Inbound Marketing for Beginners
Shhh. No one who works at IMA has a degree in Inbound Marketing. Sure, we’re all graduates of HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing University with honors, but we spent our college years studying entirely different topics. There’s far more opportunities in digital and inbound marketing than there are reputable, accredited education programs, and some experts even believe the online advertising industry is facing a major talent gap.
Whether you’re a junior in college who’s sharp and hoping to jump into a fast-growing industry or a small-business owner who wants more leads that cost less, there’s a whole lot of compelling reasons to jump into Inbound Marketing with both feet. Here are 7 areas you should include in your self-education:
Blog, blog, blog. You can’t half-ass Inbound Marketing and you really can’t do a mediocre job of blogging. The world’s most proficient bloggers aren’t just writers. I could write a 98-page eBook about business blogging that barely scrapes the surface of the topic (and I did), but here’s a crash course in the bare minimum qualities of an outstanding content creator:
Grammar, spelling, sentence structure.
Research skills and the ability to find, vet and cite fresh statistics.
Basic software skills for uploading and formatting.
Knowledge of SEO and how to optimize reader-friendly content for search.
A hunger for knowledge and ongoing education.
Social media networking for content distribution and connections.
Empathy and the ability to write for buyer personas.
And I’m just getting started! Until an accredited college starts training students how to blog, even highly experienced writers may need to tailor their skill sets for success as content creators.
If I weren’t a content creator, I might have lumped blogging and eBooks together. I think there are a lot of compelling reasons not to, and the primary one is that writing a 3,000-word eBook makes a 600-word blog article seem like kids’ stuff. eBook creators tend to be highly organized, focused, and excellent at managing their time. Can you sit down to write a blog article without a definitive outline or a collection of sources? Sure. If you try the same hack-and-go approach on a Tofu offer, it’s not going to work too well.
While every agency structures their workflows differently, eBook creators are typically also responsible for sourcing and uploading images and conceptualizing design so the design team can hit the ground running.
The world’s best SEOs are really just students. They’re well-aware of the fact that what worked in 2008 will probably get you dinged by Google today. You can’t keyword stuff or aggressively optimize or write thousands of mediocre guest posts for long without getting caught. As a result, they’re always learning, reading, and discussing. There are loads of exceptional resources available for free online, but I’m a particular fan of Search Engine Journal, SEOMoz (especially whiteboard Friday!), and SEO-focused content by way of the HubSpot blog.
4. Social Media
Social media is fluffy. Any 11 year-old could handle it competently. There’s a reason why Hollis Thomas’ article on Inc.com 11 Reasons a 23 Year-Old Shouldn’t Run Your Social Media went viral this summer. Despite the inflammatory title, she had a point. Social media is hard, and not everyone with a Facebook profile has the skillset to handle a PR crisis, tailor humor to buyer personas, and take a hack at calculating inbound marketing analytics.
We’ve delved into social media skills every marketer should have in-depth previously, but the best are able to provide customer service, write interesting content, build relationships, and use real data to improve.
Isn’t marketing a fluffy thing for people who couldn’t pass freshman economics? Absolutely not, and if they can’t deal with Excel, they might want to start looking at a career change to professional basket weaver. According to the Harvard Business Review, 77% of CEOs are tired of CMOS who talk about brand equity but don’t drive ROI. Dr. Larry Chiagouris, Marketing Professor at Pace University, believes that today’s best entry-level positions are being landed by graduates with a strong handle on analytics. If you want to get hired, “Net Promoter Score” and “Organic Search Volume” should be an integral part of your vocabulary!
6. Graphic Design
You don’t need to be the world’s most effective graphic designer, but you should learn the basics of user experience, small business web design, and what makes a compelling call-to-action (CTA) button so irresistible. Learn the principles of outstanding design, or if you really want to be an overachiever, dip your feet into logo, CTA, and eBook layouts in the Adobe Creative Suite.
7. Web Design
No content creator should ever be stuck waiting for a webmaster so they can fix a typo in on-page copy. In the words of Marcus Sheridan, “every small business owner should hold the keys to their website.” He recommends that every inbound marketer know the following at a minimum:
How to edit text. On-page typos happen, and it’s best to fix these before anyone notices!
How to rearrange a website and add a page. It’s much easier when you’re using HubSpot’s super-simple content management system.
How to add a form. Have you written an amazing content offer? Ensure people can download!
What do you think are the inbound skills every marketer needs?