The digital marketing landscape evolves at lightning speed. To stay relevant and advance your career, ongoing learning is essential. Fortunately, there are now many free certification programs available to help you get started or take your skills to the next level.
As a digital marketing analyst with over 5 years of experience optimizing multi-channel campaigns, I’ve seen firsthand how valuable certifications can be in hiring and career growth. The credentials demonstrate you have in-demand technical expertise and a commitment to the field.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll explore the top 9 free certifications for supercharging your digital marketing abilities in 2023 and beyond. Whether you’re new to digital marketing or looking to specialize, there’s a program here to meet your needs.
Why Should You Earn a Digital Marketing Certification?
Let’s start by reviewing some of the key benefits of getting certified:
Gain a Competitive Edge
- Digital marketing certifications help you stand out. According to a 2021 Workplace Learning Report, 25% of workers said earning credentials gave them an advantage to advance their career.
Acquire In-Demand Skills
Certification programs allow you to build technical abilities in high growth areas like paid search, web analytics, social media marketing, CRM and more.
In fact, digital marketing roles are expected to grow at over 3 times the national average over the next 10 years according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Get Hands-On Experience
Many certifications incorporate practical projects and assignments to reinforce learning.
For example, Google Skillshop has students run actual Google Ads campaigns. This applied experience is invaluable.
Fast Track Your Digital Marketing Career
89% of marketers say certifications are useful for career progression based on recent Digital Marketing Institute data.
Certifications can help you land a job, earn a promotion or transition into the field faster.
Stay Current on Best Practices
The digital landscape evolves rapidly – just look at TikTok’s meteoric rise.
Certification programs expose you to the latest trends, tools, and best practices. HubSpot Academy even offers certifications on hot topics like conversaitonal marketing.
Now let’s explore the top free digital marketing certifications available in 2023:
Google Digital Unlocked
With over 90% global search engine market share, Google is undoubtedly a leader in digital marketing. Their Google Digital Unlocked program offers a comprehensive certification covering all aspects of digital marketing.
Here are some highlights:
26 Modules: Courses range from Digital Marketing Fundamentals to Advanced Analysis in Google Analytics.
Bite-Sized Video Lessons: Short 5-7 minute videos make the content engaging and easy to absorb.
Industry Experts: Google partners with leading digital marketing practitioners to develop the curriculum.
Exam & Credential: Passing a final exam earns you a completion certificate from Google.
I really like how this program provides such a well-rounded introduction to digital marketing. As an analyst, I appreciate how they dedicate several modules to analytics capabilities across channels. The curriculum combined with Google‘s expertise makes this certification extremely valuable.
HubSpot Academy offers a suite of free certifications focused on inbound marketing – HubSpot’s holistic methodology for attracting and converting leads online.
As a HubSpot user, I’m partial to their certifications. Here’s an overview:
Inbound Marketing: Foundational course on inbound principles, buyer journeys and HubSpot software. Great starting point.
Content Creation: Learn to develop audience-focused blogging strategies and promote content for lead gen.
Email Marketing: Dives into building email strategies, writing effective copy, segmentation, automation and analytics. One of my favorites.
Landing Page Design: Teaches design principles and leveraging HubSpot tools to create high converting landing pages. Nice balance of strategic and tactical skills.
I value HubSpot certifications because they give you hands-on experience with their platform through interactive projects and exercises. The concepts are also reinforced by tying them directly to software capabilities.
For certifications focused specifically on Google‘s digital marketing products, Google Skillshop is a top choice.
Some of their popular programs include:
Google Ads: Comprehensive training on search, display, YouTube, and shopping campaigns. The certification has students run $100 Google Ads campaigns.
Google Analytics: Covers campaign tagging, reporting, segments, and optimization using Google‘s analytics platform and Data Studio visualization tools.
Merchant Center: Focused on managing product data and surfacing in Google Shopping campaigns. As ecommerce explodes, this is becoming more important.
Completion rates for Skillshop certifications range from 50-60% showing they have high quality standards. The skills gained are extremely applicable with ~63,000+ Google Ads and Analytics job listings in the US alone according to recent Burning Glass Labor Insight data.
For university-backed certifications, edX is a top choice. edX partners with leading academic institutions worldwide like MIT, Harvard, Wharton and UC Berkeley to develop courses.
Here are some standout digital marketing offerings I recommend:
Principles of Marketing Analytics (ESSEC Business School): Covers web, social, content and search analytics approaches. Helpful for my analyst role.
Digital Marketing Fundamentals (Curtin University): Great beginner overview touching on analytics, social, email, paid and more.
Digital Branding (UC Davis): Dives into brand positioning, community building and measuring brand equity. Key strategic skills.
edX courses feel more like a true university learning experience. I like the structured curriculum, quizzes and tests to reinforce concepts, and credible instructors. While not as hands-on as Skillshop, they provide fantastic foundational knowledge.
With over 15,000 courses, LinkedIn Learning offers robust digital marketing content. I‘ve completed several of their certificates to expand my expertise.
Here are some of the most valuable based on my experience:
SEO Foundations (Moz): Fantastic for learning technical SEO skills I don‘t use day-to-day like site architecture and keyword research.
Social Media Marketing (Facebook Blueprint): Covers developing social strategies, content best practices, and analyzing performance across platforms.
Email Marketing (Mailchimp): Great blend of email strategy, lifecycle campaigns, automation, and analytics training.
LinkedIn Learning combines video content with knowledge checks and supplemental materials. The credentials are credible and recognized coming from LinkedIn. They offer a free 1 month trial giving you access to all courses.
For social media marketing skills specifically on Facebook‘s platforms, Facebook Blueprint offers official certifications.
Some interesting programs include:
Facebook & Instagram Ads: Covers ad objectives, creative and copy strategies, detailed targeting, bidding, and reporting. Crucial channels for many brands.
Messenger: Focuses on engaging customers via Messenger chatbots and automations. This is an emerging conversational marketing opportunity.
While the courses are shorter in length, focusing exclusively on Facebook products means the training is highly specialized. I‘d recommend these to broaden expertise or enhance existing Facebook marketing skills.
Google Analytics Academy
Google Analytics is a staple in my day-to-day analyst responsibilities. The free Google Analytics Academy offers great upskilling opportunities here.
I‘d highlight these courses:
Intro to GA: Covers account structure, data collection, processing, reporting and visualizing data. Ideal starting point for new analysts.
Ecommerce Analytics: Focuses on GA tools for measuring site conversions, shopping behavior, and product performance. Highly relevant with the growth of online shopping.
Data Studio: Teaches creating reports and dashboards in Google‘s Data Studio. This is super helpful for delivering insights.
The Academy provides videos, simulated practice in Analytics, Knowledge Checks, and exam study guides. I love how practical and hands-on the learning is.
Allison offers over 1,000 free courses in topics like project management, IT, business, and marketing. The marketing certificates I‘d highlight include:
Digital Marketing: Covers analytics, social media, SEO, email, mobile and platforms like Hootsuite. Provides a comprehensive overview.
Google AdWords: Learn how to setup campaigns, manage bids and budgets, target keywords, and interpret reports.
Facebook Marketing: Teaches creating business pages, developing ad campaigns, analyzing Facebook Insights and more.
Allison combines readings, videos, quizzes and a final exam to earn your certification. The materials are created by subject matter experts and their certificates are accredited. It‘s a fantastic (and free!) source for self-paced learning.
With a specific focus on digital marketing skills, eMarketing Institute is a great choice. Some top certifications include:
Email Marketing: Covers email strategy, campaign management, metrics, automation, and Deliverability. One of my favorite channels to analyze performance.
Web Analytics: Dives into Google Analytics along with web metrics, dashboards, testing and optimization. Extremely useful for my analyst responsibilities.
Social Media Marketing: Explores social strategies, advertising, content best practices, and measurement across core platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
I like their comprehensive curriculum covering fundamentals to channel-specific strategies. Their alumni network of over 30,000 students also makes this an engaging learning community.
Choosing the Right Program for You
With so many options, how do you select the certification(s) that best fit your goals? Here are a few key factors to consider:
Your Goals and Interests
- Are you looking for a broad overview or specialization in areas like paid search, analytics or email? Select programs accordingly.
- Self-paced, fixed schedule, university-style? Choose the format that matches your schedule and learning style.
Hands-on Learning Opportunities
- Look for certifications like Google Skillshop that offer practical application through projects and simulations.
- Certifications from well-known brands like Google, Facebook, HubSpot often provide more value.
- Can you earn the certificate for free? Or is there a fee involved?
- Check out reviews and testimonials to evaluate program quality.
Choosing the right program based on your experience level and interests will ensure you get maximum value and return on time invested.
Getting the Most from Your Certification
To truly get ahead in your digital marketing career, you need to apply and reinforce skills learned. Here are some best practices:
Take Thorough Notes
- Summarize concepts, take screenshots, and save course materials for future reference.
Apply Concepts to Your Role
- Use exercises and examples from the course in your day-to-day work.
Build a Portfolio
- Create deliverables like reports, presentations and campaigns that showcase new skills.
Join Student Forums
- Get involved in course communities to discuss learnings, ask questions and make connections.
Commit to Ongoing Learning
- Continue reading industry resources like Moz and HubSpot Blogs to stay on top of the latest tactics.
Certifications give you a foundation. How you build upon it will define your career success and trajectory.
Start Your Digital Marketing Journey
The free certifications featured provide proven and affordable options for digital marketing training. Whether just starting out or looking to specialize, there are programs available to accelerate your skill development.
I encourage you to review the certifications that align best with your goals. Then fully commit to completing the coursework and exams required. With key credentials and knowledge under your belt, you‘ll be well equipped to excel in the fast-paced world of digital marketing.
Wishing you the best in your learning and career ahead! Please reach out if you have any other questions. I‘m always happy to discuss digital marketing career growth and provide guidance.