As a Platinum HubSpot Partner, we know our way around HubSpot. For managing and monitoring customer interactions, automation, content creation and reporting, HubSpot is widely recommended. Choosing the right marketing platform for you and your business can be a tricky process, so here is an honest HubSpot Marketing review to show you the pros and cons of using HubSpot.
As there's so much to talk about with HubSpot, I'll cover the main areas, and go into more detail on key features:
- Dashboard: campaigns creation
- Contacts: contact lists, workflows
- Content: content optimisation, design manager/blogging template
- Social: calendar, social reporting
- Reports: sources, keywords, page performance
- Extras = personal favourites
The dashboard is great for the average user. You can see an overview of how your marketing is performing.
HubSpot's Marketing Dashboard
The graphs are visual and you can customise the graph's options so you can see month-on-month, YOY and more.
In this dashboard area you can also customise what you see, e.g. like top performing blogs, top personas, etc. Adding goals helps you track your current progress and gives your team an aim to be progressing toward.
Creating campaigns for your different marketing strategies and getting reports are easy to do too. After creating a campaign, you can add any blogs, landing pages, emails and social posts into your campaign. So you can see how a campaign is performing overall.
One of HubSpot's best features is their customer lists and segmentation opportunities. You can create unique customer lists, and these lists can be based on different features, such as:
- Actions they have made, like: opened an email, looked at a page, downloaded content, etc.
- Persona: which persona profile they fit into.
- How active they are on the site
- If they answered a feedback form and you can segment this further by segmenting between positive and negative feedback
- Certain forms they have completed
- The options are endless!
Another positive feature about HubSpot is their automation capabilities. Email workflows are valuable for nurturing contacts into customers, and HubSpot's workflow setup has lots of options.
Creating workflows is easy and you can introduce different features and options to take customers along different threads of the workflow. Adding delays for the next email to be sent and setting up branches to react on contact's actions are basic too.
MailChimp's and Infusionsoft's social triggers are fairly limited in comparison to HubSpot's. This richer detail means you can create more personalised emails that will have a higher chance at nurturing leads.
Those are the pros of HubSpot's workflows but there are some negatives, such as:
- Bigger workflows, get complex: if you're creating a workflow that has many different branches, it can get confusing. There is no option to zoom out of the workflow to see how all the branches work. With Infusionsoft you can see an overall view of your workflow in action.
- Analytics for workflows are basic: the workflow reports are limited in comparison to HubSpot's dashboard and reporting features. They could be improved and include more information on how contacts are engaging with the workflows.
HubSpot's content opportunities are excellent for conversion. In their content tab, you can create blog posts, landing pages, website pages, call-to-actions, emails and edit your templates. You have everything in one place.
Images and call-to-actions are stored in HubSpot's file manager so they are quick to access.
It's possible to clone any of your pages, emails and CTAs which saves you having to create them again from scratch, especially if you want to have a similar style.
You can see individually how your blogs, landing pages and emails are performing. Along with visits, it's possible to see CTR, Submissions and Conversions. Monitoring the data helps you determine which pages, CTAs, etc need improving or to be used as inspiration for future content creation.
There is a really useful optimisation tool that you can use whilst creating a blog post or landing page. It can check you've included your keyword, included alt tags, images, CTAs and other conversion features. Thanks to this, it's really hard to create a blog or page that isn't optimised for conversion.
I just have to add a CTA and then my blog is optimised!
The only negative I have about HubSpot's content feature is it can be a little buggy when you're trying to make minor tweaks to your emails and content. If your knowledge about coding is minimal (like mine), this can be a pain.
But to be honest, this has never been a major issue and I use HubSpot to create content everyday.
Design Manager / Blogging Template Builder
HubSpot Design Manager
The design manager is excellent for creating templates for your blogs, emails and pages. It saves time and because you can change the different modules of your templates you can design them how you want them to look. This also gives you the opportunity to add important inbound features into your marketing.
This is what Andrew, our Inbound Consultant thinks of the Design Manager tool:
"I love using the Hubspot Design Manager to quickly test out new blog template ideas and landing page layouts. It's absolutley fool-proof and allows us as an agency to quickly put into action data-driven changes, as well as new ideas from our clients (which they love too)."
With HubSpot, you can link your social media accounts to your HubSpot account. If you're currently using other social scheduling systems (like Hootsuite or Buffer), you can instead control your social scheduling straight from HubSpot.
When you've published a blog or landing page, you can immediately share it or schedule a social post for another time.
This perfectly leads us into HubSpot's calendar...
This calendar has been a life saver for scheduling social posts.
At the beginning of the week, it's easy to have a look and check what is scheduled for the week ahead. You can schedule posts far in advance.
Social media reports are visual and there's plenty of different reports you can look at to see how your social media strategy is performing.
Month-on-month shows your overall performance on social media in comparison to the previous month. There are different time frame reports you can look at.
It's possible to see published rate, clicks, interactions, followers, visits and contacts.
HubSpot can determine if you've got a new contact via your social media because it will track where your visitors first came from.
You can compare different platforms (like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc).
HubSpot highlights your best performing social messages so you can schedule them to share again.
There is a common misconception about inbound marketing that it's impossible to report customer conversion and see the process of visitors following each stage of the buyer's journey. Well, HubSpot's reporting features debunk that theory.
I could be here awhile talking about the benefits of HubSpot's reporting features but I'll stick to the main points.
- Sources: The Sources feature lets you see where your visitors are coming from (this saves you having to sign into Google Analytics everyday) and how many contacts you're getting from each source.
- Keywords: Any keywords you add into HubSpot will be monitored so you can see where you're ranking in organic search for your keywords.
- Page Performance: To ensure your pages are all perfectly optimised, HubSpot's page performance checker looks at your On Page SEO and lets you know what needs to be added or improved. Like adding alt-tags, H1s, page titles, meta descriptions, etc.
Page Performance in action
After talking about how great the reporting features are, there are some things that need to be improved or introduced.
- There is no clear conversion funnel: it's possible to see how many visitors are converting but at the moment HubSpot lacks a clear visualisation of the funnel so you can see each stage clearly.
- Many of the new report features are only available on the Reporting Add-On: HubSpot has introduced additional reporting features but they're only accessible via HubSpot's Reporting Add-On, which is an additional cost to use. Currently some of these reporting features aren't worth the extra expense since they're in need of improvement.
While the reporting features on HubSpot are very good, there is still room for improvement.
HubSpot is continually working to improve its features and there are regular new updates so I won't be surprised to see better and improved reporting features as time goes on.
HubSpot has invested in educating their users' knowledge on how to use HubSpot and inbound marketing. While WordPress and Magento leave their users to go and find the answers online from 'how-to' videos
HubSpot's academy offers lots of training videos and certification opportunities too.
HubSpot has an effective help system for when you're having problems or need help to do something.
From previous experience, I've found the Help tab and support team at HubSpot to be really helpful.
Conclusion to our Honest HubSpot Marketing Review
Obviously, with any review you want to see the negatives. To be honest, we're struggling to find many but here are some negatives we've come across.
- Price is often cited as a reason for not going ahead with HubSpot, and for smaller businesses this could be fair, but we have found if you truly want a synced up inbound system, it's actually more expensive to use a host of 3rd party tools and integrations.
- Some of HubSpot's individual tools are not as in-depth as some of the specialist tools. Personally, we still use a specialist SEO tool, alongside HubSpot. Other HubSpot tools, such as social, we find the tool does everything we need but doesn't have the bells and whistles of other tools.
- HubSpot's add-ons annoy us a little. Last year, HubSpot decided some features would be paid add-ons to the main tool. As HubSpot's selling point is 'all-in-one' it's a bit annoying that the advanced reporting and paid advertising are extras.
Before HubSpot, most of our clients were on common CMS', such as WordPress and Magento, and while they're excellent platforms, they don't have the features you need when using inbound marketing. So, we needed to use a range of 3rd party tools, such as, Mailchimp, Hootsuite, Moz, Unbounce, etc. Even with a multitude of these 3rd party tools we struggled to deliver a full inbound marketing strategy (and had the headaches of learning new tools, remembering logins and ultimately the data didn't sync).
There's more to an inbound strategy than just creating content. You must monitor your reports to see which campaigns are working and you must nurture your contacts to take them further along the buyer's journey.
HubSpot has everything you need to get your inbound strategy into action. With everything in one place it's easier to monitor your campaigns, you receive more accurate results and it's much easier than buying a separate CMS, automation system, social scheduling and reporting platforms.
Want a Platinum HubSpot agency to manage your account?
Managing a HubSpot account takes a lot of time, especially when you're creating new campaigns. Building new landing pages and workflows, and writing blogs and emails takes time. Working with a Platinum agency will kickstart your campaign into action and with our knowledge and expertise, you can relax knowing you're on the right path.
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