Sneak-peek review of HubSpot’s CRM: How it saves time, centralises digital marketing and converts leads for inbound marketers

Written by Lucy Jones

Sep 16 2014

When Strategic was given exclusive early access to explore and review HubSpot’s new, free CRM tool ahead of INBOUND14, we jumped at the chance…

“Our age of anxiety is, in great part, the result of trying to do today’s job with yesterday’s tools and yesterday’s concepts.”

Marshall McLuhan

The Way People Buy Has Changed Dramatically, But Marketing Has Been Slow To Adapt Its Methods. Why?

As a B2B Digital Agency working in a constantly changing environment, we’re well aware of the pace of change and impact that technology brings. Metrics and strategies must be continually evaluated and reviewed - when it comes to lead generation, the situation is no different.

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The Problem: Marketing Needs To Adapt or Die

"The traditional sales process is broken. Instead of "always be closing," the next generation of sales leads will "always be helping."

Brian Halligan, HubSpot Co-founder and CEO

Sales is in an age of information asymmetry: it used to be that sellers knew more than prospects, and used their information to coax leads through the funnel. Now however it is buyers who have the power. Social and search-savvy, we’re all informed, do more research and demand to know as much as possible before we buy anything.

To survive, marketers need to adapt; using insight to identify prospect’s pain points and provide solutions. Digital content must help customers help themselves; social must be used as a marketing channel; websites must facilitate conversion in all areas, from usability to resource provision, and importantly; a brand must appear as a quality, reputable solution in search, supported by positive reviews.

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Why Did Strategic Need a CRM Solution In The First Place?

For Strategic, we’ve found that today’s sales tools struggle to match requirements. Analytics, social tools and CRM systems are informative yes, but they don’t provide the level of cross-platform data integration, closed loop reporting and flexibility required for us to further assist our already well-informed clients.

The Solution: One Tool To Rule Them All...

So when HubSpot announced the release of a comprehensive CRM tool that recognised marketer’s need to connect across all platforms, we hoped it could answer our own pain points: timesaving and enhanced team collaboration, while allowing us to better resolve our client’s issues.

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As a tiered partner we were given early access to two tools: HubSpot’s New CRM system and ‘Sidekick’ (a renamed, supercharged version of Signals, an email tracking and scheduling tool we had used previously).

Marketing Problems That HubSpot’s CRM helps us address:

In addition to timesaving and teamwork, there were specific questions we hoped the CRM would address:

  • How can we accurately track contacts across all platforms and channels?
  • When is the right moment to connect with prospects?
  • How do we know what content prospects engage with and where information gaps lie?
  • How can we best manage our content?

“How can we accurately track contacts across all platforms and channels?”

Centralisation is never easy, but the CRM‘s features addressed concerns in multiple ways, allowing us to:

Add contact and company details quickly - through email. Through a Chrome Gmail app, Signals/Sidekick allows the HubSpot CRM to work with your inbox to log emails, automatically create new contacts, and view CRM records, saving a lot of time! A great feature for us, when you create a contact, the CRM automatically fills in details for you from the web: phone numbers, contact location, website, social profiles etc - a substantial time/resource saver. If you add multiple contacts from the same domain, (eg: strategic-ic.co.uk) the CRM automatically creates a company contact record - giving us a solid CRM data foundation.

Add contacts and view interaction history across the web. If you have a particular company as a contact in the CRM, when you visit their website, their records will pop up via Sidekick. If you’ve got prospects in your CRM who you’ve forgotten about, or want to know if you’ve ever had contact history with a particular company, this is useful. It’s also possible to contact prospects directly through the CRM itself: you can make and record calls, make notes and use calendar scheduling to set follow-up reminders - solving further centralisation and timesaving concerns for us.

 

Screenshot-hubspot-crm-call-featureCollaborate seamlessly through a user-friendly interface. As a web design and digital agency, user experience interests us! Every view in the CRM is customisable, so stages can be made as clear as possible for team users, making what can be a complex and disjointed process simple. Task assignation makes collaboration at different stages easy and visible - solving our need for enhanced team collaboration.

Track deals in-depth at every stage. A customised deal tracking feature lets us monitor every point of interaction, from proposal onwards, keeping client records centralised and accessible. Team collaboration is easy here as well: deal responsibility is clear, as is progress (stages show from appointment, to presentation, to contract sent and won), keeping selected team members in the loop.

screenshot add deal hubspot

“When is the right moment to connect with prospects?”

This is a difficult issue for anyone trying to secure leads. Only by combining information from all channels and having detailed buyer pain point understanding do you know when to reach out and with what message. The CRM solves this by allowing us to:

Track everything! Once you’ve recorded a contact, the CRM keeps a timeline of all interactions. Tracking emails, calls, social interactions it also tells you if a contact has been on your site and crucially - what content they were interested in. While we can use analytics and other tools to know this, centralising everything saves substantial time and tells us what site content is relevant and engaging, or consider what content we need.

“How do we know what content prospects engage with and where information gaps lie?”

Content is where you speak to prospects, solve problems, give advice and hold hands through that conversion funnel. With HubSpot’s tools, we can:

Better target site content. As above, tracking tells us what content people look at on-site. Facilitating pain point resolution, Sidekick/Signal (which is linked to the CRM) now includes an Anonymous Personalisation feature which adapts site content for unique visitors. Content can be personalised in four ways: to appeal to anonymous site visitors; to appeal based on referral (from search, social, direct traffic, specific referral sites you choose); by geographic location (so you can adapt pricing or contact details); and by device. This is more than at a responsive level, it alters the copy itself so you would have shorter text for mobile visitors, or more detail for desktop viewers. We won’t have access to this until after Inbound, but as targeted content marketing is important to us with proven results, this is intriguing.

screenshot hubspot crm personalisation review

“How can we best manage our content?”

We haven’t had a chance to review this yet, but it’s a feature we’re excited about!

When it launches after Inbound 14, Sidekick will include an Editorial Calendar: facilitating team collaboration, organisation, and scheduling for content from emails to blogs. We currently use CoSchedule to keep track of our internal team blogging and social promotion, so it will be interesting to review the pros and cons of each. Content should be a big deal for any organisation looking to increase ROI, so it will be interesting to see if Sidekick smooths the content process by integrating it with all other marketing activity.

hubspot crm editorial calendar review

So What Did We Think? Will Hubspot CRM Help Us In Future?

“HubSpot provides all the tools we need to assist current and prospective clients, within one central solution. Providing cross-platform data integration and insight, the CRM and Sidekick are tools everyone in the business can benefit from - not just sales focussed staff,”

Alex Embling, Director at Strategic Internet Consulting

Going back to Brian Halligan’s point, that marketing needs to adapt to changing consumer habits; understanding buyers, knowing pain points and tailoring every interaction to provide an informed solution is something we’ve aimed to achieve for a while. But it’s only now we’ve had the tools to take it to the next level.crm-rectangular-001 cta