HubSpot Alternatives: How I Replaced Each Tool in HubSpot

I used HubSpot for one year and my feelings are mixed. On one hand, it was exactly as promised and I knew I would have to put the work into it for it to pay off. On the other hand, it is an expensive piece of software ($200 per month) and I do not feel like I was taking advantage of all of the features I was paying for. Now that my one year contract is expiring and I have decided to not renew, I am looking at what tools I can use to replace what I did use in HubSpot.

In this post I will show you how I have been using HubSpot and how I plan to migrate away from it with new tools. If you are thinking about signing up for HubSpot, I would recommend using the tools shown below first before making the investment. HubSpot touts how the integration of all of their tools makes you a better marketer, but I have not found that to be true. It has been convenient, but not necessary.

Analytics

The main dashboard of HubSpot shows your site analytics, including how many contacts you have obtained as well as your site visits  compared to the previous month. I do admit that I enjoy checking the HubSpot dashboard each day to see if I am keeping up with the previous month’s visits. Although it was interesting to see visits displayed this way, it did not give any actionable insights. However, it was motivating to see how creating content was correlating to an increase in traffic.

HubSpot Analytics

My HubSpot Alternative: Google Analytics

I can get all of the same information from Google Analytics that I can from HubSpot, just displayed differently. Google Analytics actually has much more information than what HubSpot can give you. Here is a screenshot of a comparable view as above:

ga

Social Media Publishing

A tool I used quite often was HubSpot’s social publishing tool. My workflow would go:

  1. Write a new post in WordPress and Publish to the blog
  2. Login to HubSpot and setup automatic messages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.
  3. Schedule those messages to publish the next morning.

HubSpot Social Publishing

This tool was helpful for me, but it also made me lazy. Instead of actively participating in social media, I was auto publishing like a robot. This is still better than no social media activity, but not a good replacement.

My HubSpot Alternative: HootSuite

hootsuite-buffer

Instead of using HubSpot’s social media tool, the alternatives are Hootsuite or Buffer App, both of which are actually better social media tools. It will allow me to be more engaged with my social media accounts with active listening a participation, instead of just throwing posts out there with no one listing. I have not decided on what service to use, but they are both great tools.

Landing Pages

I am embarrassed to say that I only created one landing page in my year of HubSpot. I was not impressed with their CMS and landing page builder and never made more than one content offer. This is what my page looked like:

landing-page

As you can see, the page is pretty basic and could easily be built using WordPress, which is what I plan to do.

My HubSpot Alternative: WordPress

WordPress Support Services

I will create my new landing pages using my theme, which will keep things looking consistent. I was never happy with how HubSpot did not display my website font on their pages. Some other alternatives for a landing page builder with more features are Unbounce or LeadPages.

Content Creation

I did not use HubSpot’s CMS as I was set on using WordPress to manage my site and did not want to migrate everything over. What would a WordPress maintenance company be if they didn’t actually use WordPress? I am glad I made this choice because it made things much easier to move off of HubSpot without worrying about my site being tied up.

My HubSpot Alternative: WordPress, of Course!

WordPress Support Services

WordPress is a much more powerful CMS than HubSpot and I was happy to keep using it.

Contacts

Contact tracking was one of the main reasons I chose to use HubSpot. I thought it would be really beneficial to be able to see where a new potential customer came into the site and what actions they took. You can see in the screenshot below how this looks. Contact Information in HubSpot

My HubSpot Alternative: LeadIn

Leadin_logo_new

Shortly after signing up for HubSpot, I found a tool that replicates their functionality almost exactly. It was even created by ex-HubSpot employees! LeadIn keeps track of the contacts made through your site (by anyone who fills out a form). It also gives you social media information about that contact and tells you their path through your site. It is free and highly recommended!

Update 12/15/17: LeadIn has been bought by Hubspot, but this is still a free product. After the acquisition, I have noticed that the lead tracking is significantly less useful, so it might be time to find a new alternative. We will let you know when we find a better option!

Keyword Ranking Tracking

A neat tool in HubSpot is their keyword ranking tracking tool. It allows you to input a list of keywords and then see where they rank in Google. This is helpful to see the progress with your SEO and where you need more work. Below is a screenshot of my keyword screen in HubSpot.

Keyword Tracking

My HubSpot Alternative: Rankie

Rankie

There’s a plugin for that! Unfortunately it is a paid plugin ($15), but it is well worth it if you want to see how you are ranking, all within your WordPress dashboard. Rankie works the same way as HubSpot: you enter the keywords you want to track and it gives you the spot they fall in. It also has a keyword research component that is helpful.

Keyword Research

Speaking of keyword research, I was really disappointed in the keyword research tool in HubSpot. I was looking for a tool that could actively tell me where there were better opportunities and not make me come up with all of the keywords myself. I had a hard time coming up with my own keywords, so I never used this tool very often.

keyword-research

My HubSpot Alternative: Google Adwords Keyword Planner

adwords

Google’s tool is much more comprehensive and actually gives keyword suggestions. It also doesn’t hurt to get your data directly from the source. The downside is that you will need to create a free AdWords account to access the tool.

Competitor Analysis

The competitor analysis tool in HubSpot is very interesting to look at, but does not help you market better. Once you see this screen one time, it never really changes and there is no actionable step you can take. It does show me where I am lacking, but not much else. The information displayed comes from the same data as their website grader tool.

Competitor Analysis

My HubSpot Alternative: HubSpot Marketing Grader

I know it is weird, but I am recommending HubSpot to replace HubSpot. You can use their free marketing grader tool and even compare against competitors, for free! Just go here and enter your domain plus the sites of any competitor and you will get even more actionable insights than HubSpot’s own paid tool.

Email Marketing

I’ll admit that I never once used HubSpot’s email marketing system (as you can see from the screenshot below). I have not yet incorporated email marketing into my marketing channels, but I know that I should. HubSpot’s tool is probably great, but there are awesome free alternatives out there.

Email marketing in HubSpot

My HubSpot Alternative: MailChimp

MailChimp is the most popular and arguably the easiest to use out of the choices for email marketing. It has a great free plan and a ton of integrations to add signup forms to your site.

Conclusion

As you can see, there a lot of tools that are needed to replace the functionality in HubSpot. Their main selling point when they are trying to get you to sign up (and they can be ruthless) is the amount of time you will save by having all of these tools in one place. I do not think this is a valid argument as it really doesn’t take much time to switch between different tools. On top of that, it is rare that you would be using every tool each time you login to HubSpot. I know I didn’t.

HubSpot can be a great product for the right fit, but I was not getting the value I wanted out of it. Using these new tools will give me even more insight and leverage for my content marketing and I am excited to make the switch. Are there any tools you are using that are not listed above?

15 replies
  1. Erin St. Germain
    Erin St. Germain says:

    Great article! We are in the middle of needing to figure out to do “non-Hubspot HubSpot” inbound marketing. I will check these tools out. Do you have any CRM suggestions? Or do one of these tools cover what we would need for CRM functionality? I couldn’t quite tell if LeadIn would do that or not?

    Reply
  2. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    Hi Erin,

    Glad you liked the article! Hopefully it will help you put a good workflow together!

    Embarrassingly, we do not actively use a CRM with our business so I might not have the best recommendation. I have actually used Hubspot’s free CRM, which I did like (http://www.hubspot.com/products/crm). It might be worth looking into. Other popular options are Insightly, which works well with Google Apps, and Zoho CRM. It might take playing around in all three to see what is the best fit. Good luck and let me know what you decide on!

    Thanks,

    Kevin

    Reply
  3. Arko
    Arko says:

    Hi Kevin,

    We are currently using Hubspot as a CRM tool for our company. However, we have already moved email and landing page creation out of Hubspot. We are looking at Leadin for the customer tracking function, and it does not make sense for us to go on paying for Hubspot anymore. One thing that I am having trouble with is what tool can I use to create forms that I can integrate with Unbounce as well as our database. Would really appreciate any thoughts on this.

    Thanks,
    Arko

    Reply
  4. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for this article. We are currently coming up to renewing our Hubspot account & as much I have loved using it some features I find overcomplicated & not user-friendly unless you want to upgrade to the professional version. One concern I have with not continuing with Hubspot is this where I produce the blog site. Do you know of any alternative sites?I see that you mention you created yours in WordPress who host our website. Am I too assume that this would be a good fit.

    Reply
  5. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    Hi Rebecca,

    Thanks for your comment! There are a few options for where to keep your blog, but it looks like your main site is already on WordPress, which is the best option for you. It looks like your “News and Articles” page is your blog feed page, so I would go ahead and keep using that, even without HubSpot. Let me know if that doesn’t make sense!

    Thanks,
    Kevin

    Reply
  6. BUCKHORN Marketing
    BUCKHORN Marketing says:

    Have a look at Sprout Social. While I think Hootsuite does more, I hated the clunky UI. If I’m going to use a tool everyday it needs to be smooth and frustration free. SS seems to do that for me and I liked the integration to feedly so I didn’t have to leave SS to find and post content.

    Agile CRM is probably a nice replacement for the contacts. It also has a landing page builder, form builder, marketing automation, and a CRM at a very reasonable starting cost of $10 per month.

    Reply
  7. Antti Pietilä
    Antti Pietilä says:

    Great post! And it was nice to see what you valued, and didn’t value (didn’t mention) as a features you wanted to replicate.

    There obviously is quite much space below Hubspot, as you did more or less manage to find single purpose apps.

    As a CEO of an Inbound Marketing software company Loyalistic, this kind of marketing data is always very valuable. Many of the features you mention, like SEO, keyword tool, social sharing, competitor tracking are something I have thought are basically there to catch the eye of a first time buyer. But after bit of experience finds something better, like you did, elsewhere. And that the integration does not neccessarily provide enough value to overcome what it lacks compared to single purpose apps.

    Thus we didn’t bother to spend our development effort any of those and recommend e.g. Buffer, Cuutio, Google Analytics (to supplement our’s). We thought the essential is to manage, track, and score contacts, and have the essential marketing tools such as blogging, landing pages, CTAs, email marketing (newsletters and automated) and analytics. And from 19 $/month it’s not too expensive, we hope.

    If you (all) have time, take a look at Loyalistic. I would really like to hear feedback of how you see it position wise.

    Reply
  8. Karen Gallaty
    Karen Gallaty says:

    Hi. If I use WordPress for my landing pages, what would you suggest to use for the form on this page, and the content download (eg the free pdf), and the database for the client contact?
    I’m currently looking at Optimize Press with Mailchimp; or Inbound Now – but are there cheaper again alternatives??
    All Hubbed Out.

    Reply
    • Kevin
      Kevin says:

      Hi Karen,

      I have used Gravity Forms extensively in the past, which does a good job of allowing redirects to downloads, entry database exports and a lot of different options. The one downside I saw quite a bit is form notifications not sending properly (which is obviously a really bad thing). I just started experimenting with a form provider called Paper Form (https://paperform.co/) which has a lot of the same functionality as Gravity Forms, but a more reliable notification system. Hope that helps!

      Reply

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