Learn Digital Marketing in 2020 [99+ FREE Resources]

Digital marketing is a HUGE field. There are a gazillion channels you can learn about, and each of them is a career path on its own:

  • SEO
  • PPC
  • Email Marketing
  • SMM

...And that’s just the start!

If you’re a beginner looking to get into the field, learning digital marketing can seem super confusing.

We’ve heard a TON of questions on the topic:

“Where do I even start? Which channels? What are the best resources or courses to learn from? Should I pay some Guru $$$ for their course?”

So, we decided to create a very conclusive guide to answer all those questions, and give beginners a CLEAR direction on where and how to learn digital marketing.

Read on to learn:

  • 4 methodologies for learning digital marketing (even if you have zero budget)
  • Step-by-step study guides for each digital marketing channel - SEO, PPC, and more.
  • Top 99+ best resources for learning digital marketing

How to Learn Digital Marketing - 4 Practical Methods

Before we dive deep into the guide and start teaching you individual digital marketing channels, let’s cover some basics.

First things first - you need to decide which channel to start with.

If you have a knack for writing, we’d recommend going with Content Marketing or Copywriting. On the other hand, if you’re more analytics-oriented, go for Search Ads or PPC.

As a given, you DON’T have to learn all the channels. You can just pick one that you like, and specialize in it!

Once you’ve decided on which channel to roll with, you should also establish a learning methodology.

As with most things in life, reading on digital marketing won’t take you far. You need to also put everything into practice.

We usually recommend going with one of these 4 options:

  1. Create a test learning environment. Basically, you create a website for a basic product or service (heck, even a blog would do!), and start applying whatever you learned about digital marketing to get leads and customers. Even if you have ZERO budget, this can be an interesting learning experience. And yes - it’s possible to start with a zero budget.
  2. Get an internship at a digital marketing agency. This can be a bit painful if you’re in the middle of your current career, but hey, swallow the pride. If you do your best, you’ll be doing some real work 6 months after the internship.
  3. Offer a local business to help them with marketing for free. Find a business you think you can help in your area and reach out to them!
  4. Create an affiliate blog. Pick a niche, create an affiliate blog, and start pumping out some content. This is mainly relevant if you want to learn SEO or content marketing.

And here’s what you SHOULD NOT DO:

 

Read a guide or two, buy a course, whip out your own website, repurpose the course and start pretending to be a marketing expert to potential clients.

 

There are way too many people doing this as-is. Please stop! You’re setting yourself up for failure.

You’d be surprised how many people we see on Facebook Ads groups asking, “hey guys, I closed my first client, now how the heck do I deliver on my promises?”

...Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get to learning some digital marketing!

Learn Digital Marketing - Top Resources for Every Channel

Feel free to skip ahead to whichever digital marketing channel you’re interested in:

Small Note

We took some liberties with splitting up some channels. For example, search ads fall under PPC, but since they require different skills/knowledge than most PPC channels, we split them up.

Finally, Copywriting is also NOT a digital marketing channel. However, it’s an essential skill that helps with literally any other channel, so we decided to include it to the list.

Sue us.

Learn Content Marketing

This one’s our bread and butter.

Most traditional advertising channels are focused on directly selling a product. If you turn on the TV, you’ll see a TON of ads for this product, or that product or service.

Content marketing is a form of indirect advertisement.

The idea here is, instead of directly pitching your product to your target audience, you create content (article, video, infographic, etc.) around the problem your product solves, and pitch that instead.

To make this a LOT clearer, here’s a practical example.

Let’s say you’re a marketing agency that specializes in helping SaaS companies with their digital marketing (meta, right?).

Instead of directly running ads yelling “We help SaaS companies!” you create a mega-guide on the topic and advertise that.

...Which is what we did.

We created a mega-guide to SaaS marketing and promoted the hell out of it all over the web. This netted us around ~10,000+ traffic and 15+ leads in the first week, and we STILL get traffic to the piece, 2 months later.

google analytics overview

Sweet, right?

Now, you’re probably wondering, is this option better than just running ads to your service / product?

Yes, yes it is. Here’s why:

  1. It’s free (ish). The only resources it took was our time to write the post, edit it, and promote it. Ads, on the other hand, can be super expensive.
  2. It builds your brand authority. Who’d you trust with your marketing? A random guy that popped up on your Facebook newsfeed, or the guys that wrote the most comprehensive guide to SaaS marketing you’ve ever read? Exactly!

Content Marketing Learning Path

Looking for the top resources to learn content marketing? Here is a mini-roadmap to get you going:

  1. First, learn the basics. You can find a ton of online courses or articles on this. Here are some of our favorites:
    1. HubSpot’s Academy content marketing course
    2. Neil Patel’s guide to content marketing basics
    3. Content Blogger’s guide to content marketing
    4. A good run-down for creating articles for marketing. This is extra-useful if you're just getting started with your content writing career.
  2. Learn how to create and promote authority content
    1. Hubspot’s guide to content creation
    2. Copy Blogger’s guide to creating epic content
    3. How to promote your content
    4. Another guide on content promotion
  3. Learn how to create SEO content (more on this in the next section)
    1. How to use the skyscraper technique, guide #1 and guide #2
    2. Our own guide to creating SEO content
    3. How to create top content with the Wiki Strategy
  4. Learn how to do content marketing for a local business with Google’s course
  5. Read some case studies. Some of our favorites include:
    1. How Chris Von Wilpert made $100,000 by creating and promoting a single blog post
    2. How Mint grew to 1.5 million users (a big chunk of the credit goes to content marketing)

Learn SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is another super popular digital marketing channel.

In a nutshell, SEO is the act of optimizing your web pages and content for Google so that your website pops up when people look up certain terms.

For example, let’s say you’re a project management software. Would it benefit you if you popped up #1 when people Google for your keyword?

google search project management software

Yes, yes it would. You’d be getting highly qualified leads for your software every day, for free, with ZERO ad spend.

Cool, right?

Here’s what an SEO specialist does on a daily basis:

  • Content Creation - Create SEO content (or work with freelance writers)
  • On-page SEO - Make sure that all content on the blog is optimized for Google and interlinked to each other
  • Technical SEO - Make sure that the web dev team is following SEO best practices when working on the website
  • SEO Strategy - Doing keyword research and finding new web pages and content to create
  • Link-building - Conducting link-building (or supervising outreach specialists).

Now, here’s how to learn SEO...

SEO Learning Path

  1. First off, learn the basics.
    1. Beginner’s Guide to SEO by Moz
    2. SEO Basics by Backlinko
    3. Content King App's SEO academy
    4. SEO in 2020 by Backlinko
    5. Awesome SEO tutorial on Reddit
    6. What’s DA/PA
  2. Then, learn how to do technical SEO, set up tracking, and optimize your website
    1. Create a sitemap
    2. Create a robots.txt
    3. Setup Google Analytics and Search Console
    4. Improve load speed. Check out this article by Moz and another by Crazy Egg
    5. Learn about technical SEO and how that works
    6. Optimize your web pages for SEO. For this, you can use Yoast or RankMath if you’re using WordPress, and Content Analysis Tool if you’re not
    7. Losslessly compress all your images. This should save ~75% of space for your images and drastically increase site load speed (which improves SEO). If you’re using WordPress, you can use Smush to automatically compress all images on your site. If you’re NOT using WP, you can use Compressor.io.
  3. Learn how to do keyword research
    1. Top guide on How to do keyword research
    2. [Freebie] Use our template for keyword research
  4. Learn how to create SEO landing pages
  5. Learn how to create SEO content
    1. Our own guide to creating SEO content
    2. Backlinko’s skyscraper strategy
    3. How to create top content with the Wiki Strategy
  6. Learn how to do link-building
    1. Learn link-building basics
    2. Personal link-building how-to created by a professional link-builder
    3. GrowthGorilla's link-building process. Helps you get a more down-to-earth, practical POV on how to do your own link-building
    4. Learn how to do outreach
    5. Lessons learned on sending 5,000 link-building emails
    6. Another awesome guide to outreach
    7. Discover ALL the link-building strategies out there
  7. Learn the importance of proper interlinking (and how to do it)
  8. Learn how to optimize article headlines
  9. Read some case studies
    1. How Nat grew a website to 10k+ visitors per month
    2. How Pipedrive ranked on a high-volume keyword

If you’re learning digital marketing because you own a local business, then the game is a bit different. While 90% of the principles above still apply, you should also read about local SEO and how it works.

Other SEO Resources

Looking for additional resources? Here are some of our favorite SEO blogs:

Finally, a big part of SEO is using the right tools. Here are the ones we use every day (and love):

  • All-in-one SEO tool. Usually, that’s either SEMrush or Ahrefs. You’re going to use this tool for literally anything - keyword research, content audit, technical audit, backlink analysis, etc.
  • Scraping tool. That could be URL Profiler or Screaming Frog, the best tool out there for content/technical audits.
  • Rank checker tool. We use the MozBar extension, a super nifty tool for checking DA/PA.
  • Content gap analysis tool. For us, that’s Surfer SEO. This is mainly used for performing a gap analysis between your content and that of the competition. You can get a top-down view of what all the top-ranking articles have in common for any given keyword, and whether your content is up to par.
  • Keyword research tool. UberSuggest is our #1 favorite here (and it’s free-ish!).
PRO TIP

The SEO process we mentioned above? That’s exactly the process we used to take our SEO clients from 0 to 200k organic traffic (and beyond!).

Check out our SEO case study to see it in action.

Learn Search Ads

Search ads are basically paid SEO.

Instead of waiting for months or years to rank on your keyword, you can start bidding on it instantaneously.

Seen the “Sponsored” results on top of your organic searches on Google?

google search best vpn

Those are search ads.

Of course, unlike SEO, they’re not free. You have to pay for each click you get.

The way search ads work is as follows. Each time someone Googles any keyword, Google holds a small auction.

Each advertiser on the keyword has a specific bid indicated on their account.

The one that bids the highest, gets the highest ranking.

Now given, this is a gross oversimplification, but that’s the general idea behind it.

Usually, you’d use search ads if you are any type of business with inbound demand. For example…

  • Are you a bar in London, UK? You can advertise on “bars sofia,” “best bars sofia,” and “sofia nightlife.”
  • Are you a legal firm in New York? You’d advertise on “law firm new york,” “immigration law firm new york”, “immigration lawyer new york”, and so on.
  • Are you an online resume builder? You can advertise on “resume template,” “resume builder”, “ how to make a resume”, and so on.

Want to learn how to do search ads? Here are some of the best resources out there:

Search Ads Learning Path

...And that’s it.

You’re probably wondering:

Wtf Nick, you mention 934 resources on SEO, but just 3 for search ads?”

Yep. The thing w/ search ads is, it’s easy to learn, hard to master. Going through Google’s course on its own is enough to give you everything you need to know about search ads.

From then on, you need to apply what you learned into practice, and learn from there (and Google any problems / questions you might have).

Small Note

Search Ads goes in the same category as PPC. The reason we decided to create a separate section for it is that it generally follows different principles.

W/ other ad channels, you target based on interests, hobbies, demographics, and so on. With Google Ads, on the other hand, you target by search queries.

Learn PPC

PPC stands for “pay-per-click” and is an umbrella term for pretty much ALL online advertising types - Facebook ads, LinkedIn ads, Reddit ads, and all other social media ads.

facebook advertising

In this case, we decided to focus on Facebook Ads, mainly for 2 reasons:

  1. It’s the most popular advertising channel out there. There’s a lot more demand for Facebook ad specialists, and you can get a lot more done with it
  2. If you learn how to do Facebook ads, all other channels follow the same principles

So, let’s get right into it!

The way PPC works, in a nutshell, is as follows:

  1. You need to figure out the right targeting
  2. And you need to come up with the right ad creatives (both ad image and the ad copy)

Given, this is a LOT more complex than you’d think. The main responsibility for a PPC specialist is to test dozens of targeting options, mixed with dozens of ad creatives, and find what gets them the best results.

Want to learn how to do PPC? Here’s how…

PPC Learning Path

  1. First, learn the basics.
    1. You can use Facebook Blueprint, Facebook’s very own PPC course
    2. Or, this Facebook Basics guide by AdEspresso
    3. Or, read one of our favorite FB ad guides by Miles Becker
    4. Remarketing basics
    5. How to use lookalike audiences
  2. To learn how to do Facebook ads for a local business, check out Channel Zero Marketing on Youtube and watch ALL of his videos.
  3. Learn how Facebook ad bidding works.
  4. Learn how to optimize your Facebook ad campaigns.
  5. Get inspired by some of the best Facebook ad examples.
  6. Learn how to scale your Facebook ads.
  7. Top 10 Facebook ad hacks from a 10-year expert
  8. Top lessons from some guy on Reddit who spent $100,000+ on FB and LinkedIn ads
  9. Some other good tips from Reddit.
  10. ...And one more!
  11. Read some case-studies
    1. Case study on spending $1,000,000 on e-commerce ads
    2. Connectio’s list of FB ad case studies
    3. Indiegogo campaign FB ad case study

And here are some free web resources we recommend:

Learn Social Media Marketing

“Wait, isn’t social media marketing the same as PPC?”

Technically, yes. For the purpose of this guide? Nope.

Social Media Marketing (SMM) as a whole is anything that has to do with marketing on social media (as the name suggests).

Yes, that includes PPC.

However, “Social Media Manager” and “Facebook Ad Expert” are 2 completely different things that require different skill-sets. Hence, we decided to split up PPC and SMM.

SMM, as defined for the purpose of this guide, includes:

  1. Creating engaging content on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/LinkedIn
  2. Managing social media profiles of companies and replying to comments
  3. Organizing giveaways on social media
  4. Promoting company news or content on social media

If you’ve seen Wendy’s social media account, that’s a top-tier SMM marketing right there!

Wendy's Tweets

Now, how do you learn Social Media Marketing? Unlike most of the other guides we’ve mentioned, it’s not nearly as step-by-step.

The general idea is:

  1. Master how specific social media platforms work. Follow people that are actively posting and have a dynamic followers group. Borrow what works best.
  2. Learn how to create engaging content (both written and visual).
  3. Post frequently and monitor the company’s social media presence

So, accordingly, 90% of the work here is learning about each individual social media. Here’s some of our favorite guides for that:

Learn Copywriting

Yes, yes, copywriting is NOT exactly digital marketing.

It is, however, an ESSENTIAL skill for, well, just about any digital marketing channel we’ve mentioned so far.

  • Doing content marketing? You need to be able to write good copy.
  • SEO? Same thing. The more engaging your content, the more likely it is to rank.
  • Search ads & other PPC channels? Same. After all, no one’s going to click your ad if the headline isn’t compelling.

So, we decided to include copywriting in the guide.

For those of you that are new to digital marketing, copywriting means writing copy that sells. For example:

PRO TIP

You’re probably wondering, what’s the difference between copy and content? Waaay too many people think it’s the same thing. To put it simply, look at it this way:

Content is a generic term for any type of article/blog post/video, etc…

Copy, on the other hand, is text with a sales intent.

Most copy falls under “content,” but most content is NOT copy.

Unlike most of the other digital marketing channels we’ve covered, learning copywriting isn’t as straightforward.

There’s no step-by-step, read this, skim that, then read that, and BAM you’re a copywriter!

Unfortunately, it takes a lot of reading, time, and practice. To get started, however, we recommend reading a handful of the following guides:

Copywriting Learning Path

As for top blogs/resources, here’s what we recommend:

Learn Email Marketing

Email marketing is a digital marketing strategy that involves sending emails to prospects or existing customers.

The goal of every email marketing campaign is usually one of the following:

  • Turn email readers into customers
  • Upsell new products or services to existing customer base
  • Retain your reader base with interesting/informative content

And the To-Dos of an email marketer usually include:

  • Sending a weekly newsletter to blog readers
  • Notifying users/newsletter subscribers about new products or services
  • Figuring out how to increase blog reader-to-email subscriber conversions
  • Analyzing campaign performance and making adjustments as needed
  • A/B testing different emails/subject lines

If you want to learn how to do email marketing, here’s what we recommend:

Email Marketing Learning Path

Learn Web Analytics

While analytics isn’t exactly a channel, it’s essential to know how to track your marketing campaigns.

Here are some basic stuff you HAVE TO know:

Key Takeaways

Hope you enjoyed our guide to learning digital marketing!

For more industry-leading digital marketing content, check out our blog.

If you have any course/blog post/podcast or whatever else you think would fit any of our learning lists, let us know down in the comment and we’ll add it to the list!*

*As long as it’s good, anyway

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