Lessons Learned from 7 Years with the HubSpot Platform
I’ve managed HubSpot instances for various clients and employers for 7 years now, and three things have stood out the whole time:
- HubSpot is (still!) really bad at reporting.
- As much as it’s sold as a “DIY” platform, you still need either HubSpot or an an agency partner to build templates and modules most of the time.
- HubSpot agency partners are often more focused on getting kudos and climbing up the ladder at HubSpot than doing the right thing for their clients.
That last point is the most important one to me. For my whole career I’ve been focused on helping others make more sales, get leads, win votes, and all that… and never once have I recommended a software platform or piece of marketing technology because I was getting a kickback or support from the vendor.
Gettin’ Hitched to HubSpot’s Platform
That’s the big problem with HubSpot Marketing Agency Partners. HubSpot provides so much in the way of recognition and support to their partners, but they also want platform loyalty in exchange. Agencies that commit to working with HubSpot tend to fully commit and “marry” the platform to the exclusion of all other competing solutions.
An Uneasy Marriage in Inbound Marketing
Because they’re all in on HubSpot, there’s a bit of a “true believer” vibe common among all agency partners I’ve interacted with over the years. And that’s fine at first. Once you find something that works it’s understandable that you might want to spread the word.
But partners’ faith and devotion to the platform also puts them in an uncomfortable place when it comes to client recommendations. If your platform is HubSpot, and only HubSpot, then that’s all you’re ever going to recommend, because it’s great for your agency. You’ll rise up the partner ladder to new tiers, get more support from HubSpot, and so on.
Great for the agency, yes. Great for the client? Not so much.
I’ve used Drupal and was skeptical at first, but it turned out to be a terrific solution for that particular client. And of course, there’s WordPress, the “gorilla in the room” when it comes to website platforms. So many companies in this space that excel at one or more pieces of the puzzle – but not usually the whole thing.
Developer protests aside, there’s no way that HubSpot is the one true solution for all marketing automation and client situations.
HubSpot inbound marketing agencies should hold the company at arm’s length if they really want to do right by their clients.
A Bit of MarTech Polyamory Might Work Better
The whole point of being an agency is to deliver the best results for the client. You honestly can’t do that if you’re married to one vendor.
That’s not to say HubSpot isn’t a great solution. It Is. But it isn’t the absolute best at everything, and clients have different needs. Your law firm and my plumbing business are completely different, and to really perform at their best they need a different MarTech stack.
Some companies need absolutely the best CRM and sales management, so something like Salesforce Marketing Cloud might be worth the investment of monthly costs and ongoing development. For others, their existing investment in Microsoft might point to something like ClickDimensions working the best for their situation. For still others, purpose-built products or custom development is the answer.
The point is a “best in suite” solution is that it’s good at a lot of things, but generally not the best at any of them. For some clients that’s exactly what they need and what will produce the best business outcomes.
A better idea would be for HubSpot inbound marketing agencies to say “sorry, HubSpot, we’re seeing other platforms” even if they would take a short-term hit to their bottom line.