Pardot vs HubSpot vs Marketo – What’s the Difference?
Automation Software • Pardot
This blog was written before Pardot was renamed to Marketing Cloud Account Engagement. You can read more about the name change and what it means here.
At the time of writing this post, there are approximately 8,000 marketing technology companies in existence. So naturally, when it comes to choosing the right marketing automation software for your business, you have more choices than Pardot vs Hubspot vs Marketo.
However, these three automation software are consistently in the top 10 rankings by G2 and other reputable sources. They are arguably three of the most well-known brands in the automation space.
Not only that, Pardot, HubSpot and Marketo are similar in that they offer a premium, full scale automation software, as opposed to some of the smaller players that cater for email and landing pages alone.
So, in the interest of helping you understand how three of the leading marketing automation platforms compare, let’s discuss their differences.
When MarCloud was first set up, thorough research was carried out on the platform we believed had the most potential. We’re so confident we chose correctly with Pardot but it doesn’t mean we’re going to be unnecessarily biased in this post. We’re Pardot experts but this post is not an effort to bash competitor software!
We want you to choose Pardot as your preferred automation solution simply because it is the best option for your business.
At the end of the day, our consulting and support work is only effective if it helps you to deliver a return on the investment in your automation software.
With that in mind, we have tried to be as objective as possible in our comparisons of Pardot vs. HubSpot vs. Marketo.
Comparing Pardot vs HubSpot vs Marketo
A great marketing automation software should make it simple and effective for companies to;
capture data via forms and landing pages
identify potential customers
deliver relevant, timely nurture communications
connect all marketing activity in a central place
align sales and marketing teams
attribute sales revenue to marketing ROI
To best compare how Pardot, Hubspot and Marketo meet these requirements, we have made comparisons of thirteen vital criteria.
When it comes to ensuring your sales team have access to the most up to date information about leads, CRM integration is paramount.
Marketo integrates with most CRM systems and also has native integrations with Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics.
There are some limitations, such as the sales team having no control over Marketo lists and generally limited access to the marketing side of things.
HubSpot also ticks the box when it comes to CRM integration possibilities. Like Marketo, it has a native Salesforce CRM integration which means you don’t need to build this via API.
Based on our experience of the HubSpot to Salesforce data transfer, there can be a mismatch in naming conventions and limits in the type of data exchange, including being unable to carry HubSpot lists over to Salesforce.
Like the others, Pardot has deep CRM integration with Salesforce and other CRM’s. However, it’s most powerful when used with the #1 CRM in the world, Salesforce.
When the two systems are used together, sales are able to see Pardot data directly within the CRM, they can add to Pardot Lists, and send marketing emails using Pardot templates built by the marketing team.
With new releases and enhancements, Pardot now exists seamlessly inside Salesforce CRM and it’s never been easier to quickly create lists, show data in Pardot and Salesforce, create clear reports and automate important marketing messages and processes.
Integrates with most CRM’s
Native connection to Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics
Integrates with most CRM’s
Native connection to Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics
Potential mismatch in naming coventions which can cause problems when integrating with Salesforce if setup incorrectly
Seamless connection to Salesforce
Pardot in Lightning app for an integrated experience
Regular synchronisation and incredibly easy to create and connect new fields and datapoints
Lead nurturing is about more than being able to send triggered and automated comms, which all three of our comparison software make possible.
For marketers, having access to great lead scoring and grading within an automation tool is a huge advantage that can really take lead nurturing to the next level.
Marketo has lead scoring capabilities but no option for grading. This means you need to design your lead scoring model to take into account demographic data you have about the prospect, not just behavioural.
This isn’t a deal breaker, it could just mean a bit of extra work on your end to consider how you separate primary buyers from others who may not be relevant.
The situation for lead scoring and grading in HubSpot is much the same as with Marketo. The automation software has good lead scoring capabilities and it has predictive lead scoring which is the next step in scoring sophistication.
However, HubSpot does lack lead grading, which again simply puts the ball in your court in terms of setting up the right scoring model to identify your target audience vs. irrelevant or less important prospects in the system.
Pardot matches both Marketo and HubSpot for lead scoring, including predictive lead scoring using the Einstein Behaviour Scoring.
In addition to this, Pardot features lead grading. Grading shows how interested we should be in a prospect, based on their grade. The grades you set up should be aligned with your target buyer personas, with A being the highest value and priority. Pardot makes it easy to highlight the top quality prospects! A core feature of Pardot is the Engagement Studio, a really intuitive canvas that allows a team to create their own marketing journeys. The seamless integration with Salesforce makes it really easy to add Salesforce tasks, add to a Salesforce campaign, notify a specific person and trigger other automations within either system.
Lead scoring capabilities but no grading
Lead scoring capabilities but no grading
Predictive lead scoring
Lead scoring (how interested a prospect is in you)
Lead grading (how interested you should be in them)
Einstein AI behaviour score
When it comes to getting fast, transparent attribution for leads that convert to closed customers, having excellent visibility of this in our automation dashboard is essential.
Step one of this is being able to create Campaigns that group relevant assets together i.e. emails, landing pages and forms.
Marketo has the ability to create Campaigns, including Smart Campaigns which power automated nurture and List creation.
HubSpot also allows you to create Campaigns for specific runs of marketing activity, which ties our assets for that campaign together and makes reporting and attribution easier.
However, with HubSpot, we are unable to use a single asset in more than one Campaign. For some businesses, this might make sense. Perhaps you don’t use your assets across multiple campaigns.
In many cases though, the same form may feature in more than one Campaign and therefore, having to create new assets each time you set up a Campaign could be a pain.
Again, if you are a Salesforce CRM user, Pardot does an excellent job of giving you native attribution that takes into account your Pardot campaigns, Lists and your CRM.
Using Connected Campaigns, we can create a 1:1 alignment with Salesforce and Pardot Campaigns. This results in a clear ROI breakdown and an instant understanding of predicted revenue, thanks to the native ‘Salesforce Opportunity’ information.
One of the most basic but essential features of an automation software is the email builder and testing functionality.
The Marketo email editor has improved with the release of Email Editor 2.0. These days it’s more intuitive but it still has its issues.
You’ll find many of the usual elements expected of an out-of-the-box email automation tool, such as drag and drop modules and the ability to custom code HTML.
You can also input basic design using Variables, create your own Templates, or use pre-made and responsive templates from Marketo.
Generally though, we find the Marketo email editor to be a little clunky and cumbersome and to really use it without issue you need a powerful email template that is coded to allow for flexibility and ease of use.
The drag-and-drop email editor in HubSpot makes creating nicely designed emails a straightforward task.
It has a clean and user-friendly interface and allows us to create reusable email templates, just like Marketo.
Depending on the subscription you opt for, there are some daily and monthly email limits in place, which could become a restriction if your lists grow faster than your budget.
With Pardot, the power of building and updating beautiful emails quickly really relies on the strength of your email templates. If you have a great template, the Pardot email editor is hugely powerful and you can achieve pretty much anything with it.
For example, you can create flexible sections that are available to be edited, repeated, or removed. Or, you can lock down sections that must not change – like your footer, for example.
Not only this, but Pardot comes with built-in Litmus testing and SPAM analysis. This means you can test your emails within minutes of building them to see how they look on mobile devices and tablets. This is absolutely key for marketers and saves a lot of time!
Good email editor albeit a little clunky
Drag-and-drop editor which is nice to use
Subscription level can limit the daily/monthly emails that are sent
Pre-made templates available
Litmus testing – test how your emails look on devices and SPAM analysis
Unlimited email sends
Email drag-and-drop editor coming soon in Pardot Lightning…
Example landing page template by MarCloud Consulting
Most good automation software includes the ability to create landing pages, the question is, how easy to use and powerful is the landing page builder?
Marketo allows its users to build Marketo-hosted landing pages either from scratch using a ‘Free-form’ landing page, or with ‘Guided’ landing page templates.
As with the email editor, the tool for creating these pages doesn’t have the nicest interface – it’s a little clunky – and the functionality can be limiting for those who have little to no coding experience.
On the other hand, if you are great at coding, you can create a master template including all the modules you could possibly need and then add and exclude these in individual templates as you need.
For those among us who don’t have extensive coding skills, the HubSpot landing page builder is often liked for it’s easy to use drag-and-drop functionality.
A word of caution though, working with drag-and-drop modules doesn’t always give you an error-free page that is truly responsive and formats correctly across all devices.
When you are able to edit the code of the page directly you can avoid frustrating formatting issues.
Also, last we checked, for A/B testing HubSpot has a limit of two variants.
The Pardot landing page builder has been designed to allow users to create professional and effective pages without needing to touch the code.
It has a drag-and-drop editor and a library of Pardot stock templates that make it fast to edit and launch new landing pages.
However, if you do have access to the HTML code of a custom template you want to use, you also have the option of editing directly within the code itself. This makes the landing pages extremely flexible.
There’s another option where you can simply grab a URL from any website and Pardot will pull in the code for you to edit. Simply edit some of the code and you have a brand new page!
Not only this, Pardot contains Multivariate Testing for landing pages, which means you can create versions of your page with slightly different variants and gain a thorough understanding of how each affects performance. It’s generally more revealing than simple A/B testing.
Free-form or Guided landing page builder, a little but clunky
Good for those with coding knowledge
Great for those with limited coding knowledge as it has drag-and-drop functionality
Drag-and-drop can cause responsiveness issues
A/B testing with 2 variants
Pre-made templates available
Ability to grab a URL and pull in the code for a new landing page template
Use dynamic content and variable tags on a landing page
Easy for teams to create a new page for quick campaigns
A/B/C/D… testing with multiple variants (multi-variate testing)
After a prospect enters your system, they may wish to change their subscription preferences. Perhaps their interests have changed, they’ve changed roles, or taken on a new project.
When this is the case, it’s important our automation tool makes updating preferences a simple and transparent action.
As is best practice, Marketo has a preference centre. However, there are extra steps required on our part to create the necessary fields/forms for this.
Naturally, HubSpot also has a default preference centre and this comes with basic functionality available. You can edit the look and feel of the preference page in the HubSpot Design Manager.
Like the others, Pardot comes with a default preference centre. If we want to customise this to ensure the branding and digital experience is the best it can be, we have the ability to do so.
Without any HTML skills, we can update the Structure, Titles and Descriptions for our Lists, which will change the way these are displayed on the preference centre page.
To fully brand and play with the look and feel though, we can take it one step further by designing and building a new Page Layout Template solely for the preference centre page.
Lastly, Pardot has the Recycle Bin, which helps us keep our prospect data GDPR compliant.
Preference centre available but requires extra steps to set up
Default preference centre available with ability to edit the look and feel
Default preference centre available with ability to edit the look and feel
Offline events are commonplace for many B2B businesses. Just because an activity happens offline, doesn’t mean our automation and lead nurture follow up isn’t needed.
When we attract new prospects to an event we are hosting, or meet them at an industry event, we want to easily add these contacts to our database and enter them into the relevant nurture programs.
With Marketo, this type of functionality has been well catered for with event-based triggers and programs, and their add-on ‘Certain’ event platform.
Certain allows for advanced event integration with Marketo, including data capture, check in management and speaker and session oversight.
As far as we know, HubSpot doesn’t have any specific event program or campaign functionality. Although, in the HubSpot Marketplace you’ll find event apps for the most popular event registration systems.
The most obvious is perhaps, Eventbrite. Using the free Eventbrite app for HubSpot, we can use Eventbrite data for automatically creating contacts, organising lists and triggering workflows that are relevant to our event prospects.
Like HubSpot, Pardot has native integrations – the EventBrite Connector – that link this popular event planning platform with Pardot Lists and Salesforce.
Saying this, there are some known limitations, such as being unable to add prospects to Campaigns.
When it comes to at-event data capture, there’s a new app in the works that will allow us to scan business cards and transfer this data to Pardot in a heartbeat. No more manual data entry! Disclaimer: the Pardot Business Card Scanner app is built by MarCloud, and it’s coming soon!
Accommodates events very well
Event-based triggers and allows check in natively within the platform
No specific event functionality but apps available on the HubSpot Marketplace like Eventbrite
Native connector available for integration with Eventbrite
Optional API connection to other vendors via Zapier
Integration is key when it comes to webinars. We want our webinar signs-ups to be created or updated in our database so we have full visibility of their interactions.
Likewise, we want to know if a prospect that signed up actually attended the webinar.
Again, Marketo works well in regards to setting up specific webinar programs. It gives users the ability to create and track events directly within the software and also includes special features for webinars, such as the Webinar API and Marketo Live Event.
If you’re using one of the most well-known and popular webinar providers, you’ll likely be able to integrate with HubSpot using their Marketplace apps.
Some of these come at an additional cost but the main ones are there; GoToMeeting, Zoom, WorkCast, ClickMeeting, and WebinarGeek.
Following on from the offline event Connectors, Pardot has these for webinar platforms too. Specifically, GoToWebinar, Webex, and ReadyTalk.
By integrating with these platforms, we can sync our webinar registrants and attendees with our Salesforce CRM and Pardot.
Works well with webinars
Tracks events nicely within the system
Integrates with known providers via the HubSpot Marketplace
Some come with an extra cost but main ones catered for: GoToMeeting, Zoom, WorkCast, ClickMeeting, and WebinarGeek
Native connector for GoToWebinar, Webex, and ReadyTalk
Reporting and Analytics
A great automation software doesn’t just do everything we need it to do. It also has to make reporting and analytics completely transparent.
After all, the investment needed for any of these three software options is not small. As marketers, our eye has to be on ROI so we can justify the purchase and use of these types of technology.
Overall, Marketo is not a highly visual software and this rings true for the way analytics are displayed. There are fewer graphics, which are preferred to make it easy to see performance at a moment’s glance.
Not only this, there are some extra steps required to create great reports. That’s not to say you can’t access all of the reporting you need, just that it’s a bit more time consuming and hard to do so.
The level of reporting you can access in HubSpot varies by the plan you are on. Unless you are on the Enterprise plan, for example, you’ll be limited to one attribution model and a single dashboard.
It’s also not possible to see segmented traffic reporting i.e. by device type.
Saying this, HubSpot is known for its clean and user-friendly interface and the analytics dashboard is certainly easy to interpret.
B2B Marketing Analytics is a powerful reporting tool that lives inside Salesforce and is part of Plus and Advanced packages. B2B Marketing Analytics pulls data from both Pardot and Salesforce, making it an extremely powerful tool in your reporting arsenal because the data is almost in real-time.
The sky really is the limit when it comes to campaign reporting and attribution in Pardot, thanks to automatic lead source reporting and ROI tracking.
Track pipeline, campaign performance and ROI with just a couple of clicks.
Not overly visual
Some extra steps required when creating reports
Clean and friendly interface
Highly dependant on pricing plan as you may be limited to one attribution model and a single dashboard
Out-of-the-box Pardot reports
B2B Marketing Analytics for all detailed, semi-real-time reports that track pipeline, ROI and multi-touch attribution modelling
Ah, the holy grail. Getting marketing and sales completely aligned is a goal many of us dream of but rarely achieve. The good news is that your automation software should make alignment much easier.
Marketo does allow prospects from Sales Connect to sync with Marketo using their Marketo ID.
This is done at the lead level and not at the user level. Which means that a CRM user can update the lead record in Sales Connect to include call notes and this will sync across to Marketo.
However, we’re not able to link CRM users and Marketo users as one person with access to both, which means they don’t have complete visibility of the user in Marketo, nor can we attribute assignments or actions to them as users in Marketo.
Again, if you are on the Enterprise plan in HubSpot your capabilities are much more advanced than with other plans.
When it comes to marketing and sales alignment, it’s not possible to create personalised dashboards for each user, such as a sales user vs. a marketing user, unless you are on the Enterprise plan.
The difference with Pardot is a feature called ‘Connected Users’, which means we can sync Users who access both Salesforce and Pardot so that we have complete control over assigning leads to sales users and attributing sales back to marketing.
This combined with the advanced scoring and grading functionality and the add-on Salesforce Engage, means Pardot bats extremely high in the category of sales and marketing alignment. Scoring and grading play a huge part in aligning marketing and sales because it allows teams to give feedback to each other based on tangible metrics. If a Lead was poor quality, Sales can explain why to Marketing and the model can be adjusted. It’s continuous improvement that eventually leads to a happy marketing and sales team who collaborate together.
B2B Marketing Analytics which is an extremely powerful reporting tool which collates data from Pardot and Salesforce to create semi-real-time reports that are amendable with only a couple of clicks! This tool enables deep ROI analytics, multi touch campaign attribution modelling, pipeline management and gives the full visibility you need to propel your business the next level.
Marketo does allow prospects from Sales Connect to sync with Marketo using their Marketo ID
Not able to link CRM users and Marketo users
Cannot attribute assignments or actions to users in Marketo.
Highly dependant on pricing plan
It’s not possible to create personalised dashboards for each user, such as a sales user vs. a marketing user, unless you are on the Enterprise plan.
Scoring and Grading models
Automated lead assignment to create a new Lead in Salesforce
Create Salesforce tasks & notifications automatically with rules and Engagement Studio
What use is a marketing automation tool that doesn’t integrate well with the social media channels we use every day for our marketing? How social interactions are pulled into prospect profiles is crucial to consider.
Marketo has good connections and links with the major social media networks, allowing for personalised social advertising and customer engagement, although it is a little fiddly to set these up.
The guys at HubSpot have done a superb job of making social a core part of their automation functionality. It has good integration with a wide range of networks and automatically pulls these into prospect profiles as traffic sources and interactions.
Not only this, we can also post and schedule social media updates directly within HubSpot, including auto-posting of newly published blogs.
Pardot has native social connectors with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, which for many B2B marketers, are the primary networks.
The connectors make it possible to schedule and post to social channels and automatically pull social clicks into prospect records as activities.
Good links to all major social platforms
Personalised social advertising and engagement albeit a bit fiddly
Very strong on social, comes out on top against other platforms
Automatically pull profiles as traffic sources and interactions
Post and schedule social updates and auto-post new blogs
Native connectors for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
See if new leads are created from organic posts and attribute ROI to this activity
Not every business has a digitally native team using its automation software. Sometimes the users are green to marketing and learning the ropes, others specialise in offline marketing or areas outside of digital.
This is why it’s so important that your software be as intuitive and user accessible as possible. The more you can do without the aid of a platform consultant or tech team, the better.
Marketo is notoriously difficult to navigate. The design is dated and it’s a regular complaint of many users (just scout the forums) that the interface could be much more accessible to new users.
On the flip side, HubSpot’s reputation as an incredibly intuitive platform is well known. With lots of visuals such as graphics and nice white modern space throughout, it’s hard to find an issue with the UI.
The Pardot in Lightning app is built seamlessly into the Salesforce system so the experience is totally familiar. It allows users to continue working as they normally would inside the same interface.
There is, of course, still the original interface which we love. However, to take advantage of all of the new features that Salesforce delivers regularly, it’s best to opt for Lightning.
Difficult to navigate
Intuitive platform and easy to use
Very visual and great UI
The new Pardot in Lightning app makes the experience seamless and familiar within Salesforce
The choice to use the original interface although not advised
Last but not least in our criteria for an excellent marketing automation software, is the training and resource available to support teams as they implement and manage activity.
Users of Marketo can find help in the Marketo Nation Community, which is where other users can help to resolve queries and issues you might be experiencing. This is a good place to self-serve your problems but may not always result in the right answer for you.
If that’s the case, there is some Marketo documentation online but this is fairly limited so you may find yourself creating lots of support cases.
Free resources are something HubSpot does very well. The HubSpot blog is full of marketing theory and practical help for marketers and sales reps alike. They also offer free certifications in Inbound Marketing and other topics.
However, if you need more tailored and technical support, this is actually a paid service.
Like Marketo, Pardot users have access to a Salesforce Trailblazer Community which can often help to resolve issues that others have also experienced.
Not only this, Pardot users are well known as ‘Trailheads’ because Salesforce provides entire training programs and certifications on their Trailhead site.
For those who prefer the highest level of support, there is the option for a Premier Success plan, which is more extensive than the Standard support.
Alternatively, you can ask a consultancy like us!
Marketo Nation Community, a self-serve community
Documentation online although this is limited
Free resources available on the HubSpot blog
Paid support available from HubSpot
Salesforce Trailblazer Community
Pardot Premier Success
So which is best?
It completely depends on your business, marketing plans, and in-house automation and digital skills. The right automation tool for a business with a strong focus on social media marketing and events may be different to one laser-focused on marketing and sales alignment and with a preference for seamless CRM integration.
I hope this blog helps you to understand the strengths and nuances that come with each of the three popular platforms; Marketo, HubSpot and Pardot.
We stand to be corrected if any of the information we provide about HubSpot or Marketo is inaccurate! You’re welcome to contact us if that’s the case so we can update this post over time.
Tom is a Salesforce Certified Pardot Consultant & Marketing Cloud Consultant and has a passion for how systems work. He's written blogs and other content for Pardot.com, regularly hosts webinars with Pardot and loves being involved with the wider Pardot community. He also uses (brackets) and ,commas, where (brackets) and ,commas, should not be used. A lot.