Marketo vs Salesforce Marketing Cloud Account Engagement

Marketo vs Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Adobe Marketo vs Salesforce Marketing Cloud is quite often the final short list for midsize and large companies seeking marketing automation software.

So, to determine which is best for your company we compare these market leaders among 6 categories to surface their unique strengths and differences.

But first, it’s important to start with right product comparison. Salesforce offers two popular marketing apps – Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Salesforce Marketing Cloud Account Engagement.

The first Marketing Cloud solution is most often used by B2C companies driving high volume sales transactions over multiple online channels. The second solution referred to as 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.

Because Marketo Engage is primarily a B2B lead management solution, we're comparing it to Salesforce Account Engagement, and not Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

About Adobe Marketo Engage

This application centers on lead generation. It performs campaign management (especially email marketing), lead management and revenue attribution. The system is designed to acquire, score, nurture and transfer sales-ready leads to the sales team.

Marketo was created as a revenue cycle management solution capable of transforming how marketing and sales teams work together to accelerate company revenue. The company pioneered the concept of Revenue Performance Management (RPM) to deliver increased sales and marketing alignment and optimize buyer interactions across the revenue cycle.

The application was also created with the Salesforce (SFDC) platform as a service (PaaS) suite. It has a tight integration with SFDC Sales Cloud and less tight integration with some other CRM systems.

About Salesforce Account Engagement

Salesforce Marketing Cloud Account Engagement is a very long product name that was previously called Pardot and is generally shortened to just Account Engagement. It is one of two popular SFDC marketing solutions. The other is Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Account Engagement falls under the Salesforce Marketing Cloud banner but operates with a unique architecture and is sold as an independent product.

This product offers deep 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.

Marketo vs Salesforce Side-by-Side Comparison

We did our Marketo vs Salesforce Marketing Cloud comparison using 6 evaluation categories to surface unique benefits and meaningful differences.


The User Experience

The user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) are heavily weighted evaluation factors among marketers. Applications that leverage consumer technologies to improve ease of use realize lower learning curves, increased user adoption, faster time to value and greater software utilization. And each of these benefits contribute to a far greater payback on your enterprise software investment.

Marketo Engage
Salesforce Marketing Cloud Account Engagement
  • This UI has a reputation of being dated and a bit difficult to navigate. The Sky update improved the UI design, but it's still not a strength.
  • Both of these applications tend to place more capabilities on the most frequently used screens. For example, the Marketing Activities page is a single location where staff may spend much of their day. While increased page density challenges the UI, it also reduces page to page navigation and can aid productivity.
  • The UI and UX are aided with user training. Users can find peer-based help in the Marketing Nation Community. It's a well-organized self-service resource.
  • This UI is created from consumer and social technologies. The Lightning experience has upgraded the UI for more consistency with SFDC Sales Cloud. The UI is a more balanced approach between ease of use and utility.
  • The UI is more configurable and customizable than Marketo. That's helpful for different marketing roles that need to see different information and do different things.
  • Trailhead is a free online education platform. It offers more than 1,000 learning tracks and bite-sized courses organized by roles and experience levels. It's helpful to get users onboarded and productive.

Marketers appreciate a UI with less clutter, more white space, dynamic data display, color coded intelligence, hover-over links, contextual menus, forms divided into containers and hyperlinked breadcrumb trails. The SFDC UI will be more appealing for most users.

A UI is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it doesn't work.

A UI must do more than just look good. A good UI evolves into a good UX when it contributes to staff productivity and supports workflow processes with intuitive navigation, streamlined task sequencing, guided navigation, and contextual search results. Both products offer a similar UX.


Features and Capabilities

Software features and functions perform marketing tasks that create automation and improve productivity. But when the software is missing features, manual effort is required.

Marketo Engage
Salesforce Marketing Cloud Account Engagement
  • When building forms to acquire leads, marketers save time with the Global Forms that can be repurposed across multiple campaigns. Using common forms also helps standardize data collection and make changes that cascade to where they are needed.
  • This applications progressive profiling is easy to setup and helpful for increasing landing page conversions. Rather than ask too many questions on a single form which will decrease conversion rates, campaigns can use forms which are shortened to ask only the minimum essential questions, get the lead converted, and then pose additional questions on subsequent lead visits. Forms are intelligent enough to suppress form questions and fields where those data points are already known and instead substitute new questions to grow contact intelligence over multiple website visits.
  • A downside of the forms is that they cannot be personalized by visitor.
  • Calculating lead scores that accurately measure buyer propensity is a tough task. On the plus side, this solution permits multiple lead scores for the same lead and can calculate company-level lead scores for contact leads across a company.
  • On the downside, this product combines behavior data (i.e., online activity and digital footprints) and demographic data into a single score. Depending upon how you define the calculation, the lead score is likely to lean toward company fit (align with your ideal customer profile (ICP)), or buyer readiness, but not both.
  • Forms and landing pages are extremely easy to create in a visual environment with a drag-and-drop editor and a library of templates. HTML code blocks can be inserted if you want.
  • To improve landing page conversions, this product’s Multivariate Testing applies multiple versions and surfaces what works best. When properly used, it's faster and more effective than A/B testing.
  • Unlike Marketo lead scores which combine implicit and explicit buyer data into a single number, and tends to make them overly broad, this solution calculates both a Score and a Grade.
  • The lead score is a numeric value that measures implicit data such as online behaviors and digital footprints. Implicit data shows how interested the prospect is in your company.
  • The lead grade is a letter value calculated from explicit data such as demographic and firmographic data. It shows how closely the lead aligns with your ICP, and how interested the company should be in the lead. The two values work together to better identify the top prospects and prioritize leads.
  • There are many other advanced features such as lead score caps and time-based deprecation (for periods of inactivity). Lead scores can be further enhanced with Einstein AI Behavior Scoring.
  • When it comes to the tough job of measuring buyer readiness and propensity to make a purchase, Account Engagement is hard to beat.

Process Automation

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.

Marketo Engage
Salesforce Marketing Cloud Account Engagement
  • Automation is needed to track digital footprints, convert anonymous visitors to known prospects and nurture those prospects with email campaigns until they become qualified. It must then apply process automation to distribute leads to the sales team. This solution performs these functions with it calls Smart Campaigns.
  • Smart campaigns include smart lists, flow, and scheduling, to streamline campaign setup, custom integrations, and lead management functions such as scoring, nurturing and routing. It's a nicely coordinated package that saves time.
  • Campaigns support multi-channel distributions such as email, digital advertising, virtual events and social media.
  • However, while campaigns are easily aligned with traditional lead management processes, the UI does not use a typical flowchart view, making it a bit more complex. It's also not so easy to customize if you want to align company interactions with specific customer journeys.
  • While neither solution does a great job automating the hot topic of Account-based Marketing (ABM), this product offers a bit more capability.
  • This application takes a different track for campaign automation. It applies segmentation and automation rules. Automation rules listen for events or changes to lead activities. Segmentation rules apply filters and conditions for automated responses and execution. It's not quite as automated as Marketo but permits more granular setup and flexible execution.
  • This solution does a better job in applying automation for sales and marketing alignment. A feature called Connected Users syncs access between Account Engagement and Sales Cloud so that CRM data is more easily shared and used in lead management processes. Marketers can define more sophisticated lead scoring, permit more flexible lead assignment and help enforce lead attribution back to the campaign.
  • Pardot's workflow system, Engagement Studio, is a powerful tool. Campaign workflow processes can insert wait rules, use IF/THEN/ELSE logic and multi-direction decision tree branching. Campaigns can define lead behaviors and actions to insert or remove a lead from a campaign, move a lead from one campaign to another, update or change lead data values or transfer the lead from the marketing database to the CRM system.

Data and Analytics

Analytics are essential to improving marketing performance. For example, they are needed improve conversions by determining the optimal combination of offer, content, channel and timing for every customer or customer segment. They are needed to measure any process that you wish to improve.

Marketo Engage
Salesforce Marketing Cloud Account Engagement
  • Insights provides sales reps with Best Bets, Interesting Moments and a Watch List that helps prioritize sales responses. It also offers the unique capability to insert custom activities and events to the lead record – something that SFDC does not support.
  • The Revenue Cycle Modeler (RCM) is a relatively unique closed loop analysis that shows how leads ultimately contribute to revenue. It allows marketers to map the lead-to-revenue cycle. It then shows how leads traverse the pipeline, including phase to phase conversions and time-based velocity, so marketers can visualize, measure and improve revenue cycle conversions.
  • This solution delivers a broad catalogue of packaged reports for website, email and campaign performance. Reports offer traditional displays of columnar data or chart viewing, some drill-down investigation to data subsets, and data exporting.
  • However, it's far more difficult than SFDC for users to create custom reports. Custom reports usually require a technical resource.
  • This application delivers the standard information reporting such as dashboards and reports, but more advanced business intelligence is far more limited.
  • Engage is comparable to Marketo Insights and gives sales staff visibility to lead behaviors for follow-up prioritization.
  • Account Engagement performs its revenue performance modeling in Sales Cloud. It's a different approach but accomplishes similar objectives.
  • However, beyond the two above equivalents, SFDC is the hands down winner when it comes to sophisticated marketing analytics.
  • For example, the Data Cloud (previously Genie Customer Data Platform) unifies the company's customer data across channels and interactions into a single customer profile.
  • Optional modules such as B2B Marketing Analytics Plus, Engagement History Dashboards and Tableau CRM can be used for more advanced business intelligence or to create predictive analytics.
  • Einstein AI brings advanced automation and reporting to this solution 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.

"Half the money I spend on advertising works. The problem is I don’t know which half."

For far too many marketers the above quote is as true today as it was when originally said by John Wanamaker in 1919. Data and analytics are the key to resolving this challenge and shifting the limited marketing budget to the programs that deliver the biggest payback.


Platform and Extensibility

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

Marketo Engage
Salesforce Marketing Cloud Account Engagement
  • The majority of this applications users also use SFDC Sales Cloud. Both applications integrate with multiple CRM systems. However, while both have solid integrations with Sales Cloud, the same cannot be said about other CRM apps (i.e., Microsoft Dynamics 365, Sugar). If you are using a sales force automation system other than SFDC, you should expect the integration to be less comprehensive, flexible and stable.
  • This product uses an API (Application Programming Interface) for system integration. It supports normal access conventions which prescribe how a custom service can invoke actions to or from the application. It does a good job providing basic transaction integration but lacks flexibility.
  • This solution also provides what it calls Webhooks to link the marketing app with other apps. Webhooks trigger events or behaviors to initiate transaction or activity-based processing.
  • This application doesn't have nearly as many options for custom coding or platform extensibility as SFDC. It does have an apps marketplace with pre-integrated third-party products, but it is not nearly as mature as SFDC AppExchange.
  • The MuleSoft platform is a market leading system integration tool. It integrates data and systems in a relatively simple environment. Marketo has no comparative solution.
  • A variety of SFDC Platform tools make its applications far more extensible, without modifying source code. Again, Marketo has no equivalent PaaS tools.
  • For companies that wish to modify the software to fit their exact needs, this solution offers a range of low code platform tools and software customization tools for which there is no Marketo comparable solution.
  • The 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.
  • Optional apps include things like Engage to give sales reps insight into buyer behaviors, B2B Marketing Analytics Plus for ABM, Engagement History Dashboards for advanced campaign data visualization, Google AdWords integration for improved cost per customer acquisition measurement and a CDP to aggregate every customer data point across multiple platforms.

Additional comments:

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. SFDC provides far superior integration and data consolidation tools.


Value and Total Cost of Ownership

No Marketo vs Salesforce Marketing Cloud evaluation is complete without measuring cost and projecting value.

Marketo Engage
Salesforce Marketing Cloud Account Engagement
  • Software pricing varies based on database size, number of leads, number of users, specific modules and other factors, but this solution generally has a higher subscription price than Account Engagement.
  • Implementations for this application generally take longer than Account Engagement.
  • System administration is often slightly more consuming than with Account Engagement.
  • Account Engagement is usually a lesser cost than Marketo. SFDC also offers an advantage when procuring marketing software and sales software together.
  • The deployment effort is slightly less technical, and the implementation period is generally shorter.
  • There are many optional 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.

Additional comments:

Cost will always be looked at hard in any Marketo vs Salesforce Marketing Cloud 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.

When to Choose Marketo

Lean into this application when:

  • You are a midsize or large company with an experienced marketing team and have the staff to implement and operate a sophisticated marketing automation system.
  • Your marketing department is an Adobe shop and you intend to use this application with the Adobe Experience Cloud or other Adobe products.
  • The application does what you need it to do, and you do not need additional integration, customization or platform extensibility tools.
  • You have a tech-savvy marketing team and IT support.

When to Choose Salesforce

Lean into this application when:

  • You are a small, midsize or larger business seeking best of breed B2B lead management software.
  • Your company serves B2B or mixed B2B and B2C markets and could thereby benefit from both Account Engagement and SFDCs other Marketing Cloud solution.
  • You intend to pursue a path of continuous improvements, and thereby need advanced analytics and tools for progressively more sophisticated marketing tasks.
  • You are using SFDC Sales Cloud or looking to integrate marketing automation with a best-in-class sales automation system from the same vendor.
  • You don’t have a lot of IT support and prefer a less technical solution.

The Best Marketing System is ...

There is no absolute answer to which of these marketing systems is better. A Marketo vs Salesforce Marketing Cloud evaluation will be dependent upon your requirements.

But do recognize these systems are very different. So, choosing the best marketing software is a company-specific decision that starts by first defining your marketing objectives, maturity and future. Only then can you compare the most important evaluation criteria and measure the differences. No marketing automation system is best in everything, but most exceed others in certain capabilities, so it's up to the buyer to prioritize those capabilities.