A guide to integrating HubSpot with your tech stack
HubSpot is an incredibly powerful platform and you can realistically expect to have it as the central piece of technology at your business.
But there's every chance you will be using more than just HubSpot. Maybe you are using Quickbooks for accounting, Asana for project management and Zoom for webinars?
Just because those tools aren't part of HubSpot doesn't mean you can't bring them together, storing your data in a single place.
Chapter 1: Native HubSpot integrations
Integrations built by HubSpot
By far the easiest way to connect HubSpot to another app is to use a native integration. 'Native' means that the integration is hard-coded into the HubSpot platform because it was built by the team at HubSpot.
A native integration is quick and easy to set up, and benefits from deep connections into the HubSpot platform. You can think of them as extensions of the CRM itself.
Some popular native integrations for HubSpot include:
- Google Search Console
- Quickbooks Online
Thanks to the Data Sync tool within HubSpot's Operations Hub, the number of native integrations is rapidly expanding with new ones appearing on a near-weekly basis.
Closely related to native integrations are 'third-party integrations'. In many respects, this is the next best thing to a 'Built by HubSpot' integration.
Third-party integrations were built by the company who made the app you're integrating with. For example, the Unbounce integration with HubSpot was built by Unbounce. The Intercom integration with HubSpot was built by Intercom.
While not being tied into HubSpot quite as deeply, you have the opposite benefit — they are deeply embedded into the third-party app. This means that the app you're integrating with can use HubSpot's data however they want.
Examples of third-party integrations with HubSpot include:
The vast majority of third-party integrations can be found in the HubSpot App Marketplace.
When should you use native and third-party integrations?
Native and third-party integrations should be your first port of call when you're looking to connect your apps together. As a rule of thumb, this type of integration will be the fastest and most reliable connection between two platforms. On top of this, you can expect to get help from either HubSpot Support or the customer service team of the third-party app when you're having difficulty.
Chapter 2: Middleware HubSpot integrations
If you can't find a native or third-party integration, then it's time to consider integrating HubSpot and your app using a middleware platform (sometimes known as 'connector apps').
Middleware is software that sits in between two apps. If the middleware can connect to both tools, then you can integrate them with middleware. Even better, the middleware platform can usually process data for you so that you are able to change dates and other information before sending it to the app you're integrating with.
Some of the most popular middleware platforms that integrate with HubSpot are:
SpotDev's favourite middleware
At SpotDev, we've built integrations using many of the middleware platforms. We've found that the best combination of power, reliability, flexibility and price narrows down the field to:
Zapier connects with an unrivaled number of apps and features great processing tools such as data formatters, 'sub-zaps' and webhooks.
Make, on the other hand, offers a very visual building environment, excellent error handling, support for SFTP servers, and the ability to apply an integration retrospectively.
Learn more about middleware integrations with this video:
When should you use middleware?
Middleware should be what you investigate when:
- a 'Built by HubSpot' integration isn't available
- a third-party integration isn't available
- you can find a middleware platform that:
- connects to HubSpot
- connects to your other app
- includes the functions that you need
You should also take into account the ongoing cost of running middleware. Every action performed by middleware carries a cost, which means that a simple integration for a small database could probably be delivered for free.
Equally, however, a complex integration for a large database could quickly add up to thousands of pounds in middleware costs. The vast majority of middleware integrations will be very cheap, but you should certainly add up the numbers before committing to this approach.
Chapter 3: Custom HubSpot integrations
A custom integration with HubSpot is a solution where your apps are connected together by code written by a developer who doesn't work for HubSpot, the third-party app or a middleware provider. The other possibility is that your custom integration is written by your own developer who needs to connect HubSpot to a homegrown software platform.
Custom integrations are the most complex solution but also the most powerful.
When a developer creates a custom integration, they will use the HubSpot API to access data, search for records and update your database. They'll also use the API of the app that they're connecting to (or, if it's a homegrown solution, they'll write server-side code that triggers HubSpot API calls).
How to discover what the API can do
HubSpot's developer documentation might look terrifying to a non-developer. There's lots of technical language and code snippets that might look intimidating.
If you can pluck up the courage to delve into it, however, you'll find that the majority of the information is pretty simple. It tells you what the API is capable of doing, and shows you the information you'll get back from any requests you send.
Building a HubSpot integration with custom middleware
More often than not, your custom integration is really just an integration where a developer has created middleware specifically for your use case. This means that you're not limited by the functionality of a platform like Zapier or Make and can build almost anything that you can think of.
Developers might chose to build their custom middleware on a number of platforms. Some of the most popular are:
- Google Cloud
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Microsoft Azure (SpotDev's preferred platform)
With the launch of HubSpot's Operations Hub, HubSpot itself is now a great platform for building a custom integration. Using custom code actions in workflows, developers are able to find the best of both worlds when it comes to leveraging the power of HubSpot, and creating custom code that connects to other apps.
However you build your integration, it's important to do so with security in mind. Make sure that you're never exposing your HubSpot portal's API key to the public and, wherever possible, make use of OAuth authentication to take advantage of the added security benefits.