Your first 90 days as a HubSpot customer

How to get off to a flying start with HubSpot.

Reading time: 15 mins

Have you recently signed up with HubSpot, and are about to start your 90-day onboarding? Or are you considering whether to join the over 100,000 businesses that rely on HubSpot's suite of tools to meet (and surpass) their goals? If either of these scenarios apply to you, then you've come to the right place.

HubSpot is a great tool for growing your business — but like any tool, you need a certain level of knowledge in order to put it to good use. In this guide, we'll cover what you can expect in your first 90 days as a new HubSpot customer. We'll dive into the best practices for setting up your Marketing, Sales and Service Hubs. And we'll provide some useful tips on how to get started the right way. Let's dive in!


Obviously, no two businesses are exactly alike. When it comes to onboarding with HubSpot, it logically follows that no two businesses will use the platform in the exact same way, either.

That's why it's so important to have clearly in mind your specific business challenges, successes and goals — and to be upfront about them. Only then can your onboarding journey lead you to the right destination.

Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Make good use of SMART goals.
    You may have heard this before, but it's worth repeating: setting SMART goals for yourself (and then striving to attain them) is the best way to grow your business. We'll talk more about these goals later, but don't forget that they should be measurable and realistic, among other things.
  • Get your key stakeholders involved from the beginning.
    Have you ever tried to drive a car without any oil in the engine? If you haven't, don't go out there and try it now — it's a no-win proposition. In the same way, don't try to embark on a new project before communicating with your company's key stakeholders.
    Communication is the oil that lubricates your company's engine; and you want your organisation to be "firing on all cylinders" during this period of transition to the HubSpot platform. When all of your key players know why the company is making the change, and how the process will unfold, then everyone can be aligned toward the same goals.
  • Be clear about any approaching deadlines.
    Is your company currently using a different CRM? Make sure that your marketing, sales and service teams know when the switch to HubSpot will be fully implemented, so that they can make that transition with minimal friction.
  • Make good use of HubSpot's Forum and Blog.
    Your 90-day onboarding will start you on the right track, but you can glean a lot of helpful insights from other HubSpot customers via the forums. And don't forget to subscribe to the HubSpot blog for all the latest tutorials, guides and updates.

In addition to the above points, make sure to use the ESM Inbound Knowledge Base as another key resource. It can provide you with guidance on a number of important topics — from deciding whether HubSpot is right for your business to using step-by-step guides to update, amend, and supercharge your portal.

As Jemma Legg, Chief Operating Officer at SpotDev, says:

"As a previous direct client of HubSpot, I cannot understate the value of jumping into your portal and taking a look around. Click buttons just to see where they lead, export reports to evaluate their usefulness, or create dummy workflows to experiment with automation — anything to help you get an organic feel for the platform. There's not much you can do that's irreversible, but if you're unsure, reach out to your onboard specialist."

What to expect

HubSpot's Marketing Hub onboarding is designed to help your business develop a more personalised and effective marketing approach, as you engage with your consumers. Marketing Hub includes a variety of tools and processes such as:

  • Automation
  • Lead generation
  • Lead nurturing
  • Personalisation
  • Social listening
  • Topic clusters

What can you do to get the most out of your Marketing Hub Onboarding? You and your team will need to complete certifications and project work over your first 90 days; you should expect to spend between 8-12 hours per week on those tasks, plus regular calls with your onboard contact. If that sounds like a heavy investment, don't fret: our team at ESM Inbound can take on the heavy lifting for you, while equipping you with the needed skills to move a project forward.

What to consider

It's true that Marketing Hub can help you to land some quick wins — and who wouldn't like that? But before you can achieve those wins, you need to focus on the basics. Here are the fundamentals — i.e. the foundation upon which the rest of your hub will be built:

  • CRM data.
    Your CRM data is the lifeblood of your marketing process. It includes everything that relates to your contacts and companies in HubSpot. If you want to consistently generate leads, and nurture them until they become customers, then you need to input accurate, comprehensive data into the platform. You may even need to expand your data set (if you need to beef up your buyer personas, for example). Any tool is only as good as its user — and your CRM is only as good as its data.
  • Social media and paid advertising.
    You need to have clear goals in mind for your social media strategy. Are your accounts primarily there to increase brand awareness? Do you expect them to generate a steady stream of leads? As you figure out how best to use your social media, consider developing a database of brand images to add to HubSpot. If your images are in one centralised location, it will be easier to manage them, and your overall branding will be more consistent.
  • Email and landing pages.
    This is HubSpot's "calling card" when it comes to inbound marketing. Email remains one of the most effective marketing mediums there is — and each email you send out should link to a landing page that will move the user further down the sales funnel.
    Of course, setting up email and landing page templates is much easier for single-brand businesses; if you are in a multi-brand model (think Google, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble) then you may need to form a team exclusively dedicated to this project.
    At ESM Inbound, we have the expertise to set up your email and landing page templates — whether for a single brand or multiple ones — so that the end-user experience remains seamless no matter what.
  • Forms and CTAs.
    These make up the "bread and butter" of lead generation. After all, how else do you expect prospects to move through the flywheel? You'll need to consider the appearance of your forms and CTAs, and the form logic for a variety of scenarios (return customers, new prospects, notifications, etc.)
  • Workflows.
    It may be tempting to view workflows primarily as a way to automate routine, repetitive processes. However, they can do so much more than that — if you know how to unlock their potential. At ESM Inbound, we have in-house CRM and development specialists who can help you enhance your business processes (whether automated or not) through the judicious use of workflows.

Jemma Legg continues:

"My first experience with HubSpot was with the Marketing Hub and creating a workflow. The sense of achievement you feel when [you] can automate a complicated process or a sequence of events that people said "could not be done" is essentially why I became a HubSpot specialist. I love sharing my knowledge with our clients and partners so they can experience that same joy!"

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Advice from ESM Inbound

Focus on setting up users, roles and permissions with future growth in mind. Over time, you may have a lot of users working in your marketing hub — including 3rd party providers. Make full use of features like assigned roles, teams and content partitioning to keep your portal secure, and avoid any unexpected edits.

What to expect

It's important that you already have a detailed overview of your existing sales process to share with your onboard contact at HubSpot. This information will allow your onboard specialist to determine which kind of Sales Hub is right for your company — and what further training may be required.

You should expect to set aside some time to work through the transition process with your sales team. You will also need to participate in calls with multiple stakeholders. The amount of time you could spend will vary, depending on how much training your team needs, along with several other factors.

What to consider

It's overly simplistic to view Sales Hub as a tool that turns leads into customers. The reality is, Sales Hub can become a holistic portal element — one that helps you to qualify leads, report on all of your sales activities, and promote effective communication across the board (sales reps with prospects, sales reps with other sales reps, and even the sales team with other departments).

In the final analysis, Sales Hub tools can free up your reps to do what they do best: sell! That being said, here are some vital elements that need to align in order to make that happen:

  • Smarketing.
    That's what we call the process of integrating your sales and marketing teams. At its core, this is all about good communication. When your marketers know when and how to hand over qualified leads to sales, and your sales reps know when and how to provide helpful feedback to marketing, then both departments will benefit.
  • Business goals.
    Your sales team will probably have the firmest grasp of which goals and metrics correlate with ROI — and those goals and KPIs can provide an invaluable window into the true value that HubSpot is bringing to your business.
  • Deal stages.
    In your industry, do customers typically go straight from qualified to won? Or are there usually more steps involved in the buyer's journey? You'll have to examine your average lead times and close rates, and work with your sales team to identify the key stages of a typical deal (and which activities will progressively move your prospects toward a purchase).
  • Other sales processes.
    Even though HubSpot can give your sales process a major boost by means of its advanced tools, that doesn't mean you should discard other sales processes that you've already implemented. In many cases, it's the combination of those unique attributes with HubSpot's platform that leads to major sales uplift. Our sales experts at ESM Inbound can help you integrate your current sales processes with HubSpot in a way that makes sense for your company.

Matt Nortje, Head of Digital and Training at ESM Inbound, explains:

"Setting measurable goals for your sales team is paramount. You can set goals for calls made, deals created, meetings booked, and revenue. You can then set monthly goals for your sales team on the measurement you chose. By setting goals, it is easy to see how your sales team is performing and if KPIs are being met."

What to expect

Is customer satisfaction a top priority for your company? If so, then you want to ensure that your support team always has the tools available to provide an exceptional customer service experience. 

That being said, it can take some time for your service reps to learn a new system — especially if you're migrating to HubSpot from another help desk tool. You may need to do some prep work even before your 90-day onboarding so that you can remain focused on customer service with minimal friction. 

What to consider

When analysing how best to use Service Hub, you'll need to consider these important factors:

  • What resources do you have available?
    Do you have a large in-house service team? Do you have the budget to outsource live chat? Do you want to automate support as much as possible? You'll need to think about what your company is realistically able to do — and (even more importantly) what it can do well.
  • What will your ticket process be?
    When will a chatbot hand the customer off to a live agent? When should an issue be escalated up the ladder? You'll want to triage support requests in a logical, efficient manner to offer the best customer experience possible.
  • Will your team be available 24/7?
    It's important to be realistic about what your organisation can and can't offer. If your company has the bandwidth to provide comprehensive support 24/7, great. If not, you should consider what options you can offer the customer — whether it's a guaranteed response time, a call-back service, or the chance to make an appointment with the service team. 
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Advice from ESM Inbound

Don't underestimate the impact that a knowledge base can have on your service levels. Empowering customers to self-solve their support issues is a great way to provide service without getting bogged down in countless tickets. Check out our knowledge base for some inspiration.

Alex Birkett, Growth Marketing Manager at HubSpot, states:

"A study by Forrester confirmed that customers prefer knowledge bases over all other self-service channels. This is likely because the vast majority of customers want an immediate response to their customer service question — 90%, in fact."

What to expect

HubSpot's CMS Hub will enable you to create exceptional web content quickly and effectively, even without experience in web development, (CMS stands for "content management system," by the way.) Onboarding for this hub will include training on how to use features like:

  • Page editor
  • Page templates
  • Modules and global modules
  • CTAs
  • Smart content

You can expect regular calls with your onboarding specialist during your first 90 days, as well as spending some time on additional training and certificates as you move forward.

What to consider

The CMS Hub has a lot of moving parts to take into account during your onboarding journey. For instance, think about these factors:

  • Your stakeholders.
    Who is currently involved in your content creation/distribution process? Who do you need to involve in your transition to HubSpot's CMS? Think about your developers, copywriters and other stakeholders, and what permissions they'll need in order to take part in the project.
  • Migration service.
    Do you want to simply "drag and drop" your website into the HubSpot platform? If so, think again. You'll need to make some adjustments to your site before moving it over to HubSpot, and then perform some tests to make sure everything is working correctly.
    On the other hand, you may view this migration as a chance to completely redesign your existing site. If that's the case, consider working with our team of design and development specialists here at ESM Inbound. Check out our portfolio to get an idea of what we can do for your website.
  • Organisation and management.
    Everyone who's involved in your content strategy (developers, copywriters, marketers, etc.) is going to want a piece of your "CMS pie." Make sure you have an effective method for filing, naming and using assets. And don't forget user roles and their associated permissions, either — you don't want a copywriter with an outsized sense of humour posting limericks to your site!
  • Web and traffic analytics.
    Whether you're building, re-designing or migrating your website, completing the project is going to cost money. And when something costs money, someone (in senior management) is going to want to see the ROI. HubSpot has good out-of-the-box web and traffic analytics tools — including executive-friendly dashboards and reports — that can help you to demonstrate performance, growth and areas of opportunity.
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Advice from ESM Inbound

CMS Hub is a helpful complement to your content strategy - not a substitute for it. As your site is being set up, focus on SEO and topic cluster functions as part of your project strategy. Continue to train and upskill your team. Make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to SEO, A/B testing, and basic UX, so there's consistency across your entire content library.

What to expect

As we've mentioned before, a CRM is only as good as its data. That's why it's vital to audit and streamline your data so that it's clean, accurate and ready for replication across all of your key applications. Expect a deep dive into your current data processes during your 90-day onboarding, with the goal of creating a "single source of truth" throughout your enterprise.

What to consider

When it comes to your CRM data, there are two elements that will play a key role in your Operations Hub onboarding process:

  • Your data syncing strategy.
    HubSpot's Data Sync feature will benefit your applications across the board — but it won't function like your standard trigger-based integration. Instead, Data Sync will keep your database synchronised in real-time. Since it will include historical data as well as any future data that your teams input, you may need to run a data cleanse project before fully switching over.
  • Data quality.
    You'll likely want to check your data for common processing errors while it's "under the microscope." True, CMS Hub includes workflows to automatically sift out these errors, but you'll need to invest some time in identifying them before such workflows can be used. If you need help, the ESM Inbound team can run a customised diagnostic session for your company — and that session can help you determine the best way to ensure high-quality data for your CRM.


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Advice from ESM Inbound

Make good use of one of the most exciting parts of the CMS Hub: Custom Code Actions. These Actions can help you manage unique customer touch points that aren't available in standard automation options. At the same time, take a holistic view of the customer journey by working across all of your databases.

As you embark on your 90-day onboarding journey, it's important to "not miss the forest for the trees." In other words, you must remember that partnering with HubSpot is not a business goal in itself; rather, it is a means to an end.

Of course, that raises an important question: what are your goals? If you want your company to grow, it's vital that you have a clear objective in mind, and several smaller goals that will get you there. As a philosopher once remarked: "When a man does not know what harbour he is making for, no wind is the right wind."

If you want to have the "wind at your back," so to speak, then you need to use SMART goals. These goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

For example, let's say you want to attract more traffic to your website. How can you transform that (somewhat vague) desire into a SMART goal? Perhaps you could reframe it in this way:

Within 3 months, I want to increase traffic to our company website by 20%.

When you state it that way, your goal:

  • Is specific
  • Can be measured
  • Is (hopefully) attainable with enough effort
  • Is highly relevant to your business (more traffic = more leads and sales)
  • Has a deadline

Once you have your SMART goals in place, you need to make a plan of action. Your plan should answer questions like: How are we going to achieve our goals? Who exactly is involved, and what part should they play? How many resources do we need to allocate to this project?

Finally, review your progress on a regular basis, and be willing to make adjustments as needed. If you follow this process, it may not always be "smooth sailing" — but you'll get where you want to go (with an assist from HubSpot).