Is HubSpot Worth the Cost?
The chances are you came across HubSpot when Googling for help on a digital marketing issue of sorts, and you landed up on their blog. The HubSpot blog is second to none as a practical guide for digital marketing.
Nothing comes close to the breadth of help and knowledge offered by HubSpot's blog.
True to their product’s inbound promise, their content leads/nurtures you to arrive at a sign-up or pricing page where you are faced with HubSpot's cost.
HubSpot's cost is high relative to its competitors. And for good reason. Being the class leader in marketing software, their reputation and track record has allowed them to set the HubSpot cost higher than the competitors.
Depending on your personality, the size of your business bank balance or both - you set about working out how the HubSpot cost can be justified.
Although this article talks mostly about HubSpot Marketing Hub, it is important to note that HubSpot is far more than just a marketing tool. The HubSpot Flywheel shows the four different components of the modern HubSpot solution, CRM, Marketing, Sales and Service.
If you are more interested in HubSpot Sales Hub (CRM) read this article on HubSpot Sales and CRM.
Here we are going to deal predominantly with HubSpot Marketing Hub but will touch on the other HubSpot Hubs briefly. The HubSpot solution works best when two or more Hubs are used together. Two or more hubs create a synergy - AKA the HubSpot flywheel.
HubSpot's Cost 😥
You're chomping at the bit to get going and then you spot the HubSpot price point. It stops you dead in your tracks. €823/£729 p/month for a Marketing Professional licence, and unfortunately, the less expensive Marketing Starter at €46/£42 p/month doesn't have what you need. (We'll discuss HubSpot Marketing Hub Starter's key hidden limitations a little further on.)
Furthermore, if you have a few thousand contacts in your database, they want to charge you €230/£210 p/month (*Marketing Pro) per 5,000 contacts! 'Why do they want to charge me for contacts? Mailchimp doesn't me charge for contacts.'
*Marketing Starter: €46/£42 p/month per 1000 contacts
And get this - the final kicker - you have no choice but to contract with HubSpot for 12 months, and pay a once-off onboarding fee of €2,760/£2,450!
So this is what HubSpot costs. Let's not forget the 12-month contract with no out. Is HubSpot worth the cost?
Disclaimer: HubSpot marketing grew my business. I'm a fan.
It's important to state that we're one of HubSpot's top global partners. To this effect, we utilise HubSpot and a HubSpot inbound marketing methodology for our own digital marketing and sales processes.
We manage 40 - 50 of our client's digital marketing campaigns with HubSpot. We're advocates of the product and our results are always better if we have the opportunity to use HubSpot.
I own MO Agency. We implemented HubSpot in late 2016. We followed well documented inbound methodologies in the HubSpot Academy. And within about 12 months, we saw the returns. Our traffic went up and the right type of lead came into the business.
We saw such great ROI that we also implemented HubSpot Sales CRM. We also migrated our website from WordPress into HubSpot CMS. A few years later we migrated our service process into HubSpot Service Hub as well. We're in deep.
Look below, you can see the ROI in our sales figures that have grown consistently every month since Jan 2017.
My suggestion is not to think in terms of HubSpot's cost, but the opportunity cost of what could be done in a year with the right tools. And then building on top of a great year - with another great year - and another.
Today we can't work with every client that reaches out to us. We try, but it's just not possible. Our marketing engine is unbelievably well-tuned.
Ok, so now that I've disclosed that I'm a business owner and we implement HubSpot to help our clients. Let's come out with the obvious - HubSpot wants to sell you HubSpot. And they want to sell you as many licences as possible to satisfy all the shareholders. HUBS is listed on NYSE. Check out their current share price.
HubSpot Cost: Let's start at the beginning
In the next section, I'll run through your options to get started with HubSpot. We kick off with HubSpot Marketing Starter.
HubSpot Marketing Starter: Designed to get you to buy Professional
It's worth noting that the HubSpot product set is a funnel. HubSpot wants you to purchase a Professional (€823/£729) or Enterprise (€2,944/£2,624) p/month licence.
The Starter licence is going to move the needle on your digital marketing, but if it really starts firing, you are going to want to upgrade to HubSpot Professional.
Most notably, HubSpot Starter includes landing pages, email marketing, forms (website and popup), form submission follow-up emails, and website chat.
The Starter licence gets upgraded often with trickle-down features. I update the post regularly as HubSpot update their product offering. HubSpot has added a host of new features to HubSpot Starter that were once the domain of HubSpot Professional only.
You can't add custom tracking codes to HubSpot landing pages. This Google Tag Manager and Google Ads tracking codes. This is a major issue for performace marketers who need conversion tracking pushed back into their ad campaigns.
To get around the tracking code issue, build your landing pages in WordPress or another CMS, so you can add the tracking codes. Just add HubSpot forms to your new CMS landing page to pull the analytics into HubSpot. Also, expect to do most of your analytics numbers crunching in Google Analytics as the analytics on HubSpot Starter is good for a quick update - but not detailed enough for any sort of real analysis.
So, if you go with HubSpot Marketing Starter, be aware of the following:
- Landing pages offer customisation but there are some limitations
- We suggest building your landing pages in your current website CMS and then adding HubSpot tracking code and other analytics and ads tracking codes there.
- You will do your analysis in Google Analytics and not HubSpot Analytics (but you're probably already doing that)
HubSpot Starter gives you full CRM, Email Marketing (a fully functional drag and drop template-driven MailChimp alternative), List segmentation (smart and static), forms, pop-up forms, live website chat, bots, and a central place to manage your ad accounts with Google, LinkedIn and Facebook. Drag and drop landing pages work well, but the customisation is limited and no ability to add custom tracking codes.
HubSpot Marketing Hub Professional
The next step up is HubSpot Marketing Hub Professional, which will bring out the big guns - marketing automation, A/B testing, landing pages, Ads management, social media management, blog and SEO management.
This set of tools allows you to fine-tune your content and nurturing to build and scale a community of clients and prospects.
Marketing automation only makes sense when your database is larger than +/- 500 contacts. Below that threshold, you can easily nurture the contacts manually, and with a smile on your face by saving €700/£750 p/month. If this is the case, we recommend starting with HubSpot Marketing Hub Starter.
As mentioned above HubSpot Traffic Analytics is very powerful, but you only get access to it from HubSpot Marketing Hub Professional onwards. I personally check HubSpot's Traffic Analytics every day. It's easier than Google Analytics and my custom reports are configured to easily see exactly what I need within a few minutes.
From this simplified view we can set up marketing tasks for the day/week/month if required. I can also dig into potential issues.
Additionally, I can check our sales numbers and service requests at the same time - also pre-configured dashboards.
Below is a shot of our website's analytics for the last 7 days. Because it ties in the contacts to the analytics we can get a solid high-level picture of where our leads are coming from.
For example, we only drove 42 organic social leads, but the conversion rate is 7.14%. We should be doing more of that. And it also looks like we didn't send out too many emails last week. That number is low. I need to investigate. Overall, however, I'm happy with 21 leads. It's more than enough.
Minimum commitments for a company to take on HubSpot
HubSpot Marketing Hub is worth the cost if you or your team/freelancers/agency can at a minimum commit to:
- Becoming the HubSpot champion, or allocating this role to someone capable.
- Regular content production (minimum one piece of 500 - 100- words per week.)
- Once a week social media activity. (Share your new content or company news)
- Some paid ads on social media channels.
- Complete and maintain the following HubSpot courses: Inbound Marketing (6 hours) & HubSpot Marketing Software (20 hours)
- Maintain a company blog. Or be willing to set up a new blog.
- Develop a basic knowledge of SEO, so you can optimise new content.
- Monthly performance reviews of traffic, quality of contacts, and content engagement.
HubSpot is not worth the cost if you can't commit to the above. Far too often, we come across clients who've already had HubSpot for 6 - 9 months and at the '12th-hour' start looking for help to get the platform working. This is a massive waste of money.
Often, 3 - 6 months is not enough time for even the best of HubSpot agencies to drive the required results to get budget for the next 12 months of HubSpot licensing. Rather, spend the money on paid advertising or some other digital channel. Choose HubSpot wisely. Make sure you can commit to the work required.
And if you need a HubSpot agency, give us a shout ;).
Summary: HubSpot Cost for Marketing Hub
Marketing Hub Free:
- No onboarding fee
- No contracts
- Email marketing
- HubSpot branded forms, popups, chat and emails.
- Live chat
- Unlimited contacts
- $0 p/m
Key features include CRM, branded email marketing, live chat, pop-ups, forms & landing pages.
Marketing Hub Starter:
- No onboarding fee
- No contracts
- €46/£42 p/month (month to month)
- 1,000 contacts included
- +€46/£42 p/month per 1,000 additional contacts.
Key features include email marketing, live chat, bots, forms, pop-up forms, basic website analytics, landing pages and form follow-up emails, list segmentation, ad management.
NB - No custom tracking codes can be implemented.
Marketing Hub Professional:
- €2,760/£2,450 Onboarding fee once-off (Chat to us about our onboarding discount programme we offer up to 50% discounts on Pro onboarding)
- €823/£729 p/month (12-month commitment)
- 1,000 contacts included
- +€230/£210 p/month per 1,000 additional contacts
Key features in addition to Starter features include full marketing automation, A/B testing, fully customisable landing pages, smart content, blog and content management, social media management, video marketing, custom tracking codes, sub-domains, and full traffic analytics.
Marketing Hub Enterprise:
- €5,500/£4,900 Onboarding fee once-off (Chat to us about our onboarding discount programme we offer up to 50% discounts on Enterprise onboarding)
- €2,944/£2,624 p/month (12 month commitment)
- 1,000 contacts included
- +€92/£82 p/month per 10,000 additional contacts
Key features in addition HubSpot Marketing Hub Professional include lower cost of ownership when contacts are more than 60,000, content partitioning for teams, single sign-on, additional domains (pro and starter only allow 1 root domain), calculated properties, predictive lead scoring, YouTube integration and more.