There is perhaps no greater matchup in the world of marketing automation software than HubSpot vs Marketo. Any reasonable person might look at this question — comparing two of the most well-known marketing automation platforms — and shrink away. Because how could you compare the inbound marketing titan that is HubSpot to Adobe’s darling Marketo? Well, not only do we have an intuitive comparison report (found at the button below), but we’re also arming you with this guide, written from the heart, with love.
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Marketing automation is a fast friend of the humble marketer. It takes the everyday tedium of building out campaigns, monitoring them, firing off emails, and automates them — or at least makes them significantly easier. With marketing automation tools you can breeze through building out complex email sequences, designing landing pages, organizing contacts and so much more with these (often cloud-based) apps. Maybe that’s why over 51% of all companies are using automated tools. But that’s not all you can do with MA software. HubSpot and Marketo both come loaded with tools like:
- Blogging tools
- SEO and optimization tools
- Reporting and analytics tools
- CRM integrations
- Social listening features
- Third-party integrations
And so much more, which is probably why in the automation space, HubSpot and Marketo are two of the biggest players. But why? What makes them such sought-after products to begin with?
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HubSpot was popular to begin with for helping jettison the inbound marketing technique into relevance. Not quite up-to-speed on inbound marketing? Here’s a definition from the Expert Journal of Marketing:
“Inbound marketing is a technique for drawing customers to products and services via content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization and branding.”
While it was already a thing by itself, HubSpot, through its writing, blogging and software efforts, has helped to turn the inbound method into the go-to for digital marketers. Their efforts were so great, and their inbound-focused automation tools are so precise, that they’ve become the de facto name in inbound marketing. Naturally, they built their software suite around the techniques they helped perfect. More on that later.
Arriving on the scene in 2006, and then later bought up by Adobe in 2018, Marketo is among one of the most lauded and well-recognized marketing automation tools on the shelves. It delivers powerful performance for businesses of any size, utilizing tools like SEO optimization, email sequences and strong integrations with third-party CRMs like Salesforce.
Considered a critical feature by SelectHub’s team of analysts (and thus first on our list), is filtering. When most people hear the word “filtering” in marketing automation software discussions, they probably assume that it means filtering a list of contacts out — separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. While not entirely incorrect, it’s a little more complex than that.
Filtering involves looking at your pool of leads and then assigning tags and variables to them so you can send them on relevant customer experiences (sometimes known as campaigns).
With HubSpot, filtering is simple and easy, letting users see a list of opted-in leads with certain behavior criteria (time on site, location, traffic source, etc). It can then help users identify mismatches and discrepancies in their data. It’s a more analytical and granular approach, but not enough to beat out Marketo in this round.
What makes Marketo so competitive for filtering, and what warrants its perfect score? It’s the power of its filtering combined with the fact that you can use filter data to personalize a customer’s experience. For example, filter information can end up on your ideal landing page, meaning a lead is hitting a specially crafted page just based on their filter data. It’s also dead-simple to use.
These products perform admirably, but we had to give the advantage of Marketo this time around. It’s simple and highly effective, whereas HubSpot just provides barebones features that most other marketing automation tools provide.
An automated program isn’t what it sounds like (much like filtering, which we discussed earlier). While focused on automation, MA software needs to automate a lot more than just its campaigns.
Part of the job of marketing is to work with sales to prep (nurture) leads so they can be passed off to sales. Or, in some cases, marketing continues to work with sales all the way through the sales process, helping enhance leads and keep them interested. An automated tool should, according to our analysts, automatically classify leads according to their sales-readiness. It should also understand those leads and their intent.
Let’s start with HubSpot. The web-based platform provides a fantastic work flow for understanding leads and building automated workflows from scratch. Alternatively, you can establish these workflows in a more structured way, centered on a lead’s goals and buyer persona.
Marketo’s customer engagement engine, on the other hand, is a fantastic piece of kit that lets marketers develop highly relevant dialogues that are dead-simple to build. These dialogues are endlessly customizable and can be used as part of a basic drip campaign.
On this one, we tied both the products. It’s hard to pick because they both provide great automated experiences.
When you’re running a campaign, every touch point represents a potential drop-off point for your leads. Send the wrong message at the wrong time, and suddenly your lead count plummets while sales isn’t getting the marketing support they need. So really, customer retention is all about keeping customers interested and engaged in your messaging — long after they’ve converted in the sales process. After all, your best customers are your repeat customers, or so says Constant Contact.
Let’s dive into this critical feature more, starting with Marketo. Marketo easily builds effective and long-lasting campaigns that are deeply personalized. The software helps leads stay engaged with unique content like blog posts and targeted emails, and it’s all within reach for users of any technical skill level. And that’s why Marketo attained a perfect score from SelectHub.
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Not to leave HubSpot out, we’ll just say it: this is an impressive piece of tech. True to its heritage of being an inbound marketing machine, HubSpot’s platform can create lead nurturing campaigns that ctrigger automatically, taking the hassle out of filtering and manually sending customers through experiences. Emails can fire based on time triggers, and as follow-up “lead retention emails.” All of this is based on lead behavior, which allows for long-term customer retention, earning HubSpot yet another perfect score from SelectHub.
When you’re reaching for a product that has strong customer retention features, you really can’t go wrong with either of these two. We’re calling this one a tie.
Assign Multiple Assets
Multiple assets generally refer to the bevy of content and assets that your brand promotes — and is in turn promoted by your marketing automation software. These can include things like:
- Products and services through blogs
- E-news letters
- Social media marketing
- All other forms of content marketing
When comes to assigning multiple assets, HubSpot provides quite a lot of bang-for-your-buck. The app lets you organize, schedule and publish content all in one place. An intuitive calendar feature that’s shared across the enterprise also gives you the ability to cross-channel coordinate. So you can take your social media posts, blog posts, landing pages and emails, push them at the same time or schedule them for optimal times.
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Not to be left out in the cold, Marketo provides stronger asset assignment than HubSpot does, according to our analysts. The product can do everything that HubSpot can do, and just a little more; like personalize segments of websites for leads. And the best part? You can handle all of this without touching any HTML.
So, given that Marketo does what HubSpot can do (and then some), we had to give the point to Marketo. Make no mistake, both of these products perform very well in most scenarios. What matters is the niche they’re able to fill. That’s why we always recommend you fill out our comparison report and get the full scoop on key differentiators for this platform. Click the button below to get started.
So let’s say you’ve got tons of leads but you’re not sure where they are in their buyer’s cycle. That can be a serious issue when you’re trying to guide a user towards conversion. With customizable qualifiers, you can decide which leads are qualified and which aren’t, and then decide on how quickly you want to engage your highly qualified leads (HQLs). The higher their qualification score the more engaged they are, and the more likely they are to buy. You will definitely want a robust, customizable qualification system.
Marketo has a few tricks up its sleeve that can provide decent value to its customers. They utilize a proprietary metric that turns out a single number for marketers to grade their content performance on. This can be an effective way to optimize underperforming/overperforming content for growth. With Marketo’s optimization tools, this is a lot easier than you might think.
On the other hand, HubSpot outshines Marketo by not only offering lead scoring abilities, but by also breaking down leads based on their value and professional information. HubSpot takes into account things like site behavior, job title and other important points of data. On top of this unique way of assessing leads, it has the same functionality as Marketo — grading leads for optimization and helping grow lead counts with optimization tools.
HubSpot is a clear winner in this category. Its unique scoring and assessment abilities help it edge out over Marketo, which offers a standard suite of features and a useful (yet proprietary) scoring algorithm. We’ll gladly reach for HubSpot over Marketo in this one.
Ahhh sales-lead conversion. Where would sales be without getting qualified leads from marketing? And frankly, what is marketing doing if it’s not helping to prep and pass off leads to sales. That’s what sales-lead conversion is: the not-so-subtle art of forwarding leads and sales-critical information to sales. But there are always some roadblocks and bottlenecks in the marketing-sales pipeline. Sometimes marketing isn’t listening to sales and is nurturing leads with content that over-promises and under-delivers. Or sales has no idea what marketing is doing and is trying to close a deal on bunk information. In the marketing automation world, we have a saying: “sales is from Mars, marketing is from Venus.” To remedy what could be a catastrophic situation where your agency hemorrhages leads, marketing automation tools need to have effective hand-off features. So, do they HubSpot and Marketo make the grade?
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Let’s start with Marketo, which can convert customers by triggering sales calls or relevant offers at exactly the right time, so your sales team can capitalize on opportunities. According to a Lead Response Management Study, that’s about five minutes. Our SelectHub analysts gave Marketo’s efforts a “great.”
But HubSpot got an “excellent” from our analysts, and it’s easy to see why. Its robust suite of content tools helps users attract new visitors to their inbound websites. In your HubSpot content toolbox, you’ve got blogging tools, branding tools, SEO and more. And once you’ve attracted and helped qualify your leads, you can send them to customized CTAs and landing pages, which will help close on the process. Oh, and did we mention that they offer a free, powerful CRM for your sales team to use?
With a bevy of highly customizable tools in its arsenal, we had to give the point to HubSpot’s own marketing automation suite. It’s got plenty of features built to guide leads towards conversion and strong integration with CRMs to assist sales all the way through closure.
Rounding out our exhaustive list is the almighty visitor report. What are visitor reports and why are they “almighty”? Visitor reports capture all your visitor information and then parse that data so that sales and marketing teams can better target large segments of traffic. And the “almighty” part is because data is an absolute, unparalleled essential in the modern business landscape. We’ve devoted entire blog categories to writing just about business analytics alone. According to Email Monday’s exhaustive list of marketing automation stats, analytics remains one of the most important marketing automation tool features (as ranked by marketers) by a whopping 52%. Now how could you want shoddy reporting features in your product knowing that?
Marketo monitors customer’s browsing and search history (what it has access to). By monitoring and tracking this data, it can better interpret it and alert sales/marketing where that lead is in their buyer’s journey. Are they just at the start of their quest to acquire your product/software? Or are they on the fence? Marketo can also generate sophisticated reports (compilations of collected information, accompanied by visual elements like charts and graphs) so that important intel can be disseminated throughout the chain of command. Some data sources Marketo can pull from include:
- Google AdWords
- Google Analytics
- Other data sources
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HubSpot can take information from landing pages, forms and more, and then coalesce that data into a sophisticated customer profile. The platform can then take that information and put it into a list of contacts for its integrated (and free!) CRM.
Marketo offers so much more than HubSpot in the way of visitor analytics. Both of them offer analysis and reporting features, but Marketo can pull from a more diverse group of sources and then report on them in more meaningful ways.
Scores and Concluding Remarks
We’ve been all over the map with these two marketing automation tools — and honestly? They’re both incredible. There are certain drawbacks and differentiators between Marketo and HubSpot, but we must pick a winner. We went over a few victories and defeats in our list, so let’s recap what we covered and who won for each category:
- Filtering — Marketo
- Automated Program — Tie
- Customer Retention — Tie
- Assigning Multiple Assets — Marketo
- Customizable Qualifiers — HubSpot
- Sales-Lead Conversion — HubSpot
- Visitor Reports — Marketo
After crunching scores and comparing the results, we finally have a definitive winner in the HubSpot vs Marketo face-off… Marketo!
Marketo is fine, fine piece of kit that is centered on value and performance. When it comes to crucial features (filtering, reporting and assigning multiple assets), Marketo is a reliable go-to. You’ll get substantial value out of its tools, and where it ties with HubSpot, you’re not going to find many compromises there. There’s only so much one can do, right?
But don’t count HubSpot out just yet. Where Marketo falters (customizable qualifiers and sales-lead conversion features), HubSpot picks up the slack admirably. And let’s not forget that the company itself is a well-supported marketing machine that’s got legions of users who are actively contributing to making product support even better. The company itself capitalized hard on the inbound methodology, and its content creation, SEO and lead generation tools definitely show it. So maybe your company is focusing heavily on inbound? Then you should look no further than HubSpot, because, really, it’s an excellent tool
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We had two ties, which tells us one thing: Your mileage may vary, and every business has unique needs (seriously, we even have it written above our door in our office). If you’re not sure what you need for your business just yet, be sure to grab one of our robust requirements templates and find out for yourself what your needs and requirements are when purchasing marketing automation software.
Does your company already take advantage of a marketing automation tool? Let us know in the comments what you’re using!
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