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 the best marketing resources that helped us make an impact in 2022. 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 online 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. Luckily, there are tons of free tools available so you can make the most of these changes as they happen. Use this collection of blogs, newsletters and podcasts to 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. Rachel Karten’s Link in Bio Newsletter
Rachel Karten’s Link in Bio is a must-follow for anyone looking for on-the-ground dispatches on what’s working in social media marketing today.
Karten has more than eight years of experience in social with brands like Bon Appetit and Plated, providing her with a critical point of view on network trends and updates. On top of that, she also publishes feature interviews with social media managers finding unpaved paths to success. You’ll love seeing this in your inbox each week.
What to read first: Why Do I Follow a Sewer District on Twitter?
3. 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: 32 social media training resources and courses every marketer needs
4. Workweek’s Social Files Newsletter
If Tommy Clark’s name sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen one of his many bookmark-worthy Twitter threads on social media marketing. When he’s not managing social at Triple Whale, he’s working on a weekly newsletter, Social Files. Subscribe if you like tactic-focused advice that’s digestible and fun to read.
5. The Best Times to Post on Social Tool
If you’re not using Sprout’s ViralPost® technology, this is the next best thing. Our Best Times to Post Tool is a can’t-miss marketing resource for professionals looking to maximize their engagement across specific networks, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
This tool helps businesses optimize their social media posting schedule by identifying the best days and hours to post on social, based on audience activity. Segment the data by your industry or check out network-specific activity trends—the choice is yours.
Digital marketing resources
Digital marketing is an umbrella category for all of the various promotional efforts that take place on the internet or through other digital means. While that’s definitely a wide net, there are tons of publications that can help you stay up to date on trending news and advice. Here are some of our favorites.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. The Contentfolks Newsletter
Contentfolks is a bi-weekly Substack newsletter that uses sticky notes and IRL examples to share a wide-range of content marketing advice. Subscribing is an easy way to commit to improving your marketing skills over time.
What to read first: Sparking Joy as a Marketing KPI
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 2023.
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: A process for writing short, but thorough, content
11. 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.
Bonus resource: If you want to read some of Ann’s expertise for free, we’re big fans of her newsletter, too.
Search engine optimization (SEO) resources
Search engine optimization (SEO) is essential to any digital marketing strategy. With the right tools and resources in place, it can be a cost-effective way to reach potential customers at critical moments in their journey. These online marketing resources will help you brush up on SEO staples, from on-page optimizations to more technical and advanced tactics.
12. Google’s SEO Starter Guide
It’s only natural that Google, the world’s largest search engine, would have a comprehensive, easy-to-read guide to SEO. This resource is broken up into several chapters to help you level up your understanding of search, whether you’re new to the topic or a seasoned pro. It’s a must-read for anyone looking to drive more traffic to their site.
13. 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
Ahrefs excels at breaking down complex SEO topics into simple, easy reads. Their YouTube channel, AhrefsTV, takes this skill and translates it into video. Ahrefs TV is home to both 101-level fundamentals and more advanced content. It’s perfect for anyone looking to brush up on their SEO skills over time.
15. Google Search Console Training
Google Search Console helps users improve their site performance on Google search through a collection of tools and reports that measure site traffic and any issues that may be deterring it. If you haven’t used it before, Google offers a video training course that explains how to use the platform.
The full library contains twenty videos, some of which cater to specific industries and professions—a must-watch for anyone looking to improve their familiarity with Search Console.
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.
16. 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.
17. Landscape by Sprout Social
Once you figure out what image sizes you need, use Landscape to create the picture-perfect crop.
With Landscape, you can upload any image you’d like to post on social media and have it resized to work for all your priority social media networks. This image resizer is a simple but powerful tool designed to help marketers, content creators and business owners stand out in an increasingly visual world.
18. 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.
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.
20. Free Social Media Templates Gallery
Sprout’s free template gallery is home to striking social media templates designed specifically for Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. Customize them with your own images and text, and you’ll get a unique graphic that makes your account pop.
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.
Video editing resources
More than half (65%) of consumers agree that short-form video is the most engaging type of in-feed social content. If you’re looking to build out your video editing toolkit in 2023, here are our top picks.
You can create some pretty impressive video content using network tools, but if you want a better user experience and advanced features, turn to CapCut. It’s available as both a mobile and desktop app so you can create a stand-out social media video without all the squinting.
23. Adobe Premiere Pro*
Adobe Premiere Pro is a subscription-based video editing application used by brands and creators alike. Use it to create stunning videos that look custom-made for every social channel—including YouTube.
24. Teleprompter App
The Teleprompter app is the perfect tool to have in your back pocket for when your teammates are feeling a bit camera shy. Even the presence of a teleprompter is enough to make people feel more comfortable in front of a camera.. Just remind them not to use it to read their script word-for-word. It’s meant to be a helping hand, not a read-along.
If you’ve ever sent a list of time-stamped video edits to your creative team, consider Frame.io. This tool provides a central hub that supports collaboration across the video editing process through comments and tracked changes. You can also tag specific team members in requests so everyone stays aligned on action items.
Email marketing resources
Email marketing has been around for decades, yet brands are still pushing the standards of what the channel can do. Whether through stunning interactive design or creative campaign strategy, there’s always something to learn from the ol’ inbox.
26. 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.
27. Litmus Blog
The Litmus blog is an indispensable resource for keeping up with best practices in email marketing. Whether you’re concerned with content, deliverability or even changing privacy laws, you’ll find a must-read article as soon as you hit their resources page.
What to read first: Email Marketing Design Trends We’re Expecting in 2023
28. Omnisend’s Email Subject Line Tester
This tool from Omnisend gives marketers a chance to analyze and improve subject lines before they press send. Find optimized recommendations based on several factors including length, word count and scannability.
Reporting and analytics resources
Reporting skills are essential to proving the value of your marketing and social strategy. Show your leadership team how your work fuels your marketing goals using these resources.
29. 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.
30. 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?
31. Sprout’s Paid and Organic Reporting Template
Winning social strategies rely on a solid mix of paid and organic efforts. This reporting template will help you track the performance of a two-fold strategy. It’s an essential tool for tying social performance back to top-line business goals.
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.
33. 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.
34. 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.
35. Answer The Public
Answer the Public’s website claims it’s a “goldmine of consumer insight” and we will gladly second that assessment. The tool gathers autocomplete data from search engines so you can find all the questions and terms people are searching around your product, brand or even a general topic.
36. Sprout Social’s Listening Tool
Social data can answer a brand’s most important questions about how to manage, expand and grow its 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.
AI and marketing automation resources
This year’s hot topic comes with a learning curve. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are revolutionizing how people are thinking about marketing as we speak, so the time to get up to speed on the topic is now. Here are some of our favorite recommendations.
37. MIT Sloan’s Machine Learning Explained
Shout out to the folks at MIT Sloan School of Management for gifting us all with this free, in-depth primer on machine learning. This article is a long read but it’s more than worth it. Read it for insights from MIT professors who have been working in the AI/ML field for years and for a vocab lesson on some key terms you’ll be hearing throughout 2023 and beyond.
If you were on Twitter in December 2022, you’re probably at least familiar with the ChatGPT interface.
Use case examples flooded feeds, with pros from nearly every industry discovering ways the tool could streamline their day-to-day work. If you haven’t tested out ChatGPT yet, try it today. Here’s a helpful Twitter thread on how to create a workable prompt. Once you get acquainted with the tool’s limitations, your only limit is your imagination.
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 like to be seen as a leader, these resources can help you step up in a changing work environment.
39. Fast Company*
If you want to stay up-to-date on what the future of business has in store, you need to subscribe to Fast Company. Launched by two former Harvard Business Review editors in 1995, Fast Company chronicles how our changing world impacts business and vice versa. It’s a must-read for those looking to zoom out so they can understand their brand’s place in the bigger picture.
40. 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: 9 Trends That Will Shape Work in 2023 and Beyond
41. 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.
42. Marketing Week
Marketing Week is home to both practical advice and feature stories on game-changing strategies and leaders. It’s a go-to resource for those seeking inspiration from brands piloting new channels and working on the cutting edge of what’s possible with martech.
Elevate your marketing skills in 2023
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 2023 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!