It depends — here’s a summary of all you need to know

Aristide Basque
Jul 16 · 11 min read

If you are new to marketing, getting the right certification can save you a lot of time and headaches. You’ll learn just what you need in a structured way and then move into trial and error in your own work. But if you pick the wrong course, you might waste time and money.

Hubspot is one of the most credible companies offering such certifications. After reviewing their Content Marketing Certification, I now want to show you what you can learn in their Inbound Marketing training. I’m not affiliated with Hubspot in any way.

The tl;dr is that, as a beginner, you can cover a lot of ground fast. If you’re intermediate to advanced in marketing, this is only worth your time if you don’t know the inbound methodology.

Let me dive in the content of the course so you can choose if you want to do it or not.


1. Planning an Inbound Marketing Long Term Content Strategy

The first thing I learned about inbound marketing was a more in-depth version of the buyer’s journey.

In the awareness stage, strangers visit your website and then become leads. In the consideration stage, the leads go from marketing qualified leads (MQL) to sales qualified leads (SQL). At last, during the decision stage, the sales qualified leads transform into opportunities, then customers.

In the ideal world, every visitor becomes a customer, but we’re not in that ideal world. The more you go down the funnel, the more people will leave. You might have 200,000 visitors and end up with 50 customers. This is not bad, it’s just normal.

This is the best part — Hubspot explains how to create SMART goals. I felt like I was going back to high school. I didn’t mind though, high school was a breeze. I instantly connected with the whole SMART goals thing. I felt like a pure genius.

SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. Yes, I remembered all of that at once. Don’t ask how.

They talk about the importance of setting goals inside your long term content strategy. This makes sense, since goals are important when tracking progress and staying organized. SMART is a pretty good acronym.

If you’re curious about who invented SMART goals, check out this article.

Let’s take action, enough being SMART.

They recommend auditing your content assets, which is content you’ve already created, in order to create resources. They also recommend categorizing content assets to make them easier to find with the buyer’s journey and buyer’s persona. You can use a Content Management System for that (CMS), and you have lots of options here.

Implementation

I won’t lie, I’m starting to like the simplification of the buyer’s journey and buyer personas. I’m keeping in mind that these processes will evolve, but too much segmentation also makes for a stupidly complicated business process.

I recommend using Hubspot’s buyer’s journey — awareness, consideration, and decision — to create your content. This will help in pushing people towards a purchase and leaving no mates behind.

We will improve the depth of our buyer’s journey as it is a different process for every business, especially the description of someone’s thought process at each stage.

For example, if you sell accounting services or marketing services, someone in the consideration stage will look for something completely different in those two types of services.

About goals, we already have goals. I had goals before I was born.


2. Creating a Blog Post

Alright, this is very basic, as I expected. If you don’t know how to create a blog, then this is helpful. Otherwise, it’s very beginner. I’ll just lay out the steps for you here:

  • Pick a topic and a title
  • Answer their questions and problems
  • Keyword research: long tail keywords focus
  • Set the right expectations
  • No clickbait
  • White space throughout your article (more paragraphs, sides, etc.)
  • Subheaders (section of your blog post)
  • Multimedia content (images, videos, GIF, graphs, etc.)
  • Promote related offers
  • Include relevant CTA throughout the content
  • Optimize your post: title, body, URL, alt text, meta description.
  • Mobile responsive website
  • Write consistently and frequently

Implementation

I’ll just focus on two points here. The first point is that if you don’t know what to write about, go find your competitor and pick a blog article to inspire you.

The second point is one we recently implemented — write consistently and frequently. I can’t stress this enough. That’s the most important thing in blogging.

In our inbound marketing strategy, we currently write two to three articles per week, and it takes a lot of time. Don’t underestimate the time it takes to write an article. You’ll end up being disappointed.


3. Creating Topic Clusters And Pillar Pages

I really enjoyed this part, mostly because I never thought that these could be implemented with almost no extra work. Your content becomes twice as useful.

Essentially, every piece of content you create can be leveraged to make you become the authority in a certain topic. For example, you take all your blogs on potatoes and you create the ultimate potato resource. You can even create your content from there, thinking of everything related to that subject so you can actually create the ultimate resource. They call this a resource pillar page.

While you’re at it, put all your articles in a pdf. Just make a nice intro, outro, some graphics, and you’re done. Those 25 articles you created just became the ultimate resource on potatoes.

Is there anything more fulfilling?

Implementation

We’ll definitely implement that the exact way I laid out above. Only, we won’t create the ultimate resource for potatoes, but rather for pineapples.


4. Understanding Inbound Marketing Social Media Promotion

Hubspot segments this section into six parts.

1. Channels

They recommend using Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat. I can’t say this is a bad idea, but Pinterest and Snapchat should not be your priorities unless you sell to drunk college students or old, rich women. No offence if you’re on Snapchat or Pinterest…

2. Social listening

This part of inbound marketing is all about measuring performance, managing reputation, identifying influencers/fans, discovering new ideas, watching your competition, finding new business opportunities, and defining strategic benchmarks.

You just need to watch your social media platforms actively. As in every day. Take information from your comments, from what people say about you, what your competitors are doing, and then interact with people. It’s a social channel, after all.

3. Monitoring and engagement

This part resembles social listening, but it’s about actually engaging with people. Go comment on people who shared your post to thank them.

4. Content

Here’s a list of types of content you can share on social media.

  • Written
  • Image
  • GIF
  • Videos
  • Live videos
  • Quiz, Surveys or Polls
  • Real-time: creating content related to real-time events.
  • Influencer marketing: asking influencers like Kylie Jenner to create content for you.
  • User-generated content by using rewards, contest, testimonials. Essentially content made by your customers.

5. Identifying metrics

Again, here’s a list of important metrics you should keep in your notes.

  • Owned channels (Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
  • Internal owners: make sure no one isn’t supposed to have access.
  • Number of followers
  • Non-owned channels/followers
  • Profile consistency (post frequency, same logo on all social media channel, etc.)
  • Content performance (likes, comments, shares, website clicks)
  • Analyze their competition (know what works without making mistakes)

6. Integration

  • Add social icons on your website by embedding it.

Implementation

We started as a social media agency, this is pretty basic for us. Nothing truly learned here unless you only have beginner knowledge on social media.


5. Developing a Conversational Growth Strategy

I like this concept. Your entire inbound marketing strategy is a multi-channel conversation with your customers that improves. However, you can only make it a conversation if you remember what you last talked about.

You want to have conversations in a seamless, authentic, and non-interruptive way. Hubspot recommends giving value or rewards as soon as you collect information about your customer.

You need to send the right message at the right time with the right information. No pressure here.

Hubspot brought us another amazing acronym called SCOPE. It stands for standardize, contextualize, optimize, personalize, and empathize. These are qualities of a good conversational strategy.

It’s also important to rely on data, data-in, gathering information, and data-out, using the data in your conversations.

Here are a few tips to create your strategy. Think about the most repeatable conversations scenarios, plan ahead to make sure your conversations make sense, grow your communication channels.

One word of advice — make sure you don’t send a Snapchat story to someone over 65. Not that it’s morally bad, but they will probably never open it. My point is to adapt your channel communication to the right people.

Don’t worry. In 2090, your kids will be able to send Snapchats to their grandmother.

Implementation

The hardest part about all this is definitely storing all that information and using it in conversations. I really recommend Hubspot as a CRM for that.


6. Understanding Inbound Marketing Conversions

Let me tell you what conversions are about. Conversions are about how many people do what you want them to do on a website page once they visit it.

If ten people buy your product, and 100 people visited your website, what is your conversion rate? I’ll let you calculate that.

The answer is 10%. Sorry I couldn’t help myself. I’m just too good at this.

Here are a few pointers on improving your conversions easily:

  • Multiple CTA’s
  • Knowing the conversion path (laying out a visual funnel)
  • Value proposition (SMART goal)
  • The relevance of the landing page (who, what, when, where, why)
  • Urgency (what will they miss)
  • Clarity
  • Anxiety (reassure them throughout the process)
  • Distraction (simple design)

You need to see conversion rates as a conversion path (or funnel, if you sell scammy online courses). This will enable you to know the drop-off rate— people who left each page and didn’t follow through —of your conversion path and improve your biggest drop-off rate.

Here’s another cool term I’ll throw in — conversion rate optimization (CRO). This is the methodology used when improving your conversion rate. We’ll talk about it in the next point.

Implementation

Again, this is beginner stuff for inbound marketing. CRO is a very important subject, and I recommend learning more about what truly improves conversion rates.


7. Creating a Conversion Optimization Strategy

Knowing your conversion rate is good, but improving it is better. We call this conversion rate optimization.

Hubspot’s methodology for CRO is the following:

  1. Define objective
  2. Establish baseline
  3. Find hypothesis
  4. Design test
  5. Analyze data

It’s essentially what I used to do in my science lab class in high school.

Hubspot gives pointers in terms of what should have a big impact on your CRO.

  • Value Proposition: what you offer
  • Relevance: what people expect
  • Urgency: pushing them genuinely to take action
  • Clarity
  • Anxiety: reassuring them
  • Distraction: clearing up distractions on the page

Implementation

What will we implement? Nothing much, really. I do like their simple framework for factors affecting CRO, but I think it’s too basic, and every business has different factors affecting their conversion rates.


8. Understanding Lead Nurturing In Inbound Marketing

Lead nurturing is an awesome concept that a lot of companies and marketers don’t seem to understand. A lot of marketers blast emails to their customers and force them to unsubscribe, instead of adapting to the customers needs and wants.

Hubspot keeps repeating that you need to contact the customers quickly after they sign up (under five minutes), as this will improve your chance of having your prospect engage with you and like you (sort of). But also you must be patient.

Something else helping the efficiency of lead nurturing is to segment your audiences based on their buyer’s journey, interests, etc. Don’t send an email on SEO to someone who wanted to learn about Facebook ads. Don’t send an email pitching your service to someone who is already using your service.

  1. Set goals
  2. Segment by persona’s and buyer’s journey
  3. Create relevant content
  4. Create a timeline
  5. Measure
  6. Improve

One last thing — be patient. You should space out your lead nurturing efforts over 18–24 months. There used to be an old mentality with emails; if people leave my email list then they would never be my customers anyway. That’s wrong. Very wrong.

Implementation

We’ve been managing some pretty big and complicated lead nurturing campaigns for clients, nothing new here again.


9. Aligning Your Marketing With Your Sales

The goal of marketing and sales in today’s world is to build trust. People are tired of having to look over their shoulders to see who’s trying to steal their money. They’ve seen enough scammers since the rise of the Internet.

What I like about Hubspot’s methodology is the concept that your sales team can only handle a certain number of calls, which means that your marketing team should aim to have that exact number every month.

You should also have your sales team communicate what are the highest quality leads. This way the sales team will have a better chance of closing new clients, and their time will be better used. They call this communication between marketing and sales a closed loop.

Implementation

I really enjoy the closed-loop concept because the traditional thinking is that the marketing team should get as many leads as possible. In reality, they should get the perfect amount of leads at the highest quality possible.

If one salesman can handle 100 leads per month, then you should not try to get more. Instead, focus on better leads.


10. Applying a customer marketing approach

This is by far my favorite part. Remember that, in any business, your best customers are your referrals. If you deliver an amazing experience, then people will promote your business for you.

Sharing a simple story online of how you went out of your way to treat a customer well can bring you hundreds of new clients.

Remember how selfless your business should be. Your goal is to give your customers the best experience in order to make them want to give you their hard earned money. Get to know and understand them by asking them open-ended questions.

Hubspot reminds us that people remember their overall experience, so don’t stress about always giving the perfect experience. Remember also that not all customers will be happy, no matter what you do. We’re only humans.

Implementation

You can always improve your customer experience. It’s already in our philosophy that we are in business to serve, we are not here to show off. Everything we do here is to create a better world for our clients and customers.

I love this Hubspot article about delighting your customers.


Wrapping This Up

The Hubspot Inbound certification is good for beginners, but if you’re intermediate or advanced, then you’re better off just reading the summary I made and picking up some golden nuggets.

Better Marketing

Advice & case studies

Aristide Basque

Written by

Owner of shiftagency.ca

Better Marketing

Advice & case studies

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