In this blog post we’ll review and evaluate HubSpot, one of the most popular marketing automation platforms. By taking a look at its functionality, pricing, usability and other notable aspects, we hope to give you the understanding and knowledge you need to make an informed decision on whether HubSpot is ideal for your own digital marketing needs.
Demodia was founded on the dawn of marketing automation, so we’ve seen the best and worst of automated solutions. Our clients have used, switched, abandoned and sometimes even integrated multiple marketing automation platforms to find which platform is best suited for their needs. Demodia has been with our clients every step of the way to help, advise, implement and run marketing automation campaigns and solutions - so it naturally stands that we have hands-on experience with what’s on offer.
- A huge amount of features
- Great CRM integration
- Top-class marketing automation
- Near unlimited education
- Solid support and user community
- A sleek, no-coding-required user-experience
- Designed for marketers, not developers
- Can be expensive
- Lots to learn to get full value
HubSpot was founded in 2006 out of the direct realisation that people have transformed every aspect of their lives except for the way they do business. Founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah sought to find a way to approach customers with valuable content so that they would willingly engage in marketing. With that thought, inbound marketing, the idea of offering valuable content that brings customers to you, was born.
To date, over 87,227 companies use HubSpot around the world. Through four main products, namely Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, Service Hub and CMS Hub, HubSpot offers businesses the ability to completely change the way they run their entire operation.
For the purposes of this initial review, we’ll focus on Marketing Hub.
The HubSpot Marketing Hub features vary greatly according to the plan you select. However, a user on the Professional Plan gains access to:
- Marketing automation
- Blogging tools
- Ad management (including social media, SEO and adwords)
- Email marketing
- SEO and content strategy applications
- Dynamic Landing pages
- A/B testing
- Video hosting
- Lead management
Let’s take a look at the more prominent features in closer detail.
With HubSpot email marketing tools, you can create targeted emails without having to write any code. HubSpot also enables you to automate the sending of these emails. You can choose from dozens of triggers, conditions, and actions to send the right emails to the right leads at the right time..
Marketing Hub’s workflow functionality helps you to create targeted workflows by dragging and dropping actions onto a visual editor. This helps you envision workflows in real-time from simple follow-up campaigns to complex multi-stage journeys with multiple branches. You can also set up workflows to handle webhooks, score leads, rotate leads to sales, or manage your data in bulk for you. These actions can also be rigged to send internal notifications to your team when their attention is required.
Of course, all of these automations and workflows can be used in combination with the segments you allocate as well as the information you obtain to personalise every step.
Blogs are the heart of content marketing, and so it stands to reason that an inbound marketing tool like HubSpot would include tools to support this process.
Marketing Hub comes packaged with tools that promise to speed-up content creation, keep formatting consistent and optimise your blogs for SEO purposes. All of this is accomplished within HubSpot’s built-in blog editor. Posts can be started within the editor, or based on a GoogleDocs draft. Then marketers can quickly insert images, format headers, and add links. It also allows users to add comments, share feedback and collaborate with one another.
The SEO optimisation aspect includes on-page recommendations and topic suggestions that are based around dynamic, updated terms and categories for your industry. It also allows you to easily embed personalised call-to-actions and contact forms.
Ad management (including social media, SEO and AdWords)
Marketing Hub’s ad management allows you to track the ROI of your social media, web and SEO advertising efforts and provides you with detailed reporting and analytics on other aspects of each ad’s performance.
HubSpot’s ad tool highlights how your ads influence your leads at every stage of the buyer’s journey and allows you to segment your contacts based on how they interact with your ads.
On the social side, there are tools that enable you to include share buttons within content, capture leads from social media channels and pull queries related to leads or contacts. It has a central page enabling you to manage multiple social accounts from a single interface, so you can also create social posts without leaving HubSpot. The software brings more intelligence to social network integration by identifying social media links and tracking user behaviour. It can also track how many of the referrals were converted to leads and customers.
HubSpot’s email marketing tools are simple to use yet offer advanced functionality. You can create your own HTML email templates or just select what you need from a library. For one-off email distributions, you can create static and smart (dynamic) lists that automatically update based on contact field data changes or list membership.
HubSpot uses behaviour-driven communications by applying lead activity and history to configure the timing of email distributions. This allows your business to engage customers through email, SMS and chat systems, providing highly personalised communication.
SEO and content strategy applications
The SEO capabilities within Marketing Hub are quite impressive. The tool provides actionable recommendations in real-time on how to optimise your website for SEO, ranked in priority on which optimisations will have the most impact. This allows you to see what pages need to be updated, which actions should be taken and what you need to add in order to reach the front page of Google.
HubSpot also provides detailed reports ranging from what terms and topics people are searching for to what your content ranks for any given query. You will also get topic suggestions based on relevance, competition and popularity as well as detailed progress reports on how your website stands with search engines, day by day, month by month.
Dynamic Landing pages
Marketing Hub offers two tools to use when creating landing pages: a wizard-driven tool and an advanced design tool. Some HTML may be required for customised pages, but there is a template library available to increase manageability and make maintenance easier.
HubSpot also offers a feature called Smart Fields in addition to progressive profiling. It automatically removes any form fields which have been captured before so the lead doesn’t have to fill in the same information over and over again. This feature is also used to display highly personalised content that changes for every visitor to increase the performance of your landing page, based on data like their location, industry, device, lifecycle stage or any other contact detail stored in your CRM.
There is A/B testing and analytics which allow users to experiment with different headlines, images and calls-to-action. Even though landing page data does not include PPC cost data and campaign specifics, there are 3rd party extensions that offer integration between the software and Google AdWords.
The lead scoring engine tabulates lead activities from the websites, email or social media. It permits negative score values and can track multiple scores for the same leads, which is especially useful if you have several products with differing audiences. Lead scores can be depreciated when there is a period of inactivity, to help reflect the investment and interest a particular contact has.
HubSpot’s database also integrates with HubSpot CRM, Salesforce and nearly all other CRM systems to help your sales team get the full context of a lead’s history and follow-up effectively.
Finally, Marketing Hub helps your sales team identify the most qualified leads by assigning lead scores automatically. You can create your own custom lead scoring criteria based on any characteristic or behaviour, or let HubSpot use its predictive lead scoring system.
HubSpot has very detailed analytics when it comes to how leads found you, the content they consumed, which are the top-performing campaigns. These analytics are actionable and great for understanding your leads as well.
HubSpot Marketing Hub is offered in 4 major packages that add or remove functionality from the offering. These are named the Free Package, the Starter Package, The Professional Package and the Enterprise Package.
Strictly speaking, companies can gain access to HubSpot features for the lean price of absolutely $0 per month with HubSpot CRM! However, it’s important to note that HubSpot’s free package doesn’t offer any of the primary features that gave HubSpot its name in the automation industry, and many of their free features include HubSpot branding.
Amount of Contacts Included:
As part of their free package, users will gain access to HubSpot’s CRM tool and a basic set of website features, such as non-customisable pop-up and native forms, limited conversational bots and standard marketing reports. Users will still have external form tracking and ad management, but these are limited and ads have a $1k spend limit.
HubSpot’s cheapest offering that includes some proactive features is their Starter Package, which offers the basics to get any company interested in marketing automation and inbound marketing started on their journey to engaging and nurturing their leads.
$50 per month
Amount of Contacts Included:
1,000 contacts included, +$20 per additional 1,000 contacts.
The starter package has everything included in the free package, but unlocks customisation of forms. It also enables you to use their email marketing features, but limits this at a 5 send limit per contact and only gives you 25 Smart Lists and 25 Static Contact Lists.
HubSpot’s middle of the range offering is their Professional Package, which offers decent marketing automation tools for serious digital marketers. The robust feature-set is something that should attract those already familiar with marketing automation and would like to try HubSpot.
$800 per month
Amount of Contacts Included:
1,000 contacts included, +$50 per additional 1,000 contacts.
The professional package gives you everything included in the Starter Package and really unlocks HubSpot’s potential. It increases the smart and static list limit to 1,000 contacts, allows you to send double the amount of emails per contact per month, and gives you the ability to customise your reports and dashboard.
The professional package also introduces blog creation tools, SEO and content management, social media assets, phone support and complete mobile optimisation for your content needs. On the technical side, the package offers call to action tools, true marketing automation (with 300 workflows), Salesforce integration, AB testing and contact scoring.
HubSpot’s ultimate offering is their Enterprise Package, which offers everything a company could ever need in marketing automation and inbound marketing.
$3,200 per month.
Amount of Contacts Included:
10,000 contacts included, +$10 per month for every additional 1,000 contacts.
HubSpot’s ultimate offering really doubles down on the professional package by giving you more of everything. Your ad management spend is increased to $30k, you gain 25 more customisable dashboards, 500 more smart and static lists and up to 500 workflows.
In terms of new tools, you gain custom event reporting and triggers, predictive lead scoring, event-based segmentation and full website traffic analysis. It also offers YouTube integration, content partitioning and additional domains for you to work with.
Usability and accessibility
Historically, HubSpot has been dogged with a reputation of being complicated and difficult to use. However, over recent years they have made significant strides into simplifying their product and making their UI more consistent.
Most of what you need is easily accessible right from the first dashboard you are presented with. While coding is still an option to those who want to detail and refine their marketing assets, HubSpot has made a concerted effort to create a no-coding-required environment for marketers who want to focus on creating rather than coding. With an ever-growing library of templates, reusable assets and resources on hand, HubSpot has made marketing automation easy.
Finally, HubSpot lives up to their name of championing content marketing by providing valuable insights, training and resources to marketers who want to improve their marketing. Their blog is updated daily, they have a vast amount of free case studies, white papers, guides and ebooks on hand. Additionally, their support and onboarding services are world-class.
HubSpot has always been the first name marketers think of when talking about inbound marketing or marketing automation. They’re also top-of-mind whenever a discussion about content marketing calls for a good example.
73% of HubSpot’s current user base identify as owners of small to medium-sized businesses (1-25 employees) with hands stretched across all aspects of operations. They seek basic content marketing tools to drive brand awareness and generate new leads. 25% of their user base consists of large, international marketing firms.
With this as well as their pricing structure and social media presence in mind, one can assume that HubSpot caters mostly for growing businesses and offers some tools for large multinational companies.
Currently, HubSpot holds a 4.3/5 rating on G2 Crowd Ratings and a 4.5/5 Capterra user rating.
Users who gave a thumbs up to HubSpot enjoyed the ease of use, convenience and clean interface the marketing automation platform provided. They also appreciated how every tool they needed was in one place and easily accessible.
Negative reviews for HubSpot noted the high price, the lack of features that are only available behind the higher paid plans and the third-party integration implementation.
It’s clear that HubSpot is a feature-rich marketing automation offering that goes beyond expectation. They have proven themselves to constantly push the boundaries of the possible by presenting us with new ways to surprise and delight customers.
While the flood of resources, support and applications available to HubSpot users may be overwhelming, those who take the time to learn and understand the tools will have a valuable asset for their marketing. HubSpot’s house-hold name and reputation are well deserved, and we are very excited to see what they come out with next.
HubSpot scores a 94%
“It’s not perfect, or free... yet.”
If you would like some guidance as to how to implement HubSpot Marketing Hub for your own business, or just need some help finding out how marketing automation can boost your sales, leads and revenue, contact Demodia.
With decades of experience, Demodia is a marketing automation consultancy that has helped businesses around the world to improve and automate their operations. Contact us today, and discover the true potential of your digital marketing efforts.