Whether you’re an old hand at managing relationships with customers or are relatively new to the field, odds are that you need some way of keeping track of all the leads, prospects, opportunities, and customers that your company engages with daily.
Customer relationship management (CRM) tools like HubSpot provide users with a contacts database solution to help them track the people they’re currently marketing, selling, or servicing.
What Are HubSpot Contacts?
Contacts are the very heart of your marketing efforts. Building a database of contacts helps companies have a consistent stream of people to market to, effectively track which hot leads are closest to closing, and manage their current customers.
HubSpot’s Contacts tool is a database solution that keeps track of everyone your business engages with and records specific events and data about them as needed. Users can customize their contact properties in HubSpot to make the data they track as specific to their business’ needs as possible.
It is also the central component of the HubSpot CRM that is used to fuel the majority of the other tools on the platform. Every interaction with every contact tracked here can be used to create custom reports, fill dashboard feeds, spur conversations, open tickets, or trigger workflows. Almost everything you do in the HubSpot CRM will either draw upon your contacts database or help you manage it in some way.
Just as your contacts are the heart of your marketing, service, and sales efforts, the HubSpot Contacts tool is the heart of your contact management.
Top 5 Benefits of HubSpot Contact Management
So, what are the benefits of using HubSpot to manage your contacts? Here are some of the biggest reasons to track contact information in your HubSpot portal:
- Associating Contacts with Companies. If you have access to the HubSpot Companies tool, you can associate the contacts in your database with these companies. You can even set your HubSpot portal up to automatically associate contact records with a company based on their email domain. For example, if the email domain for a company in your database called XYZ Metals is @xyzcompany.com, then you could have any contacts with that email domain automatically associated with XYZ Metals’ company record. Any interactions with that lead could then be logged in the XYZ Metals activity log—increasing traceability for your account-based marketing strategy.
- 1 Million Free Non-Marketing Contacts. With HubSpot, you only have to pay for the contacts you’re actively marketing to. If you have a contact in your database that you don’t want to market to for some reason—such as them opting out of communications or having an invalid email address—you can change their status to “non-marketing” contact and they’ll no longer count towards your marketing contacts limit. This allows you to preserve them as contacts in your system if they re-engage at a later date or if you want to use them for a future workflow. A business can have up to 1 million non-marketing contacts on HubSpot
- Custom Contact Property Creation. In HubSpot, you can create custom contact properties on top of the default properties already included with your HubSpot platform. These custom properties make it easier to customize your contact management strategy to more closely align with your marketing, sales, or service goals. You can even edit the custom properties that you create if you need to.
- Improved Customer Relationship Management. Drill down into individual contact profiles to see detailed information about your interactions with them—such as recent communications, open tickets, current deal stages, and more. Find out everything you want to know about each contact in one convenient place.
- Contact List Management. Create lists of contacts based on specific filters that you can then leverage for your custom workflows in HubSpot. Automate key processes with active lists that add contacts to them when they meet certain criteria or create static lists for event-centric email workflows and special promotions.
This list is simply scratching the surface of what you can do in the HubSpot contacts tool. There is so much more that you can do with this tool that every user can benefit from regardless of role.
HubSpot Contacts FAQs
New and experienced HubSpot users alike tend to have a lot of questions about the platform—especially since HubSpot is constantly adding new features! Some of the most common questions that users have about HubSpot contacts include:
What Can You Track with HubSpot Contacts?
If you use custom contact properties, you can track almost any data point you can capture through a form, tracking cookie, or manual data entry. The default HubSpot properties for contacts include:
- Annual revenue
- Buying role
- City/State/Country information
- Company name
- Current lead status (lead, customer, opportunity, etc.)
- Current and past sequences enrollment
- Days to close a deal
- Email address
- Last activity date
- Last contact date
- Last engagement date
- Lifecycle stage
- Merged contact IDs
- Name data (first/last)
- Number of associated deals
- Owner assigned date
- Time zone
- Website URL (for their business, if applicable)
These are just a few of the default properties that HubSpot tracks about customers. The platform can also track specific information about email activity, conversion information, ad properties, and visitor web analytics data on top of basic contact information! For example, with web analytics data, you can see what pages the contact has visited, their average page views per session, and the first referring site (i.e. where they came from to visit your site).
What Are Marketing Contacts Vs Non-Marketing Contacts in HubSpot?
In HubSpot, there’s a distinction between your marketing contacts and your non-marketing contacts. What’s the difference? The practical difference between the two contact types is that you can use certain tools for marketing contacts that you cannot use for non-marketing contacts. Marketing contacts also count towards your billable limit of marketing contacts while non-marketing contacts don’t.
For example, if a contact is set as a non-marketing contact, you cannot use the HubSpot platform to send them marketing messages such as lead nurturing emails. You could still use other communication tools to reach out to these prospects, but not the native HubSpot tools and integrations.
How Many Marketing Contacts Can I Have?
Your marketing contacts limit will depend on your current HubSpot subscription.
- Marketing Hub Starter. This subscription provides 1,000 contacts for a price of $18/month.
- Marketing Hub Professional. This subscription ups the base limit to 2,000 contacts and costs $800/month.
- Marketing Hub Enterprise. This subscription comes with 10,000 contacts and costs $3,600/month.
In addition to providing more contacts in total, the Professional and Enterprise subscriptions also unlock more HubSpot platform features. For example, Marketing Hub Enterprise subscribers can access a “likelihood to close” contact property not available on a Starter or Professional subscription. They also enjoy higher custom reporting and dashboard setup limits.
If you want to increase your marketing contacts limit without upgrading to a whole new tier of HubSpot, you can. If you exceed your marketing contacts limit, your account will automatically be upgraded to the next contact limit tier. The cost of this upgrade and the maximum will vary depending on your HubSpot subscription.
- Marketing Hub Starter. The cost is $18/month for every 1,000 additional marketing contacts beyond the first 1,000.
- Marketing Hub Professional. The cost is $225/month for every 5,000 additional marketing contacts beyond the first 2,000.
- Marketing Hub Enterprise. The cost is $100/month for every 10,000 additional marketing contacts beyond the first 10,000.
Starter is ideal for smaller businesses that aren’t handling a lot of contacts—such as an independently-owned business that only deals with customers in their local area. Meanwhile, Enterprise offers the best cost-per-contact of any subscription tier but has the highest base price to start.
Who Can Use HubSpot Contacts?
The contact properties and database are available to all HubSpot subscribers. However, specific features of the HubSpot Contacts toolset may be restricted to certain users and subscription types.
For example, to set someone as a marketing contact, you need to have a Marketing Hub Starter, Professional, or Enterprise account. You would also need to have the right permissions in your HubSpot portal.
For contacts, the permission settings are:
- Delete. This allows the user to remove a contact from the database.
- Edit. This allows the user to edit an existing contact in the database.
- View. The most basic permission that is required for the other two. This allows the user to see the contacts database and view contact information.
There are separate permission settings for allowing a user to view, edit, or delete properties in the HubSpot portal. Speaking of editing contact properties…
How to Edit Contact Properties in HubSpot
Say you have a contact or company property in your HubSpot portal, but you find that the property doesn’t quite match up with what you need or the way data in it is formatted incorrectly. This is where editing contact properties in HubSpot can help!
To edit a contact property in HubSpot, you first need to have editing permissions for contact properties in your HubSpot portal. If you do not have permission, you won’t be able to make edits.
Once you have permission to edit contact properties, you can do so by:
- Going to your HubSpot Settings menu (click the gear icon in the upper right of your HubSpot portal top navigation menu)
- Navigating to “Properties” in the left sidebar menu. It will be under the “Data Management” header.
- Searching for the property you want to edit. For contact properties, make sure to choose “Contact properties” from the dropdown menu next to the “Select an object” text.
- Type in the name of the property you want to edit in the search bar, or scroll through the list manually to find the property you want to edit.
- To streamline searches, you can filter properties by groups, field types, business units, or access.
- You can also click on column headers to organize the properties in the list.
- Mousing over the property you want to edit and click on “edit.” Note: Some default properties or properties currently in use on records or other HubSpot tools cannot be edited.
- In the menu that slides in from the right, click on the tabs to change different aspects of the property:
- Basic Info: On this tab, you can change the group and business unit assignment of the property. You can also add a short description of the property to help define how it should be applied.
- Field Type: Change the field type of the property between various text inputs, option choices, values, or other options.
- Rules: Set rules for the property’s visibility as well as validation rules (for certain property types like text input)
- Used In: Not an editable field per se, but a report of how many contacts use the property as well as any other assets, such as forms, lists, and workflows the property is used in.
- When finished, click on “Save” to finalize your edits.
Here’s a quick video showing how to find and edit a contact property in your HubSpot portal:
In the video, you can see that the rules that could be set for a property changed when I changed the field type. If you change the field type, be sure to double-check your rules settings, as they may reset when the field type changes and old rules become unusable for the new field type.
How to Create Custom Contact Properties in HubSpot
Creating a new contact property is similar to the process for editing an existing property.
- From the Properties menu in your HubSpot settings (the gear icon in the upper right of your HubSpot portal nav), click on the “Create property” button.
- A menu will slide in from the right and ask you to choose an object type, business unit, group, and label. You’ll also be given a chance to add a property description.
- Pick the “Contact” object type to create a new contact property. Note: you cannot change the object type once the property is saved.
- “Business Unit” lets you assign the property to a specific business unit in your HubSpot portal.
- The “Group” you assign allows you to sort your properties by grouping similar properties (or ones used for a specific purpose).
- The label is what you’ll see in your HubSpot CRM on records and index pages. You’ll want to use a label that makes sense for the field type you plan to use. For example, if creating a property for a visitor’s secondary phone number, you might label it as “alternative phone number” or “home phone number” to differentiate it from an existing “business phone number” property.
- Click “Next” to select a field type.
- Choose a field type from the dropdown menu.
- As you edit field types, you’ll see a preview showing how the property will appear in a form (if applicable).
- Different property field types will have different options to edit them. For example, a text-based field will simply display a “sample text” line. Meanwhile, a “multiple checkboxes” or “dropdown select” field will require you to enter and label all of the options you want to set.
- Some field types may change the editor’s steps. For example, a “Score” field will not need you to set rules for the property, so the editor will skip the “Rules” step and change the button in the bottom right to “Save” instead of “Next.”
- Click “Next” to proceed (if applicable) or “Build [field type]” or “Create” (if “Next” does not appear). The button may change depending on the field type you have selected.
- Select property rules. These consist of one or more property toggles. Different property types will have different rules that can be applied. For example, text-based properties may include rules for minimum and maximum character limits, restricting the use of special characters (such as *, #, %, and $), and requiring unique values for the property.
- Click “Create.”
Here’s a video showing the basic process:
How to Manage Duplicate Contacts in HubSpot
Sometimes, you may find that there are a few suspiciously similar contact records in your HubSpot portal. For example, there are two John Smiths in your database who share the same phone number and email address—and they’re both registered as marketing contacts in your database.
What you have here may be a duplicate contact. A duplicate contact is someone who is entered into your HubSpot contacts database more than once. This is a problem because it can lead to sales reps mistakenly wasting time repeatedly reaching out to the same prospect, sending them the same emails multiple times via workflow automation, and potentially bloating your marketing contacts count to push you past your limit—increasing your Marketing Hub costs.
To avoid problems, it’s important to deduplicate your contacts.
Can’t I Just Delete the Duplicate Contacts?
You might think that the easiest solution is to simply delete the duplicate contact records. While this can temporarily resolve the issue, it can mean losing out on important contact data associated with the deleted records.
Instead of deleting duplicate contacts, consider merging contacts to preserve that data.
How to Merge Contact Records in HubSpot
- Go to your contacts database by clicking on “Contacts” under the “Contacts” dropdown in your top HubSpot portal nav menu.
- Search for the record you want to set as the “primary” record and click on it.
- In the left panel, click on the “Actions” dropdown menu.
- Select “Merge” from the dropdown.
- In the dialog box that appears, click the dropdown and search for the record to merge into the primary record.
- CAUTION: Once merged, a contact record CANNOT be unmerged. So, please be sure to verify that you have selected the correct record to merge.
- Click “Merge” to merge the secondary record into your primary record.
- A popup will appear notifying you that the merge is in progress. This may take up to half an hour to complete and all of the associated activities to sync.
- Note: a contact record can only be involved in a combined total of 250 merges. When two records are merged, all of the previous merges each record was involved in are counted against this limit. So, if one record has been merged with 200 other records, and another merged with 100 other records, those two records would not be able to be merged.
Here's a quick video showing the basic process:
What Happens After a Merge?
Following a merge, the primary contact record will remain in your HubSpot contacts database. Meanwhile, the secondary record would disappear as individual records and its data would be applied to the primary record.
Normally, the most recent value for a property is adopted by the contact, with a few exceptions:
- Create Date. The oldest record for this data is used.
- Email Addresses. Instead of replacing the primary contact’s email, the secondary contact’s email address, if different from the primary, is added as a secondary email address.
- Lifecycle Stage. The lifecycle stage that is the furthest along your sales funnel is maintained regardless of when the contact entered it. For example, if the secondary record had just become a prospect, but the primary record was already a customer, their lifecycle stage would remain at the customer stage.
- List Memberships. The secondary contact record is removed from all lists it was part of. Changes in contact record properties may also change the contact’s memberships in any active lists if it would then meet the list’s inclusion or exclusion criteria after the merge.
- Marketing Contact Status. If one record is a marketing contact and the other is not, the merged record will be set as a marketing contact.
- Number of Conversions and Unique Forms Submitted. These figures are added together instead of using the most recent figure from either record. So, if the primary contact had 12 forms submitted and the secondary had 5, the total number of unique forms submitted would be 17.
- Original Source Type. The oldest record for this data is kept—unless it was manually updated. In this case, the manually updated source property is maintained.
How to Restore Deleted HubSpot Contact Records
So, let’s say that a contact record in your HubSpot portal was deleted by accident. What can you do about it? You can restore an accidentally deleted record pretty easily in HubSpot.
Here’s the process:
- First, go to your Contacts database by clicking on “Contacts” in the dropdown under “Contacts” in your main HubSpot nav menu.
- Click on the “Actions” dropdown menu in the upper right of the window.
- Click on “Restore records” from the dropdown. You will be taken to a new tab.
- Select the contact(s) to restore from the list.
- Click on “Restore.”
- A dialog box will appear asking you to confirm the number of records to restore. Enter the appropriate number and click on “Restore” to begin the restoration.
- It may take a few moments for your contacts database to update to reflect that the record has been restored. If you don’t see your restored record(s) in your contacts database, refresh your browser tab after a few moments.
Here’s a short video showing the process:
In the video, you can see that it took a second for the “test test” contact to appear in the database after the restoration was initiated.
Note: A contact record must be restored within 90 days of the deletion. Additionally, deletions made as part of a GDPR "Right to be Forgotten" request cannot be restored.
How Sales Can Use HubSpot Contact Management
So, how can the sales team use the Contacts management tools in HubSpot? Well, almost anything that your sales team does to interact with contacts will rely on the contacts database! Some ways that sales can use contact management tools in HubSpot include:
- Enrolling Contacts in Sequences. Sales sequences are an essential tool for keeping your sales team in touch with your contacts following an interaction. By reviewing contact records in the HubSpot database, your sales reps can verify recent sales communications and even manually enroll contacts in a sequence if appropriate.
- Tracking Contact Lifecycle Statuses. By searching contacts based on their lifecycle statuses, sales reps can ensure that the hottest leads that are the furthest along the sales cycle are receiving consistent communications. This, in turn, helps foster contacts along the sales pipeline to close deals.
- Gathering Conversion Data. By tracking contact properties associated with contact records and putting them into data dashboards, sales teams can track conversion trends. This helps to identify opportunities for improvement in the sales cycle. For example, if there’s a sharp drop-off in conversion rates after contacts enter a specific lifecycle stage, then it might be necessary to modify the sales process leading up to that stage or to nurture contacts to the next stage.
- Reassigning Contact Owners. Are sales reps taking on new responsibilities in the organization or cycling out? If that’s the case, then you might want to reassign contact owners to adjust as necessary. In your contact records, you can easily reassign contact owners by clicking on the “Contact owner” dropdown and selecting a new owner from the menu. This helps your sales team rebalance the workload as needed to provide the optimal customer experience for your prospects.
- Calling Contacts Directly from the Contact Record. If you have the contact’s phone number in HubSpot, you can initiate a call with them by clicking on the “Call” icon in the upper left of the contact record. Note: This feature requires a Sales Hub or Service Hub subscription, and some limitations may apply depending on whether you have a Starter, Professional, or Enterprise subscription tier.
This is just scratching the surface of how your sales team can leverage the contacts database and management tools in HubSpot. Virtually anything your sales team does in the HubSpot database will heavily rely on having a healthy, well-managed contacts database.
How Marketing Can Use HubSpot Contact Management
Effective contact management is just as crucial for your marketing team as it is for your sales team. Your marketing team’s contact database management strategy is critical for ensuring that your sales team is fed good-quality contacts.
Some of the ways that your marketing team can use the contact management tools in HubSpot include:
- Merging Duplicate Contacts. To help reduce data duplicates and avoid hitting the marketing contacts limit, the marketing team can periodically check for and merge duplicate contacts in the contacts database.
- Setting Up Contact Lists. In the Contact database management tools, marketers can set up lists of contacts to use in other tools. By creating filtered lists of contacts, marketers can help themselves (and other teams) save time on setting up custom workflows to manage customer/prospect interactions.
- Reviewing Contact Properties. Tracking different contact properties can help marketing teams customize their reporting tools in HubSpot. This, in turn, helps marketers fine-tune their marketing strategies.
- Bulk Editing Contacts. Need to edit a lot of contacts all at once? Such as when you want to change the contact owner from a member of the marketing team to a sales team member because they’re ready for sales messaging. You can select multiple contacts all at the same time in the contacts database.
- Associating Contacts with Company Records. One of the bulk edits that can be made is to manually associate contacts with a specific company record.
- Importing Contacts. If you have contact data from another CRM tool, marketers can import that data using the “Import” or “Sync” function—which can be found by clicking on the “Import” button in the upper right of the contacts database window.
3 Contact Management Tips
Want to keep your contacts database in good health? Here are a few simple contact management tips to get you started:
1. Set Up a Deduplication Schedule.
To help keep costs down, it’s important to ensure that you aren’t duplicating your marketing contacts. Each marketing contact you have counts towards your limit, and exceeding that limit can increase your HubSpot portal costs.
So, periodically checking for duplicate contacts and removing the duplicates is important. How often should you run this check? That depends on your buying cycle and the rate of marketing contact growth in your HubSpot portal.
If your sales cycle is less than three months and your database grows steadily, then you’ll probably want to check at least once per quarter, but if your sales cycle is longer or your marketing contacts growth rate is slower, then a semi-quarterly or annual basis might work as well.
As a rule of thumb, if you notice that you’re likely to exceed your marketing contacts limit soon, then it’s a good time to clean up your contacts database regardless of your normal schedule.
2. Automate the Marking of Contacts as Non-Marketing When Possible.
Did you know that you can use workflows to change a contact’s marketing status? You can! In a workflow, you can set up triggers to change a contact from being a “marketing” contact to being a “non-marketing” contact.
Some common triggers include changing contact status when a marketing contact has a hard email bounce, when they don’t interact with your brand for more than 3+ months, or when they unsubscribe from communications with your team. That last example is an especially important one as it can help you avoid accidentally sending communications to someone who is currently opted out of receiving them.
Setting up these workflows can help you avoid overrunning your HubSpot marketing contacts limits—saving you money on your HubSpot subscriptions.
3. Check Your Sync Settings from Other CRMs.
Do you have a one-way or two-way sync set up with another CRM solution in your HubSpot portal? Be sure to verify your sync settings periodically to verify that contact records are updating properly and that the sync isn’t generating duplicate contacts in either CRM! Running limited sync tests and reviewing the results, such as changing a test contact’s data in one portal and then checking their contact record in the other portal after the sync, can help you identify potential issues early.
If you do notice a problem with your sync, contact HubSpot support or your other CRM’s support line to see if it’s the result of a known issue and if there is an easy-to-implement solution.
Useful Contact Management Resources from HubSpot
- HubSpot Contacts Knowledge Base
- Update and Filter Contacts with Source Properties
- Default Contact Properties
- Select Properties to Show in the About Section of a Record
- Bulk Editing Contacts
- Manage Your Properties
- How to Create Contacts
- Deduplicating Contacts, Companies, Deals, and Tickets
- Deleting Contacts
- Merging Records
- Managing Records in Slack
- Property Field Types
- Marketing Contacts
- Work with Records
- Setting Contacts as Non-Marketing
- Setting Contacts as Marketing