks great on a resume.
If you're looking for a job at a company that uses HubSpot, having their certifications looks great on a resume. These courses also show your knowledge in marketing and sales automation software to companies that use a HubSpot competitor. The concepts are transferable.
Job hunting might be terrible when you're looking for a new opportunity, so help yourself stand out! From an employer's perspective, how do I separate graduates when their resumes look the same? We get so many quality candidates, but 70% or more of graduate resumes look identical.
Having these certifications on your resume helps you stand out. They show that you have initiative. You seek out training, earn digital marketing certifications, and gain valuable knowledge. You will be the candidate that stands out.
Now that you're familiar with free training, read our blog on gaining real-world industry experience. This will give you the edge going into your next job interview.
Updated 6 January 2021
Ryan is the Founder & CEO of Refuel Creative. He's a HubSpot certified marketer and SEO expert.