Last week I attended the Inbound Marketing University, a free online program put together by HubSpot featuring talented well known professionals on blogging, SEO, social media, lead nurturing, email marketing, landing pages, and viral marketing.
After watching the classes, my take on the University is:
- Online archives from each class including slides available on-demand helps a lot when you have busy schedules like mine, and also allows watching at your own pace (i.e. fast forward the boring parts)
- Quality instructors that have proven experience and really know the subject helped validate the quality of the program
- Quick and to the point presentations (60 mins each) allowed you to get instant factual and actionable information
- In general the content was focused on the basics, which is ok for a newbie but I was expecting some more “meat” and a combination of basics with advanced tips and techniques for those that want to take their marketing to the next level (the SEO classes were the exception, having a basic and an advanced class)
- Too broad topics delivered with too narrow a focus. While corporate blogging, for instance, is a broad topic, the presentation focused on only certain aspects of corporate blogging, leaving a lot of stuff untold.
During the next couple days I’ll post specific review about each class so you can decide which ones to take and which ones to skip based on your experience level.
Review of the first 5 classes:
Class: How to Blog Effectively for Business (GF101)
Professors: Ann Handley & Mack Collier, MarketingProfs
This was a basic introduction to blogging, so for those already familiar with what blogging is, there wasn’t much new content. From a corporate blogging perspective, I like that they brought up what I consider the two main issues in corporate blogging:
- Do you have the time?
- Do you have the people?
Often times we get directives from the top echelon asking us to setup a corporate blog for the CEO, a blog for every manager, and to churn content every day. Unless you have the staff available to create new content quickly, you will be stuck.
What was missing from the presentation was:
- Rules and policies for company blog writers on disclosing company trade secrets, talking about products that are yet to be released, copyright laws, and abiding to the company’s employee handbook
- How to blog with shareholders in mind (current and prospective)
- Blogging about the competition (dos and don’ts)
- Blog copywriting tips
Veredict: Unless you are new to blogging, skip the class and check out the resources below, plus do a quick Google search and you’ll find tons of more information.
For those interested in corporate blogging, tips for corporate blogs and some rules and policies, check out the following links:
- 10 Tips for Becoming a Great Corporate Blogger
- Corporate Blogging Rules
- Blogging policy examples
- When & How To Pay A Blogger
Class: SEO Crash Course to Get Found (GF102)
Professor: Lee Odden, TopRank Online Marketing
Not only Lee Odden provided a quick basic overview of what SEO is and why it is important but he also went into some details on how to make the most out of Search Engine Optimization. What I liked best was the tips on tools you can use and where to find additional resources. SEO is such a complex subject that you can barely scratch the surface in one hour so knowing where to go for more information is invaluable. The links he suggested are:
- Google Keyword Tool: http://www.google.com/sktool
- Wordtracker Free Keyword Suggestion Tool: http://freekeywords.wordtracker.com/
- Wordtracker (paid): http://www.wordtracker.com
- Keyword Discovery (paid): http://keyworddiscovery.com
- SEM Rush (paid): http://www.semrush.com
Additional SEO Resources Mr. Odden recommends:
- Search Engine Watch: www.searchenginewatch.com
- Search Engine Land: www.searchengineland.com
- WebPro news: www.webpronews.com
- HubSpot: blog.hubspot.com
- SEO MOZ: www.seomoz.org
- Top Rank Blog: www.toprankblog.com
Veredict: If you have never done any SEO in your life, his presentation is excellent. Otherwise, skip it and go straight for the Advanced SEO class (to be reviewed in my next post).
Class: Social Media and Building Community (GF201)
Professor: Chris Brogan, New Marketing Labs
Chris Brogan’s presentation was more of a theoretical overview of community building than tools for doing that. This presentation was a great disappointment for me, since I have read so much great stuff from his blog and was expecting a bit more depth in his presentation.
Veredict: If you are new to social networks, community building, etc. the presentation will probably give you some good pointers so you avoid common blunders when building your own community.
For more information about getting your company to successfully build an online community, I recommend the following for further reading:
Class: Successful Business Uses for Facebook and LinkedIn (GF202)
Professor: Elyse Tager, Silicon Valley American Marketing Association
Elyse makes some great points about using social media for your business, such as:
- It’s free, but… : although you may not have a line item in your budget on how much you need to spend on Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and other social media sites (they are all free), you do have to spend time (sometimes a LOT of time) working the social media space, which does translate into costs.
- Commitment: you will have to commit to spending time developing your social media strategy; it doesn’t work overnight and require backing from your company willing to let you spend time doing it.
- Set goals: this is important for any social media platform that your company is trying to use. Setup what your goals are for each platform (create connections, increase brand awareness, etc.) and measure it religiously.
Veredict: If you are new to using LinkedIn and Facebook for your business, Elyse’s presentation is a great starting point. For those that already use social media sites personally and just want to take it to the next level and include their business in the social media space, the presentation is a starting point, but it only tells you some of the basics.
David is a great speaker and has engaging stories, making his presentation one of the best of the series. He is also able to bring ideas implemented by Fortune 500 companies down to the level of small businesses, which is the best way to get actionable items that you can implement in your own business.
Some key insights from his presentation are:
- Create buyer personas: what types of people are you trying to reach and what are their needs?
- Earn attention: create something great and distribute it online to generate buzz
- Nobody cares about your products: they care about solving their problems
- Lose control: trying to control all your content will work against your attempts to get your ideas heard. Free content will get you farther.
- New measurements: how you measure your success is now related to how your ideas are being spread (blogs, twitter, etc.)
- Put down roots: and participate in the communities where your target audience is involved
- Point the world to your virtual doorstep: make sure you have an online presence that integrates with your other efforts in generating buzz
Veredict: this is a great class for those that want to learn more about viral marketing or that are trying to convince their companies to do it. For more great stuff on viral marketing, David Meerman Scott’s blog (www.webinknow) is a great starting point.
Next: Review of the final 5 classes:
Advanced SEO Tactics: On Beyond Keyword Research (GF401)
- Calls to Action and Landing Page Best Practices (CV101)
- Inbound Lead Nurturing (CV201)
- Successful Email Marketing (CV301)
- Analyzing Inbound Marketing (AZ401)
You can check out the presentation slides at: http://www.slideshare.net/HubSpot/presentations
The online recordings for the classes are at: http://www.inboundmarketing.com