HubSpot’s Inbound Certification: A Thorough Review

hubspot inbound certification

Here’s a question for you: As a marketer, do you need to take HubSpot’s inbound certification course? You’ve got 10 seconds to answer. Ready? Go.

[Jeopardy music playing here.]

The answer is… probably not. But if I were to revise the question and ask: Is it worth it to take HubSpot’s inbound certification course? My answer would be absolutely, yes.

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Let me put this in context. I took the course in October 2016, right after I started working at Nectafy. It was one of the first tasks I was assigned. I completed the course within the first two weeks of work and passed with flying colors, thank you very much. (I’ve spent a lifetime brushing up on my study skills, I’ll admit.)

Not only am I new to Nectafy, I’m also fairly new to the inbound marketing field. Sure, I’ve written plenty of blog posts in other jobs, but I was never privy to the role those posts played in each of our clients’ overall marketing strategies. (Not the ideal situation for any of the parties involved, clearly.) So I didn’t know much about buyer personas and marketing and sales qualified leads. To me, that makes a difference in my evaluation of the course. In other words:

  • If you’re in the same boat as me—having less than two years of experience—then the HubSpot inbound certification course is well worth the time.
  • If, on the other hand, you’re a fairly experienced inbound marketer, probably not so much.

But being experienced vs. inexperienced isn’t the whole story. Even if you’re not looking to become an inbound marketing specialist, there’s a lot of good stuff in the course. Small business owners and entrepreneurs in particular will learn about numerous marketing strategies that can do wonders for their business, helping with everything from increasing online visibility to converting website visitors into leads.

Read on to get my take on the course, then draw your own conclusions. (Pay attention—there will be a test at the end!)

What makes HubSpot’s inbound marketing certification course attractive?

  • It’s free! Enough said.
  • It doesn’t require a huge time commitment. HubSpot says it takes five hours to complete the course (I took longer than that, but I suppose it’s possible). Even if you don’t come out of the course transformed, you haven’t invested much time.
  • You can learn at your own pace. Since the course is a series of videos you can access and complete on your own time, you can make your own schedule and take as long as you need.
  • It lends credibility to your professional profile. If you’re new to the field, it shows that you’ve taken the initiative to learn more about inbound marketing and are enthusiastic about your work. If you’re a little more experienced, it conveys to clients that you’re knowledgeable about the current marketing landscape.
  • You’ll be armed with knowledge you can actually put to use. Small business owners, in particular, know little-to-nothing about marketing but need at least the basics to get their business off the ground. The HubSpot course is easy to follow and gives enough real-world examples that anyone could get started implementing the concepts right out of the gate.
  • You’ll emerge inspired to try new things. Whether you’ve been practicing inbound marketing already or not, I promise you’ll come out of the course with ideas churning about strategies you want to try or practices you can improve. The motivation factor alone is probably one of the most attractive things about the course!

On the other hand…

  • Seasoned inbound marketers are well beyond this course. The course covers basic concepts that inbound marketing practitioners put into practice on a daily basis. At that point, real-world experience—both with HubSpot and inbound—will be more valuable than this certification.

5 Things I Liked About The HubSpot Inbound Certification Course

There are lots of things to like about the actual inbound certification program itself, and here are a few:

1. The presenters are top-notch. A number of different presenters are involved throughout the course, and I liked the idea of mixing it up. It was clear that they had all practiced enough to become familiar with the content and were able to deliver it comfortably. They were professional, energetic, and conversational, all of which helped me, as the viewer, to focus on the material being delivered without the distractions of a lackluster presentation.

2. The content is tightly packaged and gets right to the point. Great presenters are nothing without good content, and I honestly felt that the lessons covered just the right amount of ground. They didn’t aim to do too much but focused on small chunks at a time and were limited to a reasonable amount of information that was easily understandable. Also, the information was always presented in context of the bigger marketing picture and scaffolded logically from one step to the next. Another bonus: The videos moved fairly quickly. There was never a point where I was bored or wishing we could just move on to the next thing.

3. The course provides examples of the concepts presented put into practice. For instance, the calls-to-action section doesn’t wrap without showing us what an effective CTA looks like—the same goes for landing pages, great emails, content amplification, and more. This method of teaching helps link theory to practice, which knocks the usefulness of the course up a notch in my book.

4. Quizzes draw attention to lesson highlights—and help you pass the final test. The quizzes are helpful for drawing your attention to the highlights of each class, making sure you know exactly what you are supposed to get out of each one. This, in turn, is useful for passing the final test. I also liked the fact that HubSpot embedded multiple choice questions here and there within some videos. It made the whole experience a bit more interactive.

hubspot-inbound-certification

5. You can download study guides for each lesson. These were particularly helpful for me, because I didn’t complete the course all in one sitting—it was over the space of a couple of weeks. The study guides gave me a way to review the courses I’d taken earlier; they also reinforced the most important learning points from each class. (You can also download the slides and the transcript, if necessary.) There are also links to additional resources on the same topic if you’d like to learn more.

2 Things I Didn’t Like About The HubSpot Inbound Certification Course

1. The certification is only valid for one year. Here’s what HubSpot has to say about it:

hubspot-inbound-certification

I understand the reasoning here, but in my opinion, a yearly update is too frequent. Most people who have taken the course go on and put that knowledge into practice, and they continue to learn as a result (in effect, moving even further away from the need to take an inbound marketing course such as this). I could see a certification that becomes invalid after a few—even two!—years, and brushing up on the basics occasionally is never a bad thing. But one year goes by in a second. I’d be willing to bet that more people than not have let an outdated certification linger well past its expiration date.

2. It promotes conceptual understanding rather than mastery of skills. Ah… the joys of multiple choice tests. The question is always: Did the test taker really understand the concepts, or did he or she just memorize the facts? (Quick, does anyone remember the name of the third stage of the content process?) At no point during the course are you required to demonstrate your knowledge through practical application.

The fact is, while acing a test might mean you’re good at test-taking (and memorizing), there’s no assurance that you’re a skilled inbound marketer as a result of taking it. And HubSpot isn’t claiming otherwise. In the FAQ section of its website, it clearly states that being certified doesn’t mean that someone knows how to do great marketing, though the company does hope its participants learn a lot.

I’m certainly glad I took the course, and from the feedback I’ve seen all over the internet, it seems that legions of people agree. (Though not everyone.)
HubSpot says its mission is to educate and inspire, so that “together we can change the way the world does business.” In my book, it’s a mission accomplished.
Download: How Our Company Put HubSpot To The Test

  • Sarah Bedrick

    Hi, Meredith! First of all, congrats on joining the Nectafy team and congrats on becoming inbound certified.

    I really appreciate you taking the time to write up your candid thoughts. You gave an excellent overview of the current value of the program; I learned a lot from your post and I’m sure others did too. And clearly, you’re an expert inbound marketer as you did a great job attracting me to your site.

    I have one exciting update for you which might make you and our other users happy – we’re revisiting the 13-month certification time frames at this very moment. We started the research phase at the end of last year and are working toward setting new time frames in the near future. You should have received a survey from me yesterday on this very topic – what crazy timing, eh?

    Also, you’re right about the test. We are always looking for ways to improve our assessments, hence practicums for software and application/success-focused certifications, but there is still some room to grow. One thing we have moved toward in the past few years with our exams is including a lot more situational questions, as well as examples to analyze. Our goal is to use the exams to test people’s “remembering”, “understanding” and also their ability to apply this information to new situations as well as identify themes and connect dots among similar ideas. We are following a page from Bloom’s Taxonomy (https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blooms-taxonomy/) on this one. And so hopefully you find that we’re getting better here too. We’re always trying to improve everything that we do, and your feedback is what helps drive us.

    Thanks again for the great write-up. I hope to see you around the community and at #INBOUND17.

  • Meredith DeSousa

    Hey, Sarah – thanks for your thoughtful reply! It’s great to hear that you were already reconsidering the certification time frame (I’ll fill out the survey!), and I like your ideas about altering the test to include situational questions/examples and identifying themes. Looking forward to renewing my certification when the time comes this fall!

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