Before we get into all the nitty-gritty details of the HubSpot Marketing Hub, let's get real for a second.
We can talk for days about features and functionalities, and limitations and comparisons. Ultimately, however, if you're looking into HubSpot, you want to know the answer to one simple question:
"How is HubSpot going to make my life better?"
Data Collection & Tracking
The first and most important thing HubSpot Marketing Hub does for you is data collection and tracking, meaning you can track user activity on your site and link it directly to your contacts in the free CRM using cookies.
So, instead of flying blind, making decisions based on assumptions of user behavior, HubSpot gives you quantifiable, actionable marketing intelligence.
For example, let's say someone fills out a form on your website to download a research report you created. If you're using HubSpot, a contact record is immediately created in the CRM. From there, you can see what pages they've visited, what calls-to-action (CTAs) they've clicked, and how many times they've visited your site and when:
The meat and potatoes of what HubSpot does for you is built on that foundation -- if you can know how your contacts have interacted with your brand, think of all the strategies you could create to market to them better.
With HubSpot's marketing tools, you can use the data you've collected on your contacts to do things like setting up automated email nurture campaigns based on interest or implement smart CTAs that change based on a visitor's location or persona.
And think of the intelligence a sales rep will have at their fingertips -- they'll know someone is already interested in a website redesign if they've viewed or downloaded a website redesign guide for businesses. (Big brother is always watching!)
At its core, HubSpot allows you to effectively automate the marketing activities you spend unnecessary time manually executing as a marketer, so you can spend more time on the activities and strategies that matter most.
Our Favorite HubSpot Marketing Features
The depth of functionality of the HubSpot Marketing tools depends on your subscription level. If you're looking for more specific information on what the different levels of HubSpot Marketing include, we cover that in chapter three.
For now, here is a breakdown of HubSpot's top features that are included in any subscription level -- including free:
- HubSpot’s "free forever" CRM
This is where your contacts are stored and managed. When you’re using HubSpot, any contact who gives you their information goes straight to the CRM where you can view their individual contact record, look at a timeline of their website activity, and see any contact properties you’ve populated for them.
- Form Builder
With the form builder tool, you can easily create and embed HubSpot forms to capture lead information that is, once more with feeling, logged in the CRM. With the free and starter tools, you can even capture lead information from non-HubSpot forms.
- Live Chat
With HubSpot’s Conversations tool, any level user can put live chat on their website and track those conversations within the CRM. You even have access to a universal inbox where you can track and monitor a team email address.
- Reporting Dashboards
Want to see if the marketing strategies you’re executing are actually working? With HubSpot’s reporting tools you can create dashboards with the reports that matter to you and even send yourself weekly dashboard report emails.
And if you get all of that for free you can imagine how much more you get with paid levels of the tool. Here are few of the big value-adds of getting a paid subscription of HubSpot:
I must emphasize that this list is just scratching the surface of what HubSpot's marketing tools can do. (But don't worry, I'll dive deeper into HubSpot's full capabilities throughout this guide.)
Common Problems HubSpot Marketing Solves
“I just got into this inbound marketing thing, but I don’t have the tools to actually do it.”
HubSpot marketing tools put together with all of its HubSpot Connect partners will give you more than enough to get you started with inbound marketing. One of the best things about HubSpot is that it grows with you -- you can get your feet wet the free tools and, as you grow in your inbound marketing efforts, you can scale your investment in HubSpot as needed.
“We don’t know if our website is effective or if our inbound marketing strategies are working.”
With HubSpot's traffic analytics tools and reporting, you'll know exactly how your website and your strategy are performing over time, with clear visibility into critical marketing metrics like traffic volume and sources, and conversion rates.
In fact, virtually every tool in HubSpot has a reporting feature built into it, allowing you to look at big picture performance and analytics, and drill-down into the reporting on individual pages or assets like forms, calls-to-action, and emails.
“We don’t know which content is performing and why.”
HubSpot's page performance analytics break down your traffic and conversions for every single page of your website. This means you can look at how each individual page on your site is performing over time, and see which pages are leading to the most conversions.
“We lack insight into how inbound leads come to us and why.”
Oh, baby. This is where it gets really good. Any lead that comes in through one of your HubSpot forms or live chat conversation will have a contact record that will tell you where they came from, what form they filled out, CTAs they clicked on, any pages they viewed, and more.
Of course, you need to make sure you're up-to-date on current data privacy laws. Thankfully, IMPACT Director of Audience Engagement and Community Stephanie Baiocchio covered this exact topic during her talk at IMPACT Live:
"How Privacy, Consent, and GDPR Will Impact the Future of Marketing" (8 minutes)
"We aren’t able to effectively segment our database.”
In HubSpot, you can segment your database based on any contact property you’ve collected -- for example, number of page views or specific URL visits.
You can then use that segmentation to enroll contacts in lead nurturing campaigns. Or you can even show them different content on your site using HubSpot's Smart Content tools.
“We don’t have time to follow up with every inbound lead we have coming in.”
Another bit of good news here -- you can do a lot in terms of scoring and prioritizing your leads in HubSpot. When you do it right, you can free up a lot of your time by automating follow-up with leads that aren't fully-baked yet and easily spot the leads you should be focusing on with more personal, one-to-one contact points.
There are tons of different marketing automation platforms out there, which can make it hard for you -- or, at the very least, mildly overwhelming -- to wade through a sea of "totally different" (but still totally the same) value propositions and sales pitches for each one.
Before you start pulling your hair out, don't panic. Your journey toward marketing automation begins with your answers to the following questions:
- Can we afford to make the investment in this platform?
- Will this platform meet the complex needs of our organization?
- Is this platform committed to growing with me?
- Does this platform integrate with our other tools and platforms?
Now, with your answers in mind, here are is a short and sweet overview of some of HubSpot's top competitors to get you pointed in the right direction.
So, you're probably thinking, "Hold on a second -- Salesforce is for sales. Pardot is Salesforce's marketing automation platform, right?"
You'd be right. Well, kind of.
Salesforce actually has its own Marketing Cloud that is completely separate from Pardot. This service has a focus on one-to-one engagement, with email and social media for large user bases. It integrates easily with the Salesforce Sales Cloud, but keep in mind that it's built specifically for large organizations and can be quite pricey.
Pardot is one of HubSpot's largest competitors -- especially for teams who are already using the Salesforce sales tools.
It is more of a traditional B2B marketing automation platform, focused around lead nurturing and qualification for a smooth sales handoff. Technically, Pardot is part of the Salesforce Sales Cloud, which means your marketing and sales data all lives in the same place -- this can make closed-loop reporting less complicated.
Carina's Pro Tip: Again, Salesforce is the only CRM that has a robust native integration with HubSpot. If your sales team is currently using Salesforce, take a look at the HubSpot/Salesforce integration. It's easy to set up for passing marketing and sales data back and forth between the platforms, which makes HubSpot for marketing and Salesforce for sales a great pairing.
To say 2018 was a big year for Marketo would be an understatement -- the marketing automation platform was acquired by Adobe and also established a partnership with conversational marketing giant Drift.
What hasn't changed is that Marketo is the tool that's pitted against HubSpot most often.
One of the biggest differences you get with Marketo is that you have the ability to only purchase one piece of the marketing tools, if your needs are more niche -- there are four in total. With HubSpot, you have to purchase a level the entire marketing platform to gain access to certain tools.
Marketo also has a different pricing structure than HubSpot, but their tiers start at a higher price point -- around $2,000/month, which is a far cry from $50 for HubSpot Starter.
Owned by Oracle, Eloqua's biggest differentiator is their email marketing platform. They offer a lot of flexibility for creating emails and landing pages, as well as lots of personalization options for your marketing assets.
However, the base cost for Eloqua starts at around $4,000/month, which prices them out for a lot of SMBs looking to grow.
Infusionsoft is another blended automation platform that features marketing tools (emails and campaigns), service tools (client manager), and sales tools (a CRM) all in one place.
Packages begin at $49/month for basic Infusionsoft, but you don't get to the fun stuff until you buy into Infusionsoft Pro, which starts at $199/month.
Carina's Pro Tip: Every marketing automation platform is going to make big promises about what they can do for your organization. This makes it easy to "drink the Kool-Aid" and swipe your credit card, thinking that buying the tool will get you there. No platform is going to make you great at marketing.