Ever since we published this article on why Hubspot is a bad idea for small business, we’ve been getting traffic and phone calls from people looking for a better way to do what Hubspot does.

I hope I’ve been clear that Hubspot does provide a great basket of stuff all in one place, that it’s easy to use, and that if you’re OK using a service from which there’s no graceful exit Hubspot’s entry-level plan is a real bargain. And by adding a nominal set-up fee Hubspot’s been able to unbundle questionable “consulting” services from their current pricing, so the numbers are easier to understand (presented here in case Hubspot pricing changes):

Hubspot Pricing

And I still love Hubspot CEO Brian Halligan’s Grateful Dead Business Change connection, by the way.

Sometimes, people come right out and tell us that they want to get away from Hubspot. For them, we become anti-Hubspot Consultants, and we can help those people pretty easily. Other times, people call us and ask what alternatives they have, and that’s harder because the underlying meaning behind that question is “how can I get what Hubspot sells without using Hubspot and also without putting any thought into the set-up process”?

Because for companies looking at Hubspot’s entry-level plan the “what if I want to leave Hubspot?” conversation is so compelling, working with businesses considering that is still pretty easy. But when businesses are looking at the $1,000/month mid-level plan at Hubspot, where they pay more for the privelege of using only Hubspot’s tools and not their hosting, things get pretty complicated.

This is because what Hubspot calls “closed loop marketing“, where one tool does everything, is incredibly cool. And if you’re a Salesforce.com or SugarCRM customer, it does save you work. Look at all this reporting:

Hubspot Closed Loop Marketing

As cool as it is to have all your data in one place—and let me be clear; I’m not discounting that; it’s great and Hubspot is on the right track—the actual data is … not very useful.

A new prospective client recently reached out to me, having decided that she had no intention of using Hubspot’s entry-level, land-grab package but wanting their reporting tools. She’s a Salesforce.com user and likes the integration that Hubspot provides with Salesforce. She wants a level of reporting that is more or less what this page shows, which comes down to “how many leads came from source “x”, and how many were converted to clients?”. Her reason makes sense, too; if Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook are “sending” way more customers than YouTube, SlideShare, and Delicious, it makes sense to focus your marketing effort and budget on the good ones and move away from the bad ones.

But reading this chart, that information is only correct if you judge success by number of customers. Concern yourself instead with the percentage of  leads from each source that became customers and you get a very different answer to where you should spend your marketing budget.

Worse, because the “correct information” that marketing professionals are now excited by is that video is the best way to engage people, the idea of using YouTube seems obvious, right? And yet this data says you probably shouldn’t bother.

The issue is this:

Trusting preconfigured tools means that you need to trust the way the tools are designed. You need to trust the data being presented by those tools, and as I pointed out last week, statistics lie. And Hubspot doesn’t even create any of these statistics; they just aggregate the information presented by others—and in a way that’s questionable.

More information equals less fact. Use Hubspot if you think that’s the way to go, but I’ll bet you that letting The Answer Guy build you a custom solution—and for about a third of what you’ll pay Hubspot in the first year—is a better idea.

Want to take me up on that bet? Contact me here.

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