What Makes HubSpot Worth the Investment
HubSpot is one of the most familiar names in the inbound marketing space, being recognized as an industry leader in the arena of business marketing software. Their flagship product offering is billed as an all-in-one inbound marketing software platform, complete with a suite of tools that automate many common inbound marketing tasks such as blogging, social media publishing, email marketing and landing page creation. HubSpot definitely has an impressive resume; over 11,000 customers in 70 different countries use their software products, and they are currently ranked #1 in customer satisfaction by G2 Crowd and VentureBeat. With all of the positive press, using HubSpot may seem like an obvious choice for businesses that are looking to beef up their inbound marketing efforts, but is this really the case? To be even more direct, is HubSpot really worth the investment?
HubSpot: Taking a Look Under the Hood
Before any solid conclusions can be drawn about HubSpot’s price worthiness, it only makes sense to find out exactly what you get when you sign up for the service. The HubSpot software platform is comprised of the following tools, each of which focuses on a different element of inbound marketing:
- Blogging – Similar to WordPress, TypePad and other popular blogging platforms, HubSpot provides pre-made blog templates and built-in search engine optimization (SEO) features to help users create blog posts without any heavy coding knowledge required. Support is also provided for integrating blog posts with email marketing and lead generation.
- Email Marketing – HubSpot’s email marketing software enables users to organize and schedule their email campaigns from within the HubSpot interface. Popular features such as segmentation, personalization and customized layouts are provided as well.
- Content Management System – HubSpot offers a start-to-finish tool for building web pages, which includes a WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) editor, as well as “behind-the-curtain” functionality for those who want to tweak various elements of the HTML or CSS code. Their site builder includes several drag-and-drop templates, all of which are optimized for viewing on mobile devices as well.
- SEO – HubSpot provides users with real-time “as-you-type” content recommendations to help users include relevant keywords for the purpose of increasing the SEO value of their web pages. They also feature a keyword suggestion tool as part of their SEO dashboard within the platform.
- Landing Pages – HubSpot offers several drag-and-drop templates so that users can create landing pages with no coding necessary. They also feature a drag-and-drop form builder to help users capture the contact information of online leads.
- Lead Management Database – HubSpot’s lead management database helps users keep track of the various contacts and potential leads they have accumulated through each of their inbound marketing channels. Important information such as when the lead was first acquired, when the last contact with the lead was made, etc., are all recorded and tracked within the HubSpot interface.
- Marketing Workflow Automation – This feature enables users to plan and execute marketing campaigns in an organized and sequential manner. Progress bars and task lists inform users of what steps they have already taken, as well as what the next step in the conversion process will be for each particular lead.
- Social Media – Businesses often shy away from delving too deep into social media due to its potential to become a huge time sink when not properly managed. HubSpot’s social media engagement and monitoring system is designed to help users approach their social media efforts in a more organized and intentional manner. Features such as cross-platform publishing, scheduled posting and email alerts help users keep tabs on their social media presence and activities.
- Analytics – HubSpot’s integrated analytics feature is designed to help users keep track of all of their important metrics such as website traffic, conversion rates and revenue reports.
Integration: HubSpot’s Primary Selling Point
Just taking a look at all of the features listed above, a budget-conscious business owner would more than likely argue that the majority of HubSpot’s features are not unique. After all, there are dozens of blogging platforms, contact management databases, analytics tools, etc. out there, many of which are available at no cost. Why spend money on a service that appears to simply “bundle” these various tools together, when you can get by with tackling each task individually? This is a legitimate question, because let’s face it: HubSpot’s web page builder is not revolutionary. Its keyword research tool is probably no more robust than Google AdWords’ free Keyword Planner tool. Why commit money every month to a service that seems to do little more than group these various features together into one dashboard?
The answer lies in the necessity of efficient integration. While the argument can be made that any (or all) of HubSpot’s various features can be performed on a one-by-one basis, we all know how difficult it can be to maintain consistency and harmony of data across several different channels and platforms. Try as we might, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of creating “data silos,” which can easily cause confusion and even jeopardize professional reputation. For example, if we make contact with a recently acquired lead via email but then fail to recognize who they are when they reach out to us via Twitter, it could appear as though we don’t have our act together in terms of data management.
HubSpot’s ability to integrate all aspects of a company’s marketing and contact management is perhaps its strongest quality. Their software platform fully integrates every element of their inbound marketing tools, so that any time a change happens regarding a prospect or a customer, it updates across the entire platform. This will preserve the integrity of the customer’s data, and keep companies from committing various blunders that could tarnish their brand’s reputation. While trying to keep track of everything via Excel spreadsheets and Outlook sticky notes is a noble pursuit, it’s too fragile of a contact management system to remain viable over the long haul, and highly questionable in terms of scalability.
For many business owners, price is the dominant factor in determining whether or not to add a particular business-building tool to the mix. So how does HubSpot’s pricing structure work? They have three pricing plans: Basic ($200/month), Pro ($800/month) and Enterprise ($2,400/month). Prices are somewhat customizable based on a myriad of factors including number of contacts and desired add-ons. HubSpot also offers a free 30-day trial for business owners who are unsure whether or not HubSpot will be a good fit for their business. In light of the extensive features that HubSpot offers, the average user will probably do little more than scratch the surface in only 30 days, but it can at least give them a basic feel for how the tools work within the HubSpot interface.
So is HubSpot worth the investment? When answering that question, it’s important to remember that HubSpot is essentially a tool, and like any other tool, it will only be useful in proportion to the user’s commitment to learn and properly apply it. As far as what HubSpot can do to consolidate workflow, it’s hard to argue against the robust time-saving features that HubSpot offers. The whole of HubSpot’s integrated marketing platform can in many ways be greater than the sum of its parts.