Since April, Shopify’s revenues have nearly doubled as Covid-19 pushes brands to find their way online. Launching on Shopify or WooCommerce needs to be easy because brands simultaneously have to learn ecommerce marketing tools (like HubSpot or Klaviyo) to serve prospects/customers that are no longer in-person.
The need for solving these problems has accelerated businesses into ecommerce adoption, along with consumer ecommerce adoption. B2B and consumer brands who’d never considered having to deliver the entire value prop online are now having to find creative ways to package and productize their offerings, then deliver them to customers without in-person interaction.
Shopify noted in their quarterly filings that new store launches increased by 71% in Q2 2020 vs Q1, and this whole move is forcing a lot of HubSpot Partner Agencies into consulting on ecommerce-specific strategies and content.
I’ve written this post focusing largely on the HubSpot Agency Partner community, but since it’s the business brands who must ultimately decide what’s right for them, these considerations will apply to you, as well, if you’re part of these companies.
If you're launching your own company’s ecommerce store or are trying to convince your boss to invest into either HubSpot or Klaviyo for digital marketing on your new cart, this will help you decide between the two.
Even though a small business’ survival isn’t a direct medical health concern, keeping individual workers and consumers active within small businesses is so essential for maintaining recovery and hope during this coronavirus pandemic. I’ve known so many friends who are workers who are deeply struggling to hold it together and don’t have the luxury to sell off a successful business and ride out this storm without a job.
Embracing ecommerce is probably one of the best pitchers of lemonade that business owners can squeeze out of this mess to assure that - however long this goes on - our society and economy can come out better at the end of this.
Two Robust Platforms with Different Strengths
Over the years we’ve gained clients from Klaviyo into HubSpot and I've helped them migrate all of their Flows into Workflows. We’ve also lost a few HubSpot clients to Klaviyo, to our chagrin.
At the time we definitely viewed those as a clear wins and losses, but as Klaviyo has matured since we integrated with HubSpot in 2015 the choice between the two is not so black-and-white.
Today we find ecommerce brands who SHOULD buy HubSpot that are buying Klaviyo.
We also see brands who SHOULD be on Klaviyo but are buying HubSpot.
There are now perfectly valid use cases for either, depending on the ecommerce business’ situation. Here's a high-level overview:
HubSpot Is a Better Fit If:
- You sell a mix of B2B through your shopping cart with a sales team
- You have B2C products that require more consultative sales/personal help before making a purchase
- OR your brand is conducive to inbound content where you can establish yourselves as thought leaders and you aren’t already well established in the marketplace
Klaviyo Is a Better Fit If:
- You run a pure B2C play through your shopping cart (no B2B or sales process)
- AND your brand is already firmly established in the marketplace
Here’s another article that gives a more detailed comparison of email-specific capabilities of Klaviyo versus HubSpot if you want to do more research on this feature set, but I’m going to compare each platform’s capabilities as a whole.
Both tools offer great tool sets and functionality for digital marketing. They are both incredibly powerful for helping grow stores and close sales.
Why Hubspot Is Better for Consultative, Mixed B2B, or Newer Brands
Flat out, HubSpot’s CRM tool for Sales is amazing and Klaviyo still does not have tools needed for a traditional sales team. I’ll speak to the bigger picture below these next bullets.
HubSpot Standout Benefits Over Klaviyo
- Marketing, Sales, and (Sometimes) Service in One Centralized Place: Organize your Marketing actions (emails, site behavior, social, etc) and Sales actions (calls, notes, deals, emails) into one place for the best possible customer management experience. And if the store has simple Support needs (ie, even ZenDesk would be overkill) then Support history can also reside on the same HubSpot contact timeline.
- Gmail/Outlook Extension for Logging Sales Conversations: Allows your sales reps to stay in their native email environments while writing one-to-one correspondence with customers/prospects rather than forcing them to be in HubSpot.
- Sending Templates and Sequence Automation Straight From Gmail/Outlook: This write up of the Sequences tool is a great summary of how automated, custom-written emails will save your sales teams tons of time.
- Drag and Drop Deal Pipeline and Projection Management: Many Klaviyo clients try to stitch together tools like Pipedrive in order to give their sales reps visibility, but this will still require back-and-forth clicking between two platforms.
- Unific’s Tool for Generating Quotes without Leaving the CRM: With quote generation tools like our new Quotific reps are able to generate and send populated carts without ever having to leave HubSpot.
- Inbound Tools for Organic Brand Building: HubSpot provides tools to let you find where your prospects hang out online to provide valuable content and establish yourself as a trusted advisor, even if your prospect is just in the beginning stages of understanding their problem your product could solve. Klaviyo cannot touch this toolset and HubSpot is hugely valuable for this organic brand building.
Sales Assistance for Larger-Purchase B2C Products
We’ve worked with ecommerce brands that absolutely necessitate a formal sales team or sales process and Klaviyo absolutely would not work in those environments. When a prospect is considering buying a $2000+ wedding ring or mattress, it will make complete sense for them to need to talk to someone ahead of the purchase.
Even if the final purchase is completely made through the ecommerce cart, we commonly see this need for sales teams even in consumer businesses when the sticker price is large or there’s a long decision-making process on a purchase. This is a very clear scenario where HubSpot is a better fit than Klaviyo.
HubSpot Sales allows you to manage Gmail/Outlook email templates, send a fully customizable automatic series of sales emails if the prospect doesn’t reply (Sequences tool), and allows easy scrum-style Deal management that offers sales projections based on close rate along with channel attribution analytics.
Additionally, it’s easy to trigger these sales intervention actions when a prospect makes specific ecommerce activities like abandons a high-value cart, creates a store account but still doesn’t buy in 48 hours, has a cancelled order, etc.
Selling a Mix of B2B With a Sales Team
We’ve worked with some ecommerce brands who have sales teams of 15+ people and HubSpot’s Sales tools excel at creating a full-bodied task management, phone calling system, and properly managing performance of each sales rep.
Klaviyo doesn’t even have a Company record object to log data, much less associate multiple contact and deal records into. We've worked with ecommerce clients who view their primary relationship as being with the company rather than an individual contact, because they'll work with multiple buyers across the company. Therefore, they'll want to look at correspondence and sales data across an entire company, which Klaviyo isn't able to do.
Something to note (which I may write about in another post) is that if a brand is just getting into ecommerce it may not be intuitive to process their Wholesale or Distributor sales through the shopping cart as opposed to their current ERP or accounting tool. But processing sales through a shopping cart comes with a lot of advantages including easier order history analysis, relationship management, as well as empowering Wholesale clients to place their own orders in a portal with their special pricing tiers (as enabled in this Shopify app) if they don’t have any questions and already know what they want to buy.
The Power of Inbound Marketing with Newer Brands
Finally, if the business brand is relatively unknown and can benefit from product education through content writing, then Klaviyo is not the best fit. HubSpot is built on the foundation of inbound methodology to attract customers with valuable content and tailored experiences.
So much of HubSpot’s tool set - including inbound monitoring tools, progressive forms that swap fields based on info you've already got, a hosted blog tool, and A/B testing across CTA’s, landing pages, webforms, and other site content - allow you to do a lot of optimizing throughout the Lead Awareness, Consideration, and Decision stages. Klaviyo doesn't offer any of those features.
Klaviyo does not give you nearly as many tools in order to help a business “get found” and optimize these lead stages, so although it’s great for established brands I would recommend lesser known brands work with HubSpot.
An Opportunity for HubSpot Agencies
The good news for HubSpot Agencies is that many of these brands newly pushing into ecommerce will be naturally suited for a B2B/B2C mix requiring both Marketing and Sales Hub. If they’re accustomed to relying on a sales team to assist sales and their website is new, they will probably be very comfortable and well-suited to processing sales through rep interaction.
Rather, more of their learning curve will come from closing sales without human intervention. Because of this, I think that right now is an ideal time for HubSpot Agencies to learn ecommerce-specific skills alongside your clients.
Why Klaviyo Is Better for Pure B2C and Established Brands
Flat out, Klaviyo is an amazing tool for quickly and regularly building ecommerce-centric emails and targeting/analyzing ecommerce consumer behavior at scale. I’ll speak to the bigger picture below these next bullets.
Klaviyo Standout Benefits Over HubSpot
- Auto-Generated Email Product Grids and Recommendations: Klaviyo is an absolute dream for easily creating grids of products in your email marketing
- True Browse Abandonment Marketing: I’ve approximated this in HubSpot using page-specific views as Workflow, but this is a heavily labor-intensive, manual process while Klaviyo can dynamically populate product page content while also giving you detailed options down to which category they’re browsing, like men’s or women’s products. HubSpot doesn’t have any native awareness of your product category tree or products list so it’s not able to do any of this without a ton of manual labor.
- Native SMS Marketing Alongside Email Campaigns: Since Klaviyo is built for B2C ecommerce, they’ve built in affordable SMS marketing that can send personalized cart links and works alongside your email campaigns
- Predictive Analytics and Ecommerce Reporting: I hate to use their “AI” buzzword (because it's not AI), but Klaviyo provides in-depth reporting that analyzes which products drive most first-time sales, which high-inventory items should be included in cross-promotion campaigns, etc. Unific natively provides some of Klaviyo’s same predictive and lifecycle purchase behavior in HubSpot, but we’re not able to do any product or inventory specific reporting in HubSpot without a lot of manual effort.
Quick, Easy Product Grids and Product Recommendations
Many brands we’ve worked with will send weekly sales with a grid of 3-6 promoted products in the week’s theme, along with maybe 1-2 reminder emails over the weekend for customers who haven’t bought. Especially for fast-fashion and the apparel industry, those marketers are going to need to build product grids, a lot!
Klaviyo wins this battle over HubSpot, no contest.
It’s so easy to do this in Klaviyo, whether you’re pulling products from a list in your catalogue or making dynamic product feed recommendations based on certain criteria.
It’s not that you CAN’T make product grids in HubSpot, but it’s just so time consuming that you won’t want to have to do it on a regular basis.
For each product in your grid, the HubSpot process requires:
- Downloading the product image
- Uploading it to HubSpot
- Copying the product URL link to the image
- Copying the URL link to the “View More” button
- Then finally copying the product name
- Then repeating for each product in the grid.
This process in HubSpot is going to get very old, very fast if it has to be done regularly. (I've done it. I know!)
Also recognize that HubSpot only allows manual grid building, while Klaviyo can auto-generate a grid that includes or excludes certain categories within popular or trending product purchases.
If product grids are a weekly, regular part of your new email marketing content, Klaviyo is the only sustainable option. And truly, it's awesome at that.
Keeps Established Brands Focused on Ecommerce-Centric Marketing
As mentioned previously, HubSpot’s inbound are a huge advantage for growing and establishing a brand whose products are conducive to educational content and decision nurturing. But for brands that are well-established and focused on a B2C space, everything in Klaviyo from their drag-and-drop coupon blocks to native SMS marketing makes it easier stay in front of consumers with minimal marketing effort.
How “Klaviyo” was able to get to market dominance with that name is truly a marvel in itself since no two people would phonetically pronounce it the same (especially in the early years), but Klaviyo has become the go-to tool for Ecommerce email/SMS digital marketing for very, very good reason. They have a lot to be proud of for what they've accomplished.
Ten Questions to Ask the Decision Maker
If you’re a business owner or working to convince the business owner of the correct digital marketing platform to adopt, below are some questions that will be relevant to your decision of Klaviyo vs HubSpot.
Again, even though we rep HubSpot we truly know that it's best for EVERYONE to buy the right tool for what they need. We don't want unhappy HubSpot customers or brands that aren't able to grow the way they need to. If Klaviyo is your best fit, have at it. Klaviyo is awesome for the right companies.
And If you’re a HubSpot Agency who’s in the sales process with a brand who’s launching or has launched an Ecommerce site during this Covid-19 period, this list of questions will help you determine if HubSpot or Klaviyo is a better fit.
(And to note, Klaviyo is continuing to build out their Partner Program which focuses on email marketing, so if email marketing is a key competency of your agency then you might be a good fit to explore Klaviyo partnership, as well)
Questions for decision makers to consider that will lead to good conversations with them, and among the team:
- What percentage of your current sales revenue is from B2B sources (Wholesale, distributors, etc)
- Do you process those B2B sales through your shopping cart? If you don't plan to, why not?
- How many members are on your sales team and what’s their primary medium for communicating with clients? (phone, email, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc)
- How often do you run newsletters that highlight particular products? Will you need to run regular one-off email promotions containing product grids?
- What is your current process for deciding which product lines need to be cut or deserve stronger promotion?
- Which current lead strategies or channels are driving the largest portion of visitors to your website?
- How effective are your current strategies for capturing site visitors who aren’t ready to buy?
- What are the current content strategies you're implementing to make sure prospects become aware of your business?
- How do your most valuable customers educate themselves about your product in order to make a decision?
- What is your current content generation strategy and how do you decide which content types or channels are providing the most value to your customers?
Saving Pricing for Last: Prioritizing Ease of Growth
Notice that I haven’t mentioned platform pricing this entire time. Because of HubSpot’s contact tier pricing, it’s common for Klaviyo to be much cheaper until you get to a certain email sending size and volume. But if Klaviyo isn't the best long-term fit to grow your business, what does saving money matter?
I don’t want to focus on what’s cheaper at the expense of looking at the long-term benefit of what will grow a brand’s ecommerce business. If product-heavy emails will be your business’ primary lever of sales growth, then Klaviyo will be perfect. If self-educating the customer and/or getting quick help from reps will be your business’ growth, then HubSpot will be perfect.
Those are two extreme ends, but I’ve worked with many ecommerce brands who truly do fall into one of those simple groups.
Navigating the Future
For many, 2020 has been one of the toughest years we’ve faced in a very long time, but I’m encouraged by the way that small businesses have adapted to survive and even thrive.
With so many people being forced to shop at home, this is an opportunity for business owners to evolve and fill your customers with confidence, knowing that you're still there to serve them and that everything will be alright. We’ve heard several encouraging stories from our ecommerce clients about how 2020 is positioned to be their best sales year so far because their ecommerce store had them well-positioned to thrive during the turndown when everyone is at home.
No hyperbole, I believe that this acceleration of ecommerce has the ability to keep people full of excitement and hope for the future. And that's a pretty great thing to be a part of.
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