[Closed] Ask Me Anything: Custom Objects

ajoselow
HubSpot Product Team

Hi everyone, 

 

My name is Adrienne and I am a member of the Product Marketing team at HubSpot. As you may have heard, HubSpot introduced a very exciting new feature at INBOUND, custom objects. This tool is something we’ve been working on for quite some time, and we’re excited for you to finally get to try it out. 

 

Whether you’ve been eagerly awaiting this release, or you’re just starting to familiarize yourself with the tool, we want to hear from you and answer any questions you may have about custom objects.

 

To ensure you're set up for success with custom objects, we've brought together our most knowledgeable HubSpotters to answer all of your questions. 

 

We will be answering questions from Monday October 5 - Friday October 9. 

 

Ask a question below and learn from: 

@ajoselow - Product Marketing Principal 

@ebeck - Product Marketing Manager

@jeffreyr - Director, GTM

@KyleJepson - Academy Professor

@mhodsdon - Solutions Architect 

@nmedina - Product Marketer

@ncarbone - GTM Manager

@Shelby - Product Marketer

 

Not sure what to ask? Here are a few sample questions to get the conversation started: 

  1. What are custom objects?
  2. When should I use a custom object versus a custom field? 
  3. How can I learn more about custom objects?

Want a primer? Here are the basics:

Custom objects are a set of customizable records within your CRM that supplement standard CRM records in a more flexible way. Custom objects allow you to supplement data in a scalable way with flexible associations, so you can  name the object, determine what properties it has, and decide what other objects it can be associated with in your CRM. For more details and use cases, I encourage you to check out the custom objects feature page for an overview of this powerful new feature.

 

How to get involved: Drop your question in the comments below and we’ll respond throughout the week. If you see a question you’re interested in following, give it an upvote to ensure we know you’re interested in learning more! 

 

This AMA is now closed. Thank you everyone for your participation and questions. Stay tuned for more AMAs to come! 

83 Replies 83
GuyTaylor
Top Contributor

Sounds interesting! This is my first time hearing about custom objects so a basic explanation and maybe a few use-cases would be great.


Cheers,
Guy

ajoselow
HubSpot Product Team

Hi Guy!

 

Great to hear from you. Thank you for the question! Here is some information to get you started...

 

Custom objects are a set of customizable records within your CRM that supplement standard CRM records in a more flexible way. Custom objects allow you to supplement data in a scalable way with flexible associations, so you can  name the object, determine what properties it has, and decide what other objects it can be associated with in your CRM.

 

For more details and use cases, I encourage you to check out the custom objects feature page for an overview of this powerful new feature.

KyleJepson
Inbound Professor

Hi @GuyTaylor !

 

In addition to the resources @ajoselow mentioned, HubSpot Academy has also put out a free online lesson that goes through this in depth: https://academy.hubspot.com/lessons/custom-objects?library=true 

 

--Kyle

kelseyingram392
Contributor | Partner

Hey team, couple of questions! 

  • Can you use custom object properties as Active List criteria? 
  • Can you deduplicate/merge custom object records? 
  • Can you still create custom calculation properties based on associated objects? 

Thanks!

ncarbone
HubSpot Employee

Hey @kelseyingram392 👋 - answers below:

  • Can you use custom object properties as Active List criteria? 
    • Not at the moment, but we're working on it!
  • Can you deduplicate/merge custom object records? 
    • Not yet. Merging custom object records is in development, but we don't have a timeline for adding manual deduplication functionality (described here) to custom objects at this time.
  • Can you still create custom calculation properties based on associated objects? 
    • Yes, you can create calculated custom object properties using associated object data. For the record that's one of my favorite CRM features! The process is the same as with a standard object - more info here.
phdm3
Contributor

Many of our contacts are assosicated with several companies.  Would custom objects be a good way to store data about a second company and  associate that second company to a contact?

ajoselow
HubSpot Product Team

Hi there! Thank you for your question - it's an important question and has a bit of nuance. It isn't advisable to make a new custom object to represent a Company.  Instead, it's best to use the Standard Company Object in HubSpot. This will allow you to retain the right type of data in the right object. 

0 Upvotes
KyleJepson
Inbound Professor

Hi @phdm3 ! This is an excellent question. You absolutely could do this using custom objects, but I would actually recommend not doing that. We know the ability to associate multiple companies to a single contact is needed by many of our customers, and we are actively working toward getting that built! I don't know exactly when it will be available, but I expect it'll be in beta by the end of 2020.

jen_vaughn
Contributor

I know that HubSpot prides itself on usability, but Custom Object are currently only usable if you have someone with the technical knowledge to work with an API.   Are there plans to make this accessible to the average HubSpot user?  Is there timeline or roadmap as to when that's scheduled to happen?  

ajoselow
HubSpot Product Team

Hi Jen! 

 

Thank you for reaching out - we definitely do pride ourselves on being both easy to use and powerful. Custom objects is firmly in the powerful category -- adding a lot of flexibility and customization within our CRM. At this time defining a custom object in HubSpot is API only given the relative sophistication of this solution. However, we will keep a close eye on use cases and continue to evaluate if further usability enhancements are needed in the future. 

0 Upvotes
jeffreyr
HubSpot Employee

Hi Jen! That's a great question. You are correct that today, you need to be competent with HubSpot APIs to initially set up / define your Custom Objects. Once your objects have been defined, they work pretty much the same way other objects do right in the user interface, and don't require any technical knowledge.

 

Making it possible to set Custom Objects up without technical knowledge is something we are investigating, though I can't speak to any specifics around if/when this will come to fruition just yet. As you pointed out, our goal is always to make HubSpot as easy and usable as possible. In this case, we also feel a responsibility to help customers take a thoughtful approach in how they are using Custom Objects (especially non-technical folks who likely have less experience with topics like data architecture.) 

 

In the shorter term, I can point out that we have a growing number of partners with experience rolling out Custom Objects in HubSpot that you can see here. With a little bit of searching online, you'll also find that many partners have published how-to guides and even some tools that can help you through the process of implementing Custom Objects if you do feel confident to do it yourself.

KyleJepson
Inbound Professor

Hi @jen_vaughn ! I've heard this concern a lot since we launched custom objects. I have a couple resources that I think will help:

 

First, this video I posted on LinkedIn. It's just over 8 minutes long and gives my view on why the API interface hopefully won't be an obstacle to the average HubSpot user. (It turns we've already built a form-based approach to building custom objects, it's just tucked away in a place you wouldn't expect it.)

 

Or, if you'd rather read a blog post than watch a video, here's a writeup from a Canadian company that makes a lot of the same points as my video does.

 

I hope this helps! If it doesnt, please let me know--making this knowledge as accessible and helpful as possible is sort of my whole job!

 

Kyle

jen_vaughn
Contributor

Thanks for the resources @KyleJepson !

kgroover
Contributor | Elite Partner

Hi @jen_vaughn ! The Lynton team saw this limitation, so we built a new app called Custom Objects HQ. It allows non-technical people to set up custom objects within minutes. We’re hoping this allows more people to take advantage of this awesome new HubSpot feature. Definitely take your time thinking through your custom object and use cases, and let us know if you have any questions about Custom Objects HQ!

https://ecosystem.hubspot.com/marketplace/apps/sales/crm/custom-objects-hq-227015

 

Here are a few additional resources that may help:

https://www.syncsmart.io/integrations/custom-objects-hq

https://www.syncsmart.io/blog/syncsmart-joins-the-hubspot-app-marketplace-with-custom-objects-hq

https://www.syncsmart.io/blog/6-use-cases-for-custom-objects-in-hubspot

Kelly Groover

Brand Marketing Manager at Lynton

If this answer solved your question, please mark it as the solution!

jen_vaughn
Contributor

Thanks, @kgroover!  I had the pleasure of working with Jenny and Elluz from your team on a migration project at a different company.  I had a great experience working with them!

Alex_Green
Participant | Partner

This is the first time I'[ve heard about custom objects, so like many others I am sure, I'd love to have a basic overview on what they are, how they are best used and examples. 

I'd be interested to understand if they could be used for our event attendance. We run multiple events but each contact can attend 20 or so a year and we need to record how they applied, registered and whether they attended for every event. And in what capacity - paying delegate, media, speaker, sponsor etc. And of course they can be a speaker at one event and a delegate at another, so there are multiple variations of the data per contact record. May be Custom Objects is the answer! 

ajoselow
HubSpot Product Team

Hi Alex! 

 

Thank you so much for reaching out! Based on your use can use either custom objects or custom fields to record this activity. 

 

Let's start with custom objects. Custom objects are a set of customizable records within your CRM that supplement standard CRM records in a more flexible way. Custom objects allow you to supplement data in a scalable way with flexible associations, so you can  name the object, determine what properties it has, and decide what other objects it can be associated with in your CRM.

 

For more details and use cases, I encourage you to check out the custom objects feature page for an overview of this powerful new feature. Once you've decided on this approach, you can then checkout this resource on how to get started with custom objects in HubSpot today.

 

Lastly, you may also want to evaluate if custom fields could help in this case. Custom fields can be introduced to standard or custom objects. Custom fields + standard objects are perfect when you need to introduce a net new field into your CRM with fixed relationships (i.e. “anniversary”). Custom fields + custom objects are the right choice when you need flexible relationships (i.e. assigning one deal to multiple contacts).

 

We are excited to hear how you put these to use for your business! 

0 Upvotes
KyleJepson
Inbound Professor

Hi @Alex_Green ! In addition to the stuff @ajoselow said, I'd also recommend checking out the HubSpot Academy lesson that gives an overview of custom objects and other data-storage solutions in HubSpot: https://academy.hubspot.com/lessons/custom-objects?library=true

KyleJepson
Inbound Professor

Actually, @Alex_Green , forget everything both of us said. A new standard object for tracking marketeting events is now in beta: https://knowledge.hubspot.com/integrations/use-marketing-events

Alex_Green
Participant | Partner

Thanks @KyleJepson - looks like this could be a great solution but only if you use the two integrations GoToWebinar or Eventbrite. We have used Eventbrite in the past but the information that is shared is very limited. Let's hope they make this an editable object without the need for an integration! 

0 Upvotes
hyoung22
Participant

Hi team,

Excited to hear about the custom objects. Is there a plan to enable these custom objects to sync with a standard to custom object in Salesforce? We only use the force.com platform so most of the HS "out of the box" Saleforce syncing doesn't apply to us. This would be a game changer for us. Thanks!

rohri
HubSpot Employee

Hi @hyoung22 great question!

Currently our SFDC Connector only works between standard objects in both HubSpot and Salesforce, so Contacts>Leads/Contacts, Companies>Accounts, and Deals>Opportunities.

 

With Custom Objects avaialble in HubSpot we are looking to introduce the ability to sync Custom Objects in HubSpot with Custom Objects in Salesforce.  I don't have a timeline for this but we are actively investigating.

 

It's worth noting that in your use case you are looking to sync a custom object with a standard object, and from my vantage point, this feels like something you would be able to do with a custom built integration, but unlikely with our native SFDC Integration.


This may be more possible down the road when Custom Objects can be included in the SFDC sync, but realistically you may be able to make some headway down this path now, with some developer help.

markaiello
Participant

Most of our Contacts are Clients or Candidates and sometimes can be both.  Should we create 3 contact types or should we create 2 custom objects (Clients and Candidates) and link the records together when a contact is both?

ncarbone
HubSpot Employee

Hey @markaiello! If all of your Client and Candidate records represent individual people, I might actually recommend against using a custom object in this case. You're only able to send emails to Contact-type objects in HubSpot, so I wouldn't want you to lose the ability to communicate via email with your clients and candidates.

 

The best way to organize your data would be to create a custom contact property called 'Contact Type' (or something similar) with options for 'Client', 'Candidate' and 'Both'. You could then easily segment, filter, automate and report on different kinds of Contacts using that custom property. 

KyleJepson
Inbound Professor

Hi @markaiello! If someone can be more than one thing at a time, or change from one thing into another thing, I think properties will work better than objects. If you made three separate objects for these categories, an if one person was in all three, you'd have to have three records for one person. Which seems to me like it might lead to some problems. If you need vastly different properties on each, then it might be worth it. What you're reallyooking at here is a tradeoff between flexibility and granularity. Check out the Academy lesson for more information on how to navigate that. https://academy.hubspot.com/lessons/custom-objects?library=true

ridingforlife
Top Contributor

Excited to hear about custom objects! A few questions I have to start with are:

  1. Can custom objects be used with workflows? If yes, how?
  2. Will the ability to create custom objects be available in the UI so a developer is not needed?
  3. Once a custom object is created through the API, can you create new records of that custom object in the UI?
  4. Can custom objects and their properties be used to personalize marketing emails?

Thanks!

KyleJepson
Inbound Professor

Hi @ridingforlife ! These are great questions. Here are some (hopefully equally-great) answers:

 

  1. Yes! When you create a workflow, you have the option to select contact-based workflow, company-based workflow, etc. Once your custom object is created, you'll see it listed there, too, and the process for creating a workflow will be exactly the same as what you're used to with standard objects.
  2. This question was discussed elsewhere in this thread, with three different people weighing in on it. Check that out for the official answer on when/if a UI will be created, but my unofficial answer is that there already is a UI (kind of). You can watch a video of me using this secret UI here.
  3. Yes! Once the object is defined, it gets a page just like the one for contacts and companies. You can filter, save views, and create new records just like normal.
  4. Yes! I believe this feature is currently in beta, but it does exist and will be generally available before long. UPDATE: Actually, this is live and available now. Sorry to misspeak!

I definitely recommend checking out HubSpot Academy's lesson about custom objects--it answers these questions and more!

Herschel
Top Contributor

I'm curious to learn more about how Custom Objects could be applied to tracking our client's subscriptions (as alluded to in the Custom Objects intro video). How do you see Cusom Objects being better (or just different) for tracking subscriptions as opposed to a "Subscription" company property

KyleJepson
Inbound Professor

Hey @Herschel ! I think there are two main advantages to using a custom object rather than a property for tracking subscriptions:

 

First, an object can hold more information. You could have the name of the subscription, its start date, end date, and anything else you wanted to track there.

 

Second (and this is probably a bigger deal) is the ability to associate multiple custom objects to other objects. For example, if a contact or company has more than one subscription at the same time, you can associate multiple subscription objects to it in a way that would be hard to replicate cleanly using custom properties.

 

I hope this helps! If you have follow-up questions, I'm here for them!

 

Kyle