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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistTue, Jul 12, 2016 10 min read

You Can Be A Fan Of HubSpot And Marketo For Inbound Marketing

Software Alone Doesn’t Make Magic; Without A Strategy And A Plan You’re Lost

Inbound_and_Outbound_Marketing.jpgRecently, at the Marketo Summit in Las Vegas, an insider told me that this was the first time in six years the I-word (inbound marketing) was used publicly at the event. This makes me feel even more confident that inbound marketing is not software platform-dependent.

You can be all in on inbound marketing and use Marketo. You can be all in on inbound marketing and use HubSpot. Your overall marketing strategy has little or nothing to do with the software you use, but you do need to use marketing automation software. The software will help you make the repeatable element of inbound marketing easier to execute and track, and enable you to optimize your tactics as you respond to the results.

The differences between the two main companies mean that Marketo is right for some businesses and HubSpot is right for others.

Here are some issues to consider as you go through the evaluation process.

How Complex Is Your Current Inbound Marketing?

A lot of smaller businesses, even those with revenue in the hundreds of millions, have simple marketing requirements. Put up a website, do some email marketing, get found on search engines, generate some leads and nurture the leads through their buyer journey: That might be it. There's no complex segmentation, no lead-scoring initiatives, no integration with a proprietary back-end ERP system.

Other, bigger companies have much more complex marketing requirements: Multi-channel, multi-variable, multi-workflow lead nurturing, for example. Another kind of complexity arises out of the size of your prospect database. The larger the database (and large databases typically have the names of more than 100,000 prospects and/or customers), the more segmentation it involves and the more complex your marketing becomes. 

If your current marketing is straightforward, HubSpot is probably a good option. If your marketing is more complex, Marketo might be a better option.

How Many Marketing Technology Tools Do You Use?

marketing_technology_jan2015.pngMany software as a service tools are available, and the marketing technology stack is ever-expanding. Take a look at the huge list of software options flooding into the marketing space. I wouldn’t even know where to begin listing them.

Some people love new programs and try them like candy, signing up for every free 30-day trial and putting together a wonderful collection of tools. If this sounds like you, then Marketo might be a good way to use a variety of different tools and centralize everything in one platform.

If you don’t use any tools right now, or if you prefer to rely on one tool for simplicity's sake, then HubSpot gives you the ability to do everything you’ll probably want to do in one place, with one easy-to-use tool that everyone can access from one central dashboard. Similarly, if you don’t have a lot of technology support, if you’re on your own, or if you’re just getting started with inbound, HubSpot facilitates getting started and handling a lot of this without the need for technical support or help.

How Broad Are Your Inbound Marketing Goals?

Do you have general goals, like increasing the total leads generated by all your marketing? Or do you have something specific you want to improve, like increasing the conversion rate for people visiting your blog?

How patient are you going to be? Are you OK taking a few months to plan how your content is organized and presented to visitors and how those visitors consume it? And if so, will you then want to build something that takes advantage of technology options for the presentation and consumption of your blog content? If this seems like a project you and your team are suited to, and this work style sounds like your company's, then Marketo might be better for you.

But if you want everything up and running immediately, if you want leads flowing in tomorrow, if you want it done right but done quickly and you’re not looking for anything custom-built or fancy, then HubSpot might give you a better out-of-the-box solution. HubSpot allows you to launch quickly, tweak on the fly and optimize over time.

How Big Is Your Marketing Automation Budget?

Do you have a line item for marketing technology? If not, this might be an indication that you need something value-oriented that covers a lot of your pain points. Here’s a great article on how to estimate marketing automation budgets. The basic rule of thumb is 3% to 7% of your marketing budget, so if you’re spending $200,000 on marketing, you need to have $6,000 to $14,000 put aside for the technology to support it. Let’s make it easy and say $10,000, or around $830 per month. (Make sure your calculations are based on your full marketing budget, including staff and other outside expenditures.)

Typically, the bigger the budget, the more complex the program and the more you should invest in marketing automation. Because these programs do so many specific tasks within your inbound marketing program, you should start planning at around $1,000 a month for a typical company with aggressive lead generation goals.

Again, the bigger the budget and the more complex the marketing requirements, the more likely it is that Marketo will fit the bill. The lower the budget and the simpler the requirements, the more likely it is that HubSpot will be a better match.

How Big Is Your Company?

This could be simply a matter of perception, but it seems as if bigger brands are more attracted to Marketo and smaller, less well known brands are more attracted to HubSpot. I think this has much more to do with the other concepts discussed here. For instance, bigger businesses have more complex requirements, bigger tech stacks, different objectives and bigger budgets. It might be that these variables simply point more frequently to tools like Marketo.

Smaller companies have fewer requirements, tighter budgets, less understanding of how technology affects marketing and less support and resources, so HubSpot makes more sense for them. For whatever reason, though, larger businesses appear to be more comfortable with Marketo and smaller businesses with HubSpot.

Regardless of how you answer the questions above, it's important that you’ve recognized that you want to try inbound marketing and that you need software to make execution, analysis and optimization more efficient and effective. It’s not a question of do you need software, but which software is right for you?

Even the process of evaluating software options is challenging. Instead of following the software company's demo script, set up your own scenarios and ask each company to show you how their tool deals with them. If you send a lot of emails, for instance, have them show you how to build a template, create a weekly email, send the email and measure its performance. You set the priorities and they show you how to use their tools to improve on your current processes. 

It won’t make the decision easier, but at least it will focus them on what’s important to you and allow you to score their most important features as you evaluate a variety of software options.

Square 2 Marketing – Inbound Results Start With ME!


Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.