The Most Comprehensive Review of Digital Marketing Courses

student-council

You can’t land a marketing job without any proven skills or capabilities. Fortunately, you can solve this problem by hopping on Google, and typing in something like “best online marketing courses.”

Online marketplaces, like Udemy, would definitely pop up, and may even get you to buy due to their overtly cheap prices. You’d also stumble upon a pricey bootcamp, or two, that promise a well-paying career after just three months. And you’d probably discover some [free] courses that will even give you a certification upon completion (Whatever those are worth.)

Unfortunately, these search results can be overwhelming, and not to mention, downright bad.

Before I began revamping my full stack marketing course, I researched A LOT — the big players, the small players and everyone in between.

I created accounts, combed YouTube, read comments on Reddit and Quora and spoke with actual students in these courses. I learned the pros, the cons, what people loved, what they hated and what they thought could be improved — just so I could provide you with the most valuable online marketing course on the planet as well as educate you on my findings. This way, you can easily and efficiently make a decision that won’t leave you feeling disappointed.

The 5 Most Important Things to You

1. Achieving tangible results.

We all have the same end-goal here: Make decent money, on our own terms, doing something we enjoy. Whether you want to land a full-time marketing job or just learn marketing so you can grow your business, you expect meaty, actionable content that helps you get tangible results.

2. Expanding your network.

You understand the value of weak ties, which is why you want to be a member of an [exclusive] community. Whether it’s on Slack, Facebook or any other platform, you want to be where like-minded, influential people in your industry are hanging out.

3. Balancing learning with doing.

Anyone who has graduated and can’t land a job because they have no experience understands that past experience is super important if you want to land a [high-paying] job. Some courses are starting to catch onto this and are attempting to weave “real-world” projects into their curriculum.

4. Fair pricing.

Whether you’re bootstrapping a startup or starving from unemployment, you can’t afford courses with astronomical price tags. You want options (e.g. different pricing tiers) so you can get access to the best education possible at a rate you can afford — without mortgaging the rest of your life away.

5. Support and accountability.

Many bootcamps assign you a mentor, who you meet with on a regular basis. They hold you accountable each week — or however often you meet. And toward the end, someone from “career services” helps you land a job after graduation by polishing your resume, conducting test interviews and introducing you to hiring partners. Keep in mind: While you may land a job, it’s unlikely you’ll keep it if your skills aren’t up to snuff. A good question to ask is: What are your former classes’ job retention rates?

Major Takeaways From my Research

After researching a plethora of course marketplaces, like Udemy; bootcamps, like Udacity; and industry training sites, like HubSpot Academy, I’d like to share a few big takeaways.

Most courses boast brand-name hiring partners. On the surface, it sounds like a no-brainer way to land a job at Google. But here’s the thing: What if you’re not ready for a job at Google — which you’re likely not if you just learned about content marketing a month ago. It’s smarter to work with small businesses, which will be more forgiving of newbie mistakes and won’t ruin your reputation before you ever get one.

Most courses tout badass job placement rates. The thing is job placement rates are a vanity metric. What are students’ job retention rates? As a former marketing director for a coding bootcamp, I know most students can’t hold their jobs for more than three months.

Most courses are great at teaching you the hot, new trends. But they are not great at teaching you how to learn on the fly and how to solve your own problems under pressure. This is bad in a world, when every other day there’s a new buzzword or a new algorithm update or a totally new network to join. Courses that do this are trying to capitalize on beginners’ naivety.

Most courses focus on selling you a certification. A certification is not going to land you a good job. Trust me. Being certified does NOT equate to actual skills. Good employers know that.

Most courses do not prepare you for the freelance world. The majority of you want to learn marketing so you can have a more flexible lifestyle by freelancing. Unfortunately, most courses aren’t going to prepare you for that type of lifestyle.

How to Succeed no Matter Which Road You Choose

Some students succeed regardless of the course or bootcamp they take. This is what they do differently.

They read the fine print. Successful students do their due diligence before they throw down thousands of dollars on a course or bootcamp. They carefully read the FAQs and reach out to someone, if they have lingering questions, or are unsure about the guarantees.

They motivate themselves. Successful students put in the extra effort. They’re self-motivated. They don’t expect a Fairy God Mentor to sprinkle them with hourly doses of motivation. They understand that motivation comes from within.

They build their online presence away from the course provider’s website. Most bootcamps automagically create an online portfolio for you. The thing is, it’s hosted on their site; therefore, you don’t own it. Also, most employers and industry influencers don’t think: “Oh, hey, I need to recruit [insert job here]! Let me visit General Assembly to see their portfolio of students!” Instead, they scour LinkedIn, reach out to writers they follow on Medium and/or ask their network for referrals. Successful students know they need an online presence on the platforms that matter, and so they focus their efforts on populating those.

They don’t boast that they’re in (or just graduated from) XYZ bootcamp. Bootcamp grads are the new interns. You instantly pigeonhole yourself into a junior-level salary — even if your skills and experience are badass — when you say you just graduated from a three-month bootcamp. It’s like putting the year you graduated college or high school on your resume — people can instantly calculate your age (and assume your experience level); and therefore, write you off as someone they don’t have to compensate as well.

They treat courses and bootcamps as an accelerated path to success, not a magic pill. They know learning is not a one-and-done kind-of thing, so they ask lots of questions, reach out to an array of different people and continually read and seek out new ways to learn every single day.

Online Marketing Course Reviews

Udacity’s Digital Marketing Nanodegree Review

Udacity is one of the largest online course providers on the Internet. Originally focused on coding, Udacity has spread its wings and expanded into the digital marketing realm.

The three-month, 10-hour per week bootcamp takes place online and begins on the second Monday of each month. You can enroll up until the day before the next term begins for a mere $999.

If you’re familiar with Udacity, you’ve probably read that they guarantee you a job within six months. Udacity does not offer this guarantee for its digital marketing nanodegree — likely because it’s so new, and they don’t know what to expect yet.

Note: Udacity does have three inaugural hiring partners — Capital One, Rakuten and Zalando. I wonder why HubSpot, Moz, Google, Facebook, Mailchimp and Hootsuite — its teaching partners — aren’t on that list too.

You may have also read that Udacity offers 50 percent tuition reimbursement upon completion of your studies. Again, this is not the case for its digital marketing nanodegree.

Because the program is so new, there are very few reviews to go on, so in addition to my online research, I also spoke with two students currently enrolled in Udacity’s digital marketing nanodegree program.

At this point, the overall sentiment toward the program is indifferent or neutral.

Here’s what Digital Marketing Nanodegree Student Brandon Weber had to say after one month in the program:

You may have also read that Udacity offers 50 percent tuition reimbursement upon completion of your studies. Again, this is NOT the case for its digital marketing nanodegree.

Because the program is so new, there are very few reviews to go on, so in addition to my online research, I also spoke with two students currently enrolled in Udacity’s digital marketing nanodegree program.

At this point, the overall sentiment toward the program is indifferent or neutral.

Here’s what Digital Marketing Nanodegree Student Brandon Weber had to say after one month in the program:

“Overall I’m satisfied, but the program isn’t perfect.”

What Weber Likes

  • Udacity’s forum and LinkedIn Group: It’s allowed him to connect with a lot more people on LinkedIn from around the world.
  • Udacity’s career services: Udacity gives every student an online profile/portfolio to help them land a job.
digital marketing degree

What Weber Thinks Could be Improved

  • Udacity’s course content: According to Weber, the content is “pretty decent.” Although he learned a lot more through HubSpot Academy (which is free). Ultimately, Weber doesn’t think you’ll get a comprehensive marketing knowledge just taking Udacity’s course.
  • Udacity’s super short videos: The longest YouTube video is around five minutes, and most are 90 seconds, which isn’t long enough to give you an overview of such a comprehensive topic.

This review on Reddit echoes Weber’s statement that the content just isn’t comprehensive enough, and it only teaches you the basics:

“I’m in the middle of the Digital Marketing Nanodegree. I started in April and am almost finished. This is a very basic digital marketing course. If you are looking for a course to teach you in-depth digital marketing practices, this is not the course for you. If you aren’t familiar with digital marketing at all then this is a great place to start. Good luck!”

The Syllabus

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Pros and Cons

udacity pros

Of the $999 tuition fee, $250 is given back to each student to experiment with $125 on Facebook Ads and $125 on Google AdWords. While I like Udacity’s thinking here, $125 isn’t going to be enough to get your hands dirty with paid ads. AdWords budgets usually start at around $2,000, at least.

udacity cons
  • It appears overpriced at $999, especially when you can get the same type of content on HubSpot Academy for free.
  • It’s formatted like a bootcamp, meaning you have to do it according to their timeline.

Lingering Questions

  • Who are Udacity’s project reviewers and how does Udacity evaluate them? Please be very specific.
  • What are Udacity’s average job retention rates?
  • What’s the one-on-one feedback like? How much time do Udacity mentors spend with each student?
  • Why aren’t Udacity’s teaching partners -- HubSpot, Moz, Google, Facebook, Mailchimp and Hootsuite -- hiring partners?
  • Is Udacity getting a commission from Google (and Facebook) for each AdWords account it creates?

HubSpot Academy Review

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HubSpot is the industry leader in marketing automation software. In fact, they created the term “inbound marketing.”

The company has never been shy about sharing their knowledge with the rest of the world so it’s no surprise they created HubSpot Academy — an online learning center for people to learn about the latest marketing best practices and get “certified” upon completion.

The best thing is you don’t have to be a HubSpot customer to utilize these resources, and you don’t have to take the courses if all you’re after is a certification. (Although, I highly recommend taking the courses before attempting the certification exam, as many experienced marketers, who didn’t take them, did not pass.)

Because it’s completely free, it doesn’t hurt to sign up, and check out the courses yourself. With that being said, I’ll still give you a high-level overview of all the courses in HubSpot Academy — each of which are accompanied with additional resources, such as templates, study guides and links to blog posts on the topic.

The 5 HubSpot Marketing Certifications

Inbound Certification

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This course is aimed at inbound marketing newbies who want to learn the fundamentals, and it’s broken up as such.

The sections include: Attract, convert, close and delight. In total, this course features 12 videos that will take you about four and a half hours to watch.

Email Marketing Certification

email marketing certification

Email is still one of the best — if not the best — way to reach your audience. HubSpot walks you through the entire process: Segmentation, personalization, mobile and optimization.

This nine-lesson course will take about three and a half hours to complete, and you can quiz yourself after.

Content Marketing Certification

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This 10-lesson course takes five hours to complete. In it, you’ll learn how to generate content ideas, how to tell a story through content along with a few other content marketing fundamentals.

HubSpot Marketing Software Certification

hubspot marketing software certification

This course is for more advanced marketers, and it’s the one I think is most useful.

The 14-lesson, 6.5-hour course teaches you how to use HubSpot to its full capacity. It teaches you how to use all the tools available on HubSpot’s marketing platform. You’ll learn what each one does and how to use them.

If I were going to get any of these certifications, it would be this one.

Contextual Marketing Certification

contextual marketing certification

Contextual marketing is all about creating a personalized website experience for each visitor based on their needs, habits, and goals. In short, it means getting the right content, to the right person, at the right time.

This course features six lessons that will take you 1.5 hours to complete.

This certification is also for advanced marketers. That means:

  • You have passed the HubSpot Marketing Software Certification.
  • You have clearly defined buyer personas.
  • You have at least 500 contacts in your contact database.
  • You are comfortable with segmentation strategies.

Considerations

How will you gain real-world experience once you complete these courses? It looks like HubSpot may require you to complete a few projects to actually get your certification now, but I’m not certain. If you can somehow showcase this in your portfolio or LinkedIn, then that’s great.

Does a certification really mean anything? I (and other prominent marketers) don’t think so, but [some] marketing agencies (HubSpot Partners in particular) think so. Certifications can be useful for newbies with little experience because it proves you at least have some understanding of digital marketing.

Does a certification really mean anything? I (and other prominent marketers) don’t think so, but [some] marketing agencies (HubSpot Partners in particular) think so. Certifications can be useful for newbies with little experience because it proves you at least have some understanding of digital marketing.

Pros and Cons

udacity pros
  • It’s completely free.
  • Learning how to use HubSpot’s software is valuable.
  • They provide certifications, if you’re into that sort of thing.
  • It is not a big time commitment.
udacity cons
  • The curriculum feels eerily academic to me, and it’s definitely reminiscent of college lectures.
  • It’s not exactly organized to give you a truly comprehensive overview of digital marketing.
  • HubSpot uses a lot of its own jargon, which can be confusing for newbies.
  • The certification exams are SAT-hard (and boring — so boring — you’ll probably feel compelled to Christmas tree it). I had the same experience as this marketer, who said: “As a marketing professional who has been around the block, I made the assumption (inaccurately) that I’d be able to pass the certification without any prep work. Instead, I got a 68 percent and failed.”
  • You don’t get personalized help or attention.

HubSpot Certification Reviews

Market Campus Review

market campus

Market Campus offers five courses for $45 per month. The courses include:

  • SEO
  • Content marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Web analytics
  • Digital marketing certification

Because it was affordable, I purchased a subscription so I could give you the most accurate review possible.

Immediately upon signing up, I received an automated email, telling me to request access to its exclusive Facebook Group, which has 111 members.

market campus facebook group

Market Campus SEO Course Review 

Its SEO course contains 20 sections, which are comprised of about five to six lessons each. Lessons are a mixture of text and video content, and some include quizzes.

The videos that Market Campus does create feature Market Campus Founder Brandon Hassler.

And the quizzes are useful because they give you the right answer with an explanation immediately upon answering any given question.

marketing quiz

This course could definitely be completed in under two hours — maybe even under an hour, and it’s for total SEO newbies. I also don’t feel as though it’s been updated in awhile.

Market Campus Content Marketing Course Review

content marketing course

In each course, Market Campus recommends this same list of people to follow in digital marketing. Some people feel out of place on it, and I definitely think many well-known marketers are missing from it.

influencers

A few of the sections in the content marketing course are pulled from the SEO course, and again, they aren’t very robust. I’d actually consider most of the content fluffy, not exactly helpful and sometimes, downright bad. Take the screenshot below.

marketcampus

First off, why isn’t Market Campus teaching you how to create content yourself? And why not provide you with more (and BETTER) options — like how to find QUALITY writers?! Textbroker is not going to deliver content that ranks or gets shared. Trust me!

Second, Canva is a way better alternative to Piktochart, which I haven’t used in about seven years.

This is what I mean by not very robust content.

Totally unimpressed with the content marketing course — to say the very least.

Market Campus Social Media Marketing Review

social media marketing course

Again, the content here is far from robust. The “How do I increase my social following?” section is about 100 words long.

The section on Instagram still talks about Instagress, which was shut down by Instagram.

There’s no section on LinkedIn, yet one on Google+.

If I’m honest, I write blog posts longer than this entire course.

Market Campus Web Analytics Review

web analytics course

You can get this course for free here.

Market Campus Digital Marketing Certification Review

digital marketing certification

So this is kind-of shady… It advertises a Digital Marketing Certification on its site. Now, look at the above screenshot.

That’s all I have to say about Market Campus.

Coursera Digital Marketing Specialization Review

coursera marketing course

I wasn’t going to include Coursera because I hated college and Coursera reminds me of college — with its lectures and required readings and peer reviewed assignments. But because this certification kept popping up when I searched, I decided to be open-minded, and review it anyway.

While I didn’t enroll in this course (I just couldn’t bring myself to waste the money), I did read just about every student review for each of the six courses that comprises this specialization.

This specialization is for “beginners,” and you have a few payment options:

  1. You pay per course (6 courses x $79 = $474).
  2. Or you pay $426 up-front (10 percent discount).
  3. You complete a decent-length financial aid form, and you get the course for free or at a discounted rate.

Each of the six courses is a ~6-week program, requiring ~8 hours per week. In total, that’s 36 weeks or three months.

So what did the reviews say?

Without a doubt there was a ton of five-star reviews. BUT here’s the thing: While all the negative reviews were lengthy and detailed, all the positive reviews were wildly shallow. Take a look:

coursera digital marketing reviews
coursera digital marketing reviews
coursera digital marketing reviews

The other thing that sends a shady alarm off in my head is that you don’t know who these reviewers are, as you can see from the screenshots.

The Cons

All of the 1-3-star reviews consistently complained about the same things. Here’s the patterns I recognized.

Peer Reviews

coursera reviews

The “peer reviews” were one of the most complained about aspects of this specialization.

Basically, students didn’t like grading other students’ work, and most of the time, they didn’t even know what they were talking about.

Would you want another beginner grading your assignments? I wouldn’t. Sure, it’s great to have a community of smart peers, but you also need someone to take you to the next level. You won’t get that with Coursera, according to these reviews.

coursera reviews
coursera reviews

Outdated

coursera reviews
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coursera reviews
coursera reviews
coursera reviews

Too Academic

This is precisely what repelled me from wasting my money to even review this course. I’d rather chew my left arm off than sit through another boring college lecture, where a professor boringly reiterates whatever I just “read” in the boring textbook he assigned us to read in one week.

coursera reviews
coursera reviews
coursera reviews
coursera reviews

Requires too much time in a short amount of time

coursera reviews

The Verdict

I’ve already told you that I would never invest in this course. It’s not because I even see it as a competitor. In fact, I don’t at all. Our courses are structured so differently.

With that being said, if you’re still gung-ho on giving it a try, I’d purchase it one course at a time so you don’t lose out on $426 and then miss the refund window.

Full Stack Marketer Review

After conducting my research, I saw this gaping problem… Courses, like all of the above, are either overpriced, overly basic and boring (because they follow a traditional academic structure) and/or don’t give you tangible results.

And yes, I know they offer certifications, but certifications aren’t valuable in marketing. Proven experience and successful case studies are. Theory doesn’t prepare you for the real world of work; doing does.

Full Stack Marketer is completely different. You don’t get a fancy schmancy digital piece of paper. What you will get is results… IF you have the motivation to put in the work.

My course is comprehensive and affordable at $250 (ONE-TIME fee). For that price, you get lifetime access to course content (videos, transcripts and templates, resources and access to our Facebook Group). I’m also offering 20 students the opportunity to work with me personally for $1,000 (ONE-TIME fee).

When I launched the course last year, it was mostly all reading. This time around, it features almost all videos (with transcripts, in case you like to read, like me).

Full-Stack Marketer is divided into three sections:

    1. How to Build (and Make Money Building) Beautiful WordPress Websites
    2. How to Drive Traffic to Your Site Through Content Marketing: This is broken down into mini-projects that you have to complete for clients, who I teach you how to sell your services to.
    3. How to Brand Your Work and Design Your Digital Footprint: By the end of the course, you’ll walk away with proven experience and a showcasing of that via your brand new website portfolio. You’ll learn how to optimize your own online presence as well so you own the SERP results for your name.

While the course material is exactly the same for both offerings, I dramatically up the value by offering 12 one-hour private calls with m.

Additionally, I personally review and provide in-depth feedback on every project you complete.

The catch? I’m only accepting 20 people for this offering (because I am only one person).

Why is Full Stack Marketer valuable?

For one, Full Stack Marketer is valuable because I have a ton of unique insights from working in a variety of ways, doing a variety of things (in a variety of roles), with a variety of clients (companies, agencies and individuals).

Based on seven years experience, Full Stack Marketer is a complete roadmap for gaining experience, providing results and getting paid.

Not only that, but I really do care a lot about helping you succeed. There’s no better feeling than helping someone with potential and motivation accelerate forward in their career.

This course wasn’t outsourced — like so many are — but actually created and is managed by me.

As someone who has hired a lot of marketers and writers in my day, I know a lot of people who call themselves content marketers aren’t as good as they think they are.

This is another reason I created the course — because I’ve struggled to find phenomenal, RELIABLE marketers myself.

Marketing is, and always will be, in high-demand, yet colleges don’t inform students about this career path. And even if they did, there’s so few ACCURATE and GOOD resources on the topic.

I truly believe my course is the highest caliber resource on the topic of digital marketing. I wouldn’t have created it if I didn’t think so, or if someone else had already gotten it right.

Other Benefits

  • You’ll learn a wide variety of skills, which will help you become a big picture thinker, who also understands the details. Learning the entire marketing stack is vital for quickly solving problems. The more you know, the faster you can connect the dots and solve problems.
  • This course is fun and personable. Not dry and boring. You’ll be able to survive the content without wanting to poke your eyes out.
  • I create premium content, and this course is my creation. Don’t believe me? Look at my content, then look at the content these course providers create — it’s night and day in regards to quality.

Who is this course valuable for?

  • Bootstrapped entrepreneurs who want to grow their business: People who want to grow their businesses are perfect for Full Stack Marketer. It will help you learn step-by-step how to grow their business with online marketing.
  • Managers: Many managers don’t have the time to train their employees. Not to mention, it can be frustrating for some people. If you don’t have the time to train someone, then outsource that work to me.
  • People who want to learn marketing to get a more flexible lifestyle: Do you see marketing as a fun way to earn money and have a flexible (remote) lifestyle? Full stack marketing offers that type of lifestyle. I know it because I live it.
  • People who want to change their career to marketing: Do you work a lot and dislike what you do? Try out a career in marketing. It allows you to set your schedule and make good money doing something that’s thoroughly enjoyable.

Who isn’t Full Stack Marketer for?  

  • People who aren’t motivated.
  • People who won’t make the time.
  • People who don’t expect to hustle for a while.
  • People who want a get-rich-quick solution overnight (no such thing exists).
  • People who don’t like direct, critical feedback.