Custom Objects

HubSpot Custom Objects: The Ultimate Guide

A detailed guide on HubSpot custom objects covering use cases for various industries, custom object creation, pros, cons, limitations, and third-party tools.


In this detailed guide, we will cover

 

 

What are HubSpot custom objects and why do we need them?

In the last 5 years, whenever we started the implementation of HubSpot for growing companies, we always bumped into the limitations concerning the HubSpot structure as HubSpot didn't have the much-needed option of custom objects in its CRM. Almost every other time, we used to hear: "Can you create a deal-like pipeline for projects?", "How can we save all payments related to a closed deal?", "Can we have a table for our invoices?" and so on and so forth... 

Startups or small businesses are inclined towards molding their needs as per the systems e.g. creating a deal for every purchase, creating pipelines for account management or production and moving the deals within pipelines or cloning the deals, etc. But when it comes to fast-paced or established companies, especially the ones who are already using custom-made or enterprise-level CRMs, it sometimes becomes a deal-breaker. They don't want to compromise on the data structure and want data in a proper structure that can be used for management and reporting too.

Now, let's focus on the basic-and most important-question, "What is a custom object?". Generally speaking, objects are created in order to store the information you need for your business. More analytically, now, in HubSpot, like the standard objects of contacts, companies, deals, and tickets, you can create your own objects to represent and organize your data customized to fit your needs and associate them with standard objects.

Basically, it's a step to empower HubSpot, one of the best and powerful marketing automation tools, so it can enhance its CRM capabilities and evolve as a powerful tool for both sales and marketing teams.

Custom Object in HubSpot

 

Common scenarios for custom objects

Wondering the real-time cases when custom objects can be used?

Agency or Services Firm:

After closing a deal, if you have multiple invoices and payments per deal, you can create custom objects for both Invoices and Payments and associate them with the respective deals. You can also create objects for "Projects" or "Orders" and use them to track post-closing processes within HubSpot to align sales and Account Management teams. Some common examples are as follows:

Projects or Orders

Manage projects within HubSpot UI by creating custom objects for projects and managing that in the pipeline.

Payments or Invoices

Manage and track payments from clients within Hubspot

Onboarding

Ease up your client's onboarding by using a custom object for onboarding.

On-going contracts

Multiple ongoing contracts related to one closed deal can be managed using custom objects.

Software-As-A-Service (SAAS):

Before having the custom object feature, mostly SAAS companies were using deals for both sales and directly-purchased subscriptions and it could cause a lot of mess in many cases. Now, we can use deals for the sales process and create a custom object for "Subscription" linked with our backend where we can update all subscription-related information. Here is the snapshot of custom objects for SAAS:

Subscriptions or Memberships

Custom object options can be used conveniently for subscriptions and membership management for SAAS or membership businesses.

Referrals

Now we can build a referral management system within the HubSpot interface using a custom object for a referral.

Feedback

Customer feedbacks at various instances or life-cycle can be managed accurately using an object for feedback.

Law firms:

Like agencies, law firms are also troubled with using one module or object to manage the pre-closing and post-closing process. Now, they can use deals till closing and create a custom object for "Cases" to manage one or multiple cases associated with one closed deal. 

Marketplace:

Community marketplaces connecting clients with service providers can create a custom object for "Service provider" and associate contacts and closed deals with Service providers e.g. Dental Marketplace can associate clients with the custom object for "Dentists" or Rental Marketplace can associate contacts with the Properties they are interested or rented.

Email dilemma:

We recently got into a unique case with a client who was using the phone number as a unique identifier for leads in CRM but in HubSpot, we couldn't replicate that option. Now, using custom object options, we can create a custom object for "People"(even for the cases of multiple people with the same email) and associate contacts with people where needed. It's a complicated configuration but can be helpful. 

Manufacturing:

Companies from the manufacturing sector, when trying to leverage HubSpot as their core system for the organization for sales and support, they used to face multiple limitations with customization concerning objects. Now, they can manage plenty of their needs within Hubspot. Common use-cases for the manufacturing sector are provided below:

Contracts

Manufacturing contacts can be handled and tracked within HubSpot UI using custom objects.

Payments

Payment collection can be streamlined with its own object.

Suppliers

An Object for suppliers can be created to associate them with closed deals and customers.

Order Management

Production or manufacturing orders can be tracked using a custom object for orders.

 

Warranties

Warranties can be managed for each deal or customer using custom objects.

Educational Institutes:

Many educational institutes are using HubSpot but they faced many limitations in the past, due to custom object issues.

Courses

Students’ enrollment in courses can be managed efficiently using a custom object for courses.

Instructors

Just like service providers for marketplaces, instructors are important for educational institutes and institutes can now associate them with students (contacts) and courses.

Education Records

Educational records like certifications, semesters, grades, etc. can be handled now using their custom objects.

Others:

Custom objects can be used in many other industries and business functions, too. Some other common examples of using them are:

Quotes or Proposals

Manage projects with HubSpot UI by creating a custom object for the project and managing that in the pipeline.

Team Members

For assigning multiple team members to one deal or company, custom objects for team members can be used.


How does custom object association work?

Custom objects can be associated with all or specific standard objects e.g. a custom object “Project” can be associated with contacts, companies, and deals or you can configure it in a way that it can only be associated with deals to make it a sub-section of the deal. 

Additionally, two custom objects can be associated with each other e.g. assuming we have an agency providing different programs and handling multiple events within the program, we can create two Custom Objects and associate them with each other.

Custom objects also have one-to-many relationships with standard or other custom objects. 

 

Custom objects in workflows

Object-based workflows: We can use custom object-based workflows in workflow-tool like deals and companies. Although, date-focused workflows are only available at the contact level and not available in custom objects.

Triggers in workflows: We can create workflows using the custom object properties as triggers in new object-based workflows. We can also use standard associated objects in triggers. E.g. in the case of the custom object "Project," we can use deal-based or contact-based properties as triggers if they are associated with a custom object. 

Actions Available: We can create custom object entries via workflows or copy or enter data into custom objects entries like the standard objects of contacts or deals. 

Custom Objects in Workflows

 

Custom objects in emails and sequences

Like standard object properties in HubSpot, automated emails have the option to use custom objects properties as tokens. E.g. if you have a custom object for "Lawyer", you can send an email with the tokens of "Lawyer".

Custom Objects in Email Personalization

Unfortunately, at the moment, we don't have the option to use custom object tokens in sales templates and consequently, those tokens can't be used in HubSpot sequences. As a workaround, you can create some custom properties at the contact level and save selected data into contacts from a custom object using workflows. It’s definitely not an ideal case but can be used in most cases.

HubSpot also introduced an option to create programmable emails. It’s in beta and will be rolled out in the future for all customers. It will definitely be a game-changer for the clients looking for advanced configurations in email capability. Within programmable emails, you can use tokens from custom objects like HuBL and can send a dynamic email. E.g. landlords can get the status of all of their properties in an email every Monday.

 

How to create a custom object and its properties in HubSpot

Before creating any object, you need to make a detailed schema structuring to identify which objects you need and what type of associations those objects need to have based on your business requirements. 

Custom object option is a two-edged sword. We can leverage that to create a powerful system or we can over-complicate the situation and make a mess in HubSpot, a tool which is preferred over others mainly because of its ease of use.

Once you define your business requirements, data structure, and object schema, your next step will be the creation of objects in HubSpot. 

Can we create a custom object in HubSpot UI? No, we must go to HubSpot developers docs or third-party tools to create a custom object.

Do you need a developer to create a custom object? No, one can manage that without development skills but need good expertise with HubSpot. Custom objects can only be created via API but creation isn’t a complicated task at all. With basic knowledge of API, you can easily create a custom object in HubSpot. 

You can go to HubSpot Developer Docs and using your API key and the provided documentation, you can define and create a custom object in your CRM account.

You can also use a third-party tool Easy Custom Object available in HubSpot marketplace. It can help you define, customize and manage your custom objects without any coding knowledge.

Once you define your custom object, the next step is to define your custom object properties in HubSpot, and the good news is that you can create properties for custom objects using HubSpot UI as you do for Contacts, Deals, and Companies.

Custom Objects' properties creation

 

Import and export of custom objects

In the case of import, HubSpot treats custom objects like the standard ones and allows the import of custom objects data like other standard objects. In the case of the custom object, internal IDs use to work as a unique identifier just like deals, and for the association of data with standard objects, we can use those IDs. 

Similarly, all data or view-specific data related to any custom object can be downloaded via the general export option.

Custom Objects Import in HubSpot

 

Custom objects in reporting

That's not all; some other cool stuff related to custom objects:

  • Custom objects can be used in reporting and we can define both single-object standard reports or multiple-object custom reports using the reporting tools.
  • Now, you can create Kanban or Board or Pipeline View in HubSpot custom objects just like you can for deals or tickets. You can also customize the stages as per your business needs. This guide from HubSpot demonstrates how you can use pipeline view with custom objects.
  • Smart Lists can use custom object filters which can help us have smart content in emails and landing pages, based on custom objects. 
Custom Objects in Reporting

 

Custom objects limitations

We discussed all the great stuff about the custom objects. Now, let's discuss the limitations we have at the moment with custom objects. 

  1. Zapier, one of the common tools being used with HubSpot for third-party integrations, doesn’t support custom objects as of now and we need to use API to do any sort of external data syncing or integration.
  2. Many tools in the marketplace are still not compatible with custom objects and are mostly dependent on standard ones so we need to keep this in consideration while choosing the right tool.
  3. Custom object tokens are not available in templates and consequently can't be used in sequences tools in HubSpot.
  4. Custom object creation isn't yet available in HubSpot UI and we must opt for HubSpot Developer Docs or third-party tools to define or edit objects. 

We have tried to cover all the aspects of HubSpot objects based on their current status but the features are evolving. If there is a query or suggestion, please do let us know and our consultants will respond asap. 

 

 

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