Note from Marcus*** Over the past 6 months, I’ve been getting more and more questions about all of the different automated marketing software solutions that are available to businesses. Because so many know me not only as a HubSpot partner, but also one that will give frank assessments of the good and bad of this or any marketing software, I wanted to take the time today to compare HubSpot (HS) with another marketing software that has grown quite nicely in recent years– Infusionsoft (IS). In fact, this is going to be one of many comparisons/studies we’ll be making at The Sales Lion going forward, with Eloqua, Pardot, Marketo, and others being subjects of future posts. To help make this 3700-word post a reality, my fellow teammate here at TSL– Rich McElaney ,spent hours of research to come up with the information herein, after which I spent another 4 hours coming up with videos and screenshots to make it easier on readers to more thoroughly vet these two companies. This being said, I feel the following article is easily the best comparison made online (at least from what I’ve seen) of HS vs IS to date. So if you’ve been considering any type of marketing automation software for your business, read on….
Infusionsoft vs HubSpot: A Complete Review
If you’re a business owner or you run a marketing department – you’ve very likely been approached by several of the big name providers of marketing automation software. While the promise of this technology is big, it takes significant due diligence to narrow down the choices and really sort out the features and functionality that will bring lasting change to your business. It’s a tough challenge to stay on top of the rapidly developing marketing technology landscape while running a business. We at The Sales Lion feel your pain. Our aim is to lighten your research burden a bit by getting you familiar with today’s marketing automation choices. In this post we’ll compare HubSpot versus Infusionsoft – two of the biggies in the small to medium business marketplace.
We’re going to look at six factors in our Versus Evaluation:
1. Company background information – how long each company has been in business, the number of clients served and the latest news that may have an impact on company operations.
2. Specific Functionality of the Platform – this is probably the most important consideration in your due diligence. Do the features and functionality align with your needs and objectives? What are the differences between the platforms?
3. Structure and Strength of the Providers’ Sales Channels – how providers sell and the scope of their sales structure are good indicators to watch.
4. Integration Capabilities and the Applications and Service Marketplace – even though marketing automation platforms are growing from a functionality standpoint, a buyer should have the ability to easily integrate their specialty tools of choice. The app and service marketplace is an interesting area to assess – has a vibrant ecosystem emerged in support of the software? The level of activity here shows buy-in from both the client side and the developer side.
5. Onboarding Approach – what are the onboarding, training and technical support resources available to clients?
6. Total Cost of Ownership – all marketing automation platforms have related costs that need to be factored into budgeting to get a clear picture of the total operating cost.
1. Company Background.
HubSpot was founded in 2006, has 8,000 clients, 400 employees and received its latest capital infusion of $35 million from Altimeter Capital and Cross Creek Capital. Much of the press coverage and market speculation predicts that this latest funding puts them in pre-IPO territory.
Infusionsoft was founded in 2004, has 12,000 clients, 350 employees and just received a $54 million investment from Goldman Sachs to help step up marketing and sales efforts, training and partner education programs and product development activity.
2. Platform Functionality
At a quick glance, HS and IS seem to be very similar in their promise:
- attracting visitors to your website
- converting those visitors to prospects
- converting prospects to incremental revenue
- analyzing this whole process with the intent of refining it over time
We’ll use this trio of value deliverables as the basis for comparison – Attract, Convert and Analyze
Right out of the gate there is a big difference between the two platforms because HS offers an advanced Content Management System (CMS), which they refer to as their “Content Optimization System” that provides a potential foundation for your site to be built on or migrated to (Note**Depending on need, this could be your entire site or just your blog platform or even just landing pages). The new COS was released in 2013 with some very advanced features, including automatic responsive design, “smart” pages that change based on the viewer, and other features. To learn more about the COS, take a look at the following video:
While there are differences in the range of design flexibility in HS compared to a CMS like WordPress (read more about this here), having the functionality of a CMS baked into your marketing automation software simplifies things, especially for those non-techie business owners and marketers who would like greater control over the website design but struggle with a more complex CMS, like WordPress or Drupal.
Along with the CMS (or COS), HubSpot brings a host of other benefits, especially from an SEO standpoint, something that Infustionsoft doesn’t focus as much on:
- A very robust keyword analysis/tracking tool
- inbound link tracking
- on-page SEO
- a blogging module(optional to users) that offers SEO guidance and analytical tools to show how your blogging efforts are generating leads.
Infusionsoft offers the ability to have an eCommerce business presence on its platform, but there is no “full-blown” CMS functionality offered. This requires an integration between your CMS of choice and IS. Your CMS will “hold” all the content you create to attract visitors to your site – blog posts, videos and the rest of your foundational site content – and is a critical piece of the Attract value delivery. So, your site could live on WordPress and IS would plug into your site. HS can also be configured in this way – for example, if your site is on WordPress (as is The Sales Lion) and you’re happy with its look and blog functionality, you can plug HubSpot in and utilize the best of both platforms.
Both platforms provide the ability to attract visitors through social media. Content and campaigns can be pushed to your preferred social accounts and tracking of this activity is available in both.
On the front lines of the conversion process, you’ll need calls to action (CTA) and landing pages (LP). A common use for a CTA is at the end of a blog post – it is literally a graphical button, banner or box that when clicked will direct visitors to a landing page. The LP’s job is to offer an exchange – for example, an offer of value from the site owner for the visitor’s name and email address.
HubSpot allows you to build graphical call to action (CTA) buttons and landing pages (LP) that are critical to the conversion process. Creating both is an easy process in HubSpot, as is tracking the activity from the pairings of CTAs and LPs that you create.
You can build landing pages and web forms on Infusionsoft, and as is the case with HubSpot’s CTA and LP builders, these are critical components in moving site visitors from just visitors to interested prospects and eventually, new customers. With IS, you would need to create your CTA graphics elsewhere and place them on your site.
Campaign automation and creating workflows to drive conversion are key components of both platforms. IS provides a richer graphical interface with which to design campaigns and workflows – you can actually “see” your campaigns come to life by dragging and dropping your campaign components into a linear timeline of execution..
HubSpot provides the same functionality in designing campaigns and workflows , although there is no drag and drop capability with which to do so.
Both platforms offer solid email capabilities: list segmentation, campaign execution tools, design templates, nurturing functionality and analytics. Infusionsoft’s email module is heavy on the graphical interface and visually oriented users may find that to be an advantage in laying out campaigns.
Going deeper into the conversion process, both platforms offer lead scoring, which is important in tracking prospect advancement through your sales process. In order to provide this information, lead activity has to be tracked site-wide. As with its campaign and workflow setup tools, lead scores in IS are graphical – the higher the number of flames, the hotter the prospect. HubSpot uses a numeric lead grading system and there’s a standard algorithm that ranks prospects based on their behaviors on your site. In the upper tiers of HubSpot versions, you can customize your lead scoring based on your particular needs.
The following videos demonstrates the lead scoring of IS:
At the tail end of the conversion process, closing the sale is the focus. This is another area of significant differentiation between the two platforms. This differentiation doesn’t necessarily translate into efficiency or performance gains, but it’s important to be aware of.
Infusionsoft has a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system built into its software. Just as HubSpot’s inclusion of CMS functionality simplifies content management, Infusionsoft’s inclusion of CRM functionality simplifies sales management. And, just as IS integrates with a wide range of content management systems, HS integrates with a wide range of customer relationship management systems. One of the leading CRM systems –Salesforce – integrates with HS natively – meaning if you have the Professional versions of both HS and Salesforce, the two will sync with a one-time setup process.
Here is a brief video showing part of Infusionsoft’s CRM capabilities:
The analytic capabilities of both of these platforms are very similar. While there are subtle differences in how the data is collected due to the native functionality of the respective platforms, both track and report on the full life-cycle of the customer – from initial site visit to the conversion to a sale.
Additional Functionality Considerations
Historically, IS has catered to the eCommerce sector and as such, has another layer of functionality beyond HubSpot. The key features in this added functionality:
- online storefront
- shopping cart
- upselling and discounting options
- billing and payment plan execution
- subscription plans
- product inventory and fulfillment tracking
- affiliate and partner program tracking
- all relevant analytic tracking and reporting
3. Sales Channel Structure
HubSpot sells directly to end users and has an established Value Added Reseller (VAR) network of consultants, agencies, and third-party providers. There are approximately 700 VARs worldwide selling HS with the majority of those in the U.S. Each VAR must go through a certification process in order to sell HS and is rated Silver, Gold (which is what we are at The Sales Lion) or Platinum based on a number of performance attributes. Training and certification is free to prospective VARs. The majority of HubSpot’s revenue is generated directly by their internal sales team.
VARs are compensated on each HS sale they make. The majority of VAR revenues comes from the services they provide in support of the HubSpot platform.
Infusionsoft also sells directly to end users and through Certified Consultants, Referral Partners and third party providers. According to Infusionsoft’s website, there are 66 Certified Consultants in the U.S. Certified Consultants pay $2,000 upfront to get certified and $1,500 annually to remain certified. Both Certified Consultants and Referral Partners are paid a percentage for each sale. As with HubSpot’s VARs, Infusionsoft’s Certified Consultants generate the bulk of their revenue from support services.
4. Integration Capabilities and The Service and Application Marketplace
At the time of this writing, HubSpot offers over 150 applications in its Application Marketplace. The applications available cover core areas such as: CRM, Content, Social Media, Email, SEO, Analytics, eCommerce and Mobile. Applications are built so they can be added to an existing user’s HubSpot platform with the click of a button. Some of the applications are free and others are either a flat fee or subscription based. Apps are rated by users and use a 1 to 5 rating scale.
Pre-configured templates are also available in the Marketplace – examples would be email templates or landing page templates that can be purchased individually or in packs.
HubSpot uses an open Application Programming Interface (API) which allows developers to create their programs within the HubSpot platform.
Over on the Service Marketplace, HubSpot has over 100 providers offering 25+ services ranging from website design and blog writing to pay per click and eCommerce integration. Ratings are listed, just like the Apps – from 1 to 5 stars, for the service providers and look at both the number of transactions the provider has completed and the performance lift from the service provided. To get service pricing, a HubSpot user would need to contact the service provider and discuss their specific needs.
Infusionsoft’s Marketplace currently shows 80 applications available for users. Featured categories are: Accounting, Business Management, Analytics, eCommerce, Social and Lead Generation. Apps are rated from 1 to 5 stars and pricing is similar to what is found with HubSpot apps – some free, some flat fee and some subscription based.
On the Service Marketplace, there are 66 Consultants in the U.S. offering services ranging from copywriting and design to social media and data management. Ratings range from 1 to 5. End users contact the service provider(s) of their choice and negotiate a service agreement based on their needs.
Infusionsoft is in the process of launching a Developer Network which will entail the certification of developers on the platform and allow end users to have custom API integrations developed.
5. Training and Technical Support
HubSpot is offered in three versions: Basic, Professional and Enterprise. While the training process is similar across the versions, the underlying training varies in cost, depth and intensity.
Basic users pay $300 for their training and this is required of all users. Professional users pay $2,000 for their required training and Enterprise users also pay $2,000 with an option to get advanced training for $7,000.
Once the initial training has been completed, users have a variety of options should they need additional support or guidance. HubSpot offers:
- HubSpot Academy – a broad collection of webinars, templates, case studies and user group information
- Inbound Conference – an annual three day conference which provides information on the new and upcoming features in the software, along with six tracks of training tailored for beginners all the way to advanced users.
As a quick check on the responsiveness of the phone support function, we called the support line twice recently on different days and different times. In these tests we were informed we were 6th and 12th in the support queue, and experienced an average wait time of 10 minutes.
Another support option is using the services of a Value Added Reseller. VARs offer a range of services from basic coaching to full agency support and can be found in the Services Marketplace and in the VAR directory listed on the HubSpot site.
Infusionsoft is also offered in three versions: Standard, Plus and Premier. Their 30-day KIckstart training program is required for all three versions and starts with their Gold Package at $1,999 and ends with their Platinum Package at $2,999.
In order to get things rolling for new clients, Infusionsoft will import your contact database and set up your first campaign. Packaged campaigns are also available for as low as $200.
Infusionsoft offers ongoing training in several modalities:
- Inbound University is a live three day training session that covers strategy and best practices for the core functional areas of the software
- Virtual Academy is aimed at the newer user to familiarize them with the capabilities and setup of the software
- Small Business Success Tours are one-day live training events in six US cities
- Infusioncon is a three day annual event providing information on the latest updates to the software and best practices via five specific learning tracks geared to the proficiency level /focus of the end user
Once a client completes the 30 day Kickstart program, one on one support from a Success Coach is $200 per hour or three sessions for $450.
In checking the customer support queue times for IS, on two test calls we had hold times of 5 and 7 minutes.
As with HS, IS has a network of Certified Partners, which is listed on their website. Certified Partners provide a wide range of services, from basic support to comprehensive service packages.
6. Infusionsoft and HubSpot Costs, Pricing, and Packages
As mentioned above, IS is offered in three versions. Standard is their 2 user version and offers landing pages, web forms, social media tools, web tracking and analytics tools to address the Attract functions. Their Visual Campaign Builder, email and multimedia marketing tools provide the core of the automated marketing functionality. The multimedia marketing capability is unique to Infusionsoft and allows campaigns to incorporate personalized direct mail, voice broadcast, fax distribution and fulfillment list components from within the platform.
Rounding out the Standard version is CRM/contact management functionality featuring lead activity and behavior tracking, segmentation and calendar/task management.
The contact limit is 5,000 and the email distribution limit is 500,000 emails per month.
This version is $199 per month and as with all IS versions, does not require a contract.
The next version is Plus and at $299 per month, adds lead scoring, lead assignment and sales automation tools along with all the Standard features. Also included are all of Infusionsoft’s eCommerce features – ranging from storefront and shopping cart functionality to referral tracking and commission management. This version accommodates 5 users, 20,000 contacts and 500,000 emails per month.
The flagship version of IS is Premier which is the same as the Plus version in feature set but accommodates 10 users, 100,000 contacts and 500,000 emails per month.
HubSpot’s three versions start with Basic at $200 per month. The major difference in HubSpot’s pricing model is its tiered pricing based on contact database size.. This tiered pricing for contact quantity applies to all three versions. The Professional version has a base cost of $800 per month and the top level version is Enterprise at $2,400 per month. All HubSpot pricing is based on entering into an annual contract.
Below is a feature comparison chart across all versions.
7. Total Cost of Ownership
In order to provide a balanced look at the TCO, we’ll select the mid-tier package for each of the platforms as the basis of our cost calculations. Keep in mind though that the TCO can range drastically from company to company, based on the needs and circumstances unique to each case. The following is just one example of potentially many, so be sure to consult with an actual sales rep with each company before nailing down what you expect the total cost to be.
|Feature||HubSpot Professional||Infusionsoft Plus|
|Base program cost||$800 per month||$299 per month|
|10,000 contacts in database||$450 per month||Included|
|Number of users||Unlimited||5|
|Number of emails sent per month||Unlimited||500,000|
When it comes down to it, both HubSpot and Infusionsoft are loaded with features that are intended to automate and optimize the execution of your marketing strategy. Even though they both bill their software as “all in one sales and marketing software,” each of them have significant differentiation in the feature set they offer. “All-in-one” on the HS side comes without CRM and eCommerce functionality; all in one on the IS side comes without a CMS, Keyword analytics and SEO functionality.
That being said, neither of these functionality differences present insurmountable challenges as the functionality can be purchased elsewhere and integrated with each platform. Potential buyers should prioritize the features needed to properly execute their marketing strategies and decide accordingly.
Finally, both of these companies have been stalwarts in educating the public on all facets of inbound and content marketing, and should be commended for these efforts. As pioneers in the marketing automation field, they each have a very bright future and will assuredly be adding more and more features with time.
Questions about HubSpot vs. Infusionsoft? Now is the time to ask, as reps from each side are listening and ready to answer your questions. Also, if you currently use any of these two tools and would like to add your thoughts, feel free to do so below.
About the author: Having been in the game for over 25 years, Rich McElaney loves business and marketing. That’s why he’s a team member of TSL and also has his own firm– BrassCycle.