HubSpot Review, Month 2: Loving, Loathing, Learning
Our second month was less exciting in some ways than our first month on HubSpot. No tweets from HubSpot’s co-founder. No link in the New York Times. But, in one all-important category, our second month blew away our first! Before I spill the beans, though, let’s talk about what I’m loving, loathing, and learning in my second month HubSpot review. I’m going to do my best to be more brief in this review. No long-winded rants. No sidetracking. (Wait. I did it again.)
What I’m Loving
HubSpot’s reporting interface is deceptively simple.
There are several areas in the interface that let you create reporting on your visits, contacts, and customers, but I spend most of my time in the Sources report. At first blush, the Sources report doesn’t seem to offer much information, but HubSpot has packed plenty of interesting insight into that tiny frame. I particularly like the ease with which you can break out the information into visits, contacts, and customers.
With a click of a checkbox, I can see my visit-to-contacts rate.
HubSpot’s Page Performance Tool helped me identify page loading speed issues easily.
See those red Xs and warning signs to the left of the page? HubSpot identified that something wasn’t working quite right. Thanks to that insight, I did a little digging and found out that I am having real page load issues. Now I’m moving my site to WP Engine for hosting and using CloudFlare as my CDN to speed things up. Hopefully, I’ll have a good report next month that speed issues are gone.
The Calls-To-Action page shows how well these calls-to-action are working.
The monthly email report is clear and easy to share.
I receive this in my inbox at the end of each month.
From Google Analytics, just wanted to show you how it looks compared to my “pre-experiment” days. Visits in December 2013: 2,095 Visits in November 2013: 2,296 The good news is that even though our total traffic was down, our organic traffic actually grew in December, even with the crazy schedule.
According to last month’s report, we had 22 leads in November. This chart shows quite a bit more for the previous month due to two reasons: 1) It attributed a bunch of leads when I imported my email list from MailChimp, and 2) it seems that HubSpot updates previous months’ data when visitors become leads. (More on that in the “Loathing” section.) But, let’s stay focused. Leads are doing great! Total leads for December 2013: 35 Leads for November 2013: Originally 22, now appears to be updated to 97. Response rate for December 2013: 1.7% Response rate for November 2013: 4.2% (this includes post-month updates and that email import)
Alright, so here’s the exciting part! In December, we were able to partner with one new client as a result of our inbound marketing efforts. We’re so pumped to be able to serve them and to become a part of their team. I’m so crazy excited I can hardly type straight. Total Customers for December 2013: 1
What I’m Loathing
“Loathing?” Really? OK, let me clarify this right off the bat. Loathing is probably too strong of a word to use here, but it works so well with “Loving” that I had to use it in my title. (For some odd reason, I was reminded of this song. To get the joke, fast forward to a couple of minutes in if you’re impatient.).
After two months of working with HubSpot, I’m a lot more familiar with the tool. And we all know what familiarity breeds, right? (The right answer is “contempt,” but again, that’s too strong of a word… but it’s still a lot of fun to use.) Actually the things I’m loathing are probably better described as “annoyances.” So what’s sticking in my craw after two months of using HubSpot?
1. Data is NOT real-time.
This is not a big deal in the larger scope of things, since (most likely) you’re not making inbound marketing decisions moment to moment. But it does make staring at my dashboard in HubSpot slightly less exciting. So far, it appears that the data in my Sources report can be up to three hours behind. This screen shot is a little kinder than some I’ve taken. Man, I hate waiting. The upside, though, is when I check my Sources report before quitting for the night, it never looks as good as it does the next morning. This gets my day off to a better start. I realize that’s kind of weird and may give you some insight into my psychological underpinnings.
2. Customers and leads are shown in past, not current, reports.
Customers and leads apparently get reported in the month they first connected with your site and NOT in the more obvious month of the date of their becoming a lead or a customer. Let me explain. We were able to change the status of one lead to a customer on December 31st. I was pretty excited to see a big “1” under customers in my Dashboard. The next day, I looked and was pretty bummed to see this instead. Huh? To make matters more “loathsome” (annoying), it appears that leads are attributed in a similar way. I’ll save the part about leads for another day. Let’s focus on customers. Now, I’ve talked about this with my HubSpot consultant, Kelsey, and she’s checked it out with her sources. She said that there was much discussion and engineering that went into making the reporting perform this way. And I think I understand that it’s an effort to help you better gauge the impact of your marketing by connecting the dots back to your first encounter with that customer. But, I would at least like some sort of option to view a customer either in the month they became a customer OR when we first connected. In my accounting software I have something similar to this. I can either view income statements based on what was billed, or I can check a box and view those statements on a cash basis, to see what actually came in.
What I’m Learning
More content equals more results.
We ramped up our content output to three times per week, with one of those posts being a “roundup” post. We realized pretty quickly that we need to create specific topics for those roundup posts for them to be helpful and also to help with organic searches more effectively. We are changing the format of that series for the next month.
Editorial calendars are really necessary.
We’ve developed an internal calendar that is working well for us, based on the tips that Tiffany outlined in her post about creating an editorial calendar in Basecamp. She’s so organized that I can’t help but look organized, too.
Buyer personas are critical.
Creating more focused content based on our buyer personas is working. (If you’d like to have a look at our buyer personas, just ask me on our contact page, and I’d be glad to share.)
Handcrafted emails are not quite as cool as handcrafted leather bags, but almost.
Email updates are working well for us to bring readers back to the site. Our click rates are staying pretty strong. We haven’t started sending many manual workflow emails because we only just now have our next offer ready to go. Instead, we’re using our email in a more traditional content marketing role by handcrafting emails and sending them out each time we create a fresh piece of content.
HubSpot, WordPress, Gravity Forms, and Zapier create online marketing harmony.
We’ve tied in our WordPress website to HubSpot’s lists with Zapier and Gravity Forms. Oh. Yeah. It works pretty well, and only feels a little buggy. I don’t think that bugginess is HubSpot’s fault though. Once I can afford to move to the Pro version, I’ll actually have an API that I can use for all of this and it should be at least 27% more reliable. Yes. I made up that percentage.
When offers match blog content, it’s a beautiful thing.
This should probably be obvious, but when you create an offer and blog content around the same things, click through rates go up.
I’m now bonafide and certified.
I passed the certification exams for inbound marketing & HubSpot certification. If you’re serious about using HubSpot, these certifications are a must. No joking. They’ve done an excellent job of distilling inbound marketing in their training videos. These exams help confirm that you paid attention.
You get used to spending a lot of time on inbound marketing.
I didn’t think I had spent as much time on inbound marketing as in December as I did in November. My time sheets tells a different story, though. I put in just about the same time month over month: around 40 hours. I think time is the single biggest obstacle for success with HubSpot for most small businesses. Inbound marketing takes a boatload of it, and to succeed, you’ll need to get creative with getting help creating content and mining this data for your next steps.
It’s a good idea to share what you’ve learned.
While I don’t claim to be a HubSpot expert yet, I am an eager learner. I’m also eager to share what I’m learning. We’ve gotten off to a great start using HubSpot, and that’s something I’m proud of, and also very grateful for. Overcoming the inertia to get started with inbound marketing can be difficult for all of us, so I want to share my “30 Insider Tips For Getting Fast Results With HubSpot” with you. Watch the video and benefit from our experience so far.