The digital landscape continues to expand. This growth is prompting many small and mid-sized companies to look toward market automation tools in order to grow their business.
HubSpot and Pardot are two of the more popular marketing automation platforms that companies are using.
Both have a glut of features that can help these businesses align their goals with sales, personalize their marketing messages for a variety of customer segments, and upgrade their lead management abilities, among others.
While both of these platforms offer similar services, they are not transposable.
They each offer their own unique set of features, different pricing structures, and different dashboards that lead to a unique user experience.
Template Design Tool
Both HubSpot and Pardot offer a template designer that can be used to create base designs for your emails and landing pages.
These tools are great for coming up with themes and motifs that will help you maintain a solid style across your brand.
These will help you save time when building multiple email campaigns or multiple landing pages, allowing you to use the templates you design over and over again.
HubSpot’s “Design Manager”
HubSpot’s tool has been created with the entire spectrum of technological savviness in mind.
For those of us who aren’t designers or developers, HubSpot offers a very intuitive drag-and-drop template design system. You can use this tool to build both emails and landing pages.
The drag-and-drop system comes complete with a selection of pre-made modules from Call To Action Buttons, Content Sliders, as well as the ability to create your own custom modules.
For the more technologically adept, HubSpot also provides the power to create your own code and build out your own template from scratch.
As an added bonus, the tool provides extensive documentation through its HubL coding language.
This can be used to build complex and intricate designs including custom fields.
Pardot’s “Email Templates” and “Layout Templates”
Unlike Hubspot, Pardot divides its design functions into two separate tools.
So, instead of creating and editing all of your templates from one central area, you have different tools for creating email templates or layout templates.
With its email templates tool, Pardot gives you more than 40 ready-made templates that you can choose as a jumping off point. Or you can go rogue and create your own template from scratch.
After selecting one of the premade templates, Pardot automatically creates all of the necessary code for the email.
This can be found in the HTML Tab or you can use the Editor Tab to design your email visual point of view.
If you opt to create your own templates, Pardot gives you some starter text and a basic template to build on or abandon as you see fit.
If you’re building your own template you can make use of the attributes that have already been defined by Pardot, which can be added to your own code to help ease the design process.
Pardot’s layout template creation tool is less intuitive than its email creator, requiring you to possess a certain amount of HTML and CSS knowledge.
When creating your landing page, you can choose between pre-made templates or using a drag and drop designer to create your own from scratch.
Managing your leads generally focuses on the act of weeding out weaker prospects from potential high-quality leads and it’s typically a labor-intensive and manual process.
Pardot’s Lead Management Tool
Pardot’s features include things like lead nurturing and lead scoring. However, it does lack certain tools for creating calls to action (CTAs), blogs, or SEO optimization.
That said, it does provide the ability to view a detailed summary of website clicks, pages visited, and more.
This allows sales teams to determine the most effective type of marketing campaign and develop it from there.
Indeed, Pardot can even track anonymous visitors from their website, converting those into prospective leads and generating marketing campaigns with all the necessary information sent directly into Salesforce CRM, for example.
Through its integration with Google AdWords, users can also track a particular campaign’s ROI (return on investment) and further analyze the performance of the keywords used.
Therefore, social profiling is made simple by tracking each of the interactions that prospective leads have with your social campaigns.
HubSpot’s Lead Management
HubSpot traditionally focuses on content creation tools. That means that they offer a bevy of solutions for building and optimizing blogs, landing pages, CTAs, SEO, and other web content.
In addition, HubSpot offers workflow generators and reporting tools to help you create a comprehensive view of potential problem areas and figure out which areas are truly working at their highest potential.
With HubSpot, users can set criteria to help categorize, profile, and nurture leads based on various and specific characteristics and behaviors.
They can then dig down to a granular view of a potential lead within a single contact profile and see how the lead has interacted with the company through things like page visits, email opens, asset downloads, and website visits.
Using this, sales teams can create an overview of leads’ histories to create targeted lists and automated email campaigns while driving up conversions.
HubSpot’s main sticking point is in its automation of these features.
Email and goal-based nurturing are not available through the platform’s basic package. Also, HubSpot doesn’t offer any sort of Pay Per Click (PPC) integration, so any companies that have a PPC-heavy strategy should look elsewhere.
HubSpot offers users the ability to reach representatives by phone, email, or through live chat via the company’s support portal.
If the matter isn’t urgent, users can use HubSpot’s Knowledge Base, which offers thousands of resources about the platform’s functionality.
These can be employed to troubleshoot any number of problem areas.
With Knowledge Base, users can also find training programs and platform certifications that help with onboarding and getting acquainted with all the different features.
It’s simply a good tool for getting to know how the platform works and becoming as proficient as possible with it.
If you’d like to seek the advice of fellow users, HubSpot has come out with a customer forum that includes communities.
Here you can discuss design, partners, and marketing, in addition to its HubSpot academy and developer community.
If you opt to go for the Professional or Enterprise payment tiers, you can request dedicated support as well as on-site onboarding from a HubSpot assistant.
For help, Pardot’s users can access the platform’s team of Client Advocates.
These advocates provide information about new features, manage account audits, and conduct new strategy sessions, among other provisions.
If you have a general inquiry, the support team can be reached through a support portal.
The company also provides free weekly training sessions, ongoing technical support over the phone and email, and access to its Idea Exchange.
Users can use the Idea Exchange to vote on new product features and gain unlimited access to the platform’s Customer Hub and Knowledge Base.
If you’re a new user, Pardot provides a Quick Start Onboarding package with the intent of fostering a relationship between those implementation managers and Pardot’s new customers.
File and Content Management
HubSpot’s approach to both File and Content management relies more heavily on the visual aspect of the workflow.
The HubSpot file manager gives you the ability to build your own folder structure, preview thumbnails, and upload files all from a single interface.
On the other hand, Pardot’s Content Management relies more on a data style listing format.
The company provides the ability to create folders and preview images, folders are created in a different area and the file needs to be clicked on in order to preview the image.
Both of these platforms offer a powerful contact management system. Each offers a clean interface to help you peruse your contact list and view the various data points about them.
Between the two systems, the largest difference is that Pardo provides a tabbed interface for its various sections while HubSpot’s contact info is all included on the same page, using cards for the various sections.
This gives you the ability to toggle on or off the information you wish to view at any given time.
Smart and Dynamic Content
Smart Content – sometimes referred to as Dynamic Content – is simply the ability to modify your content based on the user or certain attributes and characteristics that you have put together for them.
So, if you have users who are considered prospective leads, you can include a specific, targeted paragraph in your email correspondences with them.
Other users who are simply normal accounts won’t receive the paragraph or will receive an entirely different sales pitch.
Both HubSpot and Pardot provide for this exact type of content.
HubSpot gives you the ability to set Smart Content at the time you build your landing page or email. With Pardot, users need to create the content in a separate region and embed it within the page or email.
That said, Pardot allows for a significant amount of flexibility with its dynamic content for emails and it allows you to pick and choose from each of the customer attributes that you set.
HubSpot only allows users to choose from a list of members or from users within a certain life cycle stage when using the smart content in an email.
Forms are a key part of any marketing automation platform. They’re indispensable, really.
Luckily, both platforms offer the ability to build your own forms with ease.
Pardot has one significant advantage over HubSpot in that it offers the chance to modify the source code of the form and modify the look surrounding it.
However, HubSpot’s cheapest plan offers an unlimited amount of forms while Pardot only provides for a maximum of 50 forms, making this aspect a bit of a toss up.
Landing pages are another aspect of marketing automation platforms that are simply indispensable.
As discussed earlier, both HubSpot and Pardot allow you to create your own landing pages.
Both have an editor interface where users can change any aspects they desire about the visual look of the pages.
In general, you can create slightly more complex pages with HubSpot’s pre-built modules, using aspects like sliders or image galleries. Pardot doesn’t offer features like this.
HubSpot also renders third-party hosted CSS in a superior manner to Pardot, which doesn’t necessarily display the content in the same way it will ultimately appear.
Pardot’s Standard plan also comes with a limit on the amount of landing pages you can create. Users are limited to 50 pages with Pardot where HubSpot’s Basic plan gives them an unlimited amount.
In many regards, integrations are where marketing automation tools really show their flexibility.
There are an untold number of tools online for digital marketers to make use of, but not all of them will work in conjunction with your marketing automation platform.
The more of these tools that you can make use of, the more options you will have. HubSpot and Pardot both offer a number of important integrations.
Both of them, for example, can be integrated with SalesForce’s primary CRM (Customer Relationship Management) application. But each of these platforms has a plethora of other platforms, tools, and systems that they will connect with.
HubSpot interacts with approximately 125 different tools, while Pardot has around 32 integrations.
Both HubSpot and Pardot give you the ability to create redirects within their respective platforms, though these redirects are somewhat unique to each system.
For example, HubSpot redirects are created through either its COS URL Mappings or via expiring pages within the advanced settings in the page editor. Once there, simply enter the redirect URL location.
Pardot’s redirects function more like tracked links. They can be used for links on your site and once that link is visited, it will send the user to the URL you have set.
The one drawback to Pardot is that you cannot expire a landing page and redirect it to another URL like you can with HubSpot.
Testing is the backbone of marketing automation tools. You can’t understand what is working and what needs to be fixed if you can’t accurately test the performance of your campaigns.
Indeed, multi-variant testing is key to any website. It allows users, designers, and marketers to continuously update and make improvements in order to keep their sites focused on predetermined goals.
Pardot and HubSpot both provide the ability to examine your campaigns even if they’re managed in different ways.
HubSpot allows the simple creation of an A/B variant test within any landing page. This can be created from the main landing page dashboard.
Pardot, on the other hand, only allows you to create the landing pages first, then travel to another area to create your multivariate tests, then select and apply them to the pages you’ve already built.
Reports and Analytics
A/B, or multivariate, testing is a useful tool but it isn’t the only analytic measurement in the toolbox. And, of course, testing is useless if you can’t read the results.
It can’t be enough to note which product every client purchases, you also have to know which other products they might be interested in, whether they might want to buy from you again in the future, and the factors that can influence them to make these decisions.
As we mentioned earlier, Pardot can identify anonymous website visitors, which is an incredibly useful tool in the collection and correlation of data. It does this by recording the IP addresses of every visitor.
Pardot’s Engagement Reporting also shows how the recipients engaged with the emails they received, tracking the amount of opened emails, the number that were skimmed, read, forwarded, or printed.
Using this targeted system, marketers can dig deeper into building sales-ready leads.
Pardot’s reporting features give users the ability to track returns on investment, campaign performance, email metrics, and customer lifecycles to help them identify which aspects of the campaign capture the most attention and where people lose interest.
HubSpot, meanwhile, provides the ability to identify contacts, visits, and customers that have been generated through your landing pages.
The platform then creates a list of contacts and customers with detailed analytics in order to pinpoint the actions taken by these leads.
This goes beyond just how many clicks were generated and allows users to bolster their lead generation game by using targeted customer information.
HubSpot’s built-in analytics also allows its users to view a detailed report for every piece of their marketing assets, including landing pages, websites, social media accounts, emails, blog posts, and much more.
Additionally, those users can view a competitor’s report and see how they stack up to other companies in their niche.
These analytics are presented in a user-friendly dashboard at each package level. Customers of the Enterprise level are the only ones who gain access to in-depth reporting.
Pardot, on the other hand, offers reporting for all of its packages.
Users have the option to select from four different subscription plans with Hubspot: Free, Starter, Professional, and Enterprise.
HubSpot’s free package is obviously its most basic and limited. This tier is great for beginners or small teams, but lacks many of the features that a more advanced organization would likely need.
The Starter Plan begins at $50 per month, billed annually. It includes the basic features that are great for lone entrepreneurs and beginner marketers including things like form customization and lead tracking.
The Professional plan costs $800 per month, billed annually. It also requires a one-time onboarding charge of $3,000. In addition to the basic features, this tier adds functional automation, enabling users to automate inbound campaigns at scale.
It offers unlimited website visits and 1,000 contacts.
After that, users are charged $50 per month for each additional set of 1,000 contacts.
The Enterprise level costs $3,200 month, charged annually, plus a one-time $5,000 onboarding fee. This level includes unlimited website visits and 10,000 contacts.
Every additional 1,000 contacts will cost an extra $10 per month.
Enterprise customers get a number of extras including reporting and lead scoring and the ability to generate custom reports in order to track and measure their inbound campaigns.
Pardot provides three tiers for its customers: Growth, Plus, and Advanced. The company does not offer a free version and does not appear to offer a trial period of any of these tiers.
Each plan includes annual billing and accommodates up to 10,000 contacts.
The Growth plan costs $1,250 and includes lead nurturing, lead scoring & grading, in-depth prospect tracking, email marketing, ROI reporting, Standard CRM integration, and Forms and Landing pages.
The Plus plan costs $2,500 month and includes all of the Growth plan features plus: A/B testing for email and landing pages, Google AdWords integration, Advanced email analytics, A/B testing for emails and landing pages, Social profiles, advanced dynamic content, and more.
The Advanced Plan costs $4,000 per month and, in addition to all the other features, comes with custom object integration, a dedicated IP address, custom user roles, API access for as many as five connections and 100,000 calls per day, and more.
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Ultimately, both of these platforms price their platforms based on the amount of contacts in a customer’s database but HubSpot has a lower starting point than Pardot.
Additionally, HubSpot’s free plan allows users to get used to the platform before making any commitment. That makes it one of the most affordable marketing automation tools on the market.
With that it mind, it can’t hurt to start out with HubSpot and see if it works for you. If it doesn’t suit all of your needs you can make the jump to Pardot and live happily ever after.