HubSpot Marketing Hub is one of the five Hubs (i.e., packages) offered by HubSpot, along with Sales Hub, CS Hub, CMS Hub, and Operations. It is arguably the most used and helpful Hub after the Sales Hub. It contains a plethora of marketing-focused features such as workflow automation, social media, and more.
This post will break down HubSpot Marketing Hub features and pricing and compare it with two of its main alternatives — Mailchimp and Encharge. By the end of this piece, you will have a good understanding of what you need to consider before investing in the hub or one of its alternatives.
Let’s dive in!
What is HubSpot Marketing Hub?
HubSpot Marketing Hub is the marketing set of features offered by HubSpot.
All HubSpot hubs are further broken down into three pricing packages: Starter, Professional, and Enterprise.
The focus of this article will be the Marketing Hub Professional plan.
The Starter plan doesn’t offer many features compared to the Free Tools plan. With the Starter plan, you are getting rid of HubSpot branding on your marketing emails, forms, landing pages, and live chat. Still, you don’t get any additional marketing features.
The Enterprise plan contains several critical features like “Behavioral event triggers and reporting” (vital for SaaS companies) and Custom objects. Unfortunately, the Enterprise plan starts at $37,239 per year, paid yearly in advance for just 10,000 marketing contacts. Additional marketing contacts are sold in increments of 10,000 for $97/month. With that pricing level, the Enterprise plan is simply not accessible for anyone but…well, enterprise companies.
This leaves us with the HubSpot Marketing Hub Professional plan — the core marketing offering of HubSpot. It contains the signature workflows (i.e., “Omni-channel marketing automation”) — undoubtedly the most important HubSpot marketing feature. HubSpot Marketing Hub Professional starts at $864/month.
Learn more: HubSpot Pricing 2022 Explained
HubSpot Marketing Hub alternatives
When discussing the HubSpot Marketing Hub alternatives, we’ll discuss two tools: Mailchimp and Encharge.
First, both tools are much cheaper than HubSpot Marketing Hub Professional.
Second, we chose these tools because they have native integrations with the HubSpot CRM.
Based on our experience, people looking for HubSpot Marketing Hub alternatives are looking for apps that play nicely with the HubSpot CRM. Things like syncing contact data, getting email marketing engagement in HubSpot, automating sales processes, etc. And they are usually looking for something cheaper than Marketing Hub Professional.
The pricing tag automatically excludes enterprise platforms like Pardot and Marketo.
The requirement for deep native integration excludes tools like ActiveCampaign, Zoho Marketing Automation, and others. These platforms do not support native deep integrations with HubSpot. The integration happens through HubSpot’s Data Sync — this essentially means that you can sync contact, company, and deals data, but that’s about it. You can not sync email activity, automate tasks in your HubSpot CRM, and more. Syncing contact data might be enough for some people, but if you are truly looking for a synergy between your HubSpot CRM and another marketing automation tool, you would have to look elsewhere.
HubSpot Marketing Hub – features and alternatives
Let’s dissect the most important features of HubSpot Marketing Hub Professional and compare it with equivalents from a specialized product (Encharge) and an all-in-one tool (Mailchimp).
Omni-channel marketing automation or simply workflows. The bread and butter of HubSpot Marketing Hub, workflows allow you to automated messages to your leads, users, and customers at different stages of the customer journey — for example, a welcome email series when a user signs up for your product.
Workflows also enable you to automate tasks across your marketing and sales processes — for example, assign a new sales task in your CRM when a user visits the pricing page.
HubSpot supports contact-based and company-based flows.
With the workflow builder, you can create automation flows with visual steps for Delays, If/then branches, and a number of different actions.
UI-wise, the flow builder looks excellent. However, bear in mind that the flow is one-directional — all steps go down vertically, and you have little flexibility in how the flow is aligned. You can’t drag and drop, align and connect steps as you see fit. This could be restrictive if you’re coming from a marketing automation platform like Encharge (like me) or want more flexibility when designing flows. To connect distant steps horizontally or generally, steps that are not aligned in consecutive order, you need to use the “Go to action” step.
HubSpot workflows support the following triggers:
If you are looking for an automation solution that works great with your HubSpot CRM data, this workflow builder is hard to beat. You can start a flow with dozens of activities related to Meetings, Deals, Calls, Emails, Conversions, and more. Fans of all-in-one tools will rejoice and find HubSpot’s workflows easy to set up as HubSpot’s flows are very well connected with the rest of the suite, mainly its CRM.
Once a workflow is triggered, you have to connect your trigger to an action step.
Here is what HubSpot workflow has to offer in terms of actions:
HubSpot actions allow for a ton of automations for contacts, companies, deals, and tasks.
You can set property values, create new deals, tasks, and more. All of these actions are superbly connected with the rest of the CRM.
You can send internal team emails, SMS, and even team in-app notifications. This makes automating internal team processes between sales and marketing a breeze.
HubSpot also supports Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn ads. You can use the flow triggers to automatically add or remove people to an audience at specific times and/or when specific conditions are met.
If/then branches, on the other hand, allow you to split your flow into multiple buckets.
All in all, the Marketing Hub Professional workflows are extremely well connected with the rest of the HubSpot ecosystem and allow for some really advanced marketing automations.
That being said, HubSpot workflows have their own shortcomings:
You can’t automate anything with app events unless you are on Enterprise.
If you run a SaaS app or a mobile app, you will be at no luck with Marketing Hub Professional, as it doesn’t offer any triggers based on actions (events) that happen in your app. In other words, you can not automate things based on what your users do or don’t do in your product. Note that these are custom actions that need to be coded directly with the HubSpot API and are only supported on Enterprise.
No SMS, in-app, or push notifications.
Unfortunately, you can not send in-app, push, or SMS messages to your users using the workflow builder. You’ll need to rely on Zapier or external integrations to automate omnichannel messaging.
Poor support of 3rd party apps in automation
HubSpot added several workflow integrations with 3rd-party apps since our last HubSpot marketing automation review for SaaS. However, it still doesn’t support automatons with some critical platforms like Stripe, for instance.
Mailchimp rolled out its workflow builder back in 2020. They call them “Customer journeys”.
Customer Journeys are available on the Standard Mailchimp plan starting at $17/month.
The good news with Mailchimp, as we mentioned, is that it offers native integration with HubSpot, which means that apart from being able to sync contact and company data, you can also see email activity from Mailchimp in the HubSpot records’ feed.
The bad news is that the Mailchimp customer journeys are no suitable alternative to the HubSpot workflows. They offer If/else rules and some basic triggers but are simply not up to par with the powerful workflow builder of HubSpot.
Encharge has a powerful visual drag-and-drop workflow builder. It supports 14 different steps that you can use to automate a ton of things in HubSpot:
- New HubSpot Contact
- HubSpot Contact Field Match
- HubSpot Deal Stage Match
- Added to List in HubSpot
- HubSpot Form Submitted
- Meeting Booked in HubSpot
- Create HubSpot Record
- Update HubSpot Record
- Create HubSpot Deal
- Change HubSpot Deal Stage
- Create Task in HubSpot
- Add to List in HubSpot
- Remove from List in HubSpot
- Check HubSpot Record
What that means is that you can automate a lot of tasks in HubSpot without purchasing the HubSpot Marketing Hub plan. For instance, with the “Create HubSpot Record” action in Encharge, you can automate the creation of any type of record in your HubSpot account – contacts, companies, deals, tickets, etc. and even associate the new record with other records automatically.
On top of that, Encharge supports Event Triggers and segmentation based on events. SaaS companies will rejoice as they don’t have to pay $37,239 per year for HubSpot Enterprise. Encharge starts at just $159/month, and you can automate actions that your app users perform. For instance, you can create a new deal in HubSpot when a user signs up for a Trial:
Encharge is the only marketing automation platform currently on the market that goes beyond a basic integration with HubSpot and allows you to automate and sync contacts, deals, and tasks in your HubSpot account. At just $159/month, this is a super affordable viable alternative to the HubSpot Marketing Hub.
Nov 2022 Update: We launched our brand new integration with HubSpot, which supports a two-way sync. Make sure to check it out!
Contact and company scoring
Also known as HubSpot score or simply lead scoring is a numerical contact field that indicates how qualified a lead is and what their sales readiness is based on criteria set in the HubSpot’s lead scoring tool. For instance, if a contact has a score of 20, they are more likely to convert than a contact with a lead score of 5.
To use the automated lead scoring tool in HubSpot, you need to be on Marketing Hub Professional or Enterprise.
This tool allows you to set positive and negative numerical values based on contact data or activity. For example, you can add +2 points if a person visits your pricing page and subtract 5 points if a contact unsubscribes from your emails.
The new score value will be automatically updated when the contact satisfies the conditions or performs the action set in the tool.
You can use this score property to segment your contacts in lists and enroll records in workflows.
Mailchimp doesn’t have a real lead scoring feature the way HubSpot or other more advanced marketing automation platforms do.
The closest they have to lead scoring is pre-defined automated contact rating or, as they call it, “Star rating.”
All new contacts start with a 2-star rating, and that rating can increase or decrease based on their engagement. All that happens behind the scenes, and you cannot change that rating in any way.
As you can imagine, the star rating is not an alternative to the full-fledged lead scoring by HubSpot, so if you need lead scoring, you’d have to look elsewhere.
In the screenshot below, the lead is scored based on their product activity. When a user signs up, they get 1 point, 2 points when they create a task, and 5 when they create a project.
The score will be recorded to the default field named “Lead score,” which you can later use to create segments and start flows when a person reaches a certain threshold:
The best part is that you can automatically sync the Encharge lead score to HubSpot. To do that, go to the app connection settings of HubSpot and turn on “Sync Lead Score to HubSpot” (screenshot below) That’s everything you need to do – Encharge will take care of the rest – it will create a new custom property named “Encharge Score” and sync the lead score from Encharge to your HubSpot account automatically.
Although not a Marketing Hub feature per se, user segmentation is a critical part of any targeted marketing activity.
HubSpot offers three ways to group your contact records based on common criteria:
- Saved filters are views that you can apply in different sections like Contacts, Deals, and companies. Filters can’t be used in workflows. To trigger a flow when a person meets particular conditions, you need to use an Active List or Static List.
- Static lists are lists of contacts that don’t update dynamically. For instance, when you import a set of people you want to email.
- Active lists are dynamically updated segments that contacts enter and leave when they meet or no longer meet certain criteria.
Note that different Marketing Hub packages will limit the number of active segments and the criteria you can segment by:
Mailchimp offers two types of segmentation: Basic Segments and Advanced Segments.
Advanced Segments are only available on the Premium Mailchimp plan that starts at $299/month for 10,000 contacts.
If you look closely at the table above, you’ll notice that the Basic segmentation is relatively limited. It also doesn’t support event-based segmentation — segmentation based on custom app actions.
If you are after simple segmentation without nested logic, you would be fine with Mailchimp. If you are a SaaS and want to segment your audience based on what they do in your product or if you need advanced segmentation, then Mailchimp is not a good choice.
Encharge offers advanced segmentation based on various conditions. You can group by contact fields, tags, custom user actions, email engagement, pages visited, and more. All segmentation conditions except Events are included in our entry-level Growth starting at $49. And event-based segmentation is included in our Premium plans starting at just $59. You can learn more about our segment conditions.
HubSpot Marketing Hub Professional supports two types of A/B Testing: A/B testing for email marketing and A/B testing for landing pages.
The email A/B testing allows you to choose an A/B distribution model. In other words, you select what percentage of your audience will receive the test variants and what percentage of the audience will receive the winning version.
The winner will be selected based on opens, clicks, or clickthrough rate. The only limitation of this A/b testing feature is that you can not select more than two versions to test — the control version (A) and one variant (B). This is generally OK for most email marketers out there since it’s recommended that you test only two versions for the most conclusive results.
Unlike the email A/B testing, the A/B testing for landing pages allows you to do a multi-variant test, or what HubSpot refers to as an “Adaptive test”:
I also dig the fact that HubSpot provides tips on what to test for your landing pages:
Once you publish your page (and its variants), you can review the metrics of the page and select a winning variant based on data such as Vies, Submissions, New Contacts, Customers, and even Contact to Customer rate. Neat job!
Mailchimp supports a similar A/B testing function for its emails. It is available on the Essentials plan starting at $11/mo. It also supports multivariate testing, but it’s only available on Premium.
Apart from testing based on the subject line, from name, and email content, Mailchimp also allows you to test different sending times.
A nice touch is that you can also manually choose a winner instead of letting the system decide the winner for you.
All-in-all the Mailchimp email A/B testing feature is pretty fleshed out and I’d say even more advanced than that of HubSpot.
Note that you can create landing pages in Mailchimp, but you can not A/b test them.
Encharge supports two types of A/B testing: A/B testing for Broadcasts (one-off newsletters) and A/B testing in automated flows.
The broadcast A/B testing supports the same capabilities as the one of HubSpot, however, you can also do multivariate testing. You can do a simple split test without determining a winner, or let Encharge automatically determine the winner after a certain amount of time based on clicks or opens. The variant with the highest open or click rate will be sent to the rest of the audience.
Apart from A/B testing a newsletter, you can also A/B test your Flows using an A/B Test action step. This means you can test different email sequences or even different automation processes at the same time.
Forms and Landing Pages
Forms and landing pages are both supported on the HubSpot free plan. However, you only get to remove the HubSpot branding by going with one of the Starter plans like Marketing Hub Starter or above.
HubSpot forms, although not impressive in terms of design options, offer some great features such as progressive fields — contacts that have filled certain fields earlier would not see the fields in forms and queued progressive fields — the option to replace fields that a user has filled in on an earlier form with a new set of fields. Another great feature is the form reports showing a funnel visualization and other useful info, such as a breakdown of submissions from existing contacts and from new contacts.
Similarly to the forms builder, I find the landing page (and website) builder too limited in design and style options. The lack of access to the CSS of the pages makes designing advanced things in HubSpot fairly tricky, so I would still prefer a full-fledged website/landing page builder over HubSpot.
Of course, the integration with the HubSpot ecosystem has its benefits. For instance, you can personalize landing page content based on contact data. For example, you can show one landing page for leads and a completely different one to customers.
Mailchimp rolled out landing pages recently (well, around a couple of years ago now). All forms and landing pages are available on their free plan.
Don’t expect anything fancy. The builder offers basic functionality and would be enough for you to create some decent basic pages. Also, it’s free so you can’t complain. But again this is more of an interim solution while you graduate to a full-fledged form and page builder.
We currently don’t support landing pages or forms at Encharge (although they are now in the making!)
An alternative solution would be to use one of the page builder or form integrations we support or purchase the HubSpot Sales Starter, which removes the branding from forms and pages. If you choose the second option, you will combine powerful sales CRM with Encharge — the best alternative to Marketing Hub.
HubSpot Marketing Hub conclusion
The HubSpot Marketing Hub Professional offers a robust suite of marketing tools, from email marketing and automation to landing pages and social media. Unfortunately, at over $800 a month for just 2,000 contacts is simply not a viable option for most SMBs. The lack of events needed for behavior-based emails unless you upgrade to Enterprise makes HubSpot inaccessible for everyone but the biggest companies.
With Encharge, you have a reliable alternative to the Marketing Hub that integrates deeply with the HubSpot CRM.
These are just some of the things you can do with Encharge and HubSpot:
- Keep your contacts and companies’ data in sync between Encharge and HubSpot.
- Create advanced flows using our visual flow builder.
- Automate your sales processes directly in HubSpot using 14 different HubSpot steps.
- Add HubSpot contacts to Encharge and start sending them automated emails based on what they do in your app.
- Create new deals in HubSpot at specific moments in the customer journey.
- Assign sales tasks in HubSpot and proactively follow up with the best leads and users.
- Build hyper-targeted user segments that combine product usage data and attributes from your HubSpot CRM.
- Update the deal stage in HubSpot based on user activity (e.g., when a user starts a trial, becomes a customer, or engages with your product).
- Update any type of HubSpot record – contact, company, deal, ticket, etc. or create it if it doesn’t exist.
- Automate the lifecycle stages of the contacts.
- View all of your email marketing activity in HubSpot and build active lists based on which Encharge emails people have opened, clicked, replied, etc.