Hubspot Inbound Certification

hubspot inbound certification

Introduction: Below is the study notes for the Hubspot Inbound Certification exam. Hubspot offers if for free and this certification is considered to be one of the most credible online marketing certification. Re-certification is needed every year as the knowledge for online marketing is ever-changing.

Inbound Methodology

The inbound methodology consists of 4 knowledge areas: Attract, Convert, Close and Delight. Strangers are converted along the process into customers (even better, the promoters).

inbound methodology


Optimizing Websites

  • Website optimization is about how to get people to your site and what to do with them once they get there 
  • Optimize the website for both human visitors and search engines
  • Human Visitors
    • Create buyer personas – semi-fictional characters created through marketing research that represent the ideal customers
    • Base every marketing decision on the buyer personas, e.g. product, tone and language, call-to-action, landing page design, blog, offer
    • Benefits of creating buyer personas: tailored experience, optimized flow, targeted promotions, alignment of the entire company
  • Search Engines
    • 75% of users never scroll past the first search engine result page
  • Optimizing Websites
    1. Know your buyer persona(s) and prioritize them
    2. Build website and user experience that speaks to them and search engines
  • Prioritize Buyer Personas
    • some personas are more profitable/low-hanging fruits
  • Great User Experience
    • “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou
    • Build a world class web experience, tell story, show them you understand and care
    • Clear and easy navigation, simple and trust-worthy design
    • Use consistent language and keywords
  • On-page SEO
    1. Page Title
    2. URLs
    3. Page Headers
    4. Content
    5. Meta Description

The Fundamentals of Blogging

  • Business blog: a collection of articles that provide helpful, valuable, educational and remarkable content to your target audience
  • Company websites with blogs get 55% more website visitors, 70% more lead conversion, 97% more inbound links than those don’t
  • Every blog page is indexed by search engines, allowing your site to be found more readily
  • Blogging can establish your company as the market leader and perceived as more trustworthy
  • Blog contents should target buyer personas => help them to solve their problems
  • Writing should focus on your ideal buyers, not search engines
  • Blogging best practices
    • compelling titles – actionable (how-to), keyword, brief and clear, definitive, intriguing
    • one topic per post
    • write relevant, quality and educational content (posted as a thought leader/problem solver)
    • write consistently and frequently – at least weekly
    • optimize for human and search engines – target long-tail keywords, ride on current news topics
    • great image and formatting – at least 600 words, bolded text for highlighting
    • add relevant call-to-action links for lead generation
    • use social media, email marketing (newsletter or monthly digest)
    • encourage subscription
    • use analytics to evaluate efficacy of the blog – to see what work and don’t

Amplifying Your Contents with Social Networks

  • 4x more time is spent on Facebook than Google
  • 1 billion active users on Facebook
  • Attract traffics and convert leads to customers
  • Companies using Twitter have 200% more leads than otherwise
  • 65% B2B companies have acquired customers through LinkedIn
  • B2B: LinkedIn, company blog
  • B2C: Facebook, company blog, Twitter
  • Use Social Media to:
    • build relationship
    • offer customer service
    • extend reach
    • humanize the brand
    • social proof (by number of sharing/votes)
    • increase searchability through organic search
  • Social engagement strategies
    • create the right content for the right people (personas) at the right places
    • learn more about the audience through listening, their participation, survey
    • Go and find the community (e.g. by commenting on industry-related blogs)
  • Twitter: the buzz generator, random updates (not quite popular in Hong Kong)
  • Facebook: the humanizer, top in 126/137 countries
  • LinkedIn: professional, formal connections, industry/business news
  • Google+: for local optimization
  • Best practices: use visual contents, promote own contents 50% of time (the cocktail party rule), include keywords, include links, post frequently and consistently, targeted contents for personas, post a variety of contents, be helpful to the audience, lead generation offers, contests, promotions, breaking news, funny contents, interact => keep engagement
  • Analyze the results and make adjustments

Creating Content with a Purpose

  • Content is inbound marketing’s DNA
  • 60% of sales cycle is over before a buyer talks to your salesperson
  • Cost per lead is 61% cheaper with inbound marketing
  • Getting attention is most important
  • Content should be solutions rather than product based
  • Content must map to the right lifecycle stage

content stage

  • The half-life of social media link is 3 hours
  • 10:4:1 Rule
    • 10 links to 3rd party articles
    • 4 links to company blog
    • 1 link to landing page
  • Content quality is the most important factor for increasing landing page conversion rate
  • conduct content surveys, build clear conversion paths (social sharing => blog post => landing page)
  • social proof (e.g. likes, testimonials, social sharing/comments) + strong ties (through frequent posts/interaction) = social connection


Anatomy of a Landing Page

  • 98% of visitors never return to your site after first visit
  • A landing page is a page specifically designed to convert visitors to leads (collect info and call back just like a sales rep)
  • All leads are not the same – focus on the qualified leads
  • Qualified leads are the people who have shown interests and ability to make a purchase decision within a reasonable period
  • The buying process
    1. Perform Research – how to deal with a problem, 71-89% begins searching online, looks for free guides and checklists
    2. Establish Buying Criteria (11-29%) – what a good solution constitute, looks for case studies and product catalogues
    3. Evaluate Vendors (0-18%) – which one is best, looks for free trials, demos, quotes
  • 80% Perform Research -> 16% Establish Buying Criteria -> 4% Evaluate Vendors
  • Tailor the landing page copy/design to the need of buyer personas
  • The more landing pages, the better => 55% increase in leads when landing pages increase from 10 to 15
  • Landing Page infrastructure:  buyer personas, buying process, offer, call-to-action, thank you page
  • Call-to-action is a button/image/link placed on pages with the purpose of driving visitors to the landing page
  • Framework of a landing page
    • Clear, concise, compelling headlines
    • Explanation (in bullet points) of the value of the offer to the buyer persona or a video
    • A relevant image
    • Relevant testimonials, industry awards and recognition
    • Form to collect lead info
    • Social media sharing icons
    • No navigation and other links
  • Successful landing pages have a submission rate of ~10% (perform research 20-80%, establish buying criteria 10-50%, evaluate vendors 5-15%)

Perfecting the Conversion Process

  • Call-to-action -> Landing Page (Form) -> Thank you page
  • Focus on attracting the right visitors (the buyer personas) and the right leads, the volume is irrelevant
  • Call-to-action guides visitors through the marketing process: top-of-the-funnel -> middle-of-the-funnel
  • Call-to-action best practices (need A/B testing for proving/optimization)
    • copy: make it action-oriented (?)
    • keywords consistent with landing page
    • attention-grabbing design/look
    • relevant to the contents of the page
    • test for: design, copy, placement, position, offer, everything!
  • Use call-to-action at every page of the website/blog
  • Thank you page best practices
    • deliver the offer (promptly and as promised, no less)
    • provide direction and next steps (move leads further down the sales funnel)
    • send a follow up email / follow up in person
    • social networking options (share/follow)
    • test for: share buttons, follow up CTAs, layout, copy, offer delivery

Sending The Right Email to the Right Person

  • Email marketing is the most profitable channel, with average ROI of $40.56 per $1 spent
  • Use email to:
    • build and nurture relationships, build customer loyalty
    • build brand awareness and trust
    • lead generation and drive sales
    • boost social interaction
    • educate or upsell
  • response from email campaigns should be tracked for refinement
  • tailor the email messages to buyer personas by segmenting the contact database
    • classify contact as at ‘top’, ‘middle’ or ‘bottom’ of the buying cycle
    • geographic segmentation
    • industry segmentation
    • job title/role
    • content segmentation
  • contact lists decay at ~25% per year
  • to create world-class emails
    • identify a specific goal
    • segment the contact list
    • personalize whenever possible
    • use identical from name and email address for every campaign
    • use actionable language
    • clear, brief (<200 words) and compelling subject and copy
    • write mostly in the second person
    • focus on benefits, not features
    • concise signature/footer
    • test, test, test
    • track and analyze (bounce, delivery, open, click-through rate(CTR), conversion rate and ROI)
  • types of email
    • e-newsletter (with visual design and contents)
    • email digest (list of links)
    • stand-alone email
    • lead nurturing email (follow up)
    • transactional email (highest click-through rate)


The Power of Smarketing

  • Smarketing = Sales + Marketing
  • 87% of terms sales and marketing describe each other are negative
  • align both sales and marketing = 20% more annual growth
  • alignment between sales and marketing
    • alignment of goals: marketing pipeline = sales quota
    • alignment the personas
  • 5 steps to integrate Smarketing:
    1. speak the same language – begin with revenue and work back to get the number of leads, customers and goals, define stages of the funnel (what is considered ‘sales-ready lead’ = high fit, high interest), define the hand-off process (which is owned by marketing and which is owned by sales), define the same buyer personas
    2. set up closed-loop reporting – marketing -> sales and sales -> marketing, make sure the contact info are updated, integrated CRM
    3. implement a service level agreement SLA – what each team will commit to support the other, e.g. number and quality of leads by marketing, number of email/call attempt to engage the leads by sales
    4. maintain open communication – weekly/monthly smarketing meeting, campaign and product communication
    5. rely on data – use dashboards/reports for showing tracking lead generation and sales results


Cultivating Happy Customers

  • Why delight customers?
    • it’s everyone’s job to delight customers
    • happy customers are advocates (loyal customers are 10X more worth than the first purchase)
    • 48% of unhappy customers tell 10 friends about the experience
    • the customers’ perception of the company is formed by every interaction
  • customers are loyal to what the business stands for than the business itself (64% of customers cited shared values as the primary reason for a strong brand relationship)
  • customers value
    • Quality
    • Price
    • Results
    • Convenience
  • everyone in the business should be able to identify a customer with a buyer persona
  • formulate your interaction strategy (e.g. tone and body language) to suit that particular type of persona
    • solve their problems
    • provide recommendations
    • be enthusiastic & fun
  • 3 Pillars of Customer Delights
    • Product: good is better than bad, good enough is enough
    • Communication: personal is better than impersonal
    • Education: teaching is better than neglecting
  • develop principles that your employees live by:
    • world-class customer service
    • smarketing alignment
    • branding design
    • consistency
    • executing with excellence
    • customers are the top pripority
  • 8 customer delight guidelines:
    1. delight employees: delight employees & they will delight customers, with good benefits, open management, social events
    2. educate employees: train employees for great customer service
    3. empower employees: employees are the face of the organization, under promise over deliver
    4. listen to customers: active listening, show empathy, proactive on social media
    5. ask customers: heed verbal and non-verbal communication
    6. help customers: solve their problems and exceed their expectations, education for customers, provide solutions with fewer than 3 options, what they feel is most important
    7. follow-up with customers: define steps for follow-up, be personalized, use reciprocity,
    8. take action: measure and track everything, customer satisfaction is most important, net promoter score (NPS)
  • Trust is the core of delight
  • every small interaction with the customer forms the whole impression


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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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