inbound-certificationI just took and passed HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Certification exam! The Inbound Marketing certification tests your knowledge of their inbound methodology; (1) attracting, (2) converting, (3) closing, and (4) delighting.

HubSpot offers nine online class sessions to prepare you for their certification exam, from optimizing your website to perfecting the conversion process.  I have worked with HubSpot in the past and received in-depth training from their consultants when my company signed on with their marketing automation software a couple of years ago, so the inbound methodology is not new to me. I chose to skip the online classes, but I did skim through the presentation slides, which proved to be quite refreshing. There are a lot of good information that I lost sight of somewhere along the way, as well as some new information that I did not know about.

inbound-badgeHere are some highlights that I found most interesting from HubSpot’s Inbound Certification:

Part I – Attract

1. Optimizing Your Website

  • Optimize your website for your visitors first; then search engines.
  • Create and focus on your buyer personas, fictional characters that represent your ideal customers. Target all your optimization and everything you do online to those buyer personas.
  • Build a website that creates a world-class experience for your high-priority buyer personas – good content, simple design, optimized keywords.
  • Important on-page SEO elements to optimize – page titles, URLs, page headers, content, and meta descriptions. 

2. The Fundamentals of Blogging

  • The difference between a personal blog and a business blog is that a business blog is “a collection of articles that provide helpful, valuable, educational, and remarkable content to your target audience”. Make sure it is valuable and remarkable to your buyer personas.
  • Every blog post published is another indexed page on your website that can be found by search engines. Every page is an opportunity.
  • Blog articles should focus on the solutions for industry-relation problems and needs, not on the services and products that you offer. These blogs are opportunities to convert.
  • Blogging helps you become an industry leader or thought leader and become more trustworthy.
  • Best practices – write compelling titles, only address one topic per post, be educational and solve a problem, optimize for your buyer personas, make it easily readable, bold important texts, include bullet and numbered lists, attach a compelling visual image.
  • Make sure they are relevant.
  • Promote your blog content – website, social media, email marketing, connect with your network.
  • Measure results! Metrics include number of views, subscription growth, most popular articles, and inbound links.

3. Amplifying Your Content with Social Media

  • Social media is not just a trend. It is not optional; it is required for inbound success. Social media help companies attract more traffic, convert more leads, and even attract customers.
  • It helps build relationships, offer customer service, grow reach, and humanize your brand.
  • Social proof (likes, shares, +1s, tweets) are votes of confidence and approval for your content.
  • Create a social engagement strategy. Content blasts don’t work. You have to create the right content for the right people on the right places.
  • Find your community with relevant topics, keywords, interests, and industries.
  • Choose the right network. Each network has their own personality. Twitter (the buzz generator), Facebook (the humanizer), LinkedIn (the professional), and Google+ (the search optimizer) are the Big Four.
  • Post a variety of content types. Link to your own content as well as others’ content; it’s not just about yourself. Post offers, contests, promotions, news, visuals, etc.
  • Measure your goals! Level of engagement, reach, shares, growth, and patterns are some metrics you can use.

Whew, I think that’s it for today tonight. Hopefully, this will give you a good idea on how to attract visitors to your website. I will continue with highlights from the second part of HubSpot’s inbound marketing methodology (converting visitors into leads and customers) on my next blog post. So stay tuned!

In the meantime, if you are new to inbound marketing and want to get your feet wet, I would suggest for you to go over to HubSpot Academy and participate in their Inbound Certification program. It’s free! Even if you are well-acquainted with inbound marketing, it is still a good way to refresh yourself with the methodology. You might even learn something new — the world of digital marketing is always changing at a rapid pace!

Update 9/25/13: Part II is published. Check out how to convert these visitors into leads here.