• Saakshi Jain

Hubspot CRM Review: How It Works, Benefits, Modules & Pricing

There have been a lot of people who have been asking me about the CRM and so here's my review about a CRM called HubSpot.

We have all heard of inbound marketing. It is a term which is being used by all the marketing gurus. At one point in time, HubSpot had become almost synonymous to Inbound Marketing, thanks to their branding exercise. With this blog post, I intend to review HubSpot to give you better clarity on the features, USPs & most importantly, the financials.

Brief History

Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah founded HubSpot in 2006 to attract buyers through their inbound marketing initiatives rather than interrupting them. It is a marketing automation software which helps a marketer. So, what’s the difference between the two is what you might ask:


Interruption Marketing is a push strategy wherein a marketer adopts different modes like hoardings, TVCs, radio ads, trade shows etc. to showcase their product whereas Inbound marketing adopts a pull strategy wherein a customer who is facing any challenge can find them via search engines, social media, reviewing websites etc.

The latter sounds terrific, isn’t it? Why would anyone NOT want to adopt something which makes itself available whenever a person/business is looking for it. Well, read through to find out more about HubSpot.


For all those who do not have either the patience or the time to read through the entire post (though, I would highly recommend it) I would like you all to know that you are only as good as your team, So Hubspot can only be as good as the team using it. If you do have experts handling in your marketing team, then this tool can do wonders for you and the only other thing apart from the resources is the financials. If you do have a rock-solid combination of the two, you definitely should give this a try.


What is HubSpot?

HubSpot is the inbound marketing & sales software which works on four marketing actions: Attract, Convert, Close & Delight. They offer you platforms to do just this.

You can attract the cabs by blogging, doing SEO on your website, design the page and most importantly schedule and publish on social platforms through their platforms.

You can convert your website visitors into leads by using forms, CTA (calls-to-action) and landing pages. Once they fill in the way, they will become a contact.

Contact or a website visitor can be closed using marketing automation, drip email campaigns, defining lists & workflows, Closed-loop reporting & CRM will help you analyze your contacts & take them further in the buying cycle.

Now that you have closed your contact, you need to ensure that you continuously delight them and the prospect needs to be delighted at every level. You can use smart calls-to-action, smart content, surveys & can listen to them online through social monitoring.

Let's get started.


Part 1: Signing Up

Before getting started, you should know that Hubspot now has two modules: A content marketing module & A sales module. As the name suggests, the content marketing module is best for marketers who wish to schedule, build & publish posts/landing pages, incorporate the keywords or launch the campaigns. Everything to do with Marketing & sales module is best for people who want to manage your leads, pipeline, follow-up with emails etc. Please select the one which best suits your profile.

To get started, you need to enter a couple of details. It’s broken down into two segments: Personal information & company details post which, you agree to the T&C to get started.

Pro: They do not ask for any credit card information as they want to encourage everyone to try their platform. After all, seeing is believing.

Once you enter all the details, they enter a minute or two to set your account up. Then a screen follows which asks you a couple of questions (This has been introduced new as it wasn’t there when I signed up in 2015). This tab will let you enter the details. They have now added various tabs which let you do exactly what you wanted to test out. E.g., If I wish only to create a landing page, I can select that option & it will let me do just that. This newly introduced feature is cool as I remember spending around 25 days to incorporate all codes & fix everything on the website to sync our website with Hubspot, so I wasn’t left with any trial time.

What’s even cooler is the fact that they have now incorporated a lot of project templates too. You can customize the project according to your needs. I kind of miss the videos that they had earlier which was more of a walkthrough of what you can do, however, the top panel with academy, dashboard & all other elements is quite prominent & you can experiment around to get accustomed to it.


Part 2: Integrating The Marketing Module

It might look daunting to start with when you have to build a project; however, trust me on this, it just gets more straightforward from there.

You might feel a little out of place post adding the tasks but do pay attention to the top bar. Please note that there is a on the screen right where you are entering the details & it will help you with quick answers to your queries.

I recommend you to try & explore each item mentioned in the top bar. It will help you get a better understanding of the full software. Let me take you through some of the most coveted features:

- Building your Buyer Persona: This will help you identify & segment your target group. It also helps you in list building. Whenever a person does enter the lead, the lead is automatically classified according to buyer persona which will help you run targeted campaigns.


- Building your Keyword List: This is my favourite feature; it is quite predictive. It finds the closest match to your keyword & helps you build your keyword list. They have introduced a lot of filters around this; however, the localization still doesn’t seem active on it. So, if I am searching for traffic from a particular country or a specific region, this will still not show accurate data.


- Social Media & ORM: This is an essential feature & it makes online reputation monitoring (ORM) so much simpler. Now, we do not log in to different accounts to track our mentions or references, we get a notification from Hubspot & it also lets us reply to that tweet right from there platform. So, forget logging into various accounts & now you don’t have to remember multiple passwords, adopt Hubspot.


- Publishing a blog: The blog portion is not perfect. The latest issue that I faced was the keyword suggestions. When I clicked on the optimization button, it made some irrelevant suggestions for keywords & meta description. The platform although has been revamped but still isn’t as flawless as Wordpress.

One of the significant issues that I found with Hubspot the blog section is a tad slow to load. Earlier, the load time for every section on Hubspot was a tad higher than any other software; however, I believe they have worked on it, but the issue is still persistent with some features like blog, contacts etc. Although Hubspot boasts of customization, the blog section pretty much gives you minimal customizing options.


- Building a Landing Page: Landing page building is simple; all you need to do is select a template & insert all the elements in it. You can choose to draw & drop or you can scribble the content & upload your images. This helps you do away with all the coding & hence a marketer like me with limited understanding of code can publish the landing page pretty quickly. This is a refreshing change as even WordPress makes you enter a small piece of code for customization or you need to stick with the theme framework.


- Email Automation: Hubspot is moving towards becoming the one stop solution for all your marketing & sales needs (we will come onto the sales part later), so it’s no wonder that it lets you nurture your lead through emails from their platform. You can either use smart or static lists for emailing & can even define a workflow.

To give you a quick overview of it: Workflow defines the automated set of actions which follow based on a starting activity. Mostly, they are an automated set of emails,also known as drip campaign, is sent across to the customer based on his/her activity. Workflow is synonymous to drip emails. Recently Hubspot introduced visual workflows which is more of a flow chart that lets you see the actions that will be taken after each activity.

Here’s one of our short sample workflow. You will notice that it contains all essential details like enrolment criteria & the click rate of the email.

Marketplace: This is a beautiful feature. They have a plethora of options here, and you can find everything here from an email template to a web page. They have lovely filters on the left which lets you narrow down your search. It has a combination of both free & paid templates. Most of the templates that I have liked in the past are all paid ones; however, if you are a small business just looking for a quick start, a free template should do too.

This all brings me to the last segment that we all eventually want to do, managing our leads.


Contacts: If there’s anyone feature that disappoints me then it contacts. I do not like the look & feel of it & it lacks sorting options. Firstly it doesn’t let me view more than 100 contacts per page. They recently introduced the filters which allow you to sort the data; otherwise, it was quite a challenge to deal with especially in the marketing module.


Part 3: Reports

Although some of the reports are visually appealing, however, it doesn’t make them accurate. Daily prospect digest intends to cover details of all those companies who are looking out for us & maybe competitors. If we look at the report below it only has details about network provider, it doesn’t give accurate data about the company.


I do not enjoy their daily reports however, I do like their monthly recap that can be easily downloaded as a presentation. It gives a perfect snapshot & makes it simple to check the impact of your marketing initiatives.



Part 4: Pricing Plan

This is the part which concerns the most. I have personally surveyed over 100 businesses here in India & they do not want to adopt Hubspot primarily because of the pricing issue. The other issue is also the technical support that we rely on but $2400 per month for an enterprise version is quite a handful. However, we managed to get a 90% discount on this for 1 year. You can comment to know more about this.

We have used it for over a year & we recently downgraded ourselves to the Pro version which is $800 per month just because we couldn’t afford enterprise version. However, the biggest problem is 100 contacts. I don’t know how did they come up with this number, but the worst part is that I now had to delete a lot of contacts, so that means breaking away from the lists, workflows so on & so forth.


Takeaway

Hubspot is doing a great job in stitching together all aspects of marketing. There are very few softwares in the marketing who have done this successfully.

According to Mr Brian Halligan (Co-founder & CEO of Hubspot): Our success with inbound marketing and sales is much more dependent on the width of your brain that the width of your wallet. However, the implementation of Hubspot is mostly reliant on the depth of your portfolio.

Yes, you read it right! Integrating HubSpot can be a very hefty affair. It can dig a deep hole in your pocket, but it’s worth it. If you do have intelligent resources who love technology & are always on a lookout to automate & quantify their efforts then, Hubspot is the right tool for you. Hubspot offers you paid technical support which can be bad news for Indian businesses. We are accustomed to receiving the technical support from our vendors who integrate our existing systems with the new software. But it can prove out to be an expensive strategy with Hubspot.

Lastly, I want to add that Hubspot isn’t perfect. There are some flaws in it & some of its feed is not cent per cent accurate, but I think they are getting there. I have seen a lot of improvement in the last year & a lot of inclusions too. I think it would be just a matter of time when it will take the world by a storm (& not be restricted to only developed countries).

They recently launched an interesting suite of services for the sales team too. I shall be reviewing it soon.

If there's anything else you would like me to review, please do mention it in the comment section below.

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