Do you think it's worth your time to study for and take a lengthy test, in addition to your day-to-day responsibilities, just to put a line on your email signature and resume? Some of you, I'm sure, will answer "no way."
Then why do so many marketers do it? Simple: It works.
HubSpot coined the term "inbound marketing," an incredibly effective method for gaining and converting leads in today's digital-first world. Check it out:
This little chart contains the essence of the HubSpot philosophy, but don't underestimate it: A 2016 MIT study of HubSpot inbound results found that marketers saw an average of 4.1 times more visitors per month and 3 times more leads within a year of adopting an inbound marketing strategy. Further, 72% of HubSpot customers saw an increase in sales revenue within one year.
It seems easy, but behind each label is a world of best practices, strategies and concepts that make the methodology airtight. Learning this stuff takes time, but if you and your team can internalize these elements through HubSpot training, you'll be inbound marketing experts.
Plus, once you pass the certification exam, you'll earn a sweet badge for your email signature and resume!
So where do you start? Here's a rundown of what it takes to become HubSpot certified.
1. Choose the right certification(s).
HubSpot offers a variety of certifications, housed in their Academy:
- Inbound Certification
- Email Marketing Certification
- Inbound Sales Certification
- Content Marketing Certification
- HubSpot Certification (HubSpot customers only)
- Agency Partner Certification (HubSpot customers only)
- Growth-Driven Design Agency Certification
- HubSpot Design Certification
- Contextual Marketing Certification (HubSpot customers only)
Obviously, which certification(s) you choose will depend on your function within your organization and whether you're a HubSpot customer or partner.
This certification is for anyone and everyone involved or interested in the inbound marketing process. We chose to certify our whole team, even our designers and salespeople, so that everyone understands the methodology behind our marketing moves.
Length of training: 4.5 hours + 90 minute test
Study guide: here
In completing this training, you will learn the basics of SEO, blogging, landing pages, lead nurturing, conversion analysis and reporting as they relate to the inbound marketing process.
Email Marketing Certification
This certification will help you develop specialized skills in the realm of email marketing. The interdisciplinary approach to email marketing will help you grow your customer base in tandem with the rest of your inbound marketing strategy.
Length of training: 3.5 hours + 90 minute test
Study guide: here
The nine email marketing video classes cover using lifecycle marketing, managing your contacts, designing a successful email, analyzing your results and more.
Inbound Sales Certification
Designed for sales teams, this certification covers sales strategy for organizations who use the inbound methodology. These classes are great for getting your sales and marketing teams on the same page — and preparing your organization to better identify, connect, explore and advise today’s empowered buyer.
Length of training: 3 hours + 75 minute test
During this training, salespeople will learn how to identify, prioritize and attract the best potential buyers for your organization. They will also learn the fundamentals of the inbound methodology and inbound sales.
Content Marketing Certification
Content marketing is integral to the success of any inbound strategy. This certification, coming soon to the HubSpot Academy, will guide you through strategies and skills for building a strong content library. This training is perfect for anyone on your team who is involved in content creation or curation.
Length of training: 5 hours + test
Study guide: (not yet available)
The classes within this training cover storytelling, content creation, content repurposing and promotion as they support your overarching inbound strategy.
If your organization is a HubSpot customer, the HubSpot certification is a must. Not only will this training give you and your team an in-depth introduction (and practical instruction) on using HubSpot's wide range of tools, but you will also be able to show clients or organization leadership that you know what you're doing.
This training encompasses all of HubSpot's tools (blogging, social media, creating CTAs, etc.), as well as best practices for each. Then, after completing the video training and taking the test, your organization is responsible for completing the practicum, which I cover below, to earn full HubSpot certification.
Agency Partner Certification
Only one person within your organization needs to pass the partner certification test for your organization to become a certified HubSpot partner.
Length of training: 5 hours + 90 minute test
Study guide: here
This training covers high-level ways to use HubSpot and your partner benefits to meet business goals and grow your inbound marketing strategy. Certified HubSpot agency partners are eligible for the Tiers Program, which recognizes and rewards HubSpot agencies who have "executed inbound marketing services to the highest standards," according to HubSpot.
Growth-Driven Design Agency Certification
This exciting new certification focuses on reimagining the basics of web design for agencies who are offering this service to clients. The training will help organizations develop a strong, organized team to increase retainer-based web design work.
Length of training: 13 hours + 120 minute test
Study guide: here
Trainees will internalize the growth-driven design methodology, which includes using the growth-driven design hierarchy, developing a website strategy and tool stack, building a launch pad website and pricing and packaging retainers.
HubSpot Design Certification
While free and open to the public, this certification focuses on creating templates in HubSpot. Anyone can sign up for a free developer account to take the test, but it does require basic proficiency in HTML and CSS.
Certified HubSpot designers will master the platform's design tools as well as best practices for building email, page, blog and mobile templates. Note that you must also complete the practicum, covered below, to become HubSpot design certified.
Contextual Marketing Certification
This certification is open to HubSpot Professional or Enterprise customers who are HubSpot certified. Only customers who have at least 500 contacts in their HubSpot account, familiarity with lead segmentation and fully developed personas should complete this training.
After completing this training, you will be able to tailor your website to each potential visitor using a user-centered web design strategy. Note that you must also complete the practicum, covered below, to become contextual marketing certified.
2. Train, train, train.
Once you have chosen the certifications that are right for you, it's time to start training. Each lesson includes a series of short videos divided by topic. For all but the design certification, it is not necessary to complete the lessons in order. Feel free to jump around according to your interests and needs.
Of course, 4-6 hours of training is not to be taken lightly, so we have some tips and tricks for saving time.
Watch the videos at high-speed. HubSpot's training videos give you the option to "play faster" (and faster, and faster...). We find that watching videos at 125% speed is still comprehensible and, of course, it cuts your time by 25%.
Read the transcripts for tools or topics with which you are familiar. You can access every video's transcript on the lesson page. Give it a quick scan before watching a video on super-high speed, or read it in detail and skip the video altogether.
Follow along with the slides. Download the slides (linked with each video) and follow along with the video, taking notes as you go. This way, you'll never have to revisit viewed videos when reviewing before the test.
Focus on information that's covered on the study guide. Each certification comes with a comprehensive study guide for the test. Obviously, this information is most important for passing the test, but it also tends to cover the biggest takeaways for each section. By focusing on the study guide, you'll learn the concepts that you'll use most frequently in real life.
3. Pass the test.
You get three tries, with a 24-hour waiting period after each failure. If you bomb all three, you must wait 30 days to re-access the exam.
But you're not going to bomb, because you're going to use the study guides, the video transcripts and the extra resources linked to every lesson.
Be careful, though: HubSpot tests are notoriously tricky. Clicks and Clients give examples of some questions, noting the frustrating language:
In this example, the author argued that all of these answers are correct without context given in the question.
4. Complete the practicum (if necessary).
The HubSpot, design and contextual marketing certifications require practicums, or practical activities that are submitted and reviewed by HubSpot staff.
HubSpot certification practicum. Your team must perform 10 out of 15 possible activities within your HubSpot portal, such as adding 300+ keywords to the keyword tool or developing at least 3 personas. Each team member must submit the practicum individually, but the practicum content can be the same (i.e. you only need to complete each requirement once, organization-wide).
HubSpot design practicum. Each designer must submit his or her own practicum by designing a template in HubSpot's design tools, then publishing a landing page or blog post based on that template.
Contextual marketing practicum. Each trainee must submit his or her own practicum by fulfilling eight requirements, including setting up a segmented Smart List and adding smart text to your website.
Once submitted, your practicum materials will be reviewed by the HubSpot within five business days.
5. Earn your badge!
Congratulations, you passed! Now it's time to show the world how awesome you are.
Go ahead. Update your email signature. Add a line to your resume. Change your status on LinkedIn. Heck, celebrate on Twitter. You did it!
But hey, getting certified is only the first step. A certified organization is only as good as the strategies it implements. So put those inbound marketing tactics to use, and wait for the results to roll in!