Disclaimer: I used Hubspot on behalf of clients, and I am HubSpot Certified Inbound Marketer (which is an indication of my understanding of Inbound Marketing, and not Hubspot). I don’t use Hubspot. This post is more like I am writing out what I am thinking when I am shopping around. I don’t use it only because I am a really small, one-person business and HubSpot — being powerful and immensely useful — is unfortunately out of my budget.
TL;DR version: HubSpot is appealing, not just as an app, but a tech stack for your sales and marketing. Other businesses might have the money to spend. If you are just starting out, use WordPress + marketing stack. It’s work, but you’d have to put in the work anyway.
Hubspot always gets my respect. It’’s perhaps one of the most influential companies online and they’ve always practiced what they preach. The company is a living, breathing example of Inbound marketing done right.
It also offers a good model for scaling sales and marketing, not just the apps, but the functions. It guides you in structuring integrated sales, CRM, support and marketing processes. But it has costs.
What is HubSpot? Why HubSpot? What Can It Do?
Hubspot is a popular all-in-one software for marketing, sales, and marketing automation. It’s designed to let you focus on your business and make your inbound marketing efforts count.
That means getting your sales, marketing, CRM and, to an extent, support, to act together for leads and opportunities.
For the free version of HubSpot Marketing, you’ll need a website URL to signup. You get free analytics, lead capture forms, and contact tracking.
HubSpot hosts the website and lets you modify or build websites on their own CMS. From the very few designs I’ve seen, I hate them all from a marketing standpoint (and this has nothing to do with Hubspot really. It’s the companies sounding bigger and boisterous than they really are).
The website with HubSpot CMS then has everything you need for Blogging, content marketing, SEO, and social media.
You also have integrated analytics, thanks to Lance Cummins from Nectafy
Hubspot lets you build landing pages to help convert visitors to landing pages.
It has email marketing built-in — with paths and drip campaigns.
Finally, you get Hubspot CRM which is, well, a CRM.
This is where you consolidate your leads, prospects, and clients into contacts off your Inbound marketing campaigns and even from other channels like cold calls and trade events. You can associate them with conversations and deals so it’s quick to grasp each record’s context.
I am guessing HubSpot Sales is a separate product where you visualize the sales pipeline. You’d also get sales tools like Sidekick, outreach, sales email templates, and solutions for your sales process.
Is HubSpot Worth the Money? HubSpot’s Fan boys Speak Up
The thing about HubSpot is you have to invest in your sales and marketing, really. The free stuff is nice, but it’s meant to draw you into the big game.
You’d only get the best of what HubSpot has to provide is when you actually be a good customer and do Inbound Marketing to the T.
It’s clearly for high-growth companies and startups that have the cash to spend. It’s not for everyone
To see how it was done, read Lance Cummins’ post on his experience with HubSpot. Apparently, he’s very happy.
You’ll also do well to read Marcus Sheridan’s post on HubSpot. He’s gone one step further with his happiness quotient.
I respect their opinion.
To find out whether Hubspot is right for you, you’d have to use it. HubSpot comes with its own CMS, analytics, and bells and whistles.
Do you need HubSpot?
Jeff Pelletier — cofounder and CEO of BasetWoMedia — sums it up best:
“I think we can all agree that Hubspot is quite expensive compared to the options available for building your own similar toolbox – we currently use, for example, WordPress along with various plugins for SEO, CTA’s, and Popups; Campaign Monitor for newsletters; Google Analytics for stats, etc.
With a list of 1000+ newsletter subs, and a decent social media following along with roughly 2000+ readers per month to our blog which converts to a half-dozen weekly downloads of our various ebooks (ie. “leads”), we’d already be well into the Pro pricing plan to accomplish the same thing.”
Now, I firmly believe that there’s no one, single, all-in-one marketing solution that can really do everything. Some tools excel at one thing while the others excel at others. A few others seem to have gotten very comfortable selling to very large companies.
Understandably, tools like Marketo, Pardot, and Hubspot are not even trying to woo small businesses, self-employed professionals, bloggers, agencies, and others.
Hubspot swings right at the high-growth companies, those with the money, or their uncle’s funding.
HubSpot expensive, and there’s no denying it. The pricing is based on contacts and the more you grow, the more you’ll pay. Smart business for HubSpot but you’ll end up paying a lot especially when you are just getting started.
For seemingly simple things (as on today), the pricing tends to get a tad ridiculous.
Basic pricing starts from $200 per month, billed annually. There’s an onboarding fee of $600 for 100 contacts in total. it’s not clear as to what qualifies as a contact, and I am guessing leads in their CRM database. The pro plan is at $800 per month and the enterprise plan is $2400 per month. All plans are billed annually (and that means you pay for an entire year upfront).
Then, all the conceivably simple things come in as add-ons.
A website starter package at $300 per month, and starter at $100? Ahem. Reports at $200? Why pay money to spend on ads, apart from the ad budget or for paying consultants?
Who buys this stuff?
HubSpot Vs WordPress Marketing Stack
I believe that everything HubSpot does can be done so much better if you are willing to stick different systems together. Yes, it’s work. Yes, it means multiple logins. Of course, it’s a pain in the ass.
But business is a pain in the ass. You chose this path then why make a fuss about the work it entails? Maybe when you get bigger, just maybe, you can complain about this setup and pay your way to the convenience of a HubSpot stack.
The WordPress Marketing Stack Approach
There’s no kidding with WordPress. It’s huge. Every tool, SaaS application, software, and even all those Marketing Automation tools tend to integrate, work with, or connect with WordPress in one way or another (except HubSpot, with the exception that they’ll help you migrate away from WordPress)
Use tools like Divi Builder, Elementor Plugin, Beaver Builder to build any kind of a website you need. Use hosting like Flywheel and WPEngine, setting up a website on a rock-solid hosting platform takes less than a day.
With the hosting and design taken care of, here’s what else you’d need:
Email Marketing: Drip, Mailchimp, Convertkit, or Campaign Monitor.
CRM: You can use anything
Landing Pages: Unbounce, Instapage, and LeadPages, Wishpond.
Analytics: Google Analytics, GoSquared, Mixpanel, and many others
Tracking: Do we really anything more than Google’s UTM tracker, when you are just starting out or even when you are established? I’d, however, also recommend AnyTrack
Now, this post isn’t about the list of tools you need; it’s about this:
Unbounce and Leadpages give you a lot more in terms of landing pages compared to what HubSpot lets you build.
The kind of tracking and analytics that you get with AnyTrack, Google Analytics (along with Data Studio and several other tools) and in combination with others like GoSquared and MixPanel is unmatchable.
To bring these different solutions to work together is “work”. It’s indeed hard to do so. But then, I don’t see how you can settle for less in terms of functionality, elegance, and effectiveness while sacrificing “the work it takes to make marketing work”.
See where I am getting? I’d say stick to WordPress, find the tools you can work with, and stitch things up.