The Business Part of Business

All Hubspot, All The Time—Where I Don’t ‘Mea Culpa’ Hubspot

Last week, I wrote about Hubspot, their upcoming price changes, and how, several years after I started paying attention to the now-partially-Google-owned marketing tool, Content Management System (CMS), and Content Farm, I’m still finding Hubspot’s business model disturbing.

Mike Volpe, Hubspot’s Chief Marketing Officer, didn’t care for that piece, and said so, here. And I issued a partial “mea culpa“; according to Mr. Volpe, Hubspot has never raised their prices for existing customers. Mike, I hear you, and now I’m repeating what you said: Hubspot is still letting old customers pay old prices; through several rounds of Hubspot price increases and service model changes, Hubspot is still charging four-year-old customers four-year-old prices. Got it.

Which isn’t the big problem with Hubspot.

I have no problem with “Hubspot, The Long-Tail Marketing Tool“. For businesses that have never done online marketing Hubspot’s content creation, marketing, and SEO facilitation basket of tricks is a great way to put everything together in one place. The price, says me, is acceptable, and as one Hubspot partner—in addition to Mike Volpe—pointed out, Hubspot is cheaper than many of the alternative marketing options available today.

But where Hubspot becomes an absolutely unacceptable product/service/tool/whatever is in the way they strong-arm the companies that are most likely to benefit from using them. That was true when I wrote this piece, and it remains true today. So in the interest of being as fair to Mike Volpe, Hubspot, and anyone else who needs the point spelled out, here it is:

Hubspot is a proprietary CMS. If the day comes when you wish to leave Hubspot the work that will be involved in dumping the CMS to move to something you control yourself will be IMMENSE. In real terms that means that when you try to leave Hubspot you’ll be faced with either giving away all your long-tail-marketing and SEO juice (probably the worst thing any internet-facing business can do), or . . . NOT EVER LEAVING THEM.

I’m a businessperson and a business consultant, so there’s a piece of me that admires Hubspot’s creating an environment under which their customers have to keep doing business with them. I wouldn’t want to be one of those captive clients, though, and expect neither you nor anyone you know would, either.

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 almost no small business will actually manage pull it off.

This is because the rules at Hubspot are that entry-level plan users—the only plan Hubspot offers which is actually affordable or will make sense to many of their target customers—requires you to let Hubspot host your website in addition to Hubspot’s database and SEO stuff, at Hubspot. That’s fine; in fact, it saves you from having to host it elsewhere. But if you already have a web site getting it translated/transferred  to Hubspot is too hard, and leaving is all but impossible.

Mike, I retract, again, what I said about Hubspot’s pricing and as long as you continue to honor your grandfathered pricing scheme I won’t bring it up again. But Hubspot only makes sense for companies that don’t actually need Hubspot; if you can afford to use Hubspot without making your website captive to Hubspot, then you don’t need Hubspot.

Which kind of means Hubspot is a bad idea for pretty much anyone.

Full disclosure—again: we sell SEO Services here, and I’d like nothing better than to have a chance to tell you why paying us to do your internet marketing for you is a better deal than paying Hubspot for access to tools that you then use to do it yourself. But that’s the point: Hubspot is just not a good idea, no matter how great the tools they offer are—and they are genuinely terrific.

Mike Volpe, if you feel like continuing this debate, I’m game. And if anyone else has something to say . . . well, just push the “comment” button.