Over the last five years, HubSpot has established itself as a marketing automation and CRM go-to solution for many startups and small businesses. They had come a long way since our first interaction with HubSpot in 2010, when they were primarily focused on inbound marketing.
Today, HubSpot is a 20+ billion dollar gargantuan companythat caters to all business sizes and types—happily handling your sales, marketing, and customer needs.
What Is HubSpot?
If you are not familiar with HubSpot, it’s a software tool that can handle your sales, marketing, and customer needs. More specifically, your sales team will use it to manage contacts, sales/deals, contracts, interactions, targets, etc. Your marketing team will use it to create email, social, or advertising campaigns. Also, HubSpot can help your customer service/support team with Helpdesk, ticketing, and knowledge-base features.
In summary, HubSpot’s goal is to manage and automate most of your sales, marketing and some operational activities. However, in our opinion, HubSpot is an inbound marketing and marketing automation tool first, and a CRM tool second. So if you are looking for a CRM tool, is this something you should be concerned about? In most cases, the answer is no – HubSpot’s CRM features are more than sufficient for most startups and small businesses.
Is HubSpot A Good Fit For My Startup Or Small Business?
We would love to be able to tell you yes or no, but the answer to this question is not as straightforward. The difficulty with any software catering to businesses of all sizes (and industries) is that it becomes a jack-of-all-trades and often the master-of-none. This is not a direct criticism of HubSpot because all well-known CRM and Marketing solutions have the same problem.
That being said, we serve clients in most industries, so we’ve seen HubSpot exceed expectations in some instances and fall well below expectations in others.
For example, one of our clients in manufacturing was very impressed with marketing features but underwhelmed with CRM features. They were used to a CRM built specifically for their industry, allowing for job tracking, scheduling, etc. Of course, you can argue that these are not your typical CRM tasks, but users still want them (if they are used to having them).
In another example, our real estate client was impressed by the number of marketing and CRM features. However, found some features challenging to adapt to real estate. Was this a deal-breaker? No, but it meant adjusting some business processes to conform with HubSpot.
These are just two examples, but we’ve seen them repeated often. The lesson here is that if you are moving from a CRM or Marketing Automation software specifically designed for your industry, it will be more challenging to adapt to HubSpot.
That’s the bad news. The good news is because HubSpot is not built for any specific industry, many features are much better implemented compared to smaller (niche) solutions. Also, the number of features HubSpot includes cannot be matched by smaller/less known tools.
This is also an excellent time to point out that HubSpot is more robust than many small competitors. For example, we rarely see errors, issues, or downtime on HubSpot, but we can’t say the same with other smaller CRMs and Marketing Automation tools.
In summary, are you better off using a niche CRM/Marketing Automation software or HubSpot? It depends on how critical industry-specific features are to you? Also, are you willing to change some internal processes to fit HubSpot?
Is HubSpot Easy To Use?
If you see HubSpot in action, you will probably think, “it does a great job handling marketing and sales tasks,” and “it looks easy to use.”
These last words (“easy to use”) are why HubSpot is the size it is today, and why many of our clients prefer HubSpot over other solutions that are better on paper. Why is the ease of use so important? Simply put, if your CRM/Marketing Automation software is challenging to use, it will not be updated by your team, and if it’s not kept up to date, it becomes irrelevant.
Many business owners and decision-makers understand this, hence, why they are often prepared to pay more for HubSpot versus a less expensive solution.
For example, HubSpot’s user experience (layout, navigation, contacts, filters, reports, campaigns, etc.) looks more polished than many other solutions. However, we should note that HubSpot has countless features, so it can be overwhelming at first.
As with any new software, we recommend training the users, and HubSpot’s Academy is a great place to start:
Is HubSpot Expensive?
Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room, HubSpot’s pricing and the cost to your business. As is the case with most software these days, there are different plan/price tiers you can choose from.
You can start with a “Free” plan, and for most businesses which never implemented a CRM or Marketing Automation tool, this is definitely a good starting point – there are enough features to meet your initial needs. For example, you will be able to manage your contacts, accounts, deals, tasks/activities, collect website inquiries, send email blasts, etc.
The next tier is “Starter” plans which are around $50/mo, “Professional” plans are between $360-$800/mo, and “Enterprise” plans are between $1,200 to $3,000+/mo.
HubSpot Cost Summary:
- Starter ($45-50/mo)
- Professional ($360-$800/mo)
- Enterprise ($1,200 to $3,000+/mo)
Without going into individual plans and features, the most important thing you need to know about HubSpot’s pricing is this. Your monthly price will be determined according to:
- The number of Users
- The number of Marketing Contacts
- The number of Features
For example, the “Starter” Marketing plan ($45/mo) allows up to 1,000 marketing contacts, and the Professional ($800/mo) allows up to 2,000 marketing contacts. And in terms of features, the Starter plan doesn’t have social media management capabilities, but the Professional does – this is just one example.
Now that we covered some basic pricing details, let’s answer the original question, is HubSpot expensive? Yes, it can be costly, and here is why.
From our experience, most small businesses and startups will start with a free plan and quickly realize they need at least a Starter plan. However, that’s typically not a concern because the “Starter” plan at $45/mo is reasonable, especially if you only have a few employees who will need access to HubSpot.
However, the issue that we see is this. The jump from Starter ($45/mo) to Professional ($360-$800/mo) is steep, and it happens quicker than most businesses expect. For example, a small business with less than $1M in revenue can easily justify paying a few hundred dollars a month for CRM/Marketing Automation software. However, when a few hundred dollars a month turns into a few thousand dollars a month, it becomes a significant expense with a lot more scrutiny.
Typically, we see businesses outgrowing the “Free” plan within the first 3-12 months and the “Starter” plan within two years, which means you will likely end up on the “Professional” plan. So with that in mind, look at the professional plan closely – features, cost, and ROI.
Also, if you recommend HubSpot to your management team, make sure they understand the upgrade path and how the cost will increase over time.
Is HubSpot Worth It?
In most cases, yes – if you can justify the cost. HubSpot as a marketing automation tool is great. It’s easy to use, has many powerful features, and will help you automate many manual tasks. Also, the CRM is powerful enough for most startups and small businesses.
It’s not as feature-rich as Salesforce, and you won’t be able to customize HubSpot the way you can Salesforce, but most salespeople will find HubSpot sufficient.
HubSpot Alternatives? There are definitely cheaper alternatives on the market. For example, Zoho, Pipedrive, etc. Do your research, but some of those solutions are not as powerful or easy to use as HubSpot. Also, don’t forget about training and online documentation.
The bottom line is this, most businesses that fully embrace HubSpot will eventually need the “Professional” plan, so if you can afford it, you will likely be delighted with HubSpot. That being said, it may take you some time to get used to HubSpot and how they handle specific processes and tasks.
On the other hand, if you are looking at the “Professional” plan and think it’s too expensive for your business, you should evaluate a few cheaper alternatives before making your final decision.
HubSpot is excellent marketing automation and CRM tool. From our experience, it’s one of the easiest to use, and its features are plentiful. It may not do everything a niche (industry-specific) CRM does, but it can handle most things that sales, marketing, and management will throw at it.
However, you cannot ignore the cost. More specifically, the steep jump from the “Starter” to the “Professional” plan. So when you are evaluating HubSpot, try to look into the future – how many contacts will we have in 24 months, and which specific tools we need now (and in the future).
Lastly, irrespective if you select HubSpot or some other solution, make sure the people that will be using it are consulted and sign off on it. We have seen too many instances where a sales team uses one CRM, and a marketing team uses another. Although large organizations can handle multiple CRMs, a small business or a startup shouldn’t – it will make your life a lotmore difficult.
Related: Best Marketing Tech