What are the differences between Marketo and Hubspot?


Marketing Automation

Marketo and Hubspot are two leading solutions for “marketing automation”. Which one should you choose?

First, what is “marketing automation”? One would expect it to mean the automation of all marketing functions. The reality is that it has come to mean advanced email marketing, beyond “batch and blast”. This includes the automation of drip campaigns (email nurturing), lead scoring, collection of explicit (form fields) and behavioral data (website/email activity), setting up sophisticated workflow and reporting. Marketing automation vendors are gradually morphing this definition to include social media marketing as well…so bear with me as definition of the category gradually changes.

For the purpose of answering the question: Marketo vs. Hubspot, I’ll focus my analysis on “advanced email marketing”.


Hubspot’s product strategy is to target small and medium sized businesses with an integrated system that offers a bunch of stuff that is “good enough”. If you’re a marketing department of one or two people and don’t expect to go deep in any area of the marketing mix, this may be a great solution for you.  None of Hubspot’s tools would be considered “best of breed” by marketing experts, but they do cover the basics in CMS, SEO and Email Marketing.

It is important to note that Hubspot has declared its mission as facilitating “inbound marketing”. Inbound marketing used to refer to the role of product management. Hubspot co-opted this term years ago and changed its meaning to be synonymous with content marketing. But I digress. What’s important here is that email marketing is “outbound” almost by definition. So you can see a bit of a strategic disconnect between their stated mission and their focus on email marketing tools.


On the other hand, if you’re looking for “best of breed” solutions, I’d recommend

Marketo vs. Hubspot

If you have long-term aspirations for your business, do not take the selection of marketing automation vendor lightly. Before you know it, the vendor you choose will become deeply intertwined with your internal systems and processes.

So, similar to the selection of a CRM, today’s decisions will likely impact you for many years to come.  As such, I would recommend that you choose a system that you can grow into that will not constrain your future agility.

As mentioned, Hubspot is primarily targeted at small companies with marketing departments of one to two people. It’s easy to use and their customer-focus, service and support is superior to Marketo. They seem to earnestly care about their customer’s success.

Marketo is designed for companies with more complexity in their marketing. Their system has a lot of flexibility and power. As with most software systems –  the more flexibility,  the harder it is to use. The question you’ll have to face is “do I want to face a steep learning curve while future-proofing my investment? Or do I want a shorter learning curve with a system that probably won’t scale with my future needs?” Ahhh, life’s important decisions are never simple.

Here’s a visual overview of the differences between the two systems:

 Marketo vs. Hubspot vs. Marketo  What are the differences between Marketo and Hubspot? What are the differences between Hubspot and Marketo?

Specific Email Differences between Marketo vs. Hubspot

I’ll dispense with the strategic, conceptual differences and point out some specific differences between the two systems. Here’s a brief summary of a few of the items my clients have needed that are offered by Marketo and not offered by Hubspot:

  • Synchronization – Synching Mkg Auto system with Leads, Contacts AND ACCOUNTS (the latter was not offered by Hubspot)
  • Campaign Tracking I – Syncing MA with SFDC Campaigns and the progression stages of a Campaign
  • Campaign  Tracking II – Ability to easily setup & receive parameters passed from URL’s into invisible fields in forms.
  • Campaign Management – Campaign-centric organization of related assets (all emails, landing pages, forms, workflows visually tied to campaigns) Not an issue with a single campaign, but a big issue when you’re managing many campaigns
  • Personalizing landing pages – ability to insert parameters on a landing page based on information stored in the prospect/customer’s profile.
  • Mass customization of programs/campaigns – make a change in one place and have all assets associated with the program automatically change – eliminating time consuming and error-ridden manual changes
  • Lead scoring – ability to decay scores over time if no action has been taken
  • Nurturing – ability not to send assets to people if they have already downloaded them.

The selection of a marketing automation system is non-trivial. It should be considered as seriously as your CRM decision. Think carefully about your future needs before you sign on the bottom-line. If you’ve used either Hubspot or Marketo in the past, what has been your experience?