Is HubSpot right for my business?
Whether you're a digital marketer struggling to manage leads, or a business seeking to convert the traffic that hits your site, the question of HubSpot being the right tool for your business has probably come up.
Regardless of how you get to this question, the answer depends on a variety of factors. HubSpot is more than a marketing automation platform - it's a methodology, an approach to digital marketing called inbound marketing.
HubSpot's approach may not be right for your company - you may not need what they offer, and inbound marketing may not be the way forward for your business. In our own experience, we were curious, but not sure if HubSpot offered the solution we needed.
How'd we find out that inbound marketing and HubSpot were effective for our business? We embarked on a year-long journey to figure it out.
Our HubSpot Conversion Story
Way back in the day, 2013, our digital marketing agency was on a roll. We were busy building client websites, managing ad campaigns, and pulling out every stop in the quest for increased sales.
Like most agencies, we did whatever we could to make our clients happy.
We tweaked and tested.
We ran ads to special offers.
And we made some mighty fine looking websites.
Whatever tools our clients preferred, we made them work. Wordpress, Infusionsoft, MailChimp... you name it, we've tried it. Our website design and ads were a thing of beauty. We were proud of our work, and we got results.
For all of our hard work though, we kept finding a limit to what we could do to increase traffic and conversions for our customers. Our customers did not have the time or the tools to continue to monitor and implement tweaks and workflows to improve their sites. We became unsatisfied with simply making our customers' sites nicer looking. We wanted to provide value and long-term growth over time.
We Saw the Writing on the Digital Marketing Wall
Even as we honed our clients' campaigns to extract the best possible outcomes from the highest-performing ads, there was a new reality that we just couldn't shake:
Every year, the cost of ads go up and the ROI goes down.
No matter how well we optimized a particular ad, landing page, or offer, the economics of outbound marketing - pushing a message on customers through advertising - was getting worse all the time.
More advertisers were fighting for the same customers, driving ad prices higher and higher. However, expensive ads didn't buy more customers. If anything, they hurt customer relationships. People were becoming "ad-blind" to the marketing messages around them, and their trust was dropping.
How could you blame them? Ads, for the most part, kinda stink.
We've all experienced the frustration of being chased around the internet by some company you've never heard of. Why would you trust them?
And that's when it hit us: Ads and offers don't build value over time, and they sure as heck don't build trust.
Hunting vs. Farming
Every new ad campaign is like a hunting expedition. You invest time, effort and money for an immediate return. Stop hunting, and you stop eating. A hunter-gatherer society doesn't have the time or resources for much else.
The sad reality? We, as digital marketers, were twenty-first century hunter-gatherers.
The only way to break the cycle was to build something that could yield results over time - to start farming rather than hunting for business. That meant putting in the work and creating useful content to grow what ads couldn't: trust.
Trust compounds over time. Trust scales.
Delivering Value at Scale
As Zig Ziglar so famously said, "You can have everything in life you want if you'll just help enough other people get what they want."
Truly effective marketing can do this for you as a marketer, if you put your customer's needs first. We weren't delivering what our clients really wanted by simply running ads. The more we learned about the inbound marketing methodology, the more we felt that it was the way forward.
Building trust takes time. The most trustworthy brands are the ones that deliver the most value before, during, and after the sale. To scale up, we'd have to create an always-on marketing funnel that delivered value to customers, day-in and day-out. Could we do that efficiently, and could we stick with it?
We didn't see any other way to scale our business (or our customers' businesses) in the long run, without inbound marketing. So we got to work.
We Tested HubSpot on Our Own Business for a Year
Like any brand trying to "level up" we wanted to build our brand experience and a buyer journey, as well as our clients'. We were already quite good at assembling all the bits and pieces it took to turn awareness into leads, and leads into sales. But we wanted to do more than get a little better at it - we wanted to multiply our efforts.
To do that, we had to get hyper-focused, quit wasting time and money reinventing the wheel, and create processes and plans that followed repeatable patterns. We knew that if we could grow our business using a system like Hubspot, we could help others do the same. So we put it through the ringer.
How could we not? We believe in being remarkable.
I know that sounds like a tagline, but I bring it up for a reason.
Brands don't get bigger by being louder. They get bigger by being better.
We were on such a quest, to get much better. If we succeeded, we would become remarkable, and people would start talking about us.
I would love to tell you that we're marketing savants with brilliant marketing strategies in endless supply. Instead, I'll tell you that we believe in something less magical, more practical.
We believe that testing and iteration is the true path to the promised land of marketing success. We engage in build-measure-learn cycles to see what's working and what's not through experimentation. HubSpot is designed to enable this cycle and process, and brings everything needed to create an unstoppable marketing program into one place.
We Went All-In on Growth-Driven Design
Building a brand is an iterative process. Good design for marketing isn't just about taste - it's a science. Launch and never look back will end in failure, no matter how much you love your designers.
The best marketers know that every cool new message, graphic, offer, or product is only a hypothesis to test and improve upon. The entire customer journey is up for grabs - every single choice you make is an opportunity to grow your brand.
Your tools have to support your marketing efforts - not get in the way. Too many tools make change feel like a hassle; we know because we've used them all. HubSpot is built from the ground up and treats change as a constant. This is key, as it allows for quick testing without having to go to your dev or design teams for every little change.
Think about it. Even books are revised and reissued to be better and more relevant. Books! And they're printed. On dead trees. And shipped in trucks.
Everything changes because everything must grow. If slight tweaks to your website, buyer journey, or marketing funnel are difficult due to your tech, it's impossible to scale.
Why We Chose HubSpot Over Free Tools
As we mentioned, we've used a lot of free and cheaper tools than HubSpot. We know what they can do and what they can't. Whether out of personal preference from team members, in response to customer requests, or just trying to build the best systems possible, we've built many versions of marketing Franken-systems.
The fact is, we can make anything work if we want to, but we aren't willing to do that anymore.
It's just not because hacking tools together is a waste of time and effort when better tools exist. It's because systems built on free tools introduce risk. We've seen our own system suffer from bugs, downtime, upgrade challenges, interoperability, and data portability issues - just to name five. Free is never really free.
If I need an airplane, I'm going to buy a Cessna, not try to build one on my own. Obvious, right? It's a good idea to leave it to the pros. Software is sneaky - there are so many free and inexpensive tools that do one thing well. As marketers, we read about the newest marketing tools on a blog, hear about them on a podcast, or learn about them at a conference, and we want to try. We think we can do it ourselves, even if that means remembering the password to 20 different websites. Our agency has been there too, and as we tried to scale up, we got caught in managing the tools. It hurt our growth.
Yes, HubSpot is an investment, but so are all the "free" tools that steal time away from improving your brand and business.
Why Do Some People Say HubSpot Doesn't Work?
"Don't bother, HubSpot doesn't work."
Why do people say HubSpot doesn't work?
Because they aren't doing inbound marketing.
Buying a hammer and a drill doesn't mean I'm going to become a skilled carpenter automatically. Tools don't make the strategy; tools enable the strategy.
HubSpot is built around the inbound marketing methodology. Inbound marketing is an approach to the way a company engages with their customers, leads, and opportunities before, during, and after the sale. It's built on knowing your target customer, knowing what their problems are, and creating content that helps them answer their questions and leads them to your solution. If you're not interested in an approach that attracts customers to you, and you're into cold calling and cold email blasts, then HubSpot is not going to help your efforts.
Is HubSpot Too Limiting?
When we first started developing on HubSpot, it was pretty hard to go a day without dropping a couple of f-bombs.
Remember the first iPod? The first iPhone? Clunky and limiting. That was HubSpot prior to 2014. Today, the current HubSpot development platform is the iPhone 7 of marketing tools. Now, our marketing & design teams don't want to work on anything else.
Yes, HubSpot has its limitations, and that's fine because it keeps us focused on what matters. Rather than puzzling over the minutiae of footer options, we're thinking about factors that truly impact growth. I wouldn't call that limiting. I'd call that awesome.
If you want to reinvent the wheel, because you like your own system, or only want a few of HubSpot's features vs. implementing a complete marketing system, don't buy HubSpot.
HubSpot Keeps Our Brand Focused
Every brand has to focus on what they're good at and be passionate about delivering a rock-solid product. HubSpot helps us centralize our marketing efforts, and stay focused on our goals.
Our sweet spot is growth-driven design and inbound marketing. Every day, we work on delivering value. We want to get bigger by getting better. Because we're a marketing agency, we want to help our clients find their sweet spot, build from it, and grow.
For us, the magic of HubSpot is in the efficiency of execution - from having it all in one place. No exporting and importing data, no logging in and out of different tools, no fixing holes in a Franken-system.
Is HubSpot Right for You?
Good question. It depends on your needs. HubSpot may not be right for a large business with over $500M in revenue. There are bigger, enterprise systems that handle the needs of a larger business very well. Alternatively, it's also not right for the one-person shop who may not have a marketing strategy yet.
HubSpot might be right for you if you have a B2B business and care about lead scoring and building an inbound marketing funnel that yields compounding returns over time. If you believe that growth-driven design can help you learn and deliver more value to your customers, and if you like the power of proven templates and processes that streamline your marketing, it might be worth looking into.
For those reasons and more, HubSpot is right for us. Is it right for you? Drop us a line. We'd be more than happy to help you figure it out.
Check out What is HubSpot? to find out more about the popular marketing automation tool.
To learn more about HubSpot pricing, and the different plans for marketing and sales software, check out HubSpot Pricing: Everything You Need to Know.