“There is only one boss. The customer―and he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
Thus, the decision of choosing your CRM platform is not an easy one and something to be messed up. It is quite natural for anyone to be doubtful in experimenting with free products for the fear of results. The very celebrated Hubspot free CRM is one such product that many would want to experiment with. But hesitant just because of the concerns on how effective it will be and what will be its impact on your business and how will HubSpot CRM limitations affect you while scaling up. So, here we bring to you all you need to know before choosing Hubspot free CRM as your CRM platform. We focus on the Hubspot free CRM limitations and of course its pros.
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For any business, customers and prospects are the most important factors to keep growing. Communicating effectively with potential customers and existing customers is critical to drive in more sales and increase repeat business. So it's not unnatural that every business in the digital space is in the hunt for a solution to manage relationships with customers and store all the information in a centralized place to serve the customers and provide the best value to them. That’s what a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform does. Anybody on the lookout for a CRM platform will come across innumerable options today. Hubspot CRM is probably just one of the different platforms available. But what makes it special and stand out from its competitors like Salesforce or Zoho is that Hubspot CRM is completely free!
Yeah, it is true to the core. It’s not just a free trial or for any limited period. It also guarantees some huge limits like an unlimited number of users and a million contacts. This is quite unlikely when compared to other competitors who charge by the contacts and barely give 500 contacts for free but there are some limitations in HubSpot CRM too.
Well, this brings in a lot of skepticism and many raised eyebrows. “Is it really free?”,” Are there any hidden costs involved?”, “ Will such a free CRM be beneficial for my business?”, “What are its limitations?”. I know there can be a lot of questions. But, be rest assured - Hubspot CRM is a powerful platform that can help any business optimize its business communications. And it has no hidden costs. But it definitely has some limitations- not regarding the number of users or contacts, but some other parameters. In this blog, we take you through some of the major limitations that real business users experienced while using the Hubspot free CRM. But, before we jump to the limitations of Hubspot free CRM, let’s see what it really offers.
Here is a summary of what free tools HubSpot CRM offer:
Contact website activity
Tasks & activities
Gmail and Outlook integration
HubSpot Connect integrations
Custom support form fields
Email tracking & notifications
That ain't a huge list? Now here is a summary of the various limits.
Number of contacts – 1,000,000
Number of API calls – 40,000 per day
Form submissions per contact- 1,000
Custom properties - 1,000
Values per picklist property - 1,000
Associated contacts per company - 10,000
Associated deals per contact or company - 10,000
Associated activities (engagements) per contact, company or deal - 10,000
Well, that’s some pretty large limits and good enough for most of the small businesses. Let’s take a deep dive into the pros and cons of the platform now.
Pros and Cons of Hubspot free CRM
The Hubspot CRM is definitely a platform that makes it easy to organize, track and grow your contact lists and sales pipeline. It is popular and widely used as many other renowned paid CRM solutions today. But I cannot say it is the best tool available in the market. It has its pros and cons.
Pros of Hubspot free CRM
1. Easy to use Hubspot is easier to pick up and use compared to many other CRM platforms. It does not have a very steep learning curve unlike other CRM platforms like Salesforce. 2. Provides valuable insightsHubspot CRM provides valuable insights into customer behavior by tracking customer interactions automatically and makes it easier to know when to follow up. The Gmail and Outlook integrations allow you to track email opens and clicks to see how your users are interacting with your emails in real-time. 3. Can be integrated with other CRMsHubspot CRM can be used with other CRMs. It has good integrations with Pipedrive CRM, Sugar CRM, Microsoft Dynamics and many more. Any of these CRMs can be used simultaneously with Hubspot or integrated into Hubspot as well. 4. Live Chat tool Hubspot CRM users get their live chat tool. It is very easy to set up and manage the chat tool. Although it is just the basic chatbot functionality, it really helps take your online customer experience to the next level. 5. Unlimited customization unlike other CRM platforms that usually have annoying customization limits, Hubspot free CRM allows you to customize everything to your brand and your specific sales process. 6. Connection with Hubspot MarketingThe fact that the Hubspot CRM is connected to the Hubspot marketing tools makes an easier communication of data and allows a smooth transition of leads from marketing to sales in your funnel.
Hubspot Free CRM limitations
Although Hubspot is a wonderful CRM, it is relatively new compared to other major CRM players and is still growing. It still has some feature limitations bringing in some distress and pain points while using it. Here are some of the major Hubspot free CRM limitations faced by its users.
1. Import of Notes and attachments from existing CRM
You cannot import notes and attachments from your existing CRM when you are switching to the Hubspot CRM. If you are migrating from your existing CRM to Hubspot, you can, of course, import the contact, companies, and deal records to Hubspot. But you cannot import any notes, attachments, past emails, or timeline activity. If you want to bring in these details, you have to manually copy/paste the import timeline details as a note and pin it to the top of the timeline. This is a pretty hefty task and may require some additional help for data entry like a freelancer to get the job done.But make a note that the Importing of notes, attachments, and emails, in fact, a limitation in many other CRM platforms as well due to technical challenges. But some do allow it via the API. However, in Hubspot CRM there is no exposed API for adding to the timeline. This is probably the biggest issue with Hubspot CRM as it really hurts many of the integration potentials. If you are using Hubspot Marketing, this won't be an issue as access to API gives you ways to do all these, along with third-party options.
2. Assignment of Contacts when importing deals another
a major limitation of the import facility in the Hubspot free CRM is the inability to associate a contact or company while importing a deal. You would have to import all the deal details and then manually add the relationships. If you have a lot of deals to be imported this is going to be a painful task.
3. Detail level Security
One of the biggest Hubspot free CRM limitations or precisely a weakness is regarding security. The main issue being there are no detail level restrictions. Access levels are kind of all or nothing. Meaning you can't give someone access to an account, and hide some sensitive data (say financial data) or not show them certain custom properties. Thus, anybody having access to a record can see all the details of the record. For transparent small businesses, this would hardly matter. But for bigger enterprises for whom there is a need to handle some sensitive information it can turn out to be a big deal to handle these kinds of issues.
4. Some 3rd Party Integrations
Some of the good 3rd party integrations now (Since Hubspot implemented their new v2 API in July 2017) only work if you upgrade to at least Hubspot Marketing basic plan. For example, Help Scout. It looks like an attempt by Hubspot to force people to upgrade to their Marketing plan.
5. Limited Custom Reporting
Hubspot CRM allows for power filters and saves views in contacts, companies, and deals for immediate analysis and reporting. But you cannot pin those on the dashboard to create custom reports. So, if you are looking for custom reports, then the Hubspot free CRM is not for you. The Hubspot CRM dashboard does not allow you to create custom reports unless you go for a paid add-on, which is priced at $200 per month.
6. No Dynamic or Static lists
As mentioned above, you can create custom properties and generate filters and save views as you want for segmented lists building. But you cannot have dynamic or static lists that you can use as a trigger or integration to other products or tools. Say, if you want to add a customer to a list of people who purchase a specific product and automatically add a tag to that customer in your email marketing tool to kickstart an automated marketing campaign, Hubspot CRM cannot do that for you. This again is due to the lack of API to access those views. Hence, if you are using Hubspot marketing you can get all this done and can have API access to them.
7. Technical limitations with Email integration integrating
Hubspot CRM to your business email requires you to use either G Suite/Gmail or Office 365. So if you don’t have a Google or Office 365 account for your business you ought to go with some other workaround for the email integration. The workaround for the integration is to use the bcc email address on all emails you send and when you receive a reply, you can forward it using the forward bcc mail. But this is not so easy as you can always forget to include the bcc or forward replies. I would recommend getting an official G Suite or Office 365 as businesses are always recommended to have either of these and I am sure most of you would be using this except small businesses. You can get the basic G Suite plan for around $5 per month, which is really worth to have a proper CRM integration. Another limitation is that for email notifications when people open or clicks in your email, you must use either you must use their chrome plugin or Microsoft outlook and windows. It doesn't support Outlook for Mac.
Another major Hubspot free CRM limitation is concerning the documents. The free Hubspot CRM comes with certain limits on the documents. Documents are the files that Hubspot allows you to send to your prospects via email. However, the file size limit for documents is 250 MB and Hubspot CRM only users (free subscription users) can access up to 5 documents only per user. If you need access to more than 5 documents you need to upgrade to at least Sales Hub Starter. Honestly, to run a robust sales or marketing campaign, 5 of each of these key pieces will not be enough.
9. Sales Automation Workflows
With the Hubspot free CRM, you do not get access to any automated features, like sales automation workflows. Obviously, automated features like workflows and email sequences can be major time savers in optimizing your sales process and improve the productivity of your sales team. So, if you want to benefit from automated workflows, you will have to upgrade to Hubspot sales tools costing you around $400 a month for 5 users and $ 80 for every additional user.
Final Thoughts on Hubspot free CRM limitations
Overall, Hubspot serves the core purpose of a CRM in facilitating the management and organization of all the data. And considering it is a free CRM and realize most of the features offered by premium offers from other platforms, it definitely is an interesting proposition for small and medium-sized businesses just starting out.
But if you are looking for powerful reporting insights into sales and marketing activities you would have to spend some dollars and upgrade to the Hubspot marketing and sales platforms. You can very well upgrade as your business grows. Now, compared to other CRM platforms like Salesforce, Hubspot’s platform is lightweight and relatively inflexible.
So, Hubspot free CRM might be great for small businesses just starting up or are still growing. But organizations with large sales teams might find it not meeting their needs and not advanced enough. Certainly, Hubspot free CRM may work better than many other paid CRMs for small businesses. The key is that you need to configure Hubspot CRM to work for your organization by creating custom properties needed in your process and leverage the features and integration possible to maximum. You can give a try by just signing up! Leave a comment if you need any more information on Hubspot free CRM or if I have missed any points here.