The Best Content Marketing Courses: Our Detailed Analysis
The problem with most online courses about content marketing is that they’re too theoretical. They teach high-level concepts, but they don’t teach you how to actually do content marketing to grow your own business (or one that you work for).
For example, many of the courses we analyze below teach you things such as:
- Search engine traffic is “free” traffic that keeps coming without you doing anything (True).
- You should write about things your audience cares about (True).
- Content can build authority (True).
All of those statements may be true, but they’re all kinds of obvious for anyone who has even the slightest knowledge of content marketing. Sure, if you’re an absolute beginner and have no idea what content marketing is, then it could be good to give you some context. But do you really need a whole course to teach you things like this? You could just Google “Intro to Content Marketing” and be up to speed in 30 minutes.
Also, this kind of high-level theory doesn’t teach you how to come up with an actionable content strategy and execute on it. What keywords should you focus on that will drive business? If you’re trying to rank for “best accounting software,” what type of article do you write to do that? Yes, “writing about stuff your audience cares about” is good, but which topics do you prioritize? Yes, “content should build authority,” but how do you actually measure if it’s working?
The content marketing courses we’ve taken — discussed in depth below — don’t go into this level of detail. Few of them teach the practical, actionable parts of content marketing in detail.
So if you’re looking for a good content marketing course, or say, the best content marketing course, what should you look for?
This article will cover what to look for in a top content marketing course, then we’ll analyze four of the most popular content marketing courses using this criteria, including our own, and discuss pros and cons.
Since this a long guide, here is a Table of Contents:
- Criteria: What should the best content marketing courses teach?
- Our Content Marketing Course: Detailed analysis of how we stack up against the criteria.
- Hubspot’s Content Marketing Course: “Content Marketing.”
- UC Davis and CopyBlogger’s Course: “The Strategy of Content Marketing.”
- Ahrefs’ Course: “Blogging for Business.”
Criterion #1: Content Strategy: Does It Teach You How to Come Up With Ideas That Convert?
There are two aspects to how we teach content strategy that make our course different from the rest.
First, we teach a process that is laser focused on getting customers, not vanity metrics such as social shares and traffic. Everything we teach around picking content topics and prioritizing them is built with that in mind: Which blog posts will get the most highly qualified customers into this business?
Second, we teach by case studying how to approach content strategy for real businesses. We think teaching content strategy by example (i.e., case studies) for different types of businesses is crucial because theory is too abstract. In content marketing, theory easily bleeds into the obvious: “Be helpful to the audience!” “Have variety!” “Write about what they care about!”
Criterion #2: Writing: Does It Teach You How to Write High-Quality Posts That Don’t Seem Beginner to Your Customer?
Like all of the popular content marketing courses we evaluate in this article, our course also focuses on written blog content, not videos or other content formats. (There’s a reason: That’s what’s indexed by Google the most, so it gives you the best chance of getting the most customers). So learning how to write a good blog post is really important.
But writing is nuanced. It’s complex. There are entire college majors, PhD programs, and libraries of books on writing (our favorite for non-fiction writing is the classic On Writing Well by William Zinsser).
Criterion #3: Promotion: Getting Your Content in Front of Target Customers
Every content marketing course (or even blog post) tells you this cliche: It’s not enough to write a post — you need people to see it!
Of course, but how? And what people?
Here’s how promotion advice typically works.
First, everyone who talks about content promotion talks about SEO (search engine optimization). We do too. SEO is a given. No one is teaching written content marketing and not talking about SEO, because in the end, Google gives you sustainable, free traffic that flows day and night, without you having to do anything or pay anything.
Criterion #4: Conversions and Measurements:
Most content marketing courses are grossly lacking in this category, and “conversions” usually means “slap on an email capture form” or “ask the reader to download an e-book” (common digital marketing tactics in general).
But emails and e-book downloads don’t show buying intent for your product. You need leads, demos, signups, or even direct sales.
Criterion #5: The Community: Getting Support so You’re Not Left by Yourself
Lastly, we’ve mentioned above that we built our course into a community. Let’s look at a few more benefits of that.
First, it means every lesson is a sticky “post” in a forum, and the layout encourages members to respond, interact, and tag each other. For example, in the conversion section we just discussed, people reply with questions in the lesson itself like this:
Ahref’s Blogging for Business Course
If we had to choose our favorite content marketing course alternative to our own, this would be it. Why? Because it’s the one course we evaluated that approaches content marketing from a business perspective: What strategies will get actual business value?
Ahrefs is an SEO software company, so it’s course obviously focuses on SEO and is heavily geared around using their tool. But regardless, it’s treatment of how to find and evaluate keywords that generate business value is solid, and we agree with a lot of it (more below).