Starting a career in digital marketing can be challenging thanks to how broad the field is. You’ll find dozens of digital marketing courses – both free and paid. The actual problem is getting the right course and resources to give you a competitive edge in the industry. The best digital marketing course should take you from a total beginner to a hunted expert.
In this guide, I covered in detail all you need to look for in the best digital marketing course – course outlines, structure, reviews, and more.
- Picking the right digital marketing course is pivotal for career success
- Look for industry-accredited courses with relevant content and flexible learning options
- Courses should include topics like SEO, PPC, social media marketing, and data science
- Seek instructors with real-world experience, who stay updated and provide career guidance
- Past students’ reviews can reveal the course’s effectiveness, strengths, weaknesses, and trustworthiness
Importance of Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Course
Choosing the right course solidifies your foundation and is the first step to becoming a seasoned digital marketer. It should also position you strategically to attract opportunities. On the flip side (the wrong side), investing in the wrong course leads to a waste of time and resources. Here are some of the factors to consider to help you choose the right course:
Accreditation is a quality check. It validates that the digital marketing course has gone through the required assessment by an authority in the industry and meets the standards to teach students. It’s a vote of confidence, and some workplaces may demand or even look favorably on candidates with a certificate from an accredited academy.
That said, what accreditations should you look out for? Here are a few equally recognized accreditation providers in the digital marketing industry:
- Google Digital Marketing Certification (Coursera)
- Hubspot Digital Marketing certification
- Digital Marketing Institute digital marketing certification
- American Marketing Association (AMA) digital marketing certification
Relevant Course Content
A course is only as great as its content, right? The course content gives you a glimpse into the course and what to expect while learning. The right course should:
- Cover the majors of digital marketing – SEO, PPC, content marketing, SMM, SEM, etc., in extreme detail
- Provide practical examples of each sub-section, with a step-by-step approach to how it applies to real-world scenarios
- Be enjoyable. There should be enough visuals to increase readability and engage the students. Articles, videos, charts, infographics, eBooks, etc., should be made available
- Have quizzes, texts, or other systems to help students practice what they’ve learned per section
- Be uncluttered. Each section should seamlessly lead to the next and not the other way around
- Be constantly updated with the latest trends, technologies, and strategies
This brings us to the next…
The need to have experienced instructors is self-evident. They have in-depth industry knowledge and are recognized for their strides as well. Also, they are knowledgeable about industry trends and can provide valuable insights into future trends, shifts in consumer behavior, and how emerging technologies will impact digital marketing. Most importantly, they are subject matter experts.
For instance, Hubspot’s digital marketing course has a ‘Lesson Instructor’ section dedicated to each instructor on the course. Interested students can do further research to connect or ask for mentorship.
Flexible Learning Options
In this fast-paced world we live in, flexibility is needed more than ever. Professionals who are 9-5ers and take leading roles in their workplace may find committing to the traditional classroom learning style quite challenging. Stay-at-home parents who have personal responsibilities, too, may experience the same roadblock.
Flexibility allows you to exercise complete control over the learning process. With this type of learning, you can choose a convenient learning pattern and take breaks. Here are the popular flexible learning options available in the digital marketing industry:
- Hybrid learning: This combines online learning with face-to-face interaction. It’s perfect for professionals who want convenience but prefer in-person engagement.
- Online Learning: This type is 100% online, and professionals can manage their learning schedule comfortably.
- Self-paced Learning: Students go through the courses at their convenience and speed. There’s no fixed date for assignments or quizzes; you can choose to learn when you are most focused.
- Part-time learning: This type is the best option for 9-5ers. Usually, part-time courses are offered on weekends but for longer sessions.
- Microlearning: These are short lessons or micro courses. They cover specific topics within digital marketing, for instance, paid advertising lessons.
The best digital marketing course doesn’t stop at learning. There should be mini-sessions to connect with other students and learning instructors. Networking is vital as it helps you develop and improve your skill sets, stay abreast of industry trends, gain insights on the job market, and, most importantly, access resources required to thrive as a digital marketer.
What I love most is the knowledge-sharing sessions. While taking a course on digital marketing, I met a few bright minds trying to widen their horizons in the digital marketing field. We collaborated on different group assignments and discussed ways to help brands succeed online. But this isn’t the limit, as there are several other networking opportunities unique to each academy:
- Attending industry events and conferences
- Access to private digital marketing forums and communities
- Participating in group projects
- Peer-to-peer connections
- Mentorship opportunities
Overview of Key Considerations When Choosing the Best Digital Marketing Course
Now, this is the most important part. What are the factors you should consider when choosing the right marketing course? Here are a few:
- Accreditation and certifications
- Course content and curriculum
- Instructors and industry experts
- Online vs. in-person courses
- Course duration and flexibility
- Price and value for money
- Reviews and testimonials from past students
Course Content and Curriculum
Course content and curriculum give you a glimpse into what to expect in a digital marketing course. The best digital marketing courses cover:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO in digital marketing course covers the theory behind search engine algorithms, like Google or Microsoft Bing, and how to drive organic traffic to a website. In this course/lesson, you’ll learn how to optimize websites for higher visibility on search engines and improve rankings on search engine results pages.
SEO is a broad topic, so check out these basics:
- Introduction to SEO
- On-page and off-page SEO
- Technical SEO
- Link-building and backlink strategies
- SEO analytics
- Keyword research
- Local SEO
- Content optimization
Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)
PPC is another model of digital marketing that requires advertisers to pay a fee whenever a visitor clicks on their ad placements on search engines. The end goal is to drive traffic to the websites. In this course, you’ll learn how to launch and manage profitable PPC campaigns and the different facets of PPC advertising.
Here are the essentials to look out for in the course content:
- PPC platforms and channels
- Sales funnels
- Ad creation and extensions
- Keyword research
- Bidding strategies
- Multi-channel conversions
- Campaign budgeting
- Display advertising
- Campaign targeting
Social Media Marketing
As a digital marketer, you must master social media. Understanding how to increase brand visibility, connect with the target audience and drive conversions are equally important. Since it’s an integral part of a digital marketing course, these are vital concepts it should cover:
- Social media strategy
- Content creation
- Social media advertising
- Social media listening and monitoring
- Community management
- Influencer marketing
- Social media platforms
Content Marketing (CM)
Content marketing is a significant part of digital marketing and can be a stand-alone career. The average annual salary for a content marketer is $56,819 and is set to increase in the coming years.
CM focuses on creating and distributing relevant content on diverse platforms to attract, engage and retain a specific audience. It’s also extensive, and here are the concepts that should be covered in the course:
- Copywriting and content writing
- Content strategy
- Content optimization and distribution
- Content analysis
Email marketing is a type of digital marketing that uses email to promote products or services. This can be through newsletters to educate the target audience or sales emails to push sales. It focuses on building a lasting relationship with the target audience.
Digital marketing roles today require extensive experience in email marketing. Therefore, the right marketing course should cover the following:
- List building
- Email list segmentation
- Email design and content creation
- Lead nurturing
- Email testing and optimization
- Email analytics
- Email Hosting
Analytics and Data Science
I’d say analytics is the most crucial part of digital marketing. After getting all the traffic and leads, how do you measure and optimize for future campaigns? By understanding data analytics. To get a digital marketing role, you need to be able to monitor and report KPIs based on analytics. Here are the essential techniques that should be covered in the course:
- Web analytics
- Data visualization
- Customer segmentation and (re)targeting
- Machine learning in marketing
- Predictive modeling
- Data Science and the Role of emerging technologies in Marketing
- Data management
Instructors and Industry Experts
The instructors determine the value of any course and how it’s being taught. The best instructors are industry experts. They understand the intricacies of digital marketing and can provide valuable insights and perspectives that are otherwise not found in textbooks or other self-aid resources. Plus, they’re experienced and know how to communicate the lessons excitingly.
Here are other reasons why you should opt for a digital marketing course with renowned experts:
For example, each section of the digital marketing course on Hubspot is handled by specialists on their marketing team. They already have a proven track record and are recognized as experts in the marketing industry. Their insights bridge the gap between theoretical learning and real-world applications, and they provide insights into what works and doesn’t.
Similarly, industry experts can share case studies from their own professional experience. You’ll learn the exact steps they took, the challenges they faced, and the type of result generated from every campaign. As you lean on their experience, your chances of succeeding in the digital marketing role increase. Awesome, right?
As I pointed out earlier, digital marketing is constantly evolving. Newer technologies and trends are discovered daily, and keeping up can get overwhelming. Lately, as at writing this piece, businesses are integrating artificial intelligence to improve customer experience. We also see how machine learning is used to interpret marketing campaign data and predict future customer behaviors.
Experienced instructors can provide insights into these emerging technologies and how they can be effectively integrated into marketing. They can also predict the upcoming trends in digital marketing, helping you to future-proof your skills and remain relevant in the industry.
Career development opportunities allow you to attain a certain level of professionalism by building the right skill stack.
Hendrickson, vice president of tech and development products at Skillsoft, says, “Combine your tech and business skills with your human skills — intangible qualities, like tenacity, self-motivation, good listening skills, persuasiveness, sense of humor, and the ability to connect with people.”
That said, choose a course that provides career development resources to help you stand out during your job search.
It’s essential to look out for vitals like building a job-winning resume and cover letter, preparing for an interview, and using job boards and other mediums to search for legit digital marketing roles.
You also need to be accountable to someone. This is the most effective way to achieve your goals. Mentorship and internship opportunities are accountability avenues to advancing your career in digital marketing.
Someone said your network is your net worth. While this may not be generally acceptable, one thing stands true: you need to connect with the right people to hasten your progression into the digital marketing industry.
“You can really benefit from having a good network of other people who you feel comfortable asking for help,” Jackson, Salesforce developer at LaunchPad Lab, shared with Builtin, said. “Having work friends willing to jump on a Zoom call and help you figure out a problem is a great way to build your confidence.”
Online Vs. In-Person Courses
Online courses are accessible on any device if you have an internet connection. They are flexible and self-paced. On the other hand, In-person courses are structured. They are mostly physical classes and allow you to interact with peers and instructors at specific times.
Both have advantages and disadvantages; the best choice depends on your preferences, budget, and learning schedule. Here are some pros and cons of each option:
|Course content||Wide range of courses||Limited|
|artificial intelligenceing Experience||Self-paced||Structured|
Course Duration and Flexibility
Here are some considerations regarding course duration and flexibility:
From email notifications, social media jingles, family attention…the amount of things demanding our attention actually never ends. According to a recent study, long courses deliver poorer learning outcomes than shorter ones. The question now is, what is the ideal course length of a digital marketing course?
Typically, longer courses are more detailed. They delve into various topics, enabling students to gain a bird’s-eye view of each. Shorter courses, most times, cover the basics of digital marketing.
|Long course||Short course|
|Duration||Time intensive||Time efficient|
|Value in job market||High||Low|
|Course structure||More comprehensive||Less comprehensive|
|Retention level||Low, depends on course||High|
Another vital point to consider is the learning format – how the course content is delivered to the learners. Typically, each lesson is meant to be accessible, inclusive, interactive, and personalized. But there are different learning formats for marketing courses. It depends on you to choose the one that best fits your learning pattern:
Online vs. in-person courses:
Online courses, as I shared earlier, are accessible online and offer the convenience of learning at your own pace. It can be virtual instructor-led, like Hubspot courses. In-person courses, however, are similar to the traditional classroom learning style. It fosters face-to-face interaction with instructors and peers and requires that you go to the chosen location at the set time.
- Most convenient and flexible
- Accessible for learners globally
- Provides multimedia learning to aid assimilation
- Limited interaction between learners and instructors
- It may take longer to complete
- Requires self-motivation
- Promotes effective communication
- Aids hands-on learning experience
- Foster’s relationship building
- It may not be convenient
- Time and location limits
- Higher costs
Self-paced vs. structured courses:
Self-paced courses allow students to take lessons at their own time and schedule and are best fit for learners with tight schedules. Structured courses, on the other hand, have a fixed timeline or hierarchy for completing courses. It is similar to a university degree.
- More flexible and convenient
- More knowledge retention
- Not geographically restrained
- Heightened possibility of procrastination
- No means of accountability
- Limited interaction
- Promotes faster understanding
- With fewer distractions, learners finish at a set time
- Access to group activities and live sessions with instructors
- Fixed class schedules
- Can be costly
Digital marketing is broad and encompasses different strategies and channels for promoting businesses to customers. Some of these channels are technical and may take longer to assimilate, for instance, learning HTML, CSS, or technical SEO. Self-paced learning allows you to learn at your speed and schedule. It also promotes cross-border learning.
- Fully flexible, learn at your comfort
- Better knowledge retention
- Limited study support
- Learners may feel overwhelmed or discouraged at some point
- Need for self-motivation
The course schedule covers the lessons, allocated time, location, and instructor(s) taking each. This helps to determine how you manage your time effectively when taking the marketing course and the level of commitment you need to complete it. Based on my experience, a course schedule can be fixed or flexible.
Fixed schedules usually have a set time and predetermined dates for lectures, assignments, and assessments. They’re common in structured courses. I believe they’re better, especially when taking a digital marketing course online because it helps tailor your focus and achieve your learning goals. Flexible courses, however, have a broader time frame and allow you to learn at your pace.
Course materials include all the resources used in explaining the digital marketing course. Access to high-quality materials aids assimilation, especially when presented in different formats.
Price and Value for Money
Another factor to consider is the cost of acquiring the course. Is it worth your investment? Does it guarantee getting the right skills? Here’s how to find our:
Employees sometimes ask to see certificates to validate their experience level before hiring you. And remember, a digital marketing course is an investment. You don’t want to opt for a course not globally recognized in a digital marketing country.
A reputable course gives you an edge over other candidates in the job market and access to other alums who can provide mentorship or refer you to job opportunities as needed.
Some of these high-quality courses come with six months – 1-year internships to enable you to practice real-world scenarios and build a portfolio that you can use to apply for jobs in the future.
Are you a busy professional looking to add a new skill set to your skill stack? Or a full-time worker looking to break into the digital world?
No matter your profession, there’s always a course perfectly tailored to ease your learning experience. Therefore, carefully examine the course format in which the lessons are delivered.
- The course format should be flexible, whether online or in-person.
- Each lesson should be interactive and compel students to participate in the course
- Resources like blogs, templates, lecture notes, and software should be provided to aid critical thinking and self-assessments
- Inclusivity should also be considered for learners with disabilities and gender identities.
This brings us to the next…
After all is said and done, certification proves that you have successfully passed the required training and are qualified to excel in any digital marketing role. It validates your skills and abilities while increasing your marketing power. All paid digital marketing courses come with a certificate. Many free digital marketing courses offer certificates, for example, Google certifications in digital marketing.
Reviews and Testimonials from Past Students
The best way to differentiate a quality course from a sub-par one is by checking reviews from past students:
Reading reviews is the only way to ascertain whether a course is worth your investment. This is why you should check testimonials and reviews from other students who have taken the course. When doing so, check from various sources, not only the course website.
Social media mentions, YouTube reviews, blog reviews, etc., can provide an honest and unbiased assessment of the course, helping you make an informed decision.
Insight Into Learning Outcomes
In addition, testimonials from past students can give you an idea of what to expect. Their genuine perspectives can help you gauge the quality of the course content. Some reviews may provide insights into the learning outcome, such as business growth or career advancement after taking the course.
Identify Strengths and Weaknesses
After reading the positive feedback, check out the negatives too. If you see a common trend in replies, for instance, poor delivery, back off. Negative feedback is vital as it provides insights into what needs to be improved in the course. This way, it’s easy to know if it’s worth your investment.
Comparison With Other Courses
Thankfully, there are thousands of free and paid certifications in digital marketing. Choose at most ten best digital marketing certifications and evaluate each based on the above factors and past student reviews.
As highlighted earlier, take account of positive and critical feedback to inform your final decision. Doing this ensures that the course is worth your investment and will provide you with the required skills to succeed in any job role.
Lastly, access the credibility of the testimonial. Consider the level of detail expressed in each feedback, not generic ones like ‘The course is great, I like it.’ Genuine feedback always provides specific information like the depth of the course content, teaching style, and learning outcomes. The past students may even share their personal experiences while taking the course, including challenges and how the instructors helped out.
Learning digital marketing is like starting a career in sports. There are so many facets, and you can decide to be a specialist in any of them, for instance, social media manager. I started as a content writer and transitioned to content marketing before spreading my wings in digital marketing. Hence, I’d advise you to take each bit by bit and practice as you go.
Remember to follow the instructions above to foolproof your digital marketing journey, and have a great start.
Next Steps: What Now?
- Compare and Shortlist: Evaluate courses that meet your goals
- Reach Out to Alumni: Connect with past students for insights
- Consider the Budget: Reflect on your financial capacity
- Enroll and Commit: Once satisfied, enroll and invest your time and energy