Infusionsoft vs. HubSpot: Which is the Best Marketing Automation Software?

by Rich McElaney

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

Infusionsoft software

A common trait with most marketing automation software, “All-In-One” is a claim that everyone is attempting to own at this point.

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. 

Hubspot Software

Notice a common theme?

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.

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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.

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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

Attract

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:

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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.

Hubspot keyword tool

HS helps users have a strategic keyword focus, complete with goals and analytics, as shown here with my swimming pool company’s account.

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.
hubspot seo tool

Taken from the “fiberglass pool cost” page of my swimming pool website, HS shows users key SEO elements of every page of their site, changes that should be made, as well as stats such as ranked keywords, inbound links to said page, etc.

 

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.

Infusionsoft ecommerce

Sporting a robust, built-in ecommerce platform, Infusionsoft offers a feature most other marketing software do not.

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.

Convert

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.

hubspot landing page

A simple example of landing page created using HubSpot

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..

insfustionsoft workflows

A screenshot of Infusionsoft’s workflow campaign builder.

HubSpot provides the same functionality in designing campaigns and workflows , although there is no drag and drop capability with which to do so.

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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.

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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:

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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:

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Analyze

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.

HubSpot Analytics

HubSpot analytics not only show traffic, but dive deeper showing total number of leads and sales(customers), a critical element of defining your marketing ROI (return on investment).

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.

HubSpot App Markeplace

A newer component of the HubSpot community, the App Marketplace has exploded with new apps over the past 2 years.

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 app marketplace

A screenshot showing just a few of the apps offered within the Infusionsoft Marketplace

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.
Hubspot Academy

Over the past year HubSpot has focused more and more on providing better education for their growing user base.

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
Infusionsoft Virtual Academy

Like HubSpot, Infusionsoft wants to help their users stay on the cutting edge of solid inbound marketing principles by showing how to better use the tools and strategies to get maximum results.

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.

Infusionsoft Pricing/Cost

A pricing breakdown of the 3 Infusionsoft Tiers

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.

HubSpot_2014_Pricing

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
Training $2,000 $1,999
CRM cost variable NA
CMS cost NA variable
Integration cost:
CRM variable built in unless you use another CRM
CMS (COS)
$50 per month to utilize COS variable

Conclusion

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.

Your Turn:

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.





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{ 91 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan Hanley February 4, 2013 at 9:29 am

Marcus,

We recently decided to purchase Infusionsoft, mostly because we didn’t need the CMS capabilities being on a Wordpress blog. It was a very hard decision though…

In two months of use we’ve already started to see results from automating our marketing process.

Truly though, its changing the mentality of your business to one of Customer Experience. That’s what marketing automation is all about, creating a unique and special customer experience and I feel that Hubspot and Infusionsoft both do that for small to medium sized businesses.

Because I read your blog so religiously I almost felt like I was cheating on you when we purchased Infusionsoft but it was the right decision for us.

Great break down and all the best,

Hanley

Reply

Marcus Sheridan February 4, 2013 at 11:19 am

Hahaha, this gave me a chuckle brother….”How could you have done this to me you cheating #%#@%#$%!!!” ;-)

Seriously though man, love that you all are using the product and would love to chat with you more and more about it moving forward. Also, with your influence in this space growing, I’m sure you’ll do quite well as an IS affiliate in time.

Appreciate you man,

Marcus

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Joey Giangola February 4, 2013 at 9:40 pm

I feel slightly ashamed I wasn’t hip to Infusionsoft until you mentioned it the other day, now it’s going world wide on thesaleslion.com.

It’s like Marcus is in my head sometimes…

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Marcus Sheridan February 4, 2013 at 11:42 pm

Hahaha, love it Joey! :-)

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Lana February 4, 2013 at 9:40 am

Hi Rich

Great article, very comprehensive review. We also did not need the CMS portion as our website and blog are on WordPress. It was a tough decision as they both are excellent companies. We chose Infusionsoft, and have been happy so far.

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Rich McElaney February 4, 2013 at 12:56 pm

There are so many options available today that it’s very tough to choose Lana. I’m glad to hear you’re doing well with Infusionsoft – keep that awesome content coming! ;-)

Rich

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Jay Baer February 4, 2013 at 9:48 am

Hi guys. Great post. I’m familiar with Hubspot, and use Infusionsoft. One quick note on your numbers, the cost of ownership is not annual, as a lot of those costs listed are one-time.

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Marcus Sheridan February 4, 2013 at 11:17 am

Appreciate that Jay, and I’ll make sure to change the wording up on that one.

While I have you though, one things that Infusionsoft seems to be doing better than HubSpot is reaching influencers like yourself in the social media realm to use their product. I know they made a big push on me a few months ago, offering some really great discounts, free training, etc– all because they knew this is a space I like to talk about. They did the same with Gini Dietrich as well and many others too.

From what I’ve seen, HubSpot has not taken this same approach, and instead have focused more on agencies getting the word out, which I think will hurt their brand growth, and market share, in the future as I don’t see it having the same overall impact….but I could be wrong.

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Jay Baer February 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Indeed, Hubspot has tried to win with content, Infusionsoft with relationships. Part of it is in the DNA of the respective companies. Different approaches, for sure. What I’m seeing is that both are trying dip their toe in the other pool now. Infusionsoft is ramping up content, and Hubspot is being more proactive about influencers.

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iGoByDoc February 5, 2013 at 11:52 pm

Interesting Marcus and Jay,

While I nor my company use either of these (we use Pardot at about 20% efficiency), I like to see a company who does a great job using their own software, or shall I say practice what they preach.

What I love about Hubspot is that these guys eat and breathe content. They have grown by doing the work! Side note: We have done a couple co-marketing projects with Hubspot, and the experience was pretty solid.

Anyway, when it comes to influencers, Hubspot has you Marcus! (as well as many others) Sure, you paid for the service, but the experience you have had has made you a raving fan of them. And you have a growing legion of your own fans, followers and clients as a result. HS would have to blow it big time to have you stop the preaching!

I think Hubspot, while dipping their toes in the influencer pond now, does not really need to. Infusionsoft, while it is a great platform as well, is playing catch up in the content game. Personally, I don’t think Hubspot even needs to go that route, it cheapens them! (ahem, cough cough, though I would love some free training/onboarding haha)

I went to Inbound12 last year and was just plain SHOCKED at how they operate, and the quality of the content provided over the 3 days. And I do not even use the product (yet). (Bummed I missed your session however)

Like I said, we don’t use either, but if I had a choice, I would use Hubspot. Personally, I am almost considering becoming a VAR. Considering what they are rolling out for contextual integration… it has be shaking in my boots brother!

Anyway, thanks for the awesome versus post! I dig it!

Doc

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Andy Brown February 4, 2013 at 9:53 am

I spent about a year running an affiliate program on Infusionsoft and would ask you to do your due diligence before committing to the Affiliate Module. It was a frustrating experience and if running a good affiliate program is important to you I would look elsewhere.

I have experience as an affiliate manager in the past using the BeFree, MagicButton and Commission Junction platforms. As an affiliate I have used most of the top solutions including LinksShare, ShareASale, and TradeDoubler. The solution offer by Infusionsoft seems to be incomplete as it misses many essential features. This came as a shock because I saw so many of the big name marketers using Infusionsoft to run their program.

We got by but had to continually invent work-arounds. Furthermore the terminology used in the reporting was different to that used in other parts of the product.

Finally consider the fact that Infusionsoft themselves don’t use their own product for their affiliate program, instead they use Commission Junction.

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Marcus Sheridan February 4, 2013 at 11:12 am

Andy, I’m really glad you’ve added your thoughts on this, as it’s an area the article talked very little about–affiliate programs. Hopefully Infusionsoft will stop by with a reply as well, especially regarding their own usage (or lack thereof) of that part of their product.

Best,

Marcus

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Brian Jambor, Referral Partners, Infusionsoft February 6, 2013 at 5:32 am

@Marcus – great comparison between Infusionsoft and Hubspot. A quick comment regarding our partner programs, what we use, and our affiliate module…

We do have a affiliate program through commission junction as does hubspot.

For our referral partner program (http://Infusionsoft.com/partners) we use Infusionsoft’s affiliate module. @Andy is 100% accurate in pointing out that it doesn’t have some of the features that other dedicated affiliate program management platforms have, but for managing a globally based basic partner program it works quite well.

I would encourage business owners to make a list of “must include” items for each section of the marketing automation system and evaluate it on their specific needs.

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Michael February 4, 2013 at 10:46 am

Wow! This was super-detailed! I’ve been getting calls from all kinds of marketing automation software companies and haven’t been too convinced we need it yet because we’re pre-beta.

I’ll definitely bookmark this post to come back to later when we need to start managing clients better.

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Marcus Sheridan February 4, 2013 at 11:11 am

No doubt Michael, just like we see the “content marketing arms race” I believe we’re also in a “marketing automation arms race” as well. Many, many companies will start up in this field in the coming years, that’s for sure.

Appreciate you stopping by,

Marcus

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Blair Warner February 4, 2013 at 10:57 am

Great analysis. I use, and will stick with IS, but for the first timer, man, what a resource for comparison. Great job!

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Marcus Sheridan February 4, 2013 at 11:09 am

Really appreciate that Blair. If you wouldn’t mind telling me (assuming you find a second), what are the features you like the best about IS? Why? What would you like to see them improve?

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Owen McGab Enaohwo February 4, 2013 at 12:52 pm

@Marcus great work. I’d like to see a comparison or write up on OfficeAutopilot when you get a chance. This is another great Automation CRM with really good customer support.

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Marcus Sheridan February 5, 2013 at 12:00 am

Thanks for the suggestion Owen, we’re on it :-)

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Neicole Crepeau February 4, 2013 at 2:47 pm

This is fantastic, Marcus! Thanks so much for doing this. We are planning on switching our marketing automation tool within the next six months, so I’ll be checking out all of your upcoming reviews. This is so in depth and helpful, I expect it will be our main source! Thanks.

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Marcus Sheridan February 4, 2013 at 11:59 pm

So glad it helped a little Neicole. I’d love to know in a private email what you’re using and what you’re considering, as it might help me with some of the upcoming posts.

Thanks!

Marcus

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Ruth Zive February 4, 2013 at 2:55 pm

I’m so happy you are doing this series of reviews and comparisons – we get asked about marketing automation all the time and it’s something I’m struggling with (which I’ll get to).

I’ve used Hubspot before, and I see some value there from an analytics point of view – I love their reports. And I’m intrigued by the notion of an integrated CRM (though most of my clients already have a CRM solution that they are using).

Here’s my ‘conflict’ with the notion of marketing automation tools…Ultimately, nothing is truly ‘automated’. A dynamic and strong online marketing effort requires that human beings, behind the scenes, fuel the solution with meaningful content on a consistent basis. The solution might streamline the process, or provide tools to make it easier. It might consolidate functionality all in one place. It might help you to stick to a schedule or time table.

But so far, we’ve been able to provide all of that support on Wordpress. And we can customize it pretty easily to our clients’ unique needs.

This is what confuses me – you can build a very robust and flexible web presence with Wordpress, and the integration of SEO tools, Google analytics tools, landing page tools, etc. I’m still not convinced of the value add with these ‘automation’ tools.

And I think it misleads companies into thinking that they can push a button, and everything will just magically fall into place. At the end of the day, no automation solution will replace solid, live, strategic human decision-making.

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Marcus Sheridan February 4, 2013 at 11:58 pm

I think you’re making a really, really good point Ruth. In fact, let me just say I’ve never really understood how these pieces of software ended up falling under “marketing automation.”

Like you, I barely see any of it as automated, other than maybe a drip campaign/lead nurturing…but that’s about it.

Regarding your question though, I think there are many people that don’t want to have to deal w multiple companies and tools. For example, to get HS features I’d have to go SEOMoz, Aweber, Premise, and a few others.

That may be fine for some, but not attractive to many.

I don’t necessarily think one is better, I just no there is clearly an appeal of the “all-in-one” system, be it an accurate claim or not.

Thanks again for your thoughts Ruth, as always,

Marcus

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Ruth Zive February 5, 2013 at 8:46 am

Okay, I see your point there – sort of like a one-stop-shop for all of your content marketing needs. But since we build and customize Wordpress for our clients, we integrate all of those other features you mentioned based on their needs, and I think we end up with a far more flexible and robust solution than any of these ‘automated’ programs provide.

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Doris Edwards March 18, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Ruth, I have asked myself exactly the same questions as yourself. For many companies, indeed, the customisation and flexibility around Wordpress is great. Ideally, a provider will make all the various elements play happily together and train the client so that everything seems seemless. The issue about mixing products that worries me sometimes is their incompatibility when upgrades happen. When there’s a bug, nobody is responsible and the caring provider (i.e. someone like you) bears all the risk.

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Paul McDevitt March 15, 2014 at 5:43 pm

Ruth, I think it all depends on whether you are going to do always on marketing campaigns, where you are changing the content frequently by segment, industry, role, etc, and for various products. Once you go down that path it becomes very complex to manage many platforms that are loosely integrated. After all, I want to focus on the data and analytics, multi-variate testing, etc, to optimise the work. That is far more easily done on a single, integrated platform.

But if you are building a simpler, more constant campaign then an automated system doesn’t make sense

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Joseph Manna, Infusionsoft February 5, 2013 at 1:30 pm

You raise a very sound point about the use of automation among business owners. For some, the joy is found in simply automating for the sake of automation. For the rest, happiness is felt when you automate to achieve a desired benefit for both clients and the business itself.

Marketing automation is beneficial when you have many prospects coming in and you want to qualify them, educate them and nurture them to the sale. It’s also useful when you want to consolidate resources in doing menial tasks so you can focus on the work that really matters.

For many businesses, especially smaller ones, they have a very real need to conserve their time, optimize their efforts and build processes that can scale as they grow. That’s where marketing automation comes into play. The more your can measure the outcome, the better you can test, tweak and improve.

My suggestion is to probe more into the goals of your clients. What do they want to achieve? Is there a desire for cost-savings? Improved lead quality? More revenue per customer? (Yes to all these, right?) Establish the objectives and see if marketing automation helps you accomplish them.

Hope this helps!

–Joseph

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Christian Burris November 13, 2013 at 11:35 pm

Ruth,

I appreciate your remarks. I do agree that sometimes these companies might seem like they overreach a little. However, as a user of Infusionsoft and OfficeAuto Pilot, I can tell you that that there is a great portion of my marketing that can be automated. Not to mention the ability to tag my prospects based on behavior and then set lead scoring on their record to receive higher priority. In a way, these systems are kind of like a big sifter. They allow me to weed out to prospects who are not ready and focus on the ones that are. For example, one thing my marketing automation system does is follow up. My long term nurture campaign will go out and follow up with the prospects automatically for me to see if they are ready to make a change. If they are, they click a link in my email to schedule a meeting with me. If I had to do all this manually, it would be a pain in the a$$. Just saying. I love marketing automation software. For me personally it has been a godsend.

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David Raab February 4, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Marcus, this is a great study and will be very useful to many people. In particular, it’s really good that you looked so closely at training and support, which are more important to user success than the system features.

One thing I’d point out is that IS and HubSpot they have different target customers: IS is focused on very small businesses — typically under 10 employees — while HubSpot sells to larger companies, and is moving upmarket quickly. In our latest statistics, IS said 90% of its clients are under $5 million revenue, while HubSpot said 6% were.

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Marcus Sheridan February 4, 2013 at 11:50 pm

David, that’s an incredibly interesting stat and to be honest, it surprises the heck out of me. Where did you hear it? I don’t doubt that it’s possible, I’ve just never seen it. Notwithstanding, I know many, many HS users that are sub 5 million, although that’s clearly not a great indication of the whole.

Thanks,

Marcus

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David Raab February 5, 2013 at 7:43 am

The figures come directly from the vendors, as part of our survey for our Marketing Automation Vendor Selection Tool (detailed profiles of 20 top marketing automation vendors; see raabguide.com for details). The HubSpot figure surprised me too, and were a very big change from six months ago, when they reported 46% under $5 million. Clearly they have reclassified many existing customers to come up with this revision. Perhaps they got more accurate information, but more likely they wanted to reposition themselves as a firm for small but not tiny business. Management of both firms has stated that they don’t consider themselves to be direct competitors.

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David Raab February 5, 2013 at 7:58 am

To clarify a bit further: we’ve always considered built-in CRM to be the mark of a true “all in one” system for very small businesses. HubSpot doesn’t have this; Infusionsoft, OfficeAutoPilot, MindMatrix, LeadLife, Genoo, and some others do.

And, yes, Infusionsoft is beefing up its SEO and other inbound marketing features.

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Marcus Sheridan February 5, 2013 at 9:47 am

That’s very, very helpful David. Thanks so much for adding so much to the conversation here.

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Darnell Jackson February 4, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Good one Marcus,

Honestly I didn’t even know that hubspot’s product was competition for infusionsoft.

I always thought of salesforce as their competition.

Anyway, this is an excellent review I’ll have to share with my online peeps.

PS
It would be interesting to see a comparison against OfficeAuto Pilot also.

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Marcus Sheridan February 4, 2013 at 11:48 pm

The contest between HS and IS is growing big time Darnell, and many folks are dying to know the differences so as to choose the right one.

I see both developing further, and would be VERY surprised if IS doesn’t add way more in terms of SEO tools down the road.

Thanks for your thoughts,

Marcus

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Joey Giangola February 4, 2013 at 9:59 pm

While I can’t speak to the training and support Infusionsoft provides. I can say that Hubspot’s Academy is the real deal.

Their staff of “professors” are some of the most friendly, helpful and knowledgeable people you will find. I honestly felt I learned more about marketing in 10 one hour classes than years worth of marketing classes at a real college.

When we first signed up with Hubspot, I completely expected their “training” to be a glorified product demo. To my surprise – one that made the purchase feel like it paid for itself – was how robust and useful their training program actually was. Not to mention the additional support their professors provide.

I still am receiving advice and feedback five months after joining and three months after completing all their required and optional classes. Even on marketing ideas that have nothing to do with Hubspot.

I honestly can’t say enough about the HS Academy staff. Top notch.

Marcus and Rich, keep up the good work.

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Marcus Sheridan February 4, 2013 at 11:42 pm

Joey, this makes me really, really happy to hear. But to tell you the truth, I’m not surprised. Mark Kilens, one of the quite stars of the HubSpot team and someone I’m sure you’re familiar with at this point, is one of the heads of their academy. The guy exudes passion for people understand not just the product, but the principles. He’s a true champion.

Great comment bud,

Marcus

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Joey Giangola February 5, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Absolutely, however Mark has a reduced role in actual customer training, only teaching the introduction class. However he is very active in almost every other aspect.

Since we are name dropping, I would be remissed if Chris LoDolce, Sarah Bedrick and Alan Pearlman did not receive a little recognition for their fine efforts.

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Mark Kilens February 6, 2013 at 7:59 am

Hi Joey and Marcus,

Thank you so much for your praises and shout-outs. Joey, you’re absolutely right that the team of professors is what makes HubSpot Academy so great and so special. We win as a team and we lose as a team. Chris, Rachel, Alan, Sarah, and now Nick are superstars and will do whatever it takes to help HubSpot customers. We all specialize in different types of training, which are taught at different skill levels.

You’re correct that I only teach one introductory class, but you can find my InboundLearning webinars that are taught at the intermediate skill level: http://academy.hubspot.com/webinars

Marcus and I are actually co-presenting next Tuesday!

I also teach an advanced Inbound Sales course. Let me know if you’re interested in signing up for that. It’s three classes that will teach you show to create an Inbound Sales Process.

Chris LoDolce is also developing more intermediate and advanced training that you will start to see in the next few months. Rachel and Alan are building our new certification program that you will also see come out during the next few months.

Happy #HubSpotting

All the best,

Mark

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Alan February 6, 2013 at 10:24 am

Huzzah! Been great working with you these last few months, Joey. Thanks for the shout out and, as always, let us know if there’s anything we can help with.

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Joey Giangola February 8, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Mark and Alan,

No problem, they are well deserved and possibly over due.

Looking forward to those advanced courses, it has been too long since I heard a LoDolce analogy or witnessed Alan’s exceptional highlighting techniques.

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Joseph Manna, Infusionsoft February 5, 2013 at 12:49 am

Thank you, Rich, for the honest and fair comparison of Infusionsoft and HubSpot. You did quite a good review of the needs and benefits that smaller businesses expect from marketing automation solutions.

Again, I think you’re spot on – both solutions have their strengths and weaknesses. I’m a fan of HubSpot in both their marketing and their solution, but evidently, I swing for the Infusionsoft team and believe in what we do to help small businesses. I want to add a few points that may have been unclear to you and readers.

– Customer Support
Infusionsoft offers customers free support for those who need help with both the software or want guidance on the best way to tackle their next sales and marketing campaign. We pride ourselves on customer satisfaction and we offer online chat, live telephone and ticket-based (email) support. Also, if anyone wants to, they can Tweet or Facebook us and we’ll promptly address their questions.

– Software Packages
You did aptly summarize our out-of-the-box pricing options well. We often don’t target businesses who send more than 500K emails monthly, but we offer affordable upgrades for those who do. This is true for contact limits as well.

– Total Cost of Ownership
Annually, Infusionsoft costs between $2300 to $6000, excluding any additional services, add-ons or training packages. The one-time $2000 Kickstart package we offer ensures customers get immediate value within 30 days. We tailor the deliver of it around their needs and we implement proven campaigns that get results for their business. In a nutshell, we fast-track them for success.

– Content Management System (CMS)
Many of our users enjoy using WordPress for their company’s online presence. Even on the high end for managed WordPress hosting from a company like WPEngine, annual costs are around $1000. A good number of our users also benefit from having a dedicated web development resource available so they can further customize their sites. Infusionsoft more or less needs users to be able to copy and paste HTML Web Form (or JavaScript) code into their site. Additionally, Infusionsoft offers free hosting of simple landing pages for attracting opt-ins. As you mentioned, users would however need to provide their own images.

– Our Solution
We have a complete, all-in-one sales and marketing software designed for small businesses. Small business owners from many different industries all have a common problem: multiple system chaos. They have their leads in one system, they have their email in another and their content in another – and none of them talk to each other effectively. We provide end-to-end control over the customer lifecycle for these businesses in one package. It’s robust enough to adequately serve 25 person sales and marketing teams, but friendly enough for one or two-man shops to set up and manage.

What makes HubSpot strong and different from Infusionsoft is their intense focus on the content creation, management and analytics. Often for many businesses, even smaller ones, it is a mystery if their created content is making a difference in their business. Inbound marketing is great, but tracking can be a bit of challenge. HubSpot solves for this nicely.

You’ll find that in upcoming releases of Infusionsoft, we’ll make some notable advances on this front. My lips are sealed until it’s shipped. ;-)

What makes Infusionsoft strong and different from HubSpot is its focus to drive not just marketing, but sales efforts and provide an easy way to create and manage multiple campaigns at once. Our flagship solution is great, but combined with offerings in our marketplace and our amazing partner community, there is no limit to what can be done.

Thanks again for this comparison. I’m sorry that you were only able to grab older product videos and screenshots. We plan to upload a many more videos to YouTube soon. I’ll let you know when they’re available.

You can read more about what we’ve worked on this past year on our blog ( http://bit.ly/U7iw67 ) and others can sign up to watch an extended demo video at ( http://bit.ly/VG1el3 ).

If you have any questions, go ahead and post them here or email me at joseph.manna@infusionsoft.com and I’ll be happy to help and respond as quick as I can.

–Joseph Manna, Infusionsoft

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Marcus Sheridan February 5, 2013 at 9:55 am

Joseph, tremendous response here and I really enjoyed reading your thoughts. Infusionsoft is making major strides in this industry, which is exactly why we chose to highlight your company first. Rich is going to leave a long reply I’m sure, but I did want to ask you about those videos for a second. To be honest, I had to work and dig really, really hard to find your videos. So much of your demo stuff was gated that it was rendered “unshareable”–which was frustrating because I knew that I was showing some of your older content and I want this article to be on the cutting edge, as it will be read for a long time after this initial burst (or so the search engines would indicate that ;-) ). I understand lead capture and gating, but I found this instance to be just a tad much.

Regardless, y’all are up to some really great things and I’m watching closely. Keep up the great work,

Marcus

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Joseph Manna, Infusionsoft February 5, 2013 at 11:02 am

You’re welcome and thanks for the feedback. We’ll be making updates to our YouTube, removing outdated videos and putting up fresh ones soon. I’ll keep you posted on these as well as our product enhancements. :-)

–Joseph

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Rich McElaney February 5, 2013 at 10:42 am

Thanks very much for your input here Joseph – it’s very helpful to our cause – which is providing clarity and a balanced review of the marketing automation options available today.

As you probably now know, I reached out several times to your company for fact checking and clarification purposes – it was only after we published this post that your name came up as a good contact for us. Many thanks to Garrett Hunt for making this connection – I could tell he wanted to make it happen! :-)

On the Total Cost of Ownership – I know that WordPress provides CMS functionality for many of your clients – I felt that by going beyond that as the exclusive CMS option and factoring development costs in it made it a more “real world” comparison. Jay Baer correctly pointed out that several of the cost factors in the TCO calculation were one-time events – Marcus and I are discussing the provision of both start-up costs plus average annual costs in future comparisons.

We have heard some rumblings about added functionality on the content side of things and we look forward to hearing more about that when you’re free to talk!

Thanks again for jumping into the discussion!

Best,

Rich

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Joseph Manna, Infusionsoft February 5, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Thanks and you’re welcome. You clearly did your homework and wanted to dive deep into what makes us and HubSpot unique, yet beneficial for each of our target audiences.

Fair point on the CMS. If it’s not spent on site development, that “wildcard” expense may be in the form of graphic designers, copywriters or virtual assistants. Totally variable. Next to WordPress, many users use Drupal and/or have custom development work done.

I think you’ll be pleased with what we have coming soon. I’ll loop you and Marcus as we ship. :)

–Joseph

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Bryce Propheter February 5, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Joseph,

It’s good to hear that there are efforts in the works to add some content tools to IS.

I would like to add that the “Live Chat” option you reference in your reply is anything but helpful. The wait is often longer than it takes to get a response to a ticket and the answers are usually just links to things we’ve already tried.

I would like to know what plans IS has for becoming more mobile friendly. An app that would allow us to easily search for contacts from mobile devices is an essential part of almost every CRM today (except yours). And please don’t point me to your marketplace. The one available is not really helpful.

We would also like to see the ability to make email campaigns, forms and landing pages responsive or mobile friendly.

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Joseph Manna, Infusionsoft February 5, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Thanks, Bryce for the feedback. We completely re-vamped our chat system. Maybe you should give it a shot. It’s meant for quick questions, but if you have a more sophisticated question, you can always give us a call and we’ll do our best to serve you.

No official word yet on mobile, except that it may be closer than you might think.

Good suggestion for making our end-user assets more mobile-friendly, too. Thanks again for your feedback! I’ll pass it along to our product development team.

–Joseph

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Mark February 5, 2013 at 11:16 am

Marcus,

Great article and thanks for the research. Ive been using using HubSpot for 4 years and reselling it for 3 years and InfusionSoft was not on my radar screen as I see a lot more of Marketo, Eloqua and Pardot in Silicon Valley – and look forward to those comparisons in future.

What I will say about Hubspot is that the new contacts system does not need to evolve much more to enable me to switch off Salesforce. The HubSpot integration is great with Salesforce, it just seems like SFDC is an extra platform that as a small business, I am not really getting much value from.

All the best,
Mark

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Bryce Propheter February 5, 2013 at 12:01 pm

We currently use InfusionSoft and had considered HubSpot before ultimately deciding on IS.

The key factor for us was the CMS and CRM functionality. As an agency, our CMS of choice is Expression Engine and it wasn’t clear how well HS would have integrated with it.

Also, since we were primarily looking for a CRM, IS made more sense. Otherwise, we would need to also find a CRM (like Salesforce), in addition to HS. It just seemed to make more sense to go with a solution that already had that built-in.

Since HS included a CMS (which we didn’t need) and not a CRM (which we did), we felt that paying the higher monthly cost of HS was not justified as we would be paying for a feature that we don’t need.

However, we have found a couple things that have proved to be somewhat of an annoyance within InfusionSoft (ironically, all within the CRM-side of things). Namely, as you mention in your article, that IS seems to be built more for ecommerce businesses.

As a service provider, we have had to “hack” IS’s capabilities to create our workflows, campaigns and reports in order to fit within their “products.”

Also, the user interface of the CRM could be greatly improved. And there is NO mobile access. Our sales team regularly needs to contact customers/prospects while out of the office. This is made difficult from the lack of ANY working mobile interface.

IS points to an app in their marketplace (made by a 3rd party). But the free version is extremely limited and it seems silly to have to pay to have access to our contacts when we need them most.

It’s surprising to me that IS has done nothing to address this shortcoming as their audience becomes more and more mobile. In addition, their landing pages and emails are also not “mobile friendly.”

That being said, the marketing side is IS’s strength. The new campaign builder is excellent and intuitive. The nurturing and automatic sales workflow has already proven valuable.

To be fair, I do not know how these experience would have been different in HS (or if they would have.) Just wanted to add our two cents here.

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Joseph Manna, Infusionsoft February 5, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Thanks for the context in your feedback. We’ll be making some noteworthy advancements on the mobile front soon. Happy to see that you enjoy using the Campaign Builder – it gets more powerful with each release.

I’d like to invite you to join the Infusionsoft Insider’s program where you can help shape the future of the product because we design new features around the benefits you seek from the app. Learn more and sign up at http://help.infusionsoft.com/insider.

–Joseph

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Rich McElaney February 5, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Bryce,

This is fantastic feedback!

Probably one of the more important considerations in deciding which automation tool to buy is where your business needs the most support. You already had a solid CMS solution and very likely, the internal resources with which to manage change. So the combination of CRM and marketing automation functionality drove your choice. That makes sense.

It’s interesting to hear what you’ve discovered on the CRM side of things. Sounds like you’d like more flexibility in customizing workflows, campaigns and reporting – but you were able to devise some workarounds for those needs.

And mobile integration – CRM access, landing pages and email functionality needs to improve.

Having stated that, is Infusionsoft a solution you’re using for existing and new clients – or just for your agency?

As for how your experience would have transpired with HubSpot – you would have had Expression Engine, HubSpot and a CRM platform in the mix – so that’s a difficult one to predict. I think the options are greater for an agency like yours – you most likely have the internal competency to make any integration work – the bottom line is how well it performs and how easy it is to maintain.

Something tells me you’ll be hearing from Joseph Manna soon!

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Bryce Propheter February 5, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Rich,

Exactly. It’s hard to describe the CRM pain points without going into too much detail, but basically it seems to be designed around ecommerce businesses. We’ve talked to InfusionSoft about that and they’ve said it’s something they’ve heard before.

Mobile CRM access is the big one and the reason we’re having trouble getting the whole sales team to buy into the system, though. They need access to their contacts from anywhere and it just isn’t easy enough currently.

Right now we are only using it for ourselves. We have only been using it since late last year. The goal was to eventually be able to use it for our clients, as well, but many of them already have CRM’s they’re committed to, so their situation is different from ours.

As IS improves (which it has already done a lot of since we started) it may become a tool for our clients, especially the nurturing ability and email campaigns. But we’ll have to figure out how to integrate it with their CRM, then, which may get tricky.

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Joseph Manna, Infusionsoft February 5, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Glad to see that you’re seeing the progress that we’ve made as well as the potential to help your clients benefit from possibly using Infusionsoft. When the time is right, you may be interested in our Certified Consulting program so you can not only recommend Infusionsoft, but implement it fully for them, too.

Here’s the link to learn more: http://www.infusionsoft.com/partners/consulting

–Joseph

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Kathy Sacks February 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Rich and Marcus:

Wow, there’s lot of good conversation in the comments. Love to see it, and totally appreciate you taking the time to review Infusionsoft. Thanks for the fair analysis.

Joe Manna, our customers and David Raab has already taken the time to provide some thoughtful responses…. so my purpose in this comment is to invite you to connect further. I’d like to invite you both to our upcoming conference. It’s March 27-29, InfusionCon 2013. I’d be happy to have you and show you around to connect with the thousands of small businesses who have made the pilgrimage to Phoenix for what has become the event of the year for entrepreneurs running businesses with 25 and under employees. Jay Baer is speaking along with a host of other awesome smart people. I’m on Twitter too and we can continue the convo. http://www.twitter.com/kathysacks

Kathy Sacks
VP Communications, Infusionsoft

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Rich McElaney February 6, 2013 at 11:50 am

Kathy,

We’re really appreciative of the level of engagement and comments we’ve received on this post so far – thanks for your contribution as well!

And thanks for your invitation to InfusionCon. One of the things we talked about incorporating into the post was feedback from users and while I did get the chance to talk to a few – this could provide a robust opportunity to go deeper into the user community to hear about their experiences.

We look forward to continuing the conversation!

Rich

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Lee Kirkby February 8, 2013 at 11:34 am

Really interesting comparison. We are a Hubspot Basic user and before we started with it I considered Infusionsoft. At the time our need was more focused on content creation and a usable CMS and blogging tool. Coupled together in Hubspot made it much easier to focus on the content and inbound strategies. We had worked with a couple of CRM tools and found none of them worked well for us. Our contact base is under 10k so we did not need super horsepower.
We recently started using AddressTwo which has an app available in the Hubspot marketplace. Its free and works really well. Two way integration and the price point for Addresstwo is excellent. Check it out if you need another option.

We certainly see Hubspot as a bargain as they keep adding new functionality every month.

Good work on this Marcus. The real investment on these tools is the effort to learn them and apply them to your business. Making a bad choice for you can be really damaging. Having someone share their understanding of the strengths and weeknesses is a big help.

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Rich McElaney March 2, 2013 at 10:06 am

Hi Lee,

Sorry for the delay in responding to your comments – which are great!

You touch upon a number of important points in the consideration process – level of content creation, blogging capability and strategic support of inbound activities. If you have a clear idea of what you want to do in these areas, it makes it a lot easier to zero in on the appropriate tools.

Thanks for the heads up on AddressTwo – I’d like to hear from you about how it’s working and what other tools you tried before you started using it. You can email at rich@thesaleslion.com if you’d like to take this conversation deeper.

Appreciate the feedback Lee!

Rich

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Betsy February 13, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Thank you Rich for this amazing write up! I am currently looking at Hubspot vs. Pardot and am so looking forward to that analysis. Anecdotally I’ve heard that Hubspot is good for SEO, but is relatively new to email capabilities so their functionality isn’t as built out as Pardot. Specifically, Pardot has more options for nurturing leads, branching, rules based on actions, etc. I’ve also heard Pardot is easier/faster to set up. But, I’ve not yet done my own research and would LOVE to hear your perspective.

Thanks again!
Betsy

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Rich McElaney February 14, 2013 at 1:23 pm

You’re welcome Betsy and thanks for your great input.

The pace of change with HubSpot is dramatic right now and email functionality has beefed up with that change. That being said, we haven’t yet finished our deep dive on Pardot but that comparison is coming up very soon!

Best,

Rich

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Naser February 21, 2013 at 6:57 am

I have used Hubspot’s Website Grader at it provides all the necessary details about our website but now they removed that marketing grader and added some social inbox which is in beta version………

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David February 24, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Great detailed comparison! I’ve found some other reviews online of the two companies and they seemed outdated. Glad this is recent for 2013. Do you plan to keep this page updated as both companies offer more and make improvements?

Under the Conclusion – This is written:

“”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.”

Those appear to be reversed.
Thanks!

David

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Rich McElaney February 24, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Thanks for your feedback David!

Our plan is twofold -to expand the comparisons to address other marketing automation software companies and to stay on top of new features and functionality offered by these companies.

Concerning your other question – HubSpot does not include CRM functionality – it does natively support integration with Salesforce and there are several companies in the HubSpot Marketplace offering integration with other CRM products. HubSpot does not provide eCommerce functionality.

Infusionsoft doesn’t provide a content management system, keyword analytics or SEO functionality; Infusionsoft integrates with a range of content management systems that provide these other features.

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David February 24, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Thanks Rich!

I misunderstood and thought they said “with” which made me think they were flipped.

Glad to know and appreciate that this comparison will be expanded/updated!

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Mike Volpe - CMO @ HubSpot February 25, 2013 at 9:02 pm

(Marcus and Rich – I know you guys are more familiar with the history of HubSpot, but for the benefit of other folks I think talking about that might get at some of the core differences.)

Philosophically, HubSpot built our product because we believed that humans had changed and most companies were still doing marketing that was annoying and interruptive and was not adapting to how people shop for and purchase products and services today. You don;t wait around to get a cold call or a piece of direct mail, you type a question into Google, read a blog article, or ask a question in social media. HubSpot helps companies do inbound marketing to attract more prospects and convert them into customers using marketing they will love (SEO, social media, blogosphere), not be annoyed by. The number one challenge we hear from small businesses (actually all businesses) is that they need to get found more and attract more attention to their business. HubSpot was built to solve that problem and I think we do it better than anyone else.

Because of this, there are some important ways HubSpot is quite different from Infusionsoft:
- HubSpot has many different tools to help you get found and attract more people to your website – not only a content management system to build a website, but integrated Search Engine Optimization (SEO) features, along with blogging and social media marketing features.
- HubSpot also has a call to action tool that make it easy to put graphical calls to action on your website, while also doing A/B optimization of them but also have them be personalized to different web visitors based on segments you set up. This is important because email is getting more and more difficult to stand out in the inbox, but HubSpot gives you the same personalization and segmentation abilities on your website as you have in email.
- HubSpot’s analytics allow you to track not only visitors and leads but also closed customers, even if the closing process happens in another system. We have integrations with most CRM systems to do this.

Infusionsoft comes more from the very small business segment (I think most of their customers have less than 10 employees, like David Raab mentioned) with a strong focus on ecommerce companies. Because of this, there are also some ways Infusionsoft is different from HubSpot:

- HubSpot does not have a built in shopping cart, to do ecommerce you need to use one of our many ecommerce partners, but Infusionsoft does have built in ecommerce.
- HubSpot does not have an included CRM system like Infusionsoft – we do have contact management and many features like a CRM system, but most of our customers who have a large sales team use Salesforce.com or another midmarket or large company CRM system.

So…. if you want to attract more customers to your business at a low cost and more effectively than advertising, do inbound marketing with HubSpot. For example, Marcus’s River Pools and Spas business was able to increase web traffic by 300% (http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/17713/10-Blogging-Tactics-That-Increased-One-Business-Traffic-by-300.aspx) and cut spending on Google pay per click ads by 50% (http://www.hubspot.com/customer-case-studies/bid/5753/Pool-Construction-Company-Reduces-PPC-Spending-50-Grows-Organic-Leads) from doing inbound marketing using HubSpot software (http://www.thesaleslion.com/internet-marketing-small-business-owners-and-how-a-big-dummy-like-me-learned-web-design/).

On the other hand, if you have enough leads and interest in your business and want to focus on monetizing that interest using an integrated ecommerce and CRM system, then Infusionsoft is the choice for you.

Finally, if you just want a free report that tells you how you stack up in terms of your inbound marketing and your web presence, head over to http://Marketing.Grader.com and you’ll get a free instant report that might help you decide what to focus on.

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Rich McElaney March 2, 2013 at 9:57 am

Mike,

Thanks very much for weighing in here with such a long and thoughtful response.

We field a lot of questions about a variety of marketing automation tools and we want to provide as much balanced information as possible to help businesses make better decisions.

Your comments, and those of others here, serve to elevate the discussion around marketing automation and hopefully drive more businesses to embrace the technology and best practices of inbound marketing.

Thanks again for stopping by!

Rich

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rob tynan March 24, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Great blog,

Amazed at how your team keeps so well informed. We have an exclusive adventure company. Its a young business but we need clients to speak directly to us before ever deciding on purchasing a trip or experience to ensure it best suits their capabilities. Do you think infusion soft would work for us?. Also is net profit explosion just a business advice company with the underlying intention of selling infusion soft? Thank you

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Rich McElaney May 1, 2013 at 11:26 am

Sorry for the delay in getting back to your Rob!

That’s a difficult question to answer without knowing how your new customer acquisition process works. From what you said about needing to interact prior to purchasing – it sounds like your first task is to get found online and your second is to direct qualified site traffic to a phone conversation. HubSpot can help with both.

If the decision to purchase results from that phone call – your sales cycle is pretty short and Infusionsoft’s powerful nurturing capabilities might not be touched.

With respect to your question about NPE, they are an Infusionsoft user, most likely a reseller, and it looks like they’ve developed a coaching/advisory support package around Infusionsoft.

Thanks for stopping by Rob!

Best,

Rich

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rob tynan March 24, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Great blog,

Amazed at how your team keeps so well informed. We have an exclusive adventure company. Its a young business but we need clients to speak directly to us before ever deciding on purchasing a trip or experience to ensure it best suits their capabilities. Do you think infusion soft would work for us?. Also is net profit explosion just a business advice company with the underlying intention of selling infusion soft? Thank you

REPLY

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kevin April 19, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Hi Marcus,

I am always in a flux to which of these two great tools I want. I currently use Infusionsoft but Hubspot is attractive too. As far as I know and i have been using Infusionsoft for a while now there is no social tools and their analytics is much to be desired.

It is however an excellent piece of software and their support is amazing!

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Nikki May 1, 2013 at 10:53 am

I’d have to go with HubSpot because they STAY in my email inbox. I’ve used their lead generation content to help me along in so many ways. It’s almost like I owe them my loyalty.

*And content marketing reigns supreme!*

I’d be open to looking more into infusionSoft if ever came a time that HubSpot stopped being so darn helpful to budding entrepreneurs.

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Rich McElaney May 1, 2013 at 11:11 am

Your first three sentences confirm the power of content Nikki! Er, make that four!!

I don’t think you’ll ever experience a time when the HubSpot content machine slows down, much less stops!

Support and guidance around all things inbound is a big key to success.

Thanks for stopping by and for your comments!

Rich

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Kevin Gallagher May 1, 2013 at 11:14 am

I like Hubspot but the problem a lot of businesses won’t get past is the big upfront cost. The the cost of a crm

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Randy May 31, 2013 at 2:14 am

To me, there is no comparison. HubSpot’s robust toolset and integrated features beats juggling Wordpress with IS + non-standard 3rd party WP plugins any day. Well worth the investment. I’m glad you included the training comparisons, as this goes well far beyond just software. Mind if I plug my book? Findability: Why Search Optimization is Dying + the 21 New Rules of Content Marketing. Thanks Rich! You rock for engaging others in your blog!

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George June 5, 2013 at 11:57 am

Great comparison about 2 excellent products. I’ve used both Hubspot & Infusionsoft have become partial to Infusionsoft – mainly because of it’s flexible CRM, automation capabilities (you can automate just about anything), and easy-to-use email campaign builder.

However, Hubspot has the edge in analytics and tracking ROI. With Hubspot (using cookies) you can track the source of every visitor you get (SEO, PPC, referring sites, etc) and see how they interact throughout your marketing funnel until they choose to buy or not buy. You can see what web pages they visit (and how long they stay) and what emails they open – which is extremely helpful in tracking ROI and what efforts are proving productive. It gives you the data you with Google Analytics gives you, while adding in content management and email nurturing capabilities.

Hubspot comes short in it’s CRM capabilities – you can only choose between “Static” and “Smart” lists – and these are quite limiting in how you’d like to interact with your contacts. Infusionsoft uses tagging to allow you to move contacts easily into different email sequences and assign to different “Owners” (great for collaborating with marketing & sales teams). Actions, clicks, emails, etc can all trigger other actions or sequences – which allows you to truly “set it and forget it”.

Bottom line: Infusionsoft has the edge in CRM, automation, and email nurturing; While Hubspot has the edge in Analytics and tracking ROI. For me, Infusionsoft is the winner – being half the price of Hubspot and having a direct impact on converting more leads to sales.

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Marcus Sheridan June 6, 2013 at 12:28 pm

George, I can tell you have worked with these a bunch man. Nice job, and solid assessment too. It’s all about the needs of the individual, that’s for sure.

Best!!

Marcus

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Robert Fletcher CEO June 9, 2013 at 6:25 am

Hello and thanks! I have quotes on the table right now from both companies. One thing that I did not see discussed above was the outbound (SMTP) mail server. I think many businesses come to this junction from an email perspective and then “taking the next step” beyond the PPC > email process. IS said that they use their SMTP server which concerns me. (we have single opt-in and years of data and sometimes our spam numbers are not pretty. We don’t buy/rent lists of course, but … we actually use two different smtp servers in case one goes sideways). Anyone have experience with either or both SMTP systems? Also, BTW the one comment that really got me was HS cutting PPC costs… “yes, please help me cut my $10,000 per week PPC habit in half!”

Oh, and by the way, we are a publisher of 5000 books and we are always looking for professionals that want to publish a book or their blog to support their expertise. Please feel free to drop me a query.

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Scott Stroud July 30, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Marcus – You nailed it! As a long-time Infusionsoft user and Certified Consultant, I appreciated your unbiased review of both programs. I would consider both application ‘Best in Class’, and though I see them compared head-to-head often, I really don’t see them as rivals. As you pointed out, if you need CMS, it’s HubSpot, hands down. If you want your marketing and sales (CRM) data kept together in one application, then IS is the logical choice. Great job in cutting through the confusion and giving a real, usable comparison!

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Mark August 17, 2013 at 8:10 am

Hey, Marcus – been a while since I’ve peeped up here, just wanted to say thanks a bunch for the comparisons you’re doing, they’re helping a ton with many decisions I’m making these days as my brain is slowly embracing the “digital” world.

I appreciate the education, man!

Thank you.

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Marcus Sheridan August 19, 2013 at 11:50 pm

Mark, so great to see you my friend and hope you know I appreciate you very, very much bud. Keep growing and pushing.

Best,

Marcus

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Selena September 16, 2013 at 1:59 am

I must say it’s a very well written post. Specially i liked the way you used pictures for explanation.

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Nick September 29, 2013 at 9:07 am

Just a question is it possible to integrate the best parts of the software i want to use my wordpress CMS and add the hubspot’s strategies like the new function to say the customer’s name when they go to your home-page.

and want to add the sales force function which you indeed talked it over.

But i want to use infusionsoft’s E-mail marketing interface is it ‘possible’ that combines the best of all worlds

thanks for the help if you can answer these not-so-easy questions.

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Christian Burris November 13, 2013 at 11:43 pm

Excellent posts. I wish I could get my hands on a trial version of HS. I currently use IS and OAP. Love to try out HS.

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Marcus Sheridan November 19, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Christian, sorry for my late reply on this, but if you’re still interested in a trial, please let me know and I can help facilitate the process.

Best,

Marcus

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Paul February 4, 2014 at 11:40 am

Umm…Indecision over Hubspot or Infusionsoft – From reading this insightful post and helpful comments, I was on veering towards IFS as our client is heavily invested in their Wordpress platform ( ie don’t need a CMS). Yet Hubspot countered this by claiming that approx 60% of their users are on WP and they provide a Javascript which apparently works well. Any thoughts?

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Marcus Sheridan February 11, 2014 at 10:08 am

Most my hubspot clients are using it in conjunction with WP Paul. In fact, I do the same here at TSL.

Good luck!

Marcus

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Pam July 8, 2014 at 3:06 pm

This is a good comparison. One thing I’d add in thinking about the decision: Is the platform stable? Ask around. Not everything promised is delivered.

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Marcus Sheridan July 10, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Appreciate that Pam :)

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Bennie Mellies August 21, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Hi,

Just wanted to thank you for this great comparison and the even greater discussion. The discussions cover some great topics!

At the moment we are considering different options for our new sales team. Included WordPress.

Thanks again for this great post, the insights in costs, comparison, detailed features and the great discussion. I also like the fact that HS and IS responded to the discussion. Thats not what you always see.. So great work on that.

Best, Bennie

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