Comparing HubSpot and Salesforce Marketing Cloud is a little like pitting Chevrolet and Ford against each other, or Verizon and AT&T, or Husqvarna and John Deere.
There are die-hards on either side that will swear their brand is the best, even though both solve the same challenges. More often than not, the way the brand feels to us as individuals is what sways us toward one product or another.
We are a HubSpot partner agency. Their tools fit neatly into almost everything we do. It works for us, but that doesn't mean it will work for your company.
We wanted to provide an honest, transparent comparison of the two marketing platforms, and that disqualifies us from the discussion.
Instead of weighing in with our biased opinion, we researched what other people say about them -- the good, the bad, and the "meh" -- and focused on that.
Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) is a broad term for various tools in the Salesforce cloud pertaining to marketing automation and customer engagement.
The platform has four “base versions,” with different tiers of features and the option to add more “at-cost” tools on top of them.
These tools came together when Salesforce acquired ExactTarget and Pardot in 2013, which added B2C and B2B marketing capabilities to their portfolio.
Marketing Cloud supports a variety of tasks marketers depend on today, like building a customer journey, executing campaigns on multiple channels, contact list building and segmentation, social media posting and advertising, and analytics.
Studios are an umbrella term that encompasses a series of smaller “studios” marketers use to engage their audiences, including Social, Email, Advertising, Interaction, and Mobile Studios. Builders, on the other hand, are places where data and content are managed.
The combination of these features give marketers a seamless way to manage marketing campaigns across different channels.
Most of the capabilities in SFMC are housed within the Builders and Studios.
The most notable ones include:
Journey Builder – follows a customer on their journey to making a purchase, gathering insights from different marketing channels that give you a “Single Customer View (SCV).” You can also start new ad campaigns from here
Email Studio – allows you to create 1:1 email communications efficiently as your contact database grows.
Social Studio – brings a variety of social media posting and listening features together, enabling you to inform future marketing initiatives by monitoring topics and interactions with your audience.
Data Studio – integrates with other marketing tools for discovering new prospects and channeling information to other data providers.
We looked at three review sites that have recent scores and user comments -- Gartner, Capterra, and G2.
Here are a few quotes from confirmed users:
“While creating the email, we can see the same email in HTML format which is created through content blocks, which makes it easy to edit when we are extending any email-related campaigns. Moreover, we can live test the email created on the same platform.”
“Marketing Cloud has wide array of features that helps to improvise the email marketing management in new and efficient ways. It is easy to use, quick implementation helped easy rollout across regions. Ability to integrate with other tools and easy integration with Salesforce tools makes it most user friendly tool.”
Despite the high marks for ease of use, there is definitely a contingent of marketers out there that feel the system is less inituitve than it could be. Premium support is an add-on expense as well.
“Pardot is unnecessarily confusing, and Premium Support is nearly $200/month. Because Pardot is so confusing with its hidden menus and proprietary terms for common concepts, there is so much that we pay for that we don't even know exists.
Every step of this platform involves a Google search to learn how to do something in English.”
“Overall, the system is not as user-friendly as one would hope. There are pieces of key information not found immediately and requires sifting through different menus and several levels deep into another area of the software in order to find, such as error reporting on why specific emails failed to send. Even then, a lot of errors are not explained and require escalation with support teams.”
"Both HubSpot and Salesforce are awesome, but each has their downsides. The flavors are just different enough to nudge you in one direction or the other."
HubSpot Marketing Hub is an all-in-one platform that brings all of your marketing tools and data together in one place, allowing marketers to create personalized experiences for customers, use tools for converting leads into customers, build automation for lead nurturing, and track analytics that tie activities to ROI.
All of the tools in Marketing Hub channel directly into the HubSpot CRM, which stores data about your contacts, companies, and deals. From the moment a lead converts on your website, you can get a variety of insights about how they are engaging with your marketing components, like web pages, blog posts, emails, forms, and other assets.
Like Salesforce, HubSpot’s highest marks come from the ability to manage all aspects of marketing in one place, using automation and analytics to track each prospect on their journey to a decision. You can also use these insights to better inform your marketing strategy.
Like Salesforce’s market advantage as having the world’s most popular CRM, HubSpot also has a distinct advantage with the vast array of easy integrations it offers.
"One cant talk about HubSpot and not discuss its robust integration capabilities. You will most probably be able to integrate HubSpot with all the famous SaaS tools in the market and make a custom super marketing tool of your own. It’s like creating a tailor-made solution without having to write code for API integration."
"I absolutely love Hubspot's workflow and list building functionality. It is extremely powerful. It's contextual marketing functionality is also very impressive and works great. I have used many, many similar software products over the years. Each, including Hubspot, has its own set of pros and cons, but Hubspot takes the cake for me."
"There is a limitation of the number of reports in the reporting dashboard, which disappoints some users like me who want to have multiple reports in the reporting dashboard, which is not a cutting edge over its competitors."
"Follow up tasks can be improved more. It may be more expensive for small and medium scale organization. Extra programming and integration should be improved. Sometimes it may be complex to create workflows."
The reviews we looked at are critical of the pricing for both platforms.
In the case of Salesforce, most users felt the features were needlessly complex, especially if you have custom needs. The company also charges you close to $200 a month extra for “Premium Support,” which some users felt was necessary in order to get any service at all. Other users mention the need to hire an outside agency or consultant before getting anywhere with the platform.
With HubSpot, users felt the pricing is too inflexible as you scale. It requires a non-cancelable annual contract, and their automation features are only available with the Professional and Enterprise versions (Pro version starts at $800 per month).
One thing HubSpot has done to mitigate cost is change the way they bill you for contacts in the CRM. Instead of charging you for the total number of contacts – which add up quickly – they will bill you for “marketing contacts” only. Any “non-marketing contacts” in the CRM are free.
From an outside perspective, SFMC and HubSpot Marketing Hub both do very similar things.
Both platforms are the industry standard for creating personalized experiences for customers at scale. But it’s hard to miss certain perceptions people have about the two companies.
Salesforce has a reputation for a strong email marketing and user journey tracking. It’s customizable and powerful, but also known for a steep learning curve, mediocre support, and a better fit for large B2C companies.
HubSpot gets high marks for automation, customer journey tracking, integrations, and responsive customer support. Even though it offers several low-cost options for small businesses, they get a lot of complaints online about their lack of flexibility when it comes to pricing.
Our take on all this?
Both platforms are awesome, but each has their downsides. There is no one perfect solution for any company. With Salesforce and HubSpot, the flavors are just different enough to nudge you in one direction or the other.
I would encourage you to see a demo of the tools, talk to peers that have experience with them, and trust your gut when it’s decision time.
I'll bet it’s never lied to you before.
Feb 17, 2022 1:48:49 PM