Marketo vs Eloqua vs Pardot: A Massive Review

by Marcus Sheridan

marketing toolsMarketing automation is blowing up, big time. And just like there is an arms race with content marketing, there is another battle going on when it comes to marketing automation software companies that are trying to establish themselves as “top dog” in a very nascent industry that’s getting ready to hit a tipping point and receive acceptance by hundreds upon thousands of businesses around the world. This movement makes sense though, because marketing automation software can change the entire sales, marketing, and customer service culture of an organization if used properly. I’ve seen it change mine and certainly seen the same with many clients. This being said, the debate and questions surrounding these solutions is constant.

When it comes down to it, marketing automation software costs time and money, and companies don’t want to make a mistake. Furthermore, they require serious commitment and cultural shifts, often times from the management on down. Whether you choose Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot, HubSpot, Infusionsoft, or any other– success will not happen overnight.

It’s Starts with YOU, Not the Tool

Some people may consider me a  “HubSpot Guy,” but in reality I’m a “better marketing” guy. This is why I’m passionate about tools that help companies and customers get greater results. Many people that come to us at The Sales Lion will ask about HubSpot, but often times, we end up suggesting a different solution based on their individual needs. And that, my friends, is the key to all of this.

Before you can choose an automated marketing software, you must know what YOUR priorities are. What are your requirements? What are “must-haves”? Once these parameters are defined, the choice as to the right solution becomes much, much easier, as is the case with every client we work with at TSL.

A few weeks ago, we kicked off our marketing automation series with an in-depth comparison of HubSpot vs. Infusionsoft to much success and conversation. Today, we’re going to take a deep look and review Marketo, Pardot, and Eloqua. As before, my fellow TSL team-member Rich McElaney had a HUGE part of this post , as did I. We both spent hours of research in an effort to offer up the components of each company that merited discussion. Assuredly, we have missed some noteworthy information, which is why I’d like to strongly urge any person with experience using these products (or the brands themselves) to voice your thoughts in the comment section at the bottom of the post. Also, if you’re wondering why this post is 4,000+ words long, our answer is simple: This is going to be a big decision for your company, and we don’t want you to mess it up.

That being said, here goes…

1. Company Background

Marketo was founded in 2006, has over 2,300 customers, 300 + employees and over 100,000 users worldwide. Marketo has enjoyed explosive revenue growth, posting a 3,545% revenue increase over a three year period ending in 2011 ($32.9 million) and was named the 78th fastest growing business by Inc. magazine in 2012.

Pardot was founded in 2007, has over 1,000 customers, 59 employees and was named the 172nd fastest growing business in 2012 by Inc. magazine with a 2,001% growth rate over the three year period ending in 2011.   Pardot was acquired by Exact Target for $95.5 million in October of 2012.

Eloqua was founded in 1999 and currently has more than 1,300 clients and over 100,000 global users, with about 400 employees. On Dec. 20th 2012, Eloqua made big news by announcing it had signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by Oracle Corporation for $871M.

 2. Platform Functionality

While all three of these companies offer marketing automation and many of the functional aspects of their software overlap, there are distinct differences in feature sets. Marketo does a good job simplifying the definition of marketing automation in their latest eBook, The Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation  : a category of software that streamlines, automates and measures marketing tasks and workflows to increase efficiencies and grow revenue.

The common feature set in marketing automation includes:

  • Email marketing
  • Landing pages
  • Lead management
  • CRM integration
  • Social marketing
  • Analytics and Reporting

We’ll use this feature set as the context for comparing these three platforms.

Email Marketing

Marketo offers the ability to design emails with a visual drag and drop interface and the user doesn’t need any html skills to build a high quality design. Email can be sent based on actions, timing or a series of pre-defined steps. Testing email versions is simple and content can be changed dynamically to fit specific situations via rules and filter settings.  Email can include a social component with the Forward to a Friend feature. Reporting is available through a library of standard report formats.

Marketo Email Template

Marketo Email Interface

Pardot also offers a WYSIWYG email design interface, along with 36 pre-built template designs. As with Marketo, email can be sent based on actions, time intervals or a range of other parameters and can include auto-responders. Email content can be configured dynamically – driven by prospect data fields and/or sales rep assignments. List segmentation, scheduling, social sharing and integration with preferred email programs (Outlook 2003, 2007 and 2010, Apple Mail, Gmail, Mozilla Thunderbird and Chrome) round out the features. Pardot also features an integrated spam analysis and rendering engine that shows how your email will look in the leading programs and browsers and help in getting maximum inbox delivery. (http://www.pardot.com/products/marketing-automation/features/email-marketing/email-rendering-preview)

Pardot Dynamic Email

An example of a dynamic email created within Pardot

As with Pardot and Marketo, Eloqua has a very robust email platform, with multiple templates to choose from and customize while using a very simple user interface. In fact, the interface for building an email with Eloqua is the same interface they use in their landing page creation. No matter what segmentation you’re trying to achieve when dealing with your database, there are many possibilities, including behavioral filters, which lends itself to precision targeting for best results.

Landing Pages

Just as it does with its email design capabilities, Marketo offers a drag and drop interface combined with a range of pre-designed templates with which to create landing pages.  Data capture forms are set up for progressive profiling which means you can obtain more lead data over time as prospects fill out subsequent forms.

A/B testing is easy with Marketo’s automated process and landing pages can be easily converted into Facebook pages.  Landing pages can be personalized using Marketo’s dynamic content capabilities and text, images and calls to action can be customized using a number of attributes in the prospect’s record or based on the prospect’s previous activities on your site.

Marketo also offers a social sign in capability with its landing page forms – a site visitor can fill out form fields automatically by connecting with their social profile of choice, which, for some users, is a great sign-in alternative.

Pardot also offers pre-defined templates and a visual drag and drop landing page builder to facilitate landing page creation.  Progressive profiling, dynamic content personalization and custom fields are additional features incorporated into Pardot’s landing page functionality. One unique feature is the ability to block the input of both invalid email addresses and free email addresses on landing page forms, which can help in providing higher quality leads to your sales team.

Just as it was with email, Eloqua shares many of the same characteristics as Pardot and Marketo when it comes to landing page creation—predesigned templates, dynamic content, drag and drop images, powerful form customization, etc. One feature of note here is what Eloqua refers to as “Microsites.” Specifically, they state:

“…When a single landing page isn’t enough, Eloqua Hypersites™ – content-driven, personalized microsites that greet your prospects by name, deliver targeted content and increase conversion rates – help you create a unique, relevant experience. You can develop, deploy and maintain Hypersites in Eloqua without any IT involvement using an intuitive content editor – or simply import HTML files.

Hypersites feature personalized URLs like http://moviestars.eloqua.com/bradpitt that can increase visitor rates, personalization to improve conversion and powerful content management rules to match offers to prospect interests. Hypersites are particularly effective for industry and account-based marketing campaigns, new product launches and events.”

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Integration

To track and report on the full sales cycle – from initial lead to closing the sale – marketing automation software needs to integrate with your CRM system. Marketo offers native integration (meaning the platforms seamlessly exchange data with each other) with Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics(as shown in the video below). Native integration allows for bi-directional data syncing – which means a change in Marketo will pass through to the CRM system and conversely, a change in the CRM system will pass to Marketo. This bi-directional syncing keeps both the sales team and marketing team aware of any changes triggered by either team and allows for more accurate tracking of prospects’ progress through the pipeline.

Marketo partners offer integrations with other CRM platforms such as NetSuite, Oracle and SugarCRM.

Pardot natively syncs with Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, NetSuite and SugarCRM. Pardot also offers developers an API (application programming interface) with which to connect other third party CRM platforms.

Like the other two software, Eloqua does not act as its own  CRM, and instead uses what they refer to as their “integration studio”—which natively syncs with Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and Oracle/Siebel CRM On Demand.

Lead Management

Lead management typically denotes a platform’s ability to nurture leads through various stages of the sales pipeline and score leads based on a combination of factors such as prospect data attributes and behaviors. We addressed both Marketo’s and Pardot’s lead nurturing capabilities in the email section, so we’ll focus on the lead scoring features from each provider.

Marketo offers the capability to score leads based on an unlimited number of dimensions such as:

  • Demographics
  • Product-specific scoring
  • Sales rep input
  • Prospect behavior (downloaded a white paper, attended a webinar)

Pardot divides this process into two sub-components – lead grade and lead score. The lead grade is based on demographic factors such as company size, industry and prospect title, while the lead score is based on prospect activities. The scoring component can be customized by adjusting the points assigned to the various activities included in the scoring model.

Eloqua’s “Co-Dynamic Lead Scoring” technology uses common lead quality definitions such as Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline, as well as key qualification data, including lead response, activity and behavior. Also, Eloqua released an updated lead scoring engine in 2012 which allows a company to run multiple scoring models at the same time so they can have different lead scoring modules for various geographies, product lines, etc. and a prospect’s score always updates in real time based on what they’re doing online or responding to.

All three platforms offer adjustments to the score in either direction, which is important if you want your scoring model to reflect prospect inactivity by deducting points.

Social Marketing

Social Marketing provides the capability to increase the reach and impact of your content across your social channels. Marketo offers what they term “social media applications” in three areas:

  • Social sharing – which offers intelligent share buttons triggered by prospect actions, customization of the share message and image and the capability to build a database with social profiles and prospects’ sharing behavior
  • Social engagement – allows you to publish video content on your site and your Facebook page, engage your audience with polls and voting and embed forms across all your channels with reward or discount incentives
  • Social promotion – run sweepstakes offers for data capture and build socially driven referral programs

Pardot offers a social posting capability that connects with users social accounts and allows for posting to those accounts with custom bit.ly pro urls which allows tracking of retweets, likes and comments.

Pardot also scans for prospect profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Klout. Location and prospect summary data, if available, will display by the prospect’s name. Two versions of Pardot offer this social profile capability – Pardot Enterprise and Ultimate Edition. A third party resource (Full Contact) provides the social information.

When it comes to Eloqua, “Social Suite” is the hub of their social media marketing, and is a collection of apps broken down into three core categories:

  • Social apps that allow you to drag social content directly onto landing pages from within the Eloqua editor.
  • Social data apps that pull in and manipulate social data from leading social sites
  • Social reports and dashboards for measuring social conversions.

Analytics and Reporting

Closed-loop reporting is the standard here – users need to see how the efforts of the marketing and sales team moved the prospect through the sales funnel – from first conversion to the closed sale. Other critical data can answer the following questions:

  • Who are the hottest, most engaged buyers?
  • What web pages did the prospect visit?
  • Which search terms brought them to your site?
  • How did they respond to your email marketing campaign?
  • Are they on the website now?

This process is the essence of inbound and content marketing, as its importance to a business can’t be emphasized enough. Considering all 3 software answer these questions, this feature alone can pay for the entire system cost within a short period of time when used properly by a company’s sales department.

Marketo offers a library of standard reports showing email and landing page performance, web activity, and lead performance.  They also offer campaign performance results with customizable metrics, influence reports showing the impact of marketing campaigns and a revenue modeling capability that reviews the sales and marketing process at a high level.

If users want to look at specific performance data not provided in the library of standard reports, Marketo provides fully customizable reporting.

Pardot relies on a third party resource for reporting – GoodData (shown below). Users can create custom reporting using the GoodData visual interface and then schedule report frequency and distribution – highlighting specific metrics tailored to the recipient.

Pardot also offers a connector to Google Analytics, which passes data from your Google Analytics tagged site into Pardot to be synced with your CRM system.  This provides a review of marketing effectiveness at both the campaign and individual level.

Also included in Pardot’s reporting and analytics is a campaign ROI calculator which shows cost per lead, cost per sale and ROI data.

“Eloqua For Sales” offers the following 4 main feature:

  • Eloqua Discover for Salesforce: A prioritized view of the hottest, most engaged prospects and accounts to increase lead generation quality.
  • Eloqua Profiler: The most intuitive graphical summary of prospect online activities and behaviors that helps sales people focus conversations on topics that resonate with buyers and create qualified sales leads.
  • Eloqua Engage: A tool that lets sales professionals customize, send and track pre-built email templates from the iPad, CRM, or web.
  • Web Visit Alerts: Real-time lead generation email alerts sent directly to sales when hot prospects visit your website, containing visitor details like pages visited, length of visit and search terms used.

Also,  Eloqua offers closed-loop reporting and since “Eloqua Insight” is built on a BI platform, Eloqua provides powerful reporting and dashboards that companies can customize to uniquely meet their reporting requirements and needs.

3. Structure and Strength of Providers’ Sales Channels

As with most marketing automation providers, Marketo sells direct to businesses and through a partner network. Marketo’s LaunchPoint offers information about the partner network.  The network is divided into two groups: Agency Managed Service Providers and Services Partners. At the time of writing this article, 12 companies are currently listed on Launchpoint on the Agency Provider side and 21 are listed on the Service Partners side.  The actual number of Agency Providers and Service Partners is higher than displayed on Launchpoint – the approximate numbers we received were 50+ Agency Providers and 33+ Service Partners and this number is growing.

Marketo Launchpoint

Marketo Launchpoint

Agency Managed Service Providers typically offer a full range of interactive services, such as brand management, creative services, P.R., lead generation and related marketing services. They also manage Marketo’s marketing automation solutions for clients in need of that support.

Service Partners tend to be consulting companies, systems integrators and agencies with a deeper focus on demand generation, integration of CRM systems with Marketo and the alignment of the sales and marketing process.

Pardot sells directly to businesses and has two categories of providers: Agency Partners, of which there are currently 29 and Technology Partners, of which there are 6.  Agency Partners typically provide full service support: strategy, content creation, email execution, lead generation and management of the Pardot platform. Technology Partners tend to focus on system integration, most notably CRM integration, but can also provide a deeper set of services around lead generation.

Like the other two, Eloqua does direct-to-business sales but also has a partner program, with 50+ at the time of this writing, broken down into the following categories:

  • Global Strategic Partners
  • App Cloud and Technology  Partners
  • Marketing Ambassadors
  • Revenue Performance Management (RPM) Partners

4. Integration Capabilities and the Application Marketplace

Marketo’s LaunchPoint also offers information on the applications that work with their platform. There are 9 application categories listed on LaunchPoint:

  • Analytics and Big Data – 24 apps
  • Content Marketing – 19 apps
  • Events & Webinars – 5 apps
  • Lead Data – 34 apps
  • Lifecycle Marketing – 13 apps
  • Online Ads & Campaigns – 16 apps
  • Sales Tools – 29 apps
  • Social Media – 23 apps
  • Top of Funnel – 28 apps

Not all of the applications listed in LaunchPoint natively integrate with Marketo – so be sure to read the overview of relevant applications to determine integration options. Marketo offers comprehensive APIs to allow connectivity to a wide range of existing applications such as CRM, ERP and eCommerce systems.

Pardot offers connectors to the following 12 programs:

  • Eventbrite
  • ReadyTalk
  • WebEx
  • GoToWebinar
  • GoodData
  • Olark Chat
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Adwords
  • Jigsaw
  • LinkedIn
  • Twilio
  • bit.ly

Pardot also offers an API that allows for integration with other third party apps – access to this API is not standard with the Professional Edition of Pardot.

As with the other two, Eloqua has a robust and growing app community—Eloqua AppCloud, which features apps/connectors in the following categories:

  • Community
  • Data Sources and Quality
  • Sales Enablement Apps
  • Webinars and Events
  • Communication
  • General Tools
  • Social Landing Page Apps
  • Channel Management
  • Social Data
  • Incentives
  • Content Marketing
  • Landing Page Apps
  • Content Management Systems

5. Onboarding Approach

Marketo offers onboarding and training in five modalities:

Customer Enablement – Marketo offers what they term “Launch Packs,” which are pre-configured training packages that include a range of onboarding and support services from integration consulting to creative services. There are 6 Launch Pack versions and you can review them here.

Expert Services – Marketo offers three levels of Expert Services delivered via a framework they call Marketo Drive, which is a standardized process of marketing software implementation.

  • Campaign Expert Services – Marketo experts help clients optimize campaign design, segmentation, nurture tracks, lead scoring and personalization.
  • Reporting Expert Services – Experts help clients optimally set up reporting and analytics to provide complete insight into your revenue cycle (how your customers buy).
  • Social Marketing Expert Services – Expert guidance on leveraging social media to find and connect with your ideal audience, setting and measuring social media goals and maximizing the return from social media marketing efforts.

Education – Marketo offers a range of training formats:  self-paced online courses, live classroom and  virtual classes focusing on three key areas:

  • Product Training
  • Advanced Techniques
  • Sales and Marketing Best Practices

Community – Marketo Community provides help articles, product documentation and on-demand training. Collaboration with a sizable percentage of the Marketo user base provides insight on best practices from the real world.

Customer Support – Marketo offers four levels of Customer Support Services: Basic, Standard, Premier and Elite. Basic service is included with the Spark Edition (small business). The Standard, Select and Enterprise Editions come with a Standard Support subscription and a dedicated Customer Success Manager.  The Premier and Elite Support Services offer higher touch and faster response times and subscription costs for these are extra.

The table below provides a good snapshot of the features included with each Support Service plan.

Marketo Service Plan

Marketo Service Plan

Pardot offers a range of onboarding and training services to help users quickly maximize the value of their subscription.

Pardot’s  Quick Start Onboarding programsconnect new users to a dedicated Pardot implementation manager. Typical program length is 30 days, but new customers have up 90 days to configure the Pardot system, launch campaigns and evaluate campaign results. Beyond the Onboarding program, users have access to weekly instructor led trainings on all Pardot features.

Pardot offers three Quick Start Programs, Bronze, Silver and Gold. The Bronze program is included with all three versions. The Silver program is $2,500 and the Gold program is $5,000. The table below provides a summary of features in each program:

 

Pardot Service Plan

Pardot Service Plan

*Client must provide applicable HTML creative for HTML emails or copy for text emails

Other support resources include:

  • Complimentary Instructor-led Training – 18 group training sessions each month which are recorded and offered on the Knowledge Base.
  • Office Hours – 30 minute consulting calls with trainers
  • Custom Training – personalized training offered at $250 per hour
Eloqua University” offers 3 main delivery options to its customer base:Instructor Led Training (ILT)An Eloqua facilitator travels to the customer’s location to deliver learning face-to-face. Alternately, this can be held in one of the Eloqua offices located globally.

  • Content can be selected from current course catalog
  • Maximum of 12 learners per class
  • Optimal solution for companies with groups of learners

Instructor Led Online (ILO)

  • Courses are delivered in a web virtual classroom with a facilitator
  • Most sessions are hands-on, in either a training install, or sandbox
  • Maximum of 15 learners per class
  • Optimal solution for individual learners

Web-Based Training (WBT)

  • On-demand eLearning modules
  • Interactive content with video and dynamic exercises
  • Ideal solution for learners with specific content questions or want to learn Eloqua at their own pace

Also, as a response to this post, a staff member at Eloqua stated, “SmartStart is the way we onboard customers. It’s an onboarding methodology we developed that gets customers up and running in 3-5 days. Eloqua used to have a reputation as taking awhile to get running but not the case the last few years and SmartStart is a big reason why.”

6. Marketo, Pardot and Eloqua Costs, Pricing and Packages

Marketo comes in three versions for small and medium businesses and one version for large enterprises. Pricing tiers are set at two levels: Annual contracts and Quarterly contracts.

  • Spark is the basic version and ranges from $1,195 per month to $2,495 per month and tops out at 100,000 “known leads” in your database. Known leads are contacts in your database with an email address, postal address or phone number.
  • Standard is the next version in the Marketo lineup and ranges from $1,995 per month to $7,195 per month and tops out at 500,000 known leads.
  • Select is the top tier in the small and medium business lineup and ranges from $3,195 to $11,995 per month, topping out at 1 million known leads.
Marketo Costs and Pricing

Marketo Pricing

Discounts for signing an annual contract can be significant, ranging from $240 per month on the low end to $2,400 on the high end.

For a comprehensive review of all pricing and features, you can download Marketo’s pricing and feature options PDF here.

Note: we did not include pricing on the Enterprise version of Marketo

Pardot comes in three versions: Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate. The base pricing for each version includes up to 30,000 database contacts. Additional “blocks” of 30,000 contacts can be purchased for $300 per block per month up to 500,000 contacts – that price drops to $200 for any 30,000 block above 500,000 contacts.  All pricing below reflects an annual contract; billing is quarterly.

  • Professional starts at $1,000 per month.
  • Enterprise starts at $2,000 per month.
  • Ultimate starts at $3,000 per month.
Pardot Costs/Pricing

Pardot Pricing

As you can see from the following chart, Eloqua has 3 main pricing tiers: Marketer, Team, and Enterprise:

Eloqua Cost/Pricing

Eloqua Pricing Chart

7. Total Cost of Ownership

To provide a balanced review of the TCO of these three platforms, we selected the mid-tier package with an annual agreement for each as the basis of our cost calculations.

 

Feature Marketo Standard Pardot Enterprise Eloqua 
Base program cost $3,995 per month $2,000 per month $4,000 per month
Number of users Unlimited1 Unlimited 50
Number of emails sent per month Unlimited Unlimited
Training cost Included Included Included
Integration cost:    
CRM $200 per hour2 $200 per hour2
CMS $200 per hour2 $200 per hour2
Total Annual Cost: $47,940 $27,600  $50,000+

1.                Unlimited marketing users, 10 users for the CRM Sales Dashboard  2. Integrations are not provided by any of the platform providers, this service is typically delivered by the Technology Partners. Light integration projects are usually under 10 hours; complex integration projects can be up to 100 hours or more. A growing number of connectors are being built for the most popular CRM and CMS systems. Consult with a sales rep regarding your particular integration needs to get a referral to the right integration partner.

Problems and Drawbacks of Marketo, Pardot, and Eloqua

As mentioned previously, there is not such thing as “the perfect marketing software.” In fact, in order to keep things as real as it gets, we wanted to put a few “negative” points of these 3 vendors. Keep in mind, if you’re considering one of these companies and they do not currently offer a particular component to their software you desire, you may want to ask if such a feature is in the works and at what point it will be available. That being said, here are some potential drawbacks to consider:

Marketo:

  • Along with Eloqua, it’s one of the most expensive automated marketing software available today, which can lessen the ability of certainly small-mid sized businesses from using the product
  • There are a very small number of actual partners
  • Does not support dynamic website content integration (Smart CTAs)
  • Arguably too Salesforce centric

 Pardot:

  • Not a strong social marketing tool
  • Lead sourcing is also limited to identifying only a single source (if they are a repeat lead, this can be a problem)
  • Only basic lead nurturing is offered

Eloqua:

  • Like Marketo, BIG pricetag
  • Can be slower to implement
  • Does not integrate with PPC/Adwords so as to achieve better ROI metrics for keyword campaigns

Which Software is Best for You?

So the question you may still be asking is, “Which is the best?”

As I said at the beginning of this post, the phrase “best,” at least when it comes to marketing automation software, is extremely relative. This is exactly why you must first develop your wishlist of features, components, and requirements– and then choose the tool that best fits these needs. By so doing, you’re much more likely to get the greatest bang for your buck, and embrace a technology that is becoming more and more mainstream by the day.

Your Turn:

Questions? Comments? Have you ever used any of these software providers? What was your experience like. Jump in folks, your voice matters!





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