HubSpot vs Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Salesforce Marketing Cloud vs HubSpot

HubSpot and Salesforce Marketing Cloud both rank among the best marketing automation software in the marketplace. 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 is one of two popular Salesforce marketing solutions. The other is Salesforce Account Engagement (previously known as Pardot). In short, Marketing Cloud is most often used by B2C companies driving high volume sales transactions over multiple online channels. In contrast, Account Engagement is most often used by B2B companies selling more 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 vs Salesforce Marketing Cloud only compares HubSpot to Salesforce Marketing Cloud and does not reference the Account Engagement solution. Visit HubSpot vs Salesforce Account Engagement if you want to compare HubSpot to the alternative Salesforce marketing system.

About HubSpot Marketing Hub

This marketing application is positioned as an all-in-one inbound marketing engine. It includes graphical tools to create emails, landing pages and search engine optimized content. It also supports 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 you need. But if tools or features are missing marketers may be left with few options.

About Salesforce Marketing Cloud

This solution helps digital marketing teams with email marketing, mobile marketing, social media engagement and digital advertising.

It is a comprehensive application that can orchestrate multi-channel engagement throughout the customer journey. It can deliver tailored customer experiences pursuant to customer journeys and maintain communication fidelity across channels – such as the company website, social networks, mobile devices, paid advertising, and other touchpoints.

In contrast to HubSpot's all-in-one approach, this solution delivers a core marketing platform and offers additional modules or add-ons a la carte. For example, optional apps include things like Audience Studio (formerly DMP) to surface high value customer segments, Data Studio to leverage anonymized data for advertising, Marketing Cloud Personalization (formerly Interaction Studio) for hyper-personalization, Marketing Cloud Intelligence (formerly Datorama) for advanced analytics, Data Cloud (formerly Genie CDP) to aggregate every data point about an individual customer 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 vs Salesforce Marketing Cloud 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. Each of these factors contribute to greater payback on your enterprise software investment.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud
  • This 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, it 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. The company's Academy offers an impressive portfolio of free instructional courses to get users proficient and comfortable in the system.
  • This UI is created from consumer and social technologies. The UI is a more balanced approach between ease of use and utility.
  • It is different than HubSpot in that it generally includes more features on the most frequently used screens. That reduces page to page navigation but increases page density.
  • It is also more configurable and customizable. That's helpful for different marketing roles that need to see different data and do different things.
  • Trailhead is the company's free online learning platform. It offers more than 1000 education tracks and bite-sized courses organized by roles and experience levels. It is very helpful in quickly getting users onboarded and productive.

Additional comments:

Marketers appreciate a UI with less clutter, more white space, dynamic data display, color coded intelligence, hover-over navbars, contextual menus, forms divided into logical containers, hyperlinked breadcrumb trails and responsive web design principals (i.e., dynamically adaptive to various form factors.) HubSpot offers an impressive UI.

A UI is like a joke, in that 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, prioritized and streamlined task sequencing, guided navigation, one-click-to-anywhere access, and contextual search results. Salesforce (SFDC) offers an impressive UX.

The UI is focused on simplicity and the visual presentation, but the UX drives productivity and measurable results.


Features and Capabilities

Application features and functions perform marketing tasks that create automation and improve productivity. But when the application is missing features, manual efforts are required.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud
  • Most of this application's features revolve around inbound marketing.
  • 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.
  • The capability to automate company engagement interactions with every customer across multiple channels at scale is what most separates this application from all others.
  • A second difference is SFDC industry specific editions, such as Financial Services Cloud, CPG Cloud and Consumer Goods 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 SFDC a more comprehensive application.

Additional comments:

The breadth and depth of the SFDC solution is unmatched in the industry. 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 app, the additional capabilities will result in a more significant learning curve and ongoing system administration without the payback.


Process Automation

Many marketers are asked to do more with less. Automation tools are the single most effective solutions to do more with less.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud
  • This solutions process automation is almost entirely focused around inbound lead generation. It provides basic process automation to track digital footprints, convert anonymous visitors to known prospects and nurture those prospects with email marketing 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), this application offers a bit more capability than SFDC Marketing Cloud for this type of marketing program.
  • The workflows for basic processes such as lead scoring and lead distribution are tailorable, but not customizable, with a visually driven, drag and drop editor.
  • Where HubSpot is mostly focused on email marketing, Marketing Cloud is focused mostly on customer engagement on digital channels.
  • This solution offers visually driven declarative tools and custom programming to create or modify workflow-based process automation to accommodate company specific processes.
  • This solutions feature-rich Studios and Builders bring additional automation for many advanced marketing requirements such as customer data enrichment, custom and personalized messaging based on buyer behaviors, applying anonymized data to advertising, delivering 1-to-1 ad targeting on any device and using an enterprise level customer data platform to centralize and harvest customer data.

Additional comments:

Process automation is improved with communication and collaboration tools. While Slack is not specifically part of the SFDC’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.


Data and Analytics

Business intelligence is essential to improving marketing performance. It is needed to deliver the right engagement or information at every customer moment of truth; that is every point where the customer decides whether to accept or forego a company communication, offer, proposal or other engagement.

Analytics are needed to improve marketing conversions by determining the optimal combination of content, offer, channel and timing for every customer. They are needed for any process that you wish to systemically improve.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud
  • While this system's 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 attribution and getting more accurate campaign ROI reporting.
  • This solution delivers the standard information reporting such as dashboards and reports, but that reporting is much more limited.
  • While this system does not offer specialized tools for advanced business intelligence, it does work with third party tools such as Microsoft Power BI and Hotjar, both of which are available in the HubSpot Apps marketplace.
  • This application is the hands down winner when it comes to sophisticated marketing analytics.
  • For example, the Data Cloud unifies the company’s customer data across channels and interactions into a single customer profile. That enables every experience across the customer lifecycle to become more automated, intelligent, and real time. And it enables the company to use a single data depository to produce information reports.
  • The optional modules of Marketing Cloud Intelligence (formerly Datorama) or Tableau CRM can be used to create predictive analytics.
  • And the 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.

Additional comments:

The four most popular marketing analytics tools are dashboards, reports, predictive analytics and AI. Both systems 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 simplistic that they do not really show anything the user does not already know. SFDC dashboards are more customizable which makes them much more actionable.

Where HubSpot’s analytics are historical, SFDC analytics can be predictive. That shifts information reporting from hindsight to foresight. And while SFDC offers an impressive AI called Einstein for Marketing Cloud, HubSpot has no similar offering.


Platform and Extensibility

System integration, software customization and platform extensibility tools make marketing systems more flexible, facilitate company growth and future-proof technology investments.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud
  • This system supports simple spreadsheet uploads and downloads and simple integration but lacks an enterprise integration tool or enterprise service bus (ESB). This may not be a big issue for small businesses but will be for larger companies.
  • Marketing Hub doesn't facilitate custom coding for specific capabilities but upgraded versions do permit access to a few additional tools.
  • The 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.
  • The MuleSoft platform is an impressive solution to integrate data and systems in a relatively simple environment. HubSpot has no comparative solution.
  • SFDC Platform as a Service (PaaS) tools make applications far more extensible, without modifying source code. Again, HubSpot has no equivalent PaaS tools.
  • For companies that wish to modify the application to fit their exact needs, this solution offers a range of low code platform tools and software customization tools for which there is no HubSpot comparable solution.
  • Lastly, the AppExchange marketplace is a rich ecosystem of integrated third-party applications.
  • In this category, this application is more customizable and extensible.

Additional comments:

System integration is a big deal in most marketing departments. Marketers operate with a multitude of apps and point solutions that create data siloes and fragmented processes that then require much more manual labor. Without good tools, software integration is technically challenging, difficult to maintain and becomes the Achilles heel of IT. But with good tools, software integration allows marketers to share data, automate processes and improve information reporting.

SFDC provides good integration and data consolidation tools. HubSpot customers will likely need to acquire third party solutions.


Cost and Value

No HubSpot vs Salesforce Marketing Cloud evaluation is complete without measuring cost and forecasting value.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud
  • The implementation of this system is relatively fast and painless. The deployment efforts are less technical, and the implementation period is shorter.
  • Software administration is less than SFDC.
  • When the bulk of your requirements are satisfied with this system, it's hard to beat its cost effectiveness. However, if you have requirements that are only satisfied with additional tools or software customization, the cost rises quickly and significantly.
  • This company uses its CRM market leadership, disruptive brand and continuous innovation to earn a price premium for its products. While admirable from a company perspective, this can create a higher monthly recurring investment for customers.
  • Many SFDC 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 at renewals.

Additional comments:

Cost will always be looked at hard in any HubSpot vs Salesforce Marketing Cloud comparison. But there are two truths when it comes to cost.

First, while technology 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 shortsighted. Cost is easy to measure. Payback requires more effort but is the ultimate arbiter.

When to Choose HubSpot

Lean into this solution when:

  • You are an entrepreneur, startup or small business looking for your first marketing system.
  • You want to get up and running quickly and without much outside consulting assistance.
  • You are a smaller company looking for a more lightweight and affordable marketing automation system.
  • You seek a clean, minimal and easy to use marketing system.
  • You prefer an out of the box system and do not need customization capabilities.
  • Your needs are simple and you don’t need advanced features or add-on modules.

When to Choose Marketing Cloud

Lean into this solution when:

  • You are a midsize or larger company seeking a more scalable and enterprise level marketing system.
  • You sell primarily to individual consumers across multiple marketing channels, including email, SMS, online advertising, display, retargeting and digital commerce.
  • 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 want to engage customers at multiple touchpoints throughout the customer journey at scale. Or put another way, you want to deliver personalized interactions to every customer across channels in real-time.
  • You are using SFDC Sales Cloud or looking to integrate marketing automation with a best-in-class sales force automation system.
  • You have a tech-savvy marketing team and IT support.

Okay, What's the Best Marketing System?

When comparing HubSpot vs Salesforce Marketing Cloud, there is no absolute answer to which is the better solution. 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.

HubSpot vs Salesforce Marketing Cloud. See the side by side comparison.

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