Blog

Best HubSpot Alternatives For Small Businesses In 2022

In recent years, many small business owners have been turning to HubSpot for their marketing and sales needs.

However, the rise of automation in all areas of life has resulted in an increased awareness of the importance of robust marketing automation platforms that are easy to set up.

In 2022, there will be a new set of Hubspot alternatives that are gaining popularity among small businesses.

But first, let us give you a brief about HubSpot and why you would need a HubSpot alternative in the first place.

What Is HubSpot?

HubSpot is a cloud-based marketing and sales software platform that helps businesses grow by attracting more visitors, leads, and customers. It is one of the most renowned sales, inbound marketing and CRM tools that stand competitive against the likes of Salesforce.

The HubSpot platform includes tools for website optimization, email marketing, social media monitoring, contact management, and reporting.

It integrates with 1000s of popular tools and boasts solid customer support via email, phone and live chat.

Despite all these factors, you might want to look for a better HubSpot alternative. 

Why Should You Look For A HubSpot Alternative?

One of the major drawbacks of HubSpot is its expensive pricing structure. Once your free plan gets exhausted, you might want to upgrade to a pro plan that would cost $113/month for the sales, service and marketing tool. 

And, that gives only access to the basic marketing features. If you want to get access to broad marketing automation features, landing page builders and onboarding, it would cost you over $800 a month. 

If you have tasks to schedule, you will have to automate and set up daily tasks. There is no feature of automatic recurring tasks scheduling. 

Further, the dashboard is clumsy and is hard to navigate for the newbies. 

Considering these factors, we have enlisted the 5 Best HubSpot alternatives for small businesses and marketers.

  1. EngageBay

EngageBay is indeed the best HubSpot alternative because of its functionalities, stellar customer support and affordable pricing. 

It wouldn’t be wrong to say EngageBay is an affordable version of HubSpot. Hence, EngageBay is an amazing alternative to HubSpot for small businesses. 

It has an all-in-one marketing suite that streamlines your marketing, sales and support team in one place. 

EngageBay boasts various standout features such as marketing automation, drag-and-drop email builder, free CRM, landing page builder, web sign up forms and tons of others. 

Pros: 

  • No need to set up recurring tasks daily. Your repetitive tasks will be automated and scheduled. 

  • Engagebay has a sleek interface and provides a smooth customer onboarding. 

  • You can boost its functionality by integrating it with other third-party apps such as Linkedin, Shopify, DocuSign, CallHippo, and WooCommerce. 

  • Their email CRM feature helps close more deals and provides better insights into customer behaviour. 

Cons: 

  • Though the templates are customizable, there are only a few email templates in the library. 

  • In terms of integration, HubSpot takes the edge over EngageBay.

  1. ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is another reliable HubSpot alternative for small businesses. One of the major USPs of this tool is quick automation. 

You can automate follow-ups, social media posts and set conditions. 

Apart from this, the CRM functionalities include lead scoring, win probabilities and advanced segmentation. 

Pros: 

  • ActiveCampaign boasts superior integration with tools like Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Unbounce and more. 

  • You can also sync tasks using Google Calendar, Outlook and other calendar tools and schedule them within the CRM. 

  • ActiveCampaign is low-priced when compared to HubSpot. The email marketing starts at just $9/month. However, you won’t get a CRM or landing page builder with this. 

  • ActiveCampaign uses machine learning capabilities to schedule emails. Thus, the predictive sending feature helps you send emails at the right time when customers are going to open them. 

Cons: 

  • ActiveCampaign does not offer any free plan. 

  • The lite plan costs $25/month for 1,000 contacts and it lacks various CRM features.

  1. InfusionSoft (Keap)

InfusionSoft (Keap) is an easy to use sales and marketing automation tool that comes with robust CRM functionalities. Keap integrates with your Gmail or Outlook and pulls your data into CRM to close deals quickly. 

Furthermore, Keap surpasses HubSpot in terms of its robust reports and analytics. Even the newbies can analyze the metrics without wrapping their heads around it. 

You can create predictable workflows using its advanced automation builder. This automation builder creates workflows using personalized triggers. 

Pros: 

  • InfusionSoft integrates with over 2,500 third-party apps of different kinds. 

  • They have one of the best sales pipeline features. You can track and analyze every deal in the pipeline. 

  • It gives a 14-day free trial to try its basic features and CRM. 

Cons: 

  • InfusionSoft starts at $59/month for 500 contacts. This is lower than HubSpot but not affordable for small businesses. 

  • It does not have an autosave feature to save your progress.

  1. Pipedrive

Pipedrive is a CRM software aimed largely at sales teams from small-to-medium-sized businesses. 

Pipedrive's UI is incredibly easy to navigate and an excellent tool for all levels, despite the various customization choices and dashboard features.

There is not much difference between HubSpot and Pipedrive when it comes to reporting features. 

Pros:

  • Pipedrive’s lowest plan starts at $12.50 per month which is fair enough when compared to HubSpot. 

  • Pipedrive is available in 13 languages such as Portuguese, English, German, Spanish and others. 

  • It has a dedicated mobile app that gives you real-time updates on your sales process. 

Cons:

  • Pipedrive is good for the sales team. For the marketing, it offers integration but the options are limited. 

  • There is no free plan to start with.

  1. Sharpspring

SharpSpring is a less known name in CRM marketing tools. Started in 2012, this tool offers various features for marketing teams and sales teams. 

Pros: 

  • It gives a 360-degree view of the customer sales cycle. 

  • The tool also provides features that are customized for various industry verticals. 

  • It has a dedicated marketplace that lets you add integrations to your account. 

Cons: 

  • Compared to HubSpot which has a free CRM, SharpSpring costs $449/month for just 1,000 contacts. 

  • SharpSpring has a complicated dashboard with so many features piling up together.

Conclusion

True that HubSpot is a market leader in CRM, but it is not for everyone. Once your company grows and you have massive data of contacts to manage, you would want to switch from HubSpot to a more reliable and functional platform. 

In our opinion, EngageBay is a perfect alternative to HubSpot that small businesses should look for. It is fairly easy to set up and you can get started for free!

You can streamline your tasks from a single place. Be it your sales, marketing or support team, EngageBay has all the features for task automation and customer management. 

And, the best part is it doesn’t get cheaper even when you upgrade.

How To Build An Email List From Scratch?

You’re no doubt familiar with the effectiveness of email marketing. Consumers are comfortable with and accustomed to its unobtrusive, opt-in format, and marketers love the massive potential ROI that this affordable and versatile channel can bring. 

However, email marketing only works if you’ve got an engaged audience, and for that, you need a properly built and maintained email list. 

But how to create an email list that can deliver a personalized experience for your subscribers and the best results for your business? 

In this article, we’re going to look at some tried-and-tested tactics that can help you to capture the right kind of subscribers for your list while continuing to nurture your audience engagement as your business grows. 

But first, let’s look a little closer at what an email list actually is.

What Is An Email List?

Quite simply, an email list is a collection of people who have agreed to receive your promotions and campaigns. 

They could be followers of your blog, customers who have previously purchased a product from you, visitors to your website who liked what they saw, or even people who attended one of your events. There are many ways that subscribers come to sign up to your list, and they are all theoretically interested in what you and your business have to offer. 

Building and managing an email list is one of the most important activities in your entire marketing strategy, simply because of the potential that it holds. Get it right, and you’ll have a thriving audience of active and engaged subscribers, who are only too happy to read your emails and click through to your latest deals and products. 

On the flip side, if you get it wrong your carefully crafted campaigns will end up being sent to stale and non-existent addresses, stay forever unopened and instantly deleted by disinterested subscribers, or even worse, marked as junk and sent straight to the spam folder!

Build Your Email List in 2 Simple Steps 

Luckily, creating a high-quality list doesn’t take a great deal of technical wizardry or specific know-how. 

With the right tools, a little common sense, and some good old-fashioned patience and persistence, you can organically grow your email list from scratch without resorting to shady tactics like buying a list (never do this!) or sending emails without permission. 

Begin by implementing the following 2 steps and watch your subscriber list grow:

Step 1: Make It Easy To Subscribe

You’re essentially asking people to give up their details voluntarily, so it’s important to make the process as easy and painless as possible. Let’s check out a few handy and effective places to encourage people to sign up to your email list:

  1. Your Website

Visitors head to your website for all kinds of reasons, but they are all showing an interest in your business. You can capitalize on this interest by placing subscribe forms in visible and easily clickable places, such as: 

  • Your blog: readers of your blog are naturally more engaged with your brand—they have shown their interest by taking the time to read what you have to say. Consider placing a pop-up subscribe form that appears after a certain amount of time on your blog page, this way you can allow people to read without intrusion and ensure that you are capturing those readers who have confirmed their engagement by reading to the end.

  • Checkout: Interest in your brand is at its peak when someone is buying from you, so this is your best chance to turn a one-off buyer into a loyal customer. Simply add an easy checkbox with something like “receive special offers and the latest news” to your checkout form - people are already filling in their details anyway, so this makes an easy shortcut to signing up.

  • “Contact us” form: Another handy shortcut to signups lies in your “contact us” form. A visitor is showing interest by reaching out to you and is already entering their contact details, so you can respond to their query. Add a small tick box to the bottom of your contact form and encourage an easy and convenient sign-up opportunity.

  1. Social Media

With their widespread use and easy sharing, social media platforms are incredibly useful for attracting new audiences. 

However, while social media channels should definitely be a part of your marketing strategy, it has been proven time and time again that email marketing offers a far better return on investment—social media advertising costs much more and people are simply less inclined to engage with it. 

So rather than advertise directly on your social media channels, consider running sign-up campaigns to convert your social media followers to email subscribers. 

Leave a persuasive CTA and easy link to your sign-up forms on all of your social media posts, and promote the benefits of being on your list. You can offer special deals for social media sign-ups, or promise unique, valuable content that only email subscribers can access. 

The idea is to take advantage of social media’s popularity and reach to attract people to your more reliable and lucrative email list. Whether it’s through consistent messaging on your social posts or special social media Linkedin advertising for lead generation, adding to your email list should be a primary goal of your social media marketing strategy.

  1. Your Emails

You probably send hundreds or even thousands of emails every month to people that haven’t yet subscribed to your list. Order and shipping confirmation emails will make up a large percentage of these, as well as people contacting you with questions and any other requests. Using these emails you can build your subscriber list and send them automated email campaigns.

Transactional emails have incredibly high engagement rates, and you can take advantage of this by encouraging a sign-up to your list. 

Always add a clear and prominent CTA in your emails, directing readers to a sign-up form or landing page. Perhaps you could sweeten the deal with special content or a discount on the next purchase if the customer signs up—always try to make the process as rewarding and as easy as possible.

Step 2: Offer Lead Magnets

Lead magnets are specific incentives that you can offer to encourage people to sign up. Some people will require an extra push to give up their details voluntarily, so a valuable and carefully thought-out incentive can make all the difference when building your list from scratch. 

But what kind of lead generation strategies are the most effective? 

The answer lies in knowing your target audience and understanding what is valuable and desirable to them. 

Lead magnets are most effective when they are directly related to your brand or industry. For example, if you sell fishing products, you would offer something useful for fishing enthusiasts such as a fishing map of the local area, or a guide to the best bait. 

The trick is to find a balance between what you can afford to create or give away, and what offers the greatest reward for your new subscribers. 

For example, puzzle retailer Jiggy offers 10% off the first order, as well as the chance of winning a free puzzle.

Let’s take a look at some more good examples of lead magnets:

  1. Amazing Content

Instantly accessible, relevant, and exclusive content makes for the perfect lead magnet, particularly if it solves a particular pain point that your potential subscriber is experiencing. 

For example, you might go to popular query websites like Quora and Reddit to find common questions related to your product or service. Answer those questions with gated content like whitepapers, how-to guides, ebooks, or listicles, which people can only access by signing up to your list. Not only does this populate your list with highly engaged and interested subscribers (the kind who are most likely to eventually make a purchase), but it boosts your brand reputation as one who is an expert in your particular field. 

Alternatively, you can offer your content regularly and freely with the expectation that interested readers will sign up for updates. If your content is compelling enough, people will look forward to your next blog post and will happily subscribe to your list to receive it directly in their inboxes each week.

  1. Exclusive Offers Or Events

People like to feel part of something exclusive, so treat your email subscribers like VIPs wherever you can. 

Holding free physical or online events is a great way to do this—you can invite industry experts or influencers to speak at your event and ask for a sign-up to attend. Other valuable events include free courses and tutorials, where you can show participants how to get the most out of your product or service. 

You can create exclusivity for your subscribers by giving them special sneak previews or early-bird deals—shoppers appreciate the chance to be always at the front of the queue for the latest hot releases.

  1. Discounts Or Gifts

A simple discount is always welcome and makes an extremely attractive incentive for potential subscribers. 

Think about it - people are already showing an interest in your brand if they are perusing your website, and may need a nudge to commit to a purchase. A small discount or another offer (free shipping, for example) can be the catalyst needed to not only sign up to your list but to make a purchase too. Not bad returns for such a small investment!

Finally, you could also consider offering relevant gifts in return for a sign-up. A free sample of one of your most popular products is the obvious choice, giving new subscribers an idea of the kind of quality they can expect from your brand and wetting their appetite for more. 

Useful Tools for List Building

Now you have an idea of some tactics for encouraging people to sign up to your list, let’s see how you can bring it all together. It’s important to find an email marketing platform that’s designed specifically with the needs of ecommerce retailers in mind and provides you with the right tools for building a thriving email list.

  1. Standard Sign-up Forms

These are the classic sign-up boxes that you’ll see on most ecommerce websites. You can place these forms throughout your site with a simple text like “Sign up to our Newsletter” or “Become a Subscriber Today.” 

The standard sign-up form gives you the flexibility to add as many fields as you choose, so you can capture as much information as possible. Because a good list contains more than just an email address! 

The more information you have about your subscribers, the better you can segment your list and the more personalized your messaging will be. At the very least, you should consider adding a field for phone numbers, so you can supplement your emails with SMS marketing. 

Other field options include things like gender, age, location, preferences, and more. However, be careful not to make your form too complicated and time-consuming. We want to make signing up as easy as possible, remember? Find a balance between getting the information that you need and making the sign-up process as simple as possible.

  1. Pop-ups

Static sign-up forms are great and should always be used, but the sad truth is that they succeed in capturing a subscriber to your list at rates of just 1.28%. To boost this number, you can explore more dynamic and effective forms—the first of which is the pop-up. 

Pop-ups have gained a reputation over the years for being intrusive and annoying. However, if they are carefully timed and used in just the right situations, they can effectively capture subscribers. The exit-intent pop-up is a great example of this, being timed to appear only when the visitor has finished their business and is ready to leave the site. 

With conversion rates rising to 4.22%, it is clear that pop-ups are a very useful addition to your blog, store, or other pages when looking to collect subscribers.

  1. Interactive Sign-up Forms

To offer a fun and memorable experience, consider interactive sign-up forms like the Wheel of Fortune. 

These forms bring an element of gamification into the process by offering visitors a chance to spin the wheel and win attractive incentives. This increase in engagement is reflected in excellent conversion rates of 12.74%. 

Simply add your incentives to the wheel (percentage discounts, free shipping, gifts, etc.) and add your desired information fields (email, phone number, etc.). As people are naturally inclined to want to try their luck, you could perhaps afford to add a couple of extra fields here and maximize your collection of information.

  1. Landing Pages

Dedicated landing pages are useful for campaigns that aim to sign up as many subscribers as possible. 

The concept is simple—you create an attractive and easy-to-navigate page that’s designed specifically for capturing subscribers, and link to this page from things like your social media feeds, emails, or ads. 

Creating your landing pages based on a particular campaign or incentive (free shipping in exchange for signing up, for example), keeps things focused and the desired outcome clear. The high conversion rates reflect this—visitors who land on your page sign up an impressive  24.82% of the time.

Wrap Up

With email as a marketing channel showing no signs of slowing down (in fact, conversion rates for email marketing campaigns nearly doubled in 2020), email has firmly consolidated its role as the go-to channel for online shopping. 

Knowing how to build and nurture a thriving email list from scratch is truly one of the most valuable skills a marketer can have—a well-built email list has the potential to become your primary source of revenue. Growing and maintaining your list is a never-ending task that should be kept at the forefront of your marketing strategy. 

Luckily, it’s not an overly complicated task.

Just remember to take full advantage of the tools and features that your email marketing platform offers (a good platform will offer many), follow the 2 simple steps outlined in this article, and work at it patiently and consistently. 

Give it a little time, and soon you’ll have a thriving and lucrative list of engaged subscribers eagerly awaiting your updates and promotions!

3 Strategies for Growing Your Gaming eCommerce Business

If you have a plan to delve into the world of eCommerce and find the gaming sector is the niche you want to focus on, there are several tips and strategies to use to boost your chances of making a successful business. Even if you have already set up your eCommerce platform these tips and strategies will still be of use if you are looking to increase your customer base and thus your revenues. The eCommerce sector is booming in this modern age, but this also means that it is a sector of business that is becoming more crowded every day. Follow these three brief strategies to ensure that your gaming eCommerce business stays ahead of the curve.

Do perpetual market research

Market research should be an integral part of any eCommerce business—not just in the early days of forming your business plan and determining your target markets and key competitors, but also as your business grows so that you can keep up with consumer trends. For instance, good market research in the gaming sector should indicate the rise in popularity of professional eSports and the increasing numbers of gamers who want to stream their gaming sessions to their own growing numbers of fans. Being aware of these trends will allow you to tailor an effective marketing strategy that fits with your customer base. If your budget is small and your gaming eCommerce business is in its early stages, one strategy backed by market research could be to advertise on the YouTube or Twitch channel of a pro gamer who has a growing fan base—the costs involved will be much lower than more mainstream conventional advertising channels and you will be reaching the specific gaming niche you are looking for.

Do not underestimate local trade shows

Whilst eCommerce can attract global consumers, it also makes good business sense to have a business presence locally. Perhaps your gaming eCommerce business centers around selling 1080p gaming PCs and you want to build your customer base both internationally and at a local level. You can build valuable connections at gaming trade shows both with your potential customers and industry specialists, whilst also having a look at how your competitors operate. It is easy to lose sight of such business opportunities in the world of eCommerce when much of your time may be spent online, but such events can produce beneficial business connections and build on your market research.

Keep customers engaged with your website

Your eCommerce website should be regularly updated, taking onboard market research and buyer behavior to tailor the website and its promotions to what your core target market wants. Having a blog section in your website can also be a good piece of business practice as regular content will engage and attract potential customers when it is focused on their niche. Interviews with the rising stars of gaming show your passion for the industry, and reviews of the latest gaming PCs or software (with links in the text to the product itself in your store) can also help to convert readers into buyers.

How to Promote Your YouTube Channel?

YouTube ranks as the 2nd largest search engine giant after its parent – Google. More than 500 hours of content are uploaded on YouTube every minute. With this said, you cannot afford to be lost in the sea of videos.

Every YouTuber has a preset goal. For instance, they’ll want to increase subscribers for YouTube Channel, boost viewers' count on videos, and so on. Hence, SEO for YouTube Channel is the least essential to meet these goals.

We’re here with some striking ideas for promote your YouTube channel that’ll pave your way to YouTube search engine optimization. Have a look.

9 Trending Inspirations to Promote & Rank YouTube Videos

  1. Emphasize on Thumbnail Images

Creating a YouTube thumbnail is often an overwhelming task. But, do you know? It is one of the best YouTube SEO tactics often ignored. Learn to create unique, interactive & trending thumbnails for your videos using YouTube thumbnail maker.

YouTube thumbnails are magnets attracting viewers. Your videos may get more views if you understand the benefits of creating exciting thumbnails. Make it a big hit with awesome editing apps like YouTube banner maker.

Here are a few instances of the best YouTube Thumbnails.

Before you start designing yours, keep a few things in mind:

  • Your thumbnail should be within the 2MB size limit

  • Try for a 16:9 aspect ratio

  • Only use image formats like .JPG, .PNG, .BMP, or .GIF

  • The minimum width is 640px.

  1. Let your Video Title do the Talking

The second important thing after a thumbnail is a descriptive title. Your viewers should get an idea of what this video will be shared by just looking up the title. The trick is to add searchable keywords with power words to keep your YouTube SEO optimization on point.

You can say that the best YouTube video title is the one that’s created through both – viewers’ & search engines’ viewpoints. Keep your keywords in the first half & elaborate in the other half.

For instance, a tutorial on adding a drop-down list on Google sheets may be entitled as:

How to add a drop-down list in Google Sheets | Step-by-step Tutorial for Beginners

Or

Create drop-down list in Google Sheets | 2-minute Way

  1. Practice Reverse-engineering of Google SERPs

It gets a lot easier to drive maximum YouTube traffic or rank YouTube videos if you ace reverse-engineering of Google SERPs. In other words, you’ll have to work out finding search keywords that only display video results. Try different search term variations and perform a deep drill on keywords favoring your Channel.

Here’s an example of “funny videos”. It makes sense if your YouTube Channel is about Entertainment with comedy clips or prank videos. After all, nobody is interested in reading an article about this.

funny videos.png

Similarly, if you own a Dance tutorial channel then go with keywords like “wedding dance performance ideas”, “wedding dance on Bollywood songs”, “bride performance ideas”, etc.

  1. Don’t Forget to Include CTA


Each YouTube video should accompany a call-to-action. If you don’t have any third-party products to target then promote your brand itself. But, don’t forget to include a CTA. Your viewer is supposed to engage with your site, view products/services, or show interest in your brand after watching your videos.

As per YouTube, a user performs any of these four actions:

  • Subscribe to your YouTube channel

  • Watch more videos

  • Like/Share a video

  • Leave a comment

You’ve got many chances for driving YouTube traffic hereafter. Here are a few ideas to promote your YouTube channel you may like to try:

  • Request users to subscribe and hit the bell icon for the latest updates after the Intro

  • Add pleasing Outros with a clickable subscribe button featuring your latest channel subscriber count

  • Place links in the description box for inviting users to click

  • Share social media links to grow your Instagram followers

Choose whichever feels right for your video. Ultimately, your YouTube audience should benefit from your website or social media traffic.

  1. Keep your Videos Open to Embed

One of the best ways to increase views, likes, and subscribes to your YouTube channel is allowing embedding. This simply means that you’re allowing users to re-publish your videos on websites, blogs, or other channels. Besides benefiting them to explain content better, you get more exposure. But, don’t forget to mention that creators can use your content and they’ll have to give credits to your channel.

  1. Opt for Cross-media-marketing of YouTube Videos

You can easily think about influencer marketing. But it’s less often than people realize to utilize the power of social media presence to promote your YouTube channel. If you’re pondering on how to SEO YouTube videos then here’s your take. Shoot emails with newsletters, blogs, or social media accounts. Have a dedicated section on your website homepage enhancing your presence on YouTube. Publish relevant blogs where you can link your videos.

In short, do everything in your power to let people know you have a YouTube channel too & vice versa. 

  1. Make Playlists

Grouping relevant videos allows YouTubers to be viewed more. Create a playlist of similar videos so that the next video in this playlist runs with autoplay & tada! You get more views. Another benefit is that your search ranking boosts.

If possible, make episodes or a series of videos instead of publishing it all in one long video. This will make your content easily accessible and less boring to watch. Your viewers will stick to your channel & you’ll get opportunities to be more searchable.

  1. Be Consistent with your Video Series

Why would a user subscribe to your YouTube channel if you aren’t regular in publishing content? This is just a cue to be more consistent and publish video series so that viewers show interest in subscribing to your channel. One of the best examples is Moz’s Whiteboard Friday series.

The idea is to give them a reason to return. This means you’ll need so many juicy ideas!

  1. Prefer user Engagement via Collaborations, Contests & Response Videos

User engagement is a give and get relationship. If you’re willing to drive user engagement, you’ll have to engage with them too. In other words, keep live connections with your subscribers. Reply to their comments actively, keep collaborating with brands & keep up with trends.

At the end of the day, YouTube is a social media platform, right! You’ll drive maximum benefit with real-time connections & genuine user engagement.

Key Takeaway

YouTube traffic for videos is as important as leads for websites. Thus, you cannot ignore YouTube SEO and expect your Channel to grow. Besides sketching out how to promote your YouTube channel and video ideas, know which apps can help you drive maximum traffic. Utilize editing apps like Intro Maker, Banner Maker, and so on to ease your efforts. After all, it’s little things that make for big success. Don’t you agree?