23rd of July, 2020

Author: Vincent Onderdelinden

Buyer's Guide:

HubSpot Integrations Demystified: How To Pick Your Best Option


You may be considering purchasing HubSpot. Or perhaps you’re already a HubSpot customer. But if you’re reading this article, you’re probably wondering how you can properly integrate a HubSpot portal with another business system. As we’re one of the few HubSpot Solutions Partners with strong (custom) integration capabilities, we’re hearing many of the same questions come back on a regular basis. So, in line with HubSpot’s inbound philosophy, we want to share our knowledge about HubSpot integrations with you!

In the world of HubSpot integrations, there’s a plethora of systems to integrate with: ERP, CRM, Collaboration, Data and Analytics, E-Commerce and Administration are just a few of the most common types. As HubSpot is generally more than integration-friendly, you can integrate almost anything you want. And that’s also a risk. In the end, the question as to what HubSpot integrations you really need, mostly depends on your business requirements. More often than you’d expect, HubSpot buyers think they need an integration, when in reality there would be no added value. 

Perhaps you’re already familiar with the HubSpot App Marketplace. This is where you’ll find over 500 existing integrations with a wide variety of tools and systems. Typically, an existing integration works well for more common use cases and automating simple business processes. However, native or pre-built integrations are not always sufficient.

Especially in larger or more complex organizations, existing integrations often just can’t do what’s needed. As business processes get more complicated, pre-built connections might not have the built-in flexibility to cater for specific needs. You may find that the logic and rules governing your information flows need more customization. Or the way a native integration fetches, updates and visualizes your data going in and out of HubSpot just doesn't match your work processes. If that’s where you find yourself, you may need to think beyond existing integrations.

In general, there are two main categories of system integrations, which also applies to HubSpot. Although they may seem rather self-explanatory, as we take a closer look at these types of integrations, things will get more complicated. Which of the two types of custom integrations you need, mostly depends on your business and work processes. 

Whatever you select, the end result of your HubSpot integration should always be the same: a better overview of your data and customers, better decision-making capabilities, and a more effective business. If that’s not the outcome, the integration wasn’t built properly. 


Do you want to learn more about what kind of integrations we can do? 
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One-way  integrations

A one-way integration means you’re only pulling data from one system to be shown in another one. For example, you may be pulling financial data out of your ERP system to be visualized and used in HubSpot for sales reporting purposes.

Two-way  integrations

With a two-way integration, you’re sending data both ways between two systems. For example, instead of just sending data from your ERP to HubSpot, you’re also sending data from HubSpot to your ERP system.

You’ve probably guessed it. If you’re looking into HubSpot integration, the first thing you need to figure out is whether you need a one-way or a two-way integration. Don’t know what would work best for you? Send us a message and we’d be happy to help you make the right choice.

Methods of integration: HubSpots Native versus custom

Once you’ve decided on a one-way or two-way HubSpot integration, it’s time to take your evaluation a step further. There are various ways of integrating your data with HubSpot. But, before you continue reading, it’s important you understand that any proper integration always starts with a good understanding of your business needs. Integrating for the sake of integrating is a waste of time and resources. 

Now, let’s take a closer look at your two options: HubSpots pre-built API integrations and custom integrations.

Untitled Design-1

First, think of your HubSpot integration as a bridge between your two data sources. Your data has to go from point A to point B. The integration facilitates that movement. 

If you’re using the HubSpot API to move data from point A to point B, it’s as if the bridge has already been designed and built for you. You just have to put the bridge in the right place to allow the data to flow. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

A downside of pre-built integrations is that you can’t design the bridge the way you want it to look. On the other hand, we typically see that HubSpot’s open API is robust and there’s a very good chance it’ll serve your needs perfectly well. As a matter of fact, the quality and openness of HubSpot’s API documentation is one the main reasons we became a HubSpot Solutions Partner in the first place. 

Custom integrations are more complicated. Let’s stick with the bridge analogy. This type of integration means you have to design your bridge from scratch. And then you still have to put it into place yourself. In this case, your bridge will look exactly the way you like. Your data flows from point A to point B exactly the way you want it to flow. However, building this kind of bridge will take you more time and effort. 

HubSpots pre-built integrations

You’ve probably heard the term “API” before. Application Programming Interface is a computing interface that defines interactions between software systems. It determines the kinds of data calls or requests that can be made, how to make those data calls, in what formats to fetch and visualize data, which rules those data flows have to follow, etcetera. In more simple terms, an API is like a policeman directing traffic between software systems: which data moves when, where does it go, and in what order. 

As mentioned earlier, HubSpot has created a rich eco-system of pre-built integrations. The HubSpot App Marketplace already includes existing integrations with many of your favourite non-HubSpot tools. A couple of examples are Oneflow, Teamwork, Shopify, SurveyMonkey, MailChimp, Eventbrite, Zendesk and many more. When you’re just getting started with HubSpot, it’s very easy to simply plug-in some of these external systems and start sharing data. 

Usually, pre-built integrations are well able to support common data streams. When they might lack, is if your business requires heavier or unique data transfers between HubSpot and other systems. If that is the case, you may need some customization to make sure your systems do play nicely with each other. Rest assured, the methods for adding on to HubSpot’s open API tend to be well established and almost always within our remit.

I'm interested in pre-built integrations →

Custom integrations

Getting a HubSpot integration to work could take you just five minutes with a pre-built integration. However, if you have custom data requirements, it’s going to take more time to make the synchronization work. Custom integrations still have an undeserved reputation as being an expensive option. Although that used to be true, today that's not necessarily the case anymore.

Remember our bridge analogy. The upfront investment of a custom integration tends to be higher than a pre-built integration. Obviously, there’s a lot more planning and customization involved. But it’s important to remember that the quality and business fit of your integration can make a big impact on your operations. Both positive and negative. The integration determines the efficiency, usability and overall data quality for at least two of your main business systems. If a slightly higher upfront investment results in significantly more cost savings down the line, it could be worth it. Don’t forget you’re probably looking into integrations to reduce manual labour, repetitive work and potentially costly human errors. If those problems are better resolved with a custom integration, we’d typically recommend the long-term solution.

Here's an example. Since you’re usually committing to platforms like HubSpot for at least 2-3 years, you need your HubSpot integrations to work properly. Let’s say you have a B2B sales team of 15-20 people working in HubSpot’s CRM. They need to get quotes out to your prospects and customers. The data to populate those quotes with the right products, prices, discounts and term lengths lives in your custom-built ERP system. In order to get most business value out of your CRM and ERP, you need an integration. You have two fictive choices:

  1. Pre-built integration: A €10.000 upfront investment, up and running within a month. However, sales reps are wasting 2-3 hours per week because the API can't cater for some of your more nuanced processes. Also, 10% of the quotes are wrong, resulting in a bad customer experience.
  2. Custom integration: A €25.000 upfront investment, up and running within 2-3 months. Once put in place though, the sales team has never worked more efficiently. They're saving 2-3 hours per person, per week. Quotes contain zero errors and customers loved the buying process.

Which of the two integrations would you choose?

Custom integrations may have serious benefits, depending on your business requirements and work processes. A well-built custom integration with HubSpot can make a significant impact on your organization’s efficiency, productivity, customer experience and decision making capabilities. 

I'm interested in Custom integrations → 

Types of integrations: when and how do you want your systems to synchronize?

Once you understand if your business needs a one-way or two-way integration, we have to figure out when and how your data synchronization should take place. You have two options:

1. Time-based synchronization

This type of integration will let you synchronize data at specific times. Let's say you want to integrate HubSpot with your accounting system. We could specify that all your new business revenue numbers from that day are to be transferred to or from HubSpot, at 23:59h precisely.

2. Event-based synchronization

This type of integration will let you trigger a data synchronization by predetermined events, or actions. Let stick with the same example: only when an invoice has been paid, we could trigger a data transfer from your accounting system into HubSpot. Or when a new business deal has been won in HubSpot, the integration sends that deal data to your ERP system where it triggers the correct shipping tasks.

Ready to start with HubSpot integrations? Let's book a meeting! 

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