The decision on which marketing automation platform to choose has never been easy, but 2020 has only raised the stakes. For many, budgets are tighter than ever. Meanwhile, organisations across the globe are reviewing the effectiveness of their digital marketing systems and finding them lacking. The pressure really is on to make the right call.
As two of the biggest players in this space, HubSpot and Marketo are prime candidates, providing marketing professionals with all the tools they need to deliver highly targeted marketing strategies at scale. This still leaves marketing heads with an important question:
Which one should you choose?
Read on to discover how these marketing automation powerhouses stack up against one another, where they differ and which is the best-fit solution for your business requirements.
For personalised advice, or to find out more about HubSpot and whether or not it could be right for your organisation, click the button below and get in touch. We're happy to help.
Overview of HubSpot vs Marketo
Let’s start with a general overview of the two platforms, which broadly speaking offer a similar suite of features and functionalities.
Introducing HubSpot Marketing Hub
HubSpot Marketing Hub is HubSpot’s all-in-one marketing solution. It has been designed around usability, so new users (or users of its new features) can start making the most of its capabilities as quickly as possible, with little to no training required.
Buyers can choose between HubSpot Marketing Free, HubSpot Marketing Starter, HubSpot Marketing Pro or HubSpot Marketing Enterprise. Even users of the free version can benefit from email marketing, forms, landing pages, contact management, a suite of advertising options, live chat, and traffic and conversion analytics, with premium versions of these tools and much more functionality unlocked at Starter and above. From day one, new users have the ability to choose the tier (and pricing — more on that later) that best suits their needs.
“HubSpot is ranked no.1 in marketing automation by G2 Crowd. Gartner also puts it at no.1, citing its excellent onboarding and customer support.”
Across all packages, Marketing Hub’s out-of-the-box dashboards offer clear visibility over campaign performance. This makes multi-channel marketing results simple to track, with the option to create custom dashboards available to users of Professional, Enterprise and the Reporting add-on. Campaign management can be tailored to suit your set-up, with HubSpot letting you assign visibility to those responsible for specific types of content or contacts.
Between its free and open ecosystem and the regular stream of upgrades rolled out by the product development team, HubSpot gives digital marketers the ability to adapt to swiftly changing markets or consumer preferences. In the current environment, with markets and the economies underneath them shifting almost weekly, this feels like a valuable asset.
G2 Crowd ranks Marketo’s marketing automation software at no.7, which is still impressive considering its legacy and the ever-growing number of alternatives available.
Gartner (which ranks it at no.5) presents Marketo as being aimed at large, enterprise-level organisations requiring bespoke solutions. This makes sense considering the level of sophistication its software boasts. It can handle hundreds of thousands of leads, further positioning it in the global enterprise market.
In its email and automation capabilities, Marketo is fairly matched with HubSpot. Their campaign management is also even, with Marketo supporting flexible permissions across teams, business units and product lines.
Its mobile optimisation is reportedly a popular feature with the platform’s users. However, its ecosystem is not open in the same way that HubSpot’s is. Integrations must be bought, making it important to review and budget for additional functionality at the planning stage.
As a result of the level of sophistication built into the platform, new users should account for plenty of time to learn their way around when getting started. Companies with dedicated IT departments or teams with an IT background will not just appreciate the platform more; they are better suited to getting the most out of it.
How important is accessibility to you?
This question of functionality is the first major point of difference between the two platforms. Out of the box, Marketo supports a limited set of tools, which then require a specialist developer to implement and utilise. For many organisations, this hurdle will be impractical, if not insurmountable. Conversely, in HubSpot, all this functionality is already available through the product. The question to buyers is: how important are more advanced features compared to ease of use?
“To put it another way, do you have the infrastructure to customise and maintain a sophisticated marketing automation platform or is a simpler, more intuitive platform, fully integrated with all your systems, more realistic?”
Let’s look at an example. Marketo includes the ability to create landing pages, but any significant customisation will require the support of a developer (or someone on the team with knowledge of HTML and CSS). Depending on the kind of content you want to create, you may also need custom code or additional software. Additionally, other tools are required to host your website pages. With this in mind, consider the following questions:
How frequently does your marketing team create or update landing pages?
Do your developers have the capacity to meet those requirements and is that the best use of their time?
Are you looking exclusively for marketing automation software or does the solution you choose need to be more holistic, i.e. capable of hosting your website and blog?
HubSpot’s open marketplace provides landing page templates for free. You can also create or customise your own templates easily using its drag-and-drop editor, making this a marketer-friendly interface. Ad creation can be delivered from within the platform, as can video through its native Vidyard integration, while the SEO tool provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of your content strategy and how to optimise it to maximise campaign results.
One feature HubSpot has over Marketo is its in-built smart content functionality. Smart content enables you to target your website pages, landing pages, emails, CTAs and forms based on specific audience criteria. As long as you have those criteria stored on your contacts, this feature will dynamically alter the content displayed in a module depending on who’s viewing it, enabling more personalised website experiences than ever before.
Note that if you want to develop your website, you’ll still need to invest in a separate Hub — CMS Hub. Unlike Marketo’s requirement for specific technical skills, this will give your marketers the ability to manage the site using the same easy-to-use functionality they’ll recognise from Marketing Hub’s landing pages.
If you’re a global enterprise with particularly complex automation requirements, have extensive teams with strong IT backgrounds and the budget/resources to invest in the necessary integrations and development (see Pricing further on in this article), Marketo’s potential for advanced customisation could make it the solution you’re looking for.
Comparatively, HubSpot’s ‘all-in-one’ marketing platform lives up to its name, offering buyers from SMEs right up to the enterprise level all the functionality their marketing teams need to start delivering effective automation campaigns and seeing results fast.
Digging into data and reporting capabilities
Marketo’s marketing automation capabilities are only half the story. Its advanced analytics really shine, offering users everything from pre-built dashboards to business intelligence reporting, so whatever your organisation’s data requirements, it has you covered.
At the campaign level, discover how engaging your automation activities are proving and how to maximise success. ROI dashboards will help you to keep track of costs as well as the return you are seeing. Advanced journey analytics highlight opportunities and bottlenecks across the customer lifecycle. Users rolling out particularly complex marketing automation campaigns will really benefit from its Premium Multi-Touch Attribution models.
“Tailored to every touchpoint across your strategy, Marketo’s Multi-Touch Attribution ensures you can accurately identify which channels, campaigns or content are delivering the most value.”
Only a couple of years ago, HubSpot would have struggled to stand up against these advanced analytics, but today the playing field is much more level. Its out-of-the-box reporting capabilities provide all the data a marketer needs to assess campaign performance and uncover which assets are working the hardest, with none of the technical expertise required by Marketo’s solutions. If linked with the free HubSpot CRM, this extends to contact data, so both marketing and sales can trace revenue closed back to the precise activities that drove or influenced it (and see how marketing impacts the bottom line).
“Used alongside HubSpot’s free CRM, every action your customers take can be traced back to revenue closed.”
Like Marketo, HubSpot Marketing Enterprise supports Multi-Touch Revenue Attribution reporting. Broadly speaking, this view assigns a portion of the revenue generated to each activity leading up to the ‘closed-won’ deal, with a variety of attribution models available to support the method that best suits your business. Dashboards can be set up to automatically surface this information, so even complex workflows or carefully coordinated ABM activities (more on this below) can be linked to the results they’ve driven.
Marketo continues to offer a robust suite of industry-leading reporting tools, but just like its core marketing automation functions, these will require manual set-up and in some cases (for example, competitor tracking) additional software. The time/expertise required should be factored into your set-up, and teams equipped with the relevant training prior to rollout.
HubSpot’s analytics and reporting solutions offer a similar level of insight, from baseline marketing metrics right through to nuanced revenue attribution. Once again, the biggest difference lies in the availability of these tools. HubSpot’s data capabilities are part and parcel of its ‘all-in-one’ platform, meaning there’s no manual integration required and they are readily accessible to teams wanting to access — and act on — real-time data, fast.
Marketing automation to support ABM
Amongst its many applications, Marketo is capable of identifying target accounts via AI recommendations and building them into lists around which highly targeted ABM campaigns can be created.
Automated predictive scoring reveals the best-fit accounts for your organisation as well as data-driven insights collated from millions of data points across the web, so you can be confident that the information you’re acting on (and personalising your marketing automation around) is accurate.
With the majority of HubSpot’s recently launched ABM tools shared between Marketing Hub Professional and Sales Hub Professional, it’s never made more sense for your marketing and sales teams to work together. The in-depth reporting and views of key accounts are ideal for creating seamless buying experiences for your most valuable target prospects.
HubSpot’s ABM features across Professional and Enterprise
Use workflow templates to define your ideal customer profiles and identify good-fit target accounts. Set up default properties to tag accounts and buying roles. Leverage AI-powered recommendations of target accounts to ensure sales never misses a beat. Combine it with the free HubSpot CRM and do it all within a tool that holds your existing customers and qualified leads, so you never have to worry about losing important contact details across marketing and sales.
Both Marketo and HubSpot’s ABM capabilities are incredibly sophisticated, leveraging artificial intelligence in order to surface best-fit target accounts and market to them intelligently. As you might have come to expect, HubSpot’s tools are more intuitive and easier to use.
A little support can go a long way, particularly in the software game, where issues can quickly rise beyond the training or the know-how of less-technical teams. As you’d expect from a globally recognised company, Marketo provides a variety of channels to support the users of its software.
Marketo customers can log into their account at any time to access the Support Portal. From there, they can submit a case to the Marketo Support team or browse the Knowledge Base for answers to their questions.
Alternatively, you can tweet them @MarketoCares or visit the Marketo Community to see if other users or experts on the Marketo platform can help you to resolve your issue.
“Depending on how you prefer to communicate with helpdesk teams (and perhaps on the severity of the issue!), this provides you with a variety of ways to get in touch with Marketo Support to resolve any challenges you’re facing in the platform.”
Befitting the inbound methodology it celebrates, HubSpot has really run with the ‘helpful educator’ angle. HubSpot offers a huge range of support to its customers and the wider marketing community, from a range of dedicated blogs aimed at making its readers’ lives easier to the HubSpot Academy, designed to guide you through courses and tutorials that will improve your skills and grow your business. Certifications are awarded on completion of many of these courses, providing evidence of skills progressed or knowledge learned.
There is also a thriving Solutions Partner community made up of businesses just like ours, to help onboard new customers onto the HubSpot platform and unlock its full potential. If you are looking for custom onboarding or want to see the biggest return from the platform in the long-term, starting a conversation with a Solutions Partner like us can really pay off, ensuring the technology you’ve invested in delivers everything you want it to — and more.
Marketo delivers on its promise to support its customers, but HubSpot’s dedication to training, education and support is next-level. Depending on how much you value learning and the support of an expert partner community focused on helping HubSpot customers to get the most from the platform, this could be something to bear in mind.
Marketo doesn’t publish its pricing, making an objective comparison tricky. Their indirect pricing strategy means it can be difficult to get transparency over pricing without entering into a sales conversation with them.
Word on the street puts them “at the top of the pricing arc, up there with IBM Watson and Eloqua”. When you couple the fact that they charge by database size with the global, enterprise-level organisations they suit best, it is easy to see how costs can quickly escalate. Then there are the costs associated with the additional software required to ensure it delivers all the functionality your organisation needs.
“Managing the Marketo platform also requires a lot of expensive people.” Eric Murphy, Head of Revenue, BabelQuest.
Unlike HubSpot, Marketo doesn’t support a free version, although users can sign up for a trial period.
HubSpot is much more clear on its pricing. HubSpot Marketing Free is the perfect entry-level platform for small businesses and startups looking to increase their reach and grow their customer base. Paid versions start with HubSpot Marketing Starter at £504 per year and open up the suite of premium tools and functionalities we have referenced throughout this article.
Marketing Hub Professional is currently £8,706 per year and Marketing Hub Enterprise, ideal for global organisations with large, complex teams and multiple regions, is £31,488 annually.
To get the most value from HubSpot’s all-in-one platform, you might consider the Starter Growth Suite bundle. At just £94.50 per month, this unlocks Marketing Hub Starter, Sales Hub Starter, Service Hub Starter and the free HubSpot CRM, opening your organisation up to a huge range of synergies and data sharing that you might otherwise be missing out on by running your sales and service activities, for example, on isolated systems.
At the enterprise level, Marketo is the more expensive product, especially since most businesses will need more than one module to be effective. For small to medium-sized businesses, HubSpot is considerably more affordable than Marketo’s basic level, making the choice on cost much clearer.
The popular vote: what is everyone else using?
Popularity is always an interesting one. The most popular decision is not necessarily the right decision for everyone. That said, it can provide some insight into how the wider industry is making use of these platforms and how trends around usage are shaping up.
On the subject of HubSpot vs Marketo, SimilarTech provides some numbers here. At the time of writing, their data reports 139,832 websites using HubSpot globally vs 37,897 Marketo users. This suggests HubSpot is demonstrating much broader appeal, perhaps reflecting the development requirements needed to make the most of Marketo, which could be a barrier to entry.
“Looking into the territories themselves, SimilarTech’s data shows HubSpot as leading in every country worldwide except for Japan, where Marketo enjoys dominance.”
In the last few years, HubSpot has made great strides in the range of languages it supports and even how these can be partitioned across the platform. This may have made its already user-friendly tools and systems even more accessible to a global audience, as well as increasing its popularity at the enterprise level, where multiple languages are needed for different regions.
Which is the right platform for your organisation?
Unsurprisingly, given the current climate and the emphasis it has placed on digital, both platforms appear to be on an upward trajectory in terms of uptake. The global pandemic is driving many organisations to scale up their digital operations. Some are pivoting in order to market themselves online for the first time. Others are considering more ambitious marketing automation campaigns in order to stand out above the growing competition.
In each case, both HubSpot and Marketo are offering them the solutions they need to automate their marketing and grow through these challenging times. Which platform you choose to underpin your future marketing activities will depend on your circumstances and requirements, but I hope this article has given you some food for thought and helped you on the road towards the right solution for your organisation.
For personalised advice, or to find out more about HubSpot and whether or not it could be right for your organisation, click the button below and get in touch. We're happy to help.