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Episode 267: Top 16 Frustrations with HubSpot

Episode 267: Top 16 Frustrations with HubSpot

Welcome to HubShots Episode 267:Top 16  Frustrations with HubSpot

This edition we dive into:

The top frustrations we hear from customers about using HubSpot (and possible solutions), including:

  • Marketing contact tiers won’t downgrade
  • Drag and Drop builder doesn’t work for me
  • Chatflows are confusing to set up
  • Can’t create multiple knowledge bases
  • Knowledge base styling is limited
  • Survey styling is limited
  • Ads interface is confusing
  • Can’t create carousel social posts 
  • Campaigns are confusing
  • Can’t change Lifecycle stage property
  • Can’t exclude specific email addresses in form submits 
  • Files can be a mess
  • How do I report on marketing attribution?
  • Custom Report builder is difficult to learn
  • No automatic tax line in quotes
  • Popup form styling is limited
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Recorded: Monday 15 November 2021 | Published: Friday 19 November 2021


No pain, no gain…

Over the 6+ years that Ian and I have been recording this podcast we’ve admittedly been mostly positive about HubSpot - it is, afterall, the foundation of the businesses we each run (and our livelihoods).

That said, we’re also - in my opinion - reasonably forthcoming in highlighting issues and concerns we have with HubSpot - it’s not perfect by any stretch, and isn’t a fit for everyone (what is?). We even have a regular ‘shot’ call ‘Gotcha of the Week’ where we highlight a trap/issue/bug we’ve encountered with the product. 

And recently we’ve even spent entire sections of a show discussing problems we see - for example in episode 256 about HubSpot CMS Starter we spent considerable time contemplating the (bewildering and frustrating) decision by HubSpot to limit CMS Starter to just 15 pages. 

To their credit HubSpot is extremely welcoming of all feedback - they are, like all world class companies, eager to listen and improve. Their regular surveys, community forums and events are all testament to a company that listens and responds.

In this show we’re going to walk through some of the main frustrations we hear from our customers (and the community to a lesser extent). Some are easily solved, others are… not so easily solved.

Why do this?

First, because of the solvable frustrations - you may be experiencing some of them yourself - and not be aware of the way to overcome them.

But second, so that you at least know of the hurdles and can respond accordingly.


Frustration 1: Marketing Contact Tiers Can’t Reduce

Surely price is number 1?

We’re not actually going to talk about general HubSpot pricing - whether it is expensive or not depends on your situation and the value you get from the product.

However, there is one part of pricing that we will mention: marketing contacts tiers can’t be reduced.

A common example:

  • You purchase Marketing Hub Pro with 2000 marketing contacts
  • You are careful to keep your marketing contacts under 2000 
  • But then you have a sudden success with a campaign and it goes over 2000 marketing contacts
  • You are immediately bumped into the next contact tier with an extra 5000 contacts (ie total of 7000 contacts)
  • You review your marketing contacts and bring it back under 2000 contacts
  • It won’t make any difference, you are forever onwards charged for 7000 contacts
  • As per HubSpot’s articles, you can’t downgrade contact tiers (even after removing contacts)

This is a terrible experience for customers and probably one of the most complained about aspects.

Sadly, there’s no solution for this.

Frustration 2: Drag and Drop Builder Doesn’t Work (Solved)

Now, onto a frustration that is easy to solve.

If you’ve been a long time HubSpot customer you likely have a ton of legacy page and email templates being used. Since they were set up HubSpot has released new drag and drop builder functionality in pages and emails.

However, if you have emails and pages built using the older templates, they won’t magically inherit drag and drop builder functionality.

Which means we often hear long time HubSpot customers say:

  • Email drag and drop builder doesn’t work
  • Landing page drag and drop doesn’t work
  • Can’t A/B test web and landing pages 

The solution (unfortunately) is that you need to create new email and landing page templates, and create new emails and pages based on the new templates (ideally Themes).

It takes a little bit of time to re-do these, so use this as a time to review and potentially refresh the look and feel of the templates when going through this process.

Frustration 3: Chatflow setup is confusing

Although solvable (spoiler: you have to take time to learn it) there’s no denying that Chatflows are confusing to use. They don’t have the same intuitiveness that other parts of the product have (eg I think Workflows are very intuitive IMO).

I suspect this is why most customers don’t use Chatflows, or if they do, they are very simple (and likely not very friendly).


Frustration 4: Can’t create multiple knowledge bases

As this is tied to a single domain you cannot create multiple knowledge bases.  I am sure in the future if you have multiple business units this will become a possibility.

Frustration 5: Knowledge base styling is limited 

I’m hopeful that this one is a temporary frustration.

Currently the tools for styling knowledge base pages are very limited (eg a few colours). For example, you can’t even control the size or layout of the page menu area.

However, I suspect there’s future updates planned that will improve this - evidenced by the recent addition of control over the header HTML.

Frustration 6: Survey styling is limited

As much as it is easy to get started with surveys in HubSpot, like NPS and Customer Experience there is a lot of fixed aspects to it.  Like the pages people land on to answer the survey is very limited.

We are sure that over time this will change and expand just like other tools within HubSpot but at the moment it is limited to colours and updating some images and text.  No layout changes are available.

Frustration 7: Ads interface confusion (toggling campaigns on and off)


We’ve covered this one a few times on the show - the Ads tool has toggles (see screenshot below):

Question: what do these toggles do? Do they:

  • Select which campaigns will be included in the report totals at the top 


  • Turn campaigns on and off

The answer is the second - they turn campaigns on and off. Which has caught out many a user.

The ‘solution’ is simple - educate your users on what these toggles do.

One point to note though: they are only enabled for the user who connected the account - so this actually helps control the impact.

Frustration 8: Can’t create carousel posts in social

Often asked about and something that makes people revert back to the original tools on Facebook and Instagram.

This seems to be something that people have been requesting for a while now in the community.

Another frustration - you can’t add caption files (.srt files) to video uploads.

Frustration: 9: Campaigns are confusing (and you can’t rename them <= this has been fixed)

Campaigns in HubSpot are perhaps one of the more underused tools within HubSpot.

They are designed to group together campaign assets and provide a top level view of the campaign and its results, including influenced revenue.

However, to many customers they are confusing to use, and don’t provide any immediate value.

Also, the listing page doesn’t provide any option for showing results in order to compare them at a glance - instead you need to drill into each campaign individually to view results.

Can’t Rename Campaigns (Fixed)

One other common complaint is that you can’t rename campaigns. 

Turns out you can. However this is a new feature in the product - so you may not have known about it (I didn’t until Ian showed me this afternoon).

Previously this wasn’t possible - due to a technical reason: The campaign name was used to generate the utm parameters used in URLs (eg when shared on social). But they’ve now improved the interface - yes the campaign name will update the utm parameters, but the old utm parameters will still be associated with the new campaign name. Thanks HubSpot! 

Here is a HubSpot Academy training on how to create campaigns using HubSpot.

Frustration: 10: Can’t change Lifecycle property stages 

One of HubSpot’s key properties on contacts is the Lifecycle stage.

The reason is it gives you the ability to categorise your contacts and companies based on where they are in your marketing and sales processes. 

Using the Lifecycle stage property enables your team to determine where a specific contact or company is in your processes, and to understand better how leads are handed off between marketing and sales.

Not being able to change the Lifecycle stages is - in my opinion - a feature, not a limitation. It actually guides and underpins everything else within the system.

There are other fields for managing the uniqueness of your business - including the Lead Status field, and the Deal pipeline stages.


Frustration 11: Can’t exclude specific email addresses in forms

One of the nice features of forms is that you can exclude email addresses from certain domains from being submitted:

This is really handy - we have a list of more than 50 domains we include by default in our forms.

However, it would be handy to include specific email addresses - since there’s a few companies that spam us each month with the same email address (but we don’t want to block the domain).

Frustration 12: Files are a mess when you start to grow (Solvable)

This is one area where you need to pay attention and have a system setup from the start.  It is like having a naming standard.

This would apply to the files on your computer or Dropbox for example.

Having a good file structure is important to your growth and sanity.  You don’t want to find random files in the top level structure of your files.


Frustration 13: Can’t find marketing attribution details (Solved)

12 months is a long time in the software space.

Just 12 months ago HubSpot’s Marketing Attribution features were… um… pretty limited. But the transformation has been rapid. Marketing attribution features have been appearing throughout the product, including:

  • Email reporting
  • Landing and website pages
  • Campaigns
  • Specific attribution reports
  • Custom reports
  • Object sidebars (contacts and deals)

2 years ago we were losing enterprise deals due to the missing functionality. Just this month we’ve had clients coming back to HubSpot from other tools, due to the improvement in HubSpot’s attribution modelling.

It’s not fully complete yet, but it’s getting better every quarter.

Frustration 14: Custom Report Builder is difficult to master

We’ve mentioned this a few times in recent episodes - the Custom Report Builder is an advanced tool and can be frustrating to use when first getting up to speed. But stick with it - once you’ve got through the plateau of despair it’s a very powerful tool.

Easy to say of course - we’re very aware of how most customers don’t venture far with the custom report builder.

Frustration 15: No automatic tax line in quotes 

If you use HubSpot’s Quotes tool you’ve likely wondered where the tax settings are - ie so you can set up Tax and then have it automatically add a tax line to each quote.

You haven’t missed it - there is no Tax setting! Instead you have to add a line item at the end of every quote, name it and set it to the applicable tax rate. Very manual. And frustrating. 

Here is the community link so please go upvote it!

Frustration 16: Popup form styling is limited

As a general comment, HubSpot forms are very flexible and the power they provide is better than most other tools on the market that I’ve used.

However, there are constraints - for example you don’t have full flexibility on the positioning of fields and images. Eg you can’t set an overall background image and have fields in two columns.

This has never really been an issue for me personally, but we’ve had clients say they’d like more flexibility in the way they style forms.

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HubShots, the podcast for marketing managers and sales professionals who use HubSpot, hosted by Ian Jacob from Search & Be Found and Craig Bailey from XEN Systems and XEN Solar.

HubShots is produced by Christopher Mottram from Podcastily.

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