All SaaS companies and mature startups go through a painful phase of their growth where they need to automate marketing efforts to fuel lead generation and reduce customer acquisition costs. Using a marketing automation and CRM platform helps you identify which channels are most impactful and cost-effective so you can focus your resources on the activities that maximize ROI.
But adding new software to your marketing technology (martech) stack is a huge investment of money, people to manage the platform, and time to set up before you see the payoff. There are many big name player platforms to choose from like HubSpot and Marketo. As of June 2021, HubSpot is the leading marketing automation solution in the U.S. with Marketo's parent company, Adobe, at second. It’s hard to know which automation tool is the best, or more importantly, which solution is the best fit for your SaaS company.
2021 Market Share of HubSpot and Marketo
Source: Statista, Leading U.S. Marketing Automation Providers
To save you hours of researching comparison guides on HubSpot’s CRM and Marketo Engage, here’s a snapshot of Gartner ratings and real-talk from interviews with Marketo Certified Expert Charlette Hartley and certified HubSpot expert Fallon Chattaway. As certified experts, they passed exams containing scenario-based questions that cover real-world practical knowledge of the HubSpot and Marketo platforms. A Marketo and HubSpot certification is an industry recognized signal of their ability to successfully set up email marketing campaigns according to best practices, and report on program success.
The insights gathered from these two marketing operations managers represent over a decade of first-hand experience working in HubSpot and Marketo.
Fallon Chattaway, ClassPass B2B Marketing Operations Manager
Charlette Hartley, Lytics Senior Demand Generation Manager
Both experts have experience consulting SaaS companies on which software best fits the needs of their staff of 500 employees. Chattaway and Hartley have experience implementing different marketing automation(MA) and customer relationship management (CRM) platforms at their organizations, Lytics and ClassPass.
Chattaway and Hartley’s candor may surprise you, but after weighing the pros and cons of both HubSpot and Marketo, you’ll have a realistic understanding of the softwares’ strengths and limitations. Here, we'll focuses on the important considerations, such as ease of use, customer support, pricing, app integrations, and reporting, to help you choose the right vendor.
Ease of Use: Marketo vs. Hubspot
Source: Gartner HubSpot CRM Platform vs Marketo Engage: Ease of Deployment
HubSpot’s Marketing Platform is More User-Friendly
HubSpot's is easier to use because it's UI has wizards to walk you through steps, drag and drop features, and integrations for basic marketing activation tools. An in-house marketing ops manager can easily set up less tech savvy team members in HubSpot without fearing they will break any campaigns or reporting.
“Usually my first question with any consultation is, ‘Do you have a marketing team?’ A lot of times businesses don’t. If the company needs a new platform to learn, then HubSpot is the way to go.”
-Fallon Chattaway, B2B Marketing Operations Manager at ClassPass
HubSpot has wizards or automatic messages that will walk you through the steps to properly set up campaigns on it's platform. “It gives users warnings to make sure all boxes are checked before turning things on,” says Fallon.
The email builder tool’s drop and drag features make it easy to use without knowledge of html.
"The one thing that HubSpot does better than any other platform is provide integrations for junior [marketing] roles. It has a chat feature. It integrates with social. It does everything that an SMB would want to manage centrally.”
HubSpot is also a good investment for SMBs looking to consolidate tools. Fallon says HubSpot allows SMBs to do more marketing activities centrally. Features like chat, social media scheduler, and blog are all rolled into one content management system(CMS) so you don’t have to manage different plans with Drift, Hootsuite or Wordpress.
Marketo Requires an In-house Expert to Manage Platform
Marketo Engage has more customizable features, which requires someone to understand how to customize those features to set up campaigns. Before adopting Marketo, a SaaS company should have an in-house marketing operations specialist on the team to successfully implement and manage the platform.
Hartley explains, “Marketo requires a dedicated person to be able to understand the platform. It’s a lot more complicated platform so you typically have someone who is Marketo Certified Expert. Now they have different levels of certification for different specialties since Adobe acquired them.”
“If you need something to run your website, for CMS, run your email, run your social media, and do reporting, then there’s a lot of different features that HubSpot can do that Marketo can’t do.”
-Charlette Hartley, Lytics Senior Demand Generation Manager
Marketo has been slow to update its UI and can be clunky. Hartley says, “From the time I started using Marketo in 2007 until very recently, the platform hasn’t changed its user interface.”
One Marketo feature that makes managing campaigns easier for teams is tokenizing at the program level. “It makes your life super easy if you have members on your team who do not know how to use Maketo” Hartley says. “I can set up campaigns for an event and token everything. This makes it easy for them to go in and change things like the date, time, and cta. They can push out emails and update landing pages without having to touch the individual email or landing page or knowing html.”
Customer Support: Hubspot vs Marketo
Source: Gartner HubSpot CRM Platform vs Marketo Engage: Services & Support
HubSpot’s Support Rated Higher on Gartner
HubSpot set their customers up for success with ongoing support. If you can’t intuitively figure something out in HubSpot’s friendly UI, they make it easy to find the answer you’re looking for with:
- HubSpot Academy for ongoing certifications to level up your professional development and understanding of the platform
- Chat window to talk to a human and get real-time answers to your questions
- Knowledge Base so you can search to see if your question has already been asked and find the solution voted the best by a community of experienced users
Source: HubSpot Knowledge Base
All those features make the HubSpot’s platform easy to learn and implement so your team can get their marketing campaign up and running.
Marketo Support is Essential
Marketo’s platform has a big learning curve which makes it essential to have help before you can use the program to its full potential. Their customer support includes the following:
- Email/Help Desk
- Knowledge Base
- Phone Support
- 24/7 Live Rep
As far as the quality of customer service, a reviewer on Capterra says, “Marketo customer support team is very responsive and always available to help, this is something I like the most.”
Starting Cost & Pricing: Hubspot vs Marketo
HubSpot and Marketo's MA platforms serve different markets with pricing to match their target customers. HubSpot pricing is less expensive in the starter plans to attract smaller companies and startups. On the other hand, Marketo is a more expensive platform that offers more customization for enterprise-level businesses.
HubSpot Offers Flexible Pricing and Low Entry Starter Plans
HubSpot’s platform is designed for SMBs up to Enterprise level companies. Their pricing model reflects this with flexible plans that can grow with your business. Fallon explains, “Most marketing automation systems base pricing on contact limits where the more contacts you have, the more you pay.” Recently in October 2020, HubSpot updated their pricing by introducing Marketing Contacts.
With Marketing Contacts, HubSpot customers only pay for the contacts they want to market to through email or ads. In a 2020 press release, HubSpot Chief Strategy Officer Brad Coffey stated, "With marketing contacts, our customers will now be able to bring all of their contacts into HubSpot without worrying about paying for ones they won't be marketing to. Having those contacts in one place will give them the important context they need to better serve and delight their customers."
Source: HubSpot Knowledge Base
Marketo Pricing is High End
Marketo targets mid-market to enterprise level companies. The starting price for Marketo Engage is $895 per month compared to HubSpot’s Marketing Hub which starts as low as $45 per month.
Source: Marketing Automation Insider
“Marketo is a very expensive platform,” says Hartley. If you're only using it for emailing and housing your data, then the cost benefit is not there for a company.”
API and Tool Integrations: Hubspot vs Marketo
Source: Gartner HubSpot CRM Platform vs Marketo Engage: Integrations using APIs and Tools
Many SaaS startups bear a financial burden to quickly show market value and profitability to their board. That means attracting quality leads, optimizing conversions, and shortening sales cycles are priority business goals. HubSpot’s free ad integrations with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google help you to target your messaging to segments, make lead interactions with marketing campaigns visible to sales, and measure campaign performance. Increased visibility of lead generation activities aligns your sales and marketing teams, shortening sales cycles.
HubSpot offers both a customer relationship management(CRM) and marketing automation(MA) solution. HubSpot’s CRM is free, but what makes it valuable is the sync with MA tools to deliver optimized and highly-relevant campaigns based on customer data centrally stored in the CRM.
Hubspot is a trusted industry leader when it comes to CRMs. Their strategy has been partnering with different sales, marketing, and customer service apps to optimize workflows and make tracking contacts and lead generation easy. Their ecosystem of 300 integrations is centrally located in the Hubspot App Marketplace.
Here are ten of the most popular HubSpot integrations for SaaS companies:
- Microsoft Dynamics
- Lucky Orange
Marketo Integrates Better with Adobe Experience Cloud
Marketo often requires big integration projects and a specialized person to own and train and use the platform. On the other hand, Marketo was built using the Salesforce platform and offers seamless integrations for their CRM, MA, and analytics software. Marketo was also acquired by Adobe in 2018, and became fully integrated with Adobe Experience Cloud in 2020.
Reporting: Hubspot vs Marketo
HubSpot Offers In-Depth Form Analysis
HubSpot’s reporting offers a deeper level of analysis for individual forms. For example, you can set up campaign-specific calculators that allow you to continually survey visitors about their preferences. Fallon points out that you can see data visualizations based on form submissions in HubSpot that you can’t in Marketo. Fallon explains:
“Not only can you see how many views and submissions a form receives, you can also see how many people selected each option. I can see how many visitors choose bootcamp compared to yoga class. So it also gives you reports on the form options selected. Whereas with Marketo, you would have to export all the data and look at it on a spreadsheet.”
HubSpot’s Reporting Lacks Customization
According to Fallon, HubSpot’s downfall is their reporting. Fallon says, “The reporting is not super specific.” Fallon explains a workaround to get reporting based on list parameters in HubSpot. “If you create lists for the exact parameters that you need and keep it active, then you’ll always have a snapshot to refer to.”
Fallon says that another limitation with HubSpot’s reporting is a lack of customizable features. “It does have custom dashboards, but for visualization, my preferred method is to sync your data with Salesforce and use Salesforce reporting.”
HubSpot does have individual object reporting so you can look at the performance of a specific form or landing page built in the platform. Fallon warns, “If you want to run a comparative report, there’s not a lot of functionality.” For funnel reporting, to see a customer’s entire journey, Fallon recommends using Google Analytics while HubSpot’s custom report builder is in beta.
“If you’re running basic campaigns or doing limited A/B testing, then HubSpot works perfectly fine.”
- Fallon Chattaway, B2B Marketing Operations Manager at ClassPass
Marketo’s Limitations with Attribution Reporting
“Attribution reporting is a huge need for marketers,” says Hartley. “It's hard to achieve attribution reporting natively with Marketo so they acquired Bizible. This came at a significant cost for customers to implement.”
To ensure you’re getting accurate data from Marketo’s reporting, Hartley recommends pairing it with Power BI or Tableau. Unlike HubSpot, Marketo doesn’t have a CRM and requires another platform like Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics.
“You’re only as confident in your reporting as you are in your CRM integrations and data” -Charlette Hartley
If you use HubSpot’s CRM and MA together, then you know your data recording will be more accurate.
Choose and Implement the Best Marketing Automation Software for Your SaaS Company
Compared to Marketo, HubSpot is a better marketing automation platform for SaaS companies because of its ease of use, customer support, affordable entry cost, flexible plans, and integrations. HubSpot is simple for your team to adopt and scales with your growing business by offering Sales Starter and Marketing Starter plans. That’s why First Page is an official HubSpot partner.
Remove friction from the buyer journey and create a seamless sync between marketing and sales with HubSpot’s automation and CRM platform. To accelerate your pipeline with content optimized and deployed in HubSpot, consult a First Page content strategist today.