Online Marketing Classes for Beginners: What to Expect and What to Look For

When you’re starting off in business or marketing, it can be hard to know what path to take. There are so many different specialties to choose from, and not all of them are suited to you. That’s why we’ve put together this guide; to give you an idea of what you might expect from the different online marketing courses.

Marketing Specialties You Might Encounter

Apart from the usual suspects like SEO, PPC, and content marketing, you might encounter specialties like:

  • email marketing
  • social media marketing
  • online advertising
  • marketing analytics
  • search marketing
  • webmaster tools
  • E-commerce marketing

All of these specialties are useful in some way or another, but they’re not the be-all and end-all of marketing. Just remember that whatever path you choose, it’s always a good idea to become an expert in your field.

Online Marketing Education Requirements

Before you begin your marketing studies, you’ll need to make sure that you meet the minimum educational requirements for your course. Your preferred school will have these, but you’ll also need to check with the providers themselves. Some of the basic prerequisites for the different online marketing courses are detailed below:

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • GPA >= 3.0
  • English language proficiency
  • Internet access
  • Basic Excel skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Time management skills
  • Writing & communication skills
  • Resilience
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Self-awareness
  • Motivation
  • Ethical behaviour
  • Reliability
  • Flexibility
  • Decisiveness
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • A history of showing initiative

If you’re not sure what any of these terms mean, then don’t worry too much about it. As long as you meet the minimum requirements, you should be fine. If you need a refresher on any of the terms above, then check out our glossary page.

Which Online Marketing Specialties Are Suitable For You?

Now that you have a broad idea of what industries and specialties are out there, you can begin to figure out which ones are most suited to you. There are three primary factors to consider:

  • Your desired employment status. Are you looking to work in an office, or do you prefer to be your own boss?
  • How much you want to learn. With so much information out there, how much do you want to know?
  • The kind of work you’ll be doing. There are specialized courses for e-commerce marketing and social media marketing, for example.

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be able to map out a course that suits you perfectly.

Is Marketing All About Sales?

The short answer is, no. Marketing is a lot more than just sales. Your marketing efforts will aim to generate interest in your product or service, and bring in customers. You might have heard the saying, “You can’t sell ice to the Eskimos”, and that’s true. You can’t just sell ice to people who prefer their cold drink cold, and their coffee sweet. You have to market to the right audience.

So, while you’re learning about online marketing, make sure that you know what kind of marketing expert you want to become. Do you want to be an SEO guru, or a social media marketer? What about becoming an e-commerce marketer? There are so many choices, but you have to pick one.

Additional Online Marketing Certifications

Apart from the basic requirements listed above, you might want to consider getting some additional certifications. Below is a short list of some of the more popular ones that you might encounter:

  • SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
  • PPC (Pay Per Click)
  • CCM (Content Creation Marketing)
  • MEC (Mobile Marketing Expertise)
  • CPC (Cost Per Click)
  • ICM (Interactive Campaign Management)
  • SMM (Social Media Marketing)
  • MQL (Marketing Qualitative Research)
  • MCR (Marketing Campaign Review)
  • MMR (Marketing Metrics and Research)

These are just a small fraction of the different certifications that you might encounter, but they’re some of the more popular ones. Make sure that you’re familiar with the differences between them, so that you can become an expert in your field.

The Differences Between Online Marketing Specialties

The above certifications all have something in common; they’re all online. That means that you’ll learn mostly via online study, and you won’t have to worry about commuting to a traditional classroom setting. The majority of the courses can be taken via distance education, and many of them are accredited, so you can rest assured that you’re learning from a reputable source.

While there are some similarities between the different online marketing specialties, there are still some notable differences. Let’s take a look:


SEM is an abbreviation for Search Engine Marketing. It’s the process of getting your website or blog listed on the search engine results page, for keyword searches related to your niche. Most seasoned SEO’s will tell you that getting on the first page of search results is an impossible task; it takes years of experience to become an expert at. So don’t expect to easily master the art of SEM overnight.

Traditional SEO focuses on quality content that provides value to the user. The goal is to generate interest in the product, and encourage the reader to do more research about it. Once they’re engaged with your content, they’re much more likely to click on a branded link or buy a product from you.


PPC stands for Pay Per Click. Just like SEM, this is another abbreviation for a type of marketing called Pay Per Click. The main difference between these two is that with PPC, you’ll be paying for each click. There’s a certain amount of bidding that goes into each click, so you’ll need to learn how to bid appropriately.

CPC stands for Cost Per Click. This is when you’re charged for each click on a specific ad. You’ll usually be comparing CPC with PPC, since they both involve paying for each click. However, if you have a limited budget, then CPC is the better choice. You can also compare it to CPM (Cost Per Million), which is similar but costs per Thousand impressions instead of per click.


CCM is an abbreviation for Content Creation Marketing. As the name would suggest, this type of marketing creates content (typically in the form of a text, video, or an infographic) to promote a product or service. The aim is to entice the reader to click on a link to learn more about the product or service.

While SEO focuses on getting your site to rank on the search engine results page, content marketing takes it one step further; you’re creating engaging, informative content to attract, and retain customers.

Some of the factors that might affect your site’s search ranking include:

  • Product quality
  • Customer reviews
  • Volume of content (How many articles have you written? How many videos do you have?)
  • Freshness of content (Are you currently in the process of updating your blog? Have you just published a new article?)
  • Domain authority (How well known is your domain in comparison to other domains? Google weighs domains differently)

These are all parts of SEO, but you also need to think about content marketing.