How to Pass HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Certification

I went from zero Inbound Marketing knowledge to passing this HubSpot Certification with 97% – and you can too! Click the “Download” button below for your FREE PDF Prep Guide.

Download “Free HubSpot Inbound Marketing Prep Guide” FREE-HubSpot-Inbound-Marketing-Prep-Guide.pdf – Downloaded 516 times – 2 MB

I compiled this HubSpot Inbound Marketing Prep Guide as I studied to pass the free HubSpot Inbound Marketing Certification exam on this topic.

The Word document was over 40 pages! 4-0!

I realized that someone may benefit from the hard work I put in – probably about 20 hours or so – and if I didn’t share it, it would be kind of wasted.

So, if you’re interested in passing the Inbound Marketing Certification by HubSpot, you can read my guide in this post, or click the “Download” button above for the Free PDF.

You can visit the HubSpot Learning Center, create a free account and the training and certification are also free. You can view their materials and use mine as a reference or vice versa. Either way, you’ll be much more prepared to pass the certification, which is what matters.


Quick-jump Menu

Jump to Lesson 1: HubSpot Inbound Marketing Fundamentals

Jump to Lesson 2: Planning a Long-Term Content Strategy

Jump to Lesson 3: Creating a Blog Post

Jump to Lesson 4: Creating Topic Clusters and Pillar Pages

Jump to Lesson 5: Understanding Social Media Promotion

Jump to Lesson 6: Developing a Conversational Growth Strategy

Jump to Lesson 7: Understanding Conversions

Jump to Lesson 8: Creating a Conversion Optimization Strategy

Jump to Lesson 9: Understanding Lead Nurturing

Jump to Lesson 10: Aligning Your Marketing With Sales

Jump to Lesson 11: Applying a Customer Marketing Approach

Lesson 1: HubSpot Inbound Marketing Fundamentals

Overview: Buying behavior continues to evolve, as the technology that consumers use advances. Learn how to match your marketing efforts to the new buying behaviors.


  • Don’t force people to engage with you
    • Focus time and effort on sustainably attracting the right visitors and encouraging interactions with the most potential impact
    • Create content that educates and informs
  • You can start to build trust and establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry
  • Your content exists to empower you customer’s growth
  • The value and insight your content provides helps your visitors reach this conclusion and positions you as a resource, one they can return to and recommend to others
  • Inbound marketing is about creating one-to-one relationships that have a lasting impact on your visitors and your brand
    • How do you do this?
      • You attract prospects and customers to your site through helpful content
      • You engage with them using conversational tools like email and chat
        • Must provide value once they land there
      • You delight by continuing to act as an empathetic advisor and expert


Source: HubSpot Academy Inbound Marketing Certification


Before you can initiate any relationship, you need to understand who you’re trying to connect with

  • You need to understand what their path through they buyers’ journey looks like
  • Create content that aligns with every visitor

Creating buyer personas helps you develop a trait that’s at the heart of inbound: empathy

  • Step into the shoes of you audience
    • Understand their goals
  • You start to gain their trust by creating content that best aligns with them as people
    • To do so: you’ll need to know where your ideal audience is currently finding and engaging with new concepts and ideas
  • This will tell you where to put your contextualized content
  • How are you leveraging ads, engagement and business pages on platforms like LinkedIn, FB and Twitter?
    • Are the prospects going to search engines for research? How are you ranked? Are you doing paid search? What are your keywords? Are they aligned with your customers’ searches?
      • Use paid search to get your strongest content that is most beneficial to a buyer in front of them when they search

Consider your content strategy – how’s your content being broken down, how you rank on pillar pages and video content

Understand the problems they face, even if they don’t know what those problems are – remove any possible roadblocks that could prevent them from getting to their goal

Use Social Media demographics to target your buyer personas

Avoid interruption/distraction advertising – tricks your consumers – clickbait

Use ads that are targeted, relevant and helpful

Once your customer starts interacting with your content, you’re in the “ENGAGE” phase

Must answer 2 important questions:

  1. What is the underlying problem, that produced the initial roadblock that caused them to seek you out?
  2. How can you continue to help them solve for that problem?
    • Crucial to have helpful and human web design

As your prospects start to trust you, you must use that trust

As you get feedback from your audience, use that feedback to align your content to match their needs – live chat, messaging apps and bots to get feedback

By the time you reach the “DELIGHT” phase, you’ve added enough value and removed enough roadblocks to cement your 1-to-1 relationship with the prospect

The goal of this phase is to empower people to think beyond their immediate roadblocks and grow with your business

Consistently act as their go-to for solutions


Prospects don’t want to be sold to; they want to be educated!

  • Contacts
    • Anybody your company markets to, sells to, partners with engages with, or employees. An individual who you’re creating a relationship with.
    • Not a group of random people, but individuals you are building relationships with
    • Strong database is instrumental in allowing your business to grow
    • The more information you gather about your contacts, the easier it is to identify which contacts your business can successfully help and ultimately delight
  • Buyer personas
    • Inbound marketing is buyer-centric, you need to know who you’re trying to reach
    • You don’t just want any traffic à you want targeted leads
    • Definition: Semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer based on real data and some select educated speculation about demographics, behaviors, motivations and goals
  • Buyer’s journey
    • Not enough to know who you have to reach, you also need to know what they want to see
    • Every interaction should be tailored to where they are in the buyer’s journey
    • Definition: the active research process someone goes through leading up to a purchase
    • Key to creating best content possible
    • 3 phases of Buyer’s Journey:
      1. Awareness
        • Experiencing signs of a problem or opportunity
        • They’re doing educational research to put a name to their problem
      2. Consideration
        • Has clearly defined and given a name to their problem or need
        • They are open to all methods that can help them solve their problem
      3. Decision
        • They have decided on their solution method
        • Compiling a list of all competitors to make final purchasing decision
  • Content
    • You need to have content prepared for each buyer persona at each phase of the buyer’s journey
    • Inbound can’t exist with content
    • Inbound marketing = content + context
  • Goals
    • If you don’t set goals, you won’t know if your inbound marketing is successful
    • What do you need to optimize for the next time?
    • When setting out with your inbound marketing efforts, start from a place where you know what you want to achieve

Lesson 2: Planning a Long-Term Content Strategy

Overview: Developing a long-term plan will determine what content needs to be generated to support future campaigns. Further, having a plan in place will facilitate consistent content creation. You will learn how to set realistic goals for your buyer personas aka your audience, you’ll be introduced to the content audit and to your content compass.


Source: HubSpot Academy Inbound Marketing Certification

Content delivers the message of your inbound marketing strategy

Content is what you are trying to deliver to your visitors, leads, customers and promoters

Without a message, you have nothing to deliver

Content pulls leads from one stage of the inbound methodology to another

Source: HubSpot Academy Inbound Marketing Certification


Source: HubSpot Academy Inbound Marketing Certification

MQL – marketing qualified lead

SQL – sales qualified lead

3 steps to creating a long-term content plan:

  1. Setting marketing goals
    • Develop long-term visions and short-term motivation
    • SMART
      • Specific
      • Measurable
      • Attainable
      • Relevant
      • Timely
  2. Auditing or assessing your organization’s initiatives and assets
    • Content audit
      • Identify all of the marketing assets you have at your disposal
      • Identify gaps or opportunities
    • Event-based audit
Source: HubSpot Academy Inbound Marketing Certification
Source: HubSpot Academy Inbound Marketing Certification

3. Identifying the buyer’s journey for your buyer personas

  • You’re creating content that’s meant to attract and pull your buyer personas through every stage of the buyer’s journey
  • Buyer persona below
  • Awareness stage – provide an eBook
  • Consideration stage – questionnaire
    • Free workshop
  • Decision stage – free 1-hour strategy session to discuss the process
Source: HubSpot Academy Inbound Marketing Certification


Content compass – a worksheet that organizes the direction of your content creation

  1. Needs to be in real time
  2. Needs to allow for multiple contributors to access and collaborate

Lesson 3: Creating a Blog Post

Overview: Blogging is an invaluable content format that can help promote new content related to your business and industry. You will learn how to build an optimized blog post.


Blogging helps you ATTRACT new visitors and it helps you convert those visitors into leads

Your blog post can strategically promote offers, converting visitors into leads


  • Write educational content
    • Answer the questions or problems that people are searching for answers to
    • Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer personas
  • White about your industry à not yourself
  • Brainstorm a list of specific topics that you can blog about
Source: HubSpot Academy Inbound Marketing Certification
  • Pick a topic
    • General topic
      • “running shoes”
    • Narrow topic
      • “best running shoes for marathons”
    • When picking your topic, do keyword research
      • Use the keywords in the blog post
      • Use one long-tail keyword to focus on per post
    • Don’t try to solve every problem in one fell swoop
  • Make a list of topics that support a specific conversion
    • This will create a longer-term blogging strategy
  • Picking a title
    • Create a working title
    • Include the long-tail keyword in the title
      • Be sure that the keyword fits as a description of what the page is all about
Source: HubSpot Academy Inbound Marketing Certification
  • What is the reader going to get out of the post? Title needs to be clear to the reader.
  • Ideal blog posts
    • 60 characters
    • Headlines between 8-12 words are shared more often on Twitter
    • Headlines between 12-14 words are liked more often on Facebook
    • Headlines ending with a bracketed clarification performed 38% better than titles without a clarification
    • If your headline is longer than ~60 characters, make sure your keyword is at the beginning of the headline so it shows
  • Format the blog post
    • Both people and search engines must easily read and understand it
    • Keep it captivating
    • Grab their attention
    • Use humor
    • Be empathetic
    • Include an interesting fact or statistic
  • Whitespace is your friend
    • It allows visitors to focus on the content, not the clutter
  • Promote offers on your blog to increase lead generation
    • Use your blog to strategically promote your current offers
    • Insert a CTA after the first few paragraphs
      • Can’t bet on the reader reading the entire blog post
      • Hyperlink CTA a few paragraphs into blog is most effective
    • Include a CTA at the end of each post
      • Offer should be relevant to the content that a visitor has just read
    • Add a pop-up that the reader sees as they scroll down the page
    • Optimize your blog post around the long-tail keyword
      • Title
      • Body
      • URL
      • Alt-text
        • Need to add this to improve SEO for the blog
      • Meta description
        • Gives search engines and readers information about your blog post content
        • 300 characters
        • Include long-tail keyword
      • Include relevant internal and external links within posts

Lesson 4: Creating Topic Clusters and Pillar Pages

Overview: With more and more content going online, search engines like Google are finding new ways of presenting the content to searchers. The goal is to provide the most-relevant content. Knowing key formats that resonate with Google’s search will bring opportunity for content marketers to connect with their idea audience.

Source: HubSpot Academy Inbound Marketing Certification


Google’s first major update to the page rank was “Hummingbird” in 2013

  • Focused on parsing out phrases rather than focusing on specific search queries

Next major update was RankBrain in 2015

  • Machine-learning AI system
  • It’s able to better connect what people want to find and what search terms they’re using
  • Someone searching for something may have difficulty qualifying search terms, which is why they must search a few times and try different search terms to eventually find what they’re looking for

Change brings opportunity for content marketers to be found à it’s not just about SEO à search engines aren’t your customers; humans are à must create a helpful, positive user experience

Content Pillar aka Pillar Page à a website page that covers a broad topic in depth and is linked to from a cluster of related content


  1. Need a core topic – 2-3 words – can be dug into and explained on a deep level
    • “Sales qualification” is a good core topic
    • Core topic is also what you’re trying to rank for on search engines
  2. Identify your topic cluster
    • Should be comprised of subtopics that are strong enough to stand on their own
    • When combined with other relevant subtopics, it should support your core topic
    • “What is a qualified prospect” and “What is BANT” are good topic cluster subtopics
  3. Hyperlinks
    • Each subtopic from the Topic Cluster links to the Pillar Page

7 Steps to Creating a 10X Content Pillar Page

  1. Choose a core topic
    • Performed research on keywords their buyer persona would use
  2. Identify a topic cluster
    • Don’t reinvent the wheel – if you have owned media that could support a pillar page, reuse it
    • 6 subtopics
  3. Create blog posts for needed subtopic content
    • Create blog posts for subtopics
  4. Repurpose subtopic content in a downloadable offer
  5. Deconstruct downloadable offer into a 10X content pillar page
    • Took the PDF guide from step 4 and made it its own pillar page
  6. Link relevant owned media to 10X content pillar page
  7. Create a conversion path for people to access your 10x content pillar page on your website
    • Pillar page on the top navigation
Source: HubSpot Academy Inbound Marketing Certification
Source: HubSpot Academy Inbound Marketing Certification


Your Pillar Page must always be under construction – you need to maintain it so your competitors don’t come and outperform you

Lesson 5: Understanding Social Media Promotion

Overview: Learn about why you need a social media strategy, the main social media channels, the importance of social listening, social media content basics – including conducting of a content audit – and digital marketing.


  1. It helps you expand your other marketing efforts
  2. This will help you build brand awareness
  3. Social Media Strategy is one of the most powerful drivers for word of mouth
  4. You can use social media to attract buyers

In order to build your Social Media Strategy, you’ll need to:

  1. Be able to explain each social media channel
  2. Understand the impact of social listening and engagement
  3. Develop a content strategy for your social media plan
  4. Be able to identify ways that metrics are crucial to your success
  5. Integrate social media into your other inbound efforts



  • If it were a country, it would have the largest population on earth
    • 2.2 billion users
    • More than 67% of Americans use FB as a primary source of news


  • 2nd largest network with 1.2 billion users
  • 2nd largest search engine in the world
  • 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute
  • 5 billion videos watched daily
    • High conversion rates


  • 3rd largest social platform and the fastest growing
  • 90% of the audience is under 35 years of age
  • Deep engagement
    • 80% of users follow at least 1 brand
      • Engagement is 10X higher than Facebook
      • 54X higher than Pinterest
      • 84X higher than Twitter


  • 500 million tweets daily
  • See what’s trending
  • Share more frequently than other platforms
    • 80% of their advertisers’ inbound social customer service requests happen on Twitter
    • Frequently express pleasure and dissatisfaction
    • Organic networking is one of the best uses of Twitter
    • Engage in conversations with your audience to build trust


  • B2B
  • Look up individuals you are meeting with
    • Build thought leadership
    • Share content to drive traffic to your websites


  • Shared bulletin boards
  • Average life of a pin is 3 months
  • Much longer than Twitter and Facebook
    • Create a board


  • Strong user base
    • Lost a lot after Instagram employed Stories
  • 12-24 years is the largest demographic


The power of 1-to-1 relationships

  • The power to directly reach your customers and prospects
    • They yield more power

Social listening is how you track, analyze and respond to conversations across the Internet

8 key benefits of Social Listening

  1. It gives you the opportunity to measure the performance of your social media, web, conversations and content strategy
  2. It helps you manage reputation
    • Crowdculture baby!
  3. It helps you identify your biggest fans and influencers
    • Once you’ve identified your super fans, engage with them and reward them for their support
  4. It can help you discover new product ideas or enhancements
    • Look for gaps or weaknesses in your competitors’ products
  5. You can watch the competition
  6. Social Listening can lead to new business opportunities
  7. It can help you find leads
  8. Social Listening can help you set strategic benchmarks for your future
    • Volume of engagement, sentiment, etc. helps you set better goals for the future

2 modes of Social Listening

  1. Monitoring
    • The method of actively looking for mentions of your brand, products, hashtags, employees, competitors and customers
  2. Engagement
    • Is having conversations with individuals about your industry, brand, products and services

Make sure you’re adequately directing your audience in all channels to the best way they can have a conversation with you


82% of all consumer IP traffic will be video by 2021

You can make gif at or on Photoshop

Stories are more conversational and casual, started in 2017 on Snapchat then copied by IG and FB – 250 million people per day are watching Instagram stories à average viewing time is 24-32 minutes

4 times as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product vs reading about it

25% of consumers lose interest in a company if it doesn’t have video – video can be used on every social platform previously mentioned

Video is not always cheap or easy to create, but you may be surprised how easy it actually is. In the age of influencer marketing losing a lot of credibility, why don’t you build your brand’s audience organically so YOU can become your own influencer? You will get much more content and reach out of this approach à the difference between giving someone fish and teaching them to fish. Check out this short video by Tara Hunt on getting started with video

Quizzes, surveys and polls

  • Engage your audience directly
  • Helps build brand awareness
    • Affinity and valuable insights into your audience

Realtime marketing

  • Builds brand recognition and engagement
  • “News jacking”
  • The equivalent of “ripped from the headlines” shows like SVU, etc.
  • You can anticipate some of these events like sporting events, national pancake day, etc.

Influencer marketing

  • influencers have huge audiences
    • Social influencers can be bloggers that built an audience by putting out good content
    • Brands are realizing working with social influencers may be better than working with celebrities from a cost and benefit perspective

User generated content (UGC)

  • Blog posts, tweets, reviews, etc.
    • Developed by a fan of your company that is shared on a social channel
    • It’s the best kind of social content
      • 76% of people trust content shared by an “average” person more than by brand
      • Get creative with hashtags like Redbull’s #putacanonit to encourage fun social sharing of UGC


Conducting a social media audit helps you:

  • Develop or adjust a social media strategy that aligns to specific, actionable business objectives and goals
  • Discover trends you can use to create or modify social media campaigns
  • Receive valuable insight into customer sentiment and perception of your brand
  • Provide executives and your team a look into what is or is not working so you can amange and justify social media spend
    • Helps you see the ebb and flow of audience engagement, content performance and what’s working/not working
    • Look at a lot of data
    • Develop a spreadsheet with multiple tabs in Excel

Analytics – what to track in your social media audit

  • Your owned social channels
  • Internal owners of those channels
    • Keep track of who has access to your social media accounts
  • Number of followers
  • Non-owned channels for legal usage
    • Is anyone co-opting your brand visuals, you can report them to the network for removal
  • Profile consistency
    • Similar look and feel across all channels?
  • Content performance
    • Analyze each channel individually
    • Each social channel has metrics and analytics tools
    • More Metrics to track:
      • Best and worst performing posts
      • Posts with the most engagement
        • Comments, likes, shares
      • Post frequency
      • Content with the best and worst performance
      • Publish times of posts with the best engagement
      • Video views
      • Click-through to content
      • Post reach and impressions
      • Number of Twitter mentions
      • Effective keywords
      • Response rate
      • Sentiment
  • Advertising
    • If you are conducting a lot of ad campaigns, consider a separate in-depth audit of ads
    • Track similar metrics as above, but also budget, A/B test results, etc.
  • Analyze your competition
    • Go to your competitors’ social media channels
    • Analyze how they are using social media
  • How is their content performing
    • Do you know how they engage with their followers?
    • Understand where you have gaps to close
      • Audit from last semester

A Social Media Audit will help you:

  • Develop new benchmarks and KPIs
  • Determine the best mix of content on the right channels at the right times
  • Identify opportunities tto better engage with customers
  • Adjust budgets and calculate ROI
  • Identify how you need to make resource changes to boost social media efforts
    • Conduct an audit every 12-18 months


Add social icons and links to:

  • Email signatures
  • Presentation templates
  • Business cards
  • Printed collateral
  • Website footer
  • Email newsletters

On your website, consider:

  • Adding links into your header and footer
  • Social sharing links on blog articles or product descriptions
  • Adding “pin this” Pinterest links to product pages
  • Embed YouTube or Facebook Live videos on your site
  • Enabling single-sign-on

Include social media in your ads to gain followers across different channels.

In your next email newsletter, ask your followers to share content with a tag back

Ensure your salespeople have tools to connect prospects with your social channels

Ask your followers directly to follow you on a different social network

Lesson 6: Developing a Conversational Growth Strategy

Overview: This lesson will cover why conversational growth is important to inbound marketing, the elements of a strong conversational growth strategy, steps to implementing such a strategy, what to consider when comparing messaging channels and how to select the right conversational channel.


Conversation (traditional definition): An oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas between two or more parties

Today, conversations happen over a variety of channels à social media platforms, chat, messenger, etc.

Conversation (updated definition): An interactive communication between two or more parties

A majority of communication methods today involve technology

  • 1-to-1 messaging is becoming a preferred way to communicate across generations, according to Facebook research
  • 56% of people would rather message than call customer service

What does this mean for your inbound marketing strategy?

  • Deliver your content in a consistent and relationship-based way
  • Your relationships with visitors will build over time
    • Make sure you’re gathering your visitors’ information progressively in a non-interruptive way
    • Break down info collection in a series of conversations so they don’t feel like they’re being mined for data
    • Customers need to feel like they’re getting more value from the exchange
  • Think of the content on your site as a present for someone you care about
    • You’ve spent a lot of thought, time and resources to make sure it’s just right
    • Now, think about the best way to deliver that present to the right person at the right time
  • Enable all website visitors to have the experience they want

“Content strategy is the long-term planning, creation and management of content marketing efforts.”

– Justin Champion


Begin with the concept of Shared Knowledge

  • This is the info or data that is accessible by all tools and participants in conversations
    • CRMs and knowledge bases
  • Deliver the right message, at the right time, with the right information, on the right conversational channel, every single time
    • Access info that you already know to tailor the conversational experience
    • As much about the tools you’re using, as it is the content
  • Time to live (TTL)
    • The perceived amount of time that is acceptable from the time the message is sent to the response is received
  • Different conversational tools have different TTLs
    • You must change your approach to messaging – as you move from snail mail to live chat, you have less time to have the right answer within the TTL expected


  • Standardize
    • When delivering content informationally, it must be consistent across all of your channels every time
  • Contextualize
    • Understand where the buyer is in the Buyer’s Journey
    • This ensures you’re delivering the right information when they need it
    • Delight prospects/customers with a personalized experience
  • Optimize
    • Always want to improve the customer experience and not add complexity
    • This requires continuous, incremental improvement
    • Identify what you visitors are trying to accomplish, or their “jobs to be done”
      • Study buyer personas and analytics data to understand
      • Use this info to start crafting a conversational experience that delights your visitors by delivering the right information when they need it most
      • Offer them the opportunity to ask more questions and provide more answer
  • Personalize
    • Conversations are about building 1-to-1 relationships with people
    • People don’t want to feel like they’re nothing more than a number to your company
    • Speaking directly to each and every visitor with what information you’ve progressively gathered is a great first step to doing just that
  • Empathize
    • Acknowledge the emotional tone of the conversation
    • Response must fit on both an emotional and factual level
    • Without empathy, we may not get a clear understanding of the problem from the user’s perspective, thus we cannot fix the underlying cause, leading to more upset users, etc.

Conversations are data-driven

  • Need to think about:
    • What information you have on your prospect already and what information you could collect right now
    • This enables creating a 1-to-1 personal relationship

Conversations are a cycle of data in and data out

  • Data in
    • The data you collect, either by asking for it explicitly, or gathering it through analytics implicitly
  • Data out
    • How you use your data to further optimize and personalize the conversational experience for your website visitor
  • It’s all just messaging


3 steps to help you identify the conversations that will have the biggest impact to your users and business:

  • Think
    • Think about the most-impactful conversation your company has with your website visitors
    • Sit and write down every way your business interacts with people
    • Each conversation should meet these criteria:
      • Repeatable
        • Frequent and popular interaction
      • Predictable
        • Defined start, middle and end
      • Impactful
        • Every conversation should add some tangible benefit to your business
  • Plan
    • As you design your conversation, plan ahead for all the places that users may stray away from the ideal path
    • Find ways to steer your visitor back on track
  • Grow
    • You need to iterate and optimize conversations over time
    • Customers will tell you in their own words what they want out of a conversation with you
      • The more people you can chat with, the quicker you can adapt the conversation to meet their needs
    • A great conversational growth strategy is about taking this skill and applying it to your website experience


Consider 3 things:

  1. Where your prospects are
    • Which of your channels are generating the most website traffic
      • Add interactivity to those channels to improve the experience through messaging apps
    • Ask your prospects where they prefer to communicate
  2. How your prospects prefer to communicate
    • Coincides with the buyer’s journey and what a visitor is trying to accomplish when they come to your website
    • They’re looking for educational resources in the awareness stage
      • A chatbot might be the best tool to consider as it may speed up helping a visitor find the info they’re looking for
    • Visitors in the consideration stage
      • consider using an “always-on” channel, like messenger or WhatsApp
    • Visitors in the decision stage
      • Access to a live chat option may be useful
    • Should coincide with the needs of your buyer personas
  3. What channels work best for your team
    • Play to your strengths and avoid weaknesses


Having the right conversation with your buyer personas means selecting the right channel to have that conversation

There isn’t anything more frustrating than having the wrong conversation on the wrong channel

Delivering the right information at the right time on the right channel is where youa re providing the most human and helpful experience

Buyer persona: semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on real data and some select educated speculation about customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations and goals

Inbound marketing is focused on attracting your customers through relevant and helpful content

How do you make sure you choose the right conversation for the right buyers’ persona.

3 conversational channels to consider

  1. Email
  2. Messenger
  3. Live Chat

Millennials will consume more video data than other generations, which could be better suited for Messenger delivery

Baby boomers communicate more via email à 33% prefer email vs. only 17% of Millennials that prefer email communication

Everyone is changing, and just because your audience didn’t like video two years ago doesn’t meant they won’t be interested in it today. Changing preferences does not mean abandoning channels.

Top channel to learn about what a brand does is the brand’s website

Must bring content and context together. A great conversation provides information to your buyer persona with the right context.

Lesson 7: Understanding Conversions

Overview: In this lesson, you will learn the definition of a conversion, why conversions are important to inbound marketing, how to build an effective conversion path and how to calculate your conversion rate.


Conversion is a moment when a website visitor takes a desired action

Conversions are checkpoints for your content – that ultimately aid in changing the lifecycle stage of a visitor

Your conversions will be a gauge of your content and website’s success

Call-To-Action (CTA) – Any element on your website or blog that prompts visitors to take action

CTAs are the rocket fuel that powers the conversions on your site

Conversion path

  • (standard definition) the process by which an anonymous visitor becomes a new lead
  • (enhanced definition) the method by which you encourage someone on your site to move down your funnel
    • Done via a combination of CTAs and offers

If you have an Ebook you want to give away in exchange for user contact information, you can have a CTA on your website with a button that says “click here for free Ebook”, which takes them to a landing page where they can input their contact info, which can take them to a “Thank You” page with a link to download.


Inbound Marketers wear a lot of hats

Conversions are the mechanism that ties all of your efforts together, as the buyer personas move down their buyer’s journey through the funnel

Inbound Marketing strategy is about adding value at every stage of the buyer’s journey

Understanding who you’re talking to allows you to continue to supplement their online and buying experience in a human, helpful and holistic way

Why is it important to keep an eye on your conversions?

  • The answer is data
    • Conversions are intrinsically tied to data
    • Think of conversion data as a way to incrementally check on the health of your strategy, informing if/when changes are needed
    • Is there anything I can do to improve this process?

Conversions allow you to start thinking outside the box when you’re interacting with your visitors

56% of people would rather message than call customer service


Steps carefully crafted to lead your website visitor through your site and to help them consume content and their disposal

Steps to building a Conversion Path:

  1. Create awareness
    • Need an element to attract visitors to your offer
    • Need to show them you have value to add to their experience
  2. Determine your endpoint
    • Work backwards from there
  3. Chart your course
    • What’s the best flow between elements on your site that really ties the experience together?
    • Experiment
  4. Analyze
    • After 4 weeks, check on reports to see how your conversion path is performing
    • Does your conversion rate meet expectations?
    • If not, experiment ways to optimize and improve the conversion path setup

Consider the following areas:

  • Value proposition
    • Need to create the kind of content your buyer personas are looking for
    • Set SMART goals
      • Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely
    • You don’t want to invest a lot of effort into a piece that ultimately doesn’t have a place in the larger picture of what your company is doing
    • Think about what the content is worth to your user
      • This will help you determine how much information you can reasonably ask
  • Relevance
    • Ask yourself the following questions:
      • Who are you trying to target with this offer?
      • What are you trying to accomplish?
      • When should the offer expire?
      • Where should it live on your site?
      • Why would your personas want to engage with this offer?
      • Where does this specific conversion path sit in the buyer’s journey?
  • Urgency
    • How compelled your visitor feels to take a desired action
    • Buttons can add urgency
    • Urgency is about taking a step into your visitor’s shoes and seeing how you’re currently framing the offer
  • Clarity
  • Anxiety
    • Asking for contact info can cause anxiety
    • Best to link to the Privacy page to help quell that anxiety
  • Distraction
    • What might be preventing people from taking that action
    • Don’t add too many buttons of pop-ups
    • Conversion points need to stand out from the rest
  • Optimization strategy
    • Having a data collection plan will be key to improving your content strategy

Conversions can take a variety of formats:

  • Buttons
  • Landing pages
  • Blog posts with buttons
  • Forms
  • Pop-ups
  • Live messaging
  • Meetings links
  • Chatbots

A tried and true conversion path is the landing page conversion path:

  1. CTA
    • Redirects to a Landing Page
  2. Landing Page
    • Tailored to the website visitor has a form to complete
    • Once the form is complete, they are redirected to a Thank You Page
  3. Thank You Page
    • Allows the user to download the information and get back to the rest of the site
  4. This method is typically used as top-of-the-funnel lead generation
    • If you only use one conversion path, you’re only harnessing a portion of the possible traffic


Conversion Rate – the percentage of visitors who took a desired action or converted

How do you calculate conversion rate?

  • Divide the number of people who converted on your CTA, form, etc., but the total number of people who viewed it
    • Multiply the decimal by 100 to get your conversion rate
  • Conversion rate isn’t the only metric you should look at
    • Context is key
    • Conversion rate shows how content is performing
      • Content performance can then help you make educated decisions on the best next steps

Lesson 8: Creating a Conversion Optimization Strategy

Overview: In this lesson, you will learn why conversion optimization is important to your inbound strategy, how to implement conversion optimization and what roles reporting and analytics play in conversion optimization.


Conversion (rate) optimization

  • The process of testing hypotheses on elements of your site with the ultimate goal of increasing the percentage of visitors who take the desired action
  • It’s about data and experimentation
  • Your website is not a static resource, but rather an organic ecosystem for your buyer personas to interact with your resources
  • Optimization helps you evolve with the ebbs and flows of traffic to your site
  • Adopting the mentality to always be growing as the needs of your buyers personas change
  • You can always find ways to improve your website experience
  • Takes speculation out of your decision-making by utilizing data
  • Always be learning
  • Conversion optimization fits into each phase of the Inbound Methodology
    • Attract
    • Engage
    • Delight
    • “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth measuring”

How can conversion optimization affect your ROI?

  • No matter how many steps you have or what you call them, the overall shape remains the same
    • Funnel is wide at the top and narrow at the bottom
    • With each stage, you experience a bit of drop off
      • Some aren’t ready to convert, buy, etc. and don’t continue on the buyer’s journey
    • This is why optimization is so important
      • The fewer leads you can lose in the buyer’s journey, the more ROI
  • If you’re considering your company’s bottom line, you have 2 approaches
    • Invest more time and resources
      • Drive up traffic and people in the funnel
      • Long-term, this could negatively impact your Cost-To-Acquire-A-Customer (CAC)
        • Reduce ROI
    • Increase the chances of your current traffic choosing to convert
      • Has the potential to drastically reduce CAC and increase ROI


Conversion optimization is an iterative and replicable process with 5 steps:

  • Define your objective
    • Often an overlooked step
    • 3-pronged approach
      • Define your goal
        • Where does this fit into your long-term and short-term goals?
        • What KPIs is this attempting to influence?
      • Step into the shoes of your buyer persona
        • Why is your buyer persona turning to your content?
        • Send a survey to users to understand why they converted
      • Narrow down the page element you want to experiment on first
        • Don’t experiment on multiple elements at once
  • Establish your baseline
    • What is the current performance of your conversion?
  • What is your data telling you?
  • Form a testable hypothesis
    • Is the traffic coming to the page the right kind of traffic?
    • In clear, simple language, write a hypothesis statement about what you think will happen
      • “By making X changes, the conversion rate will increase by Y because it fixes Z problem.”
    • Example hypothesis:
      • “by adding testimonials, the conversion rate will increase because it gives social credibility to our work and makes us seem more genuine to cold prospects coming to our website to sign up for a consultation.”
  • Designing your tests
    • 6 factors typically affect conversions:
      • Value proposition
      • Relevance
      • Urgency
      • Clarity
      • Anxiety
      • Distraction
    • You only want to test one element at a time
    • Establish a schedule to benchmark your experiment
    • Let your test run for at least 4 weeks
  • Analyze your data
    • Now is the time to determine if the prediction and hypothesis you made is correct
    • If your hypothesis turns out to be correct, great
    • If not, that’s okay, too
    • Conversion optimization is a continuous process
    • You don’t have to stop at just one experiment

Conversion optimization:

  • Is the consistent, structured, ongoing process of improving your website over time
  • Is about identifying what factors you can control in your visitors’ experience with your website



  • A written or spoken description of a situation, event, etc.
  • 2 aspects to think about
    • What a report is
    • What a report does
  • Reporting tells you what is happening and can help you transform the raw data your business is collecting in a readable format


  • (standard definition) The process of using analysis
    • Definition might seem obvious
  • (detailed definition) The detailed examination of anything complex in order to understand its nature or to determine its essential features
  • Unlike reporting, which focuses on compiling data you’ve been collecting, analytics focuses on exploring and interpreting data or reports in order to glean valuable insights into why certain trends happened the way they did

Why does understanding this fundamental difference between reporting and analytics matter?

  • Ensures you’re using the potential of both without missing out on key features of either
  • Reporting is the rocket fuel that powers the entire optimization experiment
    • Without the data showing whether or not your hypothesis is correct, the experiment in process quickly falls apart
  • Analysis on the other hand, helps you determine your next steps
    • Ask yourself questions like:
      • Does the data support or answer my hypothesis?
      • If so, how?
      • If not, why?
  • You’re building a critical foundation for the conversion optimization process

Lesson 9: Understanding Lead Nurturing

Overview: In this lesson, you will learn why lead nurturing is important, the fundamentals of lead nurturing and what an effective lead nurturing campaign looks like.


It’s your opportunity to provide value to your leads and customers and help them grow with your business.

Question: “How do I connect with my prospects and turn them into customers in the most helpful way?”

Lead nurturing:

  • (definition) the process of building relationships with your prospects with the goal of earning their business when they’re ready
    • Timely, efficient and targeted approach to connecting with your contacts
  • Primarily in the Engage phase of the Inbound Methodology
  • Helps you focus on providing value to your leads by offering them information they need, at the right time
  • Each lead in your database should be nurtured, according to their interests and lifecycle stages
  • Good nurturing adapts the messaging
  • Helps you continue to connect after they become customers
  • Success with lead nurturing – the best of both worlds
    • Growth for your leads and growth for you

Lead nurturing

  • Timely
    • One problem Inbound Marketers have is finding the right time to connect with leads, when they’re most interested
    • One problem your leads face is being contacted at the wrong time
    • Lead nurturing is delivered through Marketing Automation
      • Software that exist with the goal of automating your marketing actions
    • If a contact downloads a piece of content on “The Best Ways to Create Subject Lines for Email Newsletters,” you’ll be able to send a follow-up piece of content that builds off that subject
  • Efficient
    • The odds of an inbound lead becoming qualified are 21x greater when they’re contacted within 5 minutes vs. 30 minutes
    • Automate tasks
    • Reduce time a salesperson needs to spend on qualifying or warming up a lead
    • Being human, helpful and holistic
    • Marketing automation helps you scale your efforts and increase the value you provide your contacts in a more efficient way
  • Targeted
    • Being human is what builds trust
    • Your lead nurturing campaigns provide contextual messages to your contacts, which is key to building trust


It takes around 6-8 touches to generate a viable sales lead

Your marketing automation software and your conversations – which include things like emails, live chat, Facebook Messenger, and social – will work together to fuel your lead nurturing strategy

Remember: a goal without a plan is just a wish

3 elements of a lead nurturing strategy

  1. Contact management
    • A strategy that focuses on using a software program (like HubSpot) to easily store and source a contact’s information, including their name, contact history, email information, and so much more
    • There is no use in learning about contacts if you don’t have a good plan in place for where to store the information
    • Relies on a healthy database that is consistently updated
    • Must continuously clean your database to ensure only the right contacts are there
  2. Segmentation
    • Lead nurturing is the happy marriage between content and context
    • Segmentation is how you provide context
    • Segmentation is breaking up your contacts into similar groups of people
      • This allows you to look at a similar group of people who are going to receive similar information
    • Segments can be divided in an endless number of ways
      • Demographics
      • Industry
      • Company size
      • Number of emails opened
      • Etc.
    • Pro tip: segmentation is an important part of having great conversations. And having great conversations is an important part of lead nurturing
    • Keeping contact properties organized, clear and concise will help you create effective segments
    • Regularly review the contact properties to ensure they are clean and updated
  3. The buyer’s journey
    • Where you define the different audiences, you send emails to
    • When defining audiences, look at 2 things:
      • Buyer personas
      • Buyer’s journey
    • Who are the key people I should be sending to?
    • Where are they in the buyer’s journey?


Creating a lead nurturing campaign will help you provide the most contextual content to your leads while staying highly productive

Before starting a campaign, you need to determine which tools you will use

  • Lead nurturing uses automation tools that help you take specific actions, guiding your marketing efforts toward a specific goal

5 Steps to Creating an Effective Lead Nurturing Campaign

  1. Setting goals
    • Determining what you want to accomplish is the first step, because without a goal, how do you know if you’re successful or not?
    • What actions are my contacts taking that I need to target?
    • Define a SMART goal
  2. Selecting personas
    • “I’d like 15 of my unengaged leads to click a link to a resource article by the end of my month-long workflow”
    • Buyer persona
      • A semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on real data and some select educated speculation about customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations and goals
      • Key to helping you create the most contextual content for your campaigns and understanding who will be consuming it
  3. Creating content
    • The idea is to nurture leads through the funnel to ensure they’re more educated and ready to buy
    • Instead of pitching your product or service as the greatest thing ever, you should first offer value
      • Videos, webinars, blog posts, etc.
  4. Identifying the timeline
    • One of the most beneficial aspects of lead nurturing is timeliness
    • 75% of leads buy within 18-24 months
  • Patience is a virtue
    • Don’t push a lead into a sale
    • Let it take its natural course
  • Measuring and improving
    • You need to ensure the accurate tracking of your conversations
    • You need to know what’s working and what’s not
    • Set metrics that measure your goals

How do you know when to nurture your leads versus your customers?

Nurturing Your Leads

  • After the first conversion
  • After they download a content offer
  • After they subscribe to a blog
  • After they request a trial or demo
  • Or for re-engagement

Nurture a new customer

  • During onboarding
  • Product/service education
  • New product
  • Support resources
  • Pro-services recommendations

Nurture an existing customer

  • Asking for a referral
  • Re-engagement
  • Feedback
  • Renewals

Lesson 10: Aligning Your Marketing With Sales

Overview: In this lesson, you will learn what sales establishment is and how marketing can align with sales.


Sales enablement definition

  • Sales enablement is the processes, content and technology that empower sales teams to sell efficiently at a higher velocity


  1. Have an agreed-upon definition of a sales-ready lead
    • What are the signals to look out for if someone is moving further along their buyer’s journey
    • Lead qualification matrix – redo and insert here
    • Filling this in is a team-wide effort
Source: HubSpot Academy Inbound Marketing Certification

If your leads aren’t ready for sales, use

  • Email nurturing
  • Paid retargeting on social media channels
  • Monitoring specific segmented social media streams
  • One-on-one interactions
  • Define lifecycle stages of your contacts
    • The most-generic term for anyone in the marketing and sales funnel is a contact
      • The term contact doesn’t indicate which part of the buyer’s journey someone is in
    • Prospect
      • Website visitors who you’ve gathered minimal data on or who have signed up for a blog or an email newsletter
    • Lead
      • A contact who has submitted their information through a form or by starting a chat on your website
        • Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
          • Contacts who have raised their hands (metaphorically speaking) and identified themselves as more deeply engaged, sales-ready leads
          • Prospect, Lead and MQL are owned by the Marketing department
        • Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
          • Sales team has determined to be worthy of a direct follow-up after thorough examination
      • Opportunity
        • A SQL that a sales rep has communicated with and logged as a legitimate potential customer
    • Customer
      • Closing the sale
      • SQL, Opportunity and Customer are owned by the Sales department
  • Implement a service-level agreement (SLA)
    • This is a two-way agreement where marketing commits to delivering a certain number of leads to sales, and sales commits to contacting those leads within a certain timeframe
    • SLAs formalize the marketing and sales goals to ensure the company is set up to reach its revenue goal
    • To create a basic SLA, you’ll need
      • The average conversion rate from lead to opportunity
      • Average conversion rate from opportunity to closed sale
      • And the average value of a sale
    • Set up closed-loop reporting
      • Completes the feedback loop between marketing and sales
      • Allows you to pass more lead intelligence and data over to the sales team and get more feedback from sales to marketing about which marketing efforts are translating into customers
    • Questions to identify if you need to set up closed-loop reporting
      • Do you send leads to sales and never hear about them again?
      • Did you end up creating and trying to manage duplicate leads?
      • Would you send leads to sales with the basic contact information, but without intelligence about what content those leads consumed?
      • Are you unsure of the impact your marketing efforts are having on revenue?
  • Benefits of closed-loop reporting to marketing
    • Get up-to-date contact info and status updates
    • Learn which marketing programs are working and which aren’t
    • Increase marketing ROI
    • Benefits of closed-loop reporting to sales
      • De-duplicate contacts
      • Prioritization of contacts
      • More educated contacts
      • Increase close rate and sales ROI
    • Closed-loop reporting allows you to
      • Analyze which marketing sources (organic, social, referral, etc.) are producing the most customers
      • Use conversion assists to help you understand how each individual piece of content you create contributes to closing customers
      • Provide a timeline of all of the interactions a contact took prior to becoming an MQL or a customer
      • Pass information to sales that can help aid them in connecting and engaging with contacts within the first 24 hours
      • Send automatic updates to your sales team when their leads revisit the website or take other key actions, to make sure to follow up at the best time
    • Marketing dashboards are useful here
      • SLA dashboard
      • Volume of visits, leads and customers
      • Leads by source
      • Marketing campaigns
      • Volume of MQLs generated
        • Compile a monthly marketing report
  • Align using the same CRM system for our processes
    • It provides a full, accurate record of a prospect’s entire interaction history
    • Keeping activity recording consistent also reduces friction when passing a lead from marketing to sales or from one sales rep to another

Lesson 11: Applying a Customer Marketing Approach

Overview: In this lesson, you will learn why customer marketing is important, how to create lasting relationships with your customers and how to solve for customer success.


Best marketing channel is your existing customers

Buyers used to decide primarily on what the company had to say, but now they primarily decide based on what the company’s customers have to say

It’s now shifted to word-of-mouth – reviews are more important than ever before

Consumers are faced with more choices – emerging technologies have expanded to let people create products and companies more easily, everyone is competing for attention

If you’re practicing inbound, you’re putting your buyer in the center of your business à you need to build a delightful end-to-end experience tailored around your buyer’s journey and every experience they have with you

Customers who are delighted, will become promoters of your business and can help you attract more strangers to your business

If you establish trust with people, chances are they’ll recommend your product or service to their friends and family

If your business strategy revolves around the customer, you’ll need to have a customer success strategy that leverages cross-department collaboration and integration


It costs far more money to attract a new customer than it does to retain an existing customer

Customers expect more – they want interactions that feel more conversational, contextual and human

To create lasting relationships with your customers, you have to

  • Listen
    • Spend 80% of your time listening and 20% of the time talking
    • Acknowledge
      • By doing this, you’ll confirm that you understand their needs
    • Display empathy
      • Use your product/service yourself to understand and feel the customer experience
      • Be in the mindset of your buyer persona
    • Social media monitoring
      • Great for listening to your customers in a scalable, efficient way
      • You should be measuring and tracking as many customer interactions as you can
  • Collect qualitative and quantitative data, pre- and post-sale, using manual and automatic methods
    • Ask customer questions
      • Use open-ended questions
      • Start questions with who, what , where, when, why and how
      • Include follow-up questions to dig deeper
  • Serve
    • Your business’ number one priority should be to serve people
      • If you lead by serving others, they will serve you back
    • Understanding your personas will make it even easier to delight your customers
      • Personas can help ensure that your solutions and recommendations are relevant and useful to your customers
    • The businesses that are the best educators will be the most successful
  • Follow up
    • When a business fails to follow-up with a customer, they risk losing the trust they’ve developed
      • As a marketer, you want to continue to educate your customers just like you think about educating your prospects
    • Reciprocity
      • Responding to one positive action with another
    • Use surveys to
      • Provide you the ability to collect customer data
      • Help you improve your communication and customer education
      • Teach you about how you can innovate
    • People won’t remember every interaction they had with your organization or product, but they will remember the overall feeling it imprints on them


Customer marketing can help

  1. Increase engagement with your products/services
  2. Drive customer revenue through retention, cross-sell, up-sell
  3. Grow a community of customer advocates

All of the inbound marketing best practices for the attract and engage stages of the inbound methodology also apply to the delight stage

Ways to solve for customer success

  1. Segment your customers
    • Breaking up your contacts into smaller groups of similar people
    • When creating segments, you need an end goal
      • Happy customers
        • Goal: continue healthy habits
      • Extra help customers
        • Goal: help customer reach goals
      • Active customers
        • Goal: upgrade to additional products or services
    • Net promoter score (NPS) is a good way to determine who is a promoter of your brand
      • A quantified view of your customers’ relationships and experiences with you. The better you do at creating valuable and enjoyable end-to-end experience for your customers, the higher your NPS will ultimately climb
  2. Provide social media support
    • Your customer audience is different, so be sure to engage and promote content that is helpful to them
    • You should collaborate with the customer support team to route customer-related questions, making it easy for communications to be handed off to the appropriate person
  3. Create customer-specific content
    • If your company is doing their job and helping customers grow, then your customers will want to continue to grow with you
    • Content for customers
      • Source ideas from customer service
      • Use real-life customer examples
      • Host customer content brainstorms
  4. Acknowledge and celebrate your customers – especially net promoters
    • Building a customer loyalty program is a key way to keep loyal customers engaged with your brand

You made it! Congrats! You should be ready to dominate the Inbound Marketing Certification exam and prove your knowledge!

Make sure you visit HubSpot’s Learning Center to get started and search for “Inbound Marketing”. Good luck!

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