Choosing the right marketing automation platform can be like trying to navigate a complex maze. With over 11,000 options to choose from – it’s easy to get lost.
If you’ve stumbled onto this post, you’ve likely narrowed down your choices and are ready to compare and contrast the two major players in this field, HubSpot and Salesforce’s Marketing Account Engagement (MCAE) – formerly called Pardot. These two stand out with their features and capabilities. However, which one is the right choice for your organization?
A Note About Comparing Apples and Oranges
Before we dive into the details, it’s essential to understand how we’ll be comparing these two in this article. Both Salesforce and HubSpot offer an entire line of products and have a massive amount of capabilities. For the purpose of this comparison, we’ll be focused on the marketing automation capabilities of each – HubSpot’s Marketing Hub and Salesforce’s MCAE/Pardot.
User Views from Clients and Staff
One of the best ways to find out the tea is to just ask someone. So, to understand the real experiences users are having with HubSpot and MCAE/Pardot, we did just that – by engaging in conversations with marketers willing to spill the tea. To maintain authenticity and candor, the comments will remain anonymous. We’ll inject their comments throughout the post to help reinforce the points.
Overview of HubSpot Marketing Hub
HubSpot’s Marketing Hub is known for its user-friendly interface and cost-effective pricing tiers, catering to organizations of all sizes. As a market leader, HubSpot provides essential marketing features like email marketing, drag-and-drop landing pages, social media scheduling, ad management, live chat, and more. Additionally, HubSpot offers freemium versions of all product Hubs, including Marketing Hub.
Note: The focus of this article is to compare and contrast the two solutions, however, it’s important to note that HubSpot does offer an integration with Salesforce CRM that will sync your HubSpot portal with your Salesforce instance. You can learn more about this integration here.
Understanding HubSpot Plans and Product Model:
HubSpot’s Marketing Hub doesn’t operate in isolation; it harmonizes seamlessly with the other “hubs” offered by HubSpot. Since it’s crucial to understand HubSpot and its hubs to get a full grasp of it, let’s take a look.
HubSpot’s products are organized into six different hubs, each designed to cater to specific business needs.
- Marketing Hub: Focuses on inbound marketing strategies, offering tools for content creation, social media, lead generation, and more.
- Sales Hub: Geared towards sales teams, providing features for lead management, deal tracking, email tracking, and automation to streamline the sales process.
- Service Hub: Concentrates on customer service and support, offering tools for ticketing, customer feedback, knowledge base creation, and customer satisfaction tracking.
- CMS Hub: Centers around content management, providing a platform for building and managing websites.
- Operations Hub: This tool aims to help you clean and unify your data and processes across the various hubs, enhancing the overall efficiency of your business operations.
These aren’t five completely separate tools that integrate with one another. All five hubs are part of an all-in-one connected platform that’s built on a single codebase.
You can purchase whatever combination of hubs makes sense for your business and each hub has four price tiers available with each increasing level offering additional features and capabilities. A stand-out feature of HubSpot’s Hubs is they all offer a free tier with basic functionalities. HubSpot is designed as a tool you can grow with. As you move up the tiers, the features become more advanced, accommodating the needs of larger or more complex businesses. The tiered pricing allows users to choose the specific features and level of service that align with their business requirements and budget constraints.
“I’ve utilized the HubSpot Marketing Hub in my past three workplaces, and I appreciated how it allowed me to oversee all our inbound marketing efforts within a single platform that seamlessly integrated with our CRM.”
– Data Analyst, Research, USA
“When Marketing Hub is compared to certain market competitors such as Salesforce Marketing Cloud, it falls short in terms of customization and the ability to get highly specific about your desired actions.”
– Revenue Ops Manager, IT & Services, USA
Overview of Salesforce MCAE/Pardot
Salesforce first acquired Pardot in 2012, bringing marketing automation to its popular Salesforce Customer Relationship Management software (CRM). In 2022, Salesforce rebranded “Pardot” or “Pardot by Salesforce” as Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (MCAE). In your research, you may have come across these different names.
MCAE stands out as a sophisticated B2B marketing automation tool for facilitating lead management and enabling the creation of engaging customer journey workflows. One of the greatest strengths of MCAE is how the solution seamlessly integrates with the Salesforce CRM platform. However, unlike HubSpot’s suite of hubs, MCAE is a separate tool from Salesforce that integrates with the CRM using the Salesforce API. While the integration between MCAE and Salesforce is very good, there are cons.
“One of MCAE’s greatest strengths is its integration with Salesforce. Using these two together makes for a strong business case.”
-Senior Marketing Manager, SaaS Company, UK
Understanding Salesforce MCAE Plans and Product Model:
MCAE offers four foundational plans, with starting prices ranging from $1,250 per month to $15,000 per month, billed annually. The plans, Growth, Plus, Advanced, and Premium, offer additional features and capabilities as you move up. Additionally, there are several add-ons, for example, you can purchase an increased number of contacts for your subscription as your needs evolve.
HubSpot Marketing Hub vs. Salesforce MCAE/Pardot – Pricing
HubSpot’s Marketing Hub Pricing:
HubSpot’s pricing structure is designed to cater to businesses of all sizes. With a tiered and flexible model, it allows users to choose a plan that aligns with their budget and needs. The availability of a free tier and the affordability of the Starter tier at $45/month, makes HubSpot accessible to startups and small businesses, providing essential tools to kickstart their marketing efforts.
Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud Account Engagement Pricing:
MCAE follows a tiered pricing model, with different plans offering increasing levels of functionality. While this tiered approach provides scalability, it’s crucial for businesses to carefully assess their needs to avoid overcommitting to features that might not be immediately relevant.
HubSpot Marketing Hub vs. Salesforce MCAE/Pardot – Ease of Use
HubSpot’s User-Friendly Approach:
HubSpot is known for its ease of use, making it accessible to users with varying levels of technical expertise. The fact that it’s all completely by design is what helps HubSpot stand out. Let’s take a moment to dig in a little further on this.
To deliver an outstanding customer experience, you need five core elements:
- Content – Blogs, Landing Pages, Knowledge Base Articles
- Messaging – 1:1 Communications, 1:Many Communications, Live Chat, Bots, etc.
- Automation – Streamlining Processes
- Data – Customer Experience Data
- Reporting – Insight across all of these 5 core elements
What sets HubSpot apart from the pack in the CRM market is the way in which every HubSpot product has been strategically built around these 5 elements. This leads to easier adoption since all products are built on the same platform and similar, continuous improvement from HubSpot since as improvements are made, they are then carried out through the rest of the products. And because everything is connected, it leads to a more unified customer experience.
MCAE/Pardot’s Learning Curve:
While MCAE/Pardot offers robust capabilities, some users report encountering a steeper learning curve. The platform’s sophistication requires a deeper understanding of its features, making it ideal for businesses with dedicated marketing teams or the willingness to invest in training.
As we mentioned earlier in the article – Pardot/MCAE was acquired by Salesforce, not built from scratch. Although this is a common scenario in the CRM market, it can lead to customer experience challenges in the long run.
“The interface can feel overwhelming, making it a struggle to unlock its full potential without thorough training. Additionally, its outdated and less intuitive UI sets it apart from other marketing automation platforms, making navigation a bit trickier. It appears to lack some standard features found in modern tools, which can pose a challenge in reaching marketing goals. Despite these hurdles, diving in with the right training and expectations can help navigate Pardot’s complexities for a more rewarding experience.”
-Digital Marketing Strategist, Digital Marketing Agency, USA
“Pardot presents a bit of a learning curve, especially for newcomers—it’s complex and challenging to master.”
-Digital Marketing Strategist, Digital Marketing Agency, USA
“I find Pardot’s usability to be intuitive enough when compared to other solutions like Marketo.”
– Senior Marketing Manager, SaaS Company, UK
HubSpot Marketing Hub vs. Salesforce MCAE/Pardot – Support
HubSpot’s Comprehensive Support:
HubSpot support is available through various communication channels depending on which plan you have – chat, email, or phone. While these support methods are exclusive to paid plans, individuals using the free version still benefit from access to the extensive online knowledge base and community resources.
“The best thing about Hubspot in general is its ease of use and integration with other tools like workflows (for automation) and if there’s any issue, customer support is always there to help you out.”
-Marketing Manager, B2B, USA
MCAE/Pardot’s Salesforce Support Portal:
MCAE offers a two-day response time included for email support; 24/7 Premium Success support available with an add-on fee; online chat, webinars, Customer Support Community, and training through Trailblazer.me
“With my Signature Success plan, the support I can get is instant. They’ll jump on calls literally ASAP if needed 24/7.”
-Product Manager, SaaS Company, USA
“One drawback to MCAE is the onboarding support. Depending on your subscription tier, you need to pay for additional set-up support. If you don’t get the foundational things set up correctly from the start, you can run into trouble. I highly recommend choosing a good implementation partner.”
-Senior Marketing Manager, SaaS Company, UK
My two cents – As a user of both, I’ve had a much better experience with HubSpot support than through MCAE/Pardot. Of course, as noted in the user comments, much of this depends on your subscription level. I have also found it much easier to find “How-to” articles for using HubSpot than trying to find ones for MCAE/Pardot.
HubSpot Marketing Hub or Salesforce Marketing Cloud Account Engagement – Which is Right for Me?
In our opinion, HubSpot’s flexible pricing structure positions it as the superior choice for small businesses. Its user-friendly interface and interconnected ecosystem contribute to a holistic marketing solution.
For larger businesses, especially those invested in Salesforce CRM, the decision becomes more nuanced. While HubSpot boasts compelling features, businesses deeply ingrained in the Salesforce CRM ecosystem might find that Pardot/MCAE offers a more seamless integration. But, keep in mind that HubSpot also offers a Salesforce integration mentioned above in this article.
The choice ultimately hinges on your organization’s size, specific needs, and existing tech stack, ensuring that the selected platform aligns seamlessly with your broader business objectives.