Of course you can do inbound marketing without HubSpot. But that’s not the whole truth.
Imagine you’re shopping for a new coat. It’s getting colder, so you also need a pair of gloves, a woolly hat and a scarf.
The first shop you visit only sells coats. To complete your winter gear, you have to hunt down other shops that stock what you need.
Wouldn’t it be easier if you could buy all these garments from one place? It’d save you heaps of time and effort.
Well, in one sense, that’s what HubSpot offers businesses. It’s an all-in-one inbound marketing platform where marketers can access all the tools they need to work like a pro. Let’s take a closer look at HubSpot’s tools and features, and analyse whether you need them all.
Refresher in Inbound Marketing
For the uninitiated, inbound marketing is the antidote to (what can be) invasive adverts: direct mail, press releases, email blasts, cold calling etc. The technical word for this is outbound marketing: the act of marketers pushing their messages out with the aim of bringing customers in.
Inbound marketing uses the opposite methodology. It draws people in organically by peaking their interest through informative blogging, content marketing and social media updates.
Many say it’s more effective than outbound marketing: Ironpaper recently found that, when asked which marketing tactic provides higher quality leads for sales teams, 59% of marketers responded inbound whereas 16% reported outbound.
Why? Because it allows consumers to make their own buyer choices rather than being pushed into a sale via outbound marketing. Freedom of choice is a powerful thing.
For businesses, inbound marketing gives potential customers a gentle nudge in the right direction. HubSpot is a platform that enables them to achieve this while also helping the smallest company grow to the largest enterprise.
HubSpot Under the Spotlight
We’ll go into detail on this in a moment, but to summarise ... HubSpot is a single platform that contains:
A free customer relationship management system (CRM): this lets you organise, track and build stronger relationships with prospects and customers.
A marketing hub: where you gain analytics and other helpful tools to increase traffic, convert more web visitors and manage inbound marketing campaigns.
A sales hub: this allows salespeople to automate tedious tasks and gain in-depth insights into prospects.
A service hub: where you gain access to customer feedback and deeper knowledge to connect with customers on a personal level, exceed their expectations and turn them into brand advocates.
Whether HubSpot is right or not for your business depends on several factors. You can learn if you fit the bill in our recent blog.
In this article, we’re going to focus on:
- What HubSpot can offer you
- How it compares to other inbound marketing platforms on the market
- The platform’s pros and cons
So without much further ado…
The Case for Content Marketing
Let’s take HubSpot out of the picture for a moment. To produce optimised blogs, you can use a free platform like WordPress where you can craft, manage and publish written content for your website. It works like a charm for many, so why would you consider using HubSpot instead?
Because in HubSpot, you can do all that and more - much more, in fact. For example, since this is a multi-channel platform, you can slot in blogs with email and social media scheduling to compliment and streamline your campaigns. Thanks to a user-friendly interface, this is incredibly easy and could save you lots of time.
What’s more, part of the package is access to analytics and reporting. So you can seamlessly measure your blogs’ performance as well as gain stats on your email marketing and socials - all in one place.
In addition, you can create pillar articles, which are 3000+ word articles that give a broad overview of a topic. Connect all your blogs that relate to this resource to give it more search engine juice.
Fusing Marketing and Sales
As your sales team use Hubspot’s free CRM to track which products or services customers are interested in, this information can also be accessed by marketing to help them serve relevant content and drive engagement. And, boy, is this effective, as one HubSpot user discovered:
“Nectafy saw a 45% increase in traffic month over month, with 95% growth in organic traffic over the final month.”
Similar sites like WordPress and Squarespace don’t feature this functionality. Without HubSpot, you’d have to log into different accounts and open new tabs to access your analytics, social media and email schedulers. Sounds like a lot of fuss and bother, right? You’re not wrong.
Easy Website Customisation
Editing your web pages via HubSpot is as easy as choosing cake over salad. The platform allows you to make on-page changes without needing to play around with codes. And unlike any other website builder on the market, it fully integrates your content with your marketing system, allowing you to optimise each page for search using the same platform.
The Wrong Time
Are you ready to invest in top-quality content? If you’re not, HubSpot probably isn’t for you. You need a regular stream of engaging, entertaining and highly-informative content for the platform to do its job properly. This might be because you’re on a shoestring budget. You don’t have the cash to splash on copywriters.
Nor can you afford to pay for a website building platform. In this case, WordPress is a better option. Its basic features are free to use and adequate enough to create a simple and professional site for your business.
More Skills Required
In terms of your website, if you want to customise its appearance beyond what the HubSpot website builder is capable of, you’re going to need expert support.
An experienced HubSpot developer is needed to harness the platform’s more sophisticated tools. They can help you turn a simple site into a marvellous masterpiece; without such an individual, Squarespace is a better option as it allows you to set up a swish website as cheaply as possible.
Don’t forget, though, that a certified HubSpot partner agency can also help you in this regard.
The Case for Social Media Marketing
Dreamy Campaign Execution
HubSpot includes a social media management tool. This is a tremendous time-saving feature allowing social media managers to publish and schedule posts to multiple social channels.
What’s more, you can effortlessly tie your social posts - promoting your blog content and landing page offers - into your campaigns. Once you’ve created your post, all you need to do is select which campaign it should slot into.
From there, you can track and report on each social channel’s performance (reach, interactions, website clicks etc) over a specific time period AND view how well your campaign is doing.
It’s beyond useful that this precious data can be viewed in one place, enabling you to visualise how social media is impacting engagement with blogs, landing pages and newsletters, illuminating opportunities for improvements across the board.
Like a messy notebook, some social scheduling apps can make your various feeds difficult to follow. HubSpot is an exception. Its social media management tool features a tidy dashboard that’s easy to navigate and understand.
And here’s another neat element: you can make specific Twitter streams so you group certain followers and monitor specific conversations. This is brilliant for engaging with the right people, and because of HubSpot’s clean interface, it’s quick and easy to do.
If all you’re currently looking for is a social media management tool, you should consider free platforms like Hootsuite, Buffer (schedule more than ten posts and you have to pay for membership), SocialOomph and many more. Twitter also offers a native scheduling tool called TweetDeck, as does Facebook.
To note: if you decide to invest in HubSpot, you’re likely to get a good return on investment. With its nifty reporting and analytics for all your campaign elements, you can accurately measure ROI and visualise how your socials are earning their keep.
You might want to take analytics and reporting to the next level when it comes to social media. For that reason, HubSpot might fail to meet your needs. Currently, it only offers comprehensive monitoring for Twitter. If you require more in-depth reporting for your other social media accounts, Hootsuite or Sprout Social could serve you better.
While HubSpot offers a wealth of social media management tools, it doesn’t contain all the features of every platform. For example, you can’t access paid features, targeting options or post types in HubSpot. If you want to leverage these tools, you’ll have to use the relevant native site.
The Case for SEO
Save Heaps of Time
Search engine optimisation tools are abundant in HubSpot. The icing on this cake is that you don’t have to spend precious time hunting down additional plugins (like you have to do on WordPress) to hike up your search ranking: SEO features are built into the platform and are constantly being updated. You can confidently use these tools knowing they’re in sync with the latest SEO changes.
One such brilliant tool is the platform’s topic search. It’ll extract the best topic suggestions for SEO purposes based on relevance, competition and popularity so you don’t have to. It’s a great way to help you write about subjects that matter to you and your customers.
Perfect for SEO Novices
Remember Clippy, the office assistant in Microsoft Word? HubSpot has a similar charming feature built into its platform. As you create content, you gain real-time tips as you type. For example, let’s say you’re writing a title. HubSpot’s SEO helper will inform you if it’s too long and suggest ways to rectify this.
Another helpful feature for SEO rookies is HubSpot’s to-do list. When you learn something new from the assistant, you can jot down your notes for future reference. So, for your next piece of content, you have a list of easily accessible SEO tips to boost your rankings and drive traffic.
Dynamite Reporting Tools
HubSpot’s integrated reporting tools enable you to measure your ROI from SEO. For instance, you can calculate each blog’s influence by viewing how much traffic has been generated, leads captured and customers won, helping you measure the effectiveness of your SEO.
When More SEO Tools Are Needed
HubSpot’s SEO capabilities are more than worth the investment. But if you want to mine information on your own to get exhaustive data, you’re going to need more powerful tools.
Take Moz Pro. This SEO platform has a keyword explorer tool to help you find popular, real keywords. It also performs in-depth site audits to hunt for problems that keep search engines from fully crawling your site. It then offers you solutions for fast fixes.
But HubSpot covers more marketing channels for SEO than any other platform on the market. For this reason, it’s worth having HubSpot AND dedicated SEO tools. You get the best of both worlds: in-depth analysis plus a multi-channel view and helpful tidbits.
The Case for Email Marketing
Dazzling Designs Made Easy
Create on-brand emails without the help of specialist designers, saving you a pretty penny.
The customisation options are vast: after choosing from a range of stunning and professional templates, you can edit your layout, add call-to-actions and images, change your content and modify colours to match your brand.
Plus, if you did this through an agency, you’d have to make sure the designs display properly across different devices to avoid formatting errors. With HubSpot, this is done automatically, helping you minimise issues that cause deletes.
Opportunities for Optimisation
Email automation platforms like MailChimp also include analytics. But with HubSpot, you get this valuable feature on top of marketing automation and heaps of business growth tools. You can even conduct A/B tests to compare different designs and decipher which perform better, helping you drive conversion rates.
A Call for Greater Capabilities
As with HubSpot’s SEO and social media tools, its email marketing segment lacks advanced features required to dig deeper into the technical aspects of email. For example, you can’t alter specific code that allows you to make diminutive changes to your email template.
Of course, such advanced features come with a heavy price tag. And, if you choose an email automation-only platform, you’re missing out on the ability to manage and sync all your other marketing channels with email, streamlining your campaigns.
Clearly, is it possible to conduct inbound marketing without HubSpot. But in no other platform will you find all the marketing tools required to build, execute, manage and automate a multi-channel strategy.
There’s also the option to tell HubSpot about the problems you’re having with the platform, there may be a fix!
Also, consider this: HubSpot tools can’t be replicated without equal investment in other platforms. Choosing this platform will not only make your life much easier, but it could save you money too.