How can I be hired at HubSpot
HubSpot: Our experience report
The success of content marketing depends to a large extent on the tools used. They ensure that high-quality content is found and that a steady stream of new customers can be generated. After all, what use is the best content if there is no way to turn anonymous readers into seriously interested contacts? And where is the profit if e-mails cannot be sent individually tailored to interests or if the website does not work properly at all?
In our blog we have already dealt with some tools that make life easier for marketing managers: with the technical requirements for e-mail marketing, WordPress as a platform for blogs and websites or Google Analytics for measuring the important key figures.
Today we would like the all-in-one software HubSpot and investigate the question of whether the acquisition of this software is worthwhile for medium-sized companies.
What is HubSpot?
HubSpot is software for inbound marketing that combines all the necessary functions under one roof. This offer is supplemented by a free CRM and a solution for sales.
Here is an overview of the most important functions of the marketing software:
All contacts are stored in a database and numerous activities such as websites visited, e-mail interactions or form submissions are automatically recorded. In addition, your own notes, tasks or calls can be logged. Using certain criteria, contacts can be summarized in so-called "Smart Lists".
Landing pages, call-to-action elements and forms can be used to generate new contacts at various points on a website. The process provided by Hubspot is such that, for example, buttons or banners are placed on the website as a call-to-action and readers who click on them are redirected to a landing page. On the landing page there is then a form that you can fill out to request a free guide or something similar.
Blog and website:
HubSpot is also a content management system that can be used to create and manage websites. In the blog area, new posts can be entered, which are then published in descending chronological order (current posts at the top) in the blog area of the website. An integrated optimization tool supports the search engine optimization of the articles.
The central element of many content or inbound strategies is the sending of emails to build relationships and trust. In HubSpot, all emails - regardless of whether they are sent once (such as newsletters) or continuously - are created and managed in a single place.
Certain standardized processes can be programmed with the help of workflows. These processes can be triggered, for example, by submitting a form or visiting a certain website. A series of actions can be defined on this basis: For example, sending an email immediately after filling out a specific form, followed by further emails every four days. Changes to contact properties, the creation of tasks or the transfer to other workflows are also possible. If / then branches make it possible to individually adapt the course of the process.
All social media channels can be managed directly in HubSpot. Here new posts can be written and planned, and activities on all channels can be tracked.
HubSpot offers reports for analyzing all marketing activities: For each individual element (e.g. blog posts, landing pages, emails, workflows, CTAs, etc.), precise performance data is recorded. These can then be combined into individual reports.
This is not an exhaustive list of all of the features HubSpot has to offer; that would go beyond the scope of this article. It is perhaps also interesting that HubSpot offers numerous integration options with other tools in addition to its own functions.
HubSpot pricing system
Companies book HubSpot as "Software as a Service", which means they pay monthly usage fees and access the tool via the cloud. There is a free version, but it hardly offers any functions and is not particularly suitable for effective content marketing.
The costs for the Marketing Hub starter package currently (December 2017) start at € 46 / month, the enterprise version with all features is € 2200 / month. In addition, there is a one-time mandatory onboarding module (€ 550-4600) and additional monthly fees depending on the number of contact data records available. The sales software costs between € 46 and € 368, with more than five users adding a fee of € 74 per user.
How we use HubSpot
We have been using the full version of HubSpot for one of our customers for around a year. Our customer, a provider of software in B2B with locations in Europe and the USA, had been using HubSpot for several years and was able to record good inbound results for the American market. When developing and implementing a strategy for the DACH region, however, there was a lack of experienced service providers, as the existing processes from the USA could not simply be transferred. For us as an agency, this gave us the opportunity to extensively test the HubSpot tool, which was previously unknown to us, in practice.
Advantages and disadvantages of HubSpot
Now let's take a look at what the strengths and weaknesses of HubSpot are.
The biggest advantage of using HubSpot - like any other all-in-one solution for marketing - is that all functions can be accessed via a central user interface and all tools work together perfectly. Annoying links via API interface are no longer necessary - and thus also potential sources of error. The functions provided by HubSpot in the full version cover all the needs of an online marketer well; there are also add-ons and integration options for external tools such as GoToWebinar or Surveymonkey.
Another big plus is the traceability of the customer journey at the contact level. All activities of a contact can be tracked in CRM, from the first visit to the website to the submission of forms to the opening and clicking behavior of emails. When contacts become customers, this can be used to precisely analyze which channel they came through and which contact points there have been with the company over the course of time.
In particular, the relatively new discipline of inbound or content marketing is dependent on analyzing all measures transparently in order to be able to measure success. It is useful here that HubSpot collects precise data on all elements that correspond exactly to one another. When working with different independently managed tools, there is always the problem that the data from different tools do not match. This problem does not exist with Hubspot, however - and now we come to some weaknesses of the software - the reporting is still immature in many areas. On the one hand, there are the reports provided by HubSpot, on the other hand, each user can also create their own reports. Unfortunately, not all conceivable filters and combinations can be used. Since HubSpot basically has all the relevant data, it is primarily a question of the implementation in the report form - we can hope that this will be further developed over time.
Another weakness of the platform is that it is not very intuitive to use. Even we, as experienced service providers in the field of content marketing, who have already worked with numerous different tools, took a while to get a complete overview of the system. For example, it is troublesome that you first have to create a template to create many elements (landing pages, e-mails ...). Subsequent adjustments to the layout of this template are basically possible, but then apply to all elements that were created on the basis of this template. The editor for editing and creating templates is also not particularly user-friendly and requires very detailed knowledge of the system. Once you have set up a set of templates and don't want to change them, you can work with them well.
It is also inconvenient that buttons cannot be inserted directly in the editor when creating an e-mail, but must first be created as a new call-to-action. Even if these are apparently small things, it is often these small movements that determine how pleasant it is to use a software. This also includes, for example, that social media posts with links to a blog post cannot be planned directly in the blog post editor (as some WordPress plugins allow), but must be set in the social media area.
A fundamental shortcoming is the inability to use pop-up forms - that is, forms that open immediately after clicking on a link. With Lead Flows, HubSpot only offers the option of showing automatic pop-ups a certain time after opening a page. Forms can therefore only be integrated directly into landing pages, which may be a deterrent for some visitors. If the reader clicks on a button first, the probability is higher that he will actually fill out the form in the second step.
In the case of our customer, there is also the following serious problem when using HubSpot: It is not possible to structure the account in such a way that the elements, data and content of the various regions can be viewed separately from one another. For the user, this means not only a great deal of confusion, which can only be resolved in some areas by means of folder structures, but also a lack of reporting options. In all reports, the numbers of German landing pages are mixed with the American ones, which makes it difficult to create comprehensive reports. It is impossible, for example, to create a diagram that only shows the monthly access numbers to the blog posts on the German site or shows the traffic sources of the German landing pages sorted by channel. This may be an isolated case, but should be considered when internationally operating companies are considering the introduction of HubSpot. The only solution is the strict separation of all activities by creating a separate account for each language from the start.
Finally, the support deserves a “thumbs-up”, as it always answers the frequently asked questions very quickly, in a friendly and detailed manner - even if satisfactory solutions cannot always be found.
What added value does HubSpot offer?
What is our conclusion after a year of HubSpot? Mixed. On the one hand, the tool fulfills the dream of every marketer of a single point of contact for all activities. All areas fit together seamlessly and thus enable the creation of perfect customer journeys. There are no breaks and the contacts can be made clearly from the first minute. On the other hand, you always have to be aware of how dependent you are on a single company for an all-in-one solution. Switching from this tool to other solutions is almost impossible.
It looks different if you put together an individual set of different partial solutions: Even if one of these tools should fail (e.g. due to sudden changes in prices, lack of compliance with data protection guidelines or simply bankruptcy), it is possible to replace it without any visible problems to find.
Finally, the high price is another reason why we do not necessarily advise our customers to use HubSpot. The tool certainly offers many advantages, but small and medium-sized companies in particular often do not have the budget to be able to spend several thousand euros on the software alone.
Photo source cover photo: © Gil C / Shutterstock.com
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