On May 1st, we launched our annual update of the Inbound Certification. If you're not familiar with the Inbound Certification, it's a free comprehensive marketing course that provides a certificate upon passing the exam. 

This year we've not only updated the content, but also taken the overall experience and supplemental materials to a whole new level. If you’re Inbound certified at the moment or thinking about taking the plunge, this year’s Inbound Certification update is sure to please.

If you're wondering how we decide what to add, remove, adjust or update - we record feedback throughout the year from the different participants. We collected and analyzed four sources of self-reported feedback (a post-test survey, sentiments from individual classes, community threads & articles being written about the program) and reviewed some behavioral data, like video view engagement.

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This gave us a lot of valuable insight as to what people liked, didn't like, and what they'd love to see more of on our next update. 

Here you have it.

The 10 Highlights from This Year's Inbound Certification

1. The videos feature quizzes within them.

We were focused on making our videos more engaging (you'll find a few other highlights below that have also helped with engagement). Based on feedback from our follow-up survey, a large percentage of people recommended we enhance our video training content and make it more engaging.

One of the ways we tackled this was by introducing quizzes within the videos. The multiple choice questions will show on the screen for five seconds, and then walk through the incorrect answers and why they're incorrect, all the while uncovering the right answer.

Want to see an example of an in-class quiz? Here's an example from "Sending the Right Email to the Right Person" class. How would you do?

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2. Several videos feature industry pioneers.

Another way we've made our content engaging, and also richer, is we’ve introduced some incredible industry pioneers to elaborate on points within the videos. You can find the experts providing content around the history of the topic, helpful tips on how to enhance your efforts and even personal experiences.

Here are some of the pioneers making cameos in this year's content:

  • Rand Fishkin: Founder of MOZ, creator of Whiteboard Friday and SEO expert.
  • Marcus Sheridan: Former "pool guy" turned content marketer genius. He's the founder of The Sales Lion and popular speaker on blogging.
  • Gary Vaynerchuck: CEO of Vayner Media, author of Jab Jab Right Hook, speaker and life changer.
  • Mike Volpe: One of the creators of the term Smarketing. He's led the charge on marketing at HubSpot and currently resides as the Chief Marketing Officer. He's also the host of popular podcast, The Growth Show.
  • Mark Roberge: Chief Revenue Officer of HubSpot's Sales Division, speaker and author of The Sales Acceleration Formula

Here's a great quote from Gary Vaynerchuck's cameo:

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3. The overall video learning experience has been enhanced.

The videos provide an improved method of sharing information and education. As you watch the content, you'll notice a nice balance between the professor on screen, the professor with the slides and then just the slides.

Below is an example of "The Fundamentals of Blogging" class featuring the professor, Dee Dee de Kenessey, further illustrating a point that was made on camera, and the slide.

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4. Inbound best practices have been updated.

Every year new studies and learnings surface resulting in a slight or sometimes dramatic shift in the world of inbound. Our individual classes encapsulate where the current state of the industry is, and provide high level best practices and examples to help people learn the topic at hand.

A quick note on best practices, often times newcomers to the world of inbound take them as gospel. While they’re helpful to understand the concepts, they shouldn't always be considered the "only way" to do something. The reason being, every industry, company and buyer persona is different. As you’re learning about the best practices, we encourage you to think about how they’d apply to your industry.

5. Class examples have been updated.

Feedback and viewer behavior strongly indicates that people love seeing and learning from examples.

This year, we took that to a new level by including the most recent and quality examples we could find, along with some classes even highlighting "bad examples" to show common mistakes. Don't worry, we created the bad examples on our own. 

6. Videos now include transcripts.

A popular favorite among all types of learners, the Inbound Certification now hosts the transcripts to each video right on the page.

Download these transcripts as supplemental material to read while viewing the videos, read them on your own, or download them to highlight key areas that you'd like hone in on with your team.

7. Each content page has self-check questions.

Ever wonder if you know the content well enough to skip over it? Or want to make sure you've learned the major takeaways in preparation for the exam at the end? Not only that, after taking the quiz you'll find out what questions you got right or wrong and why that is. 

Each page now hosts knowledge check questions that you can use as a pre or post-video viewing exam.

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8. The conversion path has been broken out into two classes.

Often times newcomers to the world of inbound, have a hard time understanding the different pieces of the conversion process. It's not uncommon to think something like "why do we create a landing page first if the call-to-action is the first thing that the visitor sees?"

This reason, along with an added focus on the conversion path is why we’ve broken out the conversion classes this year. We want to make sure we cover each piece of the conversion process in its entirety making sure people understand how to best use calls-to-action and thank you pages.

The two new classes are:

  • Enticing Clicks with Calls-to-Action
  • Guiding the Next Step with Thank You Pages

9. There is now an Inbound Certification group on inbound.org

When you start the Inbound Certification, you gain access to a group of other marketers on inbound.org. This group can help provide study tips, be a place to ask (or answer) questions around the content or the certification process, and also meet inbound marketers and hear their stories of success.

Also, when you pass the Inbound Certificatione exam, inbound.org will automatically pull your badge into your profile to help you gain more visibilty as being proficient with inbound. 

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10. There is now an Inbound Certification Project for those who pass.

The Inbound Certification's purpose is to test knowledge on the fundamentals on the big picture of inbound, however, this project will allow people take their knowledge and combine it with application. 

When the exam is passed, non-customers will gain access to a comprehensive Project that will walk them through the application of the new knowledge via a HubSpot trial. Or for those who are HubSpot customers, they can work their way through any of the Projects available with their HubSpot subscription. 

Not Sure How to Get the Most out of This Certification?

Below are interesting ways to leverage the power and value of this "big picture" certification curriculum:

  • Use it as a prerequisite for new hires. Companies like Global Software and Endless Entertainment are already encouraging applicants to be certified. 
  • Use it as a way to ramp up new team members. If you're hiring someone with little to no experience, use this big picture overview of the world of inbound to better prepare them for the work they'll be doing on your team. Bonus points if you have them write about what they've learned. It will serve as content for your website and also reinforcement for them and what they've learned.
  • Use it as promotion criteria for existing team members. Even many industry experts will agree, they always find new interesting pieces of information in this content. It's also a great way to make sure you're investing in their mastery of marketing.
  • Use it as a tool to get your marketing team on the same page. Many companies have encouraged their whole team to go through the Inbound Certification. It helps them speak the same lanugae, work together - and of course helps increase the value of your employees. Fun fact, many teams at HubSpot require their entire team to be Inbound and HubSpot certified. 
  • Use it as a way to educate sales team members. While there are only two classes in here that would help sales teams really understand how to go about the inbound approach, getting them to understand the holistic vision you've set forth for the company can help get them on board and closing more leads into customers.

These are just some of the ways in which you can leverage the Inbound Certification content to make sure your team is educated and prepared to tackle your inbound strategy. Am I missing any? Feel free to add your thoughts below in our comments section.

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Originally published May 5, 2015 10:00:00 AM, updated September 20 2017