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Marketo vs. HubSpot – Comparing Purple vs. Orange at their Essence on 10 Key Points

It’s funny – although I’ve been following or using both HubSpot and Marketo since 2009, I  recently started sharpening my perspective on how the two marketing automation firms, now HUBS and MKTO on your CNBC stock ticker, directly compare.

Before I get to these 10 comparison points on Marketo vs. HubSpot, two ‘preamble points’ I want to make clear first:

  • Both are strong products, and both have come a long way since those early days in 2009 (thanks goodness!), and are going to continue to quickly evolve as both companies continue to invest significant resources into R&D. So the points below may look very different a year or two from now.
  • The below is very much a DRAFT – I would love to get feedback on these and other points – in fact the main reason that I am publishing this now is so that I can share my observations to date and get additional expert opinions on this topic.

So with that, here we go:

#1 - Marketo is a kick-ass marketing workflow tool

Marketo Flow Steps are a work of beauty for any marketing ops manager. Marketo gives its users tons of control for both recurring and trigger based data-driven actions, and the sequences of marketing or data activities that follow. It’s truly a powerful engine that supports lead nurture flows, lead routing processes and coordination between marketing and SDR/Teleprospecting activities.

 #2- HubSpot is a powerful lead attraction & conversion platform

If Marketo’s bread is buttered through marketing workflow, then HubSpot’s sweet spot in the process is the activities preceding and leading up to that initial web conversion (form fill). HubSpot gives digital marketers powerful insight into what pre-conversion activities (e.g. specific web pages, blog content or social media activities) have the most impact on both “conversions” as well as any follow on impact (e.g. MQLs, Opportunities, Pipeline, Wins, etc.). 

#3 - Marketo struggles big time (today) with pre-conversion analytics

I see Marketo already on the path to change this, and it’s just a question of when – and how well they communicate it. The core of this issue is that at its heart, originally, Marketo tracking leverages programs which sync to SalesForce campaigns; and these programs are wonderful at tracking ‘known traffic’ – once you are converted/cookied – a web visitor can be added to a Marketo Program with ease and powerful campaign influence reporting can be achieved from there.

Marketo struggles with granular program level tracking of anonymous traffic. For example, if you want to ask the question: “Which of my Blog Posts (or Web Pages, for that matter) have the greatest influence on the follow-on generation of MQIs – or MQLs, Opps, etc.?”, you’d struggle to answer this question in Marketo – whereas HubSpot is geared to naturally helps its users answer and optimize around that question.

You could (and should) create a Marketo program that adds any Blog Visitor to a program to be able to answer this question for the Blog as a whole – but doing it at an individual Blog post level seems impractical.

Marketo, as I’ll reinforce below, is a technology ecosystem player (which by the way I believe is the right approach), so the way they are attacking this problem is through Google Analytics integration which was released in April 2015.

And while I think this is the right strategy and will get to the desired result for Marketo users when fully implemented -- to date I don’t think it’s been well communicated or trained across the Marketo customer base.

And the missing link, which presumably is coming, is feeding Marketo lead outcome data (e.g. MQL, Opportunity, Pipeline) back into Google Analytics in a way that can help answer those original questions I posed around which specific blog posts, web pages or digital interactions are having the greatest impact on conversions and the follow-on business results. Once that is in place and well understood by the Marketo base, it will close a significant gap vs. HubSpot today.

#4 - HubSpot’s Blog Analytics crush anything Marketo can do

The reason I used ‘essence’ in this article title is many of these points come down to the original vision for why these two products were created and the problems they were focused on solving. In the case of HubSpot, blog optimization was at its core as a means to drive web traffic and 'leads'.

So therefore keyword rank tracking, real-time SEO guidance for blogging and what my colleague Matthew Wainwright calls “absurdly transparent blog metrics” are significant competitive advantages. Marketo tried to play catch up here in 2014 with its SEO module which let’s just say I wasn’t a huge fan of in its initial release

#5 - HubSpot leans towards “all in one”, Marketo is all about technology ecosystem

Whether it’s their Free CRM announced at INBOUND 2014, or their fully integrated Content Management System, HubSpot’s strategy has been “all in one”. That can be incredibly powerful for a business  to connect its website, digital marketing, lead nurturing through to CRM.

Marketo’s strategy has been one of enabling hundreds of technology integrations through its impressive LaunchPoint ecosystem. Some of the integrations my team has done already include Marketo to On24, SnapApp, LinkedIn Lead Accelerator (the former Bizo platform for retargeting) and Integrate.

The result of this is what you’d expect:

HubSpot can go very wide, and for those organizations who have minimal existing infrastructure and minimal infrastructure requirements – this can be hugely powerful. This is why HubSpot has leaned more towards the SMB user base who fit this criteria.

Marketo’s integration approach means customers can go for “best of breed” and leverage a range of other technologies. I tend to prefer this integrated approach for achieving business value, although costs will also be higher in this approach across multiple vendors (vs. "all in one").

#6 - Marketo has a really strong SalesForce integration

Going back to essence, this has always been true of Marketo – including the automated data integration through to the SalesInsight plugin for sales visibility into prospect program and web activities. That said, HubSpot has closed the gap here over the years and recently announced a five-year extension to its partnership with SalesForce.

In addition to the standard Marketo-SalesForce integration, I’ve enjoyed the ability for Marketo to push tasks into SalesForce for custom integrations – creating SalesForce triggers based on specific task types has been useful for aligning more complex business processes between the two systems.

#7 - Marketo tokens provide great program scalability and maintenance capabilities

Marketo tokens continue to get more and more powerful. Tokens are Marketo’s method for data-driven content that carries intelligence over different programs. With properly implemented tokens, there is significant time savings, reduction in errors and additional marketing capabilities across programs.

For a simple example, think of a program token as a Webinar Name, Title, Speaker & Time --- updating that is one central place on the program and then propagating across all email invitations, follow up emails, registration pages, thank you pages etc. --- at the click of a button..

 #8 - Marketo scales better across multiple business lines and geographies

Because of the aforementioned tokens and workflow capabilities, along with other features including lead partitions – Marketo scales well as a single instance is applied across multiple business lines and geographies – more so than HubSpot.

 #9 - Don’t Sleep on Marketo’s RTP

Marketo is more than Marketo. What I mean by that is that when you think about Marketo you also need to factor in their Real Time Personalization Product which originated from Marketo’s acquisition of Insightera in December 2013. In fact, in that same article where I panned Marketo’s SEO module, I lauded RTP as the bright future for Marketo.

RTP answers many – not all, but many – of the pre-conversions concerns on the original Marketo product. RTP enables customers with the ability to target both anonymous & known traffic with more precise on-site targeting and off-site campaigns (including retargeting) – and -- again with Marketo’s ecosystem approach -- the approach here is largely to create web content modules that can then be embedded into any web site regardless of CMS..

 #10 - HubSpot partners are passionate digital marketers, Marketo partners are marketing ops geeks

I realize this is a generalization, but it’s true! (And I’m allowed to say it because I was one of the first Marketo partners before they even had a partner program in 2010.)

I see more digital marketing talent in the HubSpot partner community, whereas I see outstanding marketing operations expertise amongst the Marketo partner base.  

 

OK so that’s what I got. What did I miss? What did I get wrong?

Would love to hear additional points about how the experts out there are comparing Purple vs. Organize now and in the future. Fire Away!

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