HubSpot’s Content Marketing Certification Highlights + Tips

The HubSpot Academy is one of my favorite things on this planet. HubSpot has chosen to educate their audience, for free, with priceless skills that will last a lifetime. What could be better than that?.

I have six certifications with HubSpot, including Content Marketing. Which is by far, my favorite of them all because of my passion for it. Here are my notes, compiled in a way for reference for those pursuing the HubSpot Content Marketing Certification.

Good luck on your test and may the wealth of HubSpot Academy help you to find your passion.

Content Marketing Certification HubSpot

The Basics of Content Marketing

Content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers without having to sell them. 

It is a strategic marketing and business process focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience, and ultimately to drive profitable customer action. 

Relate to your audience by understanding what they value and how you can help educate them.  It leads to trust.

Content is the message your content marketing strategy delivers. Blogs, emails, website pages, print collateral, etc. 

Inbound and content marketing are both important, success relies on both. HubSpot believes inbound should be a superset. 

Content Marketing Plan

The power of storytelling is a content strategy about creating alignment between your business and your prospects and customers. 

A story is not just your history, a story is why you are doing what you are doing and doing it in a way that appeals to your audience.

Storytelling is about standing out, not blending in. Emotion gets remembered, gets shared.  Stories are how audiences remember. ⭐ #HubSpotContentMarketingCertification @hubspotacademy

The average adult spends 20 hrs per week with digital media. Google receives over 4 mill search queries per min. Make your story count.

What do you need to tell a story? You need to make the connection! 

The Golden Circle – this strategy will help you reach your audience by sharing why, how and what you are doing.

  • WHY   (#1) Why are you doing what you are doing
  • HOW  (#2) How will this help your audience
  • WHAT (#3) What are you offering

Essential Elements of Storytelling 

HubSpot believes in the power of a good story. And I do too. When you are going down the customer journey, you need to understand the story characteristics.

  • Characters: introduce the people involved, at least one character, people are the readers, your audience, always be listening and respond to their wants/needs, the connection between the storyteller and the audience.  Start with your buyer persona (goals and challenges that your audience will face). 
  • Points of View: First Person (Character is yourself, confessional, builds authority, personal connection, when there is a known person), Second Person (character is audience, YOU language, understand buyer persona, tell that shows empathy), Third Person (He, said, she said, education organization, case studies about your customers, stores can be fictional/nonfictional.) Decide on one and keep it consistent. 
  • Conflict: the lesson in how the character transforms through challenge.  Power is in what you are teaching. Conflict builds developmental and emotional conflicts.  If it lacks conflict you are pitching, tagline, selling. 
    • Fits your prospects needs, problems and buyers journey stages: Awareness, Consideration and Decision stage. 
  • Resolution: wrap up the story, clearly call your audience to action.  Next steps, offer a CTA (call to action) for more content.

Best Practices of Storytelling

What does a good story look like? 

  • Use content to create emotional appeal
  • Be consistent
  • Be authentic
  • Keep the story clear and concise (cut down a lengthy story) 
  • Educate your audience

An example HubSpot gave was the power of video marketing. Using tools like Wistia you can empower everybody to get more out of video.

Generating Content Ideas 

Where do ideas come from?  Ancients believe in Gods, muses.  James Webb Young created a technique for producing ideas.  There is a process so you don’t have to wait for ideas to straight. 

An idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements.  -James Webb Young #HubSpotContentMarketingCertification @hubspotacademy

Process to generate content ideas – allows you to think of ideas that may not be easily apparent. Have a predictable flow or original ideas ready. 

Real talk about content generation:

  • Your days are busy
  • Uncover ideas that you may not have come up with on your own 
  • You will run out of good ideas (Content fatigue) 
  • Grow responsibly and keep up with increased demand

Ideation Plan

  • Gathering raw material
    • Read and consume content from a wide variety of places, facts concepts, stories, ready whenever and wherever, good bad old new, popular, history, poetry, snapshot stories, etc. IE Swipefile to maintain a repository of all ideas like Google Docs. 
  • Digesting the material 
    • Bring the ideas together and see how they fit. Look for relationships, connections and combinations. 
  • Unconscious processing 
    • Do something else entirely, listen to music, or just walk away. Let your unconscious take over and let your mind rest.
  • Eureka moment
    • An idea will pop into your head when you least expect it, write it down. 

Ideation process for generating content

  • Researching by yourself
    • Understand your buyer persona’s reading habits – put yourself in the shoes of your prospects, what do they read, is there a blog they frequently visit? Interview customers? Email them? Question on your form? Use BuzzSumo to see what content has best performance 
    • Competitors – what are they doing? Look at your competitor’s content marketing efforts, what is resonating. 
    • Quora – what are people talking about? Start with a set of keywords, industry, profession, popular questions.
    • SEO efforts – Google search console – view which queries users used to search you. with actual keywords. Autocomplete – when Google suggest a query when you type in search bar what is it for you? Related Searches – what appears at the bottom of the search results page? 
  • Researching with a group
    • Host a brainstorm – invite team members with a different perspective.
      • Choose someone to moderate and set a clear agenda. 
      • Create an atmosphere where people feel comfortable sharing ideas, word association game.
      • Leverage “brain dumps” – jot down all ideas, quantity over quality.
      • Use sticky notes, whiteboards, visual aids to keep track (keep strict time limits). 
      • Remember the main goal of the brain storm is to generate new unexpected ideas. 
Content Marketing Plan

Planning a Long-Term Content Strategy 

Why is Long-term content planning important for your business? 

It provides a roadmap. 86% of organizations have someone steering content. It is important in every stage of the Inbound methodology process. Make a plan, stay consistent. It helps you to stay organized. It allows you to tell a story by taking your buyers through their journey.  

Buyers Journey: Build a Long-term content plan by knowing the different stages of the buyers journey.

  • Awareness – Visitor > lead
  • Consideration – Marketing qualified lead > Sales qualified lead
  • Decision – Opportunity > customer 

Steps to Creating a Long-term Content Plan

Setting marketing goals – provides you long term vision and short term motivation

SMARTSpecific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely (Increase content by 10 by the end of the year) 

Auditing or assessing your organization’s initiatives and assets 

Audit types:

  • Content Audit – identify all of the marketing assets you have at your disposal. Organize by: Content title, buyer’s journey stage, marketing funnel stage, format or type of content, which buyer persona it’s targeting, any additional notes that provide value/context. Where to find content that might be hiding: file manager or marketing folder, ask sales team what type of collateral they use, check-in with tenured employees, CRM, CMS – content management system
  • Event-based audit – take into account any upcoming projects, priorities or events, identify content that will support each initiative. Organized by: upcoming priorities by month, initiative overview, theme, prospective blog post topics based on your buyer personas, inbound marketing campaign that ties your efforts together 

Identifying the buyer’s journey for your buyer persona (every stage).

First need to know buyer persona. Offer content based on the buyer’s journey.

What should a long-term content plan look like? 

Content Compass – a worksheet that helps organize the direction of your content. 

  • Needs to be in real-time 
  • Needs to allow for multiple contributors to access and collaborate 

Building a Content Creating Framework

Why does your business need a framework for creating content? It keeps track of all the moving pieces, mapping those out, from first long term plan, to analyzing those results. 

Content Creating Framework should be: 

  • Repeatable – clear process in place that allows you to create content in an efficient manner that can be reused
  • Organized – break goals into digestible chunks, completed on a short term basis
  • Agile – business needs and context likely change over time, remain flexible for changes, sometimes campaigns and timelines will need to be adjusted

Content Creating Framework includes:

  • Conceptualizing your content 
    • Coming up with appropriate ideas, check out online resources, blog topic generator, write down freq asked sales knowledge, focus on creating content for every stage of buyer’s journey, showcase thought leadership within industry
  • Planning and setting timelines
    • Start planning out a timeline, which shouldn’t be more than 3 months out, maintain agility to execute campaign, have 2-3 content offers, organize it by stage of buyer’s journey, organize weekly content activities, posts on trade shows, rebranding info, new corp. Partnerships, company updates, etch. 
  • Creating a workflow 
    • Identify who is going to be what tasks, identify outside influencers who will be contributing, have an intuitive breakdown of the work
  • Reviewing content 
    • Review system that double checks that the content has been edited, SEO best practices, getting authorization to publicly release your content, SEO specialized, appropriate updates to the website. 
      • Best practices include: set clear expectations, allow for multiple rounds of edits (2-4 rounds), make suggestions by tracking progress (make notes), determine editing timeline, use a doc to track changes, clearly identify roles in renewal process
  • Publishing and promotion
    • To publish on a landing page is easy, promoting is more – multiple channels to drive people to your new content, identifying key places that can be used to refer traffic, promotion strategy should always be changing
  • Organizing internally
    • CMS – WordPress, HubSpot, doc stored system, organizing the files for successfully reusing the content, use sample system: Content format – buyer’s journey state – campaign – year 
  • Analyzing the results
    • Measure the results to see what insights you can learn. Did it capture new leads, did it continue on buyer’s journey and capture sales 

Framework should always be evolving. Stay on top of industry trends, and Content Marketing Institute are great resources.

Resources to Build a Content Creation Framework

  • Team 
    • Primary types of responsibilities in content creation:
      • Content Management and Strategy – creating a long term plan, mapping it out business needs, ensuring business needs are met and analyzing those results (quarterback of team) 
      • Writing – content marketer, creator, individuals writing content, work with internal subject matter experts to create compelling content 
      • Editing – editor of all content
      • Designing – packaged to be appealing, format (Clear value proposition in the title, relevant image that supports context, call to action in the upper right hand corner, supporting resources in hyperlinks) BLINK TEST  
      • Coordinating – social media marketing, in charge of listening and engaging with target market, one person should not take on 2-3 responsibilities at a time. 
  • Tools 
    • Content Management System – build, edit and publish your content, HubSpot, WordPress, etc. 
    • Analytics – ability to understand what is happening on your website, impact of content on your business and identify what is working, Google analytics (where leads are coming from, what device they are using, and how long they are staying on pages, HubSpot – where traffic is coming from, leads/customers are converting, sales and marketing funnel ready 
    • Planning and internal communication – communicate easily, Google Drive, ability to comment, see drafts, edits, know who is working on what. 

Becoming an Effective Marketer 

Why does effective writing matter? 

People consume 285 pieces of content per day, writing has to slow the person down to prevent them from clicking away. 

Write content that cuts through the noise. Write content that is educational, full of personality and relevant to your audience. #HubSpotContentMarketingCertification @hubspotacademy

How can you attract and engage people with effective content? 

Here are the core attributes of effective writing

  1. Attention grabbing headline – 80% read headline, 20% read article. Headlines should be specific, promise to benefit and prompt them to read right now. 
  2. Tone relevant to your readers – match the attitude of your readers and the subject matter. 
  3. Help the reader do something – it’s helpful, purpose of teaching your audience of doing something or doing something better. Understand ideal reader – buyer persona. 
  4. Add to the conversation – rather than rehash what’s already out there.  Add something new to the conversation, higher quality or more comprehensive, answer any questions about it and include relevant data, research what already exists  
  5. Write for the way people search – research the words people actually use to search and communicate, use keywords to guide but default to what’s natural 
  6. Solid structure – Include interesting subheadings, List formula – intro, main subheading, 1-5, strong conclusion, How To Intro, Why it matters, 1-5 and then conclusion. 
  7. One core idea – A clear piece of writing should have one main idea, tie back to it. Identify it and how the reader would benefit and add it to the top of the draft. 
  8. Supports your brand messaging – vision, values, promise to audience, words you use, tone of writing, subject matter and details should reinforce brand, and why they would want to know you better, ask yourself how it supports their journey
  9. Has a relevant CTA – Tell them what to do next, IE Download, Share, write a comment, direct – call, subscribe, download etc.  Continue to interact with your company. 
  10. Free of errors and poor grammar – Effective writing is the result of a process, initial idea, working title, research, collect, perform brain dump, formulate info into piece of content, structure of article, remove extra info, strengthen main objective, then editing. Refinement and polishing is the difference between making and breaking trust.

How can you improve your writing? 

Common Grammar and Style mistakes to check for:

  1. Use contractions – help you sound more conversational, more human 
  2. Write with simple language – big words appears less credible and confident 
  3. Use the active voice – active verbs (not passive voice) 
  4. Be clear and concise – clear writing requires you to have empathy for the reader, remove extra words, irrelevant ideas and rants and obvious details, you can use an example or analogy to explain a topic, put things in context. 
  5. Use short sentences and paragraphs – break up long dense sentences to make it easier to read and comprehend. 
  6. Cut fluffy words from your writing – words such as very, really, actually, just, incredibly and in order to – makes them sound bloated 
  7. Adhere to the style guide 
  8. Use your and you’re properly
  9. Avoid jargon 
  10. Don’t be snark 
  11. Use spell check 

Repurposing Content 

Why is repurposing content important?

Great content is the foundation of your content marketing plan.  It takes a lot of effort to do this on a consistent basis.  

Benefits and advantages of repurposing content

  • Gives you another opportunity to rank within search engine’s results 
  • Allows you to reach a new audience 
  • Supports the consistency of your message
    • The Rule of Seven marketing concept: A prospect needs to see or hear your marketing message at least seven times before they take action and buy from you. 
  • Helps your content marketing team create content on a more consistent basis 

How do you extend the value of your content? 

Repurposing Content Strategies – Republish and Recycle

Republish – The act of reposting your content, mainly blogs on other websites with proper credit given to the original author. 

  • The source uses the canonical tag
  • It has a link at the beginning at the end of the post connects back to your website 
  • TO have the source “NoIndex” their copy of the article

Republishing best practices:

  • Strive to choose reputable sites to partner with – websites with higher domain authority will give you a stronger lift in Search engines
  • Don’t republish all of your content, just top performing
  • Update the headline of each republished piece 
  • Wait at least 2 weeks before you republish
  • Include internal links throughout your post
  • Make sure your content is a great for for the site it’s being published on 
  • Include a CTA within your blog post 

Recycle – by using the ACE method:

  • Adjust – What needs to be added, removed or reworded? 
  • Combine – You may be able to combine related or unrelated content to provide new value and meaning
  • Expand – Is there an opportunity to expand on something you’ve already done in order to dig deeper into that topic? 

Use these eight steps to recycling content into a long-form offer: 

  1. Identify content format and topic 
  2. Make a list of supporting subtopics
  3. Choose strongest supporting subtopics 
  4. Create content for each supporting subtopic 
  5. Download or create a template for guide 
  6. Recycle blog content and format into chapters
  7. Create the rest of the content needed to complete
  8. Update blog post CTAs
Content Marketing Promotion HubSpot

Effectively Promoting Content 

What is content promotion?

The distribution of content through a variety of media channels. Social media, blogs, email, live events.  It is important to understand how to leverage promotion channels to connect with new audience members and prospects.

Create less, promote more. You are able to get your message to the people who need it most.  47% of B2B buyers consume 3-5 pieces of content prior to buying.  

Content promotion success includes:

  • Drive website traffic 
  • Improve audience engagement
  • Aid buyers with purchase decisions

Excelling at Content Promotion

Organic content promotion is designed to increase the visibility of your content and its effectiveness of your marketing campaigns without spending money. Examples: 

  • Search engine optimization 
  • Email marketing
  • Social media
  • Live promotions (events, webinars) 
  • Influencer networks 
  • Word of mouth 

Paid content promotion allows you to show your content to a highly-specific audience. You will spend money to make money.

Paid promotion channels

  • Search engine ads
  • Social Media ads 

Results of paid promotion:

  • Increasing the reach of your content 
  • Attracting new audience members and prospects 
  • Helping leads make better decisions about your business 

Content promotion best practices: 

  • Create a content promotion calendar – keep track of communications, dates times of publications, like an itinerary for your content. 
  • Use segmentation – to target a specific audience, It is used to divide large audiences or target markets into smaller segments based on specific criteria.  Target the right people. Always keep your buyer persona in mind, interests, demographics and geographical location. Use lists with criteria of contacts in a database collected. 
  • Customize messaging for each channel – set the tone, communicate the value, match the distribution channel. Define 2-3 benefits someone would gain from your content and use one of them to promote it. Create new and creative ways of delivering your message. Email is personal and highly customized. 
  • Experiment and optimize
    • Experiment-  try new things, message used, distribution channel, time of day, day of week, Paid ad? Only change one variable per experiment. 
    • Optimization is used to achieve the best possible outcome for your promotion plan: Reach (used to measure the size of your potential audience, get your content in as many places as possible, include a link in signature, share on social, connect to influencers, always tell new people about your content), engagement (measures the # of interactions with your brand, likes and shares, consider how they will be engaging, include relevant action words, make adjustments based off the platform being used, be patient) and conversion (downloads, views, signups, demos, etc.  Use a link to landing page for all promotional efforts, use strong CTAs). 
  • Analyze your results – in order to identify ways to enhance future campaign performance
    • The performance of your promotional channels
    • Explore each channel individually
    • Identify next steps that you can take based off the new insights 

Analyze and Measure your Content 

How do you collect and interpret data?  Reasons to look at content performance with a keen eye: 

  • Find if your marketing efforts are driving the needle on sales 
  • Discover insights and determine where to go next 
  • Document and report on progress for future use cases 

Tracking and measuring content areas of focus:

  • Brand awareness
    • Be sure your team agrees on which metrics and channels are important, choose a few key metrics and stick to them. SMART goals. (IE – SMART goal: boost brand awareness in 2018 by increasing the # of recommending thought leaders from 3 to 10) 
  • Engagement
    • Not just who’s seeing your content but who is interacting it, interpreting feedback signals without asking.  Measure engagement on social media, shares, likes, comments, retweets, engagement on own channels like your blog – comments on your blog. Do they download?  Forward? Share the landing page? 
  • Lead generation
    • You can prove your time and money is well spent.  How many leads did you generate? Where are they in the funnel, did they subscribe, download and which offer applies?  Lead scoring or life cycle leads, MQLs ratio to SQLs. Build a URL with UTM parameters– Website URL, campaign source, campaign medium and campaign name, Google will generate a URL for you to use in your promotional content. Attribution reporting is based on an attribution model: this is the rule or set of rules that determine how credit for sales and conversions is assigned to touch points in conversion paths. 
  • Customer conversion and sales 
    • ROI of total content marketing efforts – use creative and technical time, overhead and software. Ratio of leads to customers? Align goals to your content and create a smooth path to new prospects. 
  • Customer loyalty and retention
    • The return on your investment in them during the marketing qualification and sales process grows exponentially. 
  • Website performance 
    • Keep track of these key metrics to be sure your website isn’t making it difficult for customers to find and enjoy your content, look at numerical value of traffic and it’s worth.  Is it converting? Metrics from visits arriving from organic searches.  

What do you do with your data after you’ve collected it?  

Group the content into categories based on key similarities and try to draw some conclusions, have a convo with stakeholders at your company so you are set to track the relevant metrics. KPI – key performance indicators set yourself up for success by building a template or dashboard that tracks each metric. 

Growth marketing mindset

Developing a Growth Marketing Mentality 

What is growth marketing?

A blend of marketing sales, customer success, support, integrated approach to growing your business optimizing your content, identify new opportunities. New channels of communication are frequently coming to the surface. Social media ad spend is 13.9% of total digital ad spend. 

Develop a Growth Marketing Mindset:

  • Know your marketing funnel
    • Understand what you’re working with in the three stages – Awareness, Consideration and Decision.  Metrics to focus on: 
      • Traffic – track conversion rate between traffic and email rate 
      • Qualified leads
      • Qualified leads to SQLs
      • Conversion rate 
      • Cost to acquire customer
      • Repeat customer rate
      • Month-over-month growth 
      • Year-over-year growth 
        • Look for weaknesses: Two Marketing Funnel Weaknesses: top of the funnel, conversion rate (or the lack thereof) 
        • Look for strengths: Look for core channels that drive growth, social media, content etc. 
  • Framework to properly operate and improve your marketing funnel
    • The Bullseye Framework: organize your channels and identify which create traction. 
      • Center ring – top three performing channels, that have the highest potential of gaining traction for your business 
      • Middle ring – secondary channels, not your top performing channels but they have the most potential to gain traction
      • Outer ring – long shot channels, prospective opportunities to feel out 
    • Run Tests that should uncover: 
      • Cost to acquire a customer this channel? 
      • Customers available through this channel? 
      • Customers in this channel who we want? 
    • Two Part Testing Process: 
      • Ideation and planning – left side, brainstorm for traction, ROI, resources needed to complete, organize your ideas Gdocs, once you make a list, leave it and come back to it. 
      • Implementation – right side, creativity
  • Buy-in on instilling a growth mindset with the rest of the organization 
    • Departments to focus on: 
      • Customer service, support and success
        • Front lines of customer, open communication channel 
      • Sales team 
        • Actively talking to prospects, good idea for conversion, possible resources needed, not all buyer personas are created equal
      • Product and services team 
        • Use logic and respect, start with the leader of this group, use feedback as to what customers want more of. 

Growth Marketing Pro Tips 

Top of the funnel tactics:

  • Facebook ads: you can create custom audiences, allows you to upload an email list. Two ways to leverage FB custom audiences for growth: launching targeted ads, growing a relevant audience with a look-alike campaign 
  • Targeted ads: create ads from your most successful content. Growth a relevant audience with a look-alike campaign
  • Podcast ads: allows you to determine where to advertise based on age, demographic, interest etc. 
  • Secondary SEO: being included or referenced on websites that already rank well on search engines for a particular keyword

This Content Marketing Certification course by HubSpot is not a piece of cake! I hope these notes have helped you to study as you embark on your journey to certify yourself.

Keep educating yourself because content marketing evolves everyday. Reach out to me if you need help with content marketing any time!

Good luck, friends.




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Published by cbcinked

Marketing Magician, Influencer outreach specialist, energy enthusiast, sales girl, avid artist, life lover, public relations guru, marketing genius, recruiting angel, organic life-seeker, sandwich connoisseur, organizer of chaos, amateur life coach, semi-professional gamer, smile generator, sunshine sucker, and lover of all things creative.

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