Zoho vs. Hubspot — which system is better at amping up your sales? Spoiler: each one has its sway.
Standardizing customer-related business processes is vital to amplifying productivity of your sales, marketing, and customer support units, as well as improving conversion rates. To draw on these and other opportunities that arise from their business development efforts, companies go for CRM implementation and optimization.
The challenge is how to choose a CRM system that fully aligns with your business objectives without draining your budget along the way. The best way to make the right decision is an all-around comparison of different software solutions.
For this article, which zooms on the Zoho vs. HubSpot standoff, we’ve rounded up the opinions of seven experts with real-world experience in both CRM systems.
HubSpot vs. Zoho CRM: a tug of war for businesses’ attention
We’ve compared HubSpot vs. Zoho CRM according to a plethora of parameters, from cost, ease of setup, and user experience to customizability, available integrations, reporting options, and tech support accessibility.
Both CRM platforms provide freemium options that allow you to get a sneak peek into their features and evaluate which one is the most beneficial for your business.
Nevertheless, Zoho and HubSpot represent two different pricing models.
Zoho offers four plans to choose from – Standard, Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate. The cost increases gradually, from $22 to $70 (at the time of publication) per user monthly, so the highest-tier offering is only 3.5 times more expensive than the starting package. Also, consider that you can cancel your subscription anytime.
HubSpot has three pricing plans – Starter, Professional, and Enterprise. The entry-level set will cost you only $18 monthly. This price includes two paid users for Sales Hub, so the offering may look way more advantageous compared to Zoho.
However, if you need broader CRM capabilities and advanced features, moving to the higher packages will cost you a pretty cent – the Enterprise plan is 200 times more pricey than the Starter. Moreover, HubSpot requires you to sign a one-year subscription agreement. You can pay monthly, but you’ll be able to terminate the contract only after one year.
HubSpot pricing plans are more expensive, but you can create unlimited free users with the most basic functionality in this CRM. Zoho packages are much more affordable, but you have to pay for each user.
The true cost of the system depends very much on its configuration. After all, businesses use a CRM solution not only for managing sales and marketing activities. The system is also utilized by administrative users, accounting team members, etc., who don’t need extensive features.
Based on my experience, the richer the functionality of each user has to be, the more unprofitable HubSpot is. Conversely, the simpler the functionality of each role, the more profitable HubSpot will pay off.
Therefore, if you have a large sales team, Zoho is a clear winner. But if you have just a few sales managers and a variety of other roles that can benefit from the basic free CRM functionality, then HubSpot’s Starter plan looks like a godsend.— Vitali Shchyhlinski, VP of Business Development, *instinctools
2. Setup and onboarding
Zoho requires devoting a sizable chunk of your time to configuration at the onset of the system implementation. To make the CRM more user-friendly, you have to streamline workflows and organize a slew of existing and custom contact fields in advance to simplify sales activities. It can take your staff up to two months to get used to the new system.
HubSpot can also require fine-tuning, but compared to Zoho, this CRM can be used right after setup, even by first-time users – onboarding usually takes a day or two. Therefore, here we put a good word for this CRM platform.
3. Navigation and overall UX
According to reviews on Zoho CRM, users often need extra coaching and support to control the system’s features, albeit with a seemingly clean and straightforward user interface.
Take a look at the screenshot below. As you can see, there are tons of tabs and icons in the navigation panel. Do you have an intuitive idea of which one you should open to create an automated email?
That’s the point. The task automation menu is hidden under the “Settings” icon. Such non-obvious steps can increase your employees’ resistance to change, putting successful CRM adoption at stake.
HubSpot user interface is visually driven and, therefore, seems more predictable – you don’t need to wrap your head around finding the option you need. Navigation is obvious and easy to grasp, even for non-tech savvy staff. This system is proactive, it’s designed to cooperate with a user and provide action options based on their behavior.
Here are the reviews on the HubSpot UI and UX left by independent users.
Unlike in Zoho, in HubSpot you don’t need to struggle with finding the feature, as the CRM suggests possible options.
If you are looking for your first CRM, HubSpot can become your heavy hitter on the road to business process standardization.
As I see it, having experience with both software solutions, HubSpot is an intuitive CRM that is easy to plunge into and grasp from day one. Non-technical staff can deal with it unassisted.— Alesya Vianherskaya, Senior Account Executive, *instinctools
I’d like to add that HubSpot provides its users with a rich and easy-to-understand knowledge base. It’s like an internal Google version of HubSpot where you can find a detailed answer to any question regarding the CRM.— Anna Vasileuskaya, Senior Account Executive, *instinctools
Zoho usually gets points for its unlimited customization options, and we can bet our bottom dollar that HubSpot won’t beat it in terms of the number of custom fields that can be added and organized the way you wish. However, it’s important to highlight one nuance of the HubSpot CRM vs. Zoho comparison.
It’s quite easy to over-customize Zoho to the point that the system will become challenging for first-time users.— Anna Vasileuskaya, Senior Account Executive, *instinctools
When it comes to sales activities, Zoho provides detailed contact filtration, but that is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s a benefit you can leverage to manage your contacts efficiently. On the flip side, for employees new to the CRM platform, this will be a showstopper that makes using the system without the guidance of more experienced colleagues pretty tricky.— Alesya Vianherskaya, Senior Account Executive, *instinctools
Nevertheless, we still give kudos to Zoho here, as experienced users will appreciate the customization options the CRM offers. As for novice employees, you can alleviate their acquaintance with CRM by supporting a culture of mutual training and mentoring within the company.
HubSpot is much less flexible in terms of customization. For example, if you can set any statuses for your leads in Zoho, HubSpot supports only internationally accepted MQL-SQL-SAL gradation. Reviews also spotlight this point.
Zoho has around 800 in-built integrations, and HubSpot provides more than 1,000 to strengthen and push the limits of the CRM’s functionality.
While there is a slight difference in the number of available integrations, user feedback on them varies. Customers praise Zoho for providing seamless integration with popular marketing, sales tools, and accounting software, but they also mention the system’s limitations.
Regarding HubSpot’s in-built integrations, users only mention them as the system’s strengths.
Speaking about custom integrations, you can combine both Zoho and HubSpot with any third-party systems and tools with the help of your custom or off-the-shelf solutions, such as Zapier, Google Scripts, and Node-Red, to name a few.
You still need third-party tools to implement custom integrations. Therefore, I assume Zoho and HubSpot are similar in this category, with some small nuances.— Dzmitry Zdanovich, Data Analytics Manager, *instinctools
There’s one specific integration you may need if switching from the one of the aforementioned CRM platforms to the other — and that is Zoho and HubSpot integration.
Read about real-life challenges you can face when moving from Zoho to HubSpot in our case study
6. Contact and lead management features
In Zoho, you can collect and organize contact and lead data and score leads to prioritize them efficiently. However, lead segmentation options and transparency are not as comprehensive as in HubSpot.
HubSpot does a good job if you need complete visibility of actions within the Biz Dev team and want more options to choose from when interacting with contacts and leads.
Both Zoho and HubSpot have fields that help the lead generation team segment leads. However, HubSpot has more of these fields (200+), making lead segmentation a breeze. For example, in the field “Origin”, you can segregate outbound and inbound leads. Zoho doesn’t have such a field, making filtering leads according to the communication’s initiator tricky.— Volha Bakh, Head of LeadGen unit, *instinctools
I personally want to put a good word for HubSpot for its transparency – the CRM records every action taken with a contact, lead, or deal.— Anna Vasileuskaya, Senior Account Executive, *instinctools
Yes, indeed, in HubSpot, you have way more options to interact with the contacts, deals, and companies throughout the funnel – sending emails, passing them to each other within the Biz Dev team, making calls, scheduling meetings, etc. And all these actions are recorded in one place – your CRM solution.— Nick Astreika, CMO, *instinctools
7. Social listening and omnichannel marketing
If you want to know who your potential customers are and deeply understand their purchasing behavior, you should put a premium on social listening tools and omnichannel interaction with clients. Both CRMs provide such functionality, but which wins — Zoho or HubSpot?
Zoho integrates with Zoho Social – a separate tool for social listening. But, you’ll have to pay extra for it. The pricing starts from $16.50 for one team member per month and can reach $500 for a user monthly.
You can manage a plethora of channels through Zoho Social, such as Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google My Business, TikTok, and Pinterest — quite an impressive list. Also, consider that Forbes named Zoho Social one of the best picks for social media management in 2023.
However, some hiccups can undermine the functionality of the tool. Here are the unbiased reviews of businesses that are using Zoho Social in 2023.
HubSpot offers Social Media Management Software that is a default offering on Professional and Enterprise packages (starting at $800/month). Just as with Zoho Social, you can not only track customers’ and prospects’ behavior, but also publish posts, interact with users, place ads, etc., within the CRM’s interface instead of managing a bunch of separate admin panels.
HubSpot offers fewer channels than Zoho. In 2023, it’s only LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Nevertheless, we have to admit that it’s still one step ahead of Zoho when it comes to omnichannel marketing.
HubSpot enables you to integrate different channels via API and build a complex attribution model with the system capturing user behavior across channels. For example, you can connect your newsletters to the CRM and track emails users opened and the links they clicked. Moreover, you can add your LinkedIn, Meta, Twitter, and YouTube accounts and monitor the same user’s behavior across these social networks. Zoho doesn’t have such a broad functionality.— Nick Astreika, CMO, *instinctools
8. Email marketing
Zoho allows you to gather data about newsletter recipients, visualize it, and automate mundane tasks such as UTM tracking. You can also set up automated emails triggered by certain actions. For example, if a person responds to an email or a lead signs up for your newsletter, they get an auto-reply.
Integration with the calendar simplifies managing email marketing for enterprises that send a plethora of newsletters on various topics. However, this CRM doesn’t go beyond sending letters.
HubSpot was originally designed as a toolkit specifically for email marketing. With it, you can manage your entire email strategy under one roof, from creating and sending emails to tracking the efficiency of your campaigns.
Moreover, as HubSpot email marketing management is backed up by the customers’ data from the CRM, you can personalize every email based on the subscriber’s contact record information, such as lifecycle stage, list membership, etc. One significant bonus is that the personalization process doesn’t have to be manual — catchy subject lines and CTAs can be auto-generated.
HubSpot allows you to create topic-based marketing campaigns that can include all sorts of assets, from emails and specific CTAs in them to landing pages and social media posts. More importantly, the CRM is a single point for tracking analytics on these campaigns.— Valeryia Barodzich, Senior Marketing Manager, *instinctools
Another boon of HubSpot is that users can choose their topic preferences on the page with checkboxes generated by HubSpot, and then they are automatically saved to certain Lists.
In addition, the system offers marketers to create new segments, for example, based on data when users open emails. If a group of subscribers opens inbox letters at 6 p.m. (GMT-7), HubSpot will prompt you to create a specific segment of users and send them emails at a certain time to increase the open rate.
In other words, HubSpot is a proactive tool with more features to improve newsletters’ deliverability, discoverability, and clickability. It’s a one-stop shop for email marketing — whatever you want to invent, HubSpot already has it.
The question to ask yourself as a business owner is: “What are you looking for — a software solution that just sends emails or a CRM platform that actively contributes to improving the results of sending emails?”— Nick Astreika, CMO, *instinctools
9. Analytics and reporting
With Zoho, custom reporting can be challenging to set up.
First, the data for analytics should be extracted from the CRM, which is pretty tedious as it requires manual action. Zoho lacks automation where it’s vital.
For instance, if you want to check the number of MQLs per week, you can’t simply review the entity “Lead” for the given period. You have to inspect the entity “Task”, look for the leads with MQL status— Volha Bakh, Head of LeadGen, *instinctools
, and count them manually.
Even when dashboards are ready, there is a risk that the displayed data is outdated. So, in fact, they’ll be irrelevant for making timely business decisions.— Alesya Vianherskaya, Senior Account Executive, *instinctools
The built-in analytics provided by HubSpot are not that different from the ones in Zoho. Despite the wider variety of visualization options in HubSpot, they are of little practical use.
You still need a comprehensive BI system for solid analytics, custom reports, high-quality data visualizations, and intuitive dashboards. As you can see, both platforms aren’t able to provide flexible real-time analytics.
Neither Zoho nor HubSpot reaches the level of a complete BI system even for high-priced plans. Even if we consider only sales and marketing features, CRM doesn’t allow building end-to-end sales funnels – such systems aren’t designed to cover this functionality.
If you want to consolidate and visualize data not only from the CRM but also from several other systems, such as ERP, financial, inventory, recruiting, etc., you’ll need a powerful BI system.— Vitali Shchyhlinski, VP of Business Development, *instinctools
10. AI features
Given the news around AI is bubbling up, CRMs also have to keep up with the times and clients’ expectations. Let’s compare Zoho and HubSpot according to the AI features they offer.
Zoho’s sales assistant Zia is available for the Enterprise and Ultimate plans. Its primary focus is sales forecasting and monitoring. The tool analyzes how your sales representatives use the CRM and makes personalized automation recommendations for them. That way, it simplifies uncovering anomalies in sales trends, predicts the probability of conversion for leads, highlights products or services for cross- and upselling, automatically assigns prospects to sales representatives, etc.
However, all the functionality is limited to sales activities.
That’s how users spotlight Zia’s strengths and drawbacks.
HubSpot offers ChatSpot, which can be integrated with your HubSpot CRM. There’s also a limited free version you can sign up for via chatspot.ai. It’s an OpenAI GPT-3 and Dall-E-powered conversational bot that can boost the productivity of your sales and marketing teams while saving employees time.
As in Zoho, it includes lead management, reporting, forecasting, and prospecting, adding to this functionality AI-powered SEO features, such as discovering keywords, analyzing phrases, and uncovering your peers’ content strategies.
In addition, you can interact with the bot just as with ChatGPT. All you have to do is write a question, for example, “How many contacts are assigned to me?” and the system will give you the answer.
11. Tech support
Zoho’s customer support implies email, call, online chat communication, or scheduling a remote assistance session. On low-paid plans, support service is limited to business hours. To get access to round-the-clock support, you have to upgrade to the Enterprise plan.
I personally experienced multiple times that the answers from tech support were 1–2 days late or didn’t come at all. Such situations make the whole Biz Dev team suffer.— Alesya Vianherskaya, Senior Account Executive, *instinctools
HubSpot’s Starter package provides you with email and live chat support. On the Professional and Enterprise plans, you also can leverage phone support. Besides reaching out via call, email, or chat, you can even get the CRM platform’s support on Twitter. Therefore, in this category, HubSpot blows Zoho away.
Also, as we’ve mentioned in the beginning, HubSpot provides free easy-to-grasp educational materials in their HubSpot Academy. If your staff bank on self-education, they can troubleshoot minor issues independently.
All hail the results: *instinctools’ final Zoho and HubSpot comparison chart
We’ve created a comparison chart that pits these two CRM systems against each other on 11 parameters.
|Four affordable plans with a slight price difference.
|Three plans, but high-tier options cost way more than the starter package.
|Setup and onboarding
|Your staff might need several months to get used to the system.
|Onboarding usually takes a day or two.
|Navigation and overall UX
|The system’s interface can sometimes puzzle you over what action to take.
|The highly intuitive interface is easy to grasp, even for non-tech savvy users.
|It wins if you need extensive customizability for sales operations.
|The system’s customizability is limited.
|You can integrate the CRM with most tools and systems you need with the help of third-party tools.
|Same, but this CRM offers more in-built integrations — 1,000+ in HubSpot’s app ecosystem.
|Contact and lead management features
|Basic CRM for collecting and organizing contact data and lead segmentation.
|Complete transparency of actions within the Biz Dev team, comprehensive lead segmentation, and more options to interact with the contacts and leads.
|Social listening and omnichannel marketing
|Zoho Social for managing the company’s Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google My Business, TikTok, and Pinterest profiles.
|HubSpot Social Media Management Software for building a complex attribution model across the company’s LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
|The system automates mundane tasks and simplifies managing email marketing, but it’s designed to do no more than send out emails.
|This CRM is a top pick for email marketing that proactively improves newsletters’ deliverability, discoverability, and clickability.
|Analytics and reporting
|Both CRMs can’t provide in-depth real-time analytics.
|AI assistant for simplifying sales operations.
|AI bot for covering sales and marketing activities that operates as ChatGPT.
|Email, call, online chat communication, and scheduling a remote assistance session are limited to business hours on low-paid plans. You need to level up to the Enterprise plan to get 24/7 support.
|You can contact support via email, live chat, phone, or Twitter.
There is no clear winner in HubSpot vs. Zoho matchup: it depends on your business priorities
As there is no one-size-fits-all solution for success, we can’t name one of the CRM as a definite champion. When choosing between Zoho CRM vs. HubSpot, you should consider a medley of criteria, from pricing, ease of onboarding, and overall UX to the system’s customizability, sales and marketing features it provides, and the accessibility of tech support.
Still in two minds about which tool to use? There’s no need to make an off-the-cuff decision
Both Zoho and HubSpot are CRM systems. However, if you compare Zoho and HubSpot by different parameters, such as UX, customizability, contact and lead management features, available integrations, accessibility of tech support, etc., you’ll uncover plenty of differences between the two.
HubSpot is similar to Zoho as both systems are CRMs and provide integrations with third-party tools, analytics and reporting, contact and lead management tools, and AI assistants. Yet, there are many dissimilarities between the two systems. For example, they have different pricing models, customization options, and tools for omnichannel marketing.
This CRM is a perfect fit for building a transparent sales funnel and successful omnichannel marketing. Also, if you have just a few sales managers and a variety of other roles that can benefit from the basic free CRM functionality, then HubSpot’s Starter plan looks like a godsend.
HubSpot is an end-to-end CRM for the entire sales funnel, from lead generation to continuous long-term work with this client, while Zoho is more suitable for lead generation.
Zoho and HubSpot integration is possible. Such integration may seem a dubious option at first sight – who would want to pay for two CRMs and take care of their support instead of using one system? Nevertheless, such an integration will be necessary if you transition from the one CRM to the other to ensure correct contact migration between the systems.