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HubSpot CRM Review - The Pros, Cons And The Hidden Costs

roberta phillips

Jul 15, 2021

Professor

hubspot crm review

HubSpot, the CRM titan.

With a third of the market share, you’ve most likely heard of them? No doubt, one of your buddies has an account with them, 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 review.

Yes, HubSpot offers a very generous free CRM plan, 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 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 is for you.

HubSpot CRM Review Summary

Most will be interested in the HubSpot free CRM plan, which comes with 1M contacts, unlimited users, email marketing, live chat, tracking and landing pages. Those who want to remove HubSpot branding, send higher volumes of email and add more custom properties and reporting dashboards will be looking at the Starter plan, which starts at $50/month. The much pricier Professional and Enterprise plans are for those looking for sophisticated analytics, CMS features, omnichannel marketing automation and lead scoring. But when we say expensive, we mean $890 a month expensive.

1,000000 contacts

$0/MO

Free CRM plan with limited features

1,000 contacts

$50/MO

Marketing Starter plan. Discounts applied to annual subscriptions

3,000 contacts

$150/MO

Marketing Starter plan. Discounts applied to annual subscriptions

5,000 contacts

$240/MO

Marketing Starter plan. Discounts applied to annual subscriptions

7,000 contacts

$320/MO

Marketing Starter plan. Discounts applied to annual subscriptions

10,000 contacts

$440/MO

Marketing Starter plan. 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

Generous freemium plan:

It’s really great that HubSpot lets you add unlimited users and 1m contacts on the free plan. You’ll find that many other free CRMs are much more limited. Features include web forms, email marketing, ticketing, live chat, tracking and landing pages.

Ease-of-use:

This is a big advantage to using HubSpot. 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.

Excellent support:

Live chat is available within your dashboard, and the customer service 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.

Expensive paid plans with hidden costs:

Anything above the Starter plan gets very expensive, and requires you to pay a high onboarding fee. In the case of the Marketing Professional plan, this is $3,000 on top of the $890/month.

No omnichannel marketing automation on lower tier plan:

Unfortunately, you won’t have many options when it comes to marketing automation unless you sign up to HubSpot’s expensive Professional plan. There are other tools that let you do a lot more for MUCH less. Find out more here.

Basic templates:

Surprisingly, HubSpot’s templates aren’t quite what you’d expect from such a popular, modern tool. I’d like to see some more design options for email and landing pages.

criterion rating comments

Ease of Use

The menu is well-laid out, making it easy to find what you need. You’re guided through the setup process, and you can skip anything you’re not ready to do. There’s also a chatbot and live chat available in the dashboard.

Pipeline Management

Drag and drop technology makes organizing your deals a breeze. You can edit the stages and add/remove custom properties to reflect your sales process. Both kanban and list view are available.

Contact/Deal Management

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 pipeline or leave them as unassigned.

Email Features

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.
Group mailing, e.g. to a handful of leads, is not facilitated by HubSpot. 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

Limited form follow-up emails are available across plans. Omnichannel marketing automation is available on Professional and Enterprise plans, meaning you’ll have to fork out the big bucks to benefit from this feature.

Reporting

HubSpot 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 the 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’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

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.

Support

Very extensive knowledge base and additional resources. Support agents are helpful and quick to respond.

Overall Rating

4.5/5

HubSpot is a well-rounded, easy-to-use CRM tool with enough functionality to help small businesses get off the ground without paying a cent.

HubSpot dominates the 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 onboard, 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 its Marketing, Sales and Service hubs means that small businesses and solopreneurs can do everything from lead capture to contact management to email marketing 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’s free plan for quite a while.

Try HubSpot for free

 

Updates:

15 Jul 2021 – Added FAQ

A couple of HubSpot alternatives to check out are Freshworks and ActiveCampaign CRM. These both offer an interesting mix of sales and marketing features. ActiveCampaign is a particularly good choice for those serious about automation.
EngageBay is also a great option for those looking for a similar offering to HubSpot at a reasonable, scalable price.

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.

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HubSpot and Mailchimp are slightly different tools. Mailchimp is principally an email marketing 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.

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HubSpot is a very successful all-in-one sales & marketing software company. As of June 2021, it’s worth $27.5B.

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roberta phillips
Having worked as a digital marketer, Roberta has tried, tested, fallen in love with and despaired with so many digital tools. She is excited to be helping businesses find the email marketing tools they need in order to thrive.