I saw a great SEO presentation in Boston a couple years ago that really left a lasting impression. The expert explained some truly innovative tactics that I still use to this day, yet my enduring memory is actually about his background. He was a former advertising guy who switched careers in his 40s — and did his studying online.
"I got my bachelor's degree from Google and my Masters from YouTube University," he joked, but he really meant it. He decided not to go back to grad school when he made his career change, and spent four hours a night studying on the internet, instead.
There truly is an unbelievable amount of knowledge available online these days, with tutorials and certifications available for just about everything. And because of its nature, digital marketing leads the way. After all, digital marketers understand that educational information is an effective way to market their products and concepts, and digital marketing is relatively easy to explain with whiteboards and screenshots.
So, whether you're looking to completely change careers, improve your resume, or just learn a few extra tips to be better at your current job, here are some of the best marketing certifications to check out in 2020. And if you're just looking to learn — and don't really care about tests and certificates — I've also included some great Podcasts and YouTube channels for picking up marketing ideas.
Google - Ads Certification [Free]
Since Google is at the heart of most digital marketing, it makes sense to start with the Google Ads certification. Formerly a part of Google's partner program , the basic and advanced courses are now available in Google's Academy for Ads, the online training program that Google launched last year.
To become Google Ads certified, you must pass the fundamentals assessment plus an advanced assessment in at least one of the following areas:
- Video Advertising
- Shopping Advertising
The Google Ads certification is a professional accreditation for individuals. The badge is a valuable addition to any resume or LinkedIn page, but it should not be confused with Google Partner badge. That certification is only available to agencies.
HubSpot - Inbound Certification [Free]
HubSpot's Inbound Marketing methodology ties together just about all aspects of digital marketing, so the free Inbound Certification Course is a great overview, even if you aren't planning to use the HubSpot tools. This "intro to inbound" course is broken into seven video lessons that provide an overview of the full inbound methodology, from marketing to sales to service:
- Understanding the Fundamentals of Inbound (33 minutes)
- Growing Your Business With a Flywheel Model (10 minutes)
- Understanding the Inbound Principles (22 minutes)
- Creating a Company Purpose (23 minutes)
- Setting Business Goals (20 minutes)
- Creating Buyer Personas (17 minutes)
- Understanding the Buyer's Journey (19 minutes)
It takes just under two-and-a-half hours to watch all the videos, although you can click a button to speed them or slow them down for note-taking, depending on your learning style. The training is open (and free) to the public, and is a perfect foundation for anyone in the digital marketing space. After you watch the videos, set aside another two hours for the test.
HubSpot now offers free tools for sales, marketing, service and CRM to help put that inbound education into practice, so the HubSpot Academy has added a number of new free courses and certifications, including:
- Inbound Marketing Certification (approx. 4 hours)
- Email Marketing Certification (approx. 4 hours)
- Content Marketing Certification (approx. 4:20)
- 2018 SEO Training (approx. 1 hour)
You can access all of HubSpot's free certifications in the HubSpot Academy resource center.
Unbounce - The Landing Page Course [Free]
This course is the A to Z guide for how to effectively use landing pages in your organization's online marketing efforts. Its theme can be summarized as "see your landing pages through the eyes of a user, rather than your own eyes." It shows you how to design and write effective landing pages, from the headlines to forms to call-to-action buttons.
Unbounce founder Oli Gardner is all about conversion and the tiny details that can improve results - especially message match. Although the lessons use Unbounce's landing page tools, his tips are so audience-focused that they easily translate to any conversion-oriented landing page. Whether it's A/B testing for the right words to convert, or the right design, any digital marketer could learn a few things.
The Unbounce Landing Page Course features written lessons on landing page fundamentals, page architecture, CTA design, lead capture forms and landing page copywriting, followed by video tutorials on landing pages and landing page design.
Unbounce doesn't have any tests or badges, just a course full of easy-to-understand instruction.
Copyblogger's free membership includes a 20-part internet marketing course. The "sessions" are offered via email and are meant to be taken over time. This course covers social media, content marketing and search engine optimization, all within the context of how to generate more leads for your business. There is a heavy focus on writing, from keywords to headlines to copywriting and strategy.
Copyblogger's free course is authored by the founder and CEO of Copyblogger Media, Brian Clark, and includes access to a full library of e-books and other marketing resources.
Copyblogger also offers a Certified Content Marketer designation, which allows writers to be listed as Certified Content Marketers. The paid certification program starts with a four-week online course, requires a review of the writer's work before they can make the final list, and includes ongoing instruction. When the list is full (which happens often), Copyblogger adds names to a waiting list.
WordStream - PPC University [Free]
As the name indicates, WordStream's PPC University focuses on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Because PPC is constantly changing, there is certainly plenty of material to cover. In fact, WordStream breaks it into three levels:
- PPC 101 - Covers PPC and keyword basics, how to set up a Google AdWords account, and metrics to determine the value of certain keywords.
- PPC 102 - Best practices for optimizing Google Ads, including how to conduct keyword research, manage bids, and optimize landing pages.
- Advanced PPC - Learn about remarketing, geotargeting, mobile PPC, and Google's expanded text ads.
In addition to the PPC University courses, Wordstream also offers Social Ads 101 and a number of webinars and whitepapers.
Chatbot University [FREE]
MobileMonkey, the "fastest-growing Facebook Messenger Marketing Solutions Provider Partner," has put together a large resource base of courses for Chatbot best practices. Chatbot University offers 6 free courses:
- Learn Chatbots 101
- Chatbots 102: Chatbots by Industry & Use Case
- Facebook Messenger Marketing
- Advanced Chatbot Marketing
- Chatbot Training Course
- Agencies Guide to Chatbots
Each course has roughly five to twelve article-based topics, so be prepared to read! Each article includes screen shots, diagrams, and sometimes even video to help with explanations.
Udemy - Seth Godin [Paid]
If there's one website that proves the theory that you can study just about anything online, it's Udemy. The online marketplace for academic courses includes more than 100,000 courses, and it's not surprising that a large percentage of them are devoted to marketing.
One of the most popular is Modern Modern Marketing with Seth Godin, based on the best-selling author's live seminars. The Udemy course condenses the 45 lessons into 6 hours of on-demand videos, including all of the lectures, but skipping the case studies and discussions.
Godin focuses more on his marketing philosophy than specific strategy and tactics, but he's become a mentor for an entire generation of marketers. By Udemy standards, the course is expensive ($199.99) but the review average is 4.6 stars. The course includes lifetime access to the resources and a certificate of completion.
If you're a big Godin fan (and have much deeper pockets), you might even want to consider his altMBA program. The altMBA is an intensive online leadership management workshop designed as an alternative to the traditional MBA.
Since it was founded in 2015 to allow students to attend lectures and work from their home or workplace, more than 2,300 students from around the world have participated in Godin's alternative to a traditional MBA program. His altMBA brings students together using digital tools like Slack, Discourse, and Zoom. Students work individually and in groups on 13 assigned projects in the intense four-week program. The price tag is intense, as well. It's $3850 per person, and admission is by application only.
Want to browse a huge library of online courses? Check out Skillshare. As the name implies, it's more focused on skills-related tutorials than Udemy.
The courses are a bit of a hodgepodge, but there are some gems. For example, Moz founder Rand Fishkin offers Introduction to SEO: Tactics and Strategy for Entrepreneurs, a 6-video course with strategy, demos, and five class projects. And best-selling author and TED talks star Simon Sinek shares the secrets to his inspiring presentations in Presentation Essentials: How to Share Ideas That Inspire Action.
You can get started on SkillShare for free, and premium membership is $15 per month (discounted to $8.25/month if you pay for a full year).
LinkedIn Learning [Paid]
LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com) offers an impressive list of digital marketing tutorials for an affordable price. You look for courses in the LinkedIn Learning platform almost like you would on an online shopping site, filtering your selections by courses, videos and learning paths. You can also click boxes for skill level (beginner, intermediate or advanced) and time to complete (with boxes ranging from less than 10 minutes up to 3+ hours).
A LinkedIn Learning subscription goes for $29.99 per month, but you can get started with a 30-day free trial.
What's the next wave of online education? If you don't need badges and certifications, it's already here. There are dozens of binge-worthy YouTube Channels and podcasts that are filled with the latest tips, tricks, and techniques. And the great thing is, whenever you find one you really like, you can keep the knowledge coming by subscribing!
Here are some of our favorites:
- The Science of Social Media
- Everyone Hates Marketers
- Akimbo (Seth Godin’s Pod)
- Marketer to Marketer
- Marketing School
- 5-Minute Marketing
I'm sure there are a ton of other courses and resources that we've yet to explore, what are some of your favorites?