This is a list of all the places to learn digital marketing for free directly from the major digital marketing platforms themselves.
Almost every major digital marketing platform has free courses you can do to teach you how to use them. They want you to use their platform and not anyone else’s after all. By providing you with free courses they increase your chances of success – and therefore the likelihood of you continuing to use their platform.
The good news is that these courses are all free! The bad news is that they are all strangely hard to find – which is where this list comes in.
Many of these courses have attached tests, certificates, or accreditations. They’re not worth much, but if you are between jobs or just short on work, it doesn’t hurt to pump up your CV a bit by earning a few of them.
Please Note: I’m not specifically endorsing these courses as being the best by any means. However, by doing these courses you can learn what the platform wants from you, and so you can get better at using that specific platform.
This is the key point – these courses are great at teaching you what the platform wants from you.
They generally aren’t as good at teaching you how to get what you want from the platform. That usually comes from practice, experience, and learning from your peers.
Google has created a lot of courses to teach about the platforms they own. And most of them are pretty good. These courses are usually very accessible and generally come with a multiple-choice exam at the end (and a certificate) so they are pretty satisfying.
Unfortunately, Google is terrible at looking after its learning hubs and so the courses are scattered and hard to find.
There is a unified place to find all their courses called Google Skillshop. However, it is was previously poorly maintained however it appears to have been renovated, so many of these links are from there.
If you work for an agency you should instead sign up for Google Partners, which has tons of useful Google Ads courses. It is a free programme to join, and if you hit some requirements then your agency becomes an official Google Partner.
The requirements to gain Google Partner status (at the time of writing) are that your Google Ads account needs to have an optimisation score of 70%+, you need to be in charge of $10k ad spend, and at least 50% of your staff attached to your account need to have completed qualifications. If you do all this, then you get perks such as easy access to technical support.
Google Marketing Platform
Similar to Google Ads, it has its own partner program, inventively called Google Marketing Platform Partners.
Google Business Profile
Google has a whole education platform that is free to access, which houses a useful course about Google Business Profile (previously Google My Business). You can find it on Google for Education. Beware it still weirdly uses .html at the end of links so it is probably pretty old.
There is also a section on Skillshop for Google Business Profile – but it still calls it Google My Business so I would be surprised if it wasn’t out of date in many places.
If you’re a creator and serious about making YouTube your main digital marketing channel then the YouTube Creator Academy is vital watching. If not only because it has a whole section on YouTubes policies and guidelines which can be an endless source of trouble for Vloggers. This course does have mixed reviews, but it’s free so still worth your time.
If you want to get certified on YouTube Ads, there is Google Ads video certification you should take. It’ll take around half a day to get through it all, but there is some interesting stuff in there.
For Google Analytics there is Google Analytics Academy, which is my favourite set of courses that Google offers. It helps you understand those pesky metrics you’re interested in (as well as Google Tag Manager). It has videos and demos galore and is easy to navigate and use. Great for beginners or pro’s looking to top up their brain juice.
Of course with the imminent arrival of GA4 you should probably bone up on that. Skillshop has one course on it… and it’s not the best frankly (but you should still take it). I’m sure there will be more to come though.
Google trends can be an extremely useful tool for SEO, Paid Search, Content Marketing, and just general analytics context. If you want to make the most out of it, then check out the Google News Initiative’s set of courses.
There have been more things written about Google Search and SEO than you can possibly imagine (including by us). Google have finally got into the game directly though in multiple places. Some of my favourites are:
- Google Search lessons from the Google News Initiative. Not an SEO course, but rather a course about using Google Search better.
- Search Engine Optimization Fundamentals from the Google Digital Garage (see below). It’s quite long, yet quite accessible.
- Search Console Training from Google Search Console (scroll down to see it). GSC is a vital tool for SEO, so understanding it is very important.
Google in General
Finally, there is the slightly more mysterious Digital Garage. It’s only mysterious because it asks you questions when you sign up then tailors its courses to you individually. This means I can’t say for sure everything that it offers.
It is easy to use though and well put together, so again, totally worth your time.
Facebook & Instagram Courses
Facebook has an online school called Facebook Blueprint (from Meta for Business), and oh boy is it comprehensive. A little bit too comprehensive if you ask me. It has 45 courses on its homepage, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
To be fair to them, these courses are far-reaching, with course names from “How to set the duration of your Facebook ad” to “How to raise money to fight injustice”. They are covering everything – and that is what happens when you have over a quarter of all humans using your service I suppose.
These courses are, in my opinion, equal measures helpful and annoying. This is because they act like they are teaching you about the whole of digital marketing and the internet, but of course, they are only talking about Facebook. If you want to learn about Facebook, then of course that is pretty useful.
And I said though, there are way too many of them. To make your life easier, here are the key sections:
- For organic social media marketing: “Bring your business online“
- For Facebook Ads (as an individual or in-house SMA specialist): “Get Started With Advertising“
- For Facebook Ads (as an Agency or Brand): “Agency and Brand Marketers“. This section comes with accreditation you can earn
- For Instagram Ads: “Introduction to Instagram“
There is also a section for charities, but I’m not going to link to it as it’s not great.
Microsoft is slowly but surely carving out its niche in the digital marketing world. Microsoft Advertising, Bing Places, and LinkedIn have all become worthwhile places to hang your digital hats.
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be anywhere worthwhile to learn about Bing Places, but for the other two, they have some useful and incredibly intensely named courses…
Microsoft Ads (formerly Bing Ads) are surprisingly effective. The reach on there is tiny compared to Google Ads, but the performance is just as good. There is also less advertising competition on there so it can be great value.
You can also just import your Google Ads directly into it if you want (but you shouldn’t). What you should do is take the exceptionally comprehensive set of courses on the Microsoft Advertising Learning Lab. Or at least – import your Google Ads, see how they do, and then once you feel suitable impressed take these courses.
LinkedIn gets a bad rap, but it still exists and is still exceptionally effective (for B2B leads anyway). It is one of the most expensive types of social media advertising, but then you can target by job title, company size, industry and all sorts of things you can’t find elsewhere.
You can take a comprehensive set of courses on their Marketing Success Hub if you work at a marketing agency. If you want something tailored to individuals there is LinkedIn Marketing Labs which offers certification and a pretty simple training course.
I am quite a big fan of Twitter Ads. Not because they are incredibly effective, but because they lean entirely into what they are. This is as opposed to Facebook Ads which sort of pretends that Facebook is the whole internet, and you’re just running ads as you would anywhere.
On Twitter ads, you can target hashtags or the followers of specific accounts. And you can only use Tweets to advertise. It sounds lame, but it actually makes a lot of intuitive sense. So much so that you perhaps don’t need a course to teach you. If you feel like you do though Twitter Flight School is great because it’s incredibly brief. And if you complete it you get a Twitter Flight School badge, which would be nice if anyone knew what it was.
If you want to learn about organic social media marketing on Twitter there is the Twitter Business Basics set of courses. It says useful things but is pretty dry overall, and again suspiciously has .html URLs so is probably ancient. It also has a section on Twitter Ads, but if I were you then I would use Twitter Flight School as it’s much more fun.
Our Social Media Manager recently got a renewed interest in our Pinterest, and they loved Pinterest Academy. It is super short and to the point and easy to understand. You do need a Pinterest business account to log in though.
It is apparently not incredibly informative though as they have been doing endless experiments to find out what Pinterest Analytics actually mean. It’s a good course, but a flawed platform apparently.
There is also the Pinterest Business site, which is not exactly a course but kind of tries to be. It also may be the ugliest set of guides in this guide on guides. There is some interesting stuff on there but it is not the most pleasant experience visually.
If you want to advertise on TikTok, then you can head on over to their Business Learning Center to learn how. Considering they seem to be trying to copy Facebook’s Ad Manager as closely as possible, you could probably do some Facebook Blueprint Courses and get 90% there.
They seem to have been putting a lot of effort into these courses over the past year, but the site still doesn’t even have a favicon so it’s still got a long way to go.
Having said that, they may have abandoned it already in favour of the TikTok Tactics site, which is for all marketing on the platform. It’s a pretty fancy course comparatively, which they have tried to gamify to make it more… addictive I suppose.
If you’re new to TikTok, I would go through TikTok Tactics, but also bookmark the Business Learning Center for future reference.
It’s easy to miss Amazon off the list when you are thinking about digital marketing platforms, but it offers the exact same freemium model as Google, Facebook, and everyone else when you think about it. You can post on there for free(ish), and pay to improve your performance. The only difference is that it is an eCommerce platform.
And so with this fairly obvious revelation comes the related fact that Amazon has a set of courses to teach you how to use its platform. I haven’t done these courses myself, but they do come fairly well rated by lots of people. The retail section (the equivalent of organic for social media) seems underwhelming with only 4 courses in it, but it’s not nothing.
If you are up and running on Amazon, you should definitely take a look at the courses offered through the Amazon Advertising Learning Console.
Tumblr doesn’t have any courses as far as I can find. What they do have is a Zendesk that they use as a help centre. My favourite section in there is the “Lesser-known features” section, but overall a big thumbs down.
To be fair, if Reddit had a delightful all singing and dancing marketing course, Redditors would probably get incredibly angry about it. What they do have is:
- This “Reddit 101” pdf explains roughly how Reddit works.
- This “Best Practises” section of their advertising site is pretty lacklustre
On Quora for Business, there is a section called Resources that is supposed to teach you about Quora Ads. It’s a series of downloadable PDFs.
On a site focussed on answering questions, this is the format they chose. It is a serious disappointment (and very hard to find).
I’ve taken a lot of these courses and exams. The way to pass them is to always keep in mind what the platform wants you to say – which is usually that you should spend more money on that platform.
These courses are marketing tools for the platforms at the end of the day.
They won’t come right out and say it, but if one of the answers in any of the tests would require you to spend more money (for example “Increase reach”), then that is almost certainly the correct answer.
If you want to learn digital marketing for free, then you could do worse than going directly to the digital marketing platform that you are working on.
If you are new to a platform and don’t know where to start learning, these are all great places to get you going. If you have been using a platform for a while, then it’s probably still worth doing some of these courses just to see if you’re missing something obvious. Everyone picks up bad habits after all and re-reading the manual can help you reset yourself a bit.
Either way, these courses are free so you’ve got nothing to lose except for your time. If you are unemployed or underemployed, then these can be a good use of that extra time you have to make yourself more employable. At the very least they can help you answer the question “What have you been working on lately?” in an impressive-sounding way.
On top of that, most of these courses and related tests are pretty quick and easy. This means you should be able to crank through a few in a short period.
As a wise man said, study long – study wrong. Unless you are learning about Facebook, then you should indeed study long as you have no real choice.
[Note for SEO cynics: I originally wrote this post in 2017. As a lot of new courses (and platforms) have popped up since then I thought it was time for an update. I scoff at people jamming the current year into the title of old posts as much as anyone for that sweet-sweet-yet-imaginary SEO boost, but this is happening.
There is actually new information in here, and I will probably even update this post again next year.
And yes, I wrote this part last year and there is nothing you can do about it.]
Do you have any feedback on this list? Is there anything you would add to it? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org