FrankenSpot

How to Build An Inbound Marketing Platform Without Using HubSpot

HubSpot pioneered the Inbound Marketing methodology and developed our software around building effective, cross-channel marketing campaigns. HubSpot offers a feature-rich, all-in-one marketing platform, with access to the entire suite with one log-in. All your information is in one place. HubSpot Support is accessible any day of the week, so you can call them or have them call you. And the HubSpot Academy offers free, easy resources to learn inbound and the software.

But HubSpot is not for everyone.

Some marketers don’t want to build a full inbound funnel – for example, they may want to focus on community engagement via social media without worrying about converting their followers. They would prefer the flexibility of cobbling together the specific tools they need. Other marketers prefer to save money instead of saving time by integrating free or low-cost tools, sacrificing having all of their contacts, marketing channels, and analytics in one place. We get it. And we want you to succeed.

Enter FrankenSpot.

We’ve taken a crack at figuring out how you could build HubSpot by combining WordPress, WordPress plugins, and other products. We tried to strike a balance between feature parity with HubSpot and minimizing costs. Below is one assemblage of potential products and tools you could use.

Disclaimers

What You'll Need to Build FrankenSpot

Part 1: How to Mimic HubSpot’s Content Optimization System (includes Website, Blogging, Email, SEO, Forms, and CTAs)

HubSpot's Content Optimization System (COS) ties your content into a full-funnel marketing system, optimizes it for search, adjusts to mobile, and even allows you to tailor your website to different visitors. The COS flows throughout pages you build on HubSpot, whether it’s your “About Us” page, a blog post, or a landing page. HubSpot blogging software helps you rank on search engines and attract quality leads for your business. Additionally, HubSpot includes SEO recommendations and optimization, conversion-focused form building, and call-to-action creation across your website.

To mimic the HubSpot's Content Optimization System you could instead combine all of the following:

WordPress: a blogging and content management system with thousands of plugins, widgets, and themes.
Monthly Price: $0


WPtouch: ships with several mobile-optimized themes, meticulously designed & developed for quality, speed and ease of use. WPtouch extensions include caching, responsive images, and mobile content.
Monthly Price: $5.75 - $29


WP MarketingSuite: allows you to target content to visitors, based on their current location, how they got to your site, what devices they are on, and custom URL parameters.
Monthly Price: $1.60 - $4.10


Gravity Forms: build and style forms, incorporate conditional logic, and more.
Monthly Price: $3.25 - $8.45



Shutterstock: subscribe to a stock image site that provides unlimited access to images to use in content, and across your website.
Monthly Price: $29 - $199

MaxButtons: Pro version lets you create and customize your own buttons and calls-to-action right on your site.
Monthly Price: $0 - $8.25


Yoast WordPress SEO: content analysis & optimization, XML Sitemaps generator, redirect manager, integration with Google Webmaster Tools.
Monthly Price: $0 - $7.40


Better WordPress Google XML Sitemaps: a WordPress XML sitemap plugin that has support for Google News sitemap, Sitemap Index and Multi-site.
Monthly Price: $0


Integrity: a desktop tool that provides link checking functionality to manually remove all broken links and to fix all redirections.
Monthly Price: $0 - $0.67


Google Analytics: shows you the full customer picture across ads and videos, websites and social tools, tablets and smartphones.
Monthly Price: $0

Part 2: How to Mimic HubSpot's Website Hosting, Speed Optimization, and Security

Companies who go all-in by moving their website to HubSpot see their visits rise by 39% and their landing page submissions increase by 47%, outperforming their peers by 10-20%.

HubSpot defends all our customers' websites against site vulnerabilities and attacks. Also built into your HubSpot account at no additional charge is a content delivery network (CDN) and powerful Web Application Accelerator (WAA) by Akamai. So whether you're across the street or the globe, your content will load in the fastest time possible (faster than other website platforms).

To mimic these benefits you could instead combine all of the following products, plugins, and services:

WPEngine: WordPress hosting with daily backups, firewall, malware scare, caching, and CDN integration.
Monthly Price: $29 - $249


Wordfence: includes a firewall, anti-virus scanning, malicious URL scanning, and live traffic including crawlers. Wordfence can verify and repair your core, theme and plugin files.
Monthly Price: $0 - $3.90

Login Lockdown: records the IP address and timestamp of every failed login attempt. If more than a certain number of attempts are detected within a short period of time from the same IP range, then the login function is disabled for that IP range.
Monthly Price: $0


Akismet: anti-spam protection for blog comments.
Monthly Price: $5 -$50


RapidSSL: secures domains and subdomains with strong encryption.
Monthly Price: $49 - $199

Part 3: How to Mimic HubSpot's Landing Pages

All landing pages are used to convert visitors into leads, but how about making that experience more personal? HubSpot landing pages allow you to show different segments content based on their interest or lifecycle stage. The result? Higher conversions and delighted visitors.

To mimic HubSpot's Landing Pages you could instead use:

Unbounce: offers a template library, landing page builder, forms & confirmation pages, and user management.
Monthly Price: $49 - $99

Part 4: How to Mimic HubSpot's Social Inbox

You want to know what your customers and leads are saying about you on social media. But how do you know who’s who? HubSpot’s Social Inbox plugs into your contacts database, color-codes your customers and leads, helps you prioritize your engagement, and delivers real social ROI. It’s the context you need to stop wasting time with impersonal connections and disconnected conversations.

To mimic HubSpot's Social Inbox you could instead use:

Social Report: an all-in-one social media management and reporting solution that efficiently allows you to track and also manage all of your social network accounts from one place.
Monthly Price: $9 - $79

Part 5: How to Mimic HubSpot's Email Tool

Most email software only allows you to upload a list and send to it. Because it's integrated with lead generation tools, HubSpot helps you attract new subscribers and grow your list over time. Even better? Using personalization features and marketing automation, you can ensure that your emails match the unique interests of each recipient.

To mimic HubSpot's Email tool you could instead combine the following:

MailChimp: offers email subscriber profiles, automation and personalization, optimization, and analytics.
Monthly Price: $0 - $25


MailChimp for WordPress: integrates Mailchimp with Wordpress. Also offers forms, themes, statistics, and more.
Monthly Price: $4.10

Part 6: How to Mimic HubSpot's Contacts & Lead Management

Say goodbye to disconnected tools and disparate databases. HubSpot brings data from every touchpoint with your leads into one clean view that you and your sales team will love.

To mimic HubSpot's Contacts tool and lead management capabilities you could instead use:

Leadin: Easy-to-use marketing automation and lead tracking plugin for WordPress that helps you better understand your website visitors.
Monthly Price: $0

Part 7: How to Mimic HubSpot's Integrated Analytics & Optimization

Improving and optimizing your marketing starts with understanding your marketing data. With HubSpot’s inbound marketing software platform, you have access to integrated metrics that span your contacts database, marketing content and website traffic - all in one platform.

To mimic HubSpot's integrated analytics you could instead use:

Moz Anaytics: Moz Analytics: offers reporting and performance insight for your rankings, traffic, links, social media, content, and brand marketing.
Monthly Price: $99 - $249

Part 8: How to Mimic HubSpot's Interconnected Marketing Automation

With HubSpot’s interconnected tools, you can use real-time marketing data to provide relevant, contextual marketing experiences to every contact in your database. This is marketing automation that spans your whole strategy.

It is not possible to effectively mimic -- across the full set of products and plugins above -- the type of marketing automation that HubSpot offers.

The Cost of FrankenSpot

Part A: The "Sticker Price"

If you opt for the lower cost version of everything above and cut out 1) SSL and 2) integrated analytics and optimization, you can get your monthly costs below $200. On the other hand, if you opt for the upper range, you’ll exceed $1000 per month. If you go straight down the middle (taking the average cost of each product and plugin), you'll arrive at $630 per month.

It’s important to note that we purposefully did not list the highest end options here. For example, on the upper end of social media management you might consider Sprout Social’s “Team” package at $500 / month. On the upper end of integrated analytics you could secure Kissmetrics Pro for $2000 / month.

Part B: The Real Cost of FrankenSpot

The above list illuminates the sheer volume of products, services and plugins that would be required to create a “HubSpot-like” toolbox. What a simple list like this misses, though, is the multiplicative amount of time required with each additional product. These are a few areas where you should expect significant demands on your time should you opt for a self-assembled inbound marketing toolbox:

Support

If you have a question, concern, or if something breaks, there’s no one place you can turn for help. Instead, you must navigate dozens of different websites, phone numbers, support forums, etc. Some of these products have dedicated companies behind them while others are maintained by individual professionals and hobbyists. If something breaks, it may not get fixed.

Maintenance

You are on the hook for installing each individual plugin and ensuring WordPress itself and all plugins are up-to-date. WordPress recently made it easier to update plugins, but you will still be left with over a dozen products which you must check for updates and re-learn as updates are released.

Integration

We worked hard to build the above list, but you should likely research each area and ensure each plugin plays well with the others. WordPress plugins are notorious for fighting with each other and not always working with new versions of the CMS. If everything integrates today, it might not tomorrow.  You can use a (surprise!) plugin –  Better Plugin Compatibility Control  – to monitor whether your plugins are compatible with the current WordPress version.  You may need to map certain fields from tool to tool and install pieces of code (e.g., for tracking) that allow the various products to talk with one another.

Bug Fixing

If one plugin breaks, it’s up to you to figure out whether you broke it, whether there’s a bug in the plugin, or whether the bug emerged from conflict between two plugins. You may need to give plugin developers admin access to your website to get the bugs fixed. If you know PHP, JavaScript, and/or CSS you may be able to contribute to WordPress by fixing the bugs you find.

Bloat Fixing

Plugins and themes can cause WordPress sites to load at a snail’s pace. Sometimes a plugin’s data will weigh down WordPress, sometimes outdated plugin code will slow your site down, and sometimes you simply end up having added too many plugins for WordPress to handle. You may need to test your site to determine what is slowing it down and/or install additional plugins designed to help speed up other plugins.

Styling

To ensure brand consistency, you will need to manually copy your brand styles across various tools. The approach to styling may be different from product to product, so it may be impossible to ensure complete consistency across email, landing pages, blogs, web pages, etc.

Aggregation and Repetition

Because these tools were not intentionally designed to work as a seamless team, you will likely need to do some manual work aggregating data and metrics across all of the products and plugins. Additionally, it may be hard to automate tasks across tools and/or use the data from one product to inform the work of another. You will likely need to create work-arounds or manual workflows to ensure information in one silo makes it to another.

Obsolescence

Given that many plugins are side projects for talented developers, it is not uncommon the creator to change priorities and cease work on the plugin. As WordPress releases new versions these dormant plugins will become out-dated, and then bug-prone, and then extinct.

Redundancy

Most plugins were not explicitly built with the expectation that they sit alongside specific other plugins. This means many of the feature-sets will overlap with one another. For example, Mailchimp, Unbounce, and Leadin all offer various tools for lead maintenance. You will need to compare features in these overlapping areas, ensure your data is going down the right tube and teach your team which features to use / not use on each product.

Account Management & Contracting

You will need separate logins for many of these tools and you will need to establish and monitor invoicing and payments for some of the paid products.

Education

You and your team will be on your own to learn all of these different tools. There are strong free and paid online courses for building up your expertise in WordPress. The level of instruction and knowledge available across the other products and plugins will vary. You may need to create internal how-to documents to help your team members understand and navigate various tools, since things like user interfaces and terminology will vary across tools.

Evaluation & Decision-Making

There are nearly 40,000 plugins available for download from the WordPress Plugin Directory. It’s incredible to have access to so many tools, but it can also be overwhelming. Some are free while some are paid. Some are high quality while others might break your site. Some play well together while others fight. Prepare to spend significant time researching and evaluating different plugins, and (depending on your organization) building consensus across your team around each decision.

How does this compare to HubSpot?

From attracting visitors to closing customers, HubSpot brings your entire marketing funnel together. The end result? Less hassle, more control, and an inbound marketing strategy that actually works.

get a free inbound marketing assessment

Disclaimers

  • We did not do a feature-by-feature comparison. Some of these tools may have bells & whistles that HubSpot does not offer. Likewise, this collection certainly cannot fully recreate the individual features of HubSpot or the all-in-one, full-funnel experience.
  • We did not test run all of these plugins and products together. Listing them is not an endorsement. We cannot provide support for making this assemblage work.
  • Prices and feature descriptions are from July 2015 – features may have changed, prices may have increased or decreased, some products may have been discontinued, and new products may exist.