Ongoing learning initiatives are vital for employee growth, enhancing employee satisfaction and improving retention rates while adding valuable skillsets to a company.
While there are many paid options within technical schools and colleges, brands looking to facilitate such growth can turn to the numerous free courses available in customer experience and digital marketing.
Duyen Truong, VP of public relations and education practice leader at Sage Communications, an advertising, marketing and PR agency, spoke with CMSWire about the importance of continued learning.
“Growth-minded organizations embrace learning in all corners of the business, from how they measure employee performance to how they collaborate internally to how they work with clients. It's a mindset that challenges norms and encourages fresh ideas and open collaboration. For fast-moving industries like PR and marketing, it's not a matter of choice, it's a matter of relevance,” Truong emphasized.
Meta Blueprint, formerly known as Facebook Blueprint, offers a free Digital Marketing Essentials course that includes 19 modules, all of which are geared around setting up effective ad campaigns on Meta properties such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, and how to use the tools that Meta provides for doing so.
Module topics include:
- Introduction to Facebook Apps
- How to Create a Facebook Page
- Facebook Tools for Business
- Get Discovered With an Instagram Business Account
- Attract Customers on Instagram
- Align Your Business Goal to a Campaign Objective
- Set Up Your Ad Creative
- Create Compelling Ad Visuals
- The Facebook Ad Review Process and Policies
- How to Use Ads Manager to Set a Budget and a Schedule
- How to Evaluate and Analyze Campaign Results
- Create Ads From Your Facebook Page
- Get Started With Ads Manager
- Align a Business Goal to an Ad Objective
- The Three Types of Ad Audiences
- How to Choose Ad Placements in Ads Manager
- Choose the Best Ad Format
- Get Started With the Facebook Pixel
- Find Campaign Results in Ads Manager
- Map the Customer Journey
- Set Marketing Goals
- Create Authentic Messages
- Stay Connected To Customers Online
- Attract an Audience on Social Media
- Create Socially Impactful Content
Additionally, Meta offers paid certification exams for marketing, including:
- 100-101: Meta Certified Digital Marketing Associate
- 200-101: Meta Certified Marketing Science Professional
- 300-101: Meta Certified Creative Strategist Professional
- 400-101: Meta Certified Media Planning Professional
- 410-101: Meta Certified Media Buying Professional
- 500-101: Meta Certified Marketing Developer
- 600-101: Meta Certified Community Manager
- 700-101: Meta Certified Spark AR Creator
Each exam comes with online courses, live training, a study guide and a practice test. Exams, unlike Meta courses, are not free and cost $150 for professional exams and $99 for associate exams.
Sander Tamm, founder and CEO of E-Student, an online learning reviews and analysis provider, told CMSWire that brands can encourage and facilitate employee learning by building their own learning programs through partnerships with platforms that offer digital courses.
“Because it’s all done virtually, there’s no need to worry about travel, and scheduling is usually more flexible. Since you’ll have vetted all of the courses yourself, any course that your employees choose will be in line with company goals,” said Tamm.
Related Article: 10 Marketing Certifications That Can Help You Earn a Better Salary
HubSpot Academy has thousands of courses available for free, including over 300 that are marketing-related. HubSpot offers certification for many topics, including search engine optimization, marketing software, content marketing, inbound marketing, social media marketing, digital advertising and digital marketing, all of which include videos, quizzes and workbooks.
Upon successful completion of each course, students receive industry-recognized badges that can be added to their LinkedIn profiles. Other marketing courses include:
- LinkedIn Marketing for Businesses
- Inbound Marketing Optimization
- Designing Effective Google Ads Campaigns
- Digital Advertising, Website Optimization
- How To Advertise on Instagram
HubSpot also has several courses designed to teach the fundamentals of creating a positive website experience for customers.
Jeffrey Zhou, CEO of Fig Loans, a fintech company, told CMSWire that HubSpot certifications are extremely useful due to their accessibility. "It is free to use, can be studied at home, and only takes a few hours. This means little to no sacrifice for learners who have to balance work and family commitments with their online business," said Zhou.
Speaking about the HubSpot SEO certification, Zhou said that it's a great starting point for anyone who wants to up their SEO knowledge. "The HubSpot SEO certification is an online course designed to give participants a crash course in SEO 101 and best practices. It takes less than three hours and has written tutorials and video content to support different learning styles."
Google Digital Garage
Google marketing certifications are well-known, readily achievable and something that has strong brand recognition. The Google search engine has a worldwide market share of 91.56%, according to Statcounter. This means Google marketing certifications are likely to carry weight, even with employers who aren't well versed in marketing tools themselves.
Google’s Digital Garage provides 32 free courses on digital marketing. Its Interactive Advertising Bureau-accredited Fundamentals of Digital Marketing course includes 26 modules that cover topics like:
- The Online Opportunity
- Your First Steps in Online Success
- Build Your Web Presence
- Plan Your Online Business Strategy
- Get Started With Search
- Get Discovered With Search
- Make Search Work for You
- Be Noticed With Search Ads
- Improve Your Search Campaigns
- Get Noticed Locally
- Help People Nearby Find You Online
- Get Noticed With Social Media
- Dive Deep Into Social Media
- Discover the Possibilities of Mobile
- Make Mobile Work for You
- Get Started With Content Marketing
- Connect Through Email
- Advertise on Other Websites
- Deep Dive Into Display Advertising
- Make the Most of Video
- Get Started With Analytics
- Find Success With Analytics
- Turn Data Into Insights
- Build Your Online Shop
- Sell More Online
- Expand Internationally
Not only do Google certifications help job seekers, many brands actively encourage employees to become Google certified. Peter Hirst, senior associate Dean of Executive Education at the MIT Sloan School of Management, told CMSWire that a culture of continuous learning is the mark of a healthy organization and equates to engaged employees.
“Organizations that support continuous learning understand the enormity of the challenges their leaders are facing today and their need to be supported, connected and empowered to lead,” said Hirst.
Related Article: Why Now's the Time to Integrate Learning Into Your Digital Workplace
WordStream PPC University
WordStream PPC University offers a free course on pay-per-click (PPC) marketing that includes 68 detailed modules on basic and advanced aspects of keyword marketing, as well marketing for the various social networks, and includes sections on Facebook and Google ads.
Each module breaks down the topic in detail, and WordStream provides access to its free keyword research tool as well as other useful ad performance tools.
WordStream bills its PPC course as “an organized educational resource enabling marketers of all skill and experience levels to take their [Google] AdWords strategy to the next level.” The course, which is organized into three separate modules, is also available for download in PDF format, so it can be accessed anywhere, at any time. They also provide students with access to blogs, whitepapers and webinars designed to improve their AdWords strategy and paid search skill set.
It’s hard to discuss free courses without thinking of Alison. Alison offers over 4,000 courses, all free, and covers areas all areas from business, sales and marketing to health, language and construction.
The sales & marketing category includes courses on the following topics:
- Content Marketing
- Data Security
- Digital Marketing
- Market Research
- Marketing Strategy
- Presentation Skills
- Product Marketing
- Social Media
Alison offers paid certifications and diplomas for many of the courses, as well as free assessment tests that students can take if they wish to be considered an Alison graduate (after passing with at least an 80% score).
Alison has many courses available on customer service, such as:
- Customer Service Skills
- Introduction to Customer Service Excellence
- Customer Interactions
Alison courses provide an opportunity for remote and hybrid employees to learn new skills or improve their current skillset. “In today’s ‘new normal,’ we not only need to think about driving employee experience through continued learning, but also doing so in a digital, remote and hybrid workplace environment. Online learning can be a great way to connect distributed teams, for example,” said Hirst.
While LinkedIn Learning is not free, it’s affordable enough that it simply must be mentioned. A monthly subscription to LinkedIn Learning is $39.99, with the first month free as a trial period, and an annual subscription works out to be $29.99 per month, with the first month free. All subscriptions to LinkedIn Learning include LinkedIn Premium as well, and, conversely, those who subscribe to LinkedIn Premium receive full access to LinkedIn Learning for free.
There are over 2,600 courses that fall under the topic of digital marketing, including (but not limited to):
- Become a Digital Marketing Specialist
- Digital Marketing Foundations
- Meta Certified Digital Marketing Associate
- Master Digital Marketing
- LinkedIn Marketing Labs: Marketing Strategy Certification
- Marketing Tools: Digital Marketing Tools and Services
- Social Media Marketing: Strategy and Optimization
LinkedIn Learning also has a multitude of customer experience courses, including:
- Creating a Positive Customer Experience
- Customer Experience: Journey Mapping
- Customer Experience Leadership
- Design Thinking: Customer Experience
- Customer Experience: Creating Customer Personas
- Aligning Customer Experience with Company Culture
- A Design Thinking Approach to Putting the Customer First
- Leading a Customer-Centric Culture
- Journey Mapping: Case Study in Action
Related Article: Professional Learning Is Critical – and In Need of a Refresh
Other Unique Marketing Courses
While there are many marketing courses that provide up-to-date information on the various aspects of marketing, some offer a unique look at specific, seldom-covered topics.
Wistia Studio’s Show Business course, for example, covers all the finer details that brands need to know to create a video series or podcast. Covered in four parts — development, pre-production, production and promotion — this free 20-episode video series takes students all the way from team building to scripting and casting to launching, hyping and supporting a video series or podcast.
Chris Lavigne, head of production at Wistia, told CMSWire that its Show Business educational series is particularly useful for marketers who hope to reach their customers via videos or podcasts.
"It is essential that digital marketers understand their audiences and create content that adds value to them," said Lavigne. "Show Business guides marketers through every step of the show creation journey and gives them the tools to create content that keeps audiences engaged and inspired. This course, along with the Brand Show Creation certification, equips marketers with the confidence they need to take their content and marketing plans to the next level."
Continued learning is valuable and important for today's employees, as it provides them with personal satisfaction and enables them to constantly improve their knowledge and skill set.
The online courses provided by Meta, HubSpot, Google, Alison, LinkedIn and Wistia offer marketers the ability to hone their knowledge of marketing and customer experience, learn new skills and add value to their position within a company.