Decluttering Your HubSpot Account: How and Why it is Important

Katie Schieder
Katie Schieder Director of Inbound Marketing & Content

A client recently asked us to pop into their HubSpot account and make recommendations on ways they can improve. A simple task for which I expected to sign in and make a few workflow recommendations. In and out in 20 minutes. This turned out to be a foolish assumption on my part.

I logged into the account and immediately noticed some red flags, or should I say some red arrows. Almost all the arrows were facing down, numbers were decreasing month-over-month, year-over-year. Not a single contact had been assigned a persona – despite having seven unique personas identified in the account. Blog, landing page, email, and contact performance were all down. What was the cause of these massive, account wide problems? Bloat.

Bloat is a major detriment to any marketing automation account and can cause a chain reaction of problems and unnecessary costs.

Why You Need to Beat the Bloat

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You need to treat your HubSpot account like a sorority girl trying to fit into a string bikini for spring break in Cabo after a semester’s worth of late night pizza. Your account can’t throw on an oversized sweater to hide the bloat, so it’s time to be ruthless and get serious about the health of your account. Why? I’ll give you three reasons: reports, campaigns, and cash.


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Reports are your roadmap to success. They allow you to set benchmarks and track goals. You can properly, unobjectively assess whether the tactics you are using are working, and you can pivot if necessary based on the data in these reports. Account bloat causes the data in your reports to be incorrect and therefore unable to be used to make decisions, or worse steers you to use unreliable data to make incorrect decisions. One of the biggest causes of incorrect report data is a bloated contact database, which we will go into detail about shortly.


The ability to create and manage complete campaigns is one of the many benefits of HubSpot, but how do you create relevant, successful campaigns if you can’t make decisions based on correct data? The answer is you can’t.

Bloat Problem 1 – You are forced to create campaigns that are not based in data.

Your contact database is bloated, which is what started this negative chain of events. You have created your campaign based on guess-work and a gut feeling. Who are you targeting with this campaign? You don’t know who to target because the bloat in your contact database resulted in an inability to properly segment and nurture each lead. Campaigns designed for specific audiences may be sent to contacts outside that intended audience.

Bloat Problem 2 – You must add more bloat to your account by uploading an external list of contacts to target in your newly created campaign.

The viscous circle continues.


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You are wasting money. Let’s get real, this HubSpot account is not cheap. It’s a valuable tool with the capability of helping you nurture leads, increase conversions, and maximize ROI, but bloat is preventing any of that from happening and potentially adding a considerable amount to your monthly bill, since your costs are related to your number of contacts. Whether you are on the Basic, Pro, or Enterprise plan, you should always be aware of:

  • How many contacts your plan allows
  • The cost of additional contacts within your plan
  • The cost of upgrading to the next plan
  • How many total contacts you have in your database
  • How many active contacts you have in your database

If you are only concerned about the financial ramifications of bloat, then these five bullet points are for you. If you are concerned about experiencing a negative chain reaction as a result of bloat, you should still be aware of the five bullets above. There was a reason you originally selected your HubSpot package, so unless you company has experienced rapid growth (and if so kudos to you), you should revisit your original goals and make a plan to beat the bloat.

Climb Down, Lemon

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Now that you understand a few of the major ways that bloat can negatively impact your HubSpot account, I will identify the primary and repeat offenders of bloat. I am doing this in the hopes that you will stop what you’re doing and use this information to put your account on a workout regimen to beat the bloat.

Why do you need to stop what you’re doing in order to beat the bloat? This is a fair question. As marketers we are natural multitaskers, but you need to fight the urge to continue working in the account while you try to beat the bloat. In the words of 30 Rock’s Jack Donaghy, sometimes the way back up is down.


It’s your only move, Lemon. Sometimes the way back up is down. Let me tell you a story. It’s 1994. I went ice climbing, and I fell into a crevasse. I hurt my leg, and I couldn’t climb back up. So fighting every natural instinct, doing the thing that seemed most awful to me, I climbed down into the darkness. And that’s how I got out. When I got back to base camp, I went and found my fellow climber, the one who had cut me loose after I fell. And I said, ‘Connie Chung, you did the right thing.’

– 30 Rock, Season 4, Episode 2


Let’s climb down to beat the bloat.

Click here to See How Arc Can Help You to Beat the Bloat

Contact Database

Remember how I started this journey? I discovered that my client’s HubSpot account was suffering from significant bloat. The primary offender was the contact database. Their contact database had an excess of 51,000 contact records, with only 204 contacts who visited the website or converted on an offer within the last two years. Yes, you read that right. That was not a typo. This means that only 0.4 percent of their contact database was recorded as being active on their site within the last two years. How is that possible? How can a company with only 204 active contacts over two years even stay in business?

This is a perfect example of bloat being reflected in reporting. If you looked at the main dashboard or any of the standard reports, you would see negative month-over-month numbers and a dismal amount of monthly active contacts. By looking deeper into the account, you can see that the cause of these inactive contacts was a daily sync with their CRM SalesForce.

Syncing information and contacts between your CRM and your HubSpot account is a great practice and something all companies should be doing, but there is a caveat. If you are going to sync contacts from your CRM to your HubSpot account, you need to have a plan or workflow in place to engage and nurture these contacts and avoid unnecessary bloat. This is where our client’s efforts fell short. Once the contacts were brought over from SalesForce to HubSpot, they sat there untouched. It’s possible that many of these contacts visited their site, but without asking them to engage via an email, call-to-action, or entering them into a workflow, they were unable to track the new users and market to them as individuals with unique wants and needs.

What else did this effect? Personas. I previously stated that when I originally entered the account I noticed that 100 percent of the contacts had no value as their persona, despite having seven unique personas identified in the account. Personas are based on individual actions, wants, and needs, but if you are not tracking and marketing to your contacts there is no way to segment contacts into individual persona groups. For this same reason, the lead scoring tool was made ineffective.

How to Fix Contact Database Bloat

The first thing you will need to do is remove all inactive contacts and any that you do not deem to be qualified leads. You can export this data or keep the contacts in SalesForce for future use, but if you are not marketing to them there is no reason to allow them to maintain residence in your database and continue to corrupt your data (and cost you excess fees).

The second step will be to establish a plan for future syncs. You can set up a workflow that will attempt to engage and nurture new contacts. If your contacts do not respond to the workflow, then you can remove them from the workflow, add them to a list of inactive contacts, and at the end of each month export all inactive contacts on that list.

Isn’t that easy? Imagine being able to reduce your contact database from more than 51,000 to a little over 200. That is the difference between HubSpot entry Basic plan and their premier Enterprise plan. That’s a potential cost savings of $26,400. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great reasons to have the Enterprise plan, but a bloated contact database is not one of them.


Lists are also common sources of bloat. The cause is the oh so tempting import feature. Importing a list of contacts is okay only if you want to enter those contacts into a workflow that will properly segment and nurture these contacts. Importing a list of contacts is NOT okay if you plan to send one email to them and never revisit the list again. Then the list is just sitting in your account and taking up precious space in your database.

How to Fix List Bloat

Want to become an efficient HubSpot account manager? Then this should become your mantra:

I am smart, so I use Smart lists. I am smart, so I use Smart lists. I am smart, so I use Smart lists.

Yes, Smart lists are a friend to marketers. They are doing all the work behind the scenes so you don’t have to. That list I previously suggested you create to manage and remove inactive contacts? That’s a Smart list. Static lists will never do more than sit in your account and they add to your bloat. Smart lists will help you organize, segment, personify, and market to your individual contacts.

To beat the bloat, you need to get Smart (lists.)

Work Together

My final tip to help you beat the bloat is to use the tools within the HubSpot database to make a cohesive marketing strategy. These tools were made to work together and learn from each other. Stop importing lists for singular emails. The only thing you will learn from that is an open and click rate, and if that was the only information you wanted you could be using a system like MailChimp or Constant Contact (but we both know you’re better than that.) Set up workflows, use Smart lists, segment users into defined personas, and contact them based on their lead score – which will now work since you made the decision to climb down and beat the bloat. Once you have these up and running you can tackle a few campaigns and start looking at pure, bloat-free data in your reports.

Now it’s time to put in the work and beat the bloat! And remember – fighting bloat is a continual process. Maintain a healthy diet of qualified leads, Smart lists, and workflows, and your HubSpot account will be beach body ready all year long!


If you would like help decluttering your HubSpot account or would like to schedule a free consultation, click here to learn about our HubSpot Consulting service’s.