A quick Google search will tell you there’s no shortage of digital marketing courses.
From both the distinguished to the unheard of, there are so many companies promoting courses and workshops that are designed to either teach you the basics or advance your current skillset.
But which of these courses are worthwhile, and how do you navigate through the excess of options to find one that’s legitimate, good quality, cost-effective and well-suited to what you need?
Whether you’re exploring options as an employee or upskilling as a freelancer, here are 8 questions you need to answer before you start researching – as they will help guide you on what kind of course is right for you.
1. What level of training do you need?
It’s vital to choose a course that is going to cater for you current abilities. Are you advancing skills and knowledge or is this a completely new area for you?
Do you need to learn everything right from the very beginning or are you just updating your understanding of a specific area? This will influence which courses you can consider.
2. What kind of content are you after?
Digital marketing is such a wide topic – so you need to know what particular subsections you’re looking to cover. You also need to assess the requirements of your role – a professional who is running campaigns will need a heavy operational focus, but those at a managerial level may not. Do you want a basic overview, or an in-depth class that focuses on one specific area?
It is also important to understand how practical the course is, will it be hands-on with plenty of interactive tasks? Will you be learning how to apply the techniques and tools to your current job, or is it just theory based?
Decide on whether you’d rather attend something that encompasses lecture-style slideshows with lots of note taking, or learn through a more proactive and hands-on approach.
3. How much time can you afford?
You need to be realistic about how much time you can spend to get the most out of the course. Courses can range from a day to over 15 months.
The amount of time spent should correlate to how much learning is required, how central it is to the main focus of your day job, and what you expect to be able to do as a result of the course. It will take time to assimilate your new knowledge, put it in into practice and then build on what you have learnt.
Intensive, fast track workshops will require a smaller time commitment, but will necessitate a lot more focus and energy. A slower process will give you time to understand and apply what you’re learning at a manageable pace but will take longer to complete.
4. How much budget can you spare?
The cost will be based on the quality and extensive nature of the course. Accredited courses delivered by credible trainers will come at a price – anything from £1,000-£3,500.
Instead of just plucking a number out of thin air, work out how important it is to enhance the skills you’ll be training and the knowledge you’ll be acquiring – what will it mean for the business, what opportunities will it open up for your company?
From there, you should be able to work out the budget for your training accordingly. It’s important to remember a couple of grand spent on training digital skills will reap rewards tenfold for the company – so look at the bigger picture, not just the costs of your initial investment.
Subsequently, this should be a significant investment, so make sure you are 100% certain you’re choosing the right course for you, and one that will help you achieve the objectives you’ve set out for yourself.
It’s also a good idea to find out if there are any hidden extra costs, or if you will be expected to purchase software or tech that’s necessary to complete the training.
5. What learning method suits your needs?
Online or in the classroom? It’s important to establish which you’d prefer.
The key advantage of online courses is that you can learn when you want to and you don’t necessarily need to take days out of the office, providing you have the self-discipline and motivation to see it through.
Face-to-face workshops mean that you will need to set aside time to turn up to a classroom, but you will have the opportunity to ask questions and engage with your tutor and peers during the tasks. This kind of learning can either be intensive and condensed into a couple of days of full-on training, or spread out in smaller periods over weeks or months.
6. Are you after quality or will basic learning suffice?
Digital marketing evolves every day – from the practical elements of using a specific channel to new techniques and best practice. A good course will be updated regularly to cater for this, so find out how often the content and training materials are refreshed.
You should also look into the trainers for the course, are they qualified professionals and industry expects who will know the everyday challenges you face and the techniques you need for success? Do they understand the how to give feedback in a constructive way, and cater for different learning styles?
It’s a good idea to talk to other people who have attended the course, and find out how it’s influenced what they’re doing now.
7. How much support do you want?
If it’s online, will you communicate via an online forum with a bank of trainers, or will you be emailing an allocated professional?
If it’s in a classroom, how many other people will be attending the course – how much one-to-one time will you get with your trainer to ask specific questions?
8. Do you want to be assessed, and if so – how?
Do you like exams and feel confident in preparing for them, or do you prefer writing assignments in your own time? Would you rather not worry about the additional stress of either and absorb the workshop information in a practical way as you complete the course?
If you are going to be assessed, make sure you find out how – will be you tasked to complete an assignment based on a real-life work situation or asked to explain theories? Will you have to prove you can actually put into practice what you’ve learnt?
Following your assessment, check the level and quality of the qualification you should receive. You may be after a degree or diploma, or you might feel that there is no need for a full-on qualification – so an in-house certificate might be all you need to succeed in your role.
Whether you need a quick beginner’s guide or you’re looking to dive into the more advanced topics of a specific area, there are definitely plenty of options to choose from – so make sure you spend the time researching which digital marketing course is right for what you need.