Hey everyone! Chris Higgins from Electric Monk here. Today’s video is all about the country property in HubSpot. We’re going to talk about some best practices, and I want to share a trick with you that will help make this property significantly more useful than it is out-of-the-box.

So, the country property is a standard contact property in every HubSpot portal and, unsurprisingly, it is used to capture the country that each of your contacts lives in. By default, the country property is a single-line text field.

Now, I reckon I could rant for a solid three or four hours on the pitfalls of text-fields in a system like HubSpot, but the TL;DR version is that whilst they are a necessary evil … in most cases they suck and you should avoid them at every opportunity, especially if the data that you’re collecting via these fields is going to be used for segmentation.

So, why all the hate on text fields? Well, the main problem with text fields is that the people filling them in can enter pretty much any data they like into them. Whether that’s your customers via the forms on your website, or your colleagues entering data into the HubSpot back end, by offering people a free text field to complete, you’re opening your database up to an enormous world of hurt.

Before we look at the solution for this, I wanna take a second to talk about why text fields are so problematic, particularly in a system such as HubSpot. The country property is actually a great example of a field that can cause you lots of issues.

We’re going to take where I live, in the UK, as an example. There are a variety of terms that people use to refer to the UK. Officially, we’re the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’. But usually that’s abbreviated to ‘Great Britain’, the ‘United Kingdom’, or the ‘UK’ - sometimes with full stops after each letter, and sometimes without.

And then you’ve got the four countries that make up the UK - Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England. Presented with a free text field asking for their country, someone who lives in Scotland might type ‘United Kingdom’, but they’re probably just as likely to type ’Scotland’.

It’s also not uncommon to see the UK and the Republic of Ireland grouped together as one region - either ‘UK / Ireland’ or ‘Ireland / UK’.

Now, whilst all of these names might be considered correct, HubSpot would count every one of these variations as a unique country. So let’s you’re trying to segment your database by country, and you create an active list of all contacts in the “United Kingdom”. Whilst those contacts who have their country listed as “United Kingdom” would appear in that list, anyone with their country listed as “Scotland”, “Wales”, “UK” or any other variation would not be on that list.

OK, that’s probably enough of a geography lesson for the time being. Now, we’re gonna take a look at how to go about fixing this in HubSpot, which is actually really straightforward. What we’re going to do is convert the country property from a text field into a dropdown. This is actually one of the first things I do with every new HubSpot portal I configure, and it will save you a load of headaches further down the track. By doing this, you’ll be giving your customers and users a list of predetermined options for them to choose from, rather than presenting them with a text field and leaving it to chance that they type the right thing.

We’re going to jump into the settings for the Country property, so from your HubSpot dashboard you click the Settings icon in the top right corner, and then click the Properties menu on the left side. Once you reach the Property settings page, type “country” into the search box, and then click the property name. This will take you to the page where you can manage the settings for this specific property.

Now, if you look at the bottom of the page here, you’ll see the option for field type, which HubSpot has set by default as a Single-line text. If you click that dropdown, you’ll see a list of other field types that you can select from - the one we’re going to use is Dropdown select.

OK, so you’ll see we’ve now got this Dropdown options panel. You should have a blank row here - we’re going to come back to this in a minute. What we need to do now is enter the values that will appear in our new dropdown list, and there are a couple of ways you can do this.

The first option is to manually type in your own custom property values. This is useful if your business only operates in a specific geographical area, such Europe, and you only want to give your users and your team a limited number of options to choose from. The “enter your own” option is also useful if you’re syncing data with another system and you need to have custom labels and database values that match your existing system.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to enter your own custom values, you can click this Load options button. HubSpot actually has a selection of common dropdown options pre-loaded for you to use - things like Days of the week, Education level or Timezone. There’s also a Country option, which will populate your field with a standardised list of 252 countries.

To do this, click the Choose options dropdown, and then select Country. Once you click that Load options button, HubSpot will load those values automatically for you.

You may notice you’ve got a blank row at the top of the list - this is the one that appeared when we first converted this property to a dropdown a minute ago. You don’t need this, so you can delete it by clicking this checkbox and then selecting the Remove option.

Finally, I’d recommend checking through the list and making sure that you’re happy with all of the values. If you’d like to change or remove any of them, you can do so.

Once you’re happy with your list, hit the Save button, and that’s it - your Country property is now a dropdown field.

If we jump across to the Contacts section of HubSpot, and take a look at one of our contacts, you can see when you click on the Country property that you’ve got your list of options to choose from, rather than a free text field.

I always recommend to my customers that they avoid using free text fields wherever possible. Obviously for properties like email or name, where there are a near infinite number of possible variables, a text field is the only solution. But in cases like this, where there is a finite number of choices, a dropdown property is ideal, and will allow you to maintain much tighter control over the data that is getting plugged in to your HubSpot database.

I hope you guys found that useful. As always, any questions or feedback regarding this video, please do leave a comment below. Thanks for watching, and I’ll speak to you in the next one!