Quick favor - Before you start reading, please fill out the audience survey so we can write better essays for you (and we’d like to know who you all are) - it takes 30 secs
Illustrations by Alejandra Céspedes.
HubSpot is a powerful CRM for attracting customers through inbound marketing, but that’s not all. It can also integrate all the data you need to keep track of contacts, nurture leads, and drive real results. But with so many tools and capabilities, it can be challenging to know where to start and how to make the most of your CRM.
To help set you up for success and keep you on the right path, here are a few of our favorite best practices. Win big with customers by checking out these eleven tried and true plays from the 42 Agency team.
1. Define your business goals and map out your processes.
Before jumping head-first into the deep end, make sure you establish your goals and qualify what success looks like. Ask yourself: what are you hoping to get out of HubSpot? What pain points are you trying to solve?
Then, define your go-to-market setup and how your business operates. It’s all about understanding your core market model. That’s because your core markets define what activities you need to measure. This will also help you integrate the CRM with your entire business and growth strategy.
Start by looking at your system of record for sales and marketing analytics. If it's top-down, that might be leading by SQL. If it’s bottoms-up, your focus might be on activated users.
Map out your customer journey. Break down your process and consider your sales process. What happens when somebody comes to your site and requests a demo? Does a lead go straight to a BDR or an AE? Do you have a qualification call first? How do you create opportunities from leads and how do you define and progress the stages of the lifecycle?
2. Integrate your CRM with your entire growth operation.
Once you map out your process, understand where your data lives and how it flows together. Map out your system architecture to see where all the data is coming from and where it needs to go. You might have sales data in Salesforce, blog data in WordPress, automation for the sales team, upgrades in Google. You need to make sure that it’s all connected to HubSpot.
Also take a look at your primary points of contact for HubSpot. Who are your stakeholders? These are most likely your VPs of Sales and Marketing, your founders etc. What systems are they using and what do they want to get out of them? For example, your VP of Sales might want a weekly report on active VPR. It’s critical to understand your end goals for outputs, so you know what kinds of reports you need to build. Based on these insights, define the data to be captured and the account/opportunity objects to use.
If you’re looking at HubSpot for marketing purposes, the good news is that HubSpot has a native integration with Salesforce. The bad news is that setting it by yourself can be a hassle. Use tools like HockeyStack to automatically combine data into a single, unified and transformative view — so you won’t miss out on any meaningful insights.
3. Keep it lean to make the most of your time and effort.
From contacts to demos and letters, most businesses have too many forms.The problem is that form management can become an administrative nightmare. That’s because if you have ten different forms, you have to make every update across all ten forms.
Merge your forms — so you don’t lose precious time managing them. Minimize your number of form types, by using the same form across all verticals. In other words, create a single point of entry with the same form across different places. Standardize your day-to-day data inputs.
Consider what fields you want to be tracking, so you're not creating a new contact every time somebody submit a form. Instead, use HubSpot to track and capture ATM fields out-of-the-box. Our friends at HockeyStack can help you automatically track all form submissions that come through HubSpot.
HubSpot lists are the best way to identify and organize who lives in your CRM. These lists can help you segment for emails, rank leads, and find upsell opportunities. They can also support you in spotting disengaged leads who could use some extra love.
When it comes to naming conventions, include year/day/ month and the purpose of the list. Set up lists for customers, opportunities, and deals. And then use these lists across email marketing, workflows, and reports.
4. Take advantage of HubSpot for marketing and ads.
Hubspot natively integrates with Facebook ads to capture key data. That means you can segment by campaign for ad creative, and report on it all in the CRM.
Also be sure to take advantage of Hubspot “ad interactions.” Somebody may not have converted off an ad, but they likely clicked elsewhere. By capturing these interactions, you can send first-party audiences to your ad platforms. You can even tell Hubspot to list your customers by look-alikes, and save the headache of exporting and importing CSV files.
5. Optimize your landing pages and A/B testing.
When it comes to landing pages, create three or four templates so you can easily plug and play. Once you know the jump rate, you can clone them as many times as you like. Then all you need to focus on is copy edits and images. That’s so much simpler and faster than creating a new landing page each time.
Now, you're ready to do A/B testing with HubSpot (or else use Google Optimize). You can even create "spot content," so that if somebody lands on a page many times, they’ll be directed to diverse content.
6. Publish blogs and emails for full visibility.
The advantage of publishing blogs with HubSpot is full end-to-end visibility. It's easy to run analytics and capture data on HubSpot-hosted blogs. You can natively segment and report on your blog content performance.
That empowers you to tell who converted off specific blog posts. There are even attribution tools to see which blogs generated the most revenue. HubSpot makes these kinds of invaluable connections for you.
The only disadvantage is from a SEO perspective. Hubspot's blogs are out-of-the-box on a "subdomain" rather than on a unique directory. For example, your blog url will read as "<<name of blog>> @Hubspot.com or <<name of blog>>/hubspotblog. But while that’s worse for SEO, the benefits of full visibility can be well worth it.
When it comes to emails, the first step is understanding your different use cases. For regular communication (as well as internal emails), plain text is usually the way to go. But for marketing emails or newsletters you'll likely need more design. Then you're ready to set up templates. You can buy them off the HubSpot template marketplace or create them yourself.
Keep in mind that HubSpot overrides your GTM sources. For example, if you send out an email and forget the GTM properties and bank email, you don't have to worry. HubSpot will automatically add them in. But if you post on social media and want a custom video data setting, remember to turn the feature off.
HubSpot emails also default to send to everybody. This includes people who haven't been engaging. Consider turning off the default, so you don't send out cold emails to disengaged prospects and get a high bounce rate.
7. Stay on top of website activity.
HubSpot has its own tracker for your website. While it may not be as powerful as an actual analytics tool, it still gets the job done for uncovering important website touches from your key contacts. This can be a meaningful starting point for more sophisticated analytics tools, because you can connect historical website data directly through HubSpot. Just keep in mind that HubSpot only tracks pageviews and sometimes tracks them as duplicates.
8. Connect all the dots with campaigns.
With HubSpot, you can see how leads convert to customers and use that data to inform your platforms and engagement channels. It’s essential to view your marketing and sales activities all together to understand what works (and what doesn’t), so you can optimize moments that matter and grow conversion.
From influence to revenue, HubSpot campaigns can help you understand every customer journey. It enables you to see your return on investment from trade shows to blogs, landing pages, forms, offers, ads, emails, and more.
Let's take a look at trade shows. Some of your visitors may have been existing opportunities, while others were new to your CRM. You can associate these lists to a Hubspot campaign. As deals progress and close through the funnel, HubSpot can report if a trade show had an influence and how much. Use HubSpot campaigns to get a unified view of every single marketing piece you deliver. Though it’s important to note that HubSpot’s own reporting may not be enough, so think of it as a supplemental tool for drilling down on insights.
9. Empower prospects and customers to book meetings directly.
HubSpot has its own meeting scheduler that syncs with Google Calendar and Office 365 Calendar to show your most current availability. This can become an important tool in your buyer journey, because it enables prospects and customers to easily book a meeting with you or multiple people in your company. Plus, it saves all of the back-and-forth emails trying to find a time that works for everyone. The HubSpot meeting scheduler is also connected to your HubSpot contacts database — so every time a prospect books a meeting your database automatically grows and stays up-to-date.
10. Keep your data clean and connected.
It's essential to keep your data tidy, starting with your context objects. Go to your "new contacts" settings. Set new contacts to automatically associate with the right account and contact owner. That will save you the big headache of ending up with partial contacts.
You’ll also want to map the lifecycle state between accounts and contacts (so you don't send an email meant for a lead to a prospect). The main lifecycle stages are: “Lead > MQL > SQL > Opportunity > Customer.” You don't have to use all of these, but mapping at least three (usually MQL > SQL > Customer) can offer a lot more clarity to your operation. Take advantage of HubSpot to automatically set, update, and sync lifecycle stages. For example, you can automatically turn a website form submission into an MQL.
Above all, make sure your core triangle between contacts, deals, and companies all tie together. Missing these associations is the root of most reporting and operational issues. Check if you have any deals without contacts or companies associated with them. We also recommend associating with companies instead of contacts (though this may not work for every customer). And make sure you don't have contacts without associated companies. You’ll want to check and fix these kinds of disconnects on a regular basis. There’s also a toggle to see the same financial state between contacts and companies.
Always ensure there are no duplicates in your database. And check that all contacts are up-to-date for lifecycle stage and current status. Are they new to the funnel, in active sales conversation, or disqualified?
If you're using custom lead sources, make sure you keep these tidy too. HubSpot is impressive at capturing online resources for lead sources. But an uploaded disc or anything from an integration will automatically track offline. So, set up a custom resource field to identify all sources. Create worksheets to map out online ads, social media posts, emails, and offline trade sources.
With HubSpot, there's a dedicated place to set up target accounts for companies. This enables you to get a singular view of all target accounts. You’ll be able to see everything from opportunity values to API output notions.
With "companies," HubSpot also offers automatically attributed insights. You can even look at third-party resources like industry value and annual revenue. Then, you can create a list of all companies including contacts within a segment. That makes it easy to segment your database and push them to specific ad platforms. Just take these insights with a grain of salt, because they’re not always 100% accurate.
11. Discover HubSpot's lesser-known gems.
Don't miss out on HubSpot's overlooked treasures. The CRM recently rolled out “time to close.” This new feature enables you to see your sales velocity. You can determine how much time it took for a contact to go from open to close. Or even how long it took for a contact to move from late stage to close won. Plus, you can get these insights all out of the box, so you don’t have to create custom data (like in Salesforce).
Another powerful but under-used tool is original source. It can capture valuable attribution data and campaign insights for keywords and Adwords. And don't underestimate the power of "offline factoring." This feature can help you integrate your HubSpot ad platforms. In traditional marketing, a conversion is marked when a user submits a form. But with offline factoring, you can track if a user who submits a form actually becomes an opportunity. Then, you can send that data back to your ad platforms, and track how your campaigns perform on down funnel metrics.
When it comes to making it easier for customers to fill forms, HubSpot form fields automatically populate previously submitted visitor data by default. HubSpot checks a visitor's browser for tracking cookies. If this cookie is associated with a contact, it will pre-populate fields previously submitted on that device.
Hubspot also recently launched two new tools powered by artificial intelligence (AI): Content Assistant and ChatSpot.ai. You can use these newly published AI features to help save you and your team precious time and also create stronger connections with your audiences.
Content Assistant (in beta) helps you ideate, create, and share quality sales and marketing content in mere minutes. This tool can suggest blog titles (and create outlines) related to a product or service, and even write content for blog posts, knowledge-based articles, landing pages, website pages, sales and marketing emails.
ChatSpot.ai (in alpha) offers a chat-based experience to help you use HubSpot’s software. The tool can assist you with a variety of tasks from adding contacts and companies to the HubSpot CRM, to creating custom reports for marketing, sales, and customer service — as well as drafting personalized sales emails.
After all, your smartest HubSpot plays are about building deeper connections between your data, pipeline, and customers.
Need help with your HubSpot CRM? Let's chat!
We hope you found these best practices a good starting point for your own playbook. At 42 Agency, we know the ins and outs of HubSpot. We can help you set up a high-performing CRM, so you can drive a more connected customer experience and transform how your customers engage and buy.
What did you think of this piece?
😍 Loved it
👍 Just ok
👎 Not very good