Can a business modernise the systems they use to run sales and marketing? All for free using only HubSpot?
Business owners are looking more closely at the technology they use to run their businesses. When I speak to existing clients, a common problem keeps popping up... They need help to streamline sales and marketing processes to bring efficiency and save money.
I hear stories of multiple versions of spreadsheets, google docs all over the place, spending on developers to update broken WordPress plugins, hours lost down the Google Analytics rabbit hole, and emails being sent out sporadically with Mailchimp.
You get the idea. A cobbled-together tech stack (a Frankenstack) that’s hard to use and maintain.
So in this post, I’ll talk about the free tools offered by HubSpot and let’s see if a business can build a professional sales and marketing stack that will help a company grow in 2023.
What do you need to get it working?
Let’s cover the ‘why free’ question first…
Why does HubSpot offer free CRM tools?
HubSpot offers free CRM tools to attract potential customers and encourage them to sign up for an account. The company hopes that by offering these tools for free, businesses will be more likely to upgrade to a paid subscription.
While it is true that HubSpot’s ultimate goal is to make a profit, the company also has a strong focus on helping businesses grow and succeed. If you don’t mind receiving occasional sales emails and seeing some HubSpot branding, using the company’s free CRM tools can be a good way to get started with the platform.
Who should register for a free account?
Registering a Hubspot account is quick and straightforward. It requires no technical knowledge at all. So I would recommend either the business owner or marketing lead within the business.
- Start-up business owners who are hands-on and enjoy working with great tech. You’ll probably be already taking care of marketing activities, so you want to try the free tools and see what all the fuss is about.
- Marketers from established businesses who are looking to drive internal improvements. You may have been tasked with evaluating alternatives to the tools you are currently struggling with.
As soon as you have registered your free account, you’re going to get immediate access across the 5 HubSpot ‘Hubs’:
- Customer Service
- Website CMS
You can see that your free Tech Stack has all the components needed to connect teams and build up a modern martech ecosystem. We’ll discuss each Hub in a little more detail shortly.
Remember. Employees don’t like working with old-fashioned, clunky disconnected systems. It gets them down and makes them feel bad about their work.
So, let’s start by looking at the first step of any successful marketing activity: the software.
Why consider moving your software to HubSpot?
Maybe you are stuck in a rut and need to hit targets, or your company is planning a new product launch for a new audience.
You would find it hard to meet these needs with your disconnected, siloed data tools used by different team members.
You may have taken on a new team member tasked with bringing about change in your organisation. You may have been tasked with evaluating different alternatives to the current situation. Or if you are anything like me, then you’re just curious. Go ahead, register your trial and have a nosey.
You’ll know it's the right time if you have hit a brick wall and exhausted all the other options. Perhaps you have tried to fill the gaps by adding extra plug-ins to WordPress, tried to automate some stuff using Zapier or documented a process your team should follow across different tools. But it’s not working.
The good news is that any work you invest now into getting your HubSpot portal set up will not be a wasted time investment. Because Hubspot is agile and modular, it will be easy to adapt as your business grows.
Free is a great way to dip your toe in the water before spending money.
Even though you’ve heard how great HubSpot is, you still might not be sure it's for you. You’ve probably got questions like
- Does HubSpot easily integrate with other apps that we use?
- How easy is it to make website updates using the HubSpot CMS?
- Which HubSpot tools do we need?
You may also need buy-in from colleagues to push the process forward, or you may need to build a case to present internally that demonstrates the value of your time investment.
You think surely this can’t all be for free. What's the catch?
Well, yes, it is free. But it does come with some restrictions.
- You’ll be limited to 500 marketing emails per day
- Sales reps have one reusable email snippet and up to 5 documents that can be sent out through the CRM emailing tool.
- You get only one meeting scheduling link
- HubSpot branding is shown at the bottom of email templates
- You do not get access to marketing automation workflows
Set up your own end-to-end growth marketing stack with HubSpot. For FREE.
We’ll start with the free CRM
The cool thing about HubSpot is that everything is based on its CRM. You’ve probably tried different CRM platforms in the past, but I think you’ll find the HubSpot CRM interface easy to use. It has a super simple, well-crafted UI. You’ll have your contacts stored and easily accessible, so you’re organised from day one.
I suggest adding the HubSpot tracking code to your existing website so that you can start gathering easy-to-understand data as visitors use your existing website. The data that HubSpot collects is much more helpful than Google Analytics.
- The free CRM includes all of the features without anything being restricted.
- Import all of your users into the CRM and benefit from no more contact information stored in spreadsheets,
- Contact activity will be available for all HubSpot users to see. Your whole team can see who’s using your website and which pages they are visiting
- Everything is secure and GDPR compliant.
If you have used any CRM before, you’ll quickly get to grips with HubSpot. There are no time restrictions with the HubSpot free tools. It will be yours, free forever.
The Marketing Hub.
Head into the Marketing Hub, and you’ll find the email marketing tool. If you’ve used Mailchimp or something similar in the past, the HubSpot version will look very similar. A drag-and-drop, WYSIWYG email designer with free templates ready for you to add content.
To send out your first free email campaign, add your text and images into a template, select your chosen recipients from your contacts list, and you’re good to go.
Dig a bit deeper, and you’ll find that you can segment your users into different lists, which may be helpful if you send different information to different target audiences.
You’ll see data such as open rates and click activity as soon as you've sent your first email. Again you’ll be used to seeing this type of information, but it's included in the free tool, so I thought it was worth a mention.
How about a free Chatbot? Add this in, and you can start answering questions from website visitors. Chatbots are a great way to allow prospects to ask you for information quickly, rather than leaving your website to ask the same questions to your competitors.
Another thing to look out for is the HubSpot form builder. Marketers often need help with forms as they are complicated and fiddly to build. They usually need the support of a web developer.
Build a lead capture form and place this on any website page, which will help with online conversion.
You can also increase inbound traffic by running paid Ads on social media or Google search. Connect your Ad accounts to HubSpot free Ads software. Running your ads through HubSpot makes it easier to justify the budget for ads because you’ll be able to track first clicks through to customers that convert. All the data you need will be presented to you within your HubSpot portal.
Now let’s move on to your website.
Build a lead-generating website for nothing.
HubSpot CMS has revolutionised the world of online marketing. And now you can build your site for free. Marketers used to rely on the support of a developer to build simple website pages. It was expensive, slow and frustrating.
HubSpot launched its content management system to address this problem. They designed it specifically for business owners and marketers who want to build world-class websites but don’t want to pay a developer for ongoing support.
In June 2022, they made this available to anyone who wanted to build their website on HubSpot.
Like the other hubs in your portal, the CMS is very easy to use. It follows the drag-and-drop editing interface.
You can build a free website using a marketplace theme (I recommend Sprocket Rocket Free - it's so easy to build pages that it’s untrue). While free, there are a couple of points to note:
- You’ll see a small HubSpot logo in the bottom left corner.
- There is a restriction on the number of pages you can build. You get 25 pages and 100 blog posts.
The CMS seamlessly integrates with your HubSpot CRM, so you’ll see exactly how your CRM contacts interact with your website pages.
Create your website using the staging domain and once you’re happy, connect your domain name in one click. You’re good to go.
Help your Sales team get organised. Yep. Free.
Salespeople are great at building their spreadsheets. I’ve seen it. Lists of contacts and complicated sales information that they have stored on their laptop.
It can be hard to ask them to leave this world behind. But if you want to start aligning sales reps with marketing and customer service, they will have to do precisely that.
Luckily you’re covered.
Your sales team will be able to set up a trackable deal pipeline within the HubSpot portal. Deals are associated with contacts and companies within the HubSpot CRM. Centralising sales data quickly helps break down the data silo effect and hopefully end those spreadsheets.
A few other notable free tools for salespeople include:
- Call Logging. Log calls and meeting activities and associate them with CRM contacts.
- Task Management. Build a list of tasks and add them to your sales reps calendar. Sales reps can see all tasks due on any given day.
- Meeting booking. No more “What’s the best time for you” email threads. Get meetings booked directly into your diary using HubSpot's excellent free meeting scheduling tool.
- Quote templates. Impress prospects and existing customers with professional sales quotes. Customise quote templates, so they are on-brand and add the quote to the deal you set up in HubSpot. Everything is centralised, so the sales process is smooth.
- Reusable email snippets. Save time by using email snippets for repetitive messages.
Free HubSpot tools for your often-forgotten Customer Service reps.
A modern tech stack doesn’t just stop at sales and marketing either. Customer service teams want the tools to help them do their job too. Like sales, they also have customer information scattered all over the place or use a separate, disconnected customer service platform.
Today customer expectations are high. Customers want answers and help fast. They don’t want to have to send emails and wait for responses. Your service rep’s job is to have timely conversations that help your customers.
HubSpot helps solve this problem with some free tools to get you started with improving customer experience.
Generate customer support tickets from an inbound support mailbox. All requests are organised and centralised.
The customer support emails can be managed across the whole team with a shared inbox. Having customer data and information stored within your CRM keeps everyone aligned and able to help your customer more efficiently.
Making use of the free reports and dashboards
Sales and marketing leaders struggle to create reports using information pulled from different data sources. Manual reports created like this are difficult to understand and take too long to produce.
Using the HubSpot CRM reporting dashboards takes away the tedious, time-consuming manual work and brings extra efficiency, accuracy and professionalism to your work.
You get easy-to-read information showing up-to-date web analytics, lead generation growth and sales activity data.
No one within your company will have to waste time cobbling together inaccurate reports to try and get the vital information that informs your decision-making.
Businesses should not feel stuck using systems or processes that don’t work. It’s frustrating for everyone and makes growth harder to achieve.
HubSpot has opened up its Sales and Marketing software to help companies grow better. It’s easy to start and doesn’t cost any money.
Yes, they want you to subscribe to their pro packages, but you can go a long way with the free tools. Any time you invest whilst testing HubSpot will not be wasted if you choose to upgrade in the future. This is precisely what we did. Start slowly. Start small. Start simple. But start somewhere. Understand the value and then move forward as your business grows.