Hubspot: ‘All-in-One’ is Fit for Some

Rachel Strella  -  Aug 18, 2013  -  , , , , ,  -  8 Comments

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The emergence of Hubspot has been a critical development in the world of blogging, social Hubspot for SEOmedia and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Hubspot has been gaining momentum, labeling itself as an all-in-one inbound marketing solution complete with a system for posting content and keywords that generate leads, and tools that provide metrics to measure the coveted online return on investment (ROI).

But as Hubspot becomes more popular, I think it’s important for business owners to consider their own brand before assuming it’s the right tool for their business.

This is especially true for small and mid-size businesses, which often have unique needs and goals that don’t always align with any particular system.

When we work with our clients, we ask them to set specific social media goals for a 90-day period.  If a business is primarily focused on generating leads, by any means necessary, then Hubspot might be worth considering, if you have the budget for it.

My colleague and team partner, John Webster, advocates Hubspot for the sole reason that ‘it makes the phone ring.’   He reminded me of this a few days ago, when he saw a prospect intake form with the primary goal of “getting people to call us for service.”

Yet, when I met with this same prospect, he told me that their number one source of leads was referrals.  In fact, over 90 percent of my prospective clients tell me that their number one source of leads are referrals from satisfied customers or business partners.

The truth is, you don’t get a true referral by increasing your search ranking on Google. You get a referral from a person.  A person who knows you and can recommend your service or product to another person.  For those with a primary goal of enhancing customer relationships or generating more referrals, then I feel your marketing efforts should help you form a personal connection with your audience rather than simply distributing content that increases certain metrics.

Having worked with a client who used Hubspot’s software, I see the merit in using this system if your goal is simply to generate inbound leads from search. But if you provide a service that is dependent on forming relationships and establishing quality referrals, then you shouldn’t limit yourself by adopting a system that focuses on pumping out mass content to work the SEO and numbers game.

As a business owner, you have a unique operation with unique needs.  I hope I’ve provided you with some things to consider as you work to match your marketing approach with your business goals.

What are your thoughts about Hubspot as a marketing tool?

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8 Comments to Hubspot: ‘All-in-One’ is Fit for Some

  1. Marshall Ponzi
    August 19, 2013 2:59 pm

    I completely agree that each business is unique, and their specific goals and challenges take priority over selection of any tool. No tool, alone, no transform a business.

    However, I respectfully disagree with categorizing HubSpot as, “a system that focuses on pumping out mass content to work the SEO and numbers game.” Although I think we’re in violent agreement on your fundamental premise, HubSpot, per se, is not the problem. It’s just an automation tool that can amplify bad marketing strategy and optimize good.

    HubSpot, the company, doesn’t encourage annoying marketing tactics like email “blasts” or overbearing social media campaigns. Quite the opposite. One of the things I like about HubSpot is that they’re not just about selling marketing automation. They’re very focused on helping their clients succeed and on teaching sound inbound marketing practice. They really are all about building GOOD online relationships, not just scatter-gun marketing.

    Full disclosure: My agency is a HubSpot partner and a HubSpot user. But to (hopefully) lend some objective credibility to my comments… We don’t “push” HubSpot, or recommend it to all our clients because it’s NOT the right fit for some. In my experience, two key reasons for not recommending HubSpot stand out:

    The first reason is cost; there are cheaper options. HubSpot’s “all-in-one” approach does all the components needed to automate an inbound marketing strategy. All the tools share a common interface and workflow, so they’re pretty easy to learn and convenient to use. But that convenience comes at a price. If the business’ revenue goals don’t warrant the expense and sophistication of the tool, HubSpot is a no go.

    The second (more important) reason is need & commitment. To your point, when companies are satisfied with their traditional and referral-based lead generation, there’s no point in using HubSpot, or any other automation tool. Unless a company can A) make a clear case for needing online lead generation, and B) they are willing to make a commitment to the content marketing they’ll never realize the value of the tool (or process). HubSpot can’t bring magic to the table.

    That said, HubSpot can be a good fit for very small businesses who rely heavily on inbound lead generation.

    We (and most HubSpot partners) go thru a rigorous client qualification process that sets clear, measurable goals. If we can’t clearly determine how the tool and inbound marketing supports their revenue goals, the conversation is over. To date, HubSpot’s success is predicated largely on this approach.

    I’m not trying to defend or pitch HubSpot, but I’d like to point out that they (the company or the tool) are not culprit for bad social media or online marketing. You’re spot-on that companies need to look inward before hopping on any tool bandwagon.

    Best, Marshall

    • Rachel Strella
      August 21, 2013 4:33 pm

      Marshall,

      Thanks for taking the time to read the blog and write such a thorough comment. You’re right – HubSpot can be a good fit for a business that relies heavily on inbound leads. And, as you agreed, a business needs to look inward before deciding on the best approach to take for managing social media.

      I am glad that you mentioned that there is real work to be done – beyond an automation tool. A high level of commitment is needed to make any social media program successful. We realize this and that’s why we educate our clients and prospects so that they understand the commitment they are making. Even if they outsource social media to a company like ours, it’s important to remember that this is a partnership that will require some effort on their part.

      In a recent podcast, Mark Schaefer observed that during his year-long subscription to the HubSpot blog, he saw an increase in volume of high quality content. Despite the quality content, it was difficult to create a sense of loyalty because they had a different writer every day. It’s hard to form a connection with these writers because he doesn’t know them.

      HubSpot offers a lot of valuable resources – and they should – as that’s part of the same inbound marketing strategy that they are trying to sell. The purpose is to offer value and build credibility. But the value seems omniscient. If you don’t know the person or people writing the content, how do you build the know/like/trust factor that equates to sales?

      I also believe that the example they set with their own content is unrealistic for the average business. A small business will not be able to keep up with that amount of content – may feel compelled to hire their own set of writers (as my former client did), thus failing to establish a real connection with the readership.

      As a marketer, I see the value in establishing strong measurable goals and I do so with my own clients. As far as social media is concerned, however, I believe relationships should be a foundation of these goals.

      • Mark W Schaefer
        August 22, 2013 9:28 am

        I want to clarify that comment you made about comment : ) The point you make about an inability to make a connection is correct, at least for me. But the point I also make is that it works. Content marketing is about quality, yes, but it is also about quantity, which Hubspot proves.

        I also somewhat disagree that leads only come from people. I think there is another important issue of discoverability. In today’s world, you have to get FOUND, and that usually means Google. In many purchase cycles from cars to real estate, the process starts with discoverability, not necessarily a personal referral.

        Thanks for the the thought-provoking post Rachel.

        • Rachel Strella
          August 22, 2013 10:27 am

          Hi Mark,

          Thanks for reading, responding – and clarifying. Your podcast provided great insight, which again made me ponder a question we’ve addressed before – does social media does really level the playing field? As you mentioned, the Hubspot blog makes it difficult to compete for online attention. Most importantly, you discuss the two aspects of ‘winning’ – 1. discover-ability, which means being found on the web and 2. establishing a loyal and emotional connection with your readership. The latter is where businesses have an opportunity to level the playing field. And you’re a great example – the community you’ve built with your blog cannot be manufactured.

          Leads can come from a variety of sources. In fact, it’s an incredible opportunity that today’s communication allows us to be found online. I believe to be truly successful in the online world, it’s important to embrace both aspects of ‘winning,’ as you say.

          Rachel

  2. jake Coventry
    August 22, 2013 4:18 pm

    Interesting discussion. My agency is deciding whether to become a Hubspot partner. This has been useful for my research. There are definitely clients and businesses that I don’t think Hubspot is relevant for, but a heck of a lot of businesses where it would be perfect. But, that’s the same with all marketing theories and tools… Telemarketing, Ads, Events etc…

    • Rachel Strella
      August 24, 2013 9:53 am

      Hi Jake, Nice to ‘meet’ you! Very well said, Jake! It really depends on the needs of the business!!!

  3. Kate L Williams
    August 29, 2013 8:49 am

    I serve small local businesses and entrepreneurs, many of whom are technically challenged. In the first stage of building an online presence and “find-ability” I seldom recommend an “all in one” solution. Cost is a factor but ease of use and building out a web, email and social media platform for online marketing usually means adopting the simplest tools, one by one.

    This post and discussion has been very valuable for me as I expand to include businesses who do have more aggressive global/lead generation goals, more complex business models and more marketing time, expertise and resources.

    Thanks, Rachel!

    • Rachel Strella
      August 31, 2013 10:10 am

      Thanks for taking the time to read this, Kate.

      All of the information about social media can be overwhelming. I can’t blame anyone for trying to find a simple solution. I just caution that they pick the right one for their goals, which is why I am glad they have someone like you to consult.

      Rachel

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