HubSpot and Salesforce are among the best marketing automation software publishers. But there is no one-size-fits-all solution. So, to find the best marketing software for your company we compare these market leaders among 6 categories to surface the strengths and differences you can use to find the solution that’s right for you.
Salesforce Marketing Cloud Account Engagement, a very long product name that was previously called Pardot, and is generally shortened to just Account Engagement, is one of two popular Salesforce marketing solutions. The other is Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
In short, Marketing Cloud is most often used by B2C companies driving high volume sales transactions over multiple online channels, while Account Engagement is most often used by B2B companies selling considered purchases to buying committees over longer sales cycles. You may want to visit Salesforce Marketing Cloud vs Account Engagement to get a deeper understanding of the differences.
This HubSpot Marketing Hub vs Salesforce Account Engagement only compares HubSpot to the Account Engagement product and does not reference the other Salesforce Marketing Cloud solution. Visit HubSpot Marketing Hub vs Salesforce Marketing Cloud if you want to compare HubSpot to the alternative Salesforce marketing system.
About HubSpot Marketing Hub
This marketing system is positioned as an all-in-one inbound marketing engine that includes the tools to create emails, landing pages and search engine optimized content and the process automation to manage social media marketing and lead generation.
A core theme of this solution is the all-in-one platform that centralizes marketing automation tools, delivers information reporting and integrates with HubSpot CRM. Having everything in one place is an advantage if it truly has everything. But if tools or features are missing marketers may be left with few options.
About Salesforce Account Engagement
This application falls under the Salesforce Marketing Cloud brand but operates with a unique architecture and is sold as an independent product.
In contrast to HubSpot's all-in-one approach, Salesforce delivers a core marketing platform and offers additional modules or add-ons a la carte. For example, optional apps include things like Salesforce Engage to give sales reps insight into buyer behaviors, B2B Marketing Analytics Plus for account-based marketing (ABM), Engagement History Dashboards for advanced campaign analysis, Google AdWords integration for improved cost per customer acquisition measurement, Customer Data Platform (formerly Salesforce CDP) to aggregate every customer data point across multiple platforms and Einstein artificial intelligence (AI).
A wide variety of optional and purpose-built marketing tools is an advantage as long as the total solution does not become cumbersome or difficult to use.
HubSpot Marketing Hub vs Salesforce Account Engagement Side-by-Side Comparison
We compared these two solutions among 6 essential categories to surface unique benefits and meaningful differences.
The User Experience
The user experience (UX) is a heavily weighted evaluation factor among marketers. Applications that leverage consumer technologies to improve ease of use achieve lower learning curves, increased user adoption, faster time to value and greater software utilization (which thereby collectively achieves far greater payback on your software investment).
- The HubSpot user interface (UI) was born from consumer technologies, adheres to a minimalist design and uses traditional marketing terminology to achieve the overarching goal of ease of use. It is simple and intuitive and, in many ways, the UI mimics Amazon or eBay more so than traditional business applications.
- The application can be used without lengthy training and without manuals. In fact, HubSpot may be the simplest to use among all marketing automation systems.
- However, while minimal adjustments can be made the UI is not easily customizable.
- The UX is influenced with user training. HubSpot’s Academy offers an impressive portfolio of free instructional courses to get users proficient and comfortable in the system.
- The Salesforce UI is created from consumer and social technologies. The UI is a more balanced approach between ease of use and utility.
- It’s different that HubSpot in that it generally includes more capabilities on the most frequently used screens. That increases page density but reduces page to page navigation.
- It’s also more configurable and customizable than HubSpot. That’s helpful for different marketing roles that need to see different information and do different things.
- Salesforce's Trailhead is a free online learning platform. It offers more than 1,000 education tracks and bite-sized courses organized by roles and experience levels. It’s helpful in quickly getting users onboarded and productive.
Marketers appreciate a UI with less clutter, more white space, dynamic data display, color coded intelligence, hover-over navbars, contextual menus, forms divided into containers and hyperlinked breadcrumb trails. HubSpot offers an impressive UI.
A UI is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it doesn't work.
But the UI must do more than just look good. A good UI evolves into a good user experience (UX) when it contributes to staff productivity and supports workflow processes with intuitive navigation, streamlined task sequencing, guided navigation, and contextual search results. Salesforce offers an impressive UX.
The UI is focused on simplicity and the visual presentation, but the UX drives productivity and performance results.
Features and Capabilities
Software features and functions perform marketing tasks that create automation and improve productivity. When the software is missing features, manual effort is required.
- Most of this application’s features revolve around inbound marketing. The one standout area is content production, such as creating search engine optimized blog posts.
- System capabilities include content production to attract digital visitors and functions to track digital leads, acquire them using landing pages and forms, and score them to determine buyer readiness. These features are basic but accommodate simple and routine lead management.
- A few of the more advanced capabilities include event-based segmentation filters that can react to prospect behaviors and lead qualification bots that qualify and distribute leads pursuant to defined workflows.
- This solution offers much deeper functionality for the 6 lead management processes of digital lead tracking, lead acquisition, lead scoring, nurture marketing campaigns, lead transfer to sales, and lead analytics.
- A second difference is Salesforce’s industry specific editions, such as Financial Services Cloud or Manufacturing Cloud, to name only a few. These vertically focused apps speak the language of the industry and better accommodate industry work streams.
- A third difference is the ability to add new features, functions and modules on demand. This makes Salesforce a more comprehensive application.
The breadth and depth of the Salesforce solution is unmatched. If you apply its capabilities to improve marketing performance, you will earn a handsome ROI. However, if your needs are simple, or you use only a small portion of the application, the additional capabilities will result in a more significant learning curve and ongoing system administration without the payback.
Most marketers are asked to do more with less. Software automation tools are the single most effective way to perform more activities with less labor.
- HubSpot process automation is almost entirely focused on inbound lead generation. It provides basic process automation to track digital footprints, convert anonymous visitors to known prospects and nurture those prospects with email campaigns until they become qualified. It then applies process automation to distribute leads to the sales team.
- While neither solution does a good job accommodating the hot topic of Account-based Marketing (ABM), HubSpot offers a bit more capability than Salesforce for this marketing program.
- The workflows for basic processes such as lead scoring and lead distribution are configurable, but not customizable, with a visually driven, drag and drop editor.
- Process automation in the areas of list generation, email distribution, A/B testing and lead scoring are more sophisticated and flexible that HubSpot.
- For example, lead scoring can automatically calculate lead scores based on a combination of both account (company) and contact criteria. Or multiple step nurture campaigns can be triggered by decision rules based on lead activities, events, data changes and time-based deprecation, and include response treatments such as score changes, email distributions, alerts or assignment to the sales team.
- This solution offers visually driven declarative tools and custom programming to create or modify workflow-based process automation to accommodate company specific processes.
Process is automation is improved with communication and collaboration tools. While Salesforce Slack is not specifically part of the company's marketing software, it is quite popular among marketers that use it to communicate among decentralized staff (including sales colleagues) and distribute content from automated workflows.
Analytics are essential to improving marketing performance. For example, they are needed improve marketing conversions by determining the optimal combination of content, offer, channel and timing for every customer or customer segment. They are needed for any process that you wish to improve.
- While HubSpot business intelligence tends to be more basic, there are some helpful analytics that are somewhat unique.
- For example, multi-touch campaign attribution tracks the locations and number of times a lead or customer responds to a marketing asset. That's a step up from marketing systems that only attribute a new lead or customer to either the first or last flight. And it helps with the thorny issue of multi-channel campaign effectiveness and getting more accurate campaign ROI reporting.
- HubSpot delivers the standard information reporting such as dashboards and reports, but that reporting is much more limited.
- While HubSpot does not offer specialized tools for advanced business intelligence, it does work with third party tools such as Power BI and Hotjar, both of which are available in the HubSpot App marketplace.
- Salesforce has a clear advantage when it comes to sophisticated marketing analytics.
- For example, the Genie CDP unifies the company’s customer data across channels and interactions into a single customer profile, so every experience across the customer lifecycle can become more automated, intelligent, and real time – and the company can use a single data depository to produce information reports.
- Optional modules such as B2B Marketing Analytics Plus, Engagement History Dashboards and Tableau CRM can be used for business intelligence or to create predictive analytics.
- Einstein AI brings advanced automation and reporting to Marketing Cloud with features such as Send Time optimization, engagement scoring, content or asset suggestions, personalized interaction suggestions and next best offer or next best action recommendations.
The four most popular marketing analytics tools are dashboards, reports, predictive analytics and AI. Both HubSpot and Salesforce deliver out of the box reports with filters for basic personalization. But that's where the similarity ends.
The HubSpot dashboards are visually appealing but in this author's opinion so overly simplistic they don't really show anything the user doesn't already know. Salesforce dashboards are more interactive and customizable which makes them much more actionable.
Where HubSpot's analytics are historical, Salesforce analytics can be predictive. That shifts information reporting from hindsight to foresight. And while Salesforce offers an impressive AI called Einstein for Marketing Cloud, HubSpot has no similar solution.
Platform and Extensibility
System integration, software customization and platform extensibility tools make marketing automation systems more flexible and help future-proof technology investments.
- HubSpot supports simple spreadsheet uploads and downloads and simple integration but lacks an enterprise integration tool of ESB (enterprise service bus). This may not be a big issue for small businesses but will be for midsize and large companies.
- Marketing Hub doesn't facilitate custom coding for specific capabilities but upgraded versions do permit access to a few additional tools.
- The HubSpot App Marketplace offers pre-packaged integration with hundreds of other marketing and business systems.
- Due to its position of being an all-in-one marketing engine or complete suite for inbound marketing, the company does not put a big focus on additional tools for software extensibility.
- Salesforce Mulesoft is an impressive platform to integrate data and systems in a relatively simple environment. HubSpot has no comparative solution.
- Salesforce offers platform tools to make applications more extensible, without modifying source code. Again, HubSpot has no equivalent PaaS tools.
- For companies that wish to modify the software to fit their exact needs, Salesforce offers a range of low code platform tools and software customization tools for which there is no HubSpot comparable solution.
- An advanced package offers Einstein AI-powered features such as behavior scoring, predictive lead scoring, campaign attribution and campaign insights. AI can determine which leads are sales-ready and which require more nurturing.
- The AppExchange marketplace is a rich ecosystem of integrated third-party applications.
System integration is a big deal in marketing departments. Marketers operate a multitude of apps and point solutions that create data siloes, process fragmentation and excessive manual labor. Without good tools, system integration is technically challenging, difficult to maintain and becomes the Achilles heel of business software. But with good tools, system integration allows marketers to share data, automate processes and improve information reporting.
Salesforce provides good integration and data consolidation tools. HubSpot customers will need to acquire third party solutions.
Value and Total Cost of Ownership
No marketing software evaluation is complete without measuring cost and forecasting value.
- HubSpot software implementations are relatively fast and painless. The deployment efforts are less technical, and the implementation period is shorter than Salesforce.
- Software administration is less than Salesforce.
- When the bulk of your requirements are satisfied with HubSpot, it's hard to beat the cost effectiveness of this solution. However, if you have requirements that need additional tools or software customization, the cost rises quickly and significantly.
- Salesforce effectively uses its CRM market leadership, disruptive brand and continuous innovation to command a price premium for its products. While continuous innovation is an advantage, the price may create a higher monthly recurring investment for customers.
- Many Salesforce marketing apps can be procured if and when needed. While having more choices is a good thing, getting the right bill of materials can be a little tricky. It's incumbent on customers to ensure they are purchasing the right edition and right products to avoid over buying, version-creep and cost surprises for renewals.
Cost will always be looked at hard in any HubSpot Marketing Hub vs Salesforce Account Engagement comparison. But there are two truths when it comes to cost.
First, while software investment is always important, it is seldom the most important selection criteria.
Second, value is far more important than cost. Measuring cost without measuring payback is a fool's errand. Cost is easy to measure. Payback requires more effort but is the ultimate arbiter.
One More Interesting Difference
Most companies hire consultants to accelerate the implementation and get more value from the technology.
HubSpot partners and consultants tend to be marketing agencies. They are usually small firms and well versed with digital marketing strategies and programs. They are typically marketing experts first and technology experts second.
Salesforce consultants range from boutique firms to the largest global system integrators. They tend to come from the CRM market and be technology experts first, and marketing experts second.
Whether you are best served by a marketing agency or technology specialist is entirely dependent upon your in-house skills and where you are looking for help.
When to Choose HubSpot
Lean into HubSpot when:
- You are an entrepreneur, startup or small business looking for your first marketing automation system.
- You are a smaller company looking for a more lightweight and affordable marketing system.
- You seek a clean, minimal and easy to use marketing system.
- You prefer an out of the box system and don't need customization capabilities.
- Your needs are simple, and you don't need advanced features or add-on modules.
- You want to get up and running quickly and without much consulting assistance.
When to Choose Salesforce
Lean into Marketing Cloud Account Engagement when:
- You are a midsize or larger company seeking a more scalable and enterprise level marketing system.
- You want to harvest large amounts of customer data from multiple sources and apply that data for highly personalized, relevant and contextual customer interactions.
- You intend to pursue a path of continuous improvements, and thereby need advanced analytics and deeper software functionality.
- You are using Salesforce Sales Cloud or looking to integrate marketing automation with a best-in-class sales automation system.
- You have a tech-savvy marketing team and IT support.
So, What’s the Best Marketing System?
There is no absolute answer to which of these marketing systems is better. They are both impressive, and in fact Gartner Peer Insights shows these two market leaders tied.
But they are very different. So, choosing the best marketing software is a company-specific decision defined by the evaluation criteria most important to the company and measuring the differences. No marketing automation system is best in everything, but most exceed others in certain capabilities, and its up to the buyer to prioritize those capabilities.