Pardot vs. HubSpot – A Marketer’s Experience

Marketing automation software has rapidly become the “other half” of many businesses’ core enterprise customer relationship management solutions, complementing and integrating with CRM.

Unlike the market for enterprise CRM, in which there is a wide range of opinions about the perceived value of various enterprise solutions, the market for enterprise marketing automation software has a group of close competitors that each offer high-quality products and all of which are well regarded within the enterprise community.

HubSpot vs Pardot - A Marketer's Experience

For businesses looking to compare HubSpot and Pardot, the two highest-rated solutions on G2 Crowd (with Marketo and Eloqua not far behind), some significant differences between these two platforms should be carefully evaluated before making a final selection.

This comparison is based on my personal experience implementing and managing both systems as a marketing automation software user and consultant. I have strived to present both systems fairly and accurately based on my experience using them.

Use Cases

Both systems are very complete and capable marketing automation platforms, but their intended use cases are pretty different.


While initially a purely marketing-oriented platform, HubSpot, over the last year, has made a big push to become an all-in-one solution for content management, social media publishing & monitoring, and marketing automation.

Update: since we published this post, HubSpot has also pushed to compete with Salesforce in the sales and customer service realms.

Businesses looking for a single platform to host their website, publish on social media, and manage their marketing needs will find a tightly integrated package with a wide range of advanced features that give them much flexibility and control over each service aspect.


Since its recent acquisition by Salesforce, Pardot has been rapidly moving toward becoming a single, albeit essential, piece of the Salesforce platform.

Pardot is focused purely on marketing automation, which makes it an excellent addition to an existing CRM system, but it is not, nor trying to be, an all-in-one solution the way HubSpot is. Businesses looking to plug a marketing automation tool into an existing ecosystem of other software will find Pardot’s singular focus on the essentials very inviting.

Platform Strengths

Interestingly, while both systems have a lot of great features to offer users, the strengths of each system come primarily in different areas, making the distinctions between them very apparent.


HubSpot is a very polished and user-friendly marketing platform. The software offers various content-generation tools for emails, landing pages, calls-to-action, and forms.

The HubSpot team has also made a tremendous and very successful effort to make social media publishing and monitoring a very slick and user-friendly experience within the system.

Other highlights include an easy-to-use lead scoring tool, extensive list and workflow generators, and some excellent reporting tools that give a clear picture of what’s working and what needs attention.

Here’s an example of a typical HubSpot report:

HubSpot Report Example

Platform Highlights:

  • User Interface
  • Content Generation Tools
  • Social Media Integration
  • Lists & Workflows
  • Lead Scoring
  • Reporting


While HubSpot is taking the road of constantly adding new features and functionality, Pardot has taken almost the opposite approach and offers a clean, simple, and focused interface that allows users to very quickly access the things they want to work on.

Pardot is a very well-organized system. By default, it requires users to match each piece of content to a campaign, and a folder, which makes it much easier to organize and navigate through the many different pieces of content businesses will create.

Custom fields, integration with CRM systems (especially Salesforce, obviously), tracking via custom redirects, and a powerful branching automation rules editor are other highlights of Pardot and set it apart from HubSpot in some key areas.

Finally, one of the standout features of Pardot is its “Prospect Activities” breakdown, which shows users the exact sequence of events that a prospect followed before converting on a landing page or web form.

Here’s an example of the Pardot activity breakdown:

Pardot Activity Report Example

Platform Highlights:

  • Fast & Clean User Interface
  • Organizational Structure
  • Tracking & Custom Redirects
  • Automation Rules
  • Custom Fields & CRM syncing
  • Prospect Activity Breakdown
  • Email Deliverability

Areas For Improvement

With such different areas of respective strengths, it probably won’t surprise anyone that one vendor’s strengths are, more or less, the same areas where the other could improve.


One of the drawbacks to HubSpot’s rapid buildup to offering an all-in-one solution is that the product can occasionally feel a little too complex. Another side effect is that some users might find the interface a bit sluggish when compared to the snappy performance of Pardot.

Also, for companies that may have a large user base and aren’t rigid about enforcing some kind of organizational structure within the system, it’s easy to quickly fill HubSpot up with a vast amount of content that has disparate naming conventions, duplicates, abandoned drafts, etc. It’s an avoidable pitfall, but one that will require diligence from users.

The two final areas where HubSpot could use improvement are in the areas of visitor behavior and CRM integration. Though HubSpot does provide contact activity history, it’s not as detailed and helpful as Pardot’s system is.

In terms of CRM integration, HubSpot will probably never integrate as completely with Salesforce as Pardot will, simply because owns Pardot. HubSpot’s Salesforce integration is good but does suffer from the occasional hiccups, especially with custom fields.

Room For Improvement:

  • Organizational Tools
  • Application Speed
  • Visitor Activity Details
  • Custom Fields & CRM syncing


The only current drawbacks to Pardot are areas that will most likely improve over time as the product becomes more integrated into the Salesforce ecosystem.

Currently, Pardot’s reporting options, though at first glance appearing to be plentiful, don’t offer much customization and don’t include a “big picture” report like the HubSpot example above. To get the same information from Pardot, multiple reports need to be consulted to get the kind of big-picture performance information that marketers will need to measure success.

Content creation is another area where Pardot has room to make improvements. Though the current tools for forms, landing pages, and email creation are sufficient, they’re less intuitive and user-friendly than HubSpot’s and could benefit from some attention from the development team.

Room For Improvement:

  • Reporting
  • Content Creation Tools

Two Great Choices

HubSpot and Pardot are both excellent marketing automation platforms, one is not definitively better than the other. Though similar in purpose, they are very different in execution, and that’s a good thing for businesses. This is not Coke and Pepsi — it’s coffee and iced tea. Both are beverages, and each business will have a different preference depending on the type of job they need the system to do.

With that said, those businesses that are current Salesforce customers will find integrating Pardot easier than integrating HubSpot. That’s a fact, not an opinion. owns Pardot, and eventually, the distinction between the two will be purely semantic.

On the other side of the coin, those businesses that are looking for an all-in-one solution to manage their inbound, outbound, and social media marketing efforts — and possibly their website — will be hard-pressed to find a better offering than what HubSpot brings to the table.

As always, it’s essential to carefully evaluate needs and requirements before selecting and committing to a platform that will likely become a cornerstone of your business.

When Do You Need CRM And Marketing Automation Software?

When Do You Need CRM And Marketing Automation Software?The decision to add CRM and/or marketing automation software to your business is an important consideration, and one that should be carefully evaluated before either type of system is purchased.

Depending on which solutions are chosen, integrating CRM and a marketing automation platform can present a fresh set of challenges, and so it’s a good idea to clearly understand the purpose of each one individually, and the goal of having the two systems working together.

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Don’t Buy CRM Based On Buzzwords

Don't Buy CRM Based On Buzzwords

It happens to the best of us. Though the CRM buying process is very different than buying consumer products, one of the common denominators is the tendency of both vendors and salespeople to pitch their products with buzzword-heavy lingo. When we, as buyers, get caught up in the pitch and start relying on fancy language and the occasional bit of sales hyperbole, it’s easy to get carried away and make a purchase that’s not entirely based on our needs.

The CRM industry, and the vendors in it, certainly have their fair share of product lingo and feature buzzwords. Those about to embark on, or currently in the middle of, the evaluation and purchasing path will undoubtedly encounter a fair share of product jargon and enthusiastic sales reps eager to explain their respective products using whatever flavors marketing has cooked up that week.

Top Ten Sales Buzzwords

For those wading into the waters of buying CRM, either for the first time or as a seasoned enterprise software purchasing veteran, LinkedIn has recently published a list of the top 10 sales buzzwords used in 2013.

It’s probably safe to bet on hearing some, if not all, of these words when your CRM buying process moves from the research phase into actual product evaluations and sales reps are brought into the mix.

Looking just at North America, the top ten buzzwords are:

[lgc_column grid=”50″ tablet_grid=”50″ mobile_grid=”100″]

  • Driven
  • Strategic
  • Effective
  • Responsible
  • Competitive


[lgc_column grid=”50″ tablet_grid=”50″ mobile_grid=”100″]

  • Positive
  • Creative
  • Organization
  • Innovative
  • Patient


Though LinkedIn’s list is not specific to the CRM industry, it’s not hard to imagine how the terms above might be applied to a product like CRM.

For example, “(Insert CRM product name) allows your organization to effectively drive sales and be competitive in your vertical by establishing focused business processes that increase ROI.”

Another, “We’ve integrated an innovative marketing suite into (CRM product name)’s core feature set that allows your creative team to develop strategic messaging based on social media monitoring and push positive brand awareness.”

For the record, I have fabricated the above examples entirely. They are not copied from or based on any particular CRM vendor’s sales or marketing material, and are meant only to serve as an example of the kind of language those in the CRM buying process might reasonably expect to hear.

Using Your Own Language

The best way to avoid falling into the trap of buying CRM based on fancily-worded feature sets and overly enthusiastic marketing hyperbole is to come ready with your own buzzwords, so to speak.

By going through a careful planning and evaluation process, your business will develop a detailed list of core features and functionality that you can use to evaluate each CRM vendor on your terms.

Choosing a CRM system is all about your business, it’s processes, and it’s needs. No one knows those three things better than the people that run it.

By taking the time to develop a comprehensive CRM plan and strategy, before you charge into the vendor jungle, you’ll be far less susceptible to being influenced by well-meaning reps eager to tell you about the latest strategic innovation that will allow your business to “be an effective communicator of positive brand messaging to your prospects and strategically drive creative organizational responsibility”.

How Good Leadership Can Increase CRM User Adoption

When a business purchases a new CRM solution or upgrades an existing one, that decision almost always comes from executive management. It may come from employee feedback and requests, but ultimately it’s up to the company’s leadership team to take action.

How Good Leadership Can Increase CRM User Adoption

Where things sometimes get snagged is what happens after that initial decision has been made. The end goal of implementing a CRM solution is to have company employees use it, and ensuring high CRM user adoption has a lot to do with good executive leadership.

Engaged Leaders Equals Engaged Employees

A SlideShare presentation published by Cornerstone OnDemand — a cloud-based talent management software company — highlights how good leadership can have a profound effect on employee engagement through all aspects of the business:

While aimed at addressing day-to-day operational job engagement, their presentation is highly applicable to management’s role in increasing user adoption of a new CRM system.

Leadership’s Role

We can illustrate how good leadership can affect user adoption if we borrow the example from slides two and three and then suppose that two companies implement the same enterprise CRM solution separately.

Committed Leadership

For Company A, let’s assume management is highly engaged throughout the CRM selection, implementation, and training process:

  • During the selection phase, feedback about needs and use cases is solicited from a cross-section of employees, and a strong effort is made to get buy-in throughout the organization.
  • After implementation, managers are using the system themselves for administrative functions and “big picture” analysis while at the same time, encouraging (and enforcing, if necessary) system use for the teams they oversee.
  • Managers in Company A are also all participating in ongoing CRM training and are comfortable answering common questions about features and use from their employees.
  • A dedicated system administrator is assigned to manage system security and maintenance and keep up with functional updates to the system.

For Company A, it’s not hard to imagine that user adoption throughout the business will be high and will likely stay that way. While this may sound like an unattainable, somewhat utopian scenario for many businesses, it’s common practice in many others.

Fractured Leadership

For Company B, we’ll assume management is divided over which CRM solution to implement, and the selection and implementation process happen with minimal-to-zero input from outside the executive team:

  • During the selection phase, the sales team’s needs are given priority over all other departments, creating resentment and leaving managers of non-sales staff feeling marginalized.
  • After implementation, the CRM system is used primarily by sales staff. Marketing, IT, and customer service staff find using the system unintuitive and difficult.
  • Managers do not use the system regularly but insist that their teams use it exclusively.
  • After the initial round of training, no ongoing training program is implemented, and no one takes clear ownership of the system or is responsible for its maintenance or administration.

For Company B, user adoption among sales staff may be high but will probably be low throughout the rest of the organization, limiting its effectiveness and possibly even fostering continued resentment among other departments.

Setting The Right Example

Unfortunately, for many businesses that go through the CRM selection and implementation process without prior experience or third-party assistance, the Company B scenario is where they end up.

No company wants to go through the process of selecting and implementing an expensive enterprise CRM solution only to have no one use it. Avoiding that mistake is why it’s critical that a company’s leaders be engaged in and committed to the “process and the promise” from the outset of the decision to buy a CRM system.

A company with high CRM uptake among employees and management is not a mythical idea that exists only in the imaginations of CEOs. It’s a reality that can be achieved through careful planning, execution, and dedication from the entire organization.

The Fundamental Function Of CRM Software

The Fundamental Function Of CRM SoftwareOver the last several weeks and months, we here at CRM Switch have written a lot about various aspects of the CRM industry: vendors, product histories, migration to and from various systems, integration with a variety of other types of software, and more.

But one thing that we haven’t discussed in awhile, and a topic that should be revisited on a fairly regular basis, is the fundamental purpose and function of CRM software for a business and it’s users.

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Does Email Tracking Signal the End of the Cold Call Era?

Does Email Tracking Signal the End of the Cold Call Era?

Does Email Tracking Signal the End of the Cold Call Era?Sometimes the best indicators of where things are headed at the intersection of business and technology are our own evolving habits and processes as employees. As 2013 winds to a close, I’ve noticed a trend: the shrinking number of outbound phone calls in my CRM activity log from month to month.

It wasn’t too long ago–maybe even just a few years–that it was unthinkable that a professional salesperson could be effective at their job without constantly being on the phone

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7 Simple CRM Housecleaning Tips

7 Simple CRM Housecleaning TipsHalfway through Q4, and with the holiday season quickly approaching, a lot of B2B and non-retail related businesses often find things starting to slow down a bit.

During this winter doldrums period, rather than taking a few extra trips to the coffee maker, now is a great time to take advantage of the lull and do some CRM housekeeping.

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5 Alternatives To Buying CRM

The 5 Worst Alternatives to Buying CRM

Not every business needs or will benefit from CRM. They are few and far between, but they do exist.

The 5 Worst Alternatives To Buying CRM

Other businesses don’t realize how much they would benefit from it or sometimes don’t know what it is at all, and continue to miss a great opportunity for improvement. Finally, there are those businesses out there that are fully aware of what CRM is, it’s usefulness, and would clearly benefit greatly from implementing it, but for one reason or another choose to go down a different path.

This last group, the “aware but unconvinced” category I’ll call it, often employ a variety of alternatives to CRM that vary greatly in their effectiveness as business, sales, and customer management tools. We speak regularly with employees frustrated with the solution their company is using, and it continues to amaze us how much energy some companies will expend in their efforts to avoid purchasing CRM altogether.

Often, the time, resources, and money a company will spend on alternatives to CRM far exceed the costs of implementing an actual CRM solution. Here are five alternatives to buying CRM:

1) Do Nothing

Having no solution of any kind, or more often a mishmash made up of several of the options below, is actually a fairly popular choice, judging by how often we hear about it.

Having no solution of any kind, or more often a mishmash made up of several of the options below, is actually a fairly popular choice, judging by how often we hear about it.

When a business doesn’t commit to any one particular way to manage their sales and business processes, it’s frequently left up to individual employees to find “what works best for them”. What works best for each employee can vary drastically, and usually leads to a company’s valuable customer and sales data being stored in a hodgepodge of different software, email, handwritten notes, and other oddities.

2) Sticky Notes & Business Cards

For employees and businesses that find technology to be burdensome and onerous, this is the go-to solution. We’ve heard countless stories from sales and IT managers about how a member of, or the entire sales team prefers to jot things down by hand rather than log calls and customer information into a computer.

The drawbacks to this “solution” should be fairly apparent to any manager that has tried to produce an even remotely coherent picture of the company sales pipeline.

3) Excel

For the first week or so of my first inside sales job, I used Excel to try and track my calls, follow ups, and accounts. It worked fine for about three days, and then it just became a giant mess.

The allure of using spreadsheets can be hard to resist for some, but at the end of the day it almost always reaches a critical mass where managing it becomes so complex that it ends up taking more time just to keep each sheet updated than it takes to do the job you’re trying to keep track of.

Also, the moment an important row, column, or sheet is accidentally deleted or overwritten is the moment most people see the light in CRM.

4) Outlook

It’s easy for companies to get sucked into the illusion that Outlook provides everything they need to handle sales and customer management. But it doesn’t.

Probably the most popular choice for companies that don’t feel that CRM can deliver the kind of value it purports to. Outlook almost, almost feels like it’s a CRM system on it’s own. It’s got email, a calendar, contacts, notes, notifications, etc.

It’s easy for companies to get sucked into the illusion that Outlook provides everything they need to handle sales and customer management. But it doesn’t. The reasons why would easily fill another post or two. The biggest reason, like most other things on this list, is that Outlook is siloed, not centralized. It may work for an individual, but it doesn’t work for a company that needs to see all the data together to get a holistic picture of what’s going on.

5) Contact Managers

Products like ACT! and GoldMine blazed the trail that ultimately lead to modern CRM software. Thousands of businesses continue to use them on a daily basis. For small businesses, it may prove adequate until the company grows and it’s needs change.

But contact managers have some very real limitations that prevent them from being viable solutions in the enterprise. Flat field (as opposed to relational) databases, minimal or non-existent mobile access, outdated user interfaces, and a general lack of customization are just some of the problems we hear from companies that want to migrate to a modern CRM platform.

Rebel Without A Reason

As I mentioned in the introduction to this post, not every businesses absolutely needs CRM. But for those where it’s implementation would have a positive impact, perhaps dramatically so, purposefully ignoring that fact will only do more harm than good.

Just about any CRM solution is better than the five alternatives mentioned above, it doesn’t have to be the most expensive product on the market to be beneficial. If your organization is on the fence, or is struggling to manage with a poor alternative, it’s never too late to re-evaluate and put your business on the path to CRM success.

4 Ways To Feed Your Starving CRM System

4 Ways To Feed Your Starving CRM System

4 Ways To Feed Your Starving CRM SystemYour CRM system is hungry. Right now, it’s hungry. It’s always hungry. For data. If you’re a sales or marketing manager, you probably spend a considerable portion of your time trying to figure out how to keep the system fed.

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5 CRM Implementation Myths

5 CRM Implementation Myths

5 CRM Implementation MythsAs those who have been through the CRM selection process know, once a particular solution has been decided on, there’s still a lot of work left to be done before a new system goes live and is ready to use. While careful planning, evaluation, and detailed specifications will go a long way in making the process easier, there are a host of new decisions to be made when it comes time to begin the CRM implementation process.

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Hurry Up and Wait – Why Your Cloud CRM Seems Slow

Cloud CRM - Does it Seem Slow?It’s always great to hear a CRM success story. We get to hear a lot of them, and are fortunate to often be a part of some of those stories. Of course, CRM isn’t a silver bullet for every business, and sometimes even the eventual path to success has some bumps in the road and a wrong turn or false start along the way.

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Five Ways to Avoid CRM Lead Stagnation

CRM Lead Stagnation

CRM Lead StagnationOne of the biggest challenges for a sales team working with a CRM system can be managing and keeping track of leads and maintaining consistent follow up. Too often, inconsistent lead management can result in sales staff staring at lists of hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of leads with no clear way to keep track and prioritize them.

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