Inbound marketing is defined as “is a technique for drawing customers to products and services via content marketing, social media marketing and search engine optimization.” Properly implemented it is extremely effective and the Hubspot platform is as good as it gets in cloud based Inbound marketing platforms.
This Hubspot review will provide an overview of the tools Hubspot offers and it’s effectiveness as the cornerstone of your Inbound efforts. Due to the length of this review and for those who simply want to know my opinion without the details, I will say: “Hubspot has traditionally been an expensive solution that can be very effective but requires a strong marketing and web background or a real commitment to utilizing their very robust training materials. That being said, at their “INBOUND Conference” in 2016 they unveiled a new line of free and entry level solutions that allow marketers to work with the platform prior to making a large financial commitment. My personal thought is this should be a game changer to an already successful company, and it will allow many companies to explore the platform and witness the power of Inbound marketing and the Hubspot software.”
Hubspot's software integrates every facet of Inbound marketing. You can create content, optimize it for search engines and share it on social media. Then engage your prospects with landing pages, calls to action, personalized email and a personalized website. That's how you market to people or businesses throughout their "buyer's journey".
Their product is based on 3 simple principles:
Whether your an experienced digital marketer or even experienced with Inbound I recommend taking Hubspot's "Inbound Certification" before starting a free trial or purchasing this software. The classes and certification are free and very informative.
Although it depends on the version or trial you have for the sake of this review we'll be looking at the full latest version of Hubspot as of December 2016.
The initial step to setting up Hubspot is installing the code on your website or building a site with their solution. After installing code data will start to populate in your portal.
Upon login you will see the initial dashboard and navigation to the software. In the screen capture below you will note multiple sections in the top left navigation because we use the "free crm" and are also partners of Hubspot.
The primary navigation in the marketing section consists of 6 primary sections (from left to right):
The contacts drop down consists of the following sections:
All Contacts, also known as the Contacts dashboard, contains a list of all of your contacts, the date the contact was created, and the contact's recent conversion on a landing page, and other information that you can customize. From the dashboard, you can add a new contact, import contacts, and manage your contact lists. In addition, you can search for all contacts in the search bar, either by list membership or contact property. Next to each contact is a checkbox. If you select that checkbox for one or several contacts, you will see the three options across the top "Add to list," "Enroll in Workflow," and "Delete" become available. These buttons give you the ability to add your selected contacts to a list, a workflow or delete them from your contact database. The dashboard is an easy way to see your total number of contacts at a glance, and to find everything related to your contacts in one place.
Lists- HubSpot uses two kinds of lists: smart lists and static lists.
Smart lists offer a flexible way to organize contacts in HubSpot and automate your marketing actions. You can build these automatically refreshing lists based on contacts who meet certain criteria. You can build an unlimited number of smart lists in your account. If you are looking to learn more about static lists, check out the previous section of this guide.
Smart lists refresh constantly to include new contacts who meet the list criteria. Static lists take a snapshot of the contacts who meet the criteria when the list is created, but do not continue to update on their own.
Workflows automate the lead nurturing process. Effectively done lead nurturing keeps your leads engaged with your company/brand, showing them how you understand their specific needs, and building the trust and relationship. Your contacts might not yet be in "Decision" stage of their buyers journey -- ready to speak with a sales rep or buy your product -- but they may be in the "Awareness" or "Consideration" stages where they are looking for educational content, such as eBooks or whitepapers, or expert guides and case studies to educate them about a future buying decision. HubSpot Workflows can help you automate and scale this lead nurturing process.
HubSpot Workflows are not intended to work like an email blast. Instead, workflows are intended to help you automate and scale your marketing interactions, in an effort find out more about your contacts so that you can provide them with information that relates to their specific needs and questions at the right time. Ultimately Workflows can help you automate your lead nurturing by streamlining the process, with little setup time, so you can focus on delivering that contextual content that will help move your leads down the funnel.
Forms allow users to select a form to add to a page. It is used to capture contact information from visitors to your website. It is available as a module that can be added to content and templates created with Landing Pages, Site Pages, and Blog Pages. Forms cannot be added to email templates.
Lead Scoring allows you to scale your lead qualification processes and to better identify your most qualified leads. When a contacts surpasses a certain Hubspot score, you can trigger a worfklow to set off a series of actions.
Contact Settings- properties are divided into several different property groups to help you organize information about your contacts and fields on your forms. The default contact property groups are: contact information, social media information, email information, web analytics history, conversion information, and Salesforce information (if your HubSpot account is integrated with Salesforce).
The contact information property group contains the important information about the individual, such as the contact's name, email, and address. Read the following guide to learn how to create a contact profile in your Contacts database, and to learn about the different fields in the contact information property group and how to use data collected with its properties.
The third menu item on the left of the navigation is the "Content" section. Much of your time in Hubspot will be spent here after initial set up. If you are using Hubspot as your actual website it will also be the area you spend a lot of time building and designing the website and associated landing pages.
The content drop down consists of the following sections:
File Manager- Use File Manager to upload and host your website's assets on HubSpot. Just as with other file systems, HubSpot's File Manager gives you the ability to create folders or directories and then add files to those directories.
Design Manager- HubSpot's Design Manager combines all the tools that designers need to build state-of-the-art websites, while still giving marketers the flexibility that they desire when creating content.
Landing Pages- A good landing page tells the visitor four important things in a few seconds:
Your page should tell your visitors exactly what you're offering and why they should want the offer. The Landing page section provides an easy to use interface to create landing pages.
Blog- HubSpot's Blog tool equips content creators with a powerful platform for generating traffic to your site. Engaging blog content proves integral to any Inbound marketing campaign, and HubSpot makes drafting and publishing SEO optimized posts that integrate with all aspects of Hubspot fast and easy.
Email- HubSpot integrates all of it's tools to seamlessly compliment the email marketing process. It gives you the ability to personalize your email to your contact, grow your contact database and reinforce the content on your website. In addition, any time you send an email, HubSpot collects the data on how your email performed to the user who received it.
Calls-to-Action- CTAs (short for "calls-to-action") are what connect your website and blog to your landing pages. They are the clickable buttons that encourage visitors to become a qualified lead by filling out one of your forms. They are an important aspect of your inbound marketing success. All CTA's are tracked for success in Hubspots software so you can A/B test and identify best performing CTA's.
Marketplace- HubSpot's Template Marketplace allows you to purchase easy, plug-and-play Templates that can be used for your HubSpot pages and emails.
Content Settings- The Content settings in Hubspot are very robust. They allow you to:
Social- The HubSpot Social Media tools give you total control over your social channels. Take advantage of the deep integration with the HubSpot Contacts tool to track and interact with your prospects, leads, and customers. Publish and promote your social content at the optimal times for engagement with your audience. Invite your sales, marketing, and services teams to get involved, and discover how the social tools can support their efforts to drive your engagement higher.
The social media navigation menu consists of the following sections:
Social Inbox- Managing all the social media accounts associated with a business proves very time consuming for most marketers. Not only is it a challenge to find and create enticing content to share on social media sites, but it is also time consuming to respond to every single engagement you get on social media.
Social Inbox addresses these obstacles by aggregating several different types of social media engagements into one place. From this tool you can identify interaction-generating content, respond to social conversations, gather intelligence about new followers, and see social stream matches.
Social Monitoring- Use the social monitoring tool to:
Social Publishing- The Publishing tool makes it easy to post and schedule posts to all your social media accounts to help generate and track inbound social traffic. Use the Publishing tool to promote your social media content. You can attach links to blog posts, landing pages, images, and more.
Social Reporting- The Reports tool helps you analyze the performance of your social media accounts. You can compare your social media presence across different time frames or even across platforms.
Social Settings- Social Settings is where you manage your social media accounts and your different publishing schedules.
Reports- allows you to create and manage custom reports created in HubSpot.
The reports navigation includes:
Reports Home- Is where all your reports are saved. Here you'll find:
Sources- breaks down where specifically all your traffic, leads and sales come from and includes Organic Search, Referrals, Social Media, Paid Search, and Direct Traffic.
Page Performance- The Page Performance tool assesses key metrics on how your site pages, landing pages, and blog posts are performing in terms of views, keywords, links, and other important SEO data. It also provides recommendations on how to improve SEO practices on your pages. In Page Performance, you can access all of your page data in one place and easily take action to enhance your SEO.
Use the Page Performance report if you want to:
Keywords- The Keyword tool allows you to discover keywords that will help optimize your content for search engines. With metrics like keyword rank, visits, and difficulty, you can see how you compare with your competitors as well as identify keywords to use. You can also localize your keywords to receive data from a specific country.
Competitors- HubSpot's Competitors Report provides you with the power to monitor other companies websites that you compete with in your industry. Setting up this report will allow you to record your site's authority over time and help you to determine action items and benchmarks to increase that authority. You can track up to 20 competitors at once (10 competitors for trial accounts).
Reports Settings- Reports settings allow you to;
Starting in October all customers have access to the new Productivity tab in the HubSpot navigation. This change removes the calendar icon from the top right of HubSpot and puts Calendar, Campaigns and Projects under the Productivity tab. More importantly, this also gives all customers access to the new in-app productivity tool, Projects.
Projects is a powerful productivity tool, that’s going to transform how you collaborate, work and learn inside of HubSpot. You now have a way to manage all the work you do in HubSpot, inside of HubSpot. Allowing you to work where you work is. Furthermore, Projects is chock-full of Templates. A Template, in Projects, is a pre-populated Project that walks you through the steps to do any marketing task: create a newsletter, build a content offer, redesign your website, it’s all there. The Templates are built by the inbound marketing experts over at HubSpot Academy. So you know you're getting world case inbound strategy with every Template.
Calendar- A marketing calendar gives you the ability to organize your content by campaign or by marketing channel. The best part of the Calendar tool is that it's integrated with the rest of the HubSpot inbound marketing platform, giving you access to all your scheduled content automatically. You can use the calendar to view the content you have scheduled by day, week or month. The option to color-code content by campaign makes it easy to get a visual overview of your planned publishing.
Campaigns- An inbound campaign is a concentrated effort that aligns all of your marketing channels around a single offer and goal. You can associate a campaign with the following: landing pages, calls-to-action, emails, blog posts (COS only), social messages, keywords, pay-per-click visits, traffic from other sources, and workflows.
Creating a campaign in HubSpot allows you to easily organize and align your marketing channels, making it easier to measure your results.
As previously stated you can see, "Hubspot offers a robust solution for digital Inbound marketing but comes with a heavy initial commitment of time. They are really starting to remedy the initial financial commitment and I would imagine this will keep them on a high growth trajectory and allow them to reach a market they had been missing".
Hubspot Resource Links:
Mike Hodgdon- SEO & Digital Marketing Expert Consultant