Why Hubspot? It’s a question we often hear from new clients and prospects. Let’s face it, there are a lot of marketing automation tools and customer relationship management (CRM) platforms out there.
How do you choose the right inbound marketing and sales tools for your company? And what if you’re already using Salesforce — the industry leader for CRMs — and does it make sense to also use HubSpot or switch entirely?
Since Salesforce also owns Pardot, another marketing automation platform, it may seem sensible to just use Pardot if you’re already a Salesforce user.
If only it were that simple.
CRM and marketing automation should be considered in tandem. Here, I'll highlight the important comparisons between HubSpot’s marketing and sales platform vs. Salesforce and Pardot — the two major software suites that feature marketing automation and CRM together.
Pardot is a marketing automation platform that started its life in 2006. ExactTarget acquired them in October of 2012 and, in June 2013, Salesforce bought ExactTarget. Pardot’s current features center around email marketing, lead generation, and marketing automation. Having been acquired nearly 15 years after the founding of Salesforce, Pardot is now positioned as the Salesforce marketing automation suite for B2Bs.
Founded in 2006, HubSpot started its business focused on inbound lead generation via blogging and social media. It has grown to an all-in-one website, social media management, marketing, sales, service and CRM growth platform. In the world of inbound, HubSpot marketing software is considered the gold standard.
HubSpot’s focus is on generating inbound leads. They have an integrated set of tools designed to guide individuals along their buyers’ journeys. Some of the tools include website hosting, a blogging platform, email functionality, forms, landing pages, workflows, smart/personalized content, lead scoring and A/B testing.
An ideal goal is to provide relevant, helpful content that will lead visitors to submit their contact information via a form to receive advanced content. Other conversion tools include chatbots, pop-ups, blog subscription fields and more.
These tools are easy for smaller companies to use right out of the box. There are opportunities to customize the look of your website pages, blogs, landing pages and forms as a company grows, and simple changes like copy and colors are incredibly easy to do. More customization and automation rules are available, but requires some training or the support of a HubSpot partner agency.
Pardot also supports lead generation with similar tools (e.g., landing pages, email, workflows, A/B testing, etc.) However, because Pardot doesn’t host your main website, these tools aren’t directly integrated with the rest of your company’s online presence.
In other words, it’s a disconnected experience. Landing pages are typically hosted on a subdomain or other third party domain separate from your main website. Tracking across domains is possible, but cumbersome and, in an age when user experience is everything for both marketers and those they’re trying to reach, it’s less ideal. This is also not ideal for your website’s SEO, compared to having all of your content on the same domain.
Both Pardot and HubSpot offer social media posting and monitoring for Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. HubSpot offers Instagram scheduling (something unique to HubSpot) and more integrations, but Pardot is sufficient to manage a basic social media presence. Both platforms can benefit from a third-party integration, such as Hootsuite, for a more robust solution for major social media promotions.
CRM is where Pardot and its direct integration with Salesforce, really shines. Salesforce has a robust CRM that integrates with most other platforms out there, including HubSpot. It is also customizable and able to fit any company’s needs.
There’s a slight advantage here to Pardot because Salesforce owns them, they automatically share the same contact database.
While HubSpot does have a free CRM, it’s not as robust as Salesforce… yet. HubSpot recently announced some massive improvements to HubSpot Sales Professional. There aren’t as many integrations with other developers, and you can’t customize it to the same degree as Salesforce, especially for pipeline tracking.
According to HubSpot, however, you can seamlessly integrate Salesforce with HubSpot, but they have different contact databases that need to be synced between the two platforms. We recommended that you work with an integration specialist (such as Weidert Group) to set up and manage a HubSpot to Salesforce integration. Check out this article for some of our favorite HubSpot Sales CRM features.
HubSpot is constantly improving its website platform. It offers good templates for companies just launching a site and don’t have time to spend on a custom setup as well as a growing marketplace of templates, many available at no additional cost. At the same time, it has a customizable development platform that can support almost any type of company webpage you want to build.
Pardot and Salesforce offer site.com sites that are very basic; if you want to create a website, you’re going to need a third party solution such as a WordPress site or SquareSpace. As a web developer who’s worked with all these tools, I can personally attest to how these web platforms pale in comparison to Hubspot’s website-building capabilities.
Out of the box, HubSpot offers better reporting than Pardot, letting you see what needs attention from a big-picture perspective. Pardot’s reports are able to give you similar information but need more customization to be actionable.
Both HubSpot and Pardot have a tiered pricing model. HubSpot Marketing hub starts at $50/month for the basic model and increases in cost with the more contacts you add, and it comes with the free CRM. Most B2B companies we work with require the Marketing Professional hub to achieve their growth goals, which starts at $800/month. You can also add the Sales and Service hubs as you grow. Pardot pricing begins at $1,250, and you’ll need to add on the cost of Salesforce for your CRM.
Both systems also offer various add ons, which will affect cost. Overall, HubSpot will typically be less expensive, especially if you’re just starting with a CRM, making it an ideal solution for small to medium-sized businesses.
There is one primary driving factor that determines which platform you should choose for your marketing automation software: is your company already heavily using Salesforce? If so, then you may want to consider Pardot, since it’s built with Salesforce in mind, making its integration on point.
On the other hand, if you’ve got Salesforce but aren’t a super-user, HubSpot should be a serious consideration because of its integration capabilities and advanced inbound marketing prowess. HubSpot’s integration will serve you well if you can define how you want the two platforms to communicate and operate together. Also, if you’re just getting started with a CRM or are looking to make a change, HubSpot offers a better all-in-one, out-of-the-box solution that is less expensive and can grow with you over time.
Still not sure? We’re happy to consult with you about your B2B inbound marketing strategy and how to ensure that your CRM and marketing automation tools “get along.” Let us know how we can help.