We live in interesting times. For small businesses throughout the world, it’s a time when many are realizing the need to make a change. The old stuff no longer works. Whether it’s radio, TV, print, direct mail, etc.—the times have changed. These forms of outbound marketing are, more or less, dead in most industries. Inbound marketing (attracting people to your site) is the new wave, the future of the way all small businesses will think and act. But for a HUGE majority of these businesses that are the heart of the world’s economy, there’s a major problem—
Online Marketing and Web Design are Hard, if not Impossible, if You’re Not a Tech Nerd
I used to share this same problem. For 7 years I was the average pool guy running an average swimming pool construction business, attempting to fight the tide of web consumers that I was out of touch with. Even worse, I was a complete and total web dufus. Although I wanted badly to be in control of my own website and its content, my hands were completely tied. I was stuck. And I knew I’d soon go broke if I didn’t make a change and get with the 21st century.
Luckily for me though, I stumbled upon a website that ‘grades’ other websites on a scale of 1-100. Eager to see where my company’s website would score, I entered our information, and out came the grand score of 17 out of 100. In that moment, Hubspot’s WebGrader tool gave me a smack in the face like nothing else had done up to that point. It was the moment of truth.
It was also in that moment that I made a commitment to get out of my comfort zone and learn what it was to have a great website for my business that would surpass the needs and expectations of today’s consumer. Within a half-hour of learning more about Hubspot, I knew I’d stumbled upon what I was missing—the bridge that would take a web dummy to web, or should I say ‘Inbound Marketing’, expert.
Rocketing to the Top
Over the past 20 months I’ve been engulfed in following the teachings of Hubspot’s system and doing everything I could to take my business to the next level. And without question, boy has it worked. To make a long story short, our site is now one of the top swimming pool websites in the country. Its blog is nationally recognized. Organic (free) search has shot through the roof and our brand is so well known that the sales process is quicker and easier than it has ever been. All this while trying to be a ‘pool guy’ in a very down economy.
So much has Hubpsot changed my business and life that I now give web and marketing classes to other businesses. I’m the type of guy that believes in the law of abundance. I believe that good things need to be shared so that we can all stand at the top and share in success. This is also why I’m writing this article on my own volition as a Hubspot customer. By no means has HS(we’ll call them that for short) asked me to do this.
But as I’ve read various reviews of their product online, I’ve taken offense by certain people and companies that have talked down their product and system without really having a leg of experience to stand on and therefore make judgments. That’s what makes this review different. I’m just like you. We’re in this together.
So the following is a list of common questions and concerns I’ve seen mentioned regarding the HS system. I’ll do my best to be succinct and frank with each answer, as I feel that’s always the most effective means of communication.
Does It Work?
Does a bear poop in the woods? Oh, sorry, just had to slip that one in there. Yes it works—for those that make it work. In other words, there is this myth out there in the world that some webmaster guy or group can magically make your company appear on the first page of Google for just about any phrase you’d like. This is a total lie and all those guys should be imprisoned, at least in my humble opinion. The fact is establishing a strong web presence does take work and effort. But the beauty behind HS is that they provide you with all the tools and resources necessary to do so. And when I say all, I really mean ALL—hence their all-in-one system. Whether it’s blogging, web design for dummies, video marketing, social media, analytics, etc, HS gives you the tools necessary to do very well with each—and measure your effectiveness with each while you’re at it. For anyone that says, “Hubspot doesn’t work or didn’t work for my business” I give you this rebuttal: Hubspot wasn’t the problem, you were simply too lazy to make it work for you. They gave you everything you possibly needed, but as a wise man once said:
You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.
Why would I switch from my existing website to Hubspot?
Control: This is an absolute no-brainer. HS has one of the simplest content management systems I’ve ever seen. For those of you unfamiliar with this phrase, it’s basically a system that allows ‘Non Techies’ to design their own websites with almost no previous programming or code knowledge. Such a tool allows business owners and their employees to overcome the terrible bottleneck of having a webmaster and ultimately take back the keys to their web marketing vehicle. This sense of empowerment is amazing, but it’s only a fraction of the HS benefit.
Analytics: HS has intensive analytics tools built in that allow you to track everything you can possibly know about your web and social media traffic. With mountains of charts, stat sheets, etc; you will be able to have a firm grasp on the best and worst pages of your website. You’ll know what is generating leads and what’s not. And you’ll also have a clear idea of words that you rank for in the search engines and ones that you can improve on.
SEO: Search Engine Optimization, or your ability to show up on the first page of Google’s (and others) search results, is a key to web marketing that cannot be ignored. Because the search engines can be hard to understand and rather fickle, HS has various tools that allow you to know the SEO strengths and weaknesses of each page on your site, therefore allowing you to make adjustments and better optimize each page, which will in-turn mean more traffic, leads, and ultimately sales.
Competitors: Do you know how good your competitor’s websites are? If you don’t, then you’re missing out. HS not only tells you all the words/phrases your competitors rank for in Search Engine Results, but they will also tell you about the links your competitors have coming into their sites, the grade of their site, and if they’re moving forwards or backwards in terms of their web effectiveness. Simply put, this tool is incredible and a must for any business.
Awesome Lead Analysis/Tools: HS is all about getting you more leads and converting those leads into sales. This is why they’ve set up tremendous systems for creating lead capture forms, automated email follow-ups, and lead grading. When it comes down to it, the more you know about your leads, and the more you can nurture the leads in your sales funnel, the more sales you’ll make. It’s that simple and it works. My pool company’s closing rates are around 50%, an extremely high number for the swimming pool industry which averages around 20%.
Super Simple Blogging Platform: Every, and I mean EVERY, company in 2010 must have a blog if they expect search engines and consumers alike to take them seriously. HS makes it easy for your business to integrate a blog directly into its website, which in-turn enables you to build more subscribers and leverage blogging as an SEO tool. Along with the blogging platform, HS has many built-in analytics tools to help you know which blog articles are working and which ones need improvements. This tool alone made HS worth its weight in gold as it saved/made my company thousands of $$$ in increased leads and sales through great consumer education combined with a concise SEO strategy.
How Much Does It Cost and Is Hubspot Worth It?
I’m always baffled when a potential HS customer calls me as a reference and they think HS is expensive. Currently, HS has a few different ‘tiers’ that companies can choose, but at the time of this writing, their ‘Hubspot Small’ package goes for $3000 per year and the ‘Medium’ package is $9,000. My pool company uses the medium package and I have a web coaching start up that uses their small package. What’s really perplexing to me though is the fact that businesses will blow thousands a month on the Yellow Pages, or radio, or direct mail, etc—all of which have very short-term results and practically no residual—yet these same companies hesitate to spend a few thousand dollars a year on a system that will bring them leads, at an increasing rate, FOREVER. What am I missing here? For me, spending 9k a year on what amounts to 90% of my company’s advertising is utterly laughable. When it comes down to it, if companies really understand how much $$$ HS will save them (assuming they do their part) then they’d be offering to pay more for the system just to get up and going tomorrow. I really mean this with all sincerity—It’s worth every penny.
How Does Hubspot’s CMS Compare to Others like WordPress?
Again, prepare yourself for an answer here that’s not biased because I have a marketing blog (the one you’re currently reading) on WordPress and I run two other businesses on HS. In other words, I’ve used both these content managers extensively and have found HS to be much, much easier. Might HS be more graphically limited? Yes, one could argue that, but for the non-techie that wants to handle 90%+ of their own web design, there is nothing better than the HS CMS. For example, I had to outsource design on my WordPress blog because I found it so difficult, yet I was able to design all 275+ pages on my swimming pool company’s without the help of anyone. And one other thing to remember—HS focuses their CMS on simplistic design because they are all about content creation and SEO. That’s why, although my swimming pool website is arguably simple in design, it dominates the search engines and blows most other companies away in terms of traffic results. When it comes to internet success, simple, combined with SEO best practices and great content, is the ultimate combination for success.
Should I Switch My Existing Site Over to the Hubspot CMS?
Again—no brainer. I waited to do this a few months after having signed on with HS and boy was that a dumb mistake. All it did was hinder my progress in unleashing my creative skills on the website itself. Rule of thumb—If your company has to go through a webmaster for more than 5% of your website’s changes/additions, then you’d be a fool not to convert over to the HS CMS.
Who Doesn’t the Hubspot System Work For?
Lazy people. Sorry, but it’s the truth. If you’re lazy, go spend all your money and outsource everything to a webmaster….or better yet, go buy a $2000 monthly ad in the Yellow Pages. (Actually, HS does offer more of this hands-on consulting on a constant basis, but such is not the focus of this article)
Will Hubspot’s System Be Surpassed by other Better Systems?
A legit question, but let me just say this. Since I’ve been using the HS system, they’ve changed and added tools on a weekly basis. Some have been minor, some have been major, but the key to understand is that by no means are they a static company just resting on past success. I once visited their place at Cambridge and upon meeting their staff and CEO I realized they were a bunch of awesomely passionate marketing and computer nerds trying their guts out to improve their system for businesses like mine and yours each and every day. The constant developments in their system are a reflection of this and I can only imagine how many great tools the company will come up with in the future.
What Makes Hubspot Different?
When it comes down to it, I think the great difference of HS is the fact they are changing the culture of internet/inbound marketing as we know it. They believe in teaching the masses (see their blog and self-help articles, they’re amazing) as much as possible so that any man or woman, no matter their background, can be their own webmaster and SEO. They give, give, give with the hopes that businesses will understand this great paradigm shift and therefore embrace the HS way. In fact, when I think of HS, this phrase always comes to mind, as it’s a perfect reflection of their business model:
Give a man a fish and feed him for a day….Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.
So that’s my suggestion to you. It’s time to learn how to fish. It’s time to change your life. If you’ve been considering HS and haven’t pulled the trigger, then I’m here to tell you that you’ve wasted enough time, so let’s get with it. Why delay success?? And remember this critical key:
If you just follow the HS inbound marketing system and use all their tools, you’ll automatically be ahead of over 90% of the businesses in your industry who are still living in the stone-ages.
Think about that for a second. It ain’t an exaggeration. Again, once you truly understand this you’ll stop waffling over whether or not HS is worth it and you’ll start realizing that this decision will impact your business likely more than any other decision you’ve made since opening its doors.
Here to Help
Look, I know you may still have some questions. I could have written all day about what I love about HS but I figured 2500 words was enough for even the most patient of readers. If you need further help, I’d strongly suggest you download my FREE eBook: ‘Inbound and Content Marketing Made Easy‘, which is over 200 pages of awesome information for anyone involved with Inbound Marketing, blogging, Hubspot, etc. Also, please feel free to contact me directly. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and if you send me your phone number I’ll call you while I’m on the road, as talking to people about marketing is always more enriching than looking at traffic jams on interstate 95 in Northern Virginia …Seriously, I LOVE talking about this stuff and it gets me fired up just thinking about it, so buck-up and shoot me an email today.
Best of luck to you in this process. I’m excited for the change that will soon be wrought within your business.
**Important Note: Since writing this article months ago, and because I’ve had so much success teaching others about HS, I’m now a HS partner. This means I help people that are interested in signing up with HS to see if it’s a good fit for them or not, and if it is, they sign up through me and usually (but not always)have me mentor/coach them for the first month or so. If you’re interested in finding out more about this, just call me directly on my cell phone 804-761-7924 and I’ll be happy to give you my frank assessment of your company’s current inbound marketing state and potential suggestions so as to properly get you started with this amazing movement **