Hubspot, Marketo or Pardot? Choosing a marketing automation platform

4 Nov 2023

A marketer’s guide to the leading marketing tools in 2024

Marketing automation tools represent perhaps the most significant leap forward in our industry in the last two decades.

The right marketing platform enables your business to:

  • Scale exponentially
  • Nurture customer relationships
  • Bring in more (and better) leads
  • Understand customer behaviour
  • Optimise every interaction

But it’s important to choose wisely. Marketing platforms are an investment both in terms of finances and time commitment, with significant payoffs if you make the right call.

So to help you make that all-important subscription decision, we’re comparing three of the leading platforms’ features, functionality, and flexibility against business growth criteria.

A quick disclaimer: Every business is unique. If you’re looking for a definitive answer, you unfortunately won’t find it here. Marketing platform selection is a process, and it’s important to contextualise the general advice below.

We specialise in customer experience marketing automation.

Introducing our three contenders

Although there are hundreds of marketing tools (if not thousands), three heavy hitters regularly appear atop lists of the best full-scale platforms: HubSpot, Marketo and Pardot.

These platforms are suited to companies that need sophisticated automation software, extensive CRM integrations and multichannel marketing intelligence.


HubSpot is a sales-focused CRM and marketing platform with an extensive range of tools for lead generation, customer service, SEO, operations and customer service. HubSpot’s solutions are arranged in “hubs” by use case, making things easier.


Marketo (owned by Adobe and also called “Marketo Engage”) has a focus on lead generation and customer experience, with powerful functionality for marketing automation, email marketing and lead management, plus seamless integration with other Adobe Experience Cloud software.

Adobe acquired Marketo’s complementary attribution software, which they have now integrated into the platform as Marketo Measure (formerly known as Bizible). This tool unifies behavioural and ad data with sales outcomes and machine learning. With Marketo Measure, you can make informed decisions that optimise your marketing strategy.


Salesforce Pardot recently rebranded to “Marketing Cloud Account Engagement”, reflecting the tool’s position within the Salesforce ecosystem of B2B marketing tools. All the old tools are still there – email automation, CRM, landing pages, personalised marketing – just under a different name.

How HubSpot, Marketo and Salesforce Pardot stack up


Let’s address the elephant in the room first. Price is often an early-stage consideration that eliminates a lot of options from your list.

There’s really only one way to get accurate Pardot, HubSpot or Marketo pricing, and that’s talking to the supplier or an implementation partner.

Any pricing published online is likely to be on the low end to entice you in. With HubSpot, for example, there is a mandatory onboarding fee ranging from £2,450 to £12,300 (US $3,000 to $15,000).

Pricing for CRMs and marketing platforms varies based on:

  • Database size

10,000 contacts is the standard threshold for enterprise packages. Most large organisations will have an active contact database of more than 10,000 people, and each platform prices larger databases differently.

  • Features

There’s no one-size solution for marketing platforms. Standard features vary across Marketo, HubSpot and Pardot, so it’s always worth weighing up the cost of extra functionality against your need for the capability.

  • Support

All three platform providers offer start-up packages, self-guided learning pathways and/or implementation support. But in reality, setting up these powerful systems within an organisation’s IT and business ecosystem can be complex.

Working with an implementation partner is the most efficient and cost-effective way to ensure the platform adapts to your business, condensing the learning curve and ultimately resulting in a better experience for your team.

Features and functionality

Marketing platforms increase customer lifetime value (CLV) by enabling marketers to engage with their audience in better ways.

To that end, HubSpot, Marketo and Pardot have similar features.

But what drives users to these platforms?

HubSpot is well-liked by smaller businesses that want an easy-to-use platform to manage their marketing. It offers everything from blogging to email marketing, social media management, and lead generation. Users are drawn to HubSpot’s intuitive interface and comprehensive features, making it a good choice for those new to marketing automation. Whilst the HubSpot offering is comprehensive and growing, it can often fall short for larger enterprises requiring more features (like managing event marketing and ABM) and more robust integrations with other platforms, like Salesforce CRM. It can also fall short where there is a need for several teams working on different datasets and/or assets, but they still need to report globally on marketing and sales performance.

Marketo is a top choice for those who are serious about marketing automation at scale. Its focus on account-based marketing and lead nurturing make it a favourite amongst B2B marketers. Marketo users love its flexibility and the ability to create fully customised workflows using smart campaigns. Plus, advanced features, like AI-powered predictive analytics and web personalisation. Further, it offers a multitouch attribution reporting feature, which allows users to gain a precise understanding of pipeline and revenue impact. Marketo offers the greatest flexibility and customisation, but that also means it can have a steeper learning curve than other tools. Therefore, there is a need to ensure a level of investment in the appropriate training and resources to get the best from the tool.

As Pardot is part of the Salesforce eco-system it is often used by those who are already using Salesforce’s CRM. There can be some cost benefits with this approach, as Pardot is generally available at a lower cost than Marketo for those that already have another Salesforce product. Users generally find the interface easy to use, and whilst Pardot does have similar capabilities to Marketo such as lead scoring, landing pages, forms etc, there are some limitations such as the flexibility of scoring models and lack of global forms. Its limited reporting and analytics capabilities are also a drawback for some users. Despite these limitations, Pardot is still a powerful marketing automation platform, however, businesses that require more advanced marketing features or integration capabilities may find that Marketo is a better fit for their needs.

Feature HubSpot Marketo Pardot
Lead management
Lead scoring
Lead qualification
Lead management
Email marketing
Contact importing
Automated contact cleaning
Email builder
Email newsletter preferences
Email automations
A/B testing
Dynamic content
Interaction reports
Personalised emails
SEO support
Landing page builder
Customer portal
Web activity tracking
Customer insight
Revenue attribution
Engagement reporting
Account-based marketing

Remember that each platform slices its subscription model differently, so you may need to upgrade to access specific features.

Learning curve (user-friendliness)

All the features in the world won’t help if the platform is too complicated to use.

As CXM and business transformation consultants, we’re all too aware of how often this consideration is overlooked in the purchase process.

Each platform has some degree of learning curve. Just like you can’t get behind the wheel of a Ferrari without a driver’s licence, you shouldn’t expect to be an expert from day one.

Thankfully, HubSpot, Marketo and Pardot and partners such as TAP CXM, have taken steps to make onboarding easier.

  • HubSpot is user-friendly with a clean, intuitive design. However, there is an onboarding fee despite it being an easy-to-use platform.
  • Pardot provides free, self-directed learning pathways in a custom learning management system.
  • Adobe offers a range of onboarding support, including online learning, training courses, implementation packages, Marketo consulting services and creative templates, with a custom pricing structure.

But these implementation packages often fall short. Pardot, Marketo and HubSpot all have high degrees of technicality.

Going it alone guarantees a months-long uphill battle with many roadblocks. You’ll get there eventually, but the frustration, time and technical tolls will be high.

Partnering with a CXM consultant during (and beyond) implementation smooths the path, freeing up your time to focus on the strategic and creative outputs rather than getting lost in the technical weeds.

Working with a specialist Pardot, HubSpot or Marketo consultant gets you up and running faster and shortens the runway to seeing ROI.

CXM consultants like TAP CXM focus on:

  • Implementing the platform to meet business objectives
  • Upskilling internal teams
  • Stabilising data handling processes
  • Optimising the experience for your customers
  • Shortening campaign launch timelines

Within weeks, rather than months, you’re likely to be at a point of proficiency where you can take the training wheels off and transition to an ad-hoc technical support model.

The bottom line: How to choose a marketing automation platform

Broadly speaking, each platform leans towards a different segment of the marketing industry.

  • Marketo was a strategic Adobe acquisition to meet the needs of B2B marketers, it is part of a powerful customer experience-focused platform and is geared towards lead generation, account-based marketing and customer segmentation analysis, and is always popular with marketing executives who want to understand ROI.
  • HubSpot is an agile all-in-one tool used for inbound marketing, sales enablement, customer experience optimisation and operational excellence, either in isolation or by combining tools. Typically more suited to small to medium-sized businesses with simple use cases.
  • Pardot was a strategic Salesforce acquisition to compete with the likes of Adobe and HubSpot, aimed at companies familiar with Salesforce but seeking the marketing and lead management functionality of its competitors. It is being further integrated into the Salesforce eco-system and rebranded. It is aimed at those with Salesforce as their primary CRM with simpler use cases requiring fewer integration capabilities, advanced marketing features and reporting capabilities.

Perhaps simplifying the platforms in this way is doing them a disservice.

But diving too deep into the technicalities (like predictive lead scoring, behaviour-based user journeys and two-way CRM integrations) will overwhelm anyone in the early stages of investigating marketing platforms.

For now, it all comes down to the use case.

Choosing between Marketo, HubSpot and Pardot is an involved process and one that a long-term customer experience strategy should inform.

If you don’t want to spend hours scouring through blog posts, technical forums and product pages, reach out to our expert consultants who specialise in each platform.

James Gent TAP London

We can help you decide what's right for your business

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