How the Top Marketing Automation Tools Compared
The process of picking a marketing automation platform is complicated, to say the least. Anyone who knows how to use Google can come up with a quick list of the top tools, but do you know how overwhelming that list can become? The short menu provides us Hubspot, Marketo, Pardot, Act-On, Eloqua, and Infusionsoft - not to mention the new unique open source and free alternative Mautic, I just came across. Even if we stuck solely with this VERY insufficient sample, the difference of services offered is enormous. To keep things simple let's review the two predominantly used tools on the market; Marketo vs. Hubspot.
These solutions have one common denominator through all their differences. They claim to free up your marketing team from tiresome, tactical processes so they can concentrate on developing sales ready leads. The critical interest - to us as the prospective buyer - is their designated approach on how to deliver that guarantee. It's their "bread and butter," or whichever cliche phrase you'd like to insert.
Everyone's got an opinion, right? Preferably, I'd like you to be able to draw inspiration from cold hard data provided by satisfied users. This review compiles most sought-after aspects marketers look for in a marketing automation platform. By the end, the purpose is for you to be able to make an informed decision based on how each product offering corresponds to your company's requirements.
The automated workflows Hubspot provides are invaluable for both internal and external use. Need to nurture a new lead? No problem. Lead-nurturing workflows can be set up in a simple linear fashion or developed with a more complex if/then logic. It all depends on if your team has time for complexity. Creating an enrollment qualifier and flow-of-action sequence is a simple click. The one downside is a visual drag and drop editor is still in the works, so elaborate workflows can become hard to follow. A beta version has been running as of August 1st, but Hubspot still has some work to do before it is officially released.
The workflow tools are all about Hubspot's mantra, Inbound Marketing. Designated prospects sign up for specific content that relates to their preferences. This personalization gives your team the chance to create an automated response sequence that contains targeted content. Marketing doesn't get much better than that.
Internal social media tracking has improved immensely over the past few years. The publishing tool is convenient when scheduling out social posts for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+, but the real value lies elsewhere. The capability to create targeted monitoring lists with email alerts makes social media engagement natural. Lists can contain retweets, mentions, hashtags, keywords, targeted accounts, or any combination that suits your needs. My personal favorite is the ability to add a list of targeted sales prospects; it's a powerful thing to see what your leads are talking about and be able to interact with them on that level.
Lastly, there is the ability to track social media ROI with customized reports and attach messages to marketing campaigns. The reporting options could be slightly more robust, but for the average marketing manager, it provides more than enough options. If a campaign has been set up and efforts appropriately tagged it will get the job done.
It seems that the manual lead scoring module has been misused the most out of all Hubspot's solutions. The new predictive lead scoring is an exceptional tool, but it shouldn't be used if there isn't a significant sales pipeline or the database isn't cleaned regularly. The algorithm is sensitive to false information, and that intensifies if there isn't a large volume of website submissions (this is also a limited feature for enterprise users).
Identify what your target market spends their time doing and apply that to the manual lead scoring. For example, a Facebook view for a B2B organization doesn't mean much, but a LinkedIn click through is much more important, and vice versa for B2C companies. The lead scoring tool is a powerful asset that can help bridge the gap between sales and marketing.
Overall, Hubspot provides an ease of use that won't overwhelm a busy marketer. Their Academy covers just about everything if you happen to get stuck. Of course, being the content generating machine Hubspot is, the Academy is continually receiving new learning material. A Hubspot purchase will consolidate marketing efforts into one central location, thereby reducing subscription costs, and browser tab swapping time drains.
Here are some of the top user comments pulled straight from Hubspot's testimonials and case studies:
HubSpot doesn't require a lot of maintenance and helps us streamline activities day-to-day to drive leads and nurture our existing customer base."
- Corey Perry, IPS Packaging
I love the community, their support, and that they listen to users when they build their roadmap."
- Megan Tobin, TriNet
We host our website, blog, and landing pages on HubSpot while using their Salesforce, Wistia, and GoToWebinar integrations ... I would definitely recommend HubSpot"
- Phoebe Farber, Attend, Inc.
Hubspot has three predetermined packages Basic, Pro, and Enterprise. These combinations range from $200 - $2,400 a month. There are additional onboarding and training fees that have the possibility to be waived when you sign-up with a partner marketing organization.
If you need greater functionality than the predetermined bundles, Hubspot offers three supplementary add-ons:
- Dynamic Website COS - $300/mo
- Advanced Reporting - $200/mo
- Ads Manager - $100/mo
Marketo and Hubspot have many of the same functionalities, but they position themselves very differently. Marketo always has been, and always will be, a lead management tool. They don't hide that fact. With that, keep in mind Marketo does not have a stand-alone CRM and no blogging features.
A new favorite release is their user-friendly email template picker. Previously, customers without front-end development knowledge would cringe when attempting to create their layouts. With Marketo's new release there are basic starter theme templates that are provided free. This update has been followed up by a brand new email editor that allows for drag and drop functionality. Marketo is unquestionably trying to eliminate the notion that their users need coding experience to achieve excellent results. Nevertheless, they are still a ways off from completing that transition.
Since Marketo doesn't have an internal CRM, they have devoted significant effort towards developing integrations between their platform and successful CRM solutions. Their integrations with Salesforce, Oracle CRM, Sugar CRM, and Microsoft Dynamics, to name a few, are highly touted. Their intentions are to create a closed loop system while focusing on the technology segment in which they excel.
An interesting differentiator Marketo offers is an event marketing feature. Companies can utilize the event marketing feature to organize digital attractions such as webinars or in-person events like tradeshows.
Users can attach goals, email notifications, segmented audiences, social aspects, and analytic measurement. In essence, there is the ability to follow a streamlined process of engagement with potential attendees from start to finish.
Considering Marketo was design for larger enterprises, their platform solutions cater to sophisticated users with IT or marketing technology experience. There are multiple instances of online reviews stating they felt as if a frontend developer was required to create quality content. A company that has a dedicated technical department will experience the greatest utilization out of Marketo. This software will not be a great "side project" for a new marketing technology user.
Here are several top reviews from Marketo case studies to gain the perspective of satisfied users:
Marketo, hands down, is the most innovative company today delivering marketing automation and revenue performance management. The rate at which Marketo innovates is astounding."
- Paul Green, Global Marketing Automation Manager, Enterasys Networks
Marketo gives us a competitive advantage since most companies have CRM but not Marketing Automation. It allows us to create a unique one-to-one customer dialogue and, through workflow, makes our organization dynamic and intelligent in the eyes of the customer. In addition, it allows us to create more pipeline with the same or less resources."
- Stephen Yeo, European Marketing Director, Panasonic
We went through an exhaustive process and selected Marketo because we were excited about their functionality. Particularly their ability to capture and integrate behavioral information with our Microsoft CRM data.”
- Vincent Ircandia, VP of Business Analytics, Portland Trail Blazers
Marketo doesn't give away it's packaging prices. The lack of prices on their web page can be chalked up to tight pricing competition, a sales tactic to drive higher quality form submissions or both. There have been ranging quotes that made rounds over the past couple years, so the best we can do without contacting their sales team is take averages. Marketo bundles their options by marketing activities, recent prices from review sites have ranged between $800 - $3,200 a month, depending on the packages chosen.
There are standard preset bundles, but organizations can also mix and match which marketing needs are most important to them. The packages range from:
- Lead Management
- Email Management
- Consumer Management
- Customer Base Marketing
- Mobile Marketing
Hopefully, you've come to the conclusion there is no overall "best" solution in this market. The best choice will be particular to businesses current marketing assets, budget, skill sets, and user availability. Hubspot has created a niche in Inbound Marketing and when utilized correctly by small to midsized companies can drive highly targeted digital leads. Marketo, while slightly more expensive, is about engaging prospects in as many ways as possible. Users who have a dedicated team behind them that are technically inclined will generate the best results. The higher cost and requirement of specialized talents typically leave Marketo for large organizations that have the personnel to cover all its facets.
It can be challenging to determine which marketing automation platform adequately suits your goals. Do you need guidance making the decision between Marketo vs. Hubspot? Drop us a line; we can help oversee the selection you make lands your company with the right marketing automation solution.