The Best Free University and College Courses for Marketing

The Best Free University and College Courses for Marketing

Updated 6 May 2021

Written by Nikki Dale

Why Take an Online Marketing Course?

As the world develops and technology advances, there are more avenues than ever for marketing businesses.

A marketing course will give you valuable transferable skills, whether you’re a marketer, business owner or looking to offer more skills in your current role.

Marketing is a vital function of a business. Customers cannot buy from a business or use services that they don’t know exist.

The marketing skills that you can learn through a free online course are part of the fundamental values that connect people, brands and businesses.

These skills could be a major part of your career development, and include:

These are skills that could bolster your current career or help you in your future aspirations – even if marketing isn’t necessarily your primary calling.

Who Might Benefit from Taking a Free University Marketing Course?

Free university courses are known as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). They are free for students who want to access the course contents alone.

In almost all cases, you can upgrade your learning to include certification for a set fee.

MOOC courses can still provide a lot of value, even without any certification.

Considering a Career Change

There is huge growth in digital marketing roles, and good marketers will get great clients and higher salaries.

If you are considering a career change, taking on a marketing MOOC could give you exposure to the principles and ideas involved in marketing.

A good marketing course could offer you the opportunity to gain an insight into the industry before you invest more than just your time – so you can be sure that marketing is the career for you.

You can also pinpoint the branch of marketing that is best for you.

Starting a Degree or Advanced Course

If you are about to embark on a new marketing course, whether through college or university, the right free course can give you the opportunity to bolster your knowledge.

You can also gain a good, basic understanding of the principles of marketing before you start.

Trying Out a Course Before Paying

In some cases, you may be offered access to some of the course information for free before investing any money in a paid-for course.

This will let you check the content to see how it is presented and what the tutors are teaching so that you can be sure you will receive value for your time (and money if paying for certification).

The course might be video-based, use tutorials or offer self-directed exercises.

Starting Your Own Business

MOOCs are a great way to learn new marketing skills if you are considering setting up your own business.

Some of the skills you could learn that would be beneficial for a start-up business include:

All these skills could help you market your new venture.

Upgrading Skills

You might be looking to upgrade your skills for a promotion or pay rise, and the free courses could be a great way of propelling you to the next stage of your career.

With the right digital marketing courses, you can stay relevant by learning the latest trends in marketing – especially as MOOCs tend to be updated more often than full college and university courses.

The skills that you could learn in a marketing course include learning about different software and digital technologies. Just a small selection of those you may learn about are:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Search Console
  • Facebook and Instagram adverts
  • Mailchimp

What Should You Expect to Gain From Your Marketing Course?

Many different things can be gained from a free online marketing course. Choosing the right one for you will depend on what you are trying to achieve.

That being said, there are some skills you should look for which will ensure you are getting a well-rounded course:

  • Website skills
  • SEO and SEM
  • Social media, multi-channel and email marketing
  • Analytics
  • Successful marketing strategies
  • Buyer behaviors

You might also want to find out more about specialties, for example:

  • Technical aspects of Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram
  • Optimizing sales
  • Interpreting data
  • Special promotion techniques
  • International marketing skills

How to Improve Your Marketing Skills Alongside Your Course

Whether you are learning through a paid or a free course, there are ways to improve your marketing skills alongside your learning.

There are aspects of marketing that you won’t find in a tutorial or a series of lectures, but that you can find from online sources for little to no cost.

  • Latest trends – One of the best ways to keep abreast of the latest trends in marketing and technology is to read updates through journals and online magazines like the Journal of Marketing. It is also a good way to find out what other companies are doing and what marketing strategies are working for them.
  • Related areas – You can look into complementary learning opportunities, like coding or design fundamentals. The best marketing agencies are omnichannel agencies that have a grasp of different methods of marketing. Understanding how websites, social media sites and emails work on a source code level is great additional knowledge. Design and aesthetic considerations are also important for a successful career in marketing.
  • Public performance – There are some other marketing-related things you can do to improve your marketing skills. You could make the most of your public-speaking skills and confidence through performance in an improv class or even through karaoke.
  • Learning through travel plans – You could make the most of any of your travel plans to learn more about customer journeys and at which points along the way you, the customer, receive automated emails, for example.
  • Writing practiceWriting is an important part of marketing, from creating content in the form of blogs and articles to creating scripts for videos, advertising copy and even small snippets of writing like taglines. Practicing writing skills of all sorts will help to improve your marketing skills in the long term, so write as much you can. You could consider writing poetry – delving into a creative-writing mindset to uncover similes and metaphors to help you look at a marketing challenge with a more persuasive, poetic thought process.

The Best Free University and College Courses for Marketing

Introductory Courses

The Best Free University and College Courses for MarketingThe Best Free University and College Courses for Marketing

1. Introduction to Marketing

Course provider: EdX and University of British Columbia
Self-paced or instructor-led: Self-paced
Cost: Free (add a certificate for £109)
Length of course: Three to five hours per week, approximately six weeks
Enrolment requirements: None, suitable for beginners

Course Content

This is a course that serves as a simple, yet in-depth, introduction to marketing, splitting the learning into several distinct sections:

  • Basic customer segmentation
  • Understanding psychology
  • Developing pricing strategies
  • Defining an appropriate channel
  • Understanding marketing metrics

Visit Introduction to Marketing

Digital Marketing

2. Fundamentals of Digital Marketing

Course provider: Google, Open University and the Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe
Self-paced or instructor-led: Self-paced
Cost: Free, and includes a free certification
Length of course: Approximately 40 hours
Enrolment requirements: None, suitable for beginners

Course Content

This course has been created by Google trainers to offer step-by-step guidance about creating and managing an online presence through websites, social media and marketing.

The course covers:

  • Building an online presence
  • Online strategy
  • SEO and SEM
  • Ads and search campaigns
  • Social media
  • Mobile web and apps
  • Content marketing
  • E-commerce
  • International marketing and sales

Visit Fundamentals of Digital Marketing

3. Fundamentals of Digital Marketing

Course provider: EdX and University of Maryland
Self-paced or instructor-led: Self-paced
Cost: Free (add certification for £364)
Length of course: Three to five hours per week, four weeks
Enrolment requirements: None, suitable for beginners

Course Content

This course offers a top-level overview of the principles of digital marketing. It forms part of the Maryland Smith’s Digital Marketing Professional Certificate as a paid course.

You will learn about:

  • Digital marketing strategy
  • Inbound and outbound marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Mobile apps and multi-sided platforms
  • Overview of omnichannel marketing
  • Mix modeling – attribution and marketing

Visit Fundamentals of Digital Marketing

4. Digital Marketing Specialization

Course provider: Coursera with the University of Illinois
Self-paced or instructor-led: Self-paced
Cost: Free (can add certification, from $49)
Length of course: Five hours per week, approximately eight months to complete
Enrolment requirements: None, suitable for beginners

Course Content

This is a Coursera specialization based on learning about marketing tools, analysis and strategy and then putting it into practice with a capstone project.

The course has several topics to be completed, and each can be taken as a separate course or completed together to achieve the specialism.

Certain topics are taken from the iMBA offered by the University of Illinois (for a separate charge).

The topics are:

  • Marketing in a Digital World – An introduction to digital tools like smartphones and the internet
  • Digital Marketing Analytics in Theory – Understand the science of analytics and identify the right web analytics tool
  • Digital Marketing Analytics in Practice – Use data analytics to understand a real-world challenge
  • Digital Media and Marketing Principles – The impact of new digital technologies and how to use them strategically
  • Digital Media and Marketing Strategies – How to use new tools to plan a digital marketing campaign.
  • Marketing in an Analog World – The differences between marketing in a physical world and a digital world
  • Digital Marketing Capstone – All the tools and knowledge learned are put into practice to create and execute a digital marketing campaign as an online simulation for a fictional company selling digital cameras.

Visit Digital Marketing Specialization

5. Digital Marketing Strategy

Course provider: EdX and University of Edinburgh
Self-paced or instructor-led: Self-paced
Cost: Free (certification for £145)
Length of course: Four to six hours a week, approximately eight weeks
Enrolment requirements: Intermediate; this is the second of two courses that make up a Professional Certificate in Digital Marketing Fundamentals (a paid course lasting four months that costs £254)

Course Content

This course specifically focuses on strategy, culminating in a final project that helps learners create digital marketing strategies.

Areas studied include:

  • Why digital matters
  • Impact of digital on product and value proposition
  • Changes in technology
  • Competitor analysis

Visit Digital Marketing Strategy

Social Media Marketing

6. Social Media Marketing Specialization

Course provider: Coursera with Northwestern University
Self-paced or instructor-led: Self-paced
Cost: Free (certification can be added from $49)
Length of course: Two hours per week, approximately seven months to complete
Enrolment requirements: None, suitable for beginners

Course Content

This course is aimed at executives, business owners and marketing professionals looking to understand how to use social media for effective marketing.

It features a number of guest speakers and tutorials from successful people in the industry.

  • What is Social? – Introduction to the course
  • The Importance of Listening – What can be learned from interactions on social sites
  • Engagement and Nurture Marketing Strategies – These are two of the most effective social strategies, how to develop your own plan to reach target consumer markets
  • Content, Advertising and Social IMC – How to go viral, make the most of platform-specific messaging and gamification tips
  • The Business of Social – How to grow a social footprint and link it to sales and marketing systems, as well as understanding the difference between paid/owned/learned attention
  • Social Marketing Capstone Project – Put learning into practice and integrate social/mobile marketing strategies into a business strategy

Visit Social Media Marketing Specialization

7. Influencer Marketing Strategy

Course provider: Coursera with Rutgers University
Self-paced or instructor-led: Self-paced
Cost: Free (add certification from $49)
Length of course: 23 hours to complete
Enrolment requirements: Intermediate level, some previous knowledge needed

Course Content

The use of influencers in social media marketing can be a good strategy if managed correctly. This course offers insights into how to make the best of influencers.

The course covers strategy, how to find and engage influencers, and how to start influencer campaigns. It also covers how to measure the impact of influencer marketing.

Visit Influencer Marketing Strategy

Specialisms

8. The Secret Power of Brands

Course provider: FutureLearn and University of East Anglia
Self-paced or instructor-led: Self-paced
Cost: Free (add certification for £72)
Length of course: Three hours per week, approximately six weeks
Enrolment requirements: None, suitable for beginners

Course Content

This course is offered by FutureLearn in conjunction with well-respected brand consultancy Wolff Olins, focusing on strategy, market and innovation for brands.

Topics covered include:

  • How brands work
  • How they are managed, defined and designed
  • How they drive organizations

Visit The Secret Power of Brands

9. Consumer Behaviour and Psychology

Course provider: FutureLearn with Coventry University
Self-paced or instructor-led: Self-paced
Cost: Free (add certification for £52)
Length of course: Three hours a week, approximately two weeks
Enrolment requirements: None, suitable for beginners

Course Content

This course links the psychology and behavior of consumers to marketing strategies.

Learners will understand consumer choice and decision-making, and how important it is in creating strategy.

Visit Consumer Behaviour and Psychology

10. The Strategy of Content Marketing

Course provider: Coursera with University of California, Davis
Self-paced or instructor-led: Self-paced
Cost: Free (can add certification from $49)
Length of course: 19 hours to complete
Enrolment requirements: Intermediate, some previous knowledge needed

Course Content

This course is a partnership between Copyblogger and UC Davies that helps learners develop core strategies to acquire and retain customers through effective content.

The content includes a strategic framework to analyze and measure the effectiveness of the copy, and also helps learners to build their brand through writing.

Visit The Strategy of Content Marketing

11. Foundations of Marketing Analytics Specialization

Course provider: Coursera with Emory University
Self-paced or instructor-led: Self-paced
Cost: Free (add certification from $49)
Length of course: Two hours per week, approximately seven months to complete
Enrolment requirements: Intermediate level must be completed after Meaningful Marketing Insights short course

Course Content

This specialization focuses on the ways marketing efforts can be analyzed to ensure they are effective.

Each part of the learning is based on Microsoft Excel, so it is accessible without investment in specialist software.

It is split into five sub-topics with a hands-on project:

  • Meaningful Marketing Insights – Collecting data, surveys, transaction history and billing records
  • Managing Uncertainty in Marketing Analytics – How to anticipate possible outcomes without complete information
  • Forecasting Models for Marketing Decisions – Learning the basic components of a forecasting model and using Excel to create forecasting tools
  • Survey Analysis to Gain Marketing Insights – How to use surveys, understanding statistical methods
  • Introduction to Social Media Analytics – Understanding the benefits (and limitations) of social media data
  • Marketing Analytics Capstone Project – Hands-on project to put learning into practice

Visit Foundations of Marketing Analytics Specialization

12. Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content

Course provider: Coursera with University of Pennsylvania
Self-paced or instructor-led: Self-paced
Cost: Free (add certification from $49)
Length of course: Four hours to complete
Enrolment requirements: None, suitable for beginners

Course Contents

This course focuses on what makes content contagious and how social influence shapes behavior.

It is based on the knowledge of what it is that makes ideas sticky.

Visit Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content

Final Thoughts

Taking an online marketing course offers learners access to a number of skills and opens opportunities for a career change, or provides the knowledge that could make a difference in getting that promotion.

Marketing-related skills have transferable benefits for many industries and job roles.

These include presentation skills, effective written and verbal communication, collaboration, analytical thinking and data manipulation, as well as understanding the effects of new digital technology.

Taking a MOOC, whether or not you choose to pay for certification, can give you invaluable access to up-to-date insights, as well as learning from experts in the field.

A free course in marketing could be the best way to understand more about the principles of new technologies and decide if a change of career is right for you.

Find your next marketing job with WikiJob