In 2010 I joined the marketing world via TV news. Inbound marketing wasn't a household term just yet, and not many companies were seeing the future of content marketing.
Thankfully, Dharmesh and Brian wrote in their book Inbound Marketing that any brand wanting to join this new world ought to look into hiring someone like a TV news producer.
At the same time, a CEO named Mark read the book, asked his leadership to find this kind of person, and Sandra knew me.
The day I started at this mortgage company was the first day I worked with HubSpot.
Since then, I've helped grow businesses as a marketing professional, launched two local HubSpot User Groups (HUG), shared my experience and knowledge, become a certified and accredited HubSpot trainer, and now work for an Elite Solutions Partner helping people learn HubSpot.
After over 2,000 training sessions, hundreds of clients, and countless hours in HubSpot, I've learned a few hacks lessons.
1. Move slow to move fast - planning is key
You can't learn to race a car without first learning to drive. It's a metaphor I use when working with a new "student."
It works the same when spinning up a new HubSpot instance.
Whether you're using Sales Hub, Marketing Hub, Service Hub, or another option, taking each step with purpose and awareness is best.
I've seen new users get into HubSpot and want to send their first marketing email immediately.
Side note: I love new users' passion and appreciate the desire to GSD* … but there's a problem with running without looking.
Suppose you need to know how the subscription type factors into your marketing emails, and half your audience unsubscribes from the one type you have. In that case, you lose the ability to email them with different content next time.
So to work efficiently as you grow, you'll want to make sure to learn, strategize, and plan so you're not moving "nowhere" fast.
*Get "Stuff" Done
2. Boring work like data management is magical
Closely related to efficient growth through careful consideration is the idea that you'll want to ensure your data is clean.
Dirty data leads to bad decisions and other issues.
Here's an example: Imagine you want to create geographical segments of your audience. Perhaps one of these segments is the Great Lakes region.
When your state property is an open text, your choices for setting up a segmented list could look like this:
Michigan, MI, Mich, Mich., Mi., Michigan (or random misspellings)
Minnesota, Min., Minn., MN (is it MN or is it MI?)
Wisconsin, Wis., WI, Wisc., Wisc, Wisonson
Illinois, IL, Ill., Ill, Il.
Indiana, IN, In., Ind., Indy
Pennsylvania, PA,, Penn., Penn
New York, NY
You get the idea. And what happens if someone in your CRM is supposed to be in New York, but the state is listed as N.Y.?
So while your data management strategy may not seem all that fun, it's critical to setting up your HubSpot portal for success.
A few things to understand: What are HubSpot objects, and what are their unique identifiers to avoid duplicates, what are standard properties, what are custom properties, how to handle custom objects, the difference between demographic and behavioral/analytics data, and how to view the data that exists in its various places.
3. Foundational work is key to building something that lasts
HubSpot is not magic. It's not the silver bullet to fix your business woes.
It's a tool. And tools are only as good as our knowledge and skills to use them.
So if you want to build a HubSpot portal that serves your business for years to come, you will need to work on understanding the platform (training) and building your world (administrative work).
For example, workflows can be a great helper in marketing email campaigns and the marketing-to-sales handoff both.
But your HubSpot portal won't have it all done for you. You'll have to build what you need.
This means understanding workflows at a basic level and building on that to understand tactics like branching logic and cross-object property management.
When you know this, you can create a lead nurturing campaign that includes several emails (and even SMS marketing with the right integration!), branches for what happens when they click on specific email links, and then record owner rotation when their lead score hits a certain threshold.
Foundational work, like building process workflows, isn't the shiniest task, but it's critical.
4. Someone always knows something you don't (hubris is hurtful)
This hack is as much for me as you.
After more than a decade of working in HubSpot, speaking on my success at INBOUND, helping to create a HubSpot Academy Bootcamp, assisting hundreds of clients, and learning from some amazing people along the way, you might think I know it all.
I do not.
There's more than one recipe for a casserole, and just because we know a few ways doesn't mean we know them all.
I've learned from new HubSpot users and experienced experts alike.
Curiosity > judgment, even when working in a CRM. When we think we know it all, we stop learning, which can harm our business's growth.
5. Reporting is both simple and difficult
So many business professionals, from accounting to marketing to sales, have a disdain for reporting. And I don't blame them.
I hear folks ask about building a report "every week" so they can understand their data. Or they describe how they build a report, and it's just "building a list" they have to export and then analyze with a tool like Excel.
That would drive me mad, too.
Here's the thing: It doesn't have to be that way.
When you're working in your HubSpot portal and want to know how your work is paying off, start with standard HubSpot dashboards and reports.
Then if that's not enough (more than a dozen dashboard recipes and more than 100 reports), explore the "Analytics Tools" in your reporting section.
These additional tools help you think about your data and visualize everything from how many sessions happened on your website in the last 30 days, from organic search traffic, to how many calls and meetings your sales team completed this month.
Finally, if something else works better, explore the custom report-building tools like attribution reports, funnel reports, single object reporting, and the powerful multi-object custom reports builder.
Start simple, then build on that knowledge as you progress through into more custom solutions for reporting on your data.
Ready to Learn More?
There's always more to learn. Your learning isn't over whether you're a new or experienced HubSpot user.
I shared more "how to use HubSpot" lessons on the Impulse Creative blog. Plus, we offer HubSpot training and onboarding, a HubSpot Reporting course, and other HubSpot help.
We look forward to sharing our knowledge and learning from you as well!