Article written by Claudia Nicole Ordecki, a digital marketing professional experienced in online advertising and event marketing within the B2B space. In her marketing efforts, Claudia puts focus on a client-centric approach based on personalized dialogue and relationship building. Claudia owns degrees in marketing and management, communication and media as well as linguistics.
It is not surprising that, according to Google Trends, there was a sudden global increase in searches for “online courses” in April 2020. The COVID-19 outbreak has turned the world upside down and made virtual learning a part of everyday life. So, if you are wondering how to maximize the potential of online education, here is the answer!
Udemy, Coursera, edX – these providers of massive open online courses need no introduction. Anyone who searches for paid or unpaid e-courses will probably find at least one of these providers in their search results.
Recently, more and more people have been improving their professional qualifications using virtual training which is conducted by experienced experts, reputable universities and prestigious scientific institutions from around the world.
However, it should come as no surprise that one of the sharpest increases in interest in this form of learning was observed at the beginning of the pandemic, in the spring of 2020.
Here is a good example that illustrates this point: in March 2020, the Udemy platform saw a 425% increase in new users as compared to 2019 (research.udemy.com). Similarly, Coursera experienced a 640% growth in the number of registrations from mid-March to mid-April 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019! (theconversation.com)
Are online courses worth the time and effort?
There is no doubt that online courses bring many benefits. They are a great way to develop your interests, improve your qualifications or systematize the knowledge you already have.
This form of self-development ensures learning at a pace tailored to the individual needs of students and eliminates territorial barriers, which means that a huge selection of training material from around the world is available with just one click.
Last but not least, online courses also enable knowledge expansion to take place at home, which for many people is extremely important in the current pandemic situation.
Good news for marketers
While searching for e-courses, you should take into account not only your own interests but also the deficit of specific specialists on the job market and the new trends emerging in the dynamically changing business environment.
It is no coincidence that special attention is currently being given to the wide range of digital marketing e-courses that are available. As reported by the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training:
"Sales and marketing skills are also growing in importance, as enterprises heavily affected by the pandemic recruited staff to help them develop or expand online shops or digital sales strategies. (...) The pandemic’s heavy impact on the retail sector contributed to a growing demand for skills linked to marketing and promotion, particularly via digital means, as employers were challenged to ‘reinvent’ their approach to interacting with their customers".
Are you interested in SEO, PPC, e-mail marketing, social media or perhaps content marketing? If you are wondering where to start your digital journey, don’t neglect the fact that useful and attractive content is the fuel of every modern marketing machine (Kosuniak, 2018).
Therefore, in today’s article, we will focus on one specific component of digital marketing – the content!
What is content marketing?
According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach that is focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. (…) So, instead of pitching your products or services, you are providing truly relevant and useful content to your prospects and customers to help them solve their issues“.
This content may involve a number of formats (such as infographics, articles, case studies, e-books, videos, presentations or white papers) that are distributed through equally numerous distribution channels, which can be broken down as follows:
- owned media (company websites, blogs, social media profiles, e-mail marketing, etc.)
- paid media (display ads, sponsored articles, influencer marketing, social media ads, etc.)
- earned media (likes, shares and comments on social media, reviews, etc.)
Okay, but what’s all the buzz about? As explained by Oracle, content marketing brings undeniable benefits: it builds relationships, drives SEO strategy, raises credibility, educates the audience, generates interest and fulfills a need across industries and audience segments, to name but a few. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that 70% of marketers actively invest in content marketing! (hubspot.com)
Fun fact: online courses are often used as a content marketing tool.
Now, let us take a look at some of the online courses that will help you learn more about content marketing!
7 free content marketing courses
HubSpot is an integrated platform for marketing, sales and customer service that supports activities related to inbound marketing – “the process of helping potential customers find your company. This frequently happens before the customer is even ready to make a purchase, but making contact early can turn into brand preference and, ultimately, leads and revenue”. (marketo.com)
Below you will find two selected HubSpot Academy e-courses that will allow you explore the secrets of content marketing!
1. Content marketing certification course: 12 lessons in the form of 56 videos, summarized by 11 quizzes, completed in 6 hours. In this course, the basic aspects of content marketing are discussed: establishing a content creation framework, generating content ideas, creating quality blog content, planning a successful video marketing strategy, building a guest blogging strategy that is powered by SEO, or developing content marketing strategy (described in detail below). This e-course ends with an exam – as soon as you pass this, you will receive your HubSpot certification!
2. Content strategy course: 25 videos, 6 quizzes and more than 3 hours of intensive learning – this is a slightly more advanced course that is focused on a strategic approach to content marketing. The topics discussed by HubSpot experts include the power of storytelling, planning a long-term content strategy, creating topic clusters and pillar pages, effective content promotion, measuring and analyzing your content, as well as developing a growth marketing mentality. Please note that most of these lessons are also included in the Content marketing course mentioned above. The Content strategy course differs from the Content marketing course in that there is no exam at the end of the course and no certification is awarded to confirm completion.
The HubSpot Academy courses include not only engaging video content, but also essential materials that are available in the “resources” tab under almost every video.
The HubSpot Academy offers more courses in content marketing. You can find them here!
Google is an Internet giant that needs no introduction. However, some people do not realize that Google services include not only a search engine or a webmail service, but also free digital marketing courses, which are available at your fingertips in the Google Digital Garage.
Below you will find two courses that focus on content marketing:
3. Get started with content marketing: this is basic video training for those who are beginning their adventure with content marketing and are searching for fundamental information related to this topic. It takes only 35 minutes to complete the course, which allows you to learn the basics of content marketing: how to write for online audiences, organize production and promotion, choose the right format based on your content, and track your content marketing success. Additionally, each video comes with a transcript that highlights the key learning points.
If 35 minutes is not long enough for you, then you may be interested in another Google offering:
4. Promote a business with content: this is a 3-hour basic training course that consists of 4 modules, including social media, video and the Get started with content marketing course that has already been discussed. If you want a more in-depth understanding of how video and social media can help you build brand awareness and get more conversions by creating and distributing high-value content to potential customers, then this program is definitely for you!
Semrush is an online platform for improving online visibility and discovering marketing insights. What can you learn in this academy?
5. Content marketing fundamentals course: this is a 2-hour training course consisting of 13 videos with transcriptions, followed by quizzes to test your knowledge. The material is very detailed and will certainly satisfy the needs of those just beginning their content marketing journey or wishing to systematize their knowledge.
In this course you will learn about setting goals, implementing content marketing in your business, conducting competitor and audience research, auditing existing content, working on content ideation, creation, optimization and distribution, creating a content calendar, and measuring your content marketing results. While this course is designed with beginner and intermediate content marketers in mind, the final section includes advanced tips on how to repurpose existing content to generate more leads.
In addition to the video content, Semrush also provides specifically selected written materials that allow you to delve deeper into the issues discussed. The training ends with an exam and the awarding of a Semrush certificate upon successful completion!
The eMarketing Institute offers free digital marketing courses that are aimed at beginners and intermediate marketers who would like to systematize their knowledge. As opposed to the training courses mentioned above, you will not find any video format here!
6. Content marketing course and certification: this course is based on 161 pages of valuable content marketing knowledge, which is available in the form of an e-book. In addition to comprehensive information on the basics of content marketing, the e-book also presents helpful tools and applications (8 pages full of ideas!), along with a glossary of useful phrases and terms used every day in the world of content marketing. After reading the content of the e-book and assimilating the new knowledge, you can take an exam in order to receive a course completion certificate.
LinkedIn Learning offers over 16,800 courses, and this number is growing every week! Training can be filtered to reflect your level of knowledge and includes beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.
7. Content marketing foundations: this is a popular course for aspiring content marketers – and it only lasts one hour! Like most of the aforementioned classes, it is built around short videos that guide newcomers through the key aspects of content marketing: from the foundations of a strategy, through the creation, distribution and integration of content, to measuring the effectiveness of these activities. In addition, if you have any queries while taking the course, LinkedIn gives participants the opportunity to ask questions in a Q&A section that are answered by the instructors who conduct the training!
Find more LinkedIn Learning offerings here.
Start your adventure today!
I hope that this article has motivated you to take advantage of the potential of e-courses! The seven content marketing suggestions I have explored above are only some of the materials at your disposal, so I encourage you to browse the extensive online offerings to find the training that best suits your needs. Get started today and don’t forget that “Content is King“! (Bill Gates, 1996)
- blogs.oracle.com, The Importance of Content Marketing
- cedefop.europa.eu, Coronavirus and the European job market: how the pandemic is reshaping skills demand
- contentmarketinginstitute.com, What Is Content Marketing?
- hubspot.com, The Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics for 2021
- Kosuniak Ł., 2018, ABC marketingu B2B
- research.udemy.com, Online Education Steps Up: What the World is Learning (from Home)
- marketo.com, What is Inbound Marketing?
- theconversation.com, Massive online open courses see exponential growth during COVID-19 pandemic