By Nicki Kamau

It's HubSpot Certification Week and it's again that time of the year when HubSpotters across the globe put on their learning hats on and try to get as many HubSpot certifications under their belt to help a different cause each year.

As someone who firmly believes all people should be actively learning their entire lives, Certification Day is one of my favorite days. Maybe you’ve heard us talking about it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram. If not, I’ll fill you in:

For one day each quarter, the SmartBug team sets aside our normal operations to invest our time in professional development in what we call Certification Day. Days like these enable us to provide the best experiences and results for our clients, and help us grow individually into the best marketers, web developers, designers, copywriters, and so on, that we can be.

For the past two years we've partnered with HubSpot to create World Certification Week. What’s the difference? Certification Day at SmartBug Media® is experienced quarterly. We encourage others like you to participate and we tout this as part of our culture, tying back to our company value: “Stay curious.”

World Certification Week was born from the success of our quarterly certification day. It encourages learning within HubSpot Academy and benefits a specific cause each year. 

Our Founder and chairman of the board, Ryan Malone, started Certification Day to create a company culture that encourages us to always be learning:

 

Certification Day

What is Certification Day all about, and how do we do it? I’d love to tell you, so you can start preparing for your own future Certification Day. Planning begins months in advance, but that’s not to say it’s difficult. Leadership lets the team know the date for Certification Day one quarter out. This allows everyone plenty of time to block their calendars, move any standing meetings, and plan ahead for client work.

Then comes the fun part. Each employee spends the next few months paying special attention to up-and-coming technology and trends, areas that clients might need a little extra TLC in, and identifying topics that he/she can dig into on the upcoming Certification Day.

As the highest rated HubSpot agency in the world, we are expected to be the gold standard in both marketing expertise and HubSpot knowledge. HubSpot Academy is the most comprehensive source for training with actionable insights that are backed by real-world data. Certification Day enables us to provide our team members uninterrupted time to grow their skills.” –Ryan Malone, Founder and Chairman of the board.

That day, when we get to work in the morning, which really means when we walk to our desk (SmartBug® has been a remote company since its inception more than 10 years ago), we all open our laptops to start the day. We might be dressed a little cozier than usual, knowing that we won’t be seeing any clients or partners. Instead of jumping straight into meetings and executing projects or running analytics, we all get to take a deep breath and learn. 

Certification Day is not structured to be one size fits all. One of our marketing specialists might be looking to dive deeper into growth-driven design and setting out to work on the HubSpot Academy GDD course and certification, while one of our paid media strategists might be brushing up on ABM strategies and technology, and another may be taking the Google Shopping Advertisement Assessment. Each SmartBug gets the opportunity to choose what they want to learn about on Certification Day to help not only provide exceptional service to their clients, but also help them advance individually in their careers.

Growing with SmartBug & HubSpot Academy

With learning comes growing opportunities. Here's how certification day and HubSpot Academy helped one of our Senior Directors, Sandy Moore, get to the role she's currently at and went from strategist to senior director in under four years. 

 

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Hear what other SmartBugs have to say about certification day and what this day means to them: 

Aubreigh Blair, Senior Director, Marketing Strategy

“Staying on top of my marketing game and providing my clients with up-to-date information is something I take very seriously. The HubSpot Academy courses that I've taken have been so worthwhile. I've been able to grab key takeaways from any course I've completed and apply them in real-life strategies for my clients. Each course is valuable in its own way. For example, the Content Marketing Certification Course helped me produce content ideas for new blogs for a client of mine! It's nice to have a refresher on general topics.” –Sofia Pompeo, Senior Marketing Specialist

 


Joe Gillespie, Senior Copywriter

 

“Hubspot Academy is a tremendous resource that I refer to often when crafting client strategies. The lessons are interactive and actionable, and really help me focus time diving deep into a given topic. I also find it helpful to continually revisit topics in the academy—even when I’ve already watched a video or completed a lesson, I seem get new ideas and inspiration every time I come back!” — Sarah Mead, Associate Vice President of Client Services

 

Chris Hutchens, Senior Marketing Specialist

The clients I work with love HubSpot and the automation features that come with it, but most of them don't have the time to keep up with the platform's innovative rollouts and updates. By keeping up with certifications from HubSpot Academy, I can stay on top of the latest features and help clients save time, while also getting the most out of the platform.” –Mike Wolfe, Marketing Strategist

 

Charitable Donation

This year for every certification awarded between May 9-13, HubSpot will donate $5 USD to an education-focused charity called Teach For All, a global network of independent partner organizations committed to developing collective leadership in order to ensure all children have the opportunity to fulfill their potential.

Using HubSpot Academy enables us to be part of contributing back to society, this year for all SmartBugs that earn HubSpot certification(s) the week of May 9 - 13, HubSpot will make a $5 donation (up to $20,000).  

For all SmartBugs that earn HubSpot certification(s) on Friday, May 13th, SmartBug will match the $5 donation. So if someone achieves a HubSpot certification on Friday May 13th, there will be a collective $10 donation on that SmartBug's behalf.

 

Our Resources

With around 200 employees and counting, we are dedicating more than 800 hours to learning in one day, and you better believe we have resources lined up to fuel all of that wisdom. 

Most SmartBugs will be filling their day with courses from HubSpot Academy—we didn’t become the number one ranked HubSpot Partner Agency by accident! With 16 certification tracks (and many more trainings) to choose from, HubSpot has no shortage of topics covered. 

Of course, we have many employees who are only missing one HubSpot Academy certification and others whose focus is outside of inbound marketing, so our learning expands to other digital resources as well. On certification day, we have employees working through courses from SEMrush Academy for SEO, Google Academy for Ads for optimizing paid media, Udemy for design, ABM University for account-based marketing, and Klaviyo for email marketing. 

 

 

As someone who focuses mainly on the development side of things, the HubSpot certifications are a great resource to give me a better understanding and knowledge of inbound marketing. As the HubSpot CMS continues to grow and evolve, the certifications also serve as refreshers for various features and tools. –Tessa Flores, Developer

 

Our Successes

What’s the result of having a quarterly Certification Day?

  • Paid promotion, social media, and organic search that efficiently attract visitors 

  • Stunning websites that provide an intuitive user experience, guiding visitors through their own journeys while also educating them 

  • Lead nurturing emails that turn your subscribers into evangelists 

Ultimately? Happy clients that experience the best service we have to offer. This is why, in 2017, we expanded Certification Day from a day that happened once a year to a day that happens once a quarter: To constantly improve the experiences of our clients’ prospects.

We’re not telling you about this awesome day of betterment to brag about how cool it is to work at SmartBug (well, maybe a little), but because we want you to join in. It’s amazing to see the camaraderie and excitement from everyone getting a full day of learning in, and it’s fulfilling to hear all of the kudos pouring in from our clients when a newly researched and implemented strategy is two weeks in and already delivering amazing results. 

By encouraging the inbound marketing community to invest time in professional development and join us for this World Certification Week and every subsequent Certification Day, we’re striving to create a more sophisticated internet of marketing. A rising tide lifts all boats—now let’s fill that knowledge pool! Will you join us?

This article was originally published in December 2018 and has since been updated.

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Nicki Kamau

About the author

Nicki Kamau is a Senior Manager, Partner Programs, for SmartBug Media. With experience in inbound, social media and event marketing, Nicki has been a part of lead gen marketing teams within the B2B space at tech startups, mid-market organizations, and publicly traded corporations. Nicki strives to educate potential and current clients through content marketing, empowering them to make informed business decisions. She enjoys exploring the outdoors with her baby boy, dog and husband, right-brained activities, and tasting every tea she can get her hands on. Read more articles by Nicki Kamau.

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