Pardot vs HubSpot Comparison Guide Part 1



Part 1 – Pardot vs HubSpot Comparison Guide:  Segmentation


As a demand generation agency, we at Invado Solutions are consistently asked for comparisons between different marketing automation platforms.  Having been in the marketing automation space for the past 20 years we can confidently say that 90% of marketers’ challenges are due to their lack of strategy rather than the marketing automation platform that they’ve chosen.


That being said, there are fundamental differences in the functionality that make some systems shine.


In this multi-part blog series, we’re going to explore how Pardot and HubSpot compare to one another.  Today’s blog – Marketing Segmentation


Every marketer knows that segmentation is critical to any marketing strategy. Segmentation use cases may examples include:


  • Delivering targeted content to different personas
  • Engaging buyers with custom messages depending on where they are at in the Buyer’s Journey.
  • Providing sales qualified engaged leads (vs unqualified).
  • Removing competitors from your email campaigns


The segmentation needs are never-ending and in 2022, buyers are now, more than ever, expecting an uber personalized experience that is relevant to them.  So how can this be achieved? More importantly, how can this process be optimized within your respective marketing automation tool like Pardot or HubSpot and (the de facto CRM solution)

Pardot Dynamic Lists vs HubSpot Active Lists


To start, there is a caveat when it comes to the terminology. In Pardot, lists that run off of logic rules are referred to as Dynamic Lists whereas the proper comparative term in HubSpot is Active Lists. The goals in both Pardot and HubSpot are to continuously and automatically update the number of contacts based on a defined series of logical rules using AND/OR statements. At the core, the dynamic and active lists are the same but there are some noteworthy differences.


Pardot has 34 types of logic to choose from when it comes to starting to build a dynamic list. This massive array of options allows for never ending possibilities in terms of segmented lists that you may be trying to build.  While we cannot explore all of the options, let this be a reminder of how many different ways data can be sliced within Pardot. Dynamic lists can do any of the obvious segmentation (e.g. standard objects, all fields) but also have the ability to segment by Salesforce Custom Objects for marketers using (the majority).


HubSpot has 20 logic options to pick from to create an active list (far fewer than Pardot).  While they function the same as Pardot Dynamic Lists there is one minor difference worth noting.  Exactly like Pardot dynamic lists, HubSpot active lists automatically update so records can come and go based on whether they meet the criteria at that given time.


Based on the significant number of segmentation options that Pardot offers here (34 v 20) Pardot really shines over HubSpot here.


Another powerful Pardot Segmentation feature is called Split Action.  This allows marketers to randomly divide a list into two or more new lists for easy testing. HubSpot doesn’t have this feature which can be limiting to marketers looking at testing different scenarios. In HubSpot, splitting needs to be done manually, which can be a time-consuming process.


As we look at segmentation at both marketing automation platforms It’s important to understand best practices when it comes to actually building the segmentation logic. Pardot has rule groups, which enables marketers to build a series of criteria while reducing the friction of combining ‘match all’ and ‘match any’ requirements. The recommendation would be, if your logic mixes and matches, then start the build by using a rule group! If not, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll get far in your build and then realize you cannot achieve what you are looking for without a rule group. Rule groups give that flexibility needed when building list logic within Pardot! One other advantage that Pardot dynamic lists offer that HubSpot active lists lack is that Active lists don’t provide a sneak peek feature of the number of total prospects vs. mailable prospects.


PARDOT PRO TIP: For all you marketers that decide to go with Pardot:  If you are ever looking to build a dynamic list in Pardot you may notice that there is no Prospect Email Clicks filter.   As an easy work around you can create a custom redirect filter that allows you to track any link on your site OR via a third-party site so you can segment.


One minor difference with HubSpot active lists is that you can view the number of assets (e.g. workflows) that are attached to the list right from the primary list view. In Pardot, you have to drill into the respective list and go to the ‘Usage’ tab.   To the first-time user, this may prove to be a little cumbersome, but once you get used to the experience it becomes simple to navigate.



Tags vs HubSpot Custom property with multiple checkboxes as the field type


The concept of traditional tags that are used in Pardot do not exist in HubSpot. To achieve such tag-like functionality in HubSpot, you need to create a custom ‘tag’ field that will be a field type of multiple checkboxes so you can apply multiple tags to one contact.


Pardot Tags are extremely powerful but underutilized in our opinion.  While almost all Pardot users use tags, some tend to let tagging get out of hand via duplicates and/or just don’t optimize this underrated feature. That being said, things could be different if Pardot admins took the time to create a tagging strategy that makes sense for the respective company’s segmentation structure. A lot of Pardot users miss out on the chance to automate tagging processes via Pardot Engagement Studio programs and/or Pardot automation rules. Whether you only use tags to stamp certain milestones or to pause/unpause prospects within a nurture, a tagging strategy is the key to success.


Chances are, no matter what you’re working with Pardot, you can tag it. That includes forms, form handlers, landing pages, segmentation rules, Engagement Studio programs, lists, prospects, files and more. That allows you to link different assets to the same marketing initiative. This is great but it needs to be the users who create the tagging strategy. Far too often Pardot users will create ‘one off’ tags that will never be used again. This is not recommended as it leads to duplicated tags. It is recommended to have standard naming convention, a universal tag spreadsheet that is shared with the team. Reviewing Pardot tags on a quarterly basis should be added to the end of quarter data cleanup task. This process will keep track of each tag that is within Pardot. Pardot does recognize tags can get messy rather quickly; therefore, you can easily merge multiple tags together from the Tags interface!


PARDOT PRO TIP: Tags ARE NOT substitutes for a proper naming convention or folder structure. Tags should be an ancillary feature used to maximize segmentation capabilities within Pardot.


It’s well documented that there’s no tagging feature like Pardot’s within HubSpot. There’s no tagging of lists, forms, programs, etc. All of that organization is managed via a combination of foldering, naming conventions, the Personas feature and/or HubSpot campaigns.


That being said, there’s certainly an accepted workaround when it comes to tagging contacts in HubSpot. You need to create a custom property to use as your universal tagging field. This property (field) type must be multiple checkboxes and it must be named appropriately (e.g. Master Tag). It’s usually best to have this tag field available on the contact record view (the sidebar). Once created, you can set any tags you want manually on the contact record, via the combination of an active list and workflow or via import.


Pardot Segmentation Rules vs Hubspot Contact/Company Views, Filters and Actions


We always want things fast in our microwave society and unlike a lot of marketing execution, not everything is going to take a strategic discussion. Sometimes you just need to make one off updates that make a big difference. For example, you need to add a group of prospects to a Salesforce campaign with the respective campaign member status after an event or webinar. Other use cases include the need to add/remove tags from a group of prospects or the need to add/remove a subset of prospects from a list on a one-off occurrence.


The important thing to remember is that Pardot segmentation rules only run once whereas Pardot automation rules continuously run. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself whether you need to run your respective action only one time. If yes, segmentation rules should be your option.


PARDOT PRO TIP: Within Pardot segmentation rules, you do have a limited number of actions available to choose from when compared to Pardot automation rules. At the moment, segmentation rule actions include add/remove list, add to CRM campaign and apply/remove tags.


In HubSpot the equivalent to execute the same type of segmentation you need to navigate to the default Contacts or Companies or Deals view, you can filter to only the contacts (companies, deals) you want to see based on logic. The easiest way is to just create an active list and then choose the ‘list membership’ filter within the respective default view. Once that process is complete, you can edit columns to only show the properties you want to see within the respective view. In this example, let’s say we are on the Contacts view. We are ready to select all because we’ve filtered down the scope.


Here we can take any of the following actions you can take via the default Contacts view:

  • Add contacts to a static list
  • Enroll contacts in a workflow
  • Edit Communication Subscriptions
  • Enroll in a Sequence (if applicable)
  • Set as Marketing contact or non-Marketing contact (if applicable)


Some marketers find this Hubspot process a bit more user friendly but at same time they can find the approach limiting.


In Part 2 of the Pardot vs Hubspot series we’ll look at one of the most important aspects of demand generation – marketing reporting

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