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Cliff Notes Version of Top Marketing Automation Platforms

Google “marketing automation vendors”, and you’ll find that the options are endless. Where do you begin to determine which platform is best suited for your business?

There are a few all-inclusive reports out there, but although they are incredibly detailed and insightful, most are tl;dr.  Having worked with various marketing automation platforms in the past for clients, we’ve experienced the ins and outs of some of the top dogs. To keep things short & sweet, we’ve provided a cliff notes version of our insights with Marketo, Pardot, Hubspot & Eloqua.

The Good:

  • Great at continually releasing new features. One of the few vendors that makes a consistent effort to ensure that its customers are up-to-date.
  • Knowledge base community is one of the better ones. On their resources page you can find marketing guides, webinars, cheat sheets, success kits and a very informative blog.
  • Good standard analytics package includes features like: opportunity influence analysis, program analysis & real-time reporting on email, web & campaign activities.
  • User groups are a great opportunity for members to meet and discuss common problems, updates, etc.
  • Offers the ability to design emails with a drag and drop interface. Html skills are not needed to build a high quality design.
  • Simple automated A/B testing.
  • Native integration with Salesforce & Microsoft Dynamics.


The Bad:

  • Workflows are run by Javascript – long, complex workflows often get caught up in the loop.
  • Poor support structure. Users have to email the support team first and wait for them to call you back.
  • Don’t like being hectored by phone calls? Unfortunately, the sales team has started mapping their phone numbers. This means, no matter where the sales team is physically located, their calls will appear as local number.
  • There are no guide rulers on the landing pages, which makes lining up certain aspects of the design more difficult.
  • One of the most expensive platforms.
  • Arguably too Salesforce centric.
  • In order to use dashboards, users have to upgrade to the “Select” package to have access to its Revenue Cycle Analytics module. This $3,195 a month for small-medium sized B2B businesses.


download The Good:

  • Forms are customizable and easy to use.  The usability is great for those who don’t know how to code.
  • Progressive profiling capabilities are strong and is included in all packages.
  • A less expensive version of Marketo. Both Marketo & Pardot’s feature set & user interface are very similar, just a different price point.
  • Integrated spam analysis & rendering engine that shows you how your email will look in the leading programs and browsers.
  • Ability to block the input of both invalid and free email addresses on landing page forms. This helps provide higher quality leads to your sales team.

The Bad:

  • Not strong for social marketing.
  • Lead sourcing is limited to identifying only a single source (problem for repeat leads).
  • Natively syncs with Salesforce, but the two platforms use different terminology and method of operating which can be very confusing.
  • Level of support is contingent on the package you buy. Only email support with Standard, chat & email support with Pro, and chat, email & phone support with Ultimate.

 The Good:

  • Great for more social integrations & hosting a blog.
  • Fun features on their website: Website & Twitter Grader are two examples
  • For those on the east coast: Hubspot is based in Boston, while many other vendors are in the West. This eliminates the time zone difficulty.
  • General design is easy for non-tech savvy users.
  • Offer an advanced Content Management System. Having the functionality of a CMS built into your marketing automation software simplifies things for the average marketer or non-tech savvy business owner.

The Bad:

  • Arguably too inbound-oriented (originally started off as an inbound marketing solution).
  • Require most companies to purchase a $2,000 Inbound Success Training.
  • Only offer an annual contract, which is too binding for many companies. Many other platforms offer a monthly contract.


 The Good:

  • Updated lead scoring engine that allows a company to run multiple scoring models simultaneously.
  • Use an “integration studio” that natively syncs with Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Oracle/Siebel CRM On Demand.
  • Topliners community on their website is very helpful to connect users and get answers to common problems.
  • Customer service is top-notch. Great vendor if you are looking for guidance from the support team.
  • Lists its Enterprise package price online, while many enterprise-level marketing automation companies require you to contact them first.

The Bad:

  • If your marketing automation needs are basic, Eloqua may be too complex & expensive.
  • Can think of Eloqua as the Ruth’s Cris of marketing automation – it’s one of the most expensive vendors at $2,000 a month for a basic package.
  • Though online educational resources are available, their in-person training, Eloqua University, is an additional fee for all 3 packages ($2,500+).


There are an infinite number of challenges & benefits in selecting the right marketing automation system for your company’s existing technologies, employee skill sets & resource allocations. If you’d like to take a deep dive into what’s best for you, Method Savvy frequently assists companies in finding the platform that best aligns with their business needs & goals. Email us at email at

Posted in Advertising, Featured, General, Marketing
  • Evan F. Tinter


    Love the post. It is always good to get an outside perspective on what businesses and marketing firms like and dislike about marketing automation. I would love to get a chance to chat with you about HubSpot’s partner program. Do you have some time this week ?