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HubSpot vs. Pardot - An Administrator's Perspective

Matthew Deal

As a HubSpot administrator, we routinely see organizations struggle in trying to decide between HubSpot vs Pardot. I'd argue that neither options if perfect (for different reasons), but both are typically the go-to option for email and marketing automation in conjunction with Salesforce.

This post will explore the HubSpot vs. Pardot debate, focusing on their fit with Salesforce, the ease of operations, and the clarity of reporting. Both platforms boast powerful capabilities to bolster marketing efforts, but the real question often lies in their compatibility with an organization's existing CRM system and workflows. Drawing from firsthand experience and broader observations, we'll discuss why Pardot frequently emerges as the preferable choice for those deeply entrenched in Salesforce.

It’s worth mentioning that after Salesforce acquired Pardot, they rebranded it as "Marketing Cloud Account Engagement.” However, it's commonly still referred to as "Pardot" by most people, including myself and other administrators, at the time of this post.

Whether thinking about a platform switch or seeking insights into the challenges of melding Salesforce with HubSpot, this post will shed light on essential considerations. Join us as we delve into the dynamics of choosing the right marketing automation tool, underscoring how this decision can influence the trajectory of your marketing initiatives.

HubSpot-Salesforce Integration: Challenges

HubSpot knows that some users simply can’t switch from Salesforce, so it’s created an official (built by HubSpot) integration with Salesforce.

A screenshot of the integration settings for HubSpot-to-Salesforce.

As of this writing, I would argue that this integration is a great way to integrate these two systems. Still, there are intrinsic limitations to this setup that any Salesforce or HubSpot administrator should be aware of:

Salesforce-to-HubSpot Organizational Split for Administrators

When organizations use both Salesforce and HubSpot, there’s often a clear divide in system preference among team members. Sales teams gravitate towards Salesforce, where most of their data and operations are centered, while marketing tends to live in HubSpot’s more marketing-focused tools, like Marketing Hub Professional.

Navigating Dual Systems

For administrators, the need to operate efficiently across Salesforce and HubSpot introduces a layer of complexity. Each platform has unique processes and learning curves, requiring a balancing act to ensure data integrity and streamlined operations. This dual system navigation can lead to increased administrative overhead as efforts to synchronize data and maintain consistent workflows across platforms become more challenging.

Aligning Marketing and Sales

The clear preference divide—sales teams gravitating towards Salesforce and marketing teams toward HubSpot—can lead to alignment challenges. This separation risks creating silos, with each team working towards potentially disjointed objectives and employing different strategies. Achieving collaboration between marketing and sales becomes a critical focus, requiring deliberate efforts to bridge communication gaps and unify goals.

Overcoming Cultural Divides

The division in system preference can extend beyond operational challenges, affecting the organizational culture. Teams may develop a system-based identity, hindering open collaboration and adaptability to integrated strategies. Addressing this cultural divide is essential for fostering an environment of shared objectives and collaborative success, ensuring that the organization operates as a cohesive unit despite differing tool preferences.

In short, I’ve seen many organizations where the left hand simply isn’t talking to the right, and this comes, in part, due to software segmentation: HubSpot is a unified system for both sales and marketing, while Pardot and Salesforce are two distinct systems.

My point? This translates to actual operations in sales and marketing departments, and that’s often not a great thing for improving marketing-and-sales alignment.

Salesforce and HubSpot: Technical Challenges

The integration between Salesforce and HubSpot also comes with its technical challenges. These obstacles can hinder the seamless flow of data and affect the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and reporting. Here’s a closer look at the key technical limitations encountered:

Leveraging Salesforce Data for Marketing

One of the primary hurdles with the HubSpot to Salesforce integration is the difficulty in utilizing Salesforce data for precise marketing initiatives within HubSpot. A notable example of this challenge is the complexity of targeting all closed lost opportunities tied to a specific product. Due to the inherent limitations of HubSpot’s connector, it can only tap into a subset of Salesforce objects. This restriction severely complicates targeted marketing efforts, as it becomes a cumbersome process to segment audiences based on detailed Salesforce data, undermining the potential for highly tailored and effective marketing campaigns.

Marketing Data in Salesforce

Integrating Salesforce with HubSpot also presents challenges in effectively surfacing HubSpot marketing activities within Salesforce. Fundamental marketing interactions such as ad engagements, content downloads, and webpage visits are crucial in shaping a sales rep's approach to engaging with prospects or accounts. However, the limitations of the integration can make it difficult for sales teams to access or utilize this rich marketing data seamlessly within Salesforce. This disconnect hinders the ability of sales representatives to tailor their strategies based on the prospect's engagement with marketing efforts, potentially affecting the overall sales process and opportunities for personalized engagement.

Reporting Challenges

Reporting is another critical area that underscores the technical limitations of integrating Salesforce with HubSpot. While generating reports within each platform individually—Salesforce for sales data and HubSpot for marketing data—is straightforward, merging these data sets to gain comprehensive insights proves challenging. This difficulty stems from the lack of a seamless data flow between the two platforms, making it problematic to analyze the overall effectiveness of sales and marketing strategies cohesively.

Pardot vs. HubSpot: Salesforce Integration Compared

The choice between Pardot and HubSpot when integrating with Salesforce is pivotal. This section compares their Salesforce integration capabilities, highlighting the key advantages and challenges of each.

A Closer Look at Pardot's Salesforce Integration: Benefits and Drawbacks

Through a concise analysis, we aim to equip you with the essential insights needed to make an informed decision that best suits your organization's needs. Discover which platform aligns more closely with your strategic objectives and operational requirements in the Salesforce ecosystem.

Direct Data Sync

The seamless integration between Pardot and Salesforce eliminates the need for external tools or spreadsheets in data management for marketing campaigns. This direct pipeline ensures up-to-date data and streamlines the process from analysis to campaign execution. By using Salesforce data directly in Pardot, marketing teams enhance efficiency and accuracy in targeting.

Pardot natively works with Salesforce, and had some advantages in using the same data set as Salesforce.

A significant advantage of Pardot is its seamless integration with Salesforce data. You can effortlessly build lists directly from your Salesforce data by utilizing existing campaigns, defaults, or custom fields.

Unified Reporting

With Pardot, aligning data sets around contacts, deals, and campaigns brings a significant advantage in reporting. This close tie-in allows more effective tracking of marketing activities to sales outcomes, offering a clearer picture of campaign impact. In some instances, Pardot’s reporting capabilities outshine others by providing insights that more accurately reflect the interplay between marketing efforts and sales results. This integration is especially beneficial for businesses looking to monitor and improve their marketing strategies’ ROI closely.

Simplified List Creation

Utilizing Salesforce data directly within Pardot streamlines the list creation process. This ease of access to sales data means that marketing teams can quickly segment and target their audiences more precisely, making campaign setup more efficient and effective. The direct pull of data from Salesforce into Pardot simplifies workflows, reducing the time from campaign conception to launch.

Cons of Using Pardot

While the platform offers significant advantages in terms of data synchronization and reporting, certain operational and analytical challenges remain. 

Speed Issues

The Pardot-Salesforce Integration, while beneficial for data accuracy and accessibility, can introduce speed issues that impact marketing operations. These delays are particularly noticeable when processing multiple lists or segmenting large datasets, which can slow down the production speed for campaigns.

This may seem nitpicky, but it’s not. Pardot is less flexible regarding list creation than HubSpot, which means any administrator must often combine multiple lists to achieve that correct target.

Also, unlike HubSpot–Pardot users have and do experience performance issues with everything from marketing automation to list creation. From one thread:

I use it in our company and we are finally moving away from it. It has a lot of weird quirks.

Form completion actions information doesn't always make it to Salesforce at the same time as each other, which can cause issue with automations. It can complete 3 actions that information goes to Salesforce then 5 minutes later the rest of the actions go to Salesforce. Maybe doesn't affect most people but it's a huge pain for our business. Also the automations run so long after the data is updated it feels useless.

Segmentation Limitations

Despite the integration’s strengths, Pardot faces challenges with advanced segmentation, such as targeting opportunities in Salesforce that contain specific products. This example highlights the limitations within Pardot’s segmentation capabilities, underscoring scenarios where the platform might not fully leverage the richness of Salesforce data without resorting to cumbersome workarounds or external tools.

As an administrator, navigating the segmentation landscape in Pardot presents several hurdles, especially when contrasted with the flexibility found in HubSpot’s list creation:

  1. Filter Hierarchy: Salesforce reports allow for nuanced control over filters, including their hierarchy, enabling the combination of various conditions with specified conditional statuses for nuanced data analysis. Pardot, however, lacks similar capabilities, offering no options to establish a filter hierarchy or create complex conditional filter arrangements.
  2. Sales (or Marketing) Engagement: Pardot’s segmentation tools miss critical engagement filters. For instance, it’s not straightforward to exclude prospects from a marketing email if they have recently interacted with a sales rep or to adjust email sends based on a prospect's historical email engagement. This gap can lead to less targeted marketing efforts and potential over-contacting of prospects.
  3. Segmentation for Reporting: Pardot falls short in the ability to analyze and report on segmented lists. Unlike HubSpot, where any list can be directly tied to a report for in-depth performance analysis, Pardot lacks a dedicated reporting feature for evaluating the effectiveness of specific segments. This limitation hampers the ability to derive insights from segmentation efforts and make data-driven decisions to optimize marketing strategies.

These explicit examples underscore the challenges faced in leveraging Pardot for sophisticated segmentation and reporting, highlighting areas where administrators and marketers need to devise workarounds or supplement with external tools to achieve their desired outcomes.

Reporting Limitations

While Pardot integrates with Salesforce for enhanced data access, its reporting features sometimes fall short of expectations. The platform’s limitations in offering customizable reports, detailed visualizations, and comparative analytics can frustrate marketers seeking deep insights. This gap in functionality means that organizations may need to look beyond Pardot for advanced analytics solutions, complicating their technology stack and potentially increasing costs.

Pardot reporting is much less flexible than HubSpot.

We should also mention that it’s widespread to 'pull' Pardot marketing metrics into Salesforce, facilitating a holistic view of marketing and sales performance directly within the CRM. This integration enables seamless access to key marketing activities—like email interactions, downloads, and page views—right next to sales data, enriching the information available to sales reps for more informed engagements.

The process leverages B2B Marketing Analytics, a powerful tool that packages Pardot data into datasets for CRM Analytics. This integration offers advanced data visualizations and insights that are impossible with standalone reports. It streamlines workflows and enhances the precision of targeted marketing efforts and strategic decision-making.

HubSpot allows you to slice and dice your data as you see fit through filters and custom reporting.

These considerations are pivotal when evaluating the platform's fit for your marketing strategy, particularly how it supports or complicates your ability to effectively execute and measure marketing efforts.

Wrap Up

As a HubSpot Partner, it should be no surprise that we’re heavily leaning on the rosier part of HubSpot in this particular tech stack. However, candidly integrating with HubSpot isn’t the most widely accepted solution.

As of this writing, the current Salesforce-to-HubSpot connector offered by HubSpot sits as 2.7 out of 5 stars:

The current integration created by HubSpot has only a 2.7 out of 5 stars.

In other words, there are limitations and advantages to both:

Pardot + Salesforce

Suppose you’re already in the Salesforce ecosystem. In that case, I’d argue that Pardot can often be an excellent choice for an email, landing page, and marketing automation system that will use the same objects and properties you’re accustomed to in Salesforce.

The disadvantage of Pardot is that, compared to HubSpot, it needs to be updated. From a lack of robust segmentation options (particularly leveraging sales data for targeting) to effectively no custom report option–it is mainly inflexible and rigid.

While workarounds for this leverage a combination of custom fields/properties and automation (along with pulling marketing metrics into Salesforce reporting), Pardot feels like a product whose development stopped years ago.

HubSpot + Salesforce

Using HubSpot with Salesforce has its own set of challenges, particularly around tracking, attribution, and automation. Because both Salesforce and HubSpot have various automation functions (e.g., Flows in Salesforce and Workflows in HubSpot), diagnosing what happens from a data perspective between those two systems can be daunting.

The advantage, though, is that, especially for Marketing Hub, it offers a largely superior user experience. More importantly, it was built to produce intelligent and modern marketing experiences: smart content, lead scoring, advanced personalization, and robust custom reporting options. 

As someone who has acted in this role across multiple organizations, I can tell you that living in a Salesforce-to-HubSpot environment can be mentally taxing for administrators. 

Choose A Partner for the Long Haul

Selecting a partner for the long haul is essential as you strive for long-term success. Vaulted offers expertise in seamless integrations between HubSpot and Salesforce, complemented by customized marketing strategies, positioning us to elevate your digital presence and optimize SEO through AI.

 Contact Vaulted today to start your journey towards achieving your business goals.

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