Hubspot vs Marketo vs Pardot: How to choose a marketing automation platform

TAP CXM
13 Jun 2022

A marketer’s guide to the leading marketing tools in 2022

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.

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 who need sophisticated automation software, extensive CRMs and multichannel marketing intelligence.

HubSpot

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

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

Adobe recently acquired a complimentary attribution software, which they will soon roll out as Marketo Measure, rounding out Marketo’s capabilities.

Pardot

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

Price

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, you need to dig pretty deep to find the 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 big 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, Marketo, Pardot and HubSpot have similar features.

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
Websites
SEO support
Landing page builder
Customer portal
Web activity tracking
Retargeting
Customer insight
Segmentation
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.

Beyond core functionality, the difference is in the detail.

We’ll get to that shortly.

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 have taken steps to make onboarding easier.

  • HubSpot is notoriously user-friendly with a clean, intuitive design. However, your subscription comes with a hefty onboarding fee for a supposedly 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 implementation packages, Marketo consulting services and creative templates, with a custom pricing structure.

But realistically 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 is a powerful customer experience-focused platform 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 giant used for inbound marketing, sales enablement, customer experience optimisation and operational excellence, either in isolation or by combining tools.
  • 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.

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 consultants who specialise in each platform.

TAP CXM, for example, are experienced Marketo specialists who can help you understand whether Marketo is the right platform to meet your needs. Feel free to get in touch if you want to discuss Marketo or any other Adobe Marketing Cloud solution with a subject matter expert.


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