HubSpot Marketing Software Review—An Independent Marketing Software Analysis
By Chuck Schaeffer
Created in June 2006 at at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, HubSpot was founded on the principal that traditional marketing is broken and the existing tools needed to transition to inbound marketing were too disjointed and complex.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts headquartered company offers a synergistic combination of hosted marketing software and plenty of advice to help businesses acquire leads with inbound marketing techniques which attract prospects with online content (via blogs, websites, social networks) as opposed to the outbound interruption-based marketing methods which prospects have become expert in tuning out.
The company promotes a message of “publish your way in” and practices what it preaches as a prolific creator of content, including blog posts, social media posts, white papers, webinars and more. In fact, in doing so, the company has nearly become synonymous with the phrase “inbound marketing.”
In parallel, the company advocates the slogan “get found” and facilitates search engine optimization (SEO) techniques so that prospects seeking to solve business problems find your content online (which directly addresses their problems) and ultimately reach out to you for more information.
To facilitate customers with their inbound marketing programs, the company aspires to deliver an easy to use, integrated, all-in-one marketing platform that helps customers get found online, generate leads, nurture those leads until they are sales ready and analyze the entire lead generation process in a closed loop reporting system.
While HubSpot is clearly a marketing automation software provider, the company doesn’t fit as neatly in the marketing automation space as traditional companies such as Act-On, Eloqua, Marketo, Pardot and Silverpop. HubSpot differs in terms of messaging, target market and marketing software scope. The company offers a suite of top of the funnel (TOFU) utilities to aid SEO, content production and promotion, and online traffic acquisition as well as the middle of the funnel (MOFU) marketing automation software tools.
For purposes of comparing HubSpot to the more traditional marketing automation software solutions, this HubSpot review will focus on the MOFU and marketing software application and use the format of other marketing software reviews but also include notations for those areas where HubSpot offers differentiation or unique value.
At its start HubSpot catered to what CEO Brian Halligan described as the market of “Ollie Owner” small businesses; companies with fewer than 10 employees where the marketing person probably also wore other hats and managed other responsibilities.
In terms of marketing and IT, small businesses are often without full time staff in either or both functions. Small business marketers tend to be less tech-savvy and operate with fewer software automation tools—such as CRM software, email service providers or analysis tools. When small business marketers do jump into online marketing they often find themselves managing disparate and fragmented tools as well as contractors (web design firms, email marketing providers, social media consultants, SEO experts, etc.) which impede their ability to automate end to end business processes and achieve closed loop reporting and analysis.
HubSpot’s marketing software joins the many needed tools under a central marketing platform. Marketers are offered a more comprehensive approach for tying together content management, SEO, social marketing, email marketing, lead management, marketing automation and marketing analytics. In all candor, HubSpot is not the best product in every category, and depending upon your objectives and requirements may not offer the best tool in any category, yet may still be the single best marketing solution in bringing all the tools together into a cohesive platform.
Over time as the marketing software has matured and broadened the company began its upstream journey to the small and midsize business (SMB) market. Today the company has its sights set on what CEO Halligan calls “Ernie Enterprises”, which are not the largest enterprise companies, but instead seek businesses up to about 1000 employees. The HubSpot sweet spot is the SMB B2B company selling big ticket items.
As of 2012, about 89 percent of HubSpot’s customers are based in the U.S. but the company is slowly growing its international footprint. However, with few international locations, spotty local support, lack of multi-currency controls and a marketing software system that is only available in English, global adoption is likely to occur very slowly and with customer acquisitions that are more opportunistic than strategic.
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