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Inbound Content Marketing

Should We Build Our Site On WordPress or Hubspot?

By October 31, 2019No Comments
Graphic showing Wordpress vs Hubspot as a CMS platform

The power of Hubspot vs. the flexibility of WordPress… that is the question.

Which platform makes sense for you?

Once you’ve decided to move forward with Hubspot to manage the back-end of your inbound content marketing intiatives, one of the first questions you need to answer is, “Should we build our site on WordPress or Hubspot?”.  Of course, there are other options as well.

We are huge proponents of the Hubspot ecosystem.  They’ve built an amazing tool for building & optimizing robust content marketing initiatives.  They’ve also seamlessly integrated those lead-generating tools with sales team processes.  This creates incredible opportunities to build synergies between marketing and sales.

On the other hand, integrating Hubspot with your current site or building out on a platform like WordPress has it’s own advantages.

Like most things in life, there are trade-offs.  We’ll explore some of those trade-offs between Hubspot and WordPress below.

Which platform as a CMS?

Graphic showing Wordpress vs Hubspot as a CMS platform

Top Reasons to Choose Hubspot

Quick campaign deployment, dynamic content customization & more

As you already know, Hubspot makes integrating all of the pieces of your inbound content marketing exponentially easier than trying to cobble together piecemealed solutions.

As they’ve built their COS/CMS, they’ve done a fantastic job of ensuring marketing-centric users have intuitive control over their site without needing developers to handle the day-to-day updates.  If you can create pages and posts in WordPress, you’ll have no problem creating pages and posts in Hubspot.

Like any professional platform, there’s a learning curve.  But from an ease-of-use standpoint, they’ve nailed it.  Drag-and-drop editors, simplified SEO, form integration and all of the other core functionality you’d expect – it’s there and it’s easy to use.

What separates Hubspot from WordPress and the other CMS platforms?

The ease of deploying landing pages and other campaign needs

One of the biggest upsides to using Hubspot as your CMS is how quickly and easily you can deploy content – specifically landing pages to support campaigns.  Once your templates are setup, it is silly easy to launch a new landing page.  Not only can you launch the pages easily, they’ve made it dead simple to split test those pages – automatically capturing the data to help you choose which pages are performing best.

A/B Testing Landing Pages

Screenshot showing how to split test a landing page in Hubspot

Smart Content – dynamically loading custom content based on the user

If there was one feature that would be incredibly difficult to replicate using another CMS, it’s Hubspot’s ability to load custom content within your site based on the user that’s visiting.  This is done by creating smart rules.  Want to display different content based on the location the user is visiting from?  Sure.  Want to display different content for mobile users vs. desktop users?  You got it.

More powerfully, the real magic happens once a cookie has been placed on the visitor’s browser and they’ve become a lead (they’ve completed a form, etc.).  From there, you can customize your content based on whatever properties you’ve collected from that user.

A few examples of how smart content can be customized with Hubspot’s CMS:
  • Country: display content to your viewer based on their country. The country is determined by the IP address of the visitor.

  • Device type: specify which device this smart content is centered around (mobile, tablet, or desktop). HubSpot looks at what is called the user agent of your visitor’s browser to determine their device type. Since this can sometimes be changed on the device, HubSpot cannot always guarantee accurate segmentation.

  • Referral source: show visitors your smart content based on how they found your site.

  • Preferred language: personalize your content based on the language set within the user’s web browser.

  • Contact list membership: show a contact in your HubSpot database certain content dependent on whether or not they’re a member of one of your HubSpot lists.

  • Lifecycle stage: this will look at the lifecycle stage property of a contact in your HubSpot database and display the relevant content based on the value of this field.

Maintaining your site is all about content, not the platform

If you’re coming from WordPress or similar platforms, you know that there are constant maintenance requirements.  WordPress itself needs to be updated.  Themes need to be updated.  Plugins need to be updated.  Since plugins, themes and WordPress are all created by different developers, you often run into situations where updating once piece breaks something else and needs to be fixed.  This is all manageable, but it’s definitely a consideration.

With Hubspot, you don’t have that consideration.  They ensure all needed updates are applied automatically and because it’s almost all being built by a single development team, you aren’t going to run into conflicts.

Hubspot consolidates many of the other back-end pieces that need to be handled

If you’ve been personally involved with the launch, hosting and other back-end needs of your website, you know there are a lot of needs that need to funnel into that site.  Is your hosting setup correctly and optimized for speed and security?  Are you using a CDN (Content Delivery Network)?  Is DNS managed correctly?  There’s ensuring Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel and your other tracking tools are setup correctly.  Are you correctly connected to your marketing email provider?

This is just scratching the surface, but Hubspot handles all of these things and more.

Table showing security features of Hubspot as a CMS platform vs Wordpress

Why WordPress may be a better CMS option than Hubspot

Hubspot is awesome, but it’s not all cupcakes and rainbows

We’ll say it again.  We really love the Hubspot ecosystem.  However, if you took a look at the source code for our site, you’d see it’s built on WordPress and not Hubspot’s CMS.  That’s not us endorsing going one way or the other.  That’s simply what made sense for our business.

For all of the efficiencies and functionality you gain out-of-the-box with Hubspot, there are reasons why it may make more sense to use another platform as your CMS.  “As your CMS” is the key phrase there.  Hubspot integrates with WordPress (and just about any other platform) very easily.  We absolutely recommend using Hubspot to anchor  your inbound content marketing intiatives.  Whether you ultimately decide to build your actual website on Hubspot is really dependent on your unique situation.

So why would you choose WordPress over Hubspot as your CMS?

Your website is already built

If your organization is moving forward with Hubspot but already has a robust, well-built website, it will often make sense to add Hubspot to your current CMS rather than rebuild on Hubspot’s.  With a few exceptions (e.g. Smart Content), you can get almost all of the functionality out of Hubspot within your current CMS.

Keeping your site as-is means everyone involved with maintaining your site doesn’t need to go through the Hubspot learning curve.

Hubspot’s team will make every attempt to clone the look, feel and functionality of your current site, but there are limitations to what they can and will do.  If you’ve invested heavily in customizations to your current site, there’s a fairly good chance that Hubspot’s team won’t be able to emulate everything.  That’s especially true with above-and-beyond design elements – things like advanced parallax movements, complex navigation menus and more.

WordPress has much better developer support

There are some fantastic folks at Hubspot, and in the developer community as a whole, who can manhandle Hubspot’s COS platform to their/your liking.  However, as big as Hubspot has become, it’s still miniscule in comparrison to the very mature WordPress CMS platform.  In other words, finding a great WordPress developer is easy.  Finding great Hubspot developers can be a bit more challenging and will come at a premium cost.  If you have more complex requirements, whether design related or functionality related, you’ll want to weight these development costs and limitations.

Building on Hubspot means you’re locked into Hubspot

Hubspot is not an inexpensive piece of software.  Their Marketing Pro platform is going to run you somewhere in the $10K-18K range in year one (monthly cost + required onboarding).

If you build your website on Hubspot’s COS, you’re committing to continuing with Hubspot at the Marketing Pro level at a minimum.  That’s not inherently bad by any means.  The upside in functionality is there.  However, if you later decide to move in another direction, it’s going to require completely rebuilding your site on another platform.  Depending on your site, that will come with it’s own significant cost.

Support for 3rd-party applications is much stronger in WordPress

Again, this really comes down to your organization’s unique requirements.  Hubspot has done a good job creating plug and play integrations with many of the big-ticket players, but with WordPress powering roughly a 1/3 of the internet, the support there isn’t even a close competition.  There’s simply way more support for 3rd-party requirements using WordPress.

That’s not to say there isn’t workaround in many cases.  Zapier is a great solution for creating connections between Hubspot and the other SaaS tools your company uses.  If you need native integrations however, you’re going to want to make sure to do your homework.

Hubspot is really great at marketing sites – not so much transactional sites.

If your site is primarily transactional in nature (primarily eCommerce), Hubspot won’t be your best option as a CMS platform.  They have a high-powered integration with Shopify.  It also plays really well with all of the WordPress-based eCommerce components (WooCommerce, BigCommerce, etc).  Using Hubspot to anchor your marketing for those eCommerce sites is something absolutely recommend.  You’re just not going to build the site itself on the Hubspot COS.

So who’s the winner?

Choosing Hubspot or WordPress really does come down to your unique situation

To wrap this article up, we are very likely to recommend Hubspot as the foundation for your digital marketing.  Deciding whether to build on Hubspot’s COS platform or go with WordPress depends on your unique situation.

If you’re looking to leverage every available tool within the software you’re paying for, then building on Hubspot is a great option.  If you’re looking for more flexibility and greater developer support, you might consider WordPress or another platform.

If you’d like to talk through your unique situation, we’d be happy to have that conversation.  You can schedule a time to have that conversation right here.

Steve Forcash

Steve Forcash leads a team of digital marketing professionals in The San Francisco Bay Area through 4S Design Studio – a Hubspot Partner & Inbound Content Marketing agency.