HubSpot Review 2022: can it help grow your small business?

The software platform has four CRM packages available, each with different benefits for SMEs. Learn about their features and costs in our comprehensive review of HubSpot.

Our experts

We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality. This article was authored by:

We think HubSpot is an excellent choice for budget-conscious small businesses in the early stages of growth, thanks to its generous free plan and short setup time.

It came fifth in our ranking overall, scoring 4.2 out of 5.

0 out of 0
Price per month (billed annually)
Price per month (billed monthly)
Users

HubSpot Free

HubSpot Marketing Hub

HubSpot Sales Hub

HubSpot Service Hub

£0

£38 (flat rate)

£38 (flat rate)

£38 (flat rate)

£0

£42 (flat rate)

£42 (flat rate)

£42 (flat rate)

Unlimited

Unlimited

Two free users

Two free users

Here at Startups, we are experts in all things CRM. We’ve spent the past half decade learning everything there is to know about the sector, including recently analysing 11 of the most popular brands to find our top CRM for small business overall.

HubSpot is well known in the market for providing its customers with an all-in-one CRM approach. We found it offers outstanding value for money and usability for this reason.

But we also spotted that HubSpot does have some limitations. Poor scalability, for example, means it might not be the best long-term investment for firms with rapid growth plans.

To help you decide if it’s the right option for you, we’ve crafted the ultimate review of HubSpot below. We’ll outline every nook and cranny of the platform to deliver an in-depth look at its feature list, fees (hidden and upfront), and customer reviews.

Keen to get started? Use our free online comparison tool to get quotes from the top CRM providers. It’s quick, easy, and specially designed for small business owners.

HubSpot pros and cons

HubSpot contact list

HubSpot CRM Pros
  • Tidy user interface for managing business contacts
  • Free platform offers all-in-one functionality
  • Advanced chatbot feature ensures top-quality customer service
HubSpot CRM Cons
  • Free plan has limited social media integrations
  • Pricing plans quickly get expensive

HubSpot’s main benefit over its rivals is that it houses all of the above in one simple platform with HubSpot Free – thus servicing a very important need for small businesses. In a recent SugarCRM survey, 48% of UK companies surveyed said they cannot access customer data across marketing, sales, and service systems.

But, be aware you’ll have to shell out for more sophisticated tools to dramatically increase sales.

HubSpot overview

Hubspot CRM
4.2
An innovative marketing solution that's completely free.
  • Free trial? Yes
  • Intuitive user interace
  • Brilliant email marketing features that make it easy to attract new business
Summary Aimed at SMEs, HubSpot Free is an innovative CRM solution that offers lots of add-ons to supplement its core focus on email and marketing outreach. Because of this, it doesn't have as much feature depth as other products. However, advanced UX-focused tools like its live and historical data sync mean it's an intuitive and affordable CRM choice.
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If you’re looking for the best CRM software for small businesses, you’ll probably have heard the HubSpot name already. Since being founded in 2006, the platform has experienced a gargantuan level of growth, and was valued at over £1 billion in 2021.

HubSpot is best known for its unrivalled freemium plan, which is easily the most generous option on the market. It also boasts a wide range of add-ons. Both of these advantages make it a smart, economical choice for SMEs.

In terms of plans, there’s HubSpot Free, which is an ‘all-in-one’ CRM solution that provides all of the core features for zero charge. There are also three strategy-specific plans: Marketing, Sales, and Service, which offer users more control over what they want to prioritise.

How did we evaluate HubSpot for small businesses?

We at Startups are specialists in the needs of small business owners. We know that a CRM system is a must for all of today’s businesses, no matter their size.

Cloud-based CRM options like HubSpot can be implemented across multiple channels. Because of this, they are a great way to provide consistently outstanding service online.

According to research by Salesforce, 73% of customers say this is important in a brand.

Our expert research team has collaborated with an independent analyst to see exactly what small business users stand to gain, and lose, from the 13 top CRM providers on the market.

They awarded HubSpot an overall score of 4.2 out of 5. To break that down, we marked our top CRM software providers in five different categories. In our authoritative guide below, we’ll highlight where HubSpot will serve your business best:

Usability

We judged HubSpot’s free plan for ease of use by using it for common CRM tasks, such as creating a custom pipeline and importing data.

Some proved time consuming – including editing contact information. But overall, HubSpot’s web-based editor scored well for usability. Its tools are generally easy to find and intuitive to use.

HubSpot Contact File

HubSpot Contact File

Pricing

Unsurprisingly, HubSpot is our number one CRM platform for pricing, thanks to its full-featured free platform that also permits an unlimited number of users – a rarity in the CRM market. It’s also our best free CRM software for marketing and outreach.

Customisation

While HubSpot Free does offer some customisable features, such as drag-and-drop dashboards, these are definitely not the platform’s strong point. We gave it 6.7 out of 10.

That being said, there are also a lot of plugins available for HubSpot users. If you feel you’re missing a function, you’ll be able to download a third-party extension for relatively little cost.

Functionality

HubSpot users get access to all of the core CRM tools including forms, reporting dashboards, email marketing, and a shared inbox. There’s also a HubSpot mobile app.

HubSpot Inbox

HubSpot Inbox

Unfortunately, the free versions of these tools are all branded with the HubSpot name, which is not going to look professional when you’re outreaching to new clients.

Help & Support

Customer support is an important area for small businesses as you’re unlikely to have access to your own tech team or CRM expert.

Without a doubt, this is HubSpot’s worst area. It’s an easy-to-use software, so this isn’t too big of an issue. But the free plan offers no onboarding assistance, and no live chat via email or phone. You can access HubSpot’s online community forum, but that’s pretty much it.

HubSpot pricing explained

0 out of 0
Price per month (billed annually)
Users

HubSpot Marketing Hub

HubSpot Sales Hub

HubSpot Service Hub

£38 (flat rate)

£38 (flat rate)

£38 (flat rate)

Unlimited

Two free users

Two free users

We gave HubSpot 10/10 for pricing. Our expert researchers think it has excellent value for money – particularly if you’re a startup or just beginning your CRM journey.

Plus, at £0 per month, it’s also a great way to trial the software free of charge before upgrading.

HubSpot’s paid-for plans are all priced consistently. Whether you’re buying HubSpot Marketing, Sales, or Service, you’ll pay £28 upfront per month for the Starter plan.

The HubSpot Sales and Marketing plans each come with two free paid users.

You'll then be charged £19 per month for each additional user – unlike HubSpot Free and HubSpot Marketing, both of which permit an unlimited number of users.

HubSpot CRMs explained

As the names indicate, each of HubSpot’s CRM plans has a different business function it performs best, whether you choose:

  • Marketing Hub
  • Sales Hub
  • Service Hub

Such flexibility of choice indicates the wealth and depth of HubSpot's functions – but it can also make it difficult to know what you’re missing out on.

To shed some light, we’ve outlined the key pros, cons, and hidden costs in each plan below:

HubSpot Marketing Hub

HubSpot Marketing Hub
4.2
The HubSpot Marketing Hub is a great solution for small businesses wanting a cost-friendly, but still functional, way to get started with brand-building and outreach.
  • Free trial? Yes
  • Unlimited users at any level
  • Smart email editor helps to automate marketing activity
  • Live chatbot functionality
Summary Marketing is where HubSpot really stands out - poetic, as it's also where the platform first began. If you're looking for a great way to enhance your brand online, nurture more leads via a wide variety of outreach methods, and close more sales, the Marketing Hub is for you. You'll start with 1,000 marketing contacts, which is a solid amount to begin publicising campaigns and issuing marketing materials.
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HubSpot’s humble origins are as an inbound marketing company. This specialism is immediately apparent when you look at its best plan – the Marketing Hub.

A favourite amongst business owners, this marketing automation plan handles all of those repetitive outreach tasks, such as emailing customers. It also integrates well with most website builders, so it’s a great way to build up your online presence in competitive markets.

Its scores are green across the board, but one of the strongest tools is the email editor. Starting with an attractive email template, you can build this up in the HubSpot backend to design an effective, B2B communications solution – great for growing your customer base.

HubSpot email editor

HubSpot email editor

In terms of hidden fees, you’ll be given 1,000 marketing contacts with the Starter plan. Depending on your sales targets, you could exceed this limit quickly – and you’ll need to pay £37.80 to get access to top this up.

Overall, we’re big fans of this plan. HubSpot has developed a genuinely helpful system that will certainly boost any company’s marketing efforts. But be wary – there is a steep learning curve attached for new users.

HubSpot Sales Hub

HubSpot Sales Hub
4.2
Sales-specialist CRM with a strong set of tools and HubSpot's small business-friendly pricing structure.
  • Free trial? Yes
  • Great integrations with helpful sales software, including Stripe
  • Hosts up to 5 currencies - good for international sales
Summary As its name suggests, the Sales Hub is HubSpot's most sales-focussed product. Its inbound sales dashboard makes the handover of leads from marketing to sales totally effortless, so it's an excellent tool for lead conversion. If you have a strong brand, but are struggling to convert interested parties into profit, the Sales Hub is a good investment for HubSpot users.
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HubSpot Sales Hub excels in the areas that are often most difficult for small businesses to crack, such as lead conversion. Users can benefit from many time-saving tools, like list segmentation and duplicate detection.

We also give the Sales Hub full marks for integration, as it has a wide range of social platforms and messaging options available, including training tools to get new salespeople up to scratch.

Communication is where the gaps begin to emerge here. There’s a shared inbox and calendar, but you can’t share team dashboards, so your sales department will effectively be automatically siloed.

Another issue is user limits. You’ll get two users for £38 per month, then pay £19 per month for each additional user. Large sales teams, such as marketers, will struggle with this allowance.

HubSpot Service Desk

HubSpot Services Desk
4.2
Managing and supporting your customer base is an important part of CRM, so it's good to see HubSpot servicing this need - but the Service Hub is still the brand's weakest CRM product.
  • Free trial? Yes
  • Shared communication tools great for dealing with customer issues as a team
  • Automations - like email templates - enable more efficient service responses
Summary Dealing with customer questions or complaints requires a cohesive team effort to make sure you are addressing all issues fairly, quickly, and professionally. HubSpot's Services Hub provides most of the basic, white bread tools needed to do this - but it's definitely the weakest of the three HubSpot CRM products. That being said, its data analytics and reporting features are above par. We think it's a good option for small businesses that expect lots of customer requests, such as developer teams.
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HubSpot Service Hub is best suited for departments that deal with customer tickets. For example, if you’re a small software development team with a lot of short deadlines to meet.

In terms of features, the Service Hub plan is weaker than HubSpot Service Desk, particularly if you have a lot of long-term clients. It lacks crucial service tools like auto responses and a team service-level agreement (SLA) – although you will be able to offer customers a specialist monitoring agent.

Data analysis is one of HubSpot Service’s fortes. Analytics tools can be used to measure the average ticket response time and resolution rate. You’ll also have 5,000 snippets to list preset responses for tickets, saving your team a lot of admin time.

In summary, the Service Hub plan has a few golden nuggets hidden in its feature list. However, they’re no match for more powerful CRM rivals like Salesforce.

HubSpot tickets

HubSpot tickets

HubSpot customer reviews and testimonials

According to its website, HubSpot has over 135,000 users.

It is best known for its freemium plan and has tailored its target audience to this USP, mainly selling to SMEs and even freelancers.

We spoke to a number of them about what they thought of the platform:

Matt Phillips is founder of pay-as-you-go PR service, PPR, which has been using HubSpot for just over a year.

Phillips told Startups: “We chose HubSpot as our CRM as [it] was the most cost-effective option for features we wanted at the time, mainly email tracking and an easy-to-use deals workflow.

“My advice would be to go for HubSpot, start on the cheapest tier and only upgrade when you know exactly what features you'll use and when.”

Jeremy Helm is a finance analyst at Modern World Business Solutions, a fintech company. Helm says: “We use HubSpot for inbound marketing, as it’s great for converting leads and handling workflow automation. It’s also a tool that people are comfortable using.

“One obvious issue can be the cost. The difference in price between the starter and professional versions is quite drastic.”

How does HubSpot compare to other providers?

Our researchers compared HubSpot to 10 other rivals on the market, to see how they stand up head to head.

The final results were calculated using six key research factors: usability, price, customisation, help and support tools, and functionality. These categories were chosen due to their importance for small businesses.

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Best for:
Price per month (billed annually):

HubSpot

Zoho CRM

Bigin

Salesforce CRM

Marketing tools

Customisation

Help and Support

Functionality

Pricing

Scaling businesses

Usability

£38 (flat rate)

£12 per user

Free plan, or £12 per user

£5 per user

£20 per user

HubSpot final verdict

While the HubSpot platform might not be the highest-performing CRM product on the market, we think its specialist skill set and easy-to-use editor makes it well suited to small businesses. As a result, we gave the platform a competitive score of 4.2 out of 5.

Because of its heritage as a marketing tool, HubSpot is particularly superior for brand building. Combined with a lavishly functional free plan, we recommend HubSpot for those in crowded markets, like online stores.

This review of HubSpot, as well as how it compares to other brands on the market, is part of our search to find the most popular and best-reviewed CRM software brands. Our results are based on rigorous research conducted by the expert Startups team and an independent analyst.

But the right solution will differ depending on your unique business needs. That’s why we’ve also designed our own Startups online comparison tool, so you can compare quotes from the top providers according to your own requirements.

HubSpot FAQs
  • What is HubSpot best for?
    HubSpot is a strong, all-round option that offers all the core CRM features in a generous free plan. This makes it best for budget-conscious SMEs or startups.
  • Is HubSpot support good?
    HubSpot Free is poor for help and support tools. Because it’s quite an easy-to-use platform, this isn’t a huge issue, but it’s worth considering if you’re completely new to using CRM.
  • Is HubSpot safe to use?
    Yes. Even on HubSpot Free, you’ll get multi-factor authentication and user permissions, so users working with sensitive data can rest easy.
  • Is HubSpot Free good enough?
    HubSpot's free platform is an all-in-one product. It has great usability and is surprisingly full-featured, competing with many paid-for products for functionality.
Helena Young
Helena Young Senior Writer

Helena "Len" Young is from Yorkshire and joined Startups in 2021 from a background in B2B communications. She has also previously written for a popular fintech startup.

Included in her topics of interest and expertise are tax legislation, the levelling up agenda, and organisational software including CRM and project management systems. As well as this, she is a big fan of the films of Peter Jackson.

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