Act-On vs HubSpot vs Pardot: Which Marketing Automation Software is the Winner?

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Act-On vs HubSpot vs Pardot: no matter the outcome, the consumer (you) is the one who wins. Marketing automation tools, as you might know, are industry-shattering tools that assist marketers in their day-to-day tasks. In fact, we might call them a marketer’s best friend. Naturally, you’d like to get right to choosing one, but your business has unique needs that need to be addressed first. That’s why we’re going to go step-by-step in assessing three industry-leading tools so that you can decide for yourself.

Compare Act-On, HubSpot and Pardot Against Your Needs

HubSpot, Salesforce’s Pardot and Act-On each come packed with robust features that ease the burden for the marketers who use them. On top of that, all three of these all-in-one solutions are among the most popular vendors on the market. But if you pit them against each other, how do they compare? Are there features that one platform has that the others don’t? We looked at some of the biggest considerations buyers make when searching for marketing automation tools and picked each apart thoroughly. If you’re further along and have narrowed it down to two, see our more in-depth breakdown of Pardot vs Hubspot.

Now, onto the show!

Components of a Marketing Automation

Lead Management and Lead Generation

As we mentioned, HubSpot, Pardot and Act-On each provide their users with an all-in-one solution. Inbound tactics like lead management and nurturing are the binding ties that bring them all in such close conflict and proximity with each other. These features include lead scoring, email campaign management, social media integration and landing page creation.

The truth is, every one of these software systems is going to have excellent lead generation capabilities. Lead generation activities, per our article, include:

  • Content offers like ebooks, whitepapers and case studies
  • Inbound marketing content on your website
  • Webinars
  • Paid advertising that targets customers in social media or organic
  • Advertising and remarketing
  • Live events like hosting or attending summits or conferences

The differences, then, lie in the more advanced capabilities.

Compare Marketing Automation Software Pricing & Costs with our Pricing Guide

HubSpot, a famous content creator in its own right, specializes in content creation tools. They provide a ton of tools for creating and optimizing blogs, landing pages, web content, CTAs and SEO. Where HubSpot falters a little, however, is that the automation of any of these features, including email and goal-based nurturing, isn’t available in its Starter package. HubSpot’s middle and top packages (“Pro” and “Enterprise”) do, however, offer a plethora of dynamic features, the most noteworthy of these being A/B testing for CTAs and emails, dynamic content and predictive lead scoring.

Pardot has features like lead scoring, lead nurturing and email/landing page creation available in all three of its packages. But it lacks CTA, blog and SEO tools. Similarly to HubSpot, Pardot’s middle package includes A/B testing, dynamic content, and social media. The product has built-in AdWords integrations, which it shares with HubSpot with and Act-On.

Act-On offers the most features of all three systems in its least expensive package (“Professional”). Providing lead nurturing, lead scoring, segmentation, social media and more, Act-On’s less expensive package fulfills most companies’ marketing needs. Unlike HubSpot and Pardot, the Act-On platform includes A/B testing in both packages, not just the more expensive one. In addition, webinar management is a feature available only to Act-On users.

Both Pardot and Act-On also offer ABM (account-based marketing) with their marketing automation tools. ABM has become quite the popular strategy in the last couple of years, so B2B businesses especially should keep this feature in mind when evaluating vendors.

Advantage
Act-On is more feature packed than HubSpot and Pardot @SelectHub's research & analysis of the three tools.

Reporting and Analytics

For reporting and analytics, there’s a lot more variance between the three platforms. HubSpot trails behind Pardot and Act-On, as it only provides reporting features in its top two (“Professional” and “Enterprise”) packages. Reporting adds absolutely critical insights to your analytics and intelligence endeavors. Reports are especially valuable because they:

  • Can be scheduled to automatically trigger
  • Serve as benchmarks for your companies performance
  • Are shareable
  • Can be interactive

That said, HubSpot redeems itself with the variety of reporting available, including reports on revenue and contacts (and it allows 1,000 of them, even at the starting level). Additionally, the tool provides analytics dashboards for every package. Although these dashboards can’t create reports, they’re useful for getting a glimpse of your marketing campaigns’ success.

Similarly to HubSpot, Act-On provides dashboards for both of its packages. However, these dashboards also come equipped with reporting capabilities for both at-a-glance and detailed analysis. It also includes advanced reporting features in its Enterprise package, and it’s the only solution with built-in BI integration (available in “Enterprise”).

Pardot offers reporting with all three of its packages. The reporting capabilities Pardot includes are unique, giving it an advantage over the others. ROI (return on investment) reporting is available in the “Standard” package, while advanced email analytics and spam analysis are available with “Pro.” For marketers that value deep insight into their campaigns, Pardot provides the most robust reporting and analytics of the three.

Advantage
Pardot offers analytics reporting with all three of its packages, giving it an advantage over Act-On and HubSpot in @SelectHub's research & analysis of the three tools.

CRM Integration

Most companies want to align their sales and marketing departments as much as possible, which is why CRM integration is one of the most common integrations in business. They help provide a 360-degree view of both your customers and the buyer journey, so you can adjust your marketing campaigns to optimize for better conversions. Although you can build custom integrations for most any two pieces of software, it’s easier when CRM integration is built in.

HubSpot has their own (free) CRM in addition to their marketing automation tool. As you can imagine, this integration is easy to set up and seamless in use. The HubSpot marketing tool also has built-in Salesforce CRM integration; however, it’s not available with the “Starter” package. HubSpot’s CRM performs admirably against its competitors (mainly Salesforce), but it’s simply no match for other products. However, this is an option to consider if you need a CRM that:

  • Allows for unlimited contacts and users
  • Has contact management
  • Tracks contact website activity
  • Integrates with popular email suites like Gmail and Outlook
  • Offers reporting
  • Offers ticketing and lead tracking services
  • And much more (seriously, there’s a lot)

Now, onto Pardot. Pardot, a Salesforce product, includes seamless Salesforce CRM integration (surprise!) Many users of one of the two systems use the other simply because of how easy the integration is. Pardot previously offered integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, NetSuite and SugarCRM, but as of Summer 2017, these are no longer supported.

Act-On offers the widest variety of built-in CRM integrations. Although it’s only available through the Enterprise package (unless you pay an add-on fee with “Professional”), it doesn’t limit itself to one or two CRM vendors. Act-On provides integration with Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, NetSuite, Infor, SugarCRM and other top CRM software.

Advantage
HubSpot's free CRM is feature rich in @SelectHub's research & analysis of Pardot, Act-On and HubSpot.

Pricing

At SelectHub, we employ a dedicated team of analysts to crunch numbers and research price quotes. And then we compile them into our pricing guides, which you’ll use to further plan out your software project. Click the link below to get started with your pricing guide.

Other Considerations

Aside from the available features and the cost, there are other considerations that can help sway your decision. For example, what types of businesses each solution caters to.

Compare Act-On, HubSpot and Pardot Against Your Needs

Pardot bills itself as a B2B platform, so it’s naturally most popular with B2B businesses. That said, there are some B2C businesses that have found success with it. Act-On is most effective for mid-sized companies, although it could also be used by a smaller ones that has some extra cash to throw into its marketing budget. Used by the widest group of businesses, enterprises using HubSpot range from small to mid-sized to large. However, it’s most commonly used by organizations of up to 1,000 employees.

There are also some unique aspects of the platforms that are worth consideration. HubSpot, as we mentioned earlier, has a plethora of content optimization tools. Because of this, businesses that produce a lot of content (e.g., blogs, emails, landing pages, etc.) may find that HubSpot provides the most value.

Act-On marketing automation dashboard

An Act-On dashboard


Companies that employ an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy, on the other hand, may prefer Pardot. Salesforce’s in-house AI, Einstein, is integrated with Pardot’s ABM capabilities, creating a powerful AI and ABM one-two punch.

For marketers that always want access to the latest features, Act-On may be the most appealing. They add new features every quarter, whether big or small. In addition, Act-On’s least expensive package offers the highest amount of features when compared to the least expensive packages of HubSpot and Pardot.

Advantage
Act-On’s least expensive package offers the highest amount of features when compared to the least expensive packages of HubSpot and Pardot in @SelectHub's research & analysis of the three tools.

Who Won?

Ultimately, none of these marketing automation solutions will be the best choice for every company. The right choice for each company depends on the size of the business, the number of users and what features those users need. We often say that every business has unique needs (no, really, it’s above our door in our office), and yours is no exception. So let’s go over what we learned one last time.

Compare Act-On, HubSpot and Pardot Against Your Needs

If you create a lot of content, choose HubSpot. If you focus heavily on testing, reporting and analysis, choose Pardot. And if you value easy integrations, choose Act-On. But whichever marketing automation tool you use, make sure you take the time to evaluate which one will serve your marketers’ needs the best. Whether it’s HubSpot, Pardot, Act-On or even another vendor entirely, finding your best-fit marketing automation software should be your most important priority.

Which software did your company go with? Let us know why in the comments below!

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Jason KellerAct-On vs HubSpot vs Pardot: Which Marketing Automation Software is the Winner?

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