While Hubspot has many different options that make its platform arguably one of the most competitive on the market, often newer businesses or those with limited resources find themselves struggling to answer, where do I start. After having worked with many companies over the course of my career, I figured I would take a step back to look at the good, and bad, of what Hubspot offers in its free edition and how you can get started with their platform.

So, to start let us break down what Hubspot is. The Hubspot platform is broken down into 4 primary components: CRM, Marketing, Sales, and Service. These services can later be bundled together or packaged separately depending your business needs.

Hubspot CRM

The Hubspot Contact Relationship Management (CRM) platform is the core of everything you will do in Hubspot. From here you can get started by viewing your contacts, companies, and segment either or both of these into lists for marketing purposes. While you may want to get started here, the CRM is actually setup in the back of Hubspot in settings called Properties. Before you even import or create your first contact in Hubspot, you should first head back to the properties to make sure all of the data points, or fields, for the contact exist in Hubspot. As you set these up keep in mind that some fields may be better suited for the Company Record in Hubspot as opposed to the Contact record. This will all depend on where you need to use the data later on.

Your First Lists

After you have your Properties setup, the next task you will want to focus on is setting up your first lists. Lists in Hubspot come in two flavors: Static and Active.

Think of Static lists as snapshots of a particular point in time like a list upload of contacts you met at a recent event, or your current client list. Active lists, on the other hand, are lists that are always changing based on the journey your contacts take. These will most likely be the segments you use to market to your contacts.

An example of this would be to create Active Lists for each of the lifecycle stages your contacts will transition through during their buyer’s journey. To setup this type of Active List build this around the Hubspot default Contact Property, LifeCycle Stage.

Hubspot Lifecycle Stage MQL Active List

Building a Signup Form

Now that you have your Hubspot contact lists built you will likely only have lists that you imported. The key to building up a strong database is giving your contacts a way to enter and give their consent for future emails to help build a strong list.

Regular Forms vs. Popup Forms

There are two ways you can build forms to collect leads within Hubspots free edition. First, is the regular form that most people are familiar with. These are forms that are placed on your web pages that someone sees every time the page loads. In contrast, popup forms are based on actions or triggers on the page like someone staying on the page for a specific amount of time, or showing exit intent to leave your page and browse away.

To determine what type of form you need, you can ask yourself a few questions to determine what type of form you need.

  • Do you want the form to always be on the page?
  • Are you going to be hosting a gated asset or resource behind the form?
  • Do you have a lot of questions to ask the lead/contact?

If you answered yes to those questions, then you need a regular form. In contrast the types of questions you would ask yourself if you need a popup form are:

  • Do you need a simple form with a few questions, for instance a newsletter signup?
  • Are you trying to solve for a problem such as users leaving or spending too much time on the page?

Start Emailing Your Contacts

The last step to getting started with your initial marketing program using Hubspot’s free edition is to take those contacts you imported, and the ones you have been collecting, and begin to communicate with them about your brand.

With the free edition of Hubspot, you are limited to their basic drag and drop editor. While this editor is good for basic emails, it does lack some features of the paid Hubspot Marketing Email tool such as the ability to create and save custom templates.

Drag-and-Drop Editor

Navigating the Hubspot free email editor is fairly straightforward. On the left you are presented with options for Content and Design while the editable content of your email is on the right. To begin, click the Design tab from the left pane and set the colors that match your brand.

Then you can begin to layout your email. The pre-defined layouts will allow you to structure your email and in that structured format, you can choose to insert images, text, buttons, social links, and dividers. Customizing emails is about the same as any word processing app with the standard array of options. Next, click the “Settings” tab at the top of the screen to set your subject line and email “from” information. At this point, you can click to send yourself a test message before sending the email out to your specified lists.

That’s it, your first email list and send is complete and you are now marketing to your contacts with Hubspot free edition!