When it comes to finding a Marketing Automation System, Marketo and Pardot are two names that often come to mind – but when it’s time to actually make a decision, how do you know which one will work best for you and your team?
Lucky for you, I’ve gone ahead and interviewed users of both systems. Interviewees have either demoed a range of marketing automation software (I suggest demoing roughly 3-5 options before you make your final decision – here’s a list of 10 questions to ask during your demo), or used the software themselves. Some have used both Marketo and Pardot, and some have used just one or the other, providing a great range of insight! Meet Christopher Boulas, Founder and President of Formulytic; David Klein, Director of Marketing for ClickTime; and Eric Quanstrom, CMO of KiteDesk.
I’ve also used both systems in my career, which makes this article all the more fun to write.
Marketo can be used by companies of all sizes; small, medium, and enterprise, and their typical customers include both B2C and B2B brands. Marketo is really great for power users and/or companies looking to upscale – there is A LOT of depth within Marketo, you just need to make sure you have the bandwidth.
Marketo is typically thought of as a ‘premium’ marketing automation product that has a solution for almost every marketing need, think email marketing, lead management, nurturing, customer base marketing, SEO, landing pages, scoring, and analytics. And newer advanced features include website personalization, mobile engagement, social and web retargeting.
Marketo also has great video overviews for each of their features!
Salesforce Pardot can also be used by companies of all sizes; small, medium, and enterprise. Pardot allows you to easily conduct the Marketing Automation basics, like email marketing and lead management. You can also automate website tracking, online forms, lead nurturing, digital campaigns, and create reports to track the ROI of your marketing efforts.
Being a Salesforce product, Pardot syncs easily with Salesforce CRM, which can definitely be a plus for any marketer and/or sales team.
Pardot also has a variety of helpful demos detailing each of their specific features (You just have to fill out a form first… Name, Company, etc.). But hey, we’re in Marketing, so we’ve all gated content before!
See what I did there.
Features & Functionality
Research found that the most valuable features of marketing automation for users were lead nurturing (57%), analytics and reporting (52%), and list segmentation (39%). As shown below, both systems check the boxes.
Quanstrom from KiteDesk, believes that the top basic features a solution should provide are email, list building, form handlers, integration, and landing page features.
As a Marketo user, Boulas of Formulytic, uses the lead nurturing, lead life cycle, and landing page functionality the most frequently because those features play a critical role in the overall management of their marketing and sales processes.
“One of the most unique aspects of Marketo are the analytics capabilities. Marketo offers many facets to its reporting suite that simply can’t be had from much more expensive alternatives. Specifically, the ability to attribute opportunity pipeline and revenue back to the responsible marketing programs is a feature unique to Marketo and helps communicate marketing channel performance easily to senior management or executives.”
Quanstrom, who has demoed with Marketo numerous times, says that Marketo checks a lot of boxes for them and seems preferable. “As a marketer, there was nothing that we wanted to do that we wouldn’t be able to do in Marketo. Marketo also, has a very unique new feature that allows you to create and optimize web pages and gives you the ability for deeper portfolio management and granular spend.” (You can also get the video overview under the “Web Personalization” tab here.)
For Pardot, Quanstrom uses the lead management features and Salesforce CRM sync, which are key to their company’s daily functionality. They previously saw data cleanliness issues, poor deliverability, and insufficient time to respond for their inbound leads in other systems, which was the main reason they were looking for a new system and landed on Pardot. Pardot allows them to integrate lead forms on their website, which they found to be super easy for their users to utilize and customize.
Ease of Use
The overall trend I’ve found for Marketo vs. Pardot is that Pardot has the more aesthetically pleasing user interface. Having used both, I can definitely understand why so many people are saying this. Marketo, as great a tool as it is, does take a little longer to get into the swing of things. Having Marketo as my first marketing automation tool made learning Pardot feel like a breeze!
Klein from ClickTime agrees with me, saying, “Neither system is perfect, but Pardot is without a doubt easier to use. Marketo has a bit of an outdated UI, and it can be difficult to find what you are looking for.”
However, Boulas says that Marketo is actually easier to use than many other marketing automation platforms. “This ease-of-use is largely driven by their UI/UX, but additionally in some more simplistic features.” He’s found the email and lead lifecycle campaign functionality provides users with a very smooth workflow, despite the dated landing page functionality which is by far the clunkiest part of the platform.
Klein’s favorite feature can be found in either platform – both Marketo and Pardot allow marketers to dynamically generate content based on who is viewing a particular landing page, which is a fantastic way to personalize messaging and improve conversions.
For Boulas, it’s Marketo’s lead lifecycle and revenue cycle models that are without a doubt his favorite features. “These tools allow marketers the ability to build simple-to-advanced marketing and sales funnels that form the technical foundation of your prospect’s buying journey. If you were to map out the behavioral path of your customers, what would those levels of interaction look like as it relates to your marketing and sales teams? This is the heart of the lifecycle and revenue cycle models. They allow us to build an ideal path that prospects take while interacting with content and engaging with people in your company.”
He also loves the fact that with Marketo, revenue captured from new customers can be attributed to the marketing programs responsible for moving that prospect through your funnel.
For Pardot, Quanstrom’s favorite feature is its easy integration with Salesforce. “The worst case scenario is that it may take 2 minutes to sync. Usually it’s in seconds! Marketo’s worst case is 5 minutes to sync, which we considered insufficient based on how crucial time to response is for our team.”
Least Favorite Features
Despite the ease of drip campaign creation in Pardot, Klein finds the conditional statements to be very limited in that they cannot be based off field values or prospect activities.
Quanstrom wishes Pardot could group together traffic by sources so that you would not have to define traffic by campaign. “I wish you could dive deeper into traffic similar to how Google Analytics does. Overall, I think Pardot just has shallow analytics.”
In terms of Marketo, Boulas found that as important as landing pages are for building out your company database, they’re his least favorite Marketo feature given the limited flexibility for marketers to build well-designed, responsive pages. “It’s not uncommon to require additional developer support for building the pages marketing needs for launching and running their campaigns. There are additional Marketo API limitations when it comes to landing pages as well, specifically in the areas of performance reporting in instances where non-Marketo forms are used on Marketo-hosted landing pages.”
While building out a list of integrations for this Marketo vs Pardot piece, I found that both systems actually integrate with the same major platforms. Considering they are both leaders in the marketing automation space, this is really good news!
Here are the most popular platforms that integrate with Marketo and Pardot:
Overall, both Marketo and Pardot are great tools with easy steps for integration with a large scale of Marketing related tools.
Both of our Pardot users, Quanstrom and Klein believe integration is a huge strength for Pardot, especially since they both use Salesforce as their CRM. They also integrate well with other tools such as, GoToWebinar, Olark, Google Ads, LinkedIn/Facebook/Twitter, data.com, and SumoMe, to name just a few.
Despite Marketo not being a Salesforce company, Boulas still believes that Marketo’s integration with Salesforce is an absolute must for existing Salesforce CRM clients. “The integration takes only minutes to set-up by allocating one of your Salesforce CRM licenses to serve as the link between both platforms. There are a few valuable reasons for integrating. First, if you previously relied on your CRM to house your database, all database records will flow into Marketo by default and from that point forward, your database will be mirrored 1:1 between platforms. Second, if should you choose to take advantage of Marketo’s lead lifecycle capabilities, the funnel stages you choose will become transparent across both marketing and sales teams and align with their workflow and outreach process.”
Training, Implementation, and Support
Klein has experienced onboarding for both Marketo and Pardot. With Marketo, Klein found that their onboarding was rather time consuming, as the software can be a touch confusing at first. For Pardot, he found the onboarding to be rather straightforward. However, he says neither platform has best-in-customer service. “Overall, both offer a good deal of long-term value, but it’s critical that marketing teams put in the time and effort to learn how to best utilize the functionality.”
Boulas believes that “Marketo’s standard support is extremely basic and somewhat limited. There are options for additional support and training but they carry a cost premium. I’ve been through Marketo’s trainings and always felt that it wasn’t worth the price. When I was just getting started with Marketo, I would have much rather preferred to take the budget and find a third party resource or consultant. As with any platform, Marketo carries a lot of nuances and quirks that simply aren’t mentioned in standard training, that you’ll only experience through a third party or your own firsthand experience.”
Quanstrom has demoed both systems and his major qualms were that Marketo did not have a trial, just a gated demo and guided tours, where Pardot let him run a trial so that he and his team could play around in the system and get a better understanding of how the platform works. “We are currently in the middle of training with Pardot. We have weekly calls but we were able to use Pardot immediately. Our first call was more of troubleshooting. It was great to have a live specialist helping through the process. Pardot offers webinars and videos to help with training. They also provide a large knowledge base and library.”
Boulas found Marketo to be competitively priced and an overall good value. “For most users, Marketo’s offering gets the job done effectively and without a larger cost premium that some competitors may carry.”
Quanstrom says Marketo was far and away the most expensive tool that they demoed and found Pardot to offer the best value. “They offer list pricing so you can effectively see a range of pricing so you can better gather an idea of what you would be paying for your company. Marketo you have to get on the phone and speak with a sales rep to get any real idea on pricing.”
If you are worried about pricing, (which I understand if you are, it’s a big purchase!), here’s a quick overview on how to justify the price tag on a new marketing automation system.
So Who Trumps Who in This Marketing Automation Battle?
Both Klein and Quanstrom recommend Pardot due to it’s ease of use and pricing model. Klein’s main reason to recommend Pardot, especially to smaller businesses with limited bandwidth, is because of how easy it is to learn and manage this new software. Quanstrom believes that if you are a business using marketing for the basic five features (email, list building, form handlers, integration, and landing page features), then Pardot gets you the best bang for your buck. However, there’s different strokes for different folks, as Boulas believes a basic Marketo version is also a great option for small businesses and can easily be upgraded as a company grows.
In the end, the best marketing automation software can only be determined by you and your company’s needs. Size, bandwidth, and experience in marketing automation tools of your team members play just as much as a role in deciding what tool will be best for your company as do the type of things your company is trying to achieve and how in-depth you want to go with your marketing automation tool. It’s a big decision, so definitely check out the company tutorials, read reviews, jump on a demo, and explore all your options in our database of Marketing Automation software. Also, we conveniently have a similar post comparing Marketo and Eloqua – so take look.
And best of luck in your search!
Does Your Business Use Marketo or Pardot?
Or maybe you’ve tried both! Share your thoughts, experiences, and recommendations in the comments below. We’d loved to hear about it!
Images by Rachel Wille
Looking for Marketing Automation software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Marketing Automation software solutions.