Is HubSpot Really Free?

With HubSpot Free and the Starter package, you can get familiar with the tools without spending a lot (or anything), and can focus on the basics before advancing to more comprehensive features.

As companies grow, so do opportunities to engage with potential clients through multiple channels. Without a system in place to organize and track this information, leads can be lost and opportunities missed.  A Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) can help you track leads, organize contacts, and nurture customer relationships. Studies show that getting a new customer is from 5 to 25 times more expensive than holding on to an existing one (via @hubspot). HubSpot has a free CRM that helps you do this, and paid options for growing businesses that might need more. 

To decide if HubSpot’s free CRM is right for you, or if you would benefit more from one of its paid plans, you first need to know what the differences are.

Is Hubspot Really Free?

Who should use HubSpot’s Free CRM?

Any business that wants to maintain a relationship with their customers should use a CRM. It provides valuable information about them, like who they are, how you can reach them, how they interact with your site, and how you can bring in new business. 

HubSpot’s CRM also offers a central database that connects all your departments. If everyone on your team understands each client’s needs and situation, they can work together to provide your customers with better support. Your customers should feel like they have a relationship with one company — not a bunch of different people and departments. A CRM is designed to solve this issue by providing a central place to organize all the details of your clients and leads.

You need a CRM if you deal with any of these issues:

  • You have a central list of information on leads and customers, but the information is in several different places.
  • Your customers interact with multiple people on your team. It can be hard to keep track of where conversations left off.
  • You do not have a clear way to measure the productivity of your team — no effective process or system that they follow and that can track progress.

By promoting customer retention and loyalty, a CRM can lead to increased profits. It doesn’t just organize contact info, it logs your teams’ correspondence with prospects — emails, phone calls, voicemails, and meetings — and lets you track customer lifecycles and record reasons for failed and successful deals.

What do HubSpot’s free CRM and Starter Package Include

HubSpot’s free CRM and the basic Starter plan (at $50 a month, the least expensive of the paid options) are great for people who are new to CRMs or inbound marketing (marketing strategy focused on creating valuable content to attract prospects).

Basically, these options offer what HubSpot calls a Lead Flow — a pop-up form on your site can be filled out by visitors, they receive something in return (like an infographic or eBook), and HubSpot captures their information and sends it to your Contact Database. With HubSpot Free you can get Prospect Insights — company name, job title, etc — for the first 7 days, while with the Starter package there is no limit to prospect insights. With the Starter plan you also have the option to remove HubSpot’s branding from your forms (with the free version you can’t remove HubSpot branding).

With HubSpot Free and the Starter package, you can get familiar with the tools without spending a lot (or anything), and can focus on the basics before advancing to more comprehensive features. These plans specifically focus on collecting leads — which is clearly beneficial, but there are limits to what you can do with that information. HubSpot Free is easy to use and intuitive, and includes tools that will help you manage your client relationships and reach more potential clients. It’s a good place to start, but you may reach the free CRM’s limitations and find you need more.

  • Prospects insight When a lead shares your email, you’ll see information about who they are, where they work, and which pages they visited.
  • Email Personalized follow-up emails are sent automatically to site visitors after they’ve done things like view offers or check your pricing.
  • Analytics Access analytics that will identify what is working well and what isn’t. This includes content, traffic sources, offers, and ads driving conversions. Through this central hub you can monitor your sales team’s performance, and see which efforts and channels are driving engagement.
  • Forms Easily add contact forms and pop-ups, without any coding.
  • Contacts Database Your team gets access to a single database to view and manage all contact interactions.
  • Ads Promote your content to generate leads, which are synced from the ad network into HubSpot. See which ads are converting and create audiences from your CRM. The free version is limited to two connected accounts across any supported network, with a $1k spend limit per 30 days and only website audience creation.
  • Ticketing Customer issues can be logged as tickets and assigned to team members, organizing and tracking all issues in a central location.
  • Live Chat Have live chats with site visitors, offering help and information to convert them into qualified leads.
  • Chat bots For the free CRM, these include ticket creation, lead qualification, and appointment booking.
  • Conversations inbox Organize customer communication, including live chats and emails, in a shared inbox, accessible to your entire team. The free version is limited to 1 inbox.
  • All your content data You can store up to one million contacts and companies.
  • Email tracking and notifications Receive notifications when emails are opened or clicked. The free version is limited to 200 notifications per month.
  • Email templates 5 email templates per account. Access only the first five templates that were created (this is a free version limit).
  • Documents Create and access a library of resources that you can share with customers. The free version is limited to 5 documents.

The free version of HubSpot does offer a lot of great features, just not as many as the paid versions. And as you can see above, some of the offered tools are just more limited than those in the paid accounts. This means that while it may be enough for a small or midsize team that can function well with a simple process, a bigger business might want more than the free CRM offers.

Each of the bigger paid packages includes additional tools to help you organize, communicate with, and nurture your leads. HubSpot Starter costs $50 a month and gives you access to a dashboard that tracks traffic, leads, and sales. 

Instead of just capturing leads with a free account, the Starter plan lets you use live chat and conversational bots to generate communicate with new leads and track their activity on your website.

One of the main differences between HubSpot Pro and the less expensive packages is that it includes A/B testing. You can use this to test your calls-to-action, emails, and landing pages, and make improvements based on your visitors’ responses.

HubSpot Pro also offers automation, so that you can trigger email workflows when a site visitor becomes a lead or completes actions like opening or not opening emails and downloading offers. A sequence of emails can then be automatically sent without you having to do anything, helping your team reach prospective clients and stay on top of opportunities.

With the analytics available at this level, you’ll be able to see your ROI and know whether you’d benefit from upgrading. If you have a small company with a limited amount of leads coming through your website every month, you may be able to nurture each one individually with the Professional plan without the additional automation that the Enterprise plan includes.

Once set up, these automated processes will allow your team to get more work done without putting in extra effort. Your leads will get the attention they need, while your people can focus on other aspects of your business.

At $3,200/month, HubSpot Enterprise is the most expensive and comprehensive plan offered. The main differences between this plan and HubSpot Professional are the reporting and lead scoring features. It lets you create advanced custom reports to track and analyze your marketing efforts. Predictive Lead Scoring automatically scores leads based on actions they take, so that your team can prioritize your most promising leads. If you need a big, powerful digital strategy for a large or rapidly growing company, HubSpot Enterprise might be the right choice for you.

Another reason a business might choose to go with the biggest plan available is the capacity for contacts. Each HubSpot plan has a contact limit (Starter: 1,000, Pro: 1,000, Enterprise: 10,000), with additional fees per 1,000 extra contacts over your limit. If your company has a very large contact list, the Enterprise plan might make the most sense.

If you are new to CRMs or want to test out HubSpot’s features before investing in a plan, the free CRM is a good place to start. It’s great for small to medium businesses that want to start capturing leads, learn who their visitors are, and how they’re using their website so that they can better understand their needs. It’s also a good way to try out a CRM for the first time — it can be considered an entry level tool. There’s no risk in trying it out, and if you find you love it and are ready for more, you can always check out the paid options.

Want to learn more? Get started by giving us a call at 919-341-8901 or by sending us a message!