I don't care if we're talking about HubSpot for marketing, sales, service, CMS, or operations. That moment when you log into your account for the very first time is freaking exciting ...
... it's like Christmas morning, right?
Take the HubSpot Marketing Hub, for instance. Looking at it from the outside in, it has so many exciting tools – email, landing pages, blogging, social media, forms, workflows – that will enable you to use inbound to grow your business.
So, how do most people start their HubSpot journey? They obsess about how to use the new tools they have at their fingertips to execute tactics. Then they start thinking about all of the visible marketing assets they can create for their company – the blog posts, the emails, the landing page, and the social media posts.
And just like that, they're off to the races with HubSpot!
There's just one problem with this approach ...
It's the opposite of how you should get started with HubSpot
Now, I know that may seem completely counterintuitive to some of you at first, but I want you to bear with me here for a second.
For more than a decade, I've worked with countless business owners, marketers, and sales folks to hit their goals and make an impact with HubSpot. What I'm about to tell you is one of the most meaningful differences between the companies that see the traffic, leads, and sales results from HubSpot and those that don't.
🔎 Related: Who are your buyer personas? (HubHeroes Podcast)
When you look at HubSpot through the lens of those tangible outputs you can create – the emails, the blogs, the landing pages, etc. – you're missing the entire point of HubSpot, and you'll always diminish the ROI of HubSpot by looking at it in such a fractionalized way.
One of the things that first attracted me to HubSpot was how it has, from the very beginning, encouraged businesses to focus on the humans first.
Who are the humans you serve?
What problems are keeping those humans up at night?
How do you help those humans solve their problems?
That's why, when you break into HubSpot for the first time with a tools-first mindset, you're going about everything the wrong way. To maximize your investment in HubSpot, step away from the blogging tool and obsess about the humans first.
Seriously, I don't care who you are or how you think about the humans you consider to be your ideal customers. (OK, wait, that's actually not true. I do care, but that's a story for another day.)
It doesn't matter if you're deeply passionate about the humans you serve and the problems you solve for them, or if you just look at your prospects as human piggy banks. If you don't onboard to HubSpot with a humans-first strategy, you will struggle to achieve the traffic, leads, and sales goals you want.
How do you do that?
I am so glad you asked ... 😉
HubSpot contacts mastery is your very first step
Helping the humans you want to serve to achieve what they're trying to achieve will unlock more revenue than you can possibly imagine. That's why the very first thing I always teach my HubSpot onboarding clients is HubSpot contacts.
It doesn't matter which HubSpot hub you've bought, if you're going through the George B. Thomas School of HubSpot onboarding, your first stop will always be HubSpot contacts.
Why? Well, there are two reasons ...
1. Every employee in your company touches the humans you serve
It's true. Your marketers, your sales team, your product developers, your client-facing experts, your account managers, your customer service team ... every single person, is interfacing with or influencing your ideal customers.
🔎 Related: HubSpot CMS vs. WordPress, Contentful, and more
So, when you master how HubSpot contacts and contact properties work, you've laid the foundation for your success in executing a human-centric revenue growth strategy across your marketing, sales, and service teams.
That's because ...
2. The foundation of every HubSpot hub is a contacts-powered CRM
And the purpose of each Hub is to amplify the contents of that CRM (your contacts and the properties you've designated to define them), for specific purposes:
- The HubSpot Marketing Hub is all about how you communicate outward to your contacts – through blogs, email, social media, website pages, and so on – to attract, engage, and delight them.
- The HubSpot Sales Hub is all about managing processes and reaching goals around those contacts through pipelines, deal stages, tasks, meetings, playbooks, etc. In sales, it's all about establishing visibility for parts of your process that were once hidden and streamlining.
- The HubSpot Service Hub is all about focusing on the voice of the customer or, once more with feeling, your contacts who have now said "Yes!" to your products or services. You do this through knowledge articles, NPS surveys, answering questions, ticketing systems, and more.
- The HubSpot Operations Hub is all about taking all of the disconnected work everyone is doing across the company for the humans and bringing it all together with features like coded workflows, data syncs between integrations, and more.
See what I mean?
No matter where you are in the HubSpot ecosystem, your humans – which manifest as contacts – are the focal point. Ye, the goals and outcomes of each hub vary, but what makes each one so stinkin' powerful is contacts.
HubSpot contacts 101 crash course
OK, I could literally dedicate thousands of words and hours to education on how to become a HubSpot Jedi with your contacts – and trust me, if you think those types of educational HubSpot training materials aren't already in the works from yours truly, you are sorely mistaken.
But I'm not going to do that.
Instead, now that you understand where your journey needs to start with HubSpot (contacts), it's time for you to learn the basics of HubSpot contacts. That's right, you need to walk before you can run, folks. (And then, when you're ready to run, I've got a HubHeroes podcast episode that's dedicated to HubSpot contacts, custom properties, objects, and property groups to really get you going.)
What are standard objects?
There are a lot of different terms you need to understand in the HubSpot contacts HubSpot uses four different types of what are called standard objects: contacts, companies, deals, and tickets.
A contact is a standard object that holds information about the humans you serve. A company is a standard object that holds information about the organization those humans (contacts) work at. A deal is a standard object that holds information about your prospects who want to potentially work with you. A ticket is a standard object for a customer's request for help.
What are HubSpot properties?
One of the most common things I see that confuses people when I work with them for their HubSpot onboarding is that they think properties and fields in HubSpot are two entirely different things. In reality, they're the same thing.
🔎 Related: HubSpot custom properties, objects, and groups (HubHeroes Podcast)
A property in the HubSpot world is simply a piece of stored information in a record (a single instance of a standard object; e.g., a specific contact or company) – the name of a company, the job title of a contact, etc. So, if it's a bit of information you collect via a form field, that form field data is actually a property.
What are HubSpot groups?
OK, the best way to think about groups is this. Remember that little ol' thing called a "library"? You would walk in and there'd be a whole bunch of books. But those books weren't disorganized, right? They were grouped together under different categories like fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, and biographies.
In HubSpot, think of your different types of standard objects like its own little library. You've got your library of contacts, your library of companies, your library of deals, and/or your library of tickets. Then the properties housed within those libraries are your books. Of course, you'll also need categories to keep everything organized – and those are called groups.
For example, let's say you create a bunch of different form fields that are survey questions. You could categorize them all together in a survey questions group.
What these HubSpot contact building blocks unlock
"Thanks for the vocabulary lesson, George, but how does this information get us moving in the right direction with HubSpot from day one?"
Trust me, I was definitely not trying to recreate those awful vocabulary classes we all had to sit through in elementary school in that last section. There is a method to this madness.
Once you understand what each HubSpot contact element is and how they all work together, you unlock four powerful, results-driving functionalities of HubSpot through a much more strategic lens:
- FORMS: What questions you need to ask visitors, so you can gain the right lead intelligence about them. That way you can nurture them effectively toward being sales-ready.
- LIST SEGMENTATION: How you communicate with your leads in a strategic way based on their property values (job title, company, self-identified goals or challenges, and so on).
- REPORTING AND DASHBOARDS: Understanding what you have not historically been able to report on, and collecting and structuring your contact, property, and company data accordingly.
- TRIGGERS: Setting up contact, company, or deal record triggers in the CRM for sales process and communication automation.
In short, your strategic understanding of HubSpot contacts and all of the little building blocks that center around them is your one-way ticket to becoming the revenue-generating HubSpot master you want to be.
In the end, it's all about the humans
Again, this is just the beginning of our adventure into the wild world of HubSpot contacts. But I want to end your first lesson today with a reminder of why this approach is essential to achieving the success you want to see with HubSpot.
Think about when you're first learning to ride a bike as a kid. From day one, you're ready to go flying down the street, popping wheelies with your friends, and taking off on crazy adventures at light speed.
But before you can do any of that (while wearing a helmet, of course, because mom will get mad!), you've gotta master the basics:
- How do the brakes work?
- How do you maintain balance?
- What's the most effective way to combat helmet head hair?
Otherwise, you'll hurt yourself by crashing into a bush before you even get 10 feet down the street.
The same is true with HubSpot.
Your customers are the humans who matter most to your business. That means your strategy will only succeed if you're asking the right questions, driving the right conversations, and reporting on the right data. Don't worry, you'll get to pop your HubSpot wheelies soon enough, and the blogs and the emails and the workflows will all follow.