We've been using HubSpot for a few years now, for both our own marketing and for several clients. There's a lot of information out there about the platform, including from HubSpot themselves, so we thought it was about time we gave you our take - our honest experience from both an agency and user perspective.
A client approached us with a request back in 2014 for advice on the best marketing automation software for their needs – the software needed integrating into a brand new website we were building for them, and they wanted it to be launched with it already in place.
We wanted to recommend a tried and tested platform that was straightforward to use and displayed results clearly. It didn't need to integrate with any other software at their end – although HubSpot can do, if they'd changed their minds. The main commitment to HubSpot, other than the financial investment, is the amount of time required to write all of the content needed to make it worthwhile.
This is where it really earns its keep
Our HubSpot clients, like this first one, often have a regular campaign output before taking the plunge with the software. It is possible to start from scratch with the system, but it's a classic, input = output formula. To get the most out of marketing automation software, you really need to be producing not only blogs, but premium content that stays hidden behind forms. It can't be any old content – it's all about incentivising the user to part with their details in exchange for access, so it needs to be the good stuff.
From our own point of view, you may have noticed that we've been far more regular in recent years with our blogs than we were before. We haven't released as many campaigns as we wanted or planned - it's just the nature of our business that we put client work first.
But if you keep it up and target carefully, you'll get the best results – the users handing over their details will be people who actually have a need for your business's services.
Back to the start
Going back to the set-up of the system for a moment, we won't pretend it's all absolutely straightforward. Hey, if it was, anyone could do it! However, what we've learned over the years is that we can make it work.
HubSpot CTAs and forms can easily be pasted into an existing site as easily as it can a new website, so it doesn't make a difference whether your site is old or new – they're just snippets of code taken from your HubSpot account. A new website would allow for better preparation for forms and CTAs in terms of design and placement, but they can easily be integrated to an existing site.
An existing WordPress blog can easily be imported into HubSpot, and means you'll immediately receive meaningful data through HubSpot on that content. However, if the blog is hosted in HubSpot and the rest of the site is separate, it can make it difficult to pass blog information through – like latest blog post feeds, for example. It is achievable though, with a lot of custom coding.
Change of process
As system users, it has changed the way we do things. We've developed a campaign process for HubSpot clients (that we use ourselves), which incorporates all the steps we need to get the best out of the system when running campaigns.
It's things like when to set up CTAs, how to select where they appear, how to collate the list of contacts, setting up an email workflow, associating cluster content, and monitoring it all through HubSpot afterwards. In addition, all of our own social media scheduling is run through it, and we use the CRM system for our contacts.
Our favourite bits
There's plenty of features to choose from here, but here's our marketing team's take…
Charlie really likes how quickly you can pull a whole campaign together once you’ve got all of your templates set up.
Michelle loves the way it displays all the campaign information you need, in one place - you can even associate non-HubSpot sources like paid campaigns. At a glance, you can see how many visits, contacts and customers have been generated by a campaign.
For Maddie, it's the fact that you can not only trace a conversion back to a source, but you can actually then find out who the person was and when they converted and then see all of their other on-site behaviour. Lots to love!
What's the verdict?
Our developers' biggest bugbear is that it uses its own custom coding language (HUBL), rather than using a widely known and supported open source code such as PHP like WordPress does, which is why it's important to work with an agency who understand the software. Any issues with the system are rarely with the client interface, so it's likely that a developer would be doing the legwork should something arise, and our client may never even know there was an issue.
But this is our only issue - generally speaking, we're on board. Our Digital Marketing Manager, Michelle, has just completed the HubSpot Agency Partner Certification, and we have staff trained in their Inbound Certification and Marketing Software as well. We've had a lot more interest in marketing automation recently, and we don't hesitate to recommend the system. HubSpot works for us, and it's working for our clients.
Oh, and that original client? They've recently come back to us to integrate multiple sites into one, including that one for which we originally implemented HubSpot. And the new site has HubSpot too. We think that's a definite thumbs up!
Want to hear more about what HubSpot could do for you? Give us a ring!