What is HubSpot? Definition, Features, Pricing, Who it’s Best for

what-is-hubspot

For nearly every marketer or business owner, inbound marketing and all-in-one CRM bring one name to mind.

HubSpot.

HubSpot is one of the popular all-in-one CRMs. And like most well-known unified CRMs, HubSpot provides a suite of sales, customer service, content management, and operations tools.

Having ‌these tools in one place is a win because you get to skip the trouble of juggling from one software to another. The best part is that like many CRM software, HubSpot has free plans ‌you can explore before you opt for a paid plan. 

For some businesses, HubSpot CRM is a good starting point to streamline marketing and sales-related processes. But is HubSpot really the best CRM software for you as an SMB owner (even with its free plan)?

Not quite.

Several factors make HubSpot CRM a less ideal choice for small and mid-size businesses. These factors range from limited functionality to hefty pricing plans and more which we will cover in this guide.  

Here is exactly what you’ll be learning today about the HubSpot CRM:

  • What is HubSpot?
  • Is HubSpot CRM Free to Use?
  • Why is HubSpot expensive?
  • Is HubSpot Worth the Money For Small Businesses?
  • What is a Great HubSpot Alternative for SMBs?

Let’s get into it.

What is HubSpot?

HubSpot is a cloud-based CRM that comprises a suite of tools that helps businesses capture and convert leads, manage customer interactions, automate processes, and close deals. It also allows you to scale your inbound marketing processes by providing content creation tools. 

Is HubSpot CRM Free to Use?

Uhmmm…this question is a tough nut to crack. And a single-word answer wouldn’t do it justice. Let’s walk through HubSpot’s free plans to help you get the full picture.

HubSpot’s free CRM software allows you to use up to 23 free features such as ad management, email marketing, list segmentation, contact management, ticketing, deal pipeline, and app marketplace integrations.

hubspot dashboard example

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On its standalone solutions such as the marketing hub, you also have access to any of these free features relevant to each hub. 

But that’s where the good news ends. 

While these features are free, they have considerable limitations. An example is HubSpot’s built-in reporting—a critical tool for every business. On the free plan, you only have access to basic analytics. With insufficient data, optimizing your processes and scaling your business becomes an uphill battle.

Hubspot CRM review

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Hubspot CRM review

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So even though you might start out free, you need to upgrade to a paid plan for better functionality of these essential features. 

Is HubSpot CRM Truly Free? An Unbiased Guide (with User Reviews)

HubSpot Paid Plans

Currently, there are two categories in HubSpot’s paid plans; the all-in-one CRM suite and the single hubs. 

The all-in-one CRM suite combines all the tools in single hubs into one software. Moving from free tools to HubSpot’s best CRM suite plan could cost you up to $5,000 every month and $60,000 when billed yearly.

$60,000 a year is not a chicken change for SMBs. That’s a fortune.

Hubspot-CRM-paid-plans

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How about you opt for a single hub? Well, you’ll pay a lower but still substantial amount. 

A hub is a system within a CRM suite that caters to specific processes. These systems can function independently of others. For example, EngageBay’s Marketing Bay, CRM & Sales bay, and Service bay are equivalents of hubs. 

There are 5 hubs within HubSpot’s CRM suite. Let’s briefly look at each one, its pricing plan, and its functionalities.

HubSpot Marketing Hub

This hub provides marketing tools businesses need to attract visitors, convert leads, and generate reports.

Notable features in HubSpot’s marketing hub include tools for content creation, SEO, ads management, social media management, landing page builder, marketing automation, multi-touch revenue attribution, and reporting & analytics.

The Marketing Hub Pricing

 HubSpot-marketing-hub-pricing

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  • Starter: Comes with 1000 marketing contacts and increased functionality of free features for $50/month. 
  • Professional: Designed for up to 10 teams, gives you access to 2000 marketing contacts, everything in the starter pack, and additional features. Pricing starts from $890/monthly plus a one-time onboarding fee of $3,000. 
  • Enterprise: Supports 300 teams, 10,000 marketing contacts, more scalability in what’s available on the pro pack, and other features. It costs $3,200/month paid yearly and a $6,000 one-time onboarding fee. 

HubSpot Sales Hub

The sales hub allows sales teams to track leads and prospects, optimize sales processes, and close more deals. Popular features include email templates & tracking, conversation intelligence, live chat, pipeline management tool, sales automation, sales analytics & reporting dashboards.

The Sales Hub Pricing

HubSpot sales hub pricing

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  • Starter: Includes 2 paid users, fewer limitations of the free features, and additional features for $50/month upwards.
  • Pro: Pricing starts from $500/month for the starter pack tools plus 5 paid users, automation, advanced reporting & analytics, personalization tools, technical support, and price & quote configuration. Currently, the required one-time onboarding fee is $375. 
  • Enterprise: The enterprise plan allows for everything in the pro plan, 10 paid users, extensive customization, advanced permissions, and more features for $1,200/month paid yearly. You’ll also pay a one-time $3,000 onboarding fee.     

HubSpot Customer Service Hub

HubSpot’s customer service hub contains tools for communicating with customers and delivering great customer service. Features here include omnichannel messaging, live chat & conversational bots, automation, knowledge base, and canned snippets.

The Service Hub Pricing

HubSpot service hub pricing

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  • Starter: For $50/month, you’ll get more features within the free tools plus bots, calling features, shared inbox, email templates, basic ticket automation, and other simple features.
  • Pro: You have access to the starter tools, help desk automation, knowledge base, customer experience/service analytics, customer portal, and more. Currently, pricing starts from $400 but will soon increase to $500, according to HubSpot. The one-time onboarding fee is $375.
  • Enterprise: The ultimate sales plan comes with more access to what’s available on the pro and other advanced features HubSpot offers. Pricing starts at $1,200/month paid yearly with an additional one-time onboarding fee of $3,000.

HubSpot CMS Hub

In the CMS hub, you can access tools for building a website and creating blog posts. This includes a website hosting tool, drag-and-drop editor, security features, SEO recommendations, contact attribution reporting, and payment support. 

The CMS Hub Pricing

HubSpot CMS hub pricing

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  • Starter: Pricing starts at $25 for premium hosting, content delivery network, website security, basic website building tools, live chat, & forms, and reporting
  • Professional: You get everything in the starter plan, default user & team permissions, dynamic personalization, Google Search Console integration, and additional features for $400/monthly.
  • Enterprise: Besides the pro tools, you can access advanced features like single sign-on, site performance monitoring, adaptive testing, and web apps. Pricing starts at $1,200/month paid yearly. 

HubSpot Operations Hub

Tools within HubSpot’s latest operations hub helps businesses automate their processes and connect data and apps into one place. Tools in this hub include data sync, data quality automation, workflow extensions, custom process automation, and custom report builder.

The Operations Hub Pricing

HubSpot operations hub pricing

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  • Starter: This plan offers the free CRM plus customer data sync, reporting dashboard, list segmentation, multiple currencies, and email/in-app support for $50/month. 
  • Pro: You’ll get everything in the starter plan plus additional features like programmable automation, record customization, standard customer scoring, and webhooks for $800/month.
  • Enterprise: Finally, the most expensive plan in this hub gives you access to the pro tools and advanced customization and data management features for $2,000/month paid yearly.

Read also: HubSpot vs MailChimp: A Complete Product Comparison

Why is HubSpot so Expensive?

First off, HubSpot’s suite of tools can serve organizations with up to 300 teams. This makes it ideal for larger businesses. That said, it’s no surprise that their pricing plan reflects this targeting, even if you’re on their lowest-paid package.

HubSpot marketing hub add-on

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Besides the plans, add-ons follow the same route and can quickly result in huge bills. Say you’re using the starter package, which costs $50, and you decide to get a little functionality boost. The only API limit increase available for this level costs $500. That’s 10x higher than the initial plan. 

Let that sink in for a second. 

Of course, large companies with higher needs and bigger budgets can afford these astronomical fees and justify their use. But for startups and small businesses with limited resources, using HubSpot requires lots of thought because of the hefty price tags. This results in the big question … 

Is HubSpot Worth The Money For Small Businesses?

To understand if HubSpot is a good choice for your small business, there are three main factors to consider:

Your Business Needs

The value of CRM software depends on how well it meets your business needs. Carefully evaluate your immediate and future needs against the features in HubSpot. Does it fit into your processes? Does it support your overall marketing goals and objectives? Is it scalable? Also, what is HubSpot used for?

It’s important to know that while HubSpot has some cool features, critical tools that you’ll need in the future are likely locked away in more expensive plans that cost at least 1000% more than their starter plans.

Here’s what a customer says about this:

Hubspot customer review

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This was two years ago. Today, the outlook is still the same. 

Related post: 9 CRM Best Practices for Small to Large-scale Businesses

Your CRM Budget

How much do you want to invest in a CRM? Your budget goes beyond the monthly/yearly cost of the software. You need to factor in implementation costs, future upgrades, add-ons, and integrations.

Hubspot customer review

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For a clearer view of what HubSpot might cost you, imagine you want to create sequences. To do this, you’ll have to choose the PRO VERSION within the CRM suite.

Hubspot pricing estimate

Hubspot pricing estimate

A simple breakdown: 

  • Depending on the discount offered, this plan = $1,600 
  • Billed annually, we have= $19,200
  • Add a combined one-time onboarding fee= $3,750
  • You’ll have to cough up $22,950

That’s a huge bill that’s out of reach of many small businesses. As such, you’ll have better chances with other tools that offer these features for a fraction of the cost.

For example, on EngageBay, you can create a limited number of email sequences for free!

Technical Support

There’s only so much that free help guides and tutorials can cover. To get quality help for your CRM implementation success, you need specialized training and support that aligns with your processes. 

Most software like EngageBay that targets small businesses offers extra functionality like email & chat support in the free CRM, free onboarding, and more.

But in HubSpot, you won’t have that support in the free tools. Also, getting implementation guidance is tricky as onboarding fees can get up to $6,000 in most plans. 

If after evaluating these factors, HubSpot isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, below is a powerful alternative worth checking out.

Also read: 9 Challenges of CRM Implementation & How to Dust Them Off

What is a Great HubSpot Alternative for SMBs?

Like HubSpot, EngageBay is an all-in-one CRM platform with tools that can transform your marketing, sales, and customer service.

However, what makes it an excellent choice for SMBs is its affordable pricing, powerful features, flexible plan, and exceptional customer service.

Customer says EngageBay is a better Hubspot alternative

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Here’s a closer look at what makes EngageBay a prime choice:

Affordable Pricing Plans

EngageBay pricing plans are a match made in heaven for SMBs.

Engagebay affordable pricing

Source: Hubspot vs EngageBay

You can start at $0 on the free plan and get additional features for as low as $11.99/month (biennially) in the all-in-one CRM basic plan.

Startup prefers Engagebay crm

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As your business grows, you can advance to the growth package from $49.99/month for comparative features in the HubSpot Pro plan.

The highest package, which gives you access to all the features you need plus a dedicated account manager, costs $99.99/month only. You’ll scarcely find any HubSpot alternative that offers such functionality at this friendly pricing. 

EngageBay also offers 10% off on all yearly plans and 20% off on biennial plans. 

Rich Functionality

EngageBay has an impressive arsenal of tools for SMBs. From the free CRM tool, you get lots of features like email marketing to 500 contacts, live chat, email sequenceslanding pages, 360-degree contact view, lead grabbers, and autoresponders.

Engagebay winning Hubspot

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The basic plan comes with additional features like SMS marketing, ticketing management, a social suite, web pop-ups, canned responses, and group management. You’ll also get 1000 contacts, 3000 branded emails, and an SSL for your landing pages.

Engagebay Startup user review

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For the Growth package, you’ll have access to A/B testing, marketing automation, push notifications, proposals, call reports, and more.

Finally, the Pro EngageBay plan not only comes with advanced functionality of what exists but adds role management, conversational inbox, role management, web analytics, etc. 

These are highlights. To know what tools are available for your business, check out EngageBay’s extensive features for free & paid plans. 

Easy To Use

A common scenario: You buy a CRM, try setting it up, and find out it’s as complex as navigating a spaceship. This leaves you no choice but to waste huge amounts of time setting up simple tasks or spend lots of money on onboarding. 

That’s not the case in EngageBay.

Engagebay is easy to use

Our software is intuitive and super easy to use whether you’re a seasoned marketer or a beginner. In fact, each feature and bay is designed to help you perform tasks in just a few clicks. 

You Aren’t Locked Into Annual Contracts 

Flexible pricing is the way forward and we’re here for it. Regardless of which plan you choose, you have access to monthly and yearly plans. There’s no mandatory annual commitment.

You can use EngageBay for as many months as you like and cancel anytime. 

Responsive Customer Support Team

Run into a snag? Our customer support team is always available to offer technical support. It doesn’t matter if you’re not using a paid plan. All EngageBay users can get help from our email or chat support to solve from the simplest issues to complex ones.

Engagebay client review

If you’re looking for highly specialized assistance beyond these options, you can also get a dedicated account manager in the pro plan.

Engagebay happy customer

Are you looking to see what EngageBay offers? You can sign up for a free trial; no credit card is required.

What’s more? If you eventually commit to any package after the trial, we offer free onboarding that saves you thousands of dollars.

Read more: 8 Fantastic HubSpot Alternatives for Small Businesses (Features, Pricing)

Wrap Up on HubSpot CRM, Features, and Pricing

We believe this post has given you a high-level overview of what to expect from HubSpot CRM. On HubSpot, you have three options: the free tools, the CRM suite, or any of its various hubs.

The free tools come with many limitations that could affect your ability to scale your business. On the other hand, if you choose any of HubSpot’s paid plans, you have to buckle up because high subscription fees will come hitting on your business.

Plus, there are one-time onboarding fees depending on the chosen plan. All of these can quickly balloon up to $22,950 – $72,000 for the pro and enterprise packages.

For a small business owner with a limited budget, this is a steep price.

The best CRM is one that offers you the features you need at a fair cost. And such a software solution is the EngageBay CRM designed specifically for SMBs that want maximum value at affordable pricing.

Looking to see how EngageBay CRM can help you grow your small business? Sign up for free today.

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