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HubSpot Review: Best Marketing Automation for Small Business

Credit: HubSpot

After conducting extensive research and analysis in 2017, we recommend HubSpot as the best marketing automation platform for small business. We chose HubSpot from a pool of the dozens of marketing automation solutions we considered. To understand how we selected our best picks, you can find our methodology and a comprehensive list of marketing automation software on our best picks page.

HubSpot seamlessly unifies all your marketing channels and easily scales with your business. This makes HubSpot ideal for small, growing businesses – as you attract more customers, this software can simply grow along with you. HubSpot also eliminates the need for sophisticated IT or coding knowledge with its easy-to-navigate drag and drop user interface.

Ready to choose a marketing automation solution? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Editor's Note: Are you trying to choose a marketing automation solution? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site BuyerZone provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

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HubSpot offers a healthy slate of features to make marketing automation easier. These features vary in availability depending on the pricing tier you choose. For a detailed breakdown on HubSpot's plans, see the pricing section below.

  • Content creation and optimization: Pushing your organization to the top of major search engines like Google is essential for inbound marketing success. The key to doing so is quality content with keywords, links and helpful information. HubSpot makes content creation, optimization and launching easy, even offering SEO advice during the content creation process.
  • Email marketing: HubSpot shines with its email marketing tool, which includes a vast array of templates and an easy-to-use editing tool..
  • Social media: Social media management is easy, but effective with HubSpot. A basic tool that helps users manage alerts and blasts in coordination with their larger campaign, HubSpot does a good job of tying in major social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
  • Automation: HubSpot makes it easy for users to set up automated workflows using a template system. Users can specify an action ("send an email") and then, based on the potential customer's response ("opened the email") follow up with another action ("invite to like social media"). These propositions can be targeted to specific groups or sent to complete lists of leads. Automation workflows can be extended for an indefinite number of steps, allowing users to truly expand their marketing campaigns to be as comprehensive as possible.
  • Event-based segmentation: Want to reach out to contacts who have opened an email? How about those who like your Facebook? Event-based segmentation allows users to easily segment their leads based on indicated interest, further targeting your marketing campaigns to those most likely to respond.
  • Lead scoring: Lead scoring helps identify potential customers who are more likely to progress further down the conversion pipeline. HubSpot will automatically generate a predictive lead scoring system based on lead behaviors, or users can customize scoring with their own criteria.
  • Lead nurturing: Any and all interactions with leads are stored in a single place with HubSpot, helping users easily keep track of who has made contact when, where and how. Detailed leads profiles include information like company, location and interest indicators like number of email opens and social media interactions.
  • Smart content: Smart content tailors itself toward the customer based on their context in your conversion pipeline to better relate to them on an individual, personalized level.
  • A/B testing: Activate two iterations of the same content at once to compare how each performs among similar leads.
  • Reporting: HubSpot's reporting tool keeps users up to date with conversion rates, so tracking progress and success with campaigns is simple. Users can drill down into specific campaigns and gauge the activity of each lead. Higher levels of service include cross-campaign comparisons to give users a bird's eye view of their marketing strategies.

Scalability is what set HubSpot over the top for us. Its versatility as a marketing automation platform for the smallest businesses and growing startups through to enterprise level companies made it attractive even beyond its set of features.

For small businesses in particular, scalability is particularly useful. Transferring all the stored information about contacts and past behaviors and sales to a new system can be an arduous undertaking with a high risk of issues. In addition, retraining staff to use a new system takes manpower and diverts attention away from operations. HubSpot offers businesses continuity in their marketing automation platform so they don't have to worry about these issues.

HubSpot is significantly more affordable than many other market leaders, and incudes the benefit of long-term scalability for companies that may still balk at the price tag. HubSpot also offers a one month free trial to new users. Here is a breakdown of HubSpot's pricing plans:

  • Basic: 100 free contacts, content creation and optimization tools, email marketing, a social media suite and a marketing analytics dashboard. $200 per month plus $600 onboarding fee.
  • Pro: 1,000 free contacts and all the basic features, as well as full marketing automation, lead nurturing, custom workflows, integrations with Salesforce, smart content, attribution reporting, user roles and A/B testing CTAs and emails. $800 per month plus $3,000 onboarding fee.
  • Enterprise: 10,000 free contacts and all the Pro features, as well as revenue reporting, custom event reporting, custom event automation triggers, predictive lead scoring, contacts reporting, company reporting and event-based segmentation. $2,400 per month plus $5,000 onboarding fee
  • Add-ons: In addition to the core plans, HubSpot offers add-ons including a website service for $300 per month. For smaller businesses, a $100 per month website plan is suitable for up to 3,000 visitors. Custom reporting could be added to any plan for $200 per month. Connecting advertisements to leads and customers is also offered at $100 per month.

Our customer service experience with HubSpot was positive. After a brief holding period, we spoke with a representative who took a considerable amount of time to walk us through the finer points of marketing automation in general and HubSpot specific features. Upon explaining that we were just testing the waters, we didn't feel pushed to make a purchase or that the representative lost interest in our conversation. Most, if not all, of our questions were adequately answered during the call.

All of HubSpot's core plans offer phone, online and live chat technical support and customer service. Moreover, HubSpot hosts an online community forum, where users can ask and answer questions about basic platform operations and more advanced uses.

There are some drawbacks to using HubSpot, but none so significant that it made the solution any less attractive. First and foremost, the high price tag might be prohibitive to some small companies. For those, we would suggest a solution like Zoho Campaigns, which is more affordable and even offers a free version. Still, HubSpot makes up for its high-end cost with high-end functionality. Like they say, "you get what you pay for."

Secondly, HubSpot can be finicky and exhibits a steep learning curve. In some cases, a bit of clicking around is necessary to achieve desired results, and setting up sequencing, while straightforward, is not always intuitive. In addition to a sometimes stubborn user interface, HubSpot's reporting tools are only minimally customizable, and larger companies might find the analytics tools to be less-than-comprehensive.

In the end, HubSpot's features and scalability are its saving grace. Despite its drawbacks, HubSpot still delivers a powerful and highly scalable solution that effectively automates the heaviest lifting in your marketing campaigns.

Editor's Note: Are you trying to choose a marketing automation solution? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site BuyerZone provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

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Adam C. Uzialko

Adam received his Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Journalism & Media Studies at Rutgers University. He worked for a local newspaper and freelanced for several publications after graduating college. He can be reached by email, or follow him on Twitter.