From Funnel to Flywheel: HubSpot Comes Full Circle

HubSpot’s brand is almost synonymous with inbound marketing. But at its annual user conference, INBOUND 2018, HubSpot acknowledged that it takes more than a great inbound marketing and sales funnel to build and grow a business. Here’s my take on this, and on a few of HubSpot’s other conference announcements.

Pivot from Funnel to Flywheel

For me, the biggest news was HubSpot’s pivot from funnel to flywheel. Executives announced that HubSpot was ditching the funnel in favor of what it termed the flywheel.

Until recently, when it launched its HubSpot Service Hub solution, HubSpot focused heavily on the inbound marketing approach. The gist of inbound marketing is to provide relevant, helpful digital content in order to engage strangers, bring them into your marketing and sales funnel, and turn them into customers.

Now, HubSpot is embracing the flywheel. While flywheel may sound like a fancy term, it basically means that sales, marketing and customer service and experience are intertwined. Why now? Probably because HubSpot didn’t have a customer service solution until May of this year, when it launched Service Hub, an all-in-one customer service system that changes the way growing businesses approach and deliver customer support.

But better late than never!  Because the fastest, easiest and least expensive growth path is to provide existing customers with a great experience—so they’ll buy more and recommend your business to new customers: Depending on which study you read, acquiring a new customer is five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.

Enterprise Edition Debuts

HubSpot’s target market has always been small and medium businesses. At INBOUND, the vendor announced availability of new Sales Hub and Service Hub Enterprise offerings,  updates to its Marketing Hub Enterprise product, and the availability of all three for a discounted price as part of a bundled offering.

But don’t let the term “enterprise” fool you. HubSpot has geared Enterprise Suite solutions to midsize and upper mid-market companies of up to about 2,000 employees—not the Fortune 500. The suite is designed to keep HubSpot Professional edition users in the HubSpot fold as they grow and their requirements become more complex.

Sales Hub Enterprise gives users new capabilities (beyond Professional) such as playbooks, call transcription and recording, recurring revenue trading, and predictive lead scoring. Service Hub Enterprise includes features to help users to track performance against service-level agreements. HubSpot also upgraded Marketing Hub Enterprise with new analytics and custom bot features.  The three editions are fully integrated, and connect via APIs to over 200 free integrations, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Slack, Google, Shopify, and WordPress.

Starter Edition Gets the Service Hub

Last year, HubSpot launched Marketing Hub Starter and Sales Hub Starter. This year, it announced that it has added email marketing—a staple for many small businesses—into Marketing Hub Starter. HubSpot also introduced Service Hub to the Starter lineup to round out its CRM offering for small businesses and startups.

Service Hub Starter offers small businesses capabilities to track and respond to customer issues in real-time, with tickets, helpdesk, live chat, and service reporting tools.

Pricing for each solution (sales, marketing and service) is $50 per user per month—arguable a bit pricey compare to some rival solutions. HubSpot  offers a 25% off discount when users buy all three—recognizing that in small businesses, individuals often wear multiple hats.

These Starter and Enteprise adds give HubSpot three full tiers of sales, marketing and service products.

Free CRM is Still Free—and So Are Conversations

HubSpot’s free CRM, which offers basics such as contact management, company records, Outlook and Gmail integration, forms, Facebook and Instagram lead ads, a lead analytics dashboard and more (, is still free for businesses just starting down the CRM path. The free version also continues to provide HubSpot with an inbound marketing engine of its own to upsell users to paid version.

HubSpot also added another freebie—Conversations—to the hook. Conversations provides live chat, team email and a chatbot builder, to help businesses engage with prospects and customers in a personal, yet scalable way.


Positive customer experience and the resulting word of mouth is the best marketing experience a brand can get. By adding a customer service solution to all three editions, HubSpot can now provide its customers with the tools needed to improve customer experience throughout the marketing, sales and service lifecycle.

As important, all of HubSpot’s solutions, from free CRM to Starter to Enterprise, and from marketing to sales to service, are built on the same platform. Customers can easily move from one edition to the next, and integrate new capabilities on they need in an incremental, yet integrated manner.

HubSpot is well-positioned to take advantage of this. The Enterprise Suite should help HubSpot retain more customers that in the past, would have previously outgrown the solution. Meanwhile, Conversations give HubSpot another attractive free offering—aka inbound marketing tool– that it can use for lead generation in the entry-level market.


Source: Laurie McCabe’s Blog

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