As a Systems Integrator and Salesforce Consulting Partner, we are often asked to compare Salesforce’s marketing automation platform, Pardot, to HubSpot’s Marketing Hub. In many cases, our clients are finding themselves sorting out natural tensions between Sales, Marketing and IT operations teams in determining the best investment for the business. And while there is no shortage of review sites comparing marketing automation software suites, the same holds true for the number of any given marketing team’s preference or opinion on the matter.
If an organization is looking to evaluate the two platforms with feature-by-feature comparison sites, they’re already going about it all wrong. Reason? This investment decision is fundamentally bigger than Harvey Ball comparisons. Deciding on a marketing automation tool should be one part of an overall business platform strategy. It’s about the organization (not simply one department), the existing platform it’s supporting, and implications to your current or future tech stack investment.
It is helpful to understand the marketing platform origins, and once you do, you’ll clearly see where the strengths lie. Born from a foundation built to generate inbound leads with blogging and social media, HubSpot is a marketer’s platform that expanded to become an all-in-one customer relationship management (CRM) and content management system (CMS) for marketing, customer service and sales teams.
With this focus on creating content to attract a visitor along a buyer’s journey, tools within the suite focus on luring in visitors to opt in to receive premium content via chat bots, pop-ups, blog subscriptions, contact forms, as well as pay-per-click (PPC) integration with social media platforms and tools. While HubSpot offers more channels to cater to the B2C marketer and organization, Pardot social media management tools cover the appropriate platforms necessary for the B2B channels.
Pardot, by contrast, is Salesforce’s answer for the B2B Marketer. Pardot’s wheelhouse, meaning its market position, leans firmly on its capabilities within the industry-leading CRM platform. Designed for Account-based Marketing (ABM), lead management and long-term nurture, its superior email automation functionality allows for sophisticated journey mapping workflows for highly personalized drip marketing campaigns. Its B2B Marketing Analytics gives you a built-in BI engine for KPI reporting and down-the-funnel pipeline and ROI analysis.
(Pardot’s down-the-funnel pipeline and ROI analysis)
The Pardot platform is designed to support enterprises with decentralized operations and business units with inherently complex and customized Salesforce instances by utilizing connector data. This gives the platform the ability to run both omnichannel and localized campaign programs and advanced reporting analytics to better understand where ROI is coming from.
Let’s evaluate the most important difference between Pardot and Hubspot. Working within the native app helps provide a better alignment between marketing and sales. Advanced features in marketing automation tools such as artificial intelligence and predictive lead scoring are often hamstrung by your database. You’re only as good as your data, as the saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out”. One major challenge for marketers is a smoother integration with their CRM software as well as the need for more personalization and ABM capabilities. Account-based marketing (ABM) is easier to track and manage in Pardot.
For organizations that rely on Salesforce as their CRM platform, there’s no comparison when it comes to synching with the mothership. Pardot has the clear advantage over HubSpot as a native software to the industry standard customer success platform and as a result performs with fewer data sync errors and more seamless automations. Both Hubspot and Pardot are purpose-built for their own solutions suite, ergo cross-pollination is inherently more challenging, though not uncommon. According to technology review site Trust Radius’ Buyer’s Guide to Marketing Automation Software: “As a native application to Salesforce, the CRM database ubiquitous industry-standard for B2B enterprise organizations, Pardot works seamlessly in updating contact records. This keeps everyone across departments in sync on account status and communications.” When comparing the two platforms, reviewers on TrustRadius note they have not experienced any other program that integrates as seamlessly into their Salesforce platform.
While HubSpot pricing packages are ideal for SMB or mid-market businesses just starting with CRM, its baseline Marketing Professional Hub is not sufficient for commercial B2B organizations with a robust Salesforce CRM, and HubSpot customers will need to add Sales and Service hubs as they grow. There is also a relatively steep price creep as you scale in size and can be considered expensive for smaller enterprises. While Pardot is one of the more expensive solutions, it is ideal for growing B2B organizations.
Designed for lead management and long-term nurture, the lead scoring and lead grading capabilities in Pardot helps to give you a clearer picture of leads. A visitor’s activity on your website and interactions with your marketing CTAs could make them appear to be a good fit via lead scoring, but the grading feature allows you as a marketer to create parameters around who you think is a good fit for your sales team to pursue based on criteria such as job title, size of company, industry, etc. Pardot also offers vertical-specific offerings for the healthcare, life sciences, and financial services industries. Built-in intelligence for website behaviors trigger both nurturing paths for the visitor and lead triage and automated notifications, based on lead grading and scoring.
Also to consider is the vast ecosystem each software suite has respectively. HubSpot has an impressive ecosystem of integration partners focused on making the platform widely accessible to popular marketing applications. Pardot has taken a different track and has leaned on the vast Salesforce ecosystem in addition to the ‘Customer 360’ program and webinar vendor mainstays like Google Analytics and Google AdWords.
Pardot offers tons of detailed, easy to follow tutorials (both video and pdfs) for how to set things up to work properly between the two systems. The tutorials are written for marketers and include best practices of which features and functionalities to use when. In other words, they’re more than simply technical “how-to’s”… they help you to think about what problem you’re trying to solve and how best to set up your solution. Salesforce Trailhead offers an interactive learning platform and assessment tool to help everyone from beginners to intermediate developers looking for certification an engaging online learning program.
Pardot and HubSpot provide marketing automation tool core functionalities: a database and segmentation, email, landing pages, and workflows for nurture sequences, though beyond this baseline is where the platform similarities diverge. While both software platforms can provide inbound marketing, HubSpot was designed as an all-in-one marketing platform, meaning it provides a full suite of inbound marketing tools including a built-in Content Management System (CMS) for publishing content, SEO analysis tools and the ability to post and manage ads on social media and other digital channels. Because Pardot is a native Salesforce product, you will have better alignment for supporting sales-driven nurturing programs to help guide buyer behaviors based on opportunities in the pipeline.
Bottom line: The choice should not be determined solely on features, by departmental preferences or popular choice, but rather by an organization’s business model, IT infrastructure, as well as targeted customer base and buying cycle. For more insights and help uncovering the best investment for your business, contact us and we’ll connect you with one of our experts.
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