HubSpot Alternative on a Budget
In my earlier post about Marketing Software – Detailed Comparison I covered the three most desired platforms based on capability, need and spend.
Today, I will share my experience on building a close HubSpot Alternative, minus the price tag.
Before we start let us understand what is it about HubSpot which gives it this unprecedented cult following amongst Marketers. Well, the simple answer is, it empowers Marketers to do their jobs more efficiently and provides them with all the tools in one single platform.
Below is a list of key capabilities provided by HubSpot and comparable alternatives for each of those capabilities.
#1 Content Management & Blogging Platform (Free*)
This one is a no-brainer. WordPress is by far the most successful Content Management System out there. Given its ease of use, functional breadth (via Plugins & Themes) & TCO there is no other like WordPress.
You will have to get your hands dirty if you want to achieve what HubSpot offers. For example, I really like HubSpot’s blog interface which provides me pro-active suggestions on use of relevant keywords, density, competitiveness, recommendations, etc. Such capability is not native to WordPress but you could install a plugin like Yoast SEO to implement similar functionality.
Similarly, there are other plugins which make up for the features provided by HubSpot’s CMS and Blogging Platform.
The biggest advantage for WordPress is the community support. There are thousands of Plugins, Themes both free and paid which makes it the most usable yet robust CMS. There are other CMS’s like Drupal and Joomla which may offer more diverse capabilities but they are more appealing to Developers than Marketers.
#2 Email & Marketing Automation (Starts at $49/ month)
Email and Marketing Automation is at the heart of most of your Marketing programs. This is also the strongest capability from HubSpot.
There are several extremely good Email Marketing tools like MailChimp which does what it is built for. But Marketing Automation goes beyond email and tracking. Marketers want to efficiently manage their funnel and run pro-active as well as reactive campaigns for each segment of their leads database.
For example, you may want to trigger an email campaign when a specific type of audience visits a specific page on your website or you may want to display a specific banner or CTA button based on where the lead is in your funnel. You will need a sophisticated marketing automation platform which will provide you such flexibility and features.
At a minimum the marketing automation platform should have:
- Lead Scoring, Lead Tracking & Lead Management
- Landing Pages & CTA’s
- Email Marketing
- Advanced Segmentation
I have shortlisted two platforms which provide these capabilities:
GetResponse is a decent HubSpot alternative. It offers most of the functionalities you will need i.e. Email, Landing Pages, Web Tracking, CTA Forms, Lead Scoring, Advanced Segmentation and more. It covers the complete lifecycle from lead acquisition to closure.
LeadSquared is another powerful HubSpot alternative. What I really like about LeadSquared is its no-nonsense simplistic interface. I have done a detailed review on LeadSquared, you may want to skim through it to get a better understanding of its capabilities.
#3 Social Media Management (Free*)
I will not touch upon why you need an active and engaged social presence. I think that point has been well-addressed in my previous post.
There are two categories of Social Media tools out there. One which consolidates all your social channels and provides you the capability to automatically post and monitor your social engagement. And there are other tools like NinjaOutreach and BuzzStream which helps you to reach out to Influencers to build your network and relationships.
Today I will focus only on the former.
HootSuite has been here for a while. It is an efficient tool which provides minimal capabilities with its free version. Never the less it gets the job done, though I’m not a big fan of its interface. It looks dated.
I discovered Buffer recently and I love what I see thus far. It has an integrated link shortener and image capture functionality which makes life that much easier if you regularly distribute your blog through social media. Their paid version also provides an integrated analytics dashboard which can be very handy to analyze your best-performing posts and engagement.
#4 Web Analytics (Free*)
Google Analytics is by far the most capable and advanced web analytics tool. Given Google’s control on its search engine and complementing products, that is no surprise.
The problem is, it can be overwhelming if you are a business focussed marketer or business owner, as you will need to regularly create custom dashboards and reports to make the analysis understandable for everyone.
Here are my two picks.
Picnic Metrics integrates with your Google Account and extracts data directly from your Google Analytics database. It offers a very minimal and simplistic interface which makes a lot of sense. Check this screenshot for instance.
But this simplicity comes at a cost. Gone is the customization and flexibility of Google Analytics. But I can live with it.
Clicky is another powerful alternative. It provides much more flexibility than Picnic Metrics and also simplifies the interface to some extent. I would say it is a good start before you learn your ways with Google Analytics.
All the above recommendations are based on my experience while I constantly try to improve the performance of my marketing campaigns. Do share your thoughts if you agree or have other alternatives which I can add to this list.
As always, a big THANK YOU for reading my blog. Do let me know if you want me to cover a specific topic in my future posts.
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Wish you a Merry Christmas and a Spectacular New Year. See you on the other side of 2017.