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A Guide to Free Digital Marketing Certificates and Courses

Whether you’re learning digital marketing as part of ongoing professional development, looking for a career switch or running a business, there are luckily many free courses and certificates out there to choose from.

As well as learning new marketing skills, with some of these you’ll get a shiny certificate to add to your CV or LinkedIn profile.

Here’s my round up of the best and most well-recognised digital marketing certificates and courses, covering topics from social media to analytics to content marketing.

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Google Skillshop

Previously Google Academy for Ads (and before that Google Partners) Google Skillshop offers official learning resources and certificates based on Google’s digital marketing products such as Google Ads, Google Analytics and YouTube.

Use the study guides in each section to swot up first, and then take a multiple choice exam to test your knowledge and earn your free certificate. Or skip straight to the test if you already know your stuff!

Certificates include:

Watch out for: Tricksy questions such as selecting multiple answers, time-limited exams, delay before you can retake if you fail an attempt

Top tip: Some certificates come with “knowledge check” assessments you can take before the full exam to see if you’re ready – make use of these!

HubSpot Academy

HubSpot is an inbound marketing platform, and as well as offering free training on how to use their own product, the HubSpot Academy also offers a number of courses on more general digital marketing topics.

Some are certified courses and others not, covering topics such as content marketing, email marketing and social media.

Courses include:

Watch out for: Some of the courses are more focused on HubSpot’s own platform – you can usually tell from the title!

Top tip: Use the handy filters on the course page to find the right category, course duration, topic and level – as of writing this there are 28 pages of courses to browse!

Facebook Blueprint

Facebook’s free online learning platform covers both Facebook and Instagram, from beginner level to more advanced topics. Although the certificates are paid for, the online courses themselves are free and a great opportunity to brush up on your social media skills.

Courses include:

Watch out for: There are a LOT of courses and sub-topics, and the platform is a bit convoluted to navigate: there are two main hub pages where you will find the courses. Here at https://www.facebook.com/business/learn and more advanced courses such as Business Manager and advertising here.

Top tip: Join Facebook’s official ‘Boost With Facebook UK’ group for announcements, tips and learning

Pinterest Academy

Pinterest is so vastly underrated by small businesses, yet has had a massive increase in user engagement under lockdown, and is constantly introducing new features, in particular for ecommerce businesses. They introduced Pinterest Academy, their free e-learning tool, late last year and have been adding new content regularly.

Courses include:

Watch out for: It’s not as in depth as some of the other online learning platforms just yet – some of the modules are quite short – but still valuable bitesize content that will help you to improve your Pinterest marketing.

Top tip: Put your Pinterest learning into practice and check back for new courses, as this one is still pretty new

Twitter Flight School

Twitter’s Flight School learning platform is focused on advertising rather than general business tips, so bear that in mind if you’re looking to learn more about organic Twitter strategy (better courses for that below…).

Only the Video topic has a certification (or ‘badge’) at the moment, but the rest of the learning content is still valuable if you’re looking at running ads on Twitter for your business or clients.

Courses include:

Watch out for: The Video Badge exam feels a little salesy at times, so be prepared to answer questions on the different types of video ads as well as creative best practices.

Top tip: Use the ‘test out’ feature if you want to go straight to the exam – this lets you prove your knowledge and skip the otherwise required course content.

Shopify Compass

Shopify have long been my go-to for ecommerce and online retail learning, through their extensive collection of resources such as ecommerce guides and podcasts. Slightly newer, though, is Shopify Compass, a collection of online courses to help you launch and grow an online business.

The course catalogue covers a wide range of both digital marketing and ecommerce topics, with regular live webinars (and playbacks of past webinars) also available. This one’s definitely all about the practical learning, and there aren’t currently certificates available. Perfect for online businesses or those wanting to start one.

Courses include:

Watch out for: As with HubSpot, some of the courses and webinars are naturally more focused on using the Shopify platform – again, this is fairly obvious from the course titles.

Top tip: Seriously, the past event recordings are not to be overlooked. Recent webinars have covered COVID-19 strategies, current trends and some great guest speakers.

Google Fundamentals of Digital Marketing Certificate

I’m slightly biased on this one but the Google Fundamentals of Digital Marketing certificate (in the UK part of the Digital Garage programme I work on) provides a great entry-level option for digital marketers and business owners.

The free course consists of 26 modules covering topics from SEO to paid search to websites. Each gives you a badge building towards the full certification, so it’s easy to track where you’re up to. The Digital Garage website curates other courses both from Google and other resources, but the Fundamentals one is a great place to start, and you get a certificate accredited by The Open University and IAB.

Courses include:

Watch out for: You need to complete all modules to get the certificate – when you sign in you’ll be able to see how many badges you’ve completed so far.

Top tip: Digital Garage in the UK as well as some other countries is currently running free live training on digital marketing topics – a great way to build on your knowledge or get started

Canva Design School

The Canva design school is full of free online courses to help you use Canva to its full potential. From learning to use their free design too to mastering the art of branding for your business, although it’s more focused on graphic design there’s plenty to learn here for digital marketers and small business owners.

Courses/tutorials include:

Watch out for: The Design School is split between online courses and design tutorials. The courses dive more into theory (the social media and branding ones are my favourites), whereas the tutorials show you how to do something on Canva itself. So even if you’re not using Canva, the online courses will still be very useful!

Top tip: You’ll also find the online course videos on Canva’s YouTube channel, where they regularly post other how-to and inspiration videos. Well worth a subscribe! However for the courses themselves, you’ll likely find them easier to navigate on the Design School website.

Mailchimp Academy

Mailchimp Academy helps you get to grips with the basics of email marketing, as well as more advanced automation and ‘bootcamp’ courses on brand and PR.

Courses include:

Watch out for: The foundations certificate teaches you how to get around Mailchimp’s platform and features specifically – for more general email marketing learning, try the Email Marketing Bootcamp resources instead.

Top tip: The Mailchimp Foundations Certification can help towards partner status, so if you’re a practising email marketer managing client accounts, focus on this one first!

What have I missed or which ones are you working on completing? Tell me about your favourite free digital marketing courses and certificates over on Twitter or pop me a message on LinkedIn!

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