Hubspot has become the go to content publishing and automation tool for many companies. It’s one of our preferred Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools thanks to its ease of use, their strong focus on content and SEO. We recommend HubSpot in the majority of cases, to the extent that we have partnered with HubSpot and have a deep understanding of their platform.
On one hand, HubSpot can do a lot, anything from emailing, marketing automation to even building your entire website, and on top of that, it has a great resource center with tons of helpful content. On the other hand, HubSpot has also many hidden nuances that could be frustrating to users, perhaps a few things that aren’t mentioned in the onboarding process. Since selecting your automation tool, website CMS or your future CRM is a big decision, I thought I’d share my own observations and reasons why NOT to work with HubSpot.
1 – Data protection issues
Your customer data will be stored on servers in the US – HubSpot offers servers in Frankfurt, but ultimately the data is transferred to the US. Considering the CLOUD Act this will be a no-go for many companies.
2 – Exploding costs
Although the initial CRM package is affordable and it’s fine if you just want to use the CRM, as soon as you want to use any of the automation features or landing page tools the costs go up considerably. In order to use a meaningful suite with content publishing & automation you should budget min. $10k / year.
3 – Increasing pricing plans for contacts
HubSpot has perfected the art of selling and pricing. The entire system is based on growing your database of contacts and then charging you for every 1’000 contact in the system. If you plan to have large volumes of contacts in your CRM, it’s worth checking the cost calculator. You’ll also be paying for dormant contacts.
4 – Chasing keywords, forgetting losing focus
HubSpot makes is easy to see what content could be written to win extra search clicks and impressions. This type of SEO content recommendation is typically done manually following keyword research. I’ve observed with some Hubspot customers that their content becomes incredibly fragmented, and they start producing content about topics outside of their core business and way beyond the original SEO strategy. It does create additional views, but often irrelevant to the business goals.
5 – Free Customer Support doesn’t exist
It’s not a big surprise, but it’s worth mentioning that if you use the free version or the cheaper versions you won’t get much help from HubSpot. Their sales machine will navigate you to the more expensive package to get more hands on help.
6 – Website can go down
If your website is business critical, would you make yourself dependent on 3rd party services where you have no access to infrastructure? I have heard some horror stories from large customers whose site went down for a few hours and they couldn’t do anything about it – not a good situation to be in.
7 – Data access and outages
Similar to the website outages, the CRM can also go down, there is a risk of outages when you can’t access your data (e.g. here the outage took nearly 6 hours to fix), for a lot of businesses it’s a no go.
8 – Poor email delivery rates
Emails sent from HubSpot are more likely to get stuck in the spam filters, perhaps due to the fact that it’s a popular tool and it’s easier for spam filters to recognise it. We had significant problems with getting emails delivered to clients in the financial sector, where rules are much tighter. Some low-profile tools didn’t have this issue.
9 – Lack of advanced workflow management
HubSpot is great for simple triggers and actions, but it doesn’t offer a proper workflow design and mapping of business processes. If you’re planning to build complex processes you’ll hit the limit pretty quickly.
10 – Not for advanced
HubSpot works great for those generalists who just need a content production machine – the tool is based around the concept of inbound marketing and it does exactly that. As soon as you step outside of the standard method or you need more advanced functionality, you will hit some roadblocks or you’ll be referred to the forum to post a suggestion.
11 – All or nothing
HubSpot lacks flexibility and custom integrations are expensive, so you need to either precisely define its role and somehow integrate HubSpot in your marketing stack, or preferably do everything on HubSpot and live with the limitations.
12 – Limited templates and frontend possibilities
The templating system inside HubSpot is limited and if you want to build a fancy, pixel perfect frontend you will need a lot of dev support, and it’s also possible that you won’t be able to achieve the same design that you planned. Bespoke development outside of HubSpot doesn’t have these barriers.
13 – Inbound stuff
This one is totally biased, but I need to mention it. HubSpot makes you forget how things work and you fall into the ‘inbound trap’ of implementing exactly the same marketing technique as thousands of other companies – suddenly you find yourself writing an ebook or white paper with a sneaky data capture that lets you collect some emails, which then will be bombarded with your sales information. I’d like to think that we as marketers have more creative ideas than this, and I vote for more independence and creativity that goes way beyond the entire inbound concept.
There are plenty of alternatives to choose from and in one of my next posts I’ll look at how you can achieve everything that HubSpot does with a hybrid marketing stack, including WordPress & HubSpot combo and a few other tools. Let me know if you need support selecting or integrating the right tool or if you come across any other reasons that speak against HubSpot.