What is a Contact in HubSpot?

Matthew Deal

HubSpot contacts are critical for understanding your sales and marketing.

If you’re lucky enough to have worked in an electronic customer relationship management system (CRM), you likely take the idea of a “contact” in HubSpot for granted.

After all, in terms of “objects”, contacts seem relatively straightforward—an object to represent all fields and HubSpot custom fields that might represent data that matters to you. Contacts, however, are actually one of the most versatile and powerful tools in your Inbound Marketing toolbox.

With that in mind, we’ve assembled this guide for an overview of contacts, their place in the HubSpot CRM, and how to fully utilize them.

HubSpot Contacts As Building Blocks

In many CRMs, contacts are the building blocks of relationship management. After all, whose relationship would you need to manage if not for people? People are who you are reaching via your website, emails, social media, and every single aspect of your marketing process. So, the way you organize and deal with these essential building blocks is paramount.

All other objects, technically, require some association with a HubSpot contact.

HubSpot Contacts As Objects

Contacts are one of four standard objects in HubSpot CRM.

While the official HubSpot documentation states that each object is “a different type of relationship or process,” I might be a little more reductive and say they are “groups of information” about something. That thing could just as easily describe anything from cars to types of fruit.

When you think about them more specifically, contacts are simply a group of properties and data related to people. So, it’s important to investigate that data and what it means to your organization. We cover more on this on our post on "What is HubSpot?"

What data is stored about HubSpot contacts?

The answer, mostly, is whatever data you want, obviously barring anything illegal from a criminal or privacy perspective. Some key information this can encompass includes:

  • Default fields to record critical information about contacts like first name and telephone number.
  • Custom fields to record information specifically important to your business, such as geography or previous purchase history.
  • Information related to where the contact came from (e.g. via an import or a form submission).
  • Behavior on how they interact with your brand including things like the number of emails they’ve opened or how often they’ve visited your website.

All of this information about your contacts can impact how you use contacts in campaigns and do marketing segmentation. Having access to this data is central HubSpot's contact management system.

Contact Properties in HubSpot

Contact properties, which are also referred to as fields, are where this data is stored for a particular object. They can include names, contact information, email addresses, and more)

Hubspot properties are any attribute about your contact that you want to track.

HubSpot properties are any attribute about your contact that you want to track.

However, what’s important to consider when thinking about all those properties? — each one describes something different. More specifically, some fields are best represented as a number, or even more specifically, currency. That’s why Property Field Types are key considerations. The type of field determines what you can do with that data in HubSpot. Some specific ones include:

  • Date Picker. This stores date-related information. Important for later examination of activities between certain time periods.
  • Currency. This field is a type of number field that relates to currency of any type.
  • Dropdown Select. A good candidate for categories related to your contacts.

Of course, those are just a couple of examples, but if you’re thinking about the data and what type of information you collect, it’s important to think about the field type you’re going to need as well.

Special HubSpot Properties

Of course, there are a few special fields that exist as part of any HubSpot contact record that won’t behave like the rest. Here’s a quick overview of some of these special properties:

Lifecycle Stage

Few fields are as important for describing the relationship of a HubSpot contact to your organization than Lifecycle Stage. The lifecycle stage is intended to describe where a contact is in the sales or marketing process, essentially acting as a funnel.

That said, this field has a special trick: by default, HubSpot won’t let you downgrade the lifecycle status to a value lower in the funnel.

Original Source Drilldowns

A field property called Original Source was intended to describe how a contact appeared by using their traffic source, whether that was direct, organic, or anything in between. The only issue was that HubSpot previously didn’t allow the administrator to edit it.

Long story short, you are permitted to edit original source, just not two other fields associated with it: Original source drill-down 1 and Original source drill-down 2.

While these fields will relate to how HubSpot reads UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) variables on a certain link, they aren’t editable. That’s why you should make sure your campaign links are correct.

Email Address

Email address isn’t just a convenient field—it functions as the unique identifier for all the contact’s activities. As soon as someone submits a form, HubSpot will automatically associate any activity from that contact with the correct email address. This is why it’s impossible to have two different contact records with the same email address.

Plus, email addresses are used in many instances of HubSpot to automatically associate contacts with the correct company, based on the domain.

All that said, it’s also important to keep in mind that while email is technically a single field, it is possible to have multiple email addresses for a single contact.

Contact Activities in HubSpot

There’s also a separate area for contact data: activities. Activities are precisely what they sound like—a log of activities related to your contacts.

Some examples include:

  • Sales or customer services emails from your contacts
  • Webpages they’ve visited
  • Marketing emails they’ve received
  • Internal sales or marketing notes
  • Forms they’ve submitted

Keeping track of all these different activities will illuminate how each of your contacts are engaging with you and where you could build more effective strategies.

Learning HubSpot Through Contacts

We often get the question "What is HubSpot?" and starting with contacts is a great entryway to understanding how to work with data within a CRM and directly map on to other objects that you'll likely use in your business.

HubSpot Contacts and Other Objects

Beyond contacts, other types of objects include companies, deals, and tickets. There are also HubSpot-defined objects, such as products and calls. Just like contacts, each represents a different type of relationship or process that you’re managing in HubSpot. For those using HubSpot Enterprise, businesses can also create custom objects as well.

When your business requires a different object, you can define a custom object, such as “Dogs” as an object for a Dog kennel, for example. Once this object is defined, you can create properties and customize the associations between custom objects and other objects.

All that said, to fully understand these objects, whether standard or custom, it’s important to understand two other crucial components in the HubSpot CRM:

  • Records, which are a single instance of an object, where you can store information and track interactions.
  • Properties, which represent the different types of information you can store in a record.

Properties and records work with your objects to provide the full picture.

For example, if you have a client named Sarah Smith- she is a contact record and her email, ssmith@email.com, is stored in the Email contact property.

Her organization, Watch Her Run, is a company record, which can then be associated with Sarah Smith to show the relationship between the two. Whenever Sarah interacts with your sales and support teams, you can create and associate deals and tickets with Sarah and her company.

Whatever information you’re collecting with your contact objects, understanding how this information works together will help inform you on how to structure your campaigns.

More Resources for HubSpot Contacts

If you’re interested in learning more about contacts, we have a number of free-to-use HubSpot resources:

Ready to Learn More About Using HubSpot Contacts?

Since contacts are the foundation of any eCRM, which is especially true for HubSpot, then any sense of brand measurement is impossible without correctly attributing contacts.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding contacts, objects, and the HubSpot CRM as a whole. When you get started with HubSpot and begin dealing with your contacts, we understand that it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

That’s why we’re dedicated to working with clients to help them make data-driven decisions that shift how they engage with their audience, improve metrics, and assert why their company matters. Our specific approach is iterative, practical, and designed to scale at any size organization. If you’re ready to talk to us more about building out your campaigns, feel free to drop us a line!

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