As you can easily understand from our post Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs at Nextbit the ideas by the founders of the company HubSpot impressed us. We believe that the ideas in the book are advantageous and that the future of marketing is certainly ‘Inbound Marketing’ and the use of social media (SM). At the end also the news that Forbes included HubSpot in the list of the 20 most promising companies and the presence in HubSpot’s team of a Social Media guru as Dan Zarrella, the award-winning social media scientist at HubSpot and author of three books, gave us the idea that Hubspot is doing a great job.
After this research it was natural for us to try with trepidation the HubSpot software, the true heart of the company. We started a trial license of HubSpot software, called on the company website “HubSpot’s All-In-One Marketing Software”. Now we want to present our impressions, hoping to be of help and to get your feedback.
The goal of the software is a complete tool for managing the online marketing of a company. It allows to increase the number of visitors of the company’s online content (website, blog, SM), to improve the process of converting more visitors into leads (lead is any contacts that might be a customer and that expressed interest in the company) and to increase the number of customers.
Once installed HubSpot offers very interesting tutorial and a dashboard that guides you to discover the capabilities of the software and track the progress of the trial, that indicates when you have tested all the features available.
The system is composed of several tools grouped by topic in the following categories:
- Content tools
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tools
- Comunication tools
- Lead tools
The “Content tools” allow you to manage your website and blog using the Content Management System (CMS). If you want to manage your website and blog by yourself HubSpot lets you use all other features of the software. Our trial did not use the CMS for the website but only for blog. However we developed a test version of our blog to try the software where we found tools easy to use and powerful. As always in these cases, the choice is between the complete freedom to directly manage online spaces and develop everything you want (with adequate resources of time and/or IT resources) and the ease of use of user-friendly but limiting tools. For instance we have not found possible to satisfy our need to manage the blog in two languages.
From the case studies in the website the results obtained with blogs managed with HubSpot are fantastic, both from a graphical and functional point of view. In our trial it wasn’t possible to achieve similar results, but this may be due to the limited amount of time spent or to the fact that to achieve those results more support from HubSpot is necessary.
We also found the “SEO tools” user friendly. They provide reports and advice on how to improve the performance of your content on search engines. A great tool is HubSpot Website Grader, that can be used for free to evaluate your personal web site in terms of SEO optimization. Definitely interesting are also automated advices that are shown when you write a blog on HubSpot in order to optimize the performance from a SEO point of view. This is a feature that we didn’t find in other similar software.
HubSpot also provides tools to straightforward communicate on SM and automate marketing operations. Really interesting is the functionality to “nurture” your leads by sending them personalized emails and send automated emails to your leads based on their online behavior, in an event driven framework.
We liked the most the features that allow you to analyze the traffic of your website, to understand which are the traffic sources. With these features you can optimally evaluate the impact of social media or of some important quotes on the number of contacts on the site. To consider carefully is also the possibility to compare with main competitors on the basis of appropriate metrics.
Reports and analysis of ROI (Return On Investment) allow to evaluate statistics and significant events in the transition from contacts to leads finally to customers. Certainly is to deepen the interface with CRM systems. HubSpot natively integrates with SugarCRM and Salesforce.com. To integrate with other CRMs HubSpot proposes a list of partners who can help to develop this connection.
The analytics only provide aggregated data and not atomic data. For instance the report of who visits your website only shows the list of companies with the number of connections from the company net, while for private users in our test we were able to obtain only the internet provider, without more precise information on the geographical origin of the contact. This report also generates a bit of confusion since there is no clear distinction between Internet providers and companies from which come direct contacts.
Analytics tools are good but nothing particularly new to those familiar with Google Analytics.
In conclusion for those who are serious about web marketing HubSpot is a fantastic tool, which contains almost every feature you could want for this task. In addition, developers are really active in releasing new and updated tools. Dharmesh Shah, one of the two founders, is still an active and passionate member of the developers, as you can imagine from his tweets.
The software is great but definitely expensive. It starts from around $ 3000 per year for the basic package but the price increases with the number of contacts (a contact is a person in your marketing community who you’ve identified and deliver targeted marketing to). In the Internet there are many complaints about the cost of the software. For small companies and agencies the investment is to be evaluated carefully.
We looked for competitors to HubSpot, and found some interesting at lower prices, for example Raven and Rhino SEO. From a quick analysis of the functionality provided (without testing) they don’t seem complete like HubSpot, but they have similar useful features.
It seems possible to obtain elsewhere and with different tools the same benefits from HubSpot software, but as the single point of management of internet marketing and as a source of methodology and training HubSpot is absolute market leader.
At Nextbit we read books and records of training provided by HubSpot, worked hard during the trial, evaluated and read other reviews about the software. If you need any independent information about HubSpot we welcome you to contact us.
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