An Allied Market Research study estimates that the global digital marketing software market will be worth $181 billion by 2030. If you don’t believe these figures, look around. The number of businesses offering HubSpot or Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) consulting services has hit the roof. You must be wondering why we mentioned both platforms; your guess will be correct. We will talk about both of them, compare their capabilities, and provide guidance on which CRM makes the most sense for your business.
Bear in mind that both HubSpot and Salesforce have built some massive credentials over the years, and you can pick one or the other without batting an eyelid. However, if you need to choose one of the two, you must make an informed decision. While feature for feature, there is very little that separates the two, there are certain core functions that can be a differentiating factor. The SFMC offers comprehensive email marketing and user journey tracking functionalities while HubSpot acts like a nerve center of your marketing activities with features like automation, customer journey tracking, and a collection of hubs that help you execute, manage, and monitor multiple customer relationship management activities through a central platform.
While every marketer knows what these platforms are, it makes sense to define both in a simplistic manner to get a fundamental distinction between the two. At their core, both are customer relationship management platforms whose core purpose is to help streamline activities that can help acquire new customers, nurture them, and even retain them over time. This is made possible by the various interactions that are part of the strategic marketing and sales activities that can be executed and monitored through both platforms.
Where both differ is the nature of features and functionalities they offer users, their completeness, and how users can leverage these capabilities. Think of HubSpot as an all-in-one customer relationship management engine that includes all the tools you need to build and strengthen customer engagement, with the option to choose from multiple hubs.
On the other hand, SFMC is a marketing automation platform that aims to improve marketing efficiency and outcomes, and it also gives you an option of sales and service clouds, apart from marketing cloud.
Say what you will, but if there is very little to choose between the two platforms, pricing is the most significant determinant of choice. HubSpot scores in pricing because it offers a freemium model where you can leverage free tools across its marketing, sales, service, CMS, and operations hubs. The free features include reporting dashboards (with limitations), Facebook messenger integration, conversational bots (with limitations), email reply tracking, and many more. Salesforce offers a free trial, but that’s about it.
From the pricing perspective, HubSpot is more accessible for businesses that want to work within a specific budget. Today, the HubSpot marketing hub pricing starts from $800 per month, along the same lines as its other hubs. If you want to work with the entire HubSpot CRM suite, the pricing starts at $1600 for the professional edition and $5000 monthly for the enterprise edition. Salesforce asks you to pick from various marketing buckets wherein the pricing can start from over $1000 upwards and differs across editions. From the Sales cloud perspective, the starter pack starts from $25 onwards, which then increases as you choose between various available editions. The pricing and TCO differ according to the number of seats you want to purchase, the features you want, and the customisation.
From the pricing perspective, SFMC makes sense for larger businesses with sufficient market budgets assigned to a CRM platform. HubSpot’s pricing can make sense for companies across the spectrum, irrespective of budgets.
The nature of your personalised messaging defines the interactions with your customers. This becomes difficult if interactions occur across multiple channels, including websites, social platforms, email, etc. The journey builder helps get visibility into their interactions and nudge customer journeys in the right direction based on specific actions such as purchases, collateral downloads, etc. This journey mapping allows you to align your customer messaging to these journeys, ensuring you deliver messaging at the right time and interaction, to get the desired outcomes.
As the name suggests, Email Studio is all about emails. It is a marketing tool that leverages marketing intelligence and automation to engage your target audience through emails. You can take the effort out of email marketing by configuring timely sends of dynamic emails and personalising them to suit the requirements of every stage of the customer journey. It offers templates and automation benefits to improve email efficiency and response time.
This feature aims to help you make an impact with your emails by optimising the different email components and using simple drag-and-drop tools to create emails that deliver ROI and look good. Moreover, you can track the performance of your email campaigns through the Tracking Report functionality to help you make the necessary improvements.
Statista claims, with over 4.89 billion social media users in 2023 and a figure that will reach 5.85 billion by 2027, there is no doubt your company will be using social media as a key promotional and marketing channel. Social Studio acts as your one-stop shop to maximise the value of your posts by helping you manage, schedule, create, and even monitor the performance of your posts. This is a good feature with a business distributed across geographical locations, demanding a tailormade social media presence for that region. You can build a region-specific workspace and effectively manage the publishing of posts from these workspaces. More importantly, it helps you create the kind of social content perfectly positioned to drive engagement and enables the creation of Facebook ads through the studio. It can act as a social media center that helps you stay on top of your social media presence.
Data is the primary fuel that drives your customer relationship engine. With Data Studio, you can get more clarity into your existing target customer and potential customer by harnessing audience discovery tools. You can connect this feature with other data providers, such as Google Data Studio, to get a deeper insight into data. Also, you can control data access and make it available to your customers/partners securely and seamlessly. The focus here is to make data deliver ROI in many different ways. You can leverage it to understand your customers better or harness its revenue potential, sharing it appropriately with trusted partners.
Pushing personalised mobile messages to your target audience is another way of constantly exploiting marketing potential. Mobile Studio helps your mobile marketing efforts and will allow you to tap into a massive $102 billion market by 2030 (Future Market Research). GroupConnect lets you send messaging to your prospects through messaging apps; MobileConnect enables you to create, send, receive, and track SMS and MMS text messages; MobilePush helps you send messages, encouraging people to use your mobile app.
You can use the Salesforce Data Management Platform (DMP) to get drill-down visibility into your customers and create and deliver personalised and outcomes-focused messaging. You also get real-time intelligence by responding to new data signals and resources, ensuring that, as a marketer, you can keep refining your strategy based on the latest information made available to you.
The foundation of successful advertising rests on customer data. Advertising Studio ensures you can leverage all the data from your marketing, sales, and service cloud to make the right advertisement decisions. Also, you can ensure that you can reach your audiences on their preferred channels of advertising consumption, including Google, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more. Precision can be brought to your advertising by aligning it with your lead generation strategy, including lead scoring, email marketing, and your sales activities; this is achieved by connecting with Pardot and Sales Cloud. Think of the Advertising Studio as ‘Advertising Central,’ which helps you make the most of your advertising budget.
With Interaction Studio, you can get up-to-the-minute updates on customer experiences that result from your engagement. Visualise, track, and manage these experiences with the kind of engagement right for that particular moment in the customer journey. You can leverage the various features of this studio to deliver cross-channel personalisation in real time and up the ante on the relevance of customer experience across the length and breadth of the customer journey.
It is important to note that HubSpot also offers all the capabilities of Salesforce Marketing Cloud. This hugely popular CRM can address all your customer relationship-building needs. Let’s take a look at some of its standout features:
Customer segmentation is one of the biggest strengths of HubSpot. With its segmentation features, you can segment customers across various models, including demographics, geographic, technographic, and more. Couple that with drill down behavioral segmentation and you can send highly customised messaging to conduct an opportune interaction that pushes a customer further into the buying funnel.
Segmentation lists are a critical use case for segmentation. You can deliver personalised emails to a list of contacts based on various criteria like the nature of content downloads (ToFu, MoFu, or BoFu), deal size, age, geography, and much more. These lists can be integrated into your email marketing automation strategy to ensure you do not miss out on sending the most relevant emails to your contacts. A critical factor in ensuring relevance is timeliness. Your ability to improve the performance of your marketing efforts will be based on how fast you can tap into a customer's particular mood or inclination. This is where you can leverage time-based lists to know your email has a better chance of success because it's being sent at the right time.
Another parameter that improves email marketing outcomes is knowing your customers' current lifecycle stage and sending emails accordingly. This isn’t possible if the lists are not constantly updated with any new data coming in. In HubSpot’s case, these lists are powered by the CRM data, and any action in the form of clicks or views is updated so that you do not take a false step.
Statista estimates global email marketing revenues will hit $17.9 billion by 2027. According to HubSpot, for every $1 spent on email marketing, the ROI is $36. While these figures illustrate the continuing importance of emails in the marketing scheme of things, you need to be able to get email marketing right.
HubSpot’s email marketing toolset enables you to harness the power of email marketing to the fullest. As a business, your emails are competing for attention with your competitors and even those that are not even remote competitors of your company. Hundreds of emails make their way to your recipient’s inbox every day. You, therefore, need to be able to craft messages that work and deliver your email marketing goals. HubSpot tries to simplify and optimise this process, enabling users to design visually appealing mails configured for high performance with a simple drag-and-drop functionality. You can do everything, right from customising layouts or calls to action and more. You can pick from goal-based email templates or go through the numerous free/paid options in the marketplace and choose emails that have been crafted to convert. While creating these emails, you work with HubSpot's robust CRM data, knowing that your personalisation is based on relevant and accurate information, all the time.
Creating an email is the first step in the process; you must ensure high email open rates. This can happen when you personalise emails based on the subscribers' lifecycle stage. With HubSpot, you can leverage various customer information to create great subject lines and pitch the kind of content assets that they will value and encourage action.
More importantly, these emails can be integrated into your automated HubSpot workflows and scheduled to be delivered as per the lifecycle stage and at an optimal time. With the CRM's email tracking and monitoring, you can access real-time reports that shed light on email campaign performance, enabling you to take corrective measures quickly if needed.
According to SimilarWeb, 67% of brands are leveraging ABM, and for a good reason; this marketing strategy delivers tremendous tangible value. HubSpot can be a central platform for executing and monitoring your ABM strategy. Harness CRM workflow templates to go after targeted accounts. With HubSpot, you can tag accounts with default properties and buyer personas to help target them better, and the fact that you can do all this from a single platform means your marketing and sales can work in tandem to further account-based marketing.
Account-based marketing can only succeed if you deliver personalised content to specific people within the account that have specific buying roles. Some can influence the buying decision, and others can be the key decision-makers. In this CRM, you can integrate your LinkedIn ad with account-level targeting based on tier, contacts, contact subsets, or even the status of the target accounts. Moreover, by connecting LinkedIn Sales Navigator accounts and HubSpot, you get deeper insights into the target organisation and create an ABM strategy based on building and nurturing reliable and meaningful connections with the people who matter within a particular account.
Make HubSpot the central hub of your social media campaigns. The problem with the social media space is that it is vast and ever-growing, and you need an optimal presence on multiple platforms to succeed with your social media campaigns. HubSpot’s social media management software helps you publish content to multiple social networks from one place; this is also where you will build your more extensive marketing campaign, which means your social strategy can be a perfect subset of your marketing activities. Features like keyword monitoring help you stay on top of all mentions, and every interaction your target audience has with your campaigns is fed into the CRM. This allows you to create social content with great context and initiate conversations that deliver improved and sustainable social media ROI.
Also, you gain insights into the performance of your campaigns with social reports to help deliver clarity into the platforms that offer more ROI for your business, identifying the qualities of a social messaging that has performed best.
With HubSpot, you can market at scale, and therefore, HubSpot’s automated workflows ensure better efficiency and products across your marketing activities. This impacts both the quality and quantity of your campaigns. With automated workflows, you can automate your lead nurturing efforts with email drip campaigns, wherein email campaigns are automated, and emails are sent out based on specific triggers, conditions, and actions, ensuring the right emails are sent to your prospects at the right time. More importantly, users can drill down and create a tailormade workflow for a particular account or contact. Let’s say you have sent a case study to a set of stakeholders within a specific organisation; in this case, you set up an automated follow-up campaign at a small interval focused on these stakeholders. This email can ask them if they want a free trial to check how your solution or product works.
Activities like lead scoring, follow-up, data management, lead sharing with sales, etc., that take up a lot of time can also be automated, thus ensuring that your marketing team has more time to strategise and execute.
HubSpot can be your lead central. The dissonance between cold leads, warm leads, hot leads, MQLs, and SQLs can be managed using CRM’s lead management software. As all the data is in one place and is updated in one place, you get visibility into all leads. You can also drill down into the lead interactions that might have happened through emails, ads, etc., and score leads based on criteria suitable for your business.
All in all, you can move from a manual lead management process to an automated process wherein a set of workflows ensures that leads are scored automatically and placed in relevant buckets, shared with relevant users, and become a part of segmented lists that are the foundation of your personalised campaigns.
Data is super critical for the success of your business and its many functions, like marketing, sales, and more. HubSpot is your only data repository that can deliver a powerful punch through the insightfulness and comprehensiveness of its reports. The good part about this CRM is that it can integrate with other essential apps for your business and act as a single source of truth for data from these apps. This allows you to build custom dashboards to showcase different kinds of reports by using data from multiple sources, combining numerous reports to offer a single pane of glass, and much more.
Talk to any company offering CRM consulting services, and they will tell you both are good options, but you need to choose a CRM that addresses your business’s challenges seamlessly. Think about budget, learning curve, and the CRM's features. Both CRMs deliver similar features but differ in terms of pricing models and their usability.
SFMC can have a steeper learning curve than HubSpot, but it depends on your team's capacity to use the platform quickly and faster. Also, think in terms of modules. You might need the entire suite of features and functionalities, so does picking and choosing from the various options on the table work for you? This is the question you must ask. Do not forget the TCO of the platform as well. Over time, the platform should be able to offer growing returns while reducing TCO when benchmarked to deliverables.
One of the ways that you can get a drill-down understanding of a CRM’s features and critical functionalities is by working with an expert marketing technology consulting partner. We encourage you to seek their services because choosing the right platform can become complicated, considering most CRMs are similar in scope. It boils down to your needs mapped to specific platform functionalities and understanding what the functionality can tangibly deliver to make the right choice.