In the fast-paced world of inbound marketing, it’s critical to keep your skills sharp and new ideas coming. One of the best resources for doing this is the HubSpot Academy – an online collection of video training and HubSpot certification courses that deep dive into both foundational and expert-level inbound marketing topics.
Recently, I put HubSpot’s Content Marketing Certification to the test. I’m not brand new to inbound marketing or content marketing, so I wasn’t initially sure if this course would be a smart use of my time.
However, I also believe that complacency is dangerous in marketing. I was looking for fresh insights to help me kick things up a notch with the services I deliver for clients at Clariant Creative.
This HubSpot certification did not disappoint.
Here are four great ideas I gained that have me rethinking my entire approach to content marketing.
1. Find new content ideas on sites like Quora.
Perhaps my biggest struggle as a content writer is idea generation. As much as I love creating editorial calendars, continually having to come up with new content topics can leave me feeling stretched thin.
Rather than guessing at new ideas (which is a bit like throwing darts at a dart board blindfolded), HubSpot instead suggests taking practical steps to find out what people within your industry (or your client’s industry, if you’re an agency) are actually talking about.
A great source for this insight is the question-and-answer site Quora.
Start with a set of keywords related to your industry, product or service. Go to Quora, and search for one of these keywords. Quora will return a series of popular questions containing this keyword. Simply knowing these questions – without even looking at the answers – can provide valuable insights into the most common challenges your buyers have.
> Read more about finding customer pain points
2. Make your content more cohesive by starting in the middle.
HubSpot suggests approaching your content from a slightly unorthodox perspective: the middle. Write the body of your content first, and then go back and write the introduction and conclusion.
Actually, I’ve been doing this since I started writing content professionally. This often surprises my co-workers.
Most copywriters write their content – say, a blog post – in a linear fashion; typically, they’ll start on the introduction and work their way through the body and on to the conclusion. But how can you write a strong introduction without knowing exactly what the post will be about?
Instead, first create a solid structure for the post by outlining and filling in the main points. Save writing the introduction and conclusion until after you’ve thought through the entire post and written the body of the content.
> Grab 16 templates to make writing blog posts easier
Starting in the middle may feel awkward at first, but I promise you it’ll become more natural over time. Plus, if you’re like me and have always found it difficult to write captivating introductions, this approach might just help those tricky intros nearly write themselves.
3. Improve content performance with the right metrics.
Here’s a shocking number: Only 8% of marketers consider themselves successful at measuring the performance of their content marketing efforts.
Without a doubt, content is tough to measure. HubSpot suggests looking at a range of metrics to help determine how well your content is meeting SMART business goals.
Your metrics should cover:
- Brand awareness: This means something different to everyone, so be sure you and your team agree on how to quantify success in this area. Examples might include the number of inbound links to each content piece or growth in social media followers.
- Engagement: Measure engagement by looking at likes, shares and comments on blog posts, content offers and social media. Use this data to identify popular topics around which you can create new content or expand existing content to turbocharge it.
- Lead generation: At some point, you need to prove whether your company’s money – and your time – are well spent. Does each piece of content either directly generate leads or contribute to the generation of leads? What is the quality of these leads? How much does it cost to acquire these leads?
- Customer conversions and sales: This is the real moneymaker for most businesses as it shows the ROI of your content marketing efforts. Is your content producing warmer leads that convert into customers faster than cold leads? Be sure to include creative and technical time, software costs and overhead into the calculation of your costs.
- Customer loyalty and retention: What is the lifetime value of a customer? How does this value differ for leads who have consumed your content versus leads who haven’t? This is especially important for companies with a relatively high cost of acquisition and lower long-term cost to service.
- Website performance: Look at traffic, including unique visitors and page views, and traffic sources. Pay close attention to organic search metrics. Also, measure time-on-page, total page views, and bounce rate.
> Read 5 more ways marketing metrics can uncover content opportunities
4. Test new ideas across multiple channels.
HubSpot strongly recommends optimizing your content marketing efforts through constant testing across marketing channels – which they refer to as a “growth marketing mentality.”
However, to be smart about how you expand your efforts, think about the best ways to connect with buyers in the top, middle and bottom of your inbound marketing funnel.
I was particularly intrigued by these ideas:
Top of the funnel (TOFU)
- Launch a new Facebook ad, either with tightly targeted audiences or look-alike campaigns
- Consider advertising on a popular podcast
- Secure inbound links on top websites that already rank well on search engines for a target keyword (HubSpot calls this “secondary SEO”)
Middle of the funnel (MOFU)
- Create blog posts specifically for leads who are in trial periods
- Create a sense of urgency for leads who may be on the fence by creating limited time or limited quantity offers
Bottom of the funnel (BOFU)
- Create content that delivers a concierge onboarding experience for new customers
> Learn more about the inbound marketing funnel
Remember: Digital marketing is always evolving. To truly develop a growth marketing mentality, it’s essential to keep your eyes open for new opportunities to leverage these tactics before your competitors do!
Take your content marketing to the next level
So, there you have it – my biggest takeaways from the Content Marketing Certification! I’m excited to implement these concepts both for our own agency marketing and the marketing we provide for our clients.
If you’re a copywriter, content strategist or editor, I absolutely recommend this HubSpot certification. Not only will you build your skills as a content marketer, but you’ll also walk away with a ton of new ideas that will help turn you into a content marketing machine.
All great content marketing starts with a documented strategy. In fact, only 32% of businesses that don't have a documented strategy feel their content marketing is effective. If you haven't yet formalized your own content strategy, fear not ... our Complete B2B Content Strategy Guide provides guidance and lots of helpful tools to get you started!