At INBOUND 2020, we announced the HubSpot platform now includes custom objects. Some people were thrilled, some people were confused, and a lot of people were both. If you’ve been looking for some basic information about what custom objects are, what they can do, and whether you need them, this post is for you.

Let’s start with an example.

Imagine you own a pet kennel. Whenever a new customer brings their pet to you, there are a couple of forms you have them fill out. First comes a form about the human being — their name, contact info, and billing preferences. Then, you have a separate form to collect information about pets — you have them fill out one per animal. This collects information about the animal’s size, age, breed, health information, dietary restrictions, and whatever else you need in order to take care of them for a few days.

To keep everything organized, you staple the pet forms to their owner’s form, so you never have to wonder which customer a particular animal belongs to.

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Now, let’s imagine you decide to modernize your pet kennel: you stop using paper forms and start using HubSpot. You can represent your customers using Contacts. Contacts are an example of a standard object in HubSpot. Other standard objects are companies, deals, and tickets. Each of these objects has properties. The Contacts object has some standard properties (name, email, phone number, etc.), but you can also create custom properties if necessary. Each space on that paper form where you collected a piece of information about a customer gets its own contact property in HubSpot.

But where would you put the pet information? The standard objects inside of HubSpot don’t have a good place to store animal information. Enter: custom objects. You could define a Pets object to hold that information. It could have properties for all the lines on your paper form (size, age, breed, health information, dietary restrictions, etc.), and you could stipulate that pet records should be associated to contact records.

Associations are connections between records. Just like the staples you used to attach pet forms to person forms, associations enable you to connect pet records to contact records. If you’re familiar with HubSpot’s standard objects, you’re probably also familiar with the ways contacts can be associated to companies, and deals can be associated to contacts and companies. When you define a custom object in HubSpot, you get to set the rules for what other objects it can be associated to.

In real life, you might not own a pet kennel, but custom objects aren’t just for pets. The great thing about custom objects is that they can represent pretty much anything. We’ve seen customers create objects for drones, real estate listings, shipping addresses, subscriptions, and many other things. If HubSpot is your system of record, and if you’ve struggled to find a place to store anything that’s important to the way you do business, custom objects might be the feature update you’ve been waiting for.

You might be thinking, “That all makes sense, but what can you actually do with custom objects?” The answer is: pretty much anything you can do with standard objects. Here are some screenshots to show you what I mean:

Can custom objects be imported?

Screenshot of Select an object you'd like to import with options such as deals, contacts, products, and moreCan custom objects be organized into filtered views?

A list of custom objects filtered by specific typesCan you create reports about your custom objects?

Workspace showing reports and graphs created from custom objects dataCan custom objects be used in workflows?

Workflows workspace showing where custom objects can be easily added.In addition to working with your favorite HubSpot tools, custom objects also get their own records, just like standard objects. Take a look at these two screenshots and see if you can tell which record is the standard object and which one is the custom object:

Custom objects record, identical to standard objects recordStandard objects record, identical to custom objects recordSo now that you understand what custom objects are, you might be wondering how to get started. Be sure to check out “Data in HubSpot: Custom Objects and Other Tools” at HubSpot Academy to learn how to design and implement a custom object that will serve you well.

Originally published Oct 22, 2020 11:00:00 AM, updated October 22 2020