What Happens When You Use HubSpot For 4 Months?

What Happens When You Use HubSpot For 4 Months?

I’m an optimistic guy. Even with that glaring genetic deficiency, I’ve found myself mentally keeping my own expectations low for each new month with HubSpot. Every month of this experiment I’ve thought, “OK, last month things were wonderful, and I can’t imagine that this next month will be better. At some point, the joy ride has to stop.”

We experienced a 400% increase in traffic and 300% increase in leads in our first 2 months with HubSpot. You can do it, too.

But so far, it has been increasingly more amazing.

How amazing?

I’ll show you in just a second. (If you’re impatient, jump to the stats you care about most.)

Visits | Leads | Customers

If you don’t know about my HubSpot experiment, I’ll briefly catch you up to speed. In November 2013, I launched an experiment to see if HubSpot really was all that great. I published all of my existing numbers and swore to follow the HubSpot methodology and be an “A” student. The results have been shocking.

My Disclaimer

Some of the heady intelligentsia have (rightly) suggested that my experiment is flawed because of the interest generated by my experiment itself. In other words, by talking about a topic that many people are interested in and then performing a public experiment, I don’t have real, scientific data. I somewhat agree. But as a case study, it’s incredibly fascinating. In every industry (yes, even yours), potential customers have real, burning questions on their mind. By tapping into those questions, and then talking about them in an open, honest way, you could experience a similar phenomenon.

Of course, in my case, it helps that the topic in question involves a company that is super-excited about their product and has taken a keen interest in what I’m doing. I’ve discovered that HubSpot employees are genuinely fired-up about their company, and are empowered to speak individually for their company. I commend the leadership at HubSpot for creating that kind of social environment!

Working with the staff at HubSpot has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for me, from my account reps, Casey & Kelsey, to the training folks like Nick and David, to the product development team who have asked for my opinions on a few things and seemed genuinely interested. (By the way, if you want to win someone’s heart, ask their opinion on something and then listen. Bam. There’s a free inter-personal relationship tip!)

So what happens when you use HubSpot for 4 months?

1. Your website suddenly becomes an integrated, critical component of your business.

Yes, we would all give an emotionless head nod if asked if our website is important to us. We all want more traffic. We want more high quality leads. But, I would almost bet that at this point, your website and its visitors seem like an unknowable, vague entity that both exist in some alternate reality.

Sure, you look at your analytics from time to time, and yes, the phone rings and you can only assume that it was because they saw your unbelievably cool website. But you don’t have a tangible, quantifiable grasp on who is coming to your site, what they’re doing, and why. Most importantly you have no idea if they’re warming up to you or cooling down. Even if you did, you’ve got no way to do anything about it.

Well, honestly that’s how I felt about my own web presence before I launched this experiment.

I’ve done content marketing for quite a while, complete with creative blog posts, email marketing, and a so-so effort with social media. But I wasn’t connected to my site or my visitors. HubSpot has completely changed all of that. I think there are a couple of reasons it’s so effective at connecting me to my web presence. First, it’s an all-in-one tool that has (just about) everything that you need to fully integrate yourself with your inbound marketing.

Now, before you roll your eyes at me and tell me that I could accomplish the same thing with a bunch of much cheaper tools from around the internet, just take a deep breath and let me explain. This statement is the equivalent of saying that instead of buying a Toyota Tundra, you can really accomplish the same thing with sheet metal, a set of wheels, and a couple of leather bucket seats. Could you feasibly build your own truck? Absolutely. But only a select few would have the know-how and patience to make it happen. And even then, there would always be annoying issues that just somehow make it not quite right. That’s how it feels to piece marketing software together: tedious, time-consuming, and annoying. And it only serves to distance you from your website, not connect you more fully.

2. You begin to obsess about service even more than statistics.

In my first couple of months using HubSpot, I got pretty fired up about the statistics that I was seeing. That’s understandable because the reports are easy to read and are simple to interpret. And, honestly, if you are used to not having much traffic or not generating many leads, it’s pretty euphoric. (In complete candor, I still get fired up when I look at these reports, especially on my phone. Their mobile app is a study in simplicity and clean design.)

But after four months of using the tool, my attitude and focus has begun to shift. Because HubSpot enables you to gather lead information so effectively, you quickly begin to think of the visitors to your site as real-live people, instead of statistics. I’m not saying that statistics and numbers and data aren’t hugely critical to your success, I’m just saying that after four months of using HubSpot, I am so much more aware of the people who visit my site.

I’ve talked about this before, but that benefit alone makes my web presence so much more personal and meaningful. As your leads re-visit your site and spend time reading your content, you begin to think more effectively about how to meet their needs with your content and with your services. It’s a very powerful customer-service driver for me.

3. You develop a pretty awful sense of dissatisfaction with your current position.

This may sound weird, but I’ve noticed that after four months of using HubSpot, I find myself becoming more driven to make things work even better. I’m constantly thinking about how to tweak our email marketing, or how to write something more helpful that gets more attention, or how to use the tools to generate better response. Before I used HubSpot, I think I felt like my marketing activity was somehow unrelated to results, as strange as that may sound. Since there was no solid connection from a visitor consuming content to becoming a customer, the process seemed static. Now, though, I get incredibly antsy to try something new to watch what happens. I’ve become a million times more proactive with my marketing.

4. You still get pretty pumped about numbers.

I can’t lie. I love seeing these numbers increasing. So, let’s dive in, shall we?

Visits

Here’s a shot of our Google Analytics.

Google Analytics - Visits - HubSpot After 4 Months

Now, here’s my report from HubSpot.

All Sources - 4 Months Using HubSpot

Visits in February 2014: 4,901

Visits in January 2014: 3,036

That’s a 61% increase month over month for all visits, and represents 790% growth from the month before we started our experiment.

Wowzas!

And here’s how the visits looked just for February 2014.

HubSpot Report - After 4 Months

We had a couple of posts that got some attention. We had a good month for social media, but as you can see, increased social traffic didn’t necessarily convert to leads. That may be partly due to the content. It was a video of me and my kids singing a parody of Still Haven’t Found What You’re Looking For. Probably not the best conversion material, right?

Social Media - 4 Months on HubSpot

But this final visits report is my favorite, because it shows that organic visits are growing fast!

Organic Visits - HubSpot After 4 Months

Leads

Leads - February 2014 - HubSpot Results

Leads for February 2014: 61

Leads for January 2014: 50

That’s a 22% increase month over month. But, hold everything.

One of the grievances I have with HubSpot’s reporting is that leads and customers are both reported in the month that they first visited the site. That may be helpful to someone, but it’s not to me. Plus, it makes this experiment really crazy to show past months, because at the end of January, we showed 50 leads, but now that we completed February, it’s showing 62 for January. Huh?

(If you’re a HubSpot influencer, please, I beg you, give me a check box that lets me show attribution either in the month of first contact OR the month of conversion… please. I’m actually on my knees typing this.)

Please HubSpot, let me choose how to show my leads.

Customers

Not to beat a dead horse, but my customers report feels even more extreme, because there are fewer results. If you remember last month, I showed two customers for January. Well, look at this report for the end of February.

Customer Report - February 2014- HubSpot

Customers in February 2014: 2

Customers in January 2014: 2

I know for a fact that we closed two new customer accounts, I don’t care what this report says! (Sorry, I’ll tone it down a little.)

I know that for many businesses, landing only a couple accounts doesn’t seem like much, but for our company, we’re scaling slowly on purpose. We’re trying to maintain our company culture, and provide the best possible service for our clients. Before we began inbound marketing, all of our clients came from personal referrals. Now, we’re actually developing client relationships with amazing folks who didn’t even know we existed a couple of months ago. And that’s what I love!

Additionally, the value of the clients we are dealing with now are many times the value of the accounts we were closing before we began implementing inbound marketing with HubSpot.

What will your results be after 4 months with HubSpot?

Good question.

Am I implying that if you just sign up with HubSpot, magically your numbers will grow like crazy? No way. No how. But I am saying that if you use HubSpot to completely change the way you’re using your site, and dedicate creativity, energy, and lots of time to fueling HubSpot, you’re going to see real results. Apparently it’s not just true for me—here’s a chart that shows reported results from HubSpot’s ROI page.

Marketing ROI For HubSpot

So, what happens when you use HubSpot for four months? Why don’t you try it yourself and find out? Bet you’ll be pleased.

Been using HubSpot for a while and have some pointers for me? Just started and want to have someone cheer for you? Want to ask a question or get my take on something? Drop it in the comments below!

  • Lance,

    I can’t believe it’s already been 4 MONTHS since you started your HubSpot journey!!! Time sure does fly. Great to see that you are still seeing continued increases in all areas of your analytics. Once again, I’m right there with you on the customer attribution. Did you see the Ideas post in HubSpot that John McTigue started? It’s up to 172 votes and recently had it’s status changed to Pending, so I think the people over at HubSpot are starting to hear us!

  • Peter Caputa

    Regarding the skeptics who are telling you that your results won’t apply to others, I’d challenge them to be a bit more creative.

    The key thing that you’re doing is writing content that is interesting to an audience: the HubSpot community of employees, partners, customers, followers and of course, skeptics. If a business can’t think about an interesting experiment that would appeal to a large audience, they should hire a HubSpot partner agency. HubSpot partner agencies aren’t skeptics; their creative innovators and early adopters. They know how to do this stuff in all different types of industries.

    The other thing that you are doing is writing in first person in journal format, revealing original thoughts and thought processes. This is how blogs originally started. I frankly miss it – that’s how everyone blogged back in the day. Was talking to Dan Lyons yesterday about how blogging lost it’s way… Everyone started writing linkbait and how to articles, instead of journaling their journey. Humans love stories. You’re telling stories as they happen. Keep it up.

    • nectafy

      Hey Peter,
      Thanks for the encouragement and insight into effective content. I love being able to connect personally with people after I’ve shared a story. I think you’re right, that stories bridge huge gaps in ways that merely dispensing information can’t touch. I’m going to think about this a little more and see how we might get better at telling stories around here at Nectafy.

  • Kelsey

    I agree with Pete here. The creativity that you apply to your inbound marketing is one of the most important ingredients to your success! And you are clearly writing about something others are interested in and care about. Like you mentioned, you see your website visitors as real-live people rather than statistics, so you are creating meaningful content for these real-live people. That is why you continue to see great results month over month. Keep up the great work!

    • nectafy

      Thanks, Kelsey!
      I’m not afraid to confess that I need an “Attaboy!” from time to time. You’re encouragement means a lot to me. Not only have you provided timely encouragement, you’ve also helped keep me on track through this process. I’m so grateful!

  • Hi Lance,
    Thanks for your post about HubSpot and your experiences after 4 months of trying it out. Two questions:

    – You can’t really try HubSpot for only 4 months, can you? From all of the pricing structures I’ve seen, it’s a yearly deal. So, I can’t really try it for 4 months, can I?

    – Are you now a reseller of HubSpot or benefiting from an affiliation with them if you urge your clients to sign up with HubSpot?

    I know I’m joining the study 4 months late, but I am truly interested 🙂

    Thanks,
    Stephanie

    • nectafy

      Hey Stephanie!

      Thanks for the questions. There is not a 4 month package. My implication was that if you jump into HubSpot like I did, after 4 months, you should know whether it’s working or not.

      Nectafy, my company, is now an inbound marketing agency. We’ve been involved in content marketing for a couple of years. When I started my HubSpot experiment I wanted to see if it really delivers. If it didn’t, I knew that I could never recommend that other people use it. If it did, I knew that I would be equipped to help other companies walk through the same steps. As you can see from the last four months, HubSpot has not disappointed me. Now I’m working on becoming a certified partner so I can help other people succeed at generating more revenue for their companies.

      As a side note, I don’t “urge” my clients to do anything that isn’t in their best interest. I take my responsibility seriously to help my clients succeed. If my clients are looking to use inbound marketing to grow their business, I’ll recommend the tools that I think work best. For many of my new clients HubSpot makes the most sense because they are companies that have a developed sales process in place, and have dedicated themselves to inbound methodology just like Nectafy. I believe there is a commission of some sort if a new client hasn’t considered HubSpot before, although I actually don’t know what the number is, oddly enough. Several of my new clients are already using HubSpot or have already considered it before I came along, and so I receive no commission or affiliate dollars or gift cards to Chipotle (although that’s not a bad idea).

      I see that your company appears to be an inbound marketing resource as well, but I noticed that on your toolkit list, you don’t include HubSpot. What’s your reasoning behind that? I’m curious.

  • Hey Lance,

    We went live with Hubspot in late October, so coming up to 6 months and very similar results to you. I have trouble working without Hubspot open as I’m constantly in the tool.
    We tried a bit of paid search early-on, but it was expensive, noisy and a waste of time and money. Organic search, social media and referrals as well as direct traffic are driving our numbers, fuelled by great content and great downloads.

    Stephanie I suggest that if you cannot get a feel for it in a 1 free trial month, then you will not get the feel for it 4 months. Hubspot is a platform that makes it easy to DO Inbound Marketing.

    Inbound Marketing is as much as discipline as it is a methodology. You need a platform to execute the inbound marketing methodology with discipline and HubSpot is the best platform for it – nothing else comes close. Sure if you want to do email marketing and buy lists, there are dozens of choices… but now its an apples and oranges discussion.

    There is a steep learning curve with HubSpot, (but it ain’t rocket science) there are no short-cuts or magic bullets and there is nowhere to hide, because you cannot fudge the numbers. If you want to accelerate your success, find a HubSpot partner (Kuno, PR2020, Lynton are friends and trusted partners of ours) and they can pull you up the learning curve, accelerate your success and lower risk.

    What is brilliant about HubSpot and why I love the product is because you can see exactly where to improve every single aspect of the execution of the methodology.

    After 4 months you can expect similar results to Lance, I’ve installed it in10 clients over the past 6 years and it worked the same for every one of them. We dont promise results in the first few months as there is so much to do and learn, so much to get right, and frankly if you are not prepared to invest this effort in any product, you will not be successful.

    • nectafy

      Hey Mark!
      Thanks for jumping in there to help Stephanie! I think you’ve described the value of HubSpot well. It’s a tool that makes your effort as effective as possible. Well done.

  • Hubspot is excellent, but unless you use pro (which means Y1 costs $10,000), it is basically too small. It also lacks networking capacity and requires a lot of time commitment,although the analytics are great.

    There are good alternatives.

    • nectafy

      Thanks for sharing, Joe. I agree the cost feels a little high, especially to get some A/B stuff that I feel like should be in Professional. There are also a couple of reporting things that only exist in the enterprise version. I’m hoping that as they add features to the enterprise, those existing necessities will trickle down to the Pro version. Here’s hoping! In terms of good alternatives, I haven’t seen many, though. What have you found as a good alternative?

      • Perdot is nice, and Marketo and Act-On.For a cheaper approach (the analytics aren’t quite as good, but the mktg features are we think superior -and it is very versatile and fast to learn) do take a look at our own myinfonet.com, which is very widely used in the UK in its legalrss.co.uk guise.

        We’d like a distributor for the N American market!

        • nectafy

          Thanks for the tips. I’ll take a look at these.

          • Let us know if you want to try MIN. It has a rather different aim form othe rest (comms and web content management are built in), so solves a slightly different set of problems.

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