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Expert Insight on Ways to Best Leverage Custom Properties in HubSpot

HubSpot is full of features to help optimize company operations. Our team had the opportunity to sit down with expert Nick Cull, who delves into the best way to leverage HubSpot's custom properties. Ready to learn more now? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Hubspot Administrators here, and learn more about custom properties today!
Custom Properties

Q: Good morning. Sam here with Hubsessed. We have Nick with HubSpot here to tell us a little bit about custom properties. Thanks so much for coming on, Nick. Why don't you tell our community what you do with HubSpot?

A: Thanks for having me, Sam. My name is Nick Cull, and I'm a channel consultant at HubSpot. I've been here for about three years, during which time I've helped to support our partner community. I work with partners like The Insight Studio to ensure their clients' success, make sure that everyone is up to speed with the most recent changes to HubSpot's inbound principles, in tune with our best practices, and generally just ensuring the success of our partners and our customers.

Q: You've got some years experience with HubSpot. It looks like you also went to coding school?

A: Yes, I did. I do have a bit of a technical background, which certainly comes in handy when I'm getting into the weeds and some of the more technical questions. But in my day-to-day, I like to lean more into some of the strategic conversations. I don't get to use my technical background as much as I would like. But getting into the weeds with conversations about what are the things that I recommend for my partners and their customers to see the most success and get the most value from their tools are the conversations that I find myself having the most and the ones that I actually enjoy the most.

Q: All right, so this month has been about data hygiene. That's why we brought on Nick to talk about custom properties. This last week we talked about data and how dashboards and reports really help us understand our goals that we're working towards and how the data tells the story of what we're doing. So now we wanted to talk about custom properties, because as we know as HubSpot users, segmentation and really knowing your customers allows for you to be more powerful in your attempts and messaging to your customers.

So I'm going to start grilling Nick here on his expertise with custom properties. Nick, can you share an example of a custom property used in a form that helped you capture valuable information to segment your database?

A: I think that this question is really interesting, because this, like many other types of customization in HubSpot, is really going to depend on your business model and what you're using HubSpot for. What I think is a really commonly overlooked space inside of HubSpot is actually more in the service hub side of things and questions that have to do with the post-sale aspect of your business and what you're doing.

I think that a lot of people get caught up in the pre-sale motion and then use HubSpot to kind of measure that pre-sale process. Then once everything is kind of marked as a closed one, maybe some of the workload starts to fall off. I like to challenge my partners and my customers to do more question asking beyond that, and take advantage of their customers, which are their best advocates. Generally speaking, it's 5 to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. So taking advantage of that and using HubSpot to get an understanding of your customers is going to be a really, really valuable part... Maybe an aspect that you can incorporate into your process here.

A custom property that I like to include in forms or as part of a survey even is something that says to the effect of, "How likely are you to recommend our business to your friends or to your colleagues?" This in and of itself is a nested question, right? So we're getting some context around what their experience thus far has been with our business, but the question doesn't stop there.

Typically, I would lean into three buckets based on the response that they give. So on a 0 to 10 scale, we may then have a follow-up question that prompts a, "Can you tell us more about your experience so we can get it right the next time?" assuming that they answer anywhere from that 0 to 6 range, which is generally what we consider detractor. Anywhere from that 7 to 8 range, we may want to ask something to the effect of, "Can you tell us more about your experience so we can do even better next time?" That's someone that would be considered kind of like a neutral contributor or a neutral customer to us where we didn't really blow their mind, but we also didn't really let them down. This is somewhere where we definitely have room for improvement, and we want to take advantage of that. And then lastly, for those 9 to 10 ratings, we want to take into consideration, "Why did you score us so highly?"

All of this information gives us more context about the experience that we provided for someone from being a prospect and going through our entire customer life cycle experience to becoming a customer now. It gives us the opportunity to not only tailor that customer experience so we can make improvements and find where those holes are, but also take advantage of the things that we did do really well. If we have someone that can tell us about why they scored us so highly, we can then have a better understanding of the things that we're doing really, really well.

For me, this is a really, really important aspect, because before we start putting more water into the bucket and increasing the amount of prospects that we're incorporating to our flywheel, we want to make sure that we're patching all of the holes in that bucket. These kinds of questions help us to identify those holes and help us to make sure that we have a really strong seal on them and that we're minimizing the number of holes there.

Q: With your experience in working with customers how often do you see your clients doing this, checking in with their current customers and kind of segmenting them like this?

A: Not often enough. I would love to see more customers doing this. Because like I said, if we're only focusing on the pre-sale motion and getting someone to that point with a customer, we're effectively only doing two-thirds of the job. The most valuable assets to you are going to be your best customers. We want to make sure that they continue being our customers.

As many businesses start off, it's based off of referrals. So we want to ensure that we're in position to help create a stronger referral network and that we can create a position where our customers have equity in our brand, and they care about what we do, and they're genuinely interested in the things that we do. So having these kinds of questions in place and the series of actions to follow those are going to be really impactful in not only understanding your contacts, but starting to segment them so we know where to put the most focus.

That 0 to 6 range, this is a huge area of opportunity for us. Looking at these people that said they didn't really have a good experience with us, we need, and we have an obligation as a company, to go back and ensure that we don't do that again.

Q: Does HubSpot have a tool that we can use to send out a survey? Or is this going to be a third party that we could use, like SurveyMonkey or something?

A: Either one. HubSpot does have a survey tool that becomes available at Service Pro or Service Enterprise. But if you're not yet at that level or you're currently working with a tool like SurveyMonkey, because HubSpot is very ecosystem focused, we totally encourage our customers to use an existing survey tool if they have one, as long as it gets them to that same goal. Really, we care more about the success of our customers rather than the way that they get there.

Q: Good point. I'm sure there's some sort of workflow that we could build to then automatically update that custom property based off of the scoring.

A: Exactly.

Q: Okay, so we'll move on to the next question. Beyond persona and activity information collected, what custom properties have you seen that helps segment and identify an audience? And maybe give us an example.

A: This is another really good question. It's one that's hard for me to answer, and sometimes people get a little bit frustrated with my response here, because it's always going to be an “it depends.” Like I said, HubSpot is kind of like a blank canvas when you get started. So it's going to be what you make it, and the information that you need to keep in it and that you are looking to get inside of HubSpot is going to be contingent on your business model.

But ultimately, it always comes down to two different types of information. We're going to be looking at finding new ways to capture and track implicit data and explicit data. We can think of implicit data as things like our activity or our engagement with our content, with our website, with our team.

Conversely, we'll have things like our explicit data. So things that they may tell us by virtue of a form submission, like their job title, maybe their email domain, or number of years experience that they have. Things that we can find maybe on their LinkedIn page as well. These are the kinds of information that are going to be really valuable to us in getting a deeper understanding of our contacts.

If we were to look at this from an email marketing perspective, I never advocate for sending out an entire database wide email. It is always going to be a good idea to segment at least to some extent, so that if we need something that goes out to the entire customer base... Let's imagine that we're doing business internationally. We don't want to assume that everyone wants to get that email in English. Using some information about where they're located may be helpful to ensure that they're getting a better experience and they know that you are serving up content for them in their preferred language.

And then thinking about a more marketing focused application of segmentation, this kind of explicit data about their activity and their engagement, and the explicit data that we have about their job title and their location and their number of years experience will be really, really helpful for us in churning out that more specific content. I think one of the most important aspects of marketing in 2020 and the biggest theme is customization. Making sure that we have customized and personalized content that's going out at scale is going to help separate your business from everyone else.

But if we wanted to look at just really high level examples, maybe in the eCommerce space, it may be important for us to take into consideration previous purchases by product or number of previous purchases. Real estate, it may be something like the home type of interest or the number of residents that they're in the market for in terms of their housing arrangement. I hope that that does a good job of explaining the various types of use cases that may go into consideration for what types of properties we want to customize and why they're important.

Q: Great. Next question. Can you do a lead assignment from a custom property based off of a source like zip code or something else?

A: This is possible. HubSpot is going to require a little bit of legwork upfront. It's going to be one of those things that's almost like building out a lead scoring property where it's going to be some work upfront in configuring it the way that we want it to perform. But once we have it set up, we can sit back and let it do its job.

Some of the preliminary things that need to be done in order to do any kind of rotation based off of geographic location is going to be starting off with things like a custom property for territory assignments. So let's think of a custom property that's formatted as a dropdown select that has something like North America, Asia, Europe, all of our major continents or however we're broken down, assuming we're doing business at a global level, of course. As well as additional property that we're using that could be HubSpot's default property for postal codes.

What we're going to want to do with that postal code property is then essentially build out a list that we say, "Okay, I want a postal code range for all of Connecticut." So I build out a custom list. I've built out an active form that says, "This is all of the zip codes for Connecticut." In doing that, we would essentially just say, "Show me an active list with a criteria that says, 'Zip codes are any of...'" And then we put in the entire range of Connecticut postal codes separated by a semicolon. That should help us to at least start to build out blocks of different ranges.

Then we could say by virtue of a workflow, I want to create a workflow that uses list memberships as my trigger. So if anyone is a member of the Connecticut list, the Massachusetts list, the New Hampshire list, Vermont list, and Maine list, then we maybe use that workflow to automatically say, "Add those people to the New England territory."

I understand that this concept can be kind of difficult to grasp without a visual. HubSpot's blog post that has some visual aids and a step by step process for building this out inside of HubSpot. I'll be sure to make sure that Samantha has this link at the end of today's conversation and includes it somewhere in this recording, so that you all can take a look at this and get a visual understanding of what this looks like. Just so that we don't have to go through listening to this and try to figure it out on our own.

Q: That would be great. I'm sure it kind of depends on how sales people break up their territories. Sometimes it can be easier done just by state, or if it is by zip code. But yes, a visualization would be super helpful, because I know our community is all about automation and how we can just pass that off kind of seamlessly. So it sounds like there's a little bit of work you have to do upfront, but after that, it will just run.

A: Exactly. The idea is that we would have this running seamlessly in the background. So that lead assignment and lead rotation could essentially be handled by the customer. By virtue of the actions that they take after this is set up, they know and they should feel confident that the person that's reaching out to them is someone that's located in their neck of the woods or someone that services their neck of the woods.

Q: Our final question. Give me an example of your favorite custom property.

A: For this one, I actually think it would be helpful if we did a little bit of a visual aid. So I want to share my screen and walk you through one of my favorite examples of a calculated property. This is another area inside of HubSpot that I find is slightly underutilized, but has very common use cases across, let's say, a sales department for this specific application.

creating custom properties in Hubspot

What we're going to be doing today is building out the most simple calculated property, which essentially is just calculating commissions. For this, we really only need to leverage one or two properties. What we'll do is we'll just label this commission and we'll put this into a property group of deal information. Description's optional, so we'll skip that for now. We're looking for a calculation property.

Building this calculation, we can either use just numbers and use a pretty straightforward calculation. Or we can leverage existing properties. What I'm looking for here is the amount of property, which shows us the amount that the deal was valued at or the number in currency that we've affixed to that deal. Then what we're going to do is change this to a factor of multiplication. Imagine that our commission rate as standard on a consistent basis is going to be 20%. So all we do is multiply this by a factor of 0.2 on a constant, and then we hit create.

Now what we can do here is then come back into my list of all my deals and we'll add in just a column here that will show us our commission. The amount of this deal is valued at 5,000. But the sales rep can come in here and know right off the top and get themselves excited that they're going to be getting a thousand dollars from that $5,000 deal.

Q: That's awesome. I didn't even know that existed. Is this typically used just internally for the sales team, or do you see it used for customers as well?

A: I would say it has applications across the entire company, but most commonly it's used somewhere in the sales process. It's also common if you're measuring amortization on a deal or you're trying to figure out tax percentages. These are the kind of things that are really helpful when just getting an understanding of what the end revenue will look like after the commission's been taken out, after the taxes have been applied, whatever it may be. These are some pretty common uses for the calculation score.

It also has an application for people in the education space and figuring out, "Do we need to add a curve to our final score that people have been attributed through our LMS that's connected to HubSpot?" These are really cool things that we can do here and kind of figuring out ways that we can start to use HubSpot's automation to do some of the work for us, so that we're not sitting in front of HubSpot with a calculator in our lap.

Q: That's an exciting one. As a salesperson, everyone wants to know the commission. To see that, can get me excited for the sale.

Thanks for joining us, Nick! If you are ready to level up your HubSpot skills, join us over at The Insight Studio! Hire a HubSpot Administrator to simplify the process of leveraging custom properties, schedule a free consult today!

Updated 3/23/23

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