The start of a new year can feel a lot like the back to school season for marketers. Refreshed after some much needed holiday PTO, we march into a new quarter with fresh ideas, projects and goals—both professional and personal.
What makes it even better? No exorbitant textbook costs, of course. There are tons of free and inexpensive marketing resources available online to help you prepare for the year ahead. Whether you’re looking to advance your skills for a particular project or simply for professional development, the information you need is right at your fingertips. You just need to know where to look.
To help start your search, we rounded up some of our favorite marketing resources that helped us make an impact in 2021. Share them with your team to help them elevate their skills, hone their expertise and set them up for career growth.
Note: The majority of these are free marketing resources but some paid options did make the cut. To help you quickly differentiate between the two, we’ve marked all paid resources with an asterisk (*).
Social media marketing resources
Social media marketing is an enormous and ever-changing field. Platforms are constantly making updates, meaning best practices can shift overnight. This collection of blogs, newsletters and podcasts will help you keep up with the industry while keeping your sanity.
1. Social Media Today
Social Media Today is an Industry Dive publication providing original analysis on what’s happening in the social media world. They offer content in a variety of formats, including articles, webinars and full-on marketing playbooks. Plus, they have a daily email newsletter that delivers the day’s top stories straight to your inbox.
2. Social Pros Podcast
Social Pros highlights real stories from real people working in social media. Hosted by Convince & Convert’s Jay Baer and Salesforce’s Adam Brown, each episode features insights from a different social media strategist, plus discussions on trends and current happenings in the social media industry.
What to listen to first: How Hulu uses social media to create massive brand chatter
3. TL;DR Marketing Social Media Newsletter
The TL;DR Marketing Social Media newsletter is a goldmine for social marketers who are strapped for time. This daily newsletter rounds up all the industry updates you need to know with none of the fluff.
4. Sprout Social’s Insights Blog
You didn’t think we’d leave ourselves out, did you? Sprout’s Insights blog is home to tactical how-to articles, interviews with fellow social media marketers, original research and more.
What to read first: Building your social media marketing strategy for 2022
Digital marketing resources
Digital marketing is an umbrella category that covers everything from SEO to email and beyond. Naturally, there’s more than enough content out there to give each topic it’s own section. To help you broaden your expertise, we narrowed our list down to the resources that provide the most in-depth overviews in a single stop.
5. HubSpot Academy’s Digital Marketing Course
No marketing resource round-up would be complete without a nod to HubSpot Academy. Their course on digital marketing gives a great primer on content creation, social, paid search and more. Plus, if you pass their certification exam, you’ll also receive a certification badge you can add to your LinkedIn profile.
6. Today in Digital Marketing Podcast
Today in Digital Marketing is a daily eight-minute breakdown of what’s happening in the world of social, search and beyond. Fans of audio content will love host Tod Maffin’s quick and simple approach to news delivery.
7. Backlinko’s SEO Marketing Hub
Backlinko’s exhaustive collection of SEO marketing resources will elevate your search engine optimization knowledge no matter your current skill level. Read through the hub in full or skip around to find out what you need to know. Either way, you’re guaranteed to find what you’re looking for.
What to read first: What is SEO? Search engine optimization in plain english
8. Animalz Content Marketing Blog
The Animalz blog won’t give you standard explanations of content marketing best practices. Instead, they approach common topics with a fresh perspective designed to make you think. If you’re looking to make the jump into long form, each post on their site is a case study in what makes excellent content work.
What to read first: The content writing guide: How to write blog posts that readers care about
10. Really Good Emails
Really Good Emails is just that—an ever-growing curated collection of really good emails. This constant stream of marketing design and copy examples is the perfect tool for building your inspiration swipe file.
Strong, concise writing is a foundational skill for marketers of all stripes, especially social media marketers. These copywriting and content marketing resources will strengthen your editorial skills so you can create punchier content in 2022.
Grammarly goes way beyond your standard spell check. Their digital writing assistant will evaluate your writing on correctness, clarity, engagement and delivery so your message always comes across crystal clear.
Eddie Shleyner’s micro-articles, courses and interviews can punch up your writing in less than five minutes each. VeryGoodCopy teaches a single persuasion principle or technique at a time, so you can start your day with a fun and informative copywriting exercise that can be completed in the time it takes to finish a cup of coffee.
What to read first: Read this if you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious or fraudulent
13. Everybody Writes by Ann Handley*
Everybody Writes is the go-to handbook for developing your copywriting skills. Packed with insightful lessons on grammar, storytelling and crafting compelling copy, this book is an essential addition to any marketer’s bookshelf.
Market research tools
How do you pressure test ideas on a budget? Market research, of course. In the past, market research has seemed too expensive or involved for anyone working outside of enterprise businesses. However, thanks to the wealth of social data that exists at your fingertips, you can now quickly and accurately identify actionable insights on what matters to your audience.
Here’s a two for one. ThinkWithGoogle gathers fresh perspectives on industry trends and consumer behavior sourced from the Google marketing team as well as other leading marketers across the globe. Their research is informed by search trends and expanded upon to include actionable insights so you can apply the data in a way that makes sense for your brand.
15. Exploding Topics
If you want to find out about the next big thing before it’s a trending topic, you need to subscribe to the Exploding Topics newsletter. Every Tuesday, their team shares expert analysis on search topics that are about to take off. Plus, they also include valuable context on why a trend may be gaining popularity and what marketers can expect from it next.
16. Pinterest Trends
Pinterest Trends forecasts what’s next in fashion, food, beauty and more using data from Pinterest users across the US, UK and Canada. If you have a hunch on what’s making waves in your industry, you can also use the Trends tool to check its search volume, related trends and top Pins.
17. Twitter Marketing
Twitter Marketing brings together user data and brand examples for timely coverage on what’s making waves with Twitter users. The Insights section of the website is filled with deep dives into the culture-making conversations that happen on the platform every day.
18. Sprout Social’s Listening Tool*
Social data can answer a brand’s most important questions about how to manage, expand and grow their business. Sprout’s Social Listening tool is a premium add-on that helps brands distill global social conversations into actionable insights on brand health, content opportunities, product decisions and more.
Design and creative resources
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: “social media manager” and “designer” are two separate roles. Still, if you’re in a pinch and find yourself needing to make your own creative, these tools can help you create something polished and Like-worthy.
19. Canva Design School
Anyone can make beautiful visual designs using Canva, the online graphic design platform. Their educational hub, Canva Design School, is home to a series of recorded and live workshops that can help you bring your creative vision to life.
What to watch first: Become a Pinterest creator with Ashley Schroeder
Unsplash hosts over two million free-to-use high resolution images. Their collection is sorted by a number of categories, including current events, nature, people and more, so you can find the perfect photo faster.
Is your download folder filled to the brim with time stamped screenshots? With CloudApp, you can take, label and store screenshots for future use. If you need to add more context to your image, their platform also supports GIF creation, video demonstrations and image annotation.
22. Sprout’s Social Media Image Size Guide
Visual content is integral to your social media marketing strategy. Keep our always-up-to-date social media image size guide handy as a reference when optimizing content by platform.
Reporting and analytics resources
Reporting skills are essential to proving the value of your social strategy. Show your leadership team how social fuels your marketing goals using these resources.
23. Google Analytics Academy
Google Analytics Academy will help you build up your data skills with interactive lessons taught in a staged Google Analytics environment. It’s a great way to get hands-on experience on the platform, especially if your own instance isn’t optimized for social reporting yet.
24. Orbit Media Studios YouTube Channel
The Orbit Media Studios YouTube channel is a great video complement to their famous blog. Their succinct videos answer a range of analytics questions for people of all experience levels.
What to watch first: How do I track social media in Google Analytics?
Marketing leadership development resources
Remote and hybrid work has turned office communication standards on their head. Whether you currently lead a team or you simply would like to be seen as a leader, these resources can help you step up in a changing work environment.
25. WorkLife with Adam Grant
WorkLife is a TED original podcast hosted by organizational psychologist Adam Grant, who talks to professionals across industries to explore the science of making work not suck. WorkLife will help you rethink your approach to your role with insightful perspectives on creating a career you enjoy.
What to listen to first: How to love criticism
26. Harvard Business Review
Harvard Business Review is on a mission to improve the practice of management in a changing world. Their content ranges from perspectives on current events to general best practice advice on leadership, organizational culture and more. If you’re new to corporate life or if you’re coaching others who are, check out Ascend, HBR’s learning companion for graduating students and Millennials in the workplace.
What to read first: The one skill that helped me grow in my Career
27. CMO Today Newsletter
If your New Year’s resolution is to start thinking more strategically, this is the newsletter subscription for you. The Wall Street Journal’s CMO Today looks at the day’s top news through a marketing lens so you can learn from how other leaders approach today’s ever-changing marketing landscape.
Elevate your marketing skills in 2022
Think of these resources as your textbooks to help you navigate what is bound to be another great year for you and your team. You probably won’t be able to read them all in one sitting, so be sure to bookmark this page for later. That way you can refer to the list as you work through crushing your 2022 goals.
Remember to share this with your team, as well. Pair it with the social media career growth planning template to get them thinking about what’s next in their marketing journey. Happy learning!
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