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Remember our series of reviews of marketing automation platforms? We are back on track with checking out some of the major players in the marketing automation space and putting them head-to-head in a gruelling series of challenges to see who comes out top of the tables. Today we are going to take a look at HubSpot.

We started with: SharpSpring,Salesforce Pardot and Oracle, so that now we can discuss something everyone has heard of, used or read their blog (it’s ok, we know you read other blogs as well, we encourage it). After a small and friendly marketing automation platform called SharpSpring, we have as our next competitor we review the heavy-weight champion: HubSpot. 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. With that thought, inbound marketing was born. We have talked a lot about inbound marketing but never about HubSpot. So without further ado, here’s our HubSpot review.

HubSpot is a comprehensive system, which provides tools and knowledge to turn visitors into leads. More than 5,500 companies in 34 countries are using this marketing automation platform. The platform is web-based and provides everything a company of any size needs to create a solid web presence. It also provides analytics to help you make smart marketing investments. It is suitable for both B2C and B2B companies. The software platform includes applications which help website management, blogging, SEO, lead management, multichannel marketing analytics, landing pages, A/B testing and social media monitoring.

Email Marketing

You can create your own HTML email templates or just select from a library. For one-off email distributions, you can create static and smart (dynamic) lists. They are automatically updated 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 the email distributions. This can engage customers through email, SMS and chat systems. Furthermore, it can be used for internal communications, e.g. to send notifications to the sales team when a lead has taken an action.

You can customize your email subject, body and sender based on fields in HubSpot or your CRM system. It also allows you to create customizable templates with editable areas, widgets and tokens. It is also possible to target communications based on lead activities, personas and behaviors. If a lead converts following a particular email, the lead nurturing tool can automatically remove them from one campaign and add them to another, more relevant one.

The scheduling can be done up to one year in advance with preferred time intervals between distributions.

Landing Pages

There are two tools to use when creating landing pages: a wizard driven tool and an advanced design tool. Some HTML may be required but using a template system can increase manageability and maintenance. 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.

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.

Lead Management

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 (this is useful if you have different products). Lead scores get depreciated when there is a period of inactivity.

One of the weaknesses of the system is that ignored leads are not visible. There is no real-time sales alert or any notification system to remind salespeople to follow up with leads. It also tabulates lead scores personally and is not able to calculate a company lead score. HubSpot doesn’t offer packaged integration to data enrichment services.

CRM Integration

HubSpot is entirely web-based. There is a rage of APIs that allow integration with commercial and custom software so that you can customize your platform. There are currently 34 native integrations, including one with Zapier, which in turn allows you to integrate with over 300 providers. However, the strongest of the integrations is with Salesforce.

HubSpot also provides its own free CRM tool. It provides detailed tracking of contact interactions, sales pipelines, custom fields and more.

Analytics

HubSpot has very detailed analytics when it comes to how leads found you, the content they consumed, which are the top performing campaigns, etc. The analytics are great for understanding your leads as well. However, more advanced reporting like multi-campaign attribution analysis is not available.

HubSpot allows customers using a CRM system to manually designate closed or won sales opportunities on their lead management page to close the loop. HubSpot does provide a way to create custom reports, but this comes at an extra cost.

Social Integration

There are tools that allow you to include share buttons on content, capture leads from a few social media channels and pull queries related to leads or contacts. It has a central page to manage multiple social accounts in a single interface. You can also make social posts without leaving HubSpot. The software brings more intelligence to social network integration by identifying social media links and tracking the their behaviors. It can track how many of the referrals were converted to leads and customers. However, more advanced marketing features like games, promotions, surveys, etc. are not available.

Onboarding

Education is very important to HubSpot and it shows. There is a heavy investments in customer education. The blog provides an exceptional source of any marketing topic and is available to the wider public. Thank you, HubSpot!

Pricing

HubSpot’s basic package starts at $2,400 per year and includes basic email marketing, lead scoring and analytics. If you want more advanced marketing automation with multi-channel triggers and nurturing capabilities, you will need at least $9,600. You will have to pay extra for initial on-boarding and for any contacts that you have that may take you over the initial limits. Unlike most low- to mid-market platforms, HubSpot requires a twelve month contract. And yes, the prices are steep and they keep rising.

So there you have it. There is a seven day free trial so you can give it a go and see if this is the right tool for your business. HubSpot is very convenient in that everything you need is in one place.

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