What is HubSpot and What the Heck Does It Do, Anyway?
Over the years, HubSpot has grown far beyond its roots as a singular marketing automation platform, founded in the principles of inbound marketing. Now, it unites marketing, sales, and service automation for companies under one virtual roof.
By Liz Murphy
What is HubSpot?
HubSpot began solely as a marketing automation platform, powered by the inbound marketing methodology. Today, HubSpot is a holistic marketing, sales, and service automation solution for companies to achieve long-term, sustainable growth.
I first got into the inbound marketing game back in 2014, and the one constant in my life since then — first, as an account manager, then a senior account manager, then a content manager, then a content strategist, and now the content director here at IMPACT — has been HubSpot.
Back then, HubSpot was known for one thing: marketing automation.
"Wait, what's marketing automation?"
Put simply, marketing automation solutions like HubSpot (and Marketo) quite literally host and automate marketing activities under a single digital roof like blog hosting, email marketing, landing pages, lead collection forms, automatic email workflows, social media publishing and scheduling, and so on.
🎓 Free IMPACT+ course: Marketing automation mastery with HubSpot
Today, that still holds true. However, over the years, HubSpot has grown far beyond its roots as a singular marketing automation platform, founded in the principles of inbound marketing.
Why HubSpot doesn't just focus its solutions solely on marketing anymore
Once upon a time, the inbound approach focused solely on marketing — creating blogs and landing pages, focusing on lead generation, and so on. So, that's where HubSpot began its automation domination story, creating tools for marketing teams, based on the more traditional funnel approach:
...and this beloved buyer's journey some of you may have already been introduced to in HubSpot certifications of yore:
But, over the years, digital teams and business leaders all over the world began to feel a disconnect.
Sure, inbound marketing was generating a lot of leads, but deals were still not closing. And, as a result, marketing and sales teams were feeling more fractured than ever, as marketing leaders struggled to justify the results they were getting (and their budgets).
🔎 Related: 6 ways you're blowing your HubSpot Marketing Hub investment
Moreover, it's a well known fact that it's easier to drum up new business from existing, serviced customers rather than acquiring new ones. So, in 2018, the folks at HubSpot retired the linear, old school funnel for a new model called the "flywheel":
Instead of the broad focus really being on activities owned by marketing — where sales swoops in at the end to try and close deals from those inbound leads — the more modern flywheel unites three units under the banner of positive growth for organizations:
That's why HubSpot now offers automation solutions for marketing, sales, and service
Here is an overview of some of the automation solutions HubSpot offers under each of its three "hubs" — although it should be noted that what is included as well as pricing is dictated by the level of HubSpot service you choose.
The marketing, sales, and service hubs all have three tiers: starter, professional, and enterprise.
HubSpot Marketing Hub
- Email marketing and reporting
- Social media publishing and monitoring
- Lead scoring
- Automated action-based and email workflows
- Landing and thank you pages
- Lead form builders
- SEO and content strategy tools
- Website, landing page, blog performance reporting
The key thing to keep in mind with the HubSpot Marketing Hub is that it is not your strategy. Meaning you will only get out of HubSpot what you put into it.
For example, you shouldn't start using the blogging tool until you have a content strategy, and you shouldn't use the workflow tool without knowing exactly what workflow you're trying to build first.
This is the most common mistake we see folks make with their HubSpot Marketing Hub investment, so don't fall into that trap.
🔎 Related: Is HubSpot Marketing Hub right for your company?
HubSpot Sales Hub
- CRM (which is actually available, with limited features for free)
- Email tracking and notifications
- Email sequences
- Customized deal and pipeline management
- Rep productivity reporting
- Live chat
- Meeting scheduling
- Revenue tracking
- Call transcription
The other thing I'll note that is critical to understand is that you cannot effectively report on or even begin to quantify the success of your content marketing without both HubSpot Marketing and Sales Hubs. Seriously, it's impossible.
🔎 Related: How to nail your content ROI reporting strategy with HubSpot
So, if you're making the jump into HubSpot, at the very least you will need the free HubSpot CRM. Otherwise, you'll never be able to connect the dots between your traffic and lead growth to closed deals with any specificity.
HubSpot Service Hub
- Live chat
- Conversational bots
- Canned snippets
- Meeting scheduling
- Time-to-close and productivity reports
- Task automation
- Ticket pipelines and statuses
- Customer support surveys
- Customer insight dashboards
HubSpot also offers a CMS, so businesses can host their website in the same digital ecosystem
While making the leap from more mainstream choices like WordPress to HubSpot can seem like a big risk, there's a reason why 75% of the websites we build are on HubSpot:
- The actionable intelligence of having your website and your marketing, sales, and service automation all under one roof is unparalleled.
- Better security, because HubSpot (unlike WordPress and other options) is not an open source system.
- Site speed is a big, big deal, and HubSpot websites load super fast.
- You have an edge with SEO, thanks to HubSpot's built-in SEO solutions, that you don't see with more traditional business website hosting solutions.
- HubSpot has an incredible support system in place, including an extensive, always-updated knowledge base, live phone-based support, live chat, and more. WordPress has an online community, but no real, centralized support.
In addition to all of these points, our crack team of award-winning developers swear by HubSpot as being the more secure option than WordPress for business website hosting. And in today's climate, security is everything.
But is HubSpot the right automation choice for your business?
Even though we are an award-winning HubSpot Elite partner agency, we also know from first-hand experience that HubSpot is not the right solution for every business out there.
So, here are some resources to help you make the best choice for your company's marketing, sales, and service needs:
- HubSpot vs Marketo: a head-to-head comparison
- Everything you need to know about HubSpot for marketing
- HubSpot CRM vs Salesforce: Which is better for sales teams?
- HubSpot for marketing reviews (updated for 2020)
- Why HubSpot won't fix your digital sales and marketing problems
- 4 inspiring HubSpot case studies from real-world companies
- 6 costly ways you're blowing your investment in HubSpot
- How to craft a killer content ROI reporting strategy with HubSpot
- 10 ways you're turning your HubSpot Sales Hub and CRM into a money pit
Wondering where to begin?