HubSpot CRM Review The Pros, Cons And The Hidden Costs

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Inka Wibowo

Inka Wibowo

Researcher

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Best CRM Small BusinessesWe awarded HubSpot our Best CRM Tool For Small Businesses badge for 2023!

HubSpot CRM is a customer relationship management titan. With a third of the market share, you’ve most likely heard of them? No doubt, one of your colleagues has used them in the past, or you’ve come across one of their helpful blog articles when researching digital marketing best practices.

It’s a company we can certainly get behind... to an extent. After all, we’re all looking to keep costs down, right? Which is exactly why you’re going to want to stick around till the end of this HubSpot CRM review.

Yes, HubSpot offers a very generous free CRM plan for small sales and marketing teams, but what happens when you outgrow its “lite” features and become aware of its limitations? Do you simply move onto one of its paid plans?

Having analyzed other HubSpot CRM reviews, and the product itself in detail, we thought it was time to share our findings with you, so you can make an informed decision on whether HubSpot’s CRM platform is for you.

HubSpot CRM Review Summary

In our view, it's a good idea to start with HubSpot's free CRM plan, which comes email marketing, tracking, and landing pages, and lets you have 1 million contacts and unlimited users. Other extras include a meeting scheduler, live chat widget, and an AI email writer.

Those who want to remove HubSpot branding, send higher volumes of email, automate campaigns and add more custom properties and reporting dashboards will be looking at the Starter plan, which starts at $20/month.

The much pricier Professional and Enterprise plans are for those looking for sophisticated analytics, CMS features and lead scoring. But when we say expensive, we mean $890 a month expensive - so if you're a small-to-medium businesses who needs these features, there are more affordable alternatives.

If you don't have time to read our full review, get up to speed on HubSpot CRM's pros and cons with our video:

HubSpot CRM video review

Try HubSpot for free

HubSpot CRM Screenshots

HubSpot CRM Pricing

$ 0

Free CRM

Free CRM plan with limited features

$ 20

1,000

Marketing Starter. Discounts applied to annual subscriptions

$ 60

3,000

Marketing Starter. Discounts applied to annual subscriptions

$ 96

5000

Marketing Starter. Discounts applied to annual subscriptions

$ 128

7000

Marketing Starter. Discounts applied to annual subscriptions

$ 176

10000

Marketing Starter. Discounts applied to annual subscriptions

The free plan is very generous, and the Starter plans are just about manageable for small businesses, however, the Professional and Enterprise plans are extremely expensive. Making HubSpot not a great solution for scaling. Find out more in our complete pricing guide

Pros and Cons

  • Pros
  • Cons

Pros

  • Generous freemium plan

    It’s really great that HubSpot CRM lets you add unlimited users and 1M contacts on the free version. You’ll find that many other free CRMs are much more limited. Features include web forms, email marketing, ticketing, email tracking and landing pages. It really is the best CRM system for those looking for a free service.

  • Ease-of-use

    The fact that it’s so user-friendly is a big advantage to using HubSpot’s CRM platform. Its guided set-up wizard, demos and intuitive interface make it a great tool for all levels of experience. It’s still a huge software with a lot of bells and whistles, but taking all that into account, its usability is still outstanding. You’ll be particularly impressed with its lead management features.

  • Excellent customer support

    Chat support is available within your dashboard, and the customer support agents are quick to reply with helpful answers. There is also a breadth of rich content on their blog, knowledge base and within Academy, their free, online course platform.

  • Call feature

    HubSpot’s call feature allows you to make phone calls to your current and prospective leads from your account. Calls can be recorded and saved to your contact log for future reference. This feature is available on all plans, though the time limit varies.

Is HubSpot CRM the right CRM software for you?

  • Recommended if:
  • Not recommended if:
  • You’re looking for a free plan

    If you can make do with the “lite” version of paid features, then HubSpot’s free CRM plan is definitely worth checking out.

  • You’re a beginner

    Even if you have zero experience working with CRMs and other marketing features, you’ll be able to get to grips with HubSpot CRM fairly quickly, as everything feels quite intuitive and there are plenty of resources available if you get stuck.

  • You want to set up sales funnels

    Because HubSpot includes a landing page builder, form builder, live chat, sales pipelines, and much more, you’re able to build complete sales funnels under one roof.

Rating Details

Ease of Use Info popup

HubSpot CRM offers a very user-friendly interface. The menu is well laid out, making it easy to find what you need. In fact, the whole interface is very user-friendly. You’re guided through the setup process, and you can skip anything you’re not ready to do. There’s also chat support available in the dashboard.

Pipeline Management Info popup

Drag and drop technology makes organizing your deal pipeline a breeze. Sales pipeline management is made easy with the ability to edit the stages and add/remove custom properties to reflect your sales process. Both kanban and list view are available.

Contact/Deal Management Info popup

HubSpot CRM has excellent lead management features that facilitate deal tracking. Add notes, tasks, contracts and other docs. You’ll have a record of your contacts’ geolocation, call log, emails, etc. You can add up to 10 custom properties on the free plan and 1,000 on all other plans. All contacts are treated as leads. If you’d like to get around this, you could create a custom field to apply to certain contacts you didn’t want to include in the sales/deal pipelines or leave them as unassigned.

Email Features Info popup

Email marketing is included: Free plan includes 2,000 email sends/month (with HubSpot branding). This limit increases as you move on to the higher-tier plans. A great solution for email marketing lead generation.
Group mailing, e.g. to a handful of leads, is not facilitated by HubSpot CRM. It would be nice to be able to check a number of contacts and have the option to email them all in one go.

Automation Info popup

This CRM with automation offers limited form follow-up emails on the free plan. Marketing automation is now available on the Starter plan and bundles. This is great news, as it was previously reserved for the expensive Professional plan. You can choose from dozens of triggers, conditions, and actions, and the visual automation workflow builder is easy to use. If you need omnichannel automation, you’ll need to be on the Professional plan.

Reporting Info popup

HubSpot CRM gives you a number of dashboard templates that contain various reports (e.g. new contacts by source, revenue by source, etc.), all of which are easy to read. Up to 3 dashboards, each with 10 reports per dashboard, on the free plan. 10 dashboards included on Starter. Integration with Google Analytics available. You can also easily export your reports.

Lead Scoring

Sadly, this feature is reserved for higher-tier plans. Users with Professional and Enterprise accounts can customize the default HubSpot score contact property to qualify leads based on custom criteria. You can also create custom score properties for your contacts, companies, and deals. Predictive lead scoring available on Enterprise plan.

Live Chat

Included in all plans. HubSpot CRM’s Live Chat feature sports an integration with their chatbots, too. However, the free plan displays HubSpot branding.

Web Tracking

You can set up advanced tracking across domains and subdomains. Tracks location, original source, pages viewed, etc.

Security Info popup

2-factor authentication and access levels for user accounts. SOC 2 compliant. You can set up security alerts to notify you by phone.

Languages

The platform is available in 8 languages, in total

Integrations & Apps

There’s a huge selection of app integrations available, including ActiveCampaign, survey tools, Microsoft, Google and hundreds more.

Support

HubSpot CRM is perhaps the best CRM for customer service. Very extensive knowledge base and additional resources. Customer support agents are helpful and quick to respond.

Overall Rating

4.5

HubSpot CRM is a well-rounded, easy-to-use CRM tool with enough functionality to help small businesses get off the ground without paying a cent. The excellent customer service paired with a good range of well-design CRM features allows marketing and sales teams to effectively manage their customer relationships.

A More Detailed Look at HubSpot’s Top Features

HubSpot has so many features we could talk about, but here are the top 3 we think you’ll find interesting.

HubSpot’s AI Content Writer

In 2024 HubSpot has rolled out updates to correlate with the rise in AI, recently adding the AI Content Assistant to the platform.

We don’t doubt that this software will become a marketer’s best friend in a variety of writing tasks, particularly valuable for creating engaging email campaigns and copy for landing pages in no time.

For example, by simply typing ‘/’ within a marketing email or highlighting existing content, you will be welcomed with options for generating and editing copy, helping you to overcome the dreaded writer’s block when crafting campaigns.

Pros:

  • Ideation and content writing: The assistant allows you to brainstorm ideas on a particular topic, write paragraphs and summarize your points. The tool can also help you to summarize long paragraphs and trim down existing content.
  • Changing the tone: The AI technology provides you with suggestions for rephrasing and changing the tone of your wording to fit better with your goals: Highlighting a portion of text within an email will bring up options to sound more friendly, entertaining, or professional.
  • Click-worthy call-to-actions: We all know that email campaigns generally perform better when they have compelling call-to-actions, and the AI tool can help you to provide just that.
  • Social content: On top of an already busy marketer’s workload, scheduling social content for the next month can become a bit of a headache. The AI Social Caption Generator can relieve some of the stress that comes with crafting the perfect social post. What’s great is that it creates copy for your social content directly within HubSpot’s social scheduling tool – simply by pressing the lightning bolt icon when writing your caption.

hubspot AI Content Assistant
HubSpot’s AI Content Assistant

Cons:

  • Language barriers: The AI assistant may potentially produce inconsistent results in non-English languages. HubSpot is currently working on supporting other languages in the near future, but for now, it is important to carefully review non-English content for accuracy. In fact, we recommend reviewing all AI-generated content.
  • Personalization: The content generated isn’t personalized to your specific goals or needs, and is instead based on generic trends.

Live Chat

Customers often want information quickly, especially if they’re on the search for a particular product or service. That’s where live chat software can prove particularly helpful in enhancing the customer journey and building important relationships with prospects.

The live chat software within the HubSpot CRM platform enables businesses to communicate directly with customers and prospects through their website as well as other channels such as Facebook Messenger. The live chat will be in the form of a widget on your website pages so any visitor can start a chat in real-time with someone on your team. Providing customers with answers quickly and efficiently via live chat has been shown to help drive sales, so we’d really recommend setting this up.

HubSpot also allows you to easily create bots that can help you to automate tasks, such as qualifying leads, opening support tickets and allowing customers to book meetings. An example of this is the Concierge Bot – a kind of a receptionist for your website, which can help direct new visitors to the right place. The Qualify Leads bot is another option, which finds out if your leads are qualified before passing them on to a sales rep.

hubspot live chat options
HubSpot’s live chat options 

Pros:

  • Integration: Seamlessly integrates with your HubSpot account. The live chat works with a tracking code embedded on your website, so there’s no need to mess about with code. You can also integrate it with third-party apps such as Slack, Teams and Office 365.
  • Customization: Personalize your live chat widget to fit with your branding, and if you already have your brand colors set within the platform, HubSpot will apply this for you.
  • HubSpot Conversations: Access your inquiries from the live chat in a universal inbox included in HubSpot’s free CRM, which provides a clear view of every customer interaction for the entire team. From there, you can directly respond to inquiries, send emails, make calls, open support tickets and delegate follow-up tasks.
  • Out of Office: Set up your office hours so website visitors are aware of when you’re online to chat, with the option to set up email capture so you can respond later on to any chats you may have missed.
  • Tailored messaging: The live chat also allows you to set up different chatbots for individual website pages, so you can tailor your messaging and test what works.

Cons:

  • Missed conversations: If you don’t provide a route to the end of every conversation path, such as automatically sending an inquiry to your preferred sales person, people can reply without you being notified.
  • Limited features: In comparison to alternative chatbot providers, HubSpot’s might feel a little basic. Buttons, free text input, email validation and basic automation are included, but more advanced automation tasks can be limited.
  • Lack of AI integration: With a company as huge as HubSpot, you might assume AI would have made its way into HubSpot’s live chat, however the chatbot doesn’t appear to utilize advances in AI or language processing.
  • Analytics: There isn’t any way to analyze how your chatbot is performing, due to the lack of analytics in HubSpot Conversations. This is quite a big disadvantage as it reduces your ability to optimize the quality of your chatbot.
  • Location targeting: The chatbot doesn’t allow you to target or exclude certain countries or IP addresses, so if your business only provides services in particular countries or regions, this can create complications and extra work for those responding to customer inquiries.

 

Marketing Automation Software

HubSpot’s automation features are amongst the top players in the industry, helping you to streamline tasks, optimize your performance and achieve better results.

Each of your prospects’ actions can tell you a lot about your current marketing strategy and what your customers are engaging with. But manually tracking this is near impossible. Marketing automation is key to analyzing customer and prospect behavior and delivering the right content at the right time.

Pros:

  • Lead-nurturing: HubSpot’s automation features allow you to automate email campaigns and move contacts further down the sales/marketing funnel. You can set up triggers and conditions so you can get the right messages to prospects at exactly the right time.
  • Automating everyday tasks: Boost productivity by automating simple, mundane tasks with Workflows, such as sending welcome emails to new customers, automating follow-ups and sending re-engagement emails to cold leads.
  • Task reminders: Automated task reminders allow you to follow up with your contacts at the prime time, so you’re less likely to miss a golden opportunity.

Workflow Examples:

 

 

Cons:

  • Not included in the free plan: As attractive as HubSpot’s free plan is, marketing automation is not included within the free version, and prices can rise quickly depending on the number of contacts you have. Advanced omnichannel marketing automation is only offered at their $800 per month package, with only 1,000 contacts. It’s worth noting that there are other CRM alternatives that will offer automation at a much lower rate, depending on your needs.
  • Can get complicated: When getting into automated workflows, some businesses might find they don’t have the knowledge or experience to set this up themselves, as things can get quite complicated. Luckily, though, HubSpot’s academy offers a wide range of resources so you can learn how to maximize advanced features.

Conclusion

HubSpot dominates the sales and marketing market for a reason: they’re pros at inbound marketing. In other words, they provide potential and existing customers with rich, useful information and, once you’re on board, they delight you with an excellent user experience, which includes a well-designed product, helpful support and a good range of free features.

The fact that the free plan comes with a bit of everything from HubSpot’s Marketing, Sales CRM, Service, Content, Operations and Commerce Hubs, means that sales and marketing teams in small businesses and solopreneurs can do everything from lead capture to contact management for absolutely nothing.

The only catch is that once the time comes to upgrade, you’ll notice a significant jump in costs. But, with 1M contacts and unlimited users, you should be able to benefit from HubSpot CRM’s free plan for quite a while.

Not sure if HubSpot of the best CRM for you? Sign up for the free trial and take it for a spin.

Try HubSpot for free

FAQ

If you are a small business looking for a free CRM tool, then HubSpot’s free CRM plan is definitely worth your consideration. You can compare it against other free CRM tools here.

HubSpot and Mailchimp are slightly different tools. Mailchimp is principally an email service, whereas HubSpot is a customer relationship management tool, though both tools offer a range of marketing services.

It’s important to analyze each tool with your needs in mind.

HubSpot is a very successful all-in-one sales & marketing software company. As of Jan 2022, it’s worth $21.97B.

HubSpot’s email deliverability is surprisingly low according to our bi-annual deliverability tests. It’s worth keeping an eye on this.

Yes, HubSpot is a CRM with excellent functionality. We recommend HubSpot’s CRM system for ease of use, breadth of features and support.

HubSpot is considered an “all-in-one” CRM platform. The array of sales and marketing features found in its various “Hubs” is designed to facilitate marketing, sales and service processes.

HubSpot CRM Alternatives

A couple of HubSpot alternatives to check out are Pipedrive and ActiveCampaign CRM. The former is made for sales teams, and the latter is a mix of sales and marketing features.

ActiveCampaign is a particularly good choice for those serious about automation and email marketing. For small businesses seeking free CRM with basic marketing features, HubSpot’s Free CRM plan is a solid starting point, but its paid plans can become costly. ActiveCampaign offers more reasonably priced plans, allowing you to pay only for what you need, even on lower-tier plans with advanced features.

Learn more in our ActiveCampaign vs HubSpot comparison video:

activecampaign vs hubspot video review

EngageBay is also a great option for those looking for a similar offering to HubSpot at a reasonable, scalable price.

Zoho CRM is another alternative, however, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend it over HubSpot because of its overly complicated interface. The advantage of using Zoho CRM is that it’s available in 26 languages, whereas HubSpot is only available in 8.

HubSpot is a big Salesforce competitor, see how it compares in our complete guide. you might also want to check it against the other ActiveCampaign alternatives.

The authors

Learn more about us

Roberta Phillips

Marketing Manager

Hey, I'm Roberta! Having worked as a digital marketer for a host of online businesses, I've tried, tested, fallen in love with and despaired with so many marketing tools. I'm excited to help you find the email marketing and CRM tools you need to thrive.

Inka Wibowo

Senior Content Manager

Hi, I'm Inka! I spent the earlier part of my career in agency land, helping businesses of all sizes get their email marketing campaigns up and running. Now, at EmailTooltester, I'm using my experience to help businesses like yours find the best email marketing services for your needs.

Learn more about us

We keep our content up to date

16 May 2024 – Added top features section
06 Nov 2023 – Added ActiveCampaign vs HubSpot video
24 Apr 2023 – Video review added
08 Mar 2023 – Prices updated
15 Dec 2022 – Added badge
17 Nov 2022 – Small updates
07 July 2022 – HubSpot now offers marketing automation on Starter plan
24 May 2022 – Note about deliverability added
08 Feb 2022 – Added call feature
20 Jan 2022 – General Update
15 Jul 2021 – Added FAQ

Our Methodology

This review has been written and researched following our EmailToolTester methodology.

Our Methodology

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