It’s hard to be in business. It’s even harder to manage business change.
Near Boston, MA, there’s a company doing some very cool stuff. Hubspot is far and away the best one-stop-to-do-it-all Internet hosting and marketing resource I’ve seen, and I’ve looked at plenty.
And I’m going to suggest you stay away from them.
Last September and October, I flirted with moving Answer Guy Central to Hubspot. I spent some money, also spent a bunch of time with their people (great people, by the way). I dug inside the way Hubspot works, and then I ran the other way.
At the time, I promised a review of my experience with Hubspot. When I realized that I’d be beating them up for some pretty complicated reasons I became less than enthusiastic about it and that review slipped, and slipped, and slipped. Than a couple of weeks ago, Ramon Ray of Small Biz Technology asked me what I thought of Hubspot, and I’ve decided I need to clue you in.
As I said, Hubspot is a great tool. Seriously. If you need an all-in-one manage-your-web-site-and-do/manage-your-SEO solution, know nothing about any of those things, AND ARE STARTING FROM SCRATCH, the $250/month price tag is a true bargain.
There are two components to my issues with Hubspot. That “almost” is where I’ll start.
Hubspot is a proprietary Content Management System (CMS). If you ever decide to leave Hubspot the amount of work that will be involved in doing so without murdering the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) work you’ve done for however many months or years you’ve used Hubspot will be IMMENSE. So much so that in real terms you’ll be faced with either giving away all your SEO juice (probably the worst thing any internetified business can do), or . . . NOT EVER LEAVING THEM.
While there’s a piece of me that admires a business that can create an environment under which their customers all but have to keep doing business with them, I wouldn’t want to be one of those captive clients, and expect neither you nor anyone you know would, either.
Oh, you can leave Hubspot any time, and they’ll give you the database containing all your information, but the work required to keep your web site functioning would be so large that I don’t believe any small business could actually pull it off. And that assumes the database is “standard”, which the Hubspot folks would not confirm . . . which almost certainly means it isn’t.
Issue #2: The rules at Hubspot are that the $250 plan requires you to let them host both your website and Hubspot’s database and SEO stuff. That’s fine; in fact, it saves you from having to host it elsewhere, so hooray! However: if you already have a web site getting it translated/transferred to Hubspot is . . . too hard.
Don’t get me wrong; the Hubspot people will do the translation for you, and that’s included in the Hubspot setup fee. And they do a great job. But then there are gotchas that have to do with how the translation REALLY works. For example, if you have them translate a WordPress-based site, you’re going to lose some functionality due to inevitably non-translatable plug-ins. Refer back to what I said above; unless you’re starting from scratch, this will become too hard, particularly in an environment like Hubspot that’s so clearly meant for non-technical types.
Get me? The Hubspot tools are great and really do help your SEO efforts, but you’re in forever with no practical way of backing out, and you don’t want in to begin with unless you’re starting from scratch.
Makes me sad, but that’s the story. Hubspot is an amazing tool, and has the potential to make it both easy and inexpensive for you to effect genuine business change.
And I’m imploring you; don’t use it.