3 Tips for Passing the HubSpot Inbound Certification Exam

One of the biggest names in marketing is HubSpot, which develops software designed to help businesses attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers. This includes tools for social media marketing, email marketing, content management, landing pages, and SEO.

Aside from the software it provides, HubSpot also serves as a tremendous educational resource by providing information on marketing best practices through its blog and certification program.

As a student interested in inbound marketing, I recently took and passed the HubSpot Inbound Certification. Free to anyone wishing to try it out, the Inbound Certification is made up of 11 classes that cover the four stages of HubSpot’s Inbound Methodology. These classes will help you develop an understanding of the fundamentals of inbound marketing, including website optimization, blogging, building a landing page, and amplifying the content you produce with social media.

After watching the videos for each class, you are then required to take an exam before receiving your certification. If you’ve been out of the classroom for a while, taking a 75 minute test can be a bit daunting. Here are my 3 biggest tips for passing the HubSpot Inbound Certification exam.

1. Set Aside Two Weeks

Busy schedules can get in the way of a lot of things. We’ve all been there. But if you’re serious about getting the most out of the Inbound Certification, focus on developing a plan on how to get through the 11 classes and accompanying exam in two weeks.

Why two weeks? Well, watching and reviewing the content over the course of a few weeks rather than months will make it much easier for you to retain the information and understand how each class relates to one another. It might be easy to watch one class a month, but if you don’t remember what was talked about come test time, it won’t do you much good.

Try getting through a set number of classes each day or leave most of the classes for days you know you won’t be as busy. It’s up to you to decide how you can get through the content as effectively and efficiently as possible in order to increase the chances each concept covered is still fresh in your mind when taking the exam.

2. Take Notes

Since the exam at the end of the certification is administered online, you might be tempted to just sift through the PDF slide decks available at the end of each class. Please don’t do use this strategy. While it might be helpful to have the slides in front of you as a reference, don’t rely on them come test time. You only have 75 minutes to answer 60 questions. The slide deck for each class is fairly extensive, meaning you probably won’t be able to finish the exam if you plan on searching for each answer in the slides.

Take some notes as you watch each class in order to make sure you have the most important information rather than every last detail. Not only will this help narrow your focus as you prepare for the exam, but a few pages of solid notes can be a valuable resource moving forward in case you ever want to review the concepts covered.

3. Study Up

If you follow the two steps above you will be in good shape for the exam. Nothing, however, can replace some good old fashioned studying. Since the classes combine to equal more than seven hours of content, there are going to be things you end up missing or need to look over one more time.

Spend some time reviewing your notes and rewatching parts of classes you still have questions about. Also be sure to take a look at the HubSpot Inbound Certification Study Guide, which covers all the most important points from each of the classes.

Once you feel ready, go ahead and take the exam. Don’t worry if you fail your first time either! You can take the exam a maximum of three times in 30 days. Although HubSpot does not reveal which specific questions you got wrong, you will know how you did in each section. Brush up on the sections you had trouble with and give it another shot.

Making the Most of Your Certification

Once you pass the certification exam, be sure to let people know! (After all, you did spend hours earning it). If you’re not sure where to start, check out this great article from HubSpot covering 7 Ways to Market Yourself Using the Inbound Certification.

Diving Deep Into Facebook Advertising With Andrew Foxwell

It has been well documented how widespread Facebook is. When you sit down and actually look at the numbers, you’ll see that the social media channel is made up of 1.35 billion users that visit the site at least once a month. That’s a lot of people.

So what does that mean for your business? You have the opportunity to connect with customers based on their interests, behaviors, and demographics, allowing you to reach even the most narrow target audiences. That level of specificity is something almost no other advertising platform in the world can boast because practically no one collects as much data about a user as Facebook.

A week ago I was lucky enough to receive a crash course in Facebook advertising from Andrew Foxwell, CEO of the social media consulting firm Foxwell Digital, in my social media class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a student just getting started with digital marketing, this was an amazing opportunity to hear from one of the top Facebook experts around. Here are Foxwell’s key building blocks of Facebook advertising.

Targeting

Now before you start throwing money at Facebook campaigns, take a step back and evaluate who your ideal audience actually is. Outside of basic demographic information like age and gender, you can also make use of more detailed stats such as:

  • Relationship Status
  • Education
  • Life Events
  • Work
  • Parents

The list goes on and on. The point is Facebook enables you to target your ideal customer right down to their last like. Incorporate interest targeting into your research by searching for customers based on pages they like, websites they browse, articles they have read, and photos they have uploaded. You can even go a step further by engaging in behavioral targeting through consumer snapshots that categorize users into hundreds of different categories.

If email lists are a huge source of revenue for your business, Facebook has something for that as well. Simply upload your email list into Facebook’s ad manager and it will automatically match each email address with the corresponding Facebook account. You can even create “Look Alike” audiences that resemble the members of your email list.

But perhaps the biggest thing to make sure you take advantage of is Website Custom Audiences. This allows you to target visitors to your site based on when they arrived using any time period you wish. You can even separate users based on the sections of the website they have visited.

Creative

When you have finally nailed down your ideal audience, determine what message you want to get across to them and how. If you run across some problems, think to yourself, “Would I click on that?” If not, your audience most likely won’t either.

Don’t forget Facebook is now more likely to show content that includes video native to Facebook instead of directing users towards YouTube and away from its site.

Placement

You have a few different options here depending on how much you want to spend. Choose between sharing your ads on desktops and mobile devices. If you are looking for more help on determining the costs of your campaign, check out this page from Facebook that goes through what you can expect to pay for your advertising based on the size of your audience and budget.

Image courtesy of The Brand Plan

One word of warning, although mobile advertising is currently cheaper, don’t be surprised if it surpasses desktop advertising as Facebook’s most expensive placement option considering the rapid rise of mobile device use in the past decade.

Tracking

Up to this point you’ve put together most of the pieces necessary for a successful Facebook advertising campaign. Now you have to track just how well it actually works.

One way to do so is by tracking website clicks and conversions. Is your ideal audience clicking on your ad and being taken to your website? If so, are you getting the meaningful conversions you want? You can also monitor Facebook page likes to figure out how you can most effectively engage your ideal audience or even look at whether visitors using a specific device, such as a tablet or iPhone, are more likely to visit your site.

Reporting

Here is the challenge every marketer faces. Attempting to measure success on social media and quantifying those results for a supervisor. Admittedly, this can be a tough task, but Facebook and Google help a whole lot.

Keep an eye on Audience Insights from Facebook and make sure you have a strong understanding of your analytics. These are great ways to see things like who is engaging with your content and  how many people are seeing your posts. Use this data to continually revise and improve your campaign.

Above all else, be sure to set clear expectations. You can’t expect to have overnight success on Facebook. Don’t let that deter you from pushing forward. Each interaction your ad has is an opportunity for you to clarify who your target audience is and how you can best reach them through your campaign.

Hungry for more?

If all of that wasn’t enough to satisfy your appetite for Facebook advertising, I would encourage you to browse Foxwell’s website. There he has a great blog covering the latest developments in social media. Also be sure to follow him on Twitter at @andrewfoxwell.