It's only fair for 'Orange Oompa Loompas' (aka: HubSpot employees) to enjoy a growing sense of job security and for HubSpot Agency Partners to receive 20% recurring compensation when selling or upselling HubSpot. However, these factoids may or may not be consistent with your marketing budget or goals on the platform.
What, with all the smart talent busy toiling away in Orange Oompa Loompa Land and all the great free HubSpot training available, you may wonder why there's even a need for contractors who aren't paid by HubSpot to service HubSpot users. Fact is, as a HubSpot client, there are lots of reasons you may wish to consider hiring a HubSpot Contractor to manage your HubSpot Marketing Pro or Enterprise portals instead of hiring someone paid by HubSpot.
So, what is a HubSpot Contractor?
- Think of someone who loves the HubSpot platform (aka: bleeds orange), but who isn't paid by HubSpot.
- Think of someone who has deep HubSpot Marketing & Sales expertise with HubSpot certifications to boot, but who isn't paid by HubSpot.
- Think of someone who regularly customizes HubSpot for clients across multiple verticals and who learns the ins and outs of your customized HubSpot portal, but ... wait for it ...
... who is not paid by HubSpot.
Eliminating conflicting goals is an important part of hiring anyone to manage your HubSpot portals. Your contractor should readily share cost-saving tips with you even if those tips mean a lower HubSpot bill. That is ...
"There's mounting pressure and an almost irresistible tendency to wanna upsell HubSpot when you either work for the company, or are part of the HubSpot Agency Partner program."
And that's fair for HubSpotters ... I guess.
So, what questions might a HubSpot Contractor answer differently than those who live in Orange Oompa Loompa Land?
- Should I use HubSpot Marketing, or should I use a less expensive hybrid solution?
- Should I hire a HubSpot Agency Partner at $3-5K+/monthly under annual contract, or should I hire my own internal HubSpot expert?
- Should I use the HubSpot CRM, or go with a more customizable CRM option?
- Should I move my blog to HubSpot, or go with a more robust blogging platform that integrates with HubSpot?
- Should I build my webpages on the HubSpot CMS (new name for HubSpot COS -- announced at INBOUND17), or leverage a more customizable CMS option?
- Should I pay and additional $200/month for HubSpot reporting, or should I use a comprehensive dashboard reporting tool that integrates with multiple platforms (e.g., Salesforce, Google Analytics, AdWords, etc.)?
- Should I use HubSpot's new AI bot, or are there better 3rd-party AI bots available for integration in a HubSpot-hybrid environment like mine?
- How much does HubSpot Marketing really cost?
These are just some of the important HubSpot questions you'll need unbiased answers to as you journey through the world of inbound marketing with HubSpot in 2018 and beyond.
So, why might a HubSpot Agency Partner have biases favoring HubSpot products and services over viable alternatives?
Easy ... MRR -- (Monthly Recurring Revenue).
HubSpot Agency Partners are basically marketing agencies (or individuals) who sell HubSpot and who are required to purchase HubSpot Marketing Pro or Enterprise for use in their agency. This $10K-$30K minimum annual requirement helps ~3,000 HubSpot Agency Partners generate over $2.4M annually for HubSpot making it one of the most successful 'partner' programs in the industry. (search: HubSpot Agency Partner Pricing)
All Agency Partners are also required by HubSpot to meet and grow their tier's minimum MRR numbers (shown below) or risk losing their coveted silver, gold, platinum, or diamond tier status. These facts alone are sufficient stimulus for potential bias in favor of HubSpot products and services over viable alternatives.
So, do HubSpot Contractors offer comparable services and pricing?
To dive deeper, we explored how US HubSpot Contractor service offerings and pricing compare to HubSpot-compensated providers and how they compare to a brand's own 'in-house' HubSpot experts.
In summary, HubSpot (the company) is the most expensive option. They also offer the least variety of digital marketing services which is to be expected since over 3000 HubSpot Agency Partners do that for them and since their primary focus is to offer the greatest concentration of HubSpot expertise on the planet -- no surprise there! ;)
Many HubSpot Agency Partners typically offer a wider variety of digital marketing services due in part to the cross functional team it takes to sustain a profitable agency. While some are great 'one-stop-shops', their prices can be nearly as high as HubSpot (the company) soaring to well over $6K-$10K per month above and beyond the cost of the HubSpot software for annually contracted core services.
HubSpot Contractors have a clear advantage here in that most don't require an annual contract and are far less expensive than HubSpot-compensated providers. We've included quick tips later to help you evaluate HubSpot Contractor Pricing on Upwork -- the world's largest employer of freelance contractors.
Hiring HubSpot personnel 'in-house' is still the most economical way to tap into HubSpot expertise. However, many SMBs aren't ready to invest in a full-time martech role that can easily command an annual median salary of $42K+, and, due to demand, yield virtually no part-time candidates with advanced HubSpot skills and experience.
To ROCK HubSpot, you're gonna to need more than 'Orange Oompa Loompas' trying to upsell you on the platform. Does your HubSpot Digital Marketing Manager have advanced marketing skills?
HubSpot Contractor Differentiators
Most 5-star HubSpot Contractors we found consistently offered the following attractive differentiators when compared to HubSpot-compensated providers and in-house HubSpot personnel ...
- "We use Salesforce too!"
Rapid Onboarding Timeframes
- "Our 2018 onboarding timeframes are rapidly approaching zero."
Digital Marketing Skill Set Diversity
- "You'll need more than just SEO'd content if you're going to do Inbound in 2018."
- "Find your HubSpot Contractor before the HubSpot price increase."
HubSpot Contractor CRM Neutrality
Many HubSpot Contractors also work with non-HubSpot CRMs.
We found numerous HubSpot Contractors willing to offer 'best effort' service on any CRM platform. However, none of these 'work-with-anything' generalists were certified on any platform whatsoever (except HubSpot).
With over 26% share of the CRM market Salesforce is the most popular non-HubSpot CRM among HubSpot Contractors we found.
We attribute the popularity of Salesforce CRM among HubSpot Contractors to its leading market share and to the administrative fees contractors can command by adding it to their service offering lineup. Salesforce CRM is also the leading CRM integration used with HubSpot Marketing Pro and Enterprise.
HubSpot Contractor Rapid Onboarding Timeframes
HubSpot's Onboarding fees are a HUGE barrier to entry for many users considering the platform (or so they think).
In all actuality, the real barrier to entry is the 90-day timeframe that comes with the bill. Nearly every HubSpot Contractor we found beat HubSpot's Onboarding timeframes by 50%, with the occasional outlier promising to cut that time down to 30-days. (very aggressive)
HubSpot offers Consulting Services on a per project basis and can reduce the onboarding timeframe. Cost? $1500 for 4 hours.
A HubSpot Contractor can often help dramatically reduce either the cost of HubSpot Onboarding OR the timeframe. It's rare to find a US HubSpot Contractor willing to significantly reduce both cost and timeframe while still maintaining high HubSpot quality standards and adhering to HubSpot best practices. (important)
HubSpot Contractor Digital Marketing Skill Set Diversity
Contrary to what you may have heard from the DIY (do-it-yourself) advocates, successful HubSpot Marketing is a team sport that requires training and ... wait for it ... MARKETING experience. Gone are the glory days of inbound when you could simply whip up a few crappy blog posts or a 1-page eBook using MSWord only to have the masses genuflect and willingly submit their email addresses.
As Rand Fishkin, Former Wizard of Moz, stated in one of his last Whiteboard Fridays before leaving the company he founded nearly 2 decades ago,
Hell, in addition to dramatically increased human competition online we now also have to contend with smart machines filtering our content, Google ranking their own content highest in SERPS, and 'voice search' seducing searchers into an entirely new way of interacting with what was once 'our content'.
HubSpot Contractor Basic Skill Set
All HubSpot Contractors working on production HubSpot Marketing Pro portals should have the following 3 basic HubSpot certifications (at a minimum).
- HubSpot Inbound Certification
- HubSpot Email Marketing Certification
- HubSpot Content Marketing Certification
HubSpot Contractors working on HubSpot Marketing Enterprise portals should also be HubSpot Marketing certified (at a minimum).
Additionally, HubSpot Contractors working on HubSpot Sales Pro connected to HubSpot Marketing Pro & Enterprise portals should also possess the following 3 basic HubSpot Sales certifications (at a minimum).
- HubSpot Sales Certification
- HubSpot Sales Software Certification
- HubSpot Sales Enablement Certification
[HubSpot assistants only working on HubSpot's Projects productivity tool only need a HubSpot Inbound Certification.]
That's six (6) basic HubSpot certifications in addition to the HubSpot Contractor having a HubSpot Developer Portal on which they can test HubSpot functionality without disrupting client's production workflow, and their own free HubSpot CRM which they use to track their own leads. All this before ever being paid to touch a client's HubSpot Marketing portal.
Why does a HubSpot Contractor need to have so many HubSpot certifications if they already have marketing experience?
Because general marketing experience and even a college degree in marketing does not translate into HubSpot Marketing specific knowhow. And generic marketing experience does not familiarize a person with HubSpot-specific best practices in the HubSpot digital marketing space.
HubSpot clients deserve highly trained personnel with the experience to deliver results.
So what are some advanced skills to look for in a HubSpot Contractor?
The above withstanding, when 72% of marketers say relevant content creation was the most effective SEO tactic, we should pay attention. (Ascend2, 2015)
If there was a single skill, in addition to HubSpot Content Marketing, that I'd want my HubSpot Contractor to possess it would be Search Engine Optimization (SEO) -- specifically, keyword research, trend analysis, and On-Page SEO.
61% of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority. (HubSpot, 2017)
HubSpot Contractor Top-5 Advanced Skills
(Includes: Examples | Charts | Content | Pages | Tools)
- Search Engine Optimization - Keyword research, trend analysis, and On-Page SEO -- a topic-based SEO approach that works the way modern search does by using topic clusters (aka: pillar pages) with bi-directional keyword links between them. (seo tools)
- Content Marketing - Branded inbound article writing, eBooks, videos, blogs, and social media posts.
- Email Conversion Rate Optimization - Click Through Rate (CTR) focused optimization.
- Landing Page Optimization - Branded short-form, long-form, and 2-stage landing page design optimization, CTAs, and 'next-stage' Thank You pages.
- Integrated Dashboard Reporting - Realtime dashboard reporting that fully integrates with over 60 popular platforms including Salesforce, Google Analytics, AdWords, Moz, Shopify, Seventh Sense, and you guessed it ... HubSpot -- both Marketing and Sales -- say goodbye to standard HubSpot reporting.
Does your HubSpot Contractor possess these marketing skills?
HubSpot Contractor Quick Tips & Pricing Breakdown
HubSpot Contractor's on Upwork
Considering that Upwork (formerly oDesk & Elance) is the largest employer of freelance contractors in the world, clients search for HubSpot help on this platform more than anywhere else except Google. As 5-star HubSpot Contractors, we've tracked HubSpot jobs on Upwork since the day's of oDesk (i.e., pre-2015).
Upwork can be a great source of HubSpot Contractors. Just know that Upwork search results and contractor profiles can be misleading at first glance.
And, before hiring there, learn about some increasingly disturbing global behaviors which became much more commonplace on Upwork in 2017.
The Upwork Hourly Rate
Depending on the hourly rate, this number could merely represent the bottom or top of a contractor's price range. Also, since this number is required by Upwork and drives traffic based on how low you set it, many contractors use it to increase the number of job invites they receive by setting it artificially low to attract attention.
We haven't increased prices on our website in over 5 years and use the Upwork Hourly Rate strictly to manage the flow of invitations.
Upwork Earned Income
Earned income may be a mild indicator of how serious a freelance contractor pursues business. And the volume of business they conduct -- but only on the Upwork platform.
Earned income shown on Upwork is artificially low for HubSpot Contractors who also have thriving off-platform businesses.
Upwork's 'secret' Job Success Score
Arguably the most convoluted and meaningless feedback statistic introduced on a platform since LinkedIn announced Company Page 'analytics' which rapidly skewed up as page administrators visited their own pages to add content. (facepalm)
As Upwork states on their website,
"We don't reveal the exact calculation for your [JS] score. Doing so would make it easier for some users to artificially boost their scores. We need to maintain some privacy with this metric to ensure fairness and accuracy." Blah ... blah ... blah ...
We totally ignore this number unless it's below 90% which indicates less than 'delighted' customers within the last 24 months. (our only customer goal)
HubSpot Contractor Location (as reported by Upwork)
Remember those "increasingly disturbing global behaviors" we spoke of earlier? Well, ever since mid-2017 when Upwork began to offer its clients the ability to limit jobs to 'US Contractors Only', foreign contractors have become much more aggressive trying to make themselves appear as being located in the US -- where they can command higher prices.
This can be quite problematic if you're in a regulated industry which prohibits hiring overseas workers, or if you've entered into a customer contract with similar restrictions.
You could be sued (or worse) for not verifying a contractor's physical presence in the US. Also, if you can't reliably verify their location, there's no guarantee you're hiring from a US-friendly country.
Another disturbing trend is an increase in the fake 'agency' relationships we've seen crop up since Upwork introduced the 'US Contractors Only' option.
As 5-star Upwork clients, we've seen a dramatic uptick of invitations via other platforms to 'partner' with questionable overseas Upwork contractors.
Clients unfamiliar with this trend could quickly expose themselves to contractors unfriendly to America -- nasty business.
Related Upwork Jobs Completed
This misleading Upwork statistic only counts completed contracts with no consideration for the total number of hours worked on any given contract. We've hired 5-star contractors with fewer than 10 completed jobs, but who'd worked 1,000's of hours for just a few clients (i.e., a few contracts).
Another disturbing trend we've seen on Upwork since 2015 is that over 30% of the HubSpot job ads we've tracked there in 2017 either expire, are cancelled by the client, or otherwise go unfilled.
That's an appalling statistic which speaks to the 'price shopping' issue on the platform. Many clients don't know that quality HubSpot Contractors regularly research client behavior before accepting jobs.
If you're after 'elephants', you'll certainly find them on Upwork. Just know that quality contractors often refuse to work for 'mahouts' -- aka: elephant keepers | aka: clients who seek out and hire cheap contractors -- aka: elephants | aka: animals who work for peanuts!
HubSpot Contractor Pricing Breakdown
We found a wide range of competencies and pricing for HubSpot Contractors. To be fair, we only included native English-speaking, college educated contractors that were multi-HubSpot certified and who had more than 3 years experience.
We'd never even consider putting a less qualified HubSpot Contractor on a production HubSpot portal or in front of a HubSpot client, and didn't think you would either.
Price Per Hour Average
HubSpot (the company) and HubSpot Agency Partner pricing averages are also shown to help you compare.
Hiring a quality HubSpot Contractor at $90/hr can save you 75%+ over the cost of hiring HubSpot (the company) directly, and represents 50%+ savings over the cost hiring HubSpot Agency Partners. Nice.
If price is no object, hire HubSpot directly to the tune of an additional $50K+ annually. The most economical option would be to hire an experienced in-house HubSpot Marketing certified expert full-time. Part-timers with advance HubSpot skills are a rare breed.
If you operate best by having the extra attention from an agency and you don't mind the additional costs, go for it. Most agencies offer a variety of digital marketing services above and beyond HubSpot Marketing.
If you're not quite ready to hire in-house or you need deep HubSpot expertise on a less-than-full-time basis, hiring a HubSpot Contractor will be your best immediate option. Depending on the variety of your digital marketing needs, this may also be the most cost-effective mid-term solution for you as well.
Look for recommendations from former clients whom you can contact for verification. Ideally, you'll find these recommendations publicly displayed on their website & on their LinkedIn profile.
Finally, if you find a quality HubSpot certified contractor who has more than 5 years HubSpot digital marketing experience and a 5-star reputation, hire them. Today.