The Most In-Depth HubSpot Vs. WordPress Review Ever Written

by Marcus Sheridan

hubspot close up

In this corner: The upstart tech company hailing from Boston….

-VS-

 

In this corner: The massive blogging platform hailing from just about everywhere in the world…

Right now, somewhere in this world, there is a business owner or marketing team trying to choose between HubSpot and WordPress for their company’s blog and possibly the rest of their online marketing platform. It is because of this and the fact that I’m constantly being asked by clients to compare the pros and cons of each, that I decided to put my thoughts to pen on this debate. So buckle up my friends, this might be a long ride… :-)

Why this Review is VERY Different

I’ve seen a few articles written on this subject before, but in my mind, they’ve all been incredibly flawed for three main reasons:

1. The author of the article wasn’t a hard-core user of both platforms.

2. The author was very biased one way or the other.

3. The author didn’t represent the true mass of small/medium sized business owners out there because they were too “techie” or “guru” to truly “get it.”

It is for these 3 reasons that this subject has been literally eating at me for so long.

As many of you know, my swimming pool company went from near failure to major success when we decided to embrace the concepts of Inbound Marketing and started using the HubSpot (HS) platform. For just over 3 years, I’ve watched the Boston-based startup grow from a little-known software company to one of the fastest growing tech companies in the world—so much so that Google herself invested 33 million into the all-in-on marketing platform this past year—a platform that has now been embraced by over 6000 users worldwide.

During this time period, I’ve literally answered thousands of questions, emails, and phone calls regarding my thoughts on HS and how to properly use the tool. I’ve also become a HS “partner” and therefore signed up and trained many small and medium-sized businesses to use the product and achieve online marketing success.

A Unique Relationship

These facts may make it appear as if I was a HubSpot homer, but the truth is my relationship with WordPress (WP) is in many ways just as strong. Since November of 2009, I’ve been using WordPress here on The Sales Lion (Thesis Theme). During this time I’ve not only done quite a bit of “tinkering” with the platform, but I’ve also consulted and coached dozens of business to achieve success using WordPress as their blog and marketing foundation.

In other words, I do have a special relationship with both subjects of this article. Some days I love HubSpot. Other days I hate it. Some days I love WordPress. Other days I hate it. Such are the emotions that accompany familiarity, and I’m not afraid to call a spade a spade when I see it.

This is exactly why this article needed to be written. I’m a non-techie business owner just trying to make the best marketing decision for both of my companies (River Pools and The Sales Lion), plus all the companies I now consult with.

In order to do this the right way, I’m going to break down this article into three sections. The first will discuss how HS and WP compare as blogging platforms. The second will compare the two as a CMS (content management system). And the third will compare the two from an overall marketing perspective.

HubSpot Vs. WordPress as a Blogging Platform

Let’s face it, when it comes to blogging platforms, there are arguably none better in this world than WordPress. Because of its open source approach, as well as the fact that it comes available in so many themes, the possibilities are endless. Combine that with the fact there seem to be amazing, new plugins that keep popping up day in and day out, the blogging behemoth that is WordPress will not be going away anytime soon.

That being said, HS is a solid blogging platform. It’s easy to use. It’s intuitive. And its ability to tie in with the platform’s robust analytics is wonderful—a subject I will delve into more later in this article.

Also, when the article your currently reading was first written, HubSpot was using their “old” platform/CMS– but now they’ve completely changed things and are calling it their COS, or Content Optimization System. As soon as this new system came out, the divide between HS and WP got much, much smaller, as there are some major features to consider with the new platform.

With responsive design and integrated analytics, HubSpot's COS is a powerful marketing engine.

With responsive design and integrated analytics, HubSpot’s COS is a powerful marketing engine.

 

A Couple of HubSpot Drawbacks

There are two main features of WordPress that HubSpot’s blogging platform doesn’t have:

1. The ability for blog comments to show gravatars. (Can you imagine TSL without the Lion??!) (Note: Other commenting platforms like Disqus can be integrated into a HS blog to make up for this.)

2. The ability to reply directly to a comment and have that person (without them having clicked “subscribe to all comments”) receive an email showing the reply. (Note: With WordPress, this plugin is called “ReplyMe”, and it’s awesome.)

3. If you’re looking to build a super-professional site on WordPress, you literally have hundreds upon hundreds of companies to choose from. On the other hand, because the HubSpot COS is so new, you may struggle to quickly find a qualified designer with elite skills to perform the tasks you’re looking to achieve.

I want to stress here that these three “flaws” do not mean HS doesn’t have a solid blogging platform. In fact, I’d say it has two very nice advantages over its WP counterpart:

1. The ability to set up multiple blogs with a click: Let’s say that you want to set up multiple blogs on your company’s website due to the fact that you have unique audiences and needs. To set up a new blog in HS it takes about 5 seconds, start to finish….which ain’t bad.

add blog on hubspot

With a simple click, you can easily add multiple blogs to your HubSpot site.

2. Regarding set up, HubSpot’s blog is ready to go “out of the box”. It’s SPAM ready with its own plugins already built-in. So for a non-techie business owner, it’s really nice not to have to research 50 articles on, “20 Must-Have Plugins for a WordPress Blog.”

Overall, I’d give the two blogging platforms the following grade:

HubSpot: B+

WordPress (depending on the theme you choose): A

**If you’d really like to get a much better look at HubSpot’s new COS, take a look at this video:

YouTube Preview Image

HubSpot Vs. WordPress as a CMS

I’m a strong believer that content management systems are the best things that happened to the Internet since, well, the Internet. For those of you unfamiliar with what the term means, a CMS is essentially a platform that allows someone to build a website without using a ton of code, but rather a drag/drop/click template approach. These types of systems often enable non-techies to actually do some web building themselves, without the constant help of a webmaster/designer.

Although WordPress started off as more of a straight blogging platform, it has now become an incredibly popular website building platform as well, which is why many business now have their entire website built on WP.

HS users are not required to use HS as their site’s CMS if they are using the middle and upper packages (otherwise known as “Professional” and “Enterprise”), but if someone is using the lower package (AKA “Basic”), they are required to build/migrate their site onto the HS CMS (To understand this further, read more here). Although this fits the needs of many, many businesses, it is my hope that HS will soon come out with a 4th package that allows for the use of their analytics and marketing tools, but does  not make it required to use the CMS, as there are certain businesses where the platform simply isn’t the best fit.

Non-Techie Benefits

When it comes to non-techies, it’s my opinion that HubSpot’s platform is a bit easier to build a website on. Now granted, the ease of building on WordPress changes depending on the “theme” being used, but for the sake of time here, understand that I’m only able to give a “blanket” approach when speaking of the WP CMS.

To give you an example of how HS is easier than WP, let’s say I’m building a page and want it to be three columns instead of two columns. To do this in HS, it literally takes me about 30 seconds. To do this in WP, it takes a phone call and $$$ to my webmaster. (As mentioned before, I’m a non-techie, which means I’m just like 99% of the business owners in the world and don’t know how to do this stuff.)

hubspot page creator

An “under the hood” look at HubSpot’s page creation tool, it allows for easy customization of certain design elements.

There are a few other HS CMS (COS) features that I feel deserve positive mention here:

1. Drag and Drop: To rearrange any page of a HubSpot COS website, all you have to do is take the “content box” and move it by dragging it to another area of the page. This is a great feature and one that is certainly appreciated by those with no coding experience.

2. Button Creator/Split Testing: The HS COS has a built-in button creator that allows you to split-test the effectiveness of call-to-action buttons and images, something that has helped me personally a tremendous amount to increase conversions on my site.

3. Easy Landing Page Creator: If you’re looking to create a simple and effective “textbook” style landing page for your website, HS allows you to do this in minutes, and with the new COS, regular pages, landing pages, and even email are all built using the same interface.

Complaints and Drawbacks

Before HubSpot’s new system, I used to have many complaints about the platform. But now, with their responsive design and completely revamped page editing that allows you to preview changes in real-time, I’m literally ecstatic with the changes and don’t find nearly as much fault.

The one knock on the new COS that some folks may have is that it is a bit more complicated than the old one for non-techies to do basic design. That being said, designers and programmers like the new COS way more than the previous version due to its limitations.

responsive design is a big deal these days, and HubSpot's system is "out of the box" ready in this regard.

Responsive design is a big deal these days, and HubSpot’s system is “out of the box” ready in this regard.

 

HubSpot Vs. WordPress as an Analytics and Marketing Platform

It’s rather unfair to compare HS and WP in this arena, as WP really isn’t in the business of analytics, but the subject cannot be ignored when comparing two tools that are so very intertwined with a company’s web marketing campaign.

When it comes to analytics and general marketing, HubSpot excels big-time, and offers way more than if someone was just looking at their stats through Google Analytics. For example, HS offers:

1. Lead Tracking: This tool allows you to understand the behavior of those persons that have filled out a form on your website. By knowing such things as “time on site,” “date of previous visits,” “different pages viewed,”etc.—a marketing and sales team can better understand the quality and needs of their leads, which in-turn enables better sales customization and higher closing rates.

Hubspot lead tool

Here is a screen shot of one of my leads in HubSpot, which allows for tremendous tracking opportunities for any sales and marketing team.

2. ROI (Return on Investment): By seeing that an individual typed in a certain phrase in search, which brought them to a blog article on your website, which then brought them to a landing page where they filled out a form, which then lead to a sales appointment and an eventual customer—you can literally track how much money and sales keywords and blog articles make on your website. Simply put, this feature is a must-have for any business serious about web marketing and measuring ROI in my opinion.

hubspot lead tracker

Here is a screenshot of my swimming pool website. By tracking where my leads come from (and customers), I’m able to measure true ROI of my inbound marketing efforts.

3. Lead Nurturing: With built-in list segmentation, email, and automated lead follow-ups—HubSpot has the ability, when used properly, to push leads down the sales funnel with a vast array of nurturing tools. Again, this is tremendously valuable.

4. Social Media Integration: If you’re looking to measure your social reach and the influence social is having on traffic, leads, and sales—HubSpot’s platform includes these features as well. In fact, one of HubSpot’s latest features is their “Social Inbox”–a unique social CRM of sorts and a potentially powerful tool for those businesses and industries that are socially driven from a twitter/facebook standpoint.

5. Clean and Easy Analytics: This one goes back to the techie vs. non-techie issue, but when compared to Google Analytics, I find that most business owners prefer the HubSpot platform. It’s tough to pin an exact reason for this statement, but I can tell you that I often wonder if the designers of Google Analytics bothered to work with a single non-techie to improve the intuitive nature (or incredible lack thereof) of the program.

6. Excellent Keyword and Link Analysis Tools: If you’re looking to track your keywords and links for SEO purposes, HS has a tool that not only allows for excellent keyword and link tracking, but you can also keep close tabs on your competitors as well—a feature any serious online marketer will use every day.

hubspot keyword tool

If you’re looking for a robust keyword tracker and analysis tool, Hubspot does a nice job, as shown here from my swimming pool site.

Understand that each of the “benefits” and “tools” I mention here are available as “add-ons” for those businesses using WordPress and not HubSpot. So if someone wants lead tracking, nurturing, email, etc.—there is always other software packages  and tools that can make this reality, some of which are free, others of which are not. (Note: HubSpot has many customers that use WordPress as their CMS and blog, but use HS for their analytics/lead nurturing/etc.)

One other benefit of HS that deserves mention is their overall support features. If you’re having a problem with your site and have a general question that needs to be answered, they have a solid support staff available via email and live chat. In comparison, although WordPress is loaded with forums and chat rooms discussing their platform, 1-on-1 assistance can be harder to attain. Furthermore, HubSpot has many in-house “consultants” (not free) that work directly with clients to get them up and running with their inbound marketing campaigns—a benefit that was mentioned to me by multiple people when I sent out my survey in preparation for this post.

OK Marcus, but which is better?

The more I become experienced and involved in the world of sales and marketing, the more I realize there is never a “one-size fits all” solution for the masses. Every business is unique. Every business has different strengths and weaknesses. And it is because of this that I can’t sit here and say that one solution is definitively better than the other.

This being said, I do have some general rules of thumb I’ve come up with for those comparing the two platforms:

1. If you’re a non-techie business owner that wants to manage your website and marketing in-house (for the most part) and have everything under one roof, then HubSpot is likely your best solution on the market today.

2. If you’re a non-techie looking for a great blogging platform/CMS, and are willing to pay someone to make changes to your site when necessary, then WordPress is likely a great choice.

3. If you’re using WordPress and looking for GREAT analytics/lead tracking, you’re going to need to use at least some type of paid service—be it HS or another solution.

4. If you’re the type that would like everything you need for web marketing laid out in front of you in an organized and structured manner, with a support staff ready to help, and have the financial resources to do so—then HubSpot is likely a great fit.

I could go on and on about these two products, but my gut tells me 3,000 words is quite enough, at least for now.

But the good thing is this community if full of smart people that have used these platforms, and I’m frankly looking very forward to the discussion that will now ensue in the comments section.

Your Turn:

OK folks, I’d be curious to know the following:

1. What other benefits/drawbacks to HS and WP would you add?

2. Is there anything I’ve stated here in the article you don’t agree with? Why?

3. What do you think the future holds for the movement that is HubSpot and will they become a dominant leader in the industry or do you think other inbound marketing platforms will grab more market share?

As always, your voice matters my friends, so jump on in.





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{ 139 comments… read them below or add one }

Brankica April 9, 2012 at

OK, Marcus this is too cool. I first have to say I love the review. I have never used Hubspot but I have to say I am in kinda the same group with you, where I am a heavy user of both WP and Site Build It. And I will tell you one thing, it is so annoying sometimes to try compare two such different systems because people seem not to care that you are trying to present this type of info.
For example, it is very obvious that WP and HS are different. However, there are always way to compare some features. Same as I do with SBI. However, no matter in how many details you present your comparison, people seem to scroll down without reading the majority of it and say something like “well, WP is easy”, or “that is way more expensive than WP”. When in all reality SBI (and obviously Hubspot) offer so much more than WP. Seems people don’t understand WP is only a platform and the other two are complete systems.
OMG, this looks like a rant hahaha but it isn’t. I am actually so behind this idea and love how you presented it and I hope people realize how important it is to look further than a simple platform if you want to build a real profitable business online :)

PS Happy Easter :)

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Marcus Sheridan April 9, 2012 at

I saw that review you did on Site Build It Bran and I thought is was exceptional. Posts like that and this one take some serious time, but if someone is serious about comparing the two, this article will stick.

Always love your perspective Bran and keep doing all those amazing things on your end. :)

Marcus

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Ian Altman April 9, 2012 at

Marcus,

Great insight. I’ve been a long-time WP user. HubSpot certainly seems to have some cool capabilities. I like the balanced view you gave the review, and as always, sharing great information with the community. My book, Upside-Down Selling, is hitting the home stretch. It will ship later this month. I’m happy to send you a link for your users to get a free eBook copy on Amazon when we release it.

I look forward to connecting soon.

Ian

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Marcus Sheridan April 9, 2012 at

Hey my man, excited for the book release soon and I’ll certainly being sharing it on my end. Hope you’re doing well bud and good luck this week!!

Marcus

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Adarsh Thampy April 9, 2012 at

Marcus,

I normally leave long comments. But this time, here is my review one hubspot I wrote a little while earlier.

http://conversionchamp.com/hubspot-review-inbound-marketing-tool/

Cheers :)

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Marcus Sheridan April 9, 2012 at

I loved that post you did on HS Adarsh. It was truly impressive my man.

Thanks for dropping by,

Marcus

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Michelle August 24, 2013 at

Hi Marcus, I’m just wondering, because this is an old post (in internet terms!), and I have just learned about you, so I’m doing lots of (content!) reading, is all of the above still true? About the usability factors for HS, I mean, like not being to write custom urls for blog posts, and the other stuff you mentioned? Have they changed these things, now, sixteen months after you first posted this? Just curious. Thanks, and thanks for all the fabulous content; I just got finished with the Assignment Marketing webinar – amazing!
Michelle

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Marcus Sheridan August 24, 2013 at

Hey Michelle, I’m actually getting ready to adjust this post because HubSpot has a brand new CMS, and it’s a gamechanger, quite frankly.

Stay tuned.

Marcus

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Michelle August 25, 2013 at

Thanks for replying, you’re the best. Glad to hear, can’t wait to hear about the new HubSpot CMS. Tuned, for sure; best, Michelle

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Michelle August 25, 2013 at

Great news, Marcus, just one more thing; should I wait for this HubSpot update? I have been looking around at WP themes (not total beginner, but maybe not intermediate, either), to install, because I really desperately want to get my website/blog happening with some cool, regular content.. Fact is, I can’t really afford HubSpot anyway right now, at a couple hundred bucks a month for basic.. What do you think? Go ahead with an installation, quickly, get the content going on, switch later if I decide to? Or, hold off? I have been trying for years, spending money, earning nothing, but learning a lot.. no website to speak of (it sucks so badly, I don’t want even to look at it, but if you wouldn’t mind?).. all of that is about to change! Thanks for everything, and for being such an awesome dude. Michelle.

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Dharmesh Shah August 25, 2013 at

The most important thing is to start producing content. Don’t lose that drive — channel and it and just get started with whatever means is at your disposal. You should not wait until you can afford HubSpot (note: I’m founder/CTO of HubSpot).

Good luck!

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Michelle August 25, 2013 at

Wow, thanks a million for the reply, Dharmesh! Got it.. just go ahead.. All the best, Michelle

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Amanda Bray August 27, 2013 at

Michelle – As a loyal HubSpot user and content manager, I am sympathetic to the plight of small business owners! When I hear people say similar things, my first point of advice is: Start saying/sharing something meaningful now on your blog every day, and the traffic will come! Not every one can afford HubSpot initially, but with great content (per Dharmesh’s post) I absolutely (117% certainty) believe you’ll begin to see traction on your site. Sending you positive thoughts for a perfect storm of traffic. Cheers!

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Jon Yoffie April 9, 2012 at

Great comparison and contrast.

I am one of those you mention who are using HubSpot plug-in on my WordPress site. This allows me to use the WP CMS with all the HS analytics, CTA, and Landing Page tools.

I still run my blog pages from WP, but there is the option to have the blog pages hosted in HS, too. This would allow me to use the HS keyword tools in my blog, too.

Part of my rational here is that it is my understanding that is quite difficult to port content back to WP should one decide to leave the HS CMS.

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Marcus Sheridan April 9, 2012 at

Jon, great to have your perspective here being that you’re a dual user– that’s perfect man.

Continued success and appreciate the comment!

Marcus

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Chris Windley April 18, 2012 at

Jon, Any more on your experience with the HubSpot plug-in ?? Regards, Chris.

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Bob Dunn April 9, 2012 at

This is a great and unique comparison, one I haven’t seen yet. The one note I would make is your must be comparing Hubspot and WordPress.com, not necessarily the open source software.

In that case, on WordPress.com and Hubspot you are on someone else’s platform. As I’m not very familiar with the option of Hubspot, I am guess you cannot move your entire blog, structure and all, to another hosting company. And as with WordPress.com, you need to follow their terms of use.

That is where the true advantage of WordPress is. I always recommend self-hosting your blog with WordPress. That way you have much more control over the content and structure, and if you aren’t happy with your host, you can easily move your entire blog somewhere else.

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Marcus Sheridan April 9, 2012 at

Completely agree with the self-hosting comment Bob, and that was the WP I was actually referring to in this article.

As for putting your content on the HS CMS, one can migrate on and off the site, but coming off the CMS to another platform is a pain in the butt….although it can be done.

Really appreciate you dropping in Bob,

Marcus

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Rebecca Livermore April 9, 2012 at

Marcus, this is by far the most comprehensive comparison of WordPress and HubSpot I’ve ever seen. Nicely done. :)

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Marcus Sheridan April 9, 2012 at

Thanks Rebecca!!

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Dharmesh Shah April 9, 2012 at

Marcus: Thanks for the excellent article. Very useful piece of content for the community.

By the way, keep your eyes peeled for some BIG (and I mean BIG) developments on the CMS/blog front from HubSpot. We plan to show it off at Inbound in August. Did I mention it’s BIG? :)

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Marcus Sheridan April 9, 2012 at

Well then I’m even more excited than before to be attending (and speaking) at inbound Dharmesh. Can’t wait and thanks for dropping by.

Marcus

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Matthew Stock April 10, 2012 at

Hi Dharmesh-

Very cool for you to drop in. I am a Hub Spot customer and was wondering if you can address my comment below about the subdirectory vs. subdomain debate? I’ve read a lot of your stuff saying a subdomain is as good as a subdirectory, but I still have some doubts.

I know Hub Spot blogs on a subdomain, so you practice what you preach. I’m just curious if my lower Google Page Rank on Hub Spot blog / subdomain is hurting me SEO-wise (and if it is, what I can do about it).

Thanks Dharmesh.

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Bettina August 3, 2012 at

Ohhhh FINALLY I found a hint somewhere about what the big announcement could be :)
I would so love to come to Inbound12 but coming from the southern tip of Africa (also called the end of the world) is a bit of a nightmare.

Marcus thank you for this great post, I totally agree with you. I am a heavy WP user, have a SBI site and am now dabbling with HubSpot big time, but the CMS is worrying me. But I bet they’re coming out with the CMS of all CMS’s in August now.

I’ll be watching the streams with a hawks eye during Inbound12 :)

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Marcus Sheridan August 3, 2012 at

Hey Bettina!!

Like you, I have HIGH hope for Inbound12.REALLY HIGH.

And thanks so much for your kind words too :-)

Sounds like you’ve really got some momentum on your end, so I’d say just keep it up and keep pushing!!

Marcus

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rhonda hurwitz October 4, 2012 at

Hi Marcus,

I really enjoyed the post, and all these great comments. It’s been almost 2 months since Inbound12, and while all the great h3 improvements were announced, nothing re: aesthetics and functionality of blog/site … are we still waiting for further improvement to the CMS?

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Marcus Sheridan October 6, 2012 at

Yep, still waiting Rhonda :-(

Oh well.

But when I spoke to Dharmesh at the event he said that he expected the CMS and blog platform to have their newest facelift by the following Inbound conference.

And I sure hope that is the case.

Thanks Rhonda,

Marcus

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Rob Metras April 9, 2012 at

Best comprehensive analysis I have seen Marcus. As a self-trained WordPress user by the community and Word Camps as well as the legion of contributors of themes,plugins and articles like Lorelle and Andrea Rennicks and Yoast, I fell quite connected to it and have benefited. Perhaps I will soon straddle the two camps and settle my reciprocity deficit with HubSpot who produce excellent White Papers and have built quite the following in Inbound marketing

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Marcus Sheridan April 9, 2012 at

Rob, very grateful you stopped in to share this bud. I think your experience with WP is like many others– you’ve taken advantage of the amazing community that is out there and managed to become proficient in a skill that’s highly sought after in today’s world– something I respect a ton man.

I do hope you’ll get a chance to get to know HS a bit though, I think if anything it will offer a unique experience.

Thanks again for dropping by Rob,

Marcus

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Ruth Zive April 9, 2012 at

Yay! I’ve been waiting for this Marcus – thank you!

I have a few clients on Hubspot, so I am often in the backend. I HATE blogging on Hubspot. I find it’s difficult to format posts, I hate that I can’t add plugins and customize – you did include a review on social media integration, but I think Wordpress wins in that regard (perhaps that falls under blogging…). Your hands are just so tied, aesthetically and technically in HS (and I am NOT a designer or techie, but I still get frustrated).

But….

From an analytics point of view, HS wins, hands down! I love the weekly updates that tell me everything I need to know about conversions and traffic. SOOOO much better than anything I have found on WP.

So, in a nutshell. I agree with your review. Now, off to share it with my clients and partners :-).

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Marcus Sheridan April 9, 2012 at

Hey Ruth, so glad you found some value in this and I appreciate your observations as well, as I’m sure there are many out there that would agree with you, which is why I think if HS can fix the CMS/Blog platform issues, they’ll be unbelievably successful, dwarfing what they’ve done up to this point.

Have fun sharing!! :-)

Marcus

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Sarah Kolb April 9, 2012 at

Wow. Just, wow. We’re having a big meeting coming up here to determine how to move forward with a new blog we’re about to launch. Here I am, innocently browsing my blog feed, and I find that you’ve done the majority of the legwork for me — thank you, thank you, thank you!!

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Marcus Sheridan April 11, 2012 at

You’re very, very welcome Sarah! :) And if you have any other questions, feel free to contact me directly anytime.

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Sarah Kohl April 9, 2012 at

Well Marcus- I see you are following your own advice to review products in detail. Kudos.
That said I have used both WP and Hubspot for my business. In fact I migrated my business from WordPress to the basic Hubspot package (I am a start-up) For me this was a great move becuase of the substantial help I get with keyword analysis, lead follow-up, plug-’n-play page layout and easty to undersand analytics for the non-techie. I moved because my ‘web guru’ gave me poor serivce at a high price. I needed to be able to move the content around and edit easily.I didn’t have time/engergy to learn all the little feaures of WordPress. However…..I do miss some really nice features of WordPress. It was much easier to make a good looking site (WP has many templates and graphics and widgets and etc etc) Overall the blog (centerpiece of the on-line component of my business) looked better and was slightly easier to manage in WordPress- in all the ways you have suggested. Additionally, the email newsletter you can generate from Hubspot doesn’t look very professional. Currently their only solution is to hire someone to layout a template for you. (My solution is a bit lower-tech- use an email service provider with plug-’n-play graphics) I am looking forward to the upgrades in HubSpot. Their staff is helpful and the on-line coaching classes are more than worth the trade off of diminished appearance of website. I’d love to hear the opinions of other dual users.

p.s. I hope those in the position to make decisions about HubSpot notice the general consensus about the weakness of the blog interface.

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Marcus Sheridan April 12, 2012 at

Sarah, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to mention what you’ve said here. As I read your comment, I kept nodding my head, again and again.

One would think the two sides could merge together and HS could fill in those gaps of theirs…Hmmmm ;-)

Guess we’ll all be crossing out finger come Inbound summit later this year. ;-)

Thanks again Sarah,

Marcus

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Michelle August 24, 2013 at

Hi there, I get an error reading 404, to this link; I know it’s not your job to check these links, I’m just wondering how to find this article, does it mean it doesn’t exist anymore (yes, total newbie, sorry)?
Thanks!

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Ryan Hanley April 9, 2012 at

Good work Marcus.

I’ve never used Hubspot so I no knowledge of the platform other than what you just described so I can’t talk it.

However, I use Wordpress for both my site and my Insurance Agency’s site and I can say from that experience that DIY and Wordpress are NOT easy.

I like to figure out the back end of things so I get really into it… But it’s not easy and if I was running a start-up and didn’t have time to play around and make mistakes a system like Hubspot would be much more up my alley.

Thanks,

Ryan H.

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Marcus Sheridan April 12, 2012 at

Hey brother, thanks for adding your thoughts on this. The fact that you come from the “non-techie’s” perspective and talk about your experience in learning WP I think is very, very representative of the masses Ryan. Sure, it’s possible to learn the platform, but if anyone says it’s “easy” I think they’re really out of touch with so many average Joe and Janes…otherwise all our sites would look like Copyblogger.

Again, thanks for rockin it bud,

Marcus

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Jacob April 9, 2012 at

Great analysis Marcus!

At our company we take the best of both worlds: We use a custom wordpress template for our main website and blog, but use Hubspot for all of our landing pages and CTAs. We use all of hubspot’s tracking on our wordpress site. I think it gives your the best of both worlds. Wordpress’ blogging and hubspot’s analytics. We also used the API for some stuff as well.

Our wordpress CMS is a little different as it is super user friendly, but also allows me to edit some code when I need to. (we had it custom built) I am excited to hear bout the new HS platform though!

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Marcus Sheridan April 12, 2012 at

Jacob, I do think in many ways that is a “best of both worlds” approach, which is also why I’m so very hopeful that HS will step up its game with the CMS and keep the simplicity but allow for the aesthetics. Guess we’ll all be watching closely. ;-)

Keep up the great work with inbound marketing bud!

Marcus

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Nancy Genys April 10, 2012 at

I use hubspot and am a NON techie for sure. I like it, but for me it is still complicated and I know I don’t utilize all of it as well as I could…. so as for the things you say they can improve on — hopefully by the time they do, I will have a better handle on hubspot. For me, I like the way it’s easy to use it, change and add pages, but do get frustrated that I can’t use it more like word or publisher which I am pretty good at. So, even with my non- techie skills I am frustrated on occasion – but thankfully their customer service is pretty great.

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Marcus Sheridan April 12, 2012 at

Hey Nancy! Yes, even though the CMS is simpler than most, it’s still a tough road for many of us…so don’t forget you’re not alone in your struggles! :-)

Thanks so much for dropping by,

Marcus

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Glen Kohlenberg April 10, 2012 at

Marcus great post. I have used WP and in the process of adding HS. Yes the cost is huge $18,500 for us. But I am sold on all the tracking! We sell several products and services for home improvements. So tracking where are leads come from is a must.

Thanks Glen

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Marcus Sheridan April 12, 2012 at

Yep, the tracking is absolutely huge Glen, and its importance cannot be overstated.

Good luck with the product man and do me a favor and keep me posted on the results, as I’d love to know!

Marcus

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Marie Wiese April 10, 2012 at

Marcus,
Thank you so much for this post. This is an honest and thorough review. I admire Hubspot and what they have done. We are avid Wordpress users and very familiar with everything you noted here about Wordpress. We build online strategies for clients using Wordpress and did so initially because of the control you have with Wordpress and frankly, cost. I know you are a firm believer of answering the obvious first question that all customers ask – “what does it cost?” We have found that customizing a Wordpress solution is more cost effective than Hubspot but I could be wrong. And when I look at the lead nurturing pieces you have highlighted here, it could be that they net out in the end in terms of time, money and evolution. What we have found is that Wordpress seems to be a more cost effective way to get people to dip their toe into the pool and at least start the process. I would be interested in your thoughts on one investment versus the other and the criteria you might use to assess that.

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Marcus Sheridan April 12, 2012 at

Marie, what a great comment, thank you for taking the time with this.

I completely agree that from a “toe dipping” perspective, WP is a great place to start.

As from an investment/value perspective, that can get sticky, but for me it goes back to tracking. The bottom line is that I strongly feel every business website should have enhanced analytics where they can track leads, their behaviors, etc. If a site doesn’t have this, then they’re missing the mark.

HS is a great tracking/behavior tool, a benefit which isn’t found anywhere unless you start shelling out the bucks.

So whether a person uses HS, WP, or any other platform for their CMS and blog, they need to spend the money for better analytics and tracking, which means that something like a Hubspot is ultimately going to be in the mix.

I hope that makes a little bit of sense Marie.

Thanks again for stopping by!

Marcus

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Todd Breen April 10, 2012 at

In a word?

Love Hubspot for everything BUT blogging.

I still use Wordpress for my blog posts cuz they’re the best by far. Much easier to use and far more powerful than Hubspots blog tools.

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Marcus Sheridan April 12, 2012 at

Good perspective Todd, and I think there are many in your same boat– sharing your same feelings.

But hopefully HS will soon catch up, ehhh? ;-)

Thanks for stopping by,

Marcus

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Todd Breen August 21, 2012 at

So… as a enterprise that has grown using wordpress & hubspot, we’ve just decided to make a change – to wordpress & salesforce. Previously we could never find a working way to integrate salesforce beyond ‘lead capture’ plugins, but we HOPE we just found the final missing piece to our puzzle – ultracart. This ecommerce plugin collects relevant sale data from salesforce at the point of sale and pushes it back to salesforce and along to other plugins.

We’re excited to get the full functionality of salesforce while staying in our Wordpress world! Will keep you posted on our results, with ‘go-live’ in October.

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Marcus Sheridan August 23, 2012 at

Sounds good Todd, good luck!

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Matthew Stock April 10, 2012 at

Hey Marcus and TSL Community-

I have personally never tried Wordpress. I went with Hub Spot because of ease of set-up, its all-in-one platform and Marcus’ recommendations. I started with Hub Spot at the beginning of the year and about to publish my 40th blog. Some of you may recall I brought Marcus out to our offices for an Inbound Marketing Summit a couple months ago. Since then our inbound marketing efforts have really accelerated. I looking forward to becoming the voice of the basement waterproofing industry, much like Marcus did with fibergalss pools.

The one issue I found with Hub Spot is you must host your entire website with them if you want to put your blog on a subdirectory (example.com/blog). I was unwilling to port over my entire site for many reasons so I had to set up our blog on a subdomain (blog.example.com).

There’s an ongoing debate whether blogging on a subdomain is as SEO-friendly as compared to blogging on a subdirectory. Some say a subdirectory is much better because you share the “link juice” from your parent / root domain. Others would argue that Google now looks at a subdomain as “one” with your parent domain and that there’s little, if any difference, SEO-wise. My parent domain (main website) has a Google Page Rank of 3. My new blog has a page rank of 1. I knew Google Page Rank is not as important as it used to be, but…maybe there is something to it. It is still somewhat relevant and relative.

I’ve seen my organic traffic almost double over the past three months since starting with Hub Spot. Could it have tripled or quadrupled if I blogged via a subdirectory? I’ll never know. But one thing I can tell you is I probably would never have got my blog off the ground if I went with WordPress because it seemed to0 complicated with all the plug-ins, etc. I also wanted the “keys to my own store” and didn’t want to rely on a Webmaster to do everything for me.

I’ll also tell you SEO isn’t everything. I have my sales team using blogs in their intro and follow up emails and have also woven the blogs into my main website. My guess is that’s given me as much if not more value than the SEO improvements.

So far I’m very happy with Hub Spot. Their support is top notch. I agree with Marcus it would be nice if you could customize the url. And I would be nice if they improved their Comments section where you can respond directly to a visitor. I’m not so concerned about its limitations with customized layouts, etc. as I don’t think you need all that jazz with just a blog (unless you’re content stinks!). I wouldn’t, however, want a vanilla looking site with my main website…which is one reason why I had to host my blog on a subdomain.

It was impressive to see this blog reached the top cheese at Hub Spot and I’m excited to see their new CMS. You’d make a good lobbyist someday Marcus.

P.S. If anyone out there has any ideas to help get my subdomain a higher Google Page Rank and more links, I’m all ears!!! My email is mstock@seepage.com.

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Dharmesh Shah April 10, 2012 at

There has been a lot of debate on the sub-domain vs. sub-directory topic.

My biggest point is: Yes, sub-directories are marginally better than sub-domains for SEO, but it’s a very, very small difference.

In terms of the point you bring up around PageRank — one important point to remember: Even if you had put your blog in a sub-directory, it would *still* start out with relatively low page authority (i.e. your “PageRank 1″ is not a function of the fact that it’s on a sub-domain, but a function of the overall link authority of that page).

My advice: Don’t spend any more calories worrying about sub-directories vs. sub-domains. Spend those calories creating useful content that people will link to. For most businesses it DOESN”T MATTER enough to worry about the sub-directory thing.

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Matthew Stock April 10, 2012 at

Thanks for the quick reply and for alleviating my concerns Dharmesh. Your accessibility and support speaks volumes for your product.

Hub Spot has been a terrific investment for us. I hope to someday be a Hub Spot success story. I think we’re on our way thanks to our Inbound Marketing Consultant Andrew Macey and having Marcus out to our offices.

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Marcus Sheridan April 11, 2012 at

I second that….it does speak volumes that Dharmesh is always willing to jump in.

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Bob McClennan April 10, 2012 at

Marcus,
I have been using HubSpot for about a month. Your blog was the first place I heard about HS, and after some intense research I decided it was the best platform for me and my new position. I do have a graphic design background, and some of the constraints on design are frustrating, but I could not be happier with the integration and functionality, and I’ve found the company to be great to deal with as well. I’m confident that the product will continue to improve. Our web traffic has exploded in the past month and we are starting to get leads. Nice job on the review, I found the comment on customizing blog titles especially valuable, hopefully we’ll get it soon!

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Marcus Sheridan April 12, 2012 at

First of all Bob, let me just say I’m thrilled about your web traffic. I think that’s absolutely wonderful and dang awesome. Regardless of platforms, what you’ve said there is the goal– more traffic, leads, and SALES!!!

So glad HS is working out for you bud and appreciate your readership,

Marcus

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Brad E April 10, 2012 at

I needed this review. We are switching our web hosting to Hubspot next week.

Our blog is currently on Blogger but I had been looking into switching over to WP, as it is almost universally favored over Blogger in most respects. When talking to HS about the switch, they said that they would just host the blog and use HS’s blogging software for future posts. I like the analytics of it…but the idea of it just feels constrained…or something. I have no experience at all with HS and won’t be doing the training until later this week. I’m just worried that we will migrate our blog over to HS and I’ll eventually want to switch over to WP.

I need your help. Tell me what to do. :-)

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Marcus Sheridan April 12, 2012 at

Brad, I can tell you I’d drop Blogger like a hot rock. Seriously. Both HS and WP are WAY above blogger in many, many regards.

I empathize with what you’re saying about switching platforms, I really do. I did it once myself but once I did it, I felt stupid for not having jumped in before.

Good luck my friend and let me know if you have any more questions!

Marcus

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Owen Blevins April 10, 2012 at

Marcus, as always a brilliant post. Thanks for your insight and the breakdown. I do agree with Dharmeshs’ comment about wasting calories worrying about sub-domains vs. sub directories. The name of the game is great content which you have taught me so many times! :)
Talk with you soon my friend.

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Marcus Sheridan April 11, 2012 at

Owen, great to hear from you brother and I really appreciate the kind words. Hope you’re well my man!!!

Marcus

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Mary H Ruth April 10, 2012 at

What happiness to see this subject ‘outted’ and how nobly and well you did the job. Thank you thank you! Agree with all your points.

Also cannot wait to see HS’s upcoming CMS changes.

One thing occurs to me: WP is beauty and HS is practicality. HS has always favored losing the aesthetics if they eclipse the SEO, and they may very well be right about that. But art and management are ever at war, eh?

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Marcus Sheridan April 11, 2012 at

Hey Mary, thanks so much for you kind words and yeah, I’m really crossing my fingers with respect to the new CMS changes…that could be a big, big deal for folks like me.

But your statement of beauty vs practicality is a GREAT one. When it comes down to it, I don’t know of a more functional and practical solution than HS.

Thanks again,

Marcus

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Jack@TheJackB April 10, 2012 at

FWIW, you don’t really need great tech skills to adjust the number of columns on a WP site.

They are really making most themes more user friendly so that it takes minimal tech skill to set things up and make them sing for you.

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Andrea Hypno April 11, 2012 at

Interesting comparison, detailed and well done Marcus. I’d like to add just a couple of points: being a WP user I must admit that its biggest flaw is that you have to learn a bit (if you don’t want to pay for a consultant) before using it successfully especially as regards themes, plugins and their interaction. One plugin update gone wrong can completely break a website. And if you are on your own this takes time and a fair amount of study; luckily I have a great host with a support staff really good. Well it costs a bit but it’s top class. I would say that a good hosting is the most important thing. To learn about WP well for free the best way, imho, is reading Bob Dunn articles. ;)

Then there is the money factor. I don’t know how much costs having a site with HS but I do know that every website with SBI for example costs 299 dollars per year. Ok everything is done for me but nevertheless it costs that money and if I had a wrong idea about a niche website which doesn’t go well I’ve thrown that money in the bin. With my hosting account I can have ten, or more, different websites on the same hosting having to pay just for one account. Which means I can have ten websites for 150 dollars and around ten dollars per each domain. To check a new website idea I just risk 20 bucks, much more cost efficient. Clearly I have an amount of traffic that let me do it, but I can always upgrade to a different server plan.

I mean you can learn and test without losing money with WP then once you know the tricks of the trade you can move to something like HS. Or do both as you do. Or stick with WP. Or whatever.

Probably each one has to find its way to do things possibly without being lured into paying a lot of money before it’s the right thing to do. I like to do things on my own until I’m able to and then ask for advices, usually to Bob. :D

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Marcus Sheridan April 11, 2012 at

Andrea, what’s up man. Glad you mentioned Bob. That’s guy certainly knows what the heck he’s talking about and your point here is a very good one– this stuff costs money! For HS, the minimum it costs in $250 per month, but like I mentioned, it’s really more an all-in-one than simply a web builder tool.

But Andrea, great points and perspective, as always, and I really appreciate you stopping by bud.

Marcus

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Andrea Hypno April 12, 2012 at

Thanks for your kind words Marcus. From what I see, also from comments, once HS becomes better for blogging and once WP gets a kind of external help desk they will be more or less equal and probably what will make the difference will be service received and costs. Like Linux which is free and open source but you can get professional assistance for distributions. Outsourced assistance? I’m thinking about Red Hat and likes.

Then someone can decide if he/she feels more like to spend a certain amount of money for hosting and a consultant/web designer/professional theme/help service or for a complete solution like HS.

Actually what seems, and is, the biggest flaw of WP is that you have to figure out a lot of things by yourself and that when you think of assistance nothing comes immediately to mind. To give an example when someone thinks about professional themes the two which come to everyone’s mind are Thesis and Genesis, plus maybe Headway; but when you think where to get a solution you don’t have a specific place that comes out. A niche to cover? :)

Nevertheless given the price of WP we cannot expect more beside the forum and the general instructions right? :D

So, with WP you can have a professional website, not only a blog, for 200 bucks per year, but you’re on your own. With HS you can start with 250 bucks per month but everything is done for you. Two dishes for two tastes and everyone can pick his own. Well, there should be also SBI but I don’t know how many are really using it and it has such an affiliate system that it’s hard to understand if it’s really good or if it just pays well. Imho.

But with such a post everyone can make his choice knowing enough to make the right decision. :)

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Ken April 11, 2012 at

Great Post! I’ve done a little bit in both of these CMSs. One of the problems with most CMSs are the fact that they aren’t simple enough for a client to log into it and then edit the content that they need to edit. I’ve heard of a content management system called Mut8. Have you heard of it? What do you think about it?

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Marcus Sheridan April 11, 2012 at

Hi Ken. I do think HS is very non-techie friendly. After an hour or so of training, most folks can really get in the groove with it. As for Mut8, I’ve not heard of it, but there are just so many new ones coming out each and every day.

Thanks for stopping by Ken,

Marcus

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Danny Brown April 11, 2012 at

Ha, didn’t even know HubSpot had a blogging option – though, man, is it ever the ugly little buttlicker, going by your screenshots, mate.

I can’t see anything that can compete with WordPress (self-hosted) when it comes to the sheer amount of options and customizing you can do to it, from beginner to advanced user level. Every release sees it take giant leaps above the competition.

Still can’t get over how ugly HS looks… hey ho. :)

Great comparison, sir.

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Marcus Sheridan April 12, 2012 at

Hahahaha…..”Buttlicker” :-)

That’s exactly the laugh I needed tonight bud.

Yep, she ain’t too perty….but she does get the job done for the most part. ;-)

Great seeing you man,

Marcus

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Keith April 12, 2012 at

Hey Marcus,

Nice write up bro! I never used HS, started on WP in 2008 with my fence company and never looked back, and have probable built well over 100 sites on it now.

Yes, it would take some premium products to do some of the things you are talking about with HS lead analytics, but HS is a premium product all by itself isn’t it? I would like to see a comparison to what it would cost to do 2 very similar projects on both…. a cost comparison, something real businesses can grasp: Cost Comparison Over 1yr For HS vs WP for example.

Most of the clients I work with relate all of these costs to “butts in seats” (how many dinners do I have to sell as a restaurant to make up this cost), or how many homes do I need to sell (increase) to justify the cost.

So, a detailed cost comparison would make it much easier to see what would work for businesses, and if it is a complete noob, won’t they need to sign up for “coaching” like you offer for HS? How much will that add to the cost? (only mention that because of your comment on calling your webmaster to do things on WP)

Anyway, great article… now stop slacking and get to work on another one! ;-)

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Marcus Sheridan April 16, 2012 at

Hey Keith, apologize for my late reply on this one because it was a great comment with a great question.

If there is one thing this article was lacking, was more info about cost, and I think I likely did that due to “brevity” ;-)

So basically it looks like I need to do a full blown article on that as well. Dang you Keith!! ;-)

Have a great week brother and appreciate your support.

Marcus

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Rich McElaney April 12, 2012 at

Marcus,

You know that this post’s length would have been flagged by HS software as being too long (post length being another subject for a study of effectiveness!) – but I’m glad you got this out of your system! {I’m willing to put money on customizable post urls being in the new HS CMS! :) }
This is a pivotal decision point for many businesses right now – how to make their sites aesthetically pleasing while integrating user-friendly analytic tools to guide their inbound marketing progress – all in one place. Most of my clients are already on WP or another CMS, and many would love to consolidate into one tool but are held back by these issues.
Based on the pace of new functionality being added to HS, you have to believe that a seriously revamped CMS will make its debut at Inbound 2012 – I just wish it would happen earlier. If they build it based on feedback like this and from countless others, it will make our job as VARs a whole lot easier – and it changes the game significantly.

Keep these mega-posts coming!

Rich

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Dharmesh Shah April 12, 2012 at

Rest assured, several of the people from the product team at HubSpot (including the product manager for the CMS and blog) are reading this thread.

As you may have started noticing already in other parts of the HubSpot product, we’ve assembled an exceptionally gifted design and user experience team at HubSpot — and significantly expanded our development team overall. Things are happening *fast*.

We will be looking at this comment thread as we think through what features to focus on for the next big version of the CMS and blog. I’d also encourage those of you that are HubSpot customers to get your ideas into http://ideas.hubspot.com (we check that very frequently).

Thanks.

-Dharmesh

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Marcus Sheridan April 16, 2012 at

Rich, love your perspective man and as someone who has lived and breathed HS as well as inbound marketing as you have– that holds a lot of dang weight.

Let’s just keep crossing our fingers brother. ;-)

Marcus

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Ken Stadden April 12, 2012 at

Marcus,

My friend Owen Blevins recommended that I sign up for the Sales Lion Newsletter a while back. Good thing I did, because your post just blew me away with its depth of information, balance, and authority. A real eye-opener, superbly written.

I’ve been developing Web sites based on WordPress for several years, and am educating myself on HubSpot. I may even be coming to the conference in August.

I sometimes struggle to understand the non-techie viewpoint, and it surprised me that several commenters seem to view WordPress as the “techie” option that forces you to pay a webmaster to do updates; I’ve always thought of it as a CMS that anyone could use with a little initial instruction. Other than paying a consultant like me to set it up, and do occasional tweaks and updates, there’s virtually no regular cost except hosting (at GoDaddy it’s something like $6 a month).

You are so right about Google Analytics– impressive, but it lacks the human touch and the thoroughness of HS. If HubSpot supplements its genius for closed-loop marketing analytics with a better CMS, it will become a whole new animal.

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Marcus Sheridan April 16, 2012 at

Ken, loving your points and I’m thrilled you subscribed to the newsletter!

Yeah, I know it can sound silly calling WP “techie”, but it sure enough is, at least for what is likely 95% + of all business owners. Now granted, this number is going to go down as the younger generation rises, but it’s still incredibly true. And I really think the techies that understand this and take advantage of it will gain the most trust in the market.

Hope to see you again Ken and would love to meet you at Inbound 2012!

Marcus

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EMH April 12, 2012 at

Can’t the challenge with WP page designs, i.e., page layout, number of columns, be resolved with a bigger theme package or something like headway?

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Marcus Sheridan April 16, 2012 at

Yes and no. The problem here is two-fold:
1. It’s tough for business owners to even choose a theme that fits their needs considering there are about a thousand to choose from.
2. Even something like headway has a pretty good sized learning curve (I’ve built a site on headway, and although it’s good, HS is easier for non techies).

Thanks so much for dropping by!

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John Unruh April 12, 2012 at

While I agree that the hubspot CMS isn’t super flexible, it is one of the few CMSs I have seen that really allow a non technical user to do significant work on their own, the other being .NET Nuke (after a proper initial setup). The Hubspot CMS is pretty similar to what my franchisor supplies, except they have added more extensions. If you “roll your own” in any serious way, you will have more flexibility at the cost of having to deal with all the maintenance, hosting, and development issues.

I agree with your analysis of the hubspot packaging. I really don’t like the requirement to be in the Hubspot CMS to be in the small package. If someone is a small business that has a website that for some reason doesn’t fit into the Hubspot CMS framework, the cost of a larger package can be prohibitive.

Once you get past the CMS and blogging, I don’t think you can compare Hubspot to Wordpress or any other CMS I have looked at. Hubspot is an integrated marketing platform and the others are platforms for building a website, a blog, or both. They don’t integrate email marketing or any of the lead stuff. There are ways to build up everything you need, but it isn’t integrated or nearly as nice if you are willing to commit to inbound marketing.

I think the real criterion for a decision is the commitment to the full inbound marketing philosophy. If you simply want a website with some SEO, or with a blog, there are much less expensive alternatives to Hubspot. If you want to use your site to bring in leads ON THE WEB (vs. only by telephone or walking in to your location), Hubspot is a great platform. The landing page, offer, and lead mechanisms are superb. Not everyone has bought into the inbound marketing philosophy, and for those that haven’t, Wordpress or another CMS might be a less expensive choice. For those who have, it is probably possible to cobble something together with some development and existing tools (a CMS, Google Analytics, Constant Contact, …) but it won’t be nearly as integrated and it will take more time and effort to manage.

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Marcus Sheridan April 16, 2012 at

John, you’ve clearly got a great understanding and perspective about HubSpot and inbound marketing, and love the points you’ve added to the discussion.

Continued success my friend!

Marcus

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Bala Deshpande April 12, 2012 at

Marcus,

As usual a fantastic post!

I have had this dilemma for a while (WP vs HS), but in the end i stuck with HS for our main site and blog and use WP for a couple of subdomains.

One point which you missed: HS does not presently offer database support. If you have a site which requires user access, you may need a MySQL db. HS is unable to provide this. So we ended up putting our subdomain on WP. I would have loved to have the subdomain also on HS – for all the blogging, lead nurturing and analytics advantages which HS clearly offers.

I am clearly looking forward to the big CMS change which Dharmesh announced earlier in these comments.

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Marcus Sheridan April 16, 2012 at

Great point Bala! So glad you dropped by to share and continued success with your inbound marketing!

Marcus

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Ian Blair Hamilton April 12, 2012 at

Marcus, great job! When trying to sort WP out from Joomla recently I could find very few good references; but I learned more about WP from a hard core user’s perspective in your post. Congrats. I’m using InfusionSoft and have been for 2 years. We use it for CRM, shopping cart, and email support. The reason i mention it is that analytics-wise it’s OK.. but it still relies on customer cations in responses to emails, creating tags etc… which doesn’t give on-site customer performance… but.. they have a beta release of a major upgrade that sounds very hubspot-ish.. so as always a new day brings new ideas, new challenges and new diversions!

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Marcus Sheridan April 16, 2012 at

Hey Ian, thanks so much for leaving your thoughts on this. Infusion soft seems like a major player in the market, and I think it’s awesome they’re adding beefier analytics, something that I think will be basically required for businesses going forward, especially from an ROI standpoint.

Continued success to you Ian,

Marcus

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Philos April 14, 2012 at

I guess the best thing abusiness owner should do at the moment is to care less about ‘should I use Wordpress or Hubspot?’.

It is better to use the two at the same time, learn a lot and may ditch one along the road having gathered enough experience.

Another great read.

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Marcus Sheridan April 16, 2012 at

The thing is PHilos, Hubspot isn’t cheap, and so for many, it’s not a matter of simply “experimenting”, if you know what I mean. This is why I wanted to write this article as it is a tough decision for many to make.

Thanks for dropping by PHilos,

Marcus

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Philos April 16, 2012 at

Looks like I had forgotten to look at the price difference. Glad you brought that to my attention.

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Steve @ Inbound Marketing for Small Business April 14, 2012 at

Marcus,

Fantastic post and worth every one of those 3k words. I shared it on LinkedIn and tried to tweet, but Twitter seems to be broken now.

This article was very timely for me, as Hubspot has recently contacted ne about becoming a partner. Your post actually did a far better job of laying out the benefits than did their reps in the intiial contact.

After reading this, it seems I should be offering HS to my small business clients. Thank you for the thorough analysis. The analytics especially seem very powerful and could mke the difference between profitibility and not, or at least help a website reach that point much more quickly.

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Marcus Sheridan April 16, 2012 at

Hey Steve, glad this helped. To be honest man, I think there is way too much jargon and tech talk when it comes to much of this, especially Hubspot. The message of its value needs to be simplified, and once that occurs, businesses and marketers are much more inclined to embrace it.

Thanks so much for stopping by Steve and good luck with being a VAR.

Marcus

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Steven Papas April 14, 2012 at

This is definitely the most in-depth review of these two platforms head to head. I wish I had known about this when I had started my blog. I went in blind and just chose the one I heard most about.

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Pete Goumas April 14, 2012 at

Hi Marcus,
The newbies will be soo lucky if they read your post. I mostly work on wordpress and in HS platform, There is no ability for blog comments to show gravatars and I didnot like it at all and it should be added as soon as possible.

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Marcus Sheridan April 16, 2012 at

Glad you found it useful Pete, good luck bud!

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Robert@HImalayan Encounter April 16, 2012 at

I have just tried the wordpress and joomla and they both are very good and is used accordingly the nature of the site. Now after looking this review i am interested in trying HubSpot as well. Thanks of this post.

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Asma Khan April 17, 2012 at

Very well done Marcus, really helpful post for newbies. Thanks for sharing a nice stuff.

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Kevin Johnson April 17, 2012 at

Impressive review you have here. Which do you think would be better for beginner? HS or WP? Thanks a lot for this very comprehensive post bro!

-Kevin

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Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at

All a matter of goals Kevin. I’d have to understand the person and business model first….sorry I can’t tell ya!

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Chris Windley April 18, 2012 at

Marcus, Just quickly ( for now ) to say thanks for doing this. Great piece of work ! It is a subject which I am researching for a number of clients. I speak as a massive fan of HubSpot and Wordpress and have used both. I am going to think more before posting at length but I think there is an issue at the lower end i.e. for non-techies ( don’t know how you got around this ?) because smaller businesses generally don’t have the money for HubSpot nor do they perceive the need ( you have to understand about sales funnels , being Found, Converting and the need for analytics etc etc ) for all the things that HubSpot offers. Also it’s actually very hard for small businesses to do some of the customising required for the pages, Landing Pages and Calls to Action ( which are vital ) so you actually DO need ( in my opinion ) someone who can do this and this is not easy to find because HubSpot and most of the resellers are ( IMO ) now focussed much higher up in the market where ( absolutely ) all of the features of HubSpot CAN be justified. WordPress definately lacks the analytics ( and Google will not give you the same ) but it is just so much easier to use ( and ?? more powerful in a platform sense) . WordPress with HubSpot plug-in MAY be the solution. I think a lot of small businesses are opting for Wordpress now and actually HubSpot does not mind because it has raised it’s target market to mid-enterprise.

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Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at

Hey Chris, and thanks so much for taking the time to come by and leave your thoughts here. With respect to small businesses, I think it all comes down to training. If someone is trained well, and also does *their* part in the learning, then whether they’re a techie or not they will learn enough to get by and possibly do well. I’ve seen this happen again and again with my clients but the thing is I hold them very, very accountable, and push them to do their part….And if they don’t work hard, and don’t do their part, I let them go as a client. Make sense?

Thanks again,

Marcus

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Chris Windley April 19, 2012 at

With respect to you Marcus ( because yours was a massive achievement ) I think in the early days of HubSpot they were giving folks a lot of training and support but not any more ( at the low end ). It is understandable that HubSpot are qualifying out at the lower end these days and that you expect a lot from your clients. However, even those that are keen and able to learn are ( IMO ) struggling to achieve what needs to be done at reasonable cost and with the skills and time available. It has been said in other blogs on this subject that HubSpot should have 60,000 not 6,000 customers by this stage and whilst I am aware that I am criticizing a massive success story I think this is basically true and the gap between what should be and what is is widening. Very soon someone is going to package up all the add-ons that King describes for Wordpress together with the necessary support and training and compete much harder versus HubSpot and even Wordpress with HubSpot plug-in – especially at the lower end.

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King @ Website Conversion April 19, 2012 at

Hey Marcus, terrific post comparing these 2 beasts (in their own right).
There are a couple of things I want to comment on; 1) Costs 2) Customization.
(Partly bias, partly ranting & honest)
COSTS:
WordPress is open source. Its free to install, a web host only costs $3/month and how much would it cost to get someone to customize a theme for you? not much. However, along with WP, you’ll need a tech-savvy person to generate reports for you from let’s say, Google Analytics, and segment data from sources (organic, paid advertising, email campaigns, social) and ensure email campaigns and social campaigns are tagged so one could report on an ROI. Email campaign software can cost about $50/month for unlimited contacts. SEOMoz Pro for SEO costs $99/month. Let’s just say we’re at $200/month.
Hubspot on the other hand costs anywhere between $200/month (based on < 100 contacts) and $3000/month + (based on < 100K contacts)… I think the $1400 is probably the most common package. HB includes a hosted CMS, hosted blog, analytics and segments leads by source, social media pushing interface, SEO tools (which BTW uses the SEOMoz API), an integrated email and lead nurturing system. But in the package I'd use for my own purposes, I'd be looking at $1400/month. That not only means HB would cost me 7 times more just so that I get an automatic lead nurturing tool and more of a central reporting system? That is a huge difference.
CUSTOMIZATION:
WordPress is open source which speaks freedom. Hubspot is proprietary which means you are locked in. If you're a small business owner and opt for a $200/month or even the $1400/month Hubspot option, how often do you think they'll be creating new landing pages, know how to optimize their own pages, blogging on their own, etc to take full advantage of the entire system? I doubt they'll be doing most of that themselves. I agree with Chris above in that HB probably getting more business from mid-enterprise businesses.
My conclusion is, I think the solution is correct in that Hubspot provides a great all-in-one solution for marketing teams with small budgets. But the problem is that I think it gives people an idea that its going to do everything for them. So, although it does save you time and money, someone still has to put their time which costs money to know how to do all of it. Someone still got to do link building, someone still got to blog, someone still has to create the email campaigns, someone still has to do the reporting. In addition, what happens when you outgrow the HB solution? what happens to your analytics data and tools you relied completely on HB?
There's a lot to say in this one for sure.
Thanks again for the wicked post Marcus!

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Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at

King, heck of a comment and I absolutely love your passion. The only thing I’d disagree with is that I don’t think most HS customers spend $1400 a month. I have about 20 clients and the average is about $450 per month. But again, it depends.

Either way, this has been a fun debate, and you’ve added a lot to it.

Thanks!

Marcus

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Chris Windley April 19, 2012 at

King,

You have nailed a lot of what I was thinking about there so thanks very much.

Regards,

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Mary H Ruth April 19, 2012 at

Though this thread is taking up space in my inbox, it continues to fascinate a full week later. And given your comment, King, just thought I’d mention my own blog response – at http://www.writingva.com/perfecting-the-tools-for-cms/.
Hooray to the Sales Lion for instigating revolutionary change!

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Chris Windley April 19, 2012 at

Mary, The fact that you are using Wordpress says a lot !! Your post is well worth the read – Thanks.

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Mary H Ruth April 19, 2012 at

Gulp. Thanks for the kind words, Chris!

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Brian Kevin Johnston April 24, 2012 at

Marcus- Kept this article set aside when I had a few minutes… Very Very good stuff… It confirmed what I already know. WP is great, but HS is the right platform for me/my firm.. Thanks so much for your dedication to serving your readers my man! Best, Brian-

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Marcus Sheridan April 25, 2012 at

Thrilled to hear that Brian, thanks so much for the kind words!

Marcus

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Keith Scandone April 30, 2012 at

Good stuff Marcus! Thanks for the detailed breakdown. My company does a lot with Wordpress and other CMS systems, but never with Hubspot. We custom design all of the sites we do, so your point about lack of tech flexibility is what I hear most often from my team about their beef with Hubspot. And the SEO piece has always been a complaint as well, bc as you said, while it seems minor, its a big deal.

But this is great to see both sides. As you pointed out, most people/companies have a bias one way or the other, so its nice to see your perspective, since you have used both.

Thanks!

Keith

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Edward Drummond May 23, 2012 at

Marcus,
The owner of my company found Hubspot through your site, and I got to say, we are pretty impressed. As a techie myself, I do find some of Hubspot’s choices to be a bit restrictive, but since the owner is far from a tech, he loves its drag-and-drop system and how straightforward the controls are. We migrated from a wordpress-based site and the only real detriments to the system are some of it’s limitations (e.g. the lack of a wordpress-style More tag).

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Marcus Sheridan May 27, 2012 at

Excellent points Edward, so glad you’re finding success with the system. Best!

Marcus

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Jenn July 18, 2012 at

Hey Marcus!
Great post. I have been using HS as a blogging/analytics tool and WP as a CMS platform and I am a huge fan of both! However, I am starting another website and trying to decide the most cost effective option now. Although I’ve loved the ease of using HS analytics, I find it to be quite expensive especially if you do not want to go with the Basic option. I’ve heard of people using Google Analytics for free, why is that not a great option? Also another question I had was for what businesses is the HS CMS not a best choice as you mentioned in your article…

Thanks!
Jenn

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Joey Giangola August 21, 2012 at

Even though I’m a little late to the party, this post found me at exactly the right time. Our company is heavily considering switching to Hubspot, will probably be signing up shortly (really interested to see what they roll out at Inbound now), but I still had a few lingering concerns.

Our site is currently on Adobe’s Business Catalyst system, which is… different to say the least. We had kicked around the idea to move over to Word Press several months ago, which I had experience using with a previous site several years ago, however we pretty much abandoned those plans after walking through a HS demo.

My main concern, not having gotten my hands dirty with HS yet, is were the user editing ends and the web developer work begins. The main reason for considering this switch, Adobe BC’s limitations aside, was that our previous web guy folded up shop. That meant we could either look to find a new developer, and pay hundreds of dollars for every update, or find a solution to bring web maintenance in house with limited coding skills.

During my demo, the blogging capabilities looked adequate, however I was unaware of most people’s disdain for them.

After reading your article and all 100 comments, it seems like HS provides you with the best tools to improve your bottom line. While I enjoy a sexy looking website as much as the next guy, sacrificing some of the aesthetics to allow for more comprehensive and integrated analytics is worth it in my opinion.

While a combination of the two seem to be the ultimate solution, the draw backs to splitting the services are outweighed by HS ability to improve the CMS, which seems very feasible and likely after hearing the rumors swirling about Inbound 12.

Let’s face it, a site can be as pretty (and opened sourced) as can be, but if its getting outperformed, then it doesn’t matter.

I would be curious to see a case study done comparing two business in the same field, one using HS and the other WP, to see which one produced the best ROI?

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Marcus Sheridan August 23, 2012 at

Joey, so glad this article helped bud. It’s a complex decision, no doubt. I’ll be speaking twice at Inbound so I hope to see you there!!

Marcus

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Jason September 26, 2012 at

Thanks for the great post! I have been trying to figure out the easiest, most cost-effective way to use a product such as hubspot.

I am kinda leaning toward using loopfuse. It seems like a good fit for small business just getting started. They have a free version up to 500 contacts. Hubspot just seems pretty pricey $$$ Am I missing something here?

Is there a huge benefit to paying $200 – $600 a month for hubspot?

*I own an internet company. All my sites are on WP. :)

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Marcus Sheridan September 26, 2012 at

I think the question is this: can you do lead tracking? Can you see all the pages they’ve viewed, time on site, etc…I’m talking about the actual name of the person.

That would be the main question to answer Jason.

Thanks!

Marcus

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Jason September 26, 2012 at

Hmmm… I am not sure… That would be valuable if there was a way to track the name of all the people. Is there a way you can get the names of people who search your site anonymously? Or do they have to register to track them? Or does it show the owner of the IP?

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Kimberly October 8, 2012 at

Hi Marcus,

I’m not yet familiar with all of the changes that came with HubSpot 3, but wondering what your thoughts are and whether any/all of your suggestions were addressed in the updated platform? If so, which of your blog comments would you change based upon HubSpot 3′s advances?

Thanks, and great article!
Kimberly

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Dharmesh Shah October 8, 2012 at

Kimberly (and others):

HubSpot 3 had many, many new features: But this release was not focused on our blogging application and our CMS. Both of those are next up on the list of things we are actively working on.

I will say this: I’ve seen early previews of some of the things we’ve been working on, and it’s really, really cool.

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scott October 17, 2012 at

A new CMS for HS would be nice…there are so many designs we cannot do in HS CMS…and we tried. Clunky….is putting it nicely. HS started with just the tools and no CMS….we were one of the initial partners…back then nobody had tools like Hubspot….it was very cool. But now tools are everywhere. What i don’t understand is why don’t people just use Google Analytics with WP or Drupal. (we do)

Scott

If HS does this new CMS and it is as good as WP that would be awesome. But i think it takes years….to build a reliable CMS….years 1-3 are tough….Drupal and WP have worldwide support and have had so many version updates and fixes its silly. But the HS is sooo talented….and with their funding this new MS may be the tool they need to become a force. Cant wait to see it!
Scott

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Marcus Sheridan October 19, 2012 at

Yep, with you Scott. Time will tell :-)

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Piotr Kundu October 29, 2012 at

I’m a WP user looking at HubSpot. The main issues I have with WP is that it’s slow and you need to use cache plugins to make it run “fast”. The 2nd issue is all the plugins – not all people are meant to be developers, apparently that does not include WP plugin developers. Most are pure concentrated cow-dung, but a few are just blessing from the skies. Since there are so many nobody checks how they work together, and some are very slow (bad programming).

So far the HubSpot pages I have seen doesn’t blow away my mind, actually they are a bit ’90s. The pricing is just a killer and I don’t get the “contact plan” part, but with the pro plan (I need SF integration) and 4000 contact plan that is 1000USD/mo. That would get me at least 40 hours/mo for a PHP developer, then I can do my SF Integration, my job board integration and a lot of other things already done in WP.

The most interesting part about HS is the lead management part. Right know I have no idea who visits my page and why. They also seem to surf it randomly, so just by looking at which pages they have visited you have NO idea if the are customers, potential employees or partners. Does HS retrieve info from FB, LI, G+ or do “I” have to tag visitors? I really don’t get that part. But I love the idea of adapting content specifically towards the user.

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David Terry February 3, 2013 at

Thanks for this analysis – it was very informative as I’m doing the comparison myself for a new biz presentation tomorrow. I also found this additional HS business analysis very helpful -http://www.crmsearch.com/hubspot-competitors.php – HS is right solution for my client but the L-T lock in restrictions at the Basic level worry me. If anyone can share presentation tips with me for a client considering both WP and HS options that would be awesome – Cheers – David Terry

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Roye February 28, 2013 at

Great analysis, I too have struggled with deciding which to go with for my business. But unfortunately for me price is a huge factor, I would really love to give HS a try but I currently cannot afford the monthly fee.

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Marcus Sheridan March 4, 2013 at

I understand Roye, and in the mean time, just keep working your content marketing as well as you possibly can, and when the time comes for tools, you can run with it.

Marcus

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Poul Nielsen - Owner (@NielsenFitness) March 16, 2013 at

Thanks for the great article. I wasn’t sure which one was better for my fitness blog and your analysis helped me.

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Marcus Sheridan March 18, 2013 at

Thrilled it helped bud, good luck! :-)

Marcus

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Jeff H March 19, 2013 at

Marcus,

Great article but I am still wondering, what is the benefit of integrating HubSpot with Wordpress using their plugin? Just making it easier to add CTAs from one place vs. cutting and pasting embed code from HubSpot into WP, or is there some other benefit like, tracking things other than what GA already gives me. What’s unique about the plugin I can’t get in other tools?

Now if it could tell me 1,000 people came from Twitter, and 4 filled out my CTA landing page form, and 1 of them became an opportunity, and then a customer, then get that plugin on my WP blog now. If not, why?

Thanks!

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Tiffany March 26, 2013 at

This is a post that just keeps on giving! A year later and it’s as helpful to me as a new inbound marketer as it was last year. Thanks for that and I will be interested to see if your hoped-for improvements are there….having a formal demo from HS next week.

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Marcus Sheridan March 27, 2013 at

Awesome, so glad you found it helpful Tiffany! If you end up having more Hubspot needs or questions, please let me know. :-)

Marcus

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Brian Halligan September 26, 2013 at

It would be sweet to get an update on this article post COS, Marcus!

I thought of this when I saw this article today: https://www.google.com/search?q=hubspot+v+wordpress&oq=hubspot+v+wordpress&aqs=chrome..69i57j69i61j0l3j69i60.2853j0&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

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Greg Gum November 2, 2013 at

How about the obvious different in price: WP Free – HS $200 month and up!

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Kristin November 12, 2013 at

Hi there – I’m looking for the updated review of Hubspot vs Wordpress post the HS launch of the new COS. I’m trying to see what has been addressed since this post. Can you share the link? Thank you!

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photo editing software free download December 27, 2013 at

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Donal January 11, 2014 at

Marcus – thanks for a fair and balanced article, unlike many of the other HS vs WP ones out there.

It seems to me that HubSpot on WordPress is a real third option, as you said above.

But is it a best of both worlds option?

Brian Halligan – maybe you could let us know what you think of the HB on WS option.

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Marilyn January 29, 2014 at

Todd- you’re not alone on this one. We went through the exact same issues. I feel like Hubspot’s guinea pig even though they state they’ve done hundreds of migrations. It was extremely disappointing especially when you are actually paying. I was SO excited when they launched the COS, but the migration was a long painful 5 weeks, so we’re sticking to wordpress and adding plug-ins for now. If you use Salesforce, they bought out ExactTarget which I will be getting a demo of to compare.

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Sara March 5, 2014 at

Thanks for the exceptional review!

On our HS blog we were able to add a Facebook comment widget, instead of the regular Hubspot comment tool that lacks the features you mentioned. We found this to be an effective solution/workaround for our blog!

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Marcus Sheridan March 7, 2014 at

Nice point Sara!

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