on November 21, 2019 (last modified on December 1, 2021) • 14 minute read
Marketing, and online marketing in particular, is always changing.
It’s one of those industries where practitioners have to always be learning—or risk falling behind.
With that constant improvement in mind, how can marketers grow their skills? When we posed that question to 44 seasoned marketing pros, nearly half rated online courses as the best way to expand your knowledge.
And it seems that marketers we spoke with aren’t just grandstanding about online courses—45% of them also reported having taken between 7 and 20 online courses throughout their career.
That got us thinking: Where do these seasoned marketers turn for online courses that are reputable and actionable? When we asked which online learning platform they recommended, we heard about Skillshare, Udemy, Lynda, and (of course) HubSpot Academy, among others.
With that in mind, we asked our marketing friends to share, more specifically, which digital marketing online courses they’ve taken and swear by. Here’s what they shared.
Corey Haines of Hey Marketers recommended Customers From Content, a content marketing and SEO course created by Grow & Convert.
“It’s the best hands-on content marketing course that goes beyond just SEO,” Haines said. “Benji and Devesh are some of the smartest minds in content marketing, have proven it with their Grow & Convert blog and clients, and share all their strategies.”
“When I pivoted my career to online marketing without any previous experience or knowledge, I decided to get a subscription to Lynda.com,” said Antti Alatalo of Cashcow.
“Then I discovered the learning paths. I took the learning path to become an SEO expert. If you’re interested in learning SEO, I think this course is excellent for people that don’t have any previous experience. It teaches you the basics of SEO, and you’ll have an excellent fundamental understanding of SEO if you complete the course. Plus, once you have finished a course, you can add it as a certification to your LinkedIn profile.”
Project 24 is one course we heard a lot about from the marketers we spoke with.
Simon Hansen of Family Travel Planet explained, “It is a completely different approach to online content marketing than most SEO teaches. And most of all, the community of the class is worth the price alone. You have a mastermind community bundled with an excellent course.”
And according to Sasha Yanshin of LazyTrips, “Income School’s Project 24 is hands down the best online marketing course for those who want a no-nonsense content marketing strategy for just about any type of business.”
Yanshin went on to say, “Jim and Ricky, who run the course, are down to Earth and manage to deliver stunningly simple but super effective strategies without the hard sell, cheap email sequences, and other marketing trickery used by so-called marketing gurus.”
Jon Tabbernor of WealthTurbo also raved about Project 24, saying, “Not only do you get great value for money in terms of a competitively priced course, but they give you actionable and realistic steps to get started blogging, a wide range of guides, access to an exclusive community of fellow marketers, and bonuses that will help you along the way.”
Debbie Gartner of The Flooring Girls swears by Carly Campbell’s course, Pinteresting Strategies. According to Gartner, the course “enabled me to reach over 200,000 pageviews/month just from Pinterest.”
Gartner explained that the course is easy to follow, easy to understand, and easy to implement—the trifecta for an online course. Plus, the course only runs $47.
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“Jeff is the grandfather of online launches and lays out the entire process clearly, succinctly and very, very thoroughly,” said Tracie Shroyer of Launch Tech Made Easy.
“He has done millions of dollars in online launches. His students range from people with physical products to those doing book launches, or online courses. There is no other who compares when it comes to launching online.”
Andrew Latham of SuperMoney recommended an online program from a more traditional source—the University of Illinois.
According to Latham, “It provides a useful refresher (or foundation) in marketing theory and strategy, and it’s particularly good at teaching you how to apply data analytics to real-world marketing challenges. As a bonus, the course counts toward a fully-accredited online MBA.”
“I took Webris’ link building course back in 2016,” said David Hamann of Search It Local, “and the skills learned there have become central to everything I do as an SEO.” Hamann added that “Webris’ training was ideal for any entrepreneur or small agency looking to understand and apply link building best practices.”
“I’ve found that Google certifications are the best courses available for digital marketers. They’re 100% free, extremely comprehensive, and gave me a real sense of preparedness in subjects I wasn’t so confident in before,” said Joe Bennett of Tokeet.
More specifically, Osiris Parikh of Summit Mindfulness recommended the Digital Marketing Certification, saying, “The course delves into the basics of SEO, local marketing, and other topics that can be directly applied to businesses today. Not only does the certificate look great on a resume, but it provides learners with foundational knowledge to grow their business online.”
Usama Hashmi of Ozel Tailor Jeans echoed Parikh’s recommendation. Hashmi shared, “I must recommend this course for every beginner who aims to build a strong career in digital marketing. It provides the summarized structure and the processes in digital domains such as SEO, SEM, social media ads, Google My Business, and Maps.”
As the company that coined “inbound marketing,” who better to teach marketers all about it? According to Sameer Somal of Blue Ocean Global Technology, “Hubspot Inbound offers some of the best actionable resources for both beginners and experienced digital marketing professionals.”
“To supplement their library of written content,” Somal added, “Hubspot Inbound provides insightful and engaging videos that make the learning process enjoyable. They also offer certification programs to reinforce your professional capabilities and acquired knowledge.”
Claudio Pereira of Uku Inbound explained that HubSpot’s Inbound Certification covers “everything from buyer personas, the buyer’s journey, contextual content, lead nurturing, and even some inbound sales basics. We recommend any new team member or client takes the time to go through the course.”
“The knowledge provided is vetted by industry experts, and delivered by excellent coaches,” said Farasat Khan of IsItWP. “Inbound Marketing helps you pave your way into content marketing to create a pull for your business which is the demand for an online presence.”
Another HubSpot Academy course our friends recommended focuses on content marketing specifically. “The course is full of practical instructions that teach you how to setup a content creation framework, produce effective content regularly, repurpose content for people and search engines, and become a more strategic marketer,” said Eric Melillo of COFORGE.
Melillo added that “It opened our eyes to see content as an asset that can not only transform our agency but transform our clients’ as well.”
Alice Stevens of Best Company highlighted how HubSpot’s content course teaches just about everything marketers need to know to put content marketing to work for them:
“It’s comprehensive—covering how to analyze your current content, how to create a content schedule, how to determine what content to repurpose, how to do video content and content features (e-books, white papers, etc.) to make your content stand out and give more value to the reader.”
AJ Alonzo of demandDrive noted how comprehensive HubSpot’s course is, too. “From storytelling to strategic planning to effective promotion skills, this course really delivers a holistic experience for anyone in the marketing space.”
Stephen Taylor of WISER told us that HubSpot’s courses are among the best for busy marketers because “it’s organized with a modular structure that lets you work at it in small chunks at a time.”
Another nod to HubSpot Academy, Alex Hamilton of Morley Canvas highlighted this one about building sustainable web traffic. Hamilton explained, “The free course gives you an overview and introduction to SEO, how it works, and how you can better your online marketing efforts with effective SEO strategy.”
“Even experienced SEO professionals will likely gain some knowledge on effective SEO strategy,” Hamilton added.
Jen Bergren of Chief Martech Officer laid out the argument for HubSpot’s Email Marketing Certification: “It has helpful, clear video instruction, a study guide, and other resources related to the course such as additional information on GDPR. It is free and you receive a certification after completion that is great for your LinkedIn profile.”
Bergren also noted that the course discusses email more generally—so it’s great even if you don’t use HubSpot’s email marketing service.
“One of my favorite online marketing courses of all time is Facebook Page Strategies from Rachel at Moolah Marketing,” said McKinzie Bean of Moms Make Cents.
“Rachel has grown pages to over a million fans and has generated hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue from Facebook,” Bean added. “In her course, she pulls back the curtain to show what works now on Facebook and how you can use it to grow your business.”
Jitendra Vaswani of BloggersIdeas.com took Neil Patel’s Agency Unlocked and told us the advice was well worth the cost of the course. According to Vaswani, Patel shares detailed guides, videos, tips, and even live help.
Following the 3 month course, Vaswani’s website traffic increased by more than 20%.
HubSpot’s Alex Birkett raved about ConversionXL’s Optimization Minidegree, saying, “If you want to stop wading in mediocre content written by people who haven’t done CRO before, just take CXL’s courses. They’re all taught by actual practitioners and go beyond the beginner stuff. It’s difficult, but you’ll be a better marketer after taking it.”
Ben Johnston of Sagefrog Marketing Company recommended a series of courses—the UX courses taught by Joe Natoli on Udemy.
“UX is an integral and often feared aspect of digital marketing. Joe breaks it down in a way that everyone can understand, teaching basic cornerstones of UX, and also how to plan your digital marketing with UX in mind,” Johnston explained. “Plus, they’re often fairly cheap, which is always a good thing for the valuable info that you get.”
Damien Reed of Prospected told us about a course for social media marketers run by Pouya Eti on Skillshare.
“This course covers a lot of different things,” Reed said, “from SEO and email marketing to how one can start a social marketing agency. Also, I believe that the course is good for both beginners and people already involved in marketing, who want to learn more. There’s a lot of sections and each is covered in detail, so there will be no misunderstandings.”
“My personal favorite is Backlinking,” Reed added.
Another course we heard about, from an unexpected company, is Facebook Blueprint. According to Takeshi Young of Optimizely, “Facebook’s Blueprint course and certification are some of the best content out there in regards to paid marketing.”
“It covers everything from the basics to ad strategy and optimization,” Takeshi told us. “Nothing beats hands-on experience, but this course is a good starting point for online advertising.”
It’s rare to find an online course that even makes it easier to outsource your SEO. According to Libby Hakim of Cooking with Nana Ling, Kate Toon’s The Recipe for SEO Success course does just that.
“Whether you want to DIY or eventually outsource your SEO and digital marketing, this course is a game-changer,” Hakim said. “It’s highly engaging and gives you everything you need to know to take control and make big plans for your business.”
“Understanding Google Analytics is one of the most important aspects of taking on digital marketing head-on,” said Gary Stevens of Hosting Canada. “If you can’t understand the website traffic you’re attempting to generate then what is even the point of generating that website traffic?”
Hamza Manzoor of DME of America echoed Stevens, recommending all of the Google Analytics courses Google offers.
As Alwi Suleiman of Content Market King noted, Google Analytics courses teach more than the basics of measuring with GA—teaching marketers not just “how to measure outcomes but to measure what matters. You know the saying, ‘not all that can be measured matters.’ It gave me a platform to be able to measure what matters, and also improved my overall analytical skills.”
E-course platforms like Coursera offer an opportunity to take digital courses from prominent universities and colleges. Caleb Rule of Rule Marketing Group told us about a series of such courses available on Coursera from the University of Illinois—the Digital Marketing Specialization.
“You don’t have to pay to take the classes and learn the material,” Rule said, “and there’s plenty of good theory involved throughout the course. An excellent place for those early in their digital journeys.”
If the idea of taking a course on Microsoft Excel brings back unpleasant undergrad memories, Anna Tracy of Smile Marketing had a compelling reason for taking one anyway.
“Since marketers generate so much data, we need to be equipped to manipulate and visualize it to go after short- and long-term wins. If you’re not nimble with Excel, you won’t be able to quickly unlock actionable insights.”
Tracy’s recommendation was the Excel for Marketers course taught by Michael Taylor for Lynda.com.
Minuca Elena took several courses on everything from blogging to social media to SEO but lists Brian Dean of Backlinko’s course on SEO That Works as a favorite.
“Thanks to Brian and his course I have improved my link building and keyword research skills, and I can write better content,” Elena said. Not to mention, “when you enroll in his class, you receive access to a private Facebook group where you can interact and build relationships with other students.”
According to Jim Milan of Auto Accessories Garage, Isaac Rudansky’s Ultimate Google Ads / AdWords course covers everything marketers need to know about running a Google Ads campaign—“from setting up the account to bidding strategies, keyword research, writing compelling ads, and more.”
Milan explained that “Isaac provides his own Powerpoint slides for download and short quizzes on each of the main sections of the course. It has garnered thousands of five-star reviews, because of how useful and clearly articulated the information is.”
In today’s marketing world, marketers simply must continue learning and acquiring new skills—it’s the reality of the digital age. And online courses are one incredible opportunity to learn from top experts for a relatively affordable price.
Start with the courses our marketing pros recommended, and who knows what you’ll learn or where you’ll end up.
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