Pardot vs. Marketo in 2020: which marketing automation tool is best?

salesforce pardot vs marketo

Pardot vs. Marketo... what’s the best marketing automation software for your business?

The phrase 'work smarter, not harder' might be overused, but it’s also advice to live by for those wanting to boost their productivity at work. It’s what drives a successful business in an age of constant distraction where maintaining focus isn’t getting any easier.

It doesn’t help that the average marketer uses 12 different tools, with around 10% using more than 31. Most marketing teams find themselves juggling with a multitude of different tools and platforms, ranging from CRM to social media to collaboration. So-called software bloat is a real issue and it’s hindering businesses’ abilities to innovate and keep up with the steady pace of change.

An integrated suite of marketing tools can change that, particularly if you include a marketing automation tool that helps eliminate the need for tedious and repetitive tasks and frees up time for you to focus on those who matter most to your business – your customers.


Introducing Pardot and Marketo

Marketo and Pardot are two of the most popular marketing automation suites, especially for enterprise-level organizations. Marketo offers "solutions for every digital marketing need", from lead management to email marketing and account-based marketing. Meanwhile, Pardot is offered by popular CRM software Salesforce to deliver a well-rounded automation solution that seamlessly connects with other Salesforce products.

One thing that Marketo and Pardot have in common is that they are both products acquired by big tech leaders. ExactTarget acquired Pardot in 2012, and Salesforce acquired ExactTarget in June 2013. Marketo was more recently acquired by Adobe in October 2018.

Both Marketo and Pardot have their pros and cons and suit different users. In this post, we’ll be exploring them to help you get a better idea of which automation tool is best for your business between Pardot vs. Marketo.

When to choose Pardot

With its ease of use and out-of-the-box integration with Salesforce, Pardot is ideal for teams that are already using Salesforce's CRM software. Saying that, Pardot can align just as seamlessly with other CRMs by using an iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service). This type of integration, which is what PieSync offers, enables a deep two-way data sync between your apps.

Like Marketo, Pardot is designed for businesses of a certain size – those that are large enough to use a more complex automation tool and not balk at a price tag exceeding $1,250 per month.

Pardot can scale from this starting point to teams of any size, which makes it suitable for businesses anticipating substantial growth as well.

Pardot can be a better choice than Marketo for companies with less bandwidth and in-house expertise. These benefits come with the tradeoff of having fewer automation options, which makes it less compelling an option for highly complex marketing teams and processes.

choosing pardot  

When to choose Marketo

Marketo Engage, now part of Adobe Experience Cloud (and merged with Adobe's previous Engagement Platform), brings together lead management across both sales and marketing. This is designed to "orchestrate personalized experiences, optimize content and measure business impact across every channel, from acquisition to advocacy."

Marketo is usually the best marketing automation software for large enterprises that want a lot of complexity and flexibility.

For high-powered marketing teams that have a lot of processes to automate, Marketo provides a ton of options.

As such, it’s more scalable and more sophisticated than alternatives like Pardot and HubSpot, but these benefits come at a cost that will likely be overkill for smaller companies and those with less internal resources.

choosing marketo

Feature comparison

While HubSpot dominates the marketing automation sector with a 30% market share, Pardot and Marketo Engage are smaller players with a share of 12% and 14% respectively. But that doesn’t mean they’re not able to keep up with the demands of today’s marketing departments.

Both Marketo and Pardot are highly competent for managing the customer journey at every touchpoint, from acquisition to brand advocacy. Here’s a bird’s eye view of what Marketo vs. Pardot automation tools have to offer...  


Deploying any new marketing automation platform can be a major undertaking. The amount of time it takes to get everything up and running depends heavily on the availability of in-house expertise. Some businesses even choose a managed services provider (MSP) to remotely deploy and manage their software for them.

Marketo offers only a very basic level of support with its standard program, but higher support tiers are available, albeit with a big jump in pricing. It’s generally the harder of the two to set up, and onboarding employees with the new software tends to be more time-consuming than with Pardot.

As such, Pardot tends to be the better choice for businesses looking for a solution they can manage themselves, while Marketo is more feature-rich, potentially offering greater long-term value.

Both solutions offer integration with Salesforce and a wide variety of other marketing tools. If you need API access, keep in mind that Pardot’s API is only available for Pro users, starting at $2,000 per month.

Automation features

When it comes to the degree of marketing automation you need, it largely depends on which platforms and processes you’re using. For smaller teams, trying to automate smaller tasks with Pardot or Marketo can be too complicated (look at simpler automation platforms like HubSpot and ActiveCampaign instead), but some tasks become progressively harder to manage at scale.

With Marketo, you can package your advertising campaigns into cohesive programs and clone them for use in multiple workflows. You can also create marketing templates and set up your programs based on those.

marketo campaigns dashboard  

By contrast, Pardot users can tie all their marketing assets, such as social media accounts and paid advertising programs, into a single campaign. But these campaigns cannot be automatically replicated, which means it takes longer to build new ones.

pardot campaigns  

One of the most important features of Pardot is that it synchronizes data with Salesforce CRM in a matter of seconds. Marketo is somewhat slower, but it does offer the benefit of attributing new customers to the specific marketing programs responsible for acquiring them and moving them through the sales funnel.  


Pardot’s workflow system, Engagement Studio, is a powerful tool that’s comparable to HubSpot’s popular workflow functionality with a few more features for advanced users. It's easy to use for sending personalized nurturing campaigns, and you can quickly trigger other internal or external actions based on actions, triggers and rules.

Pardot Engagement Studio  

Marketo's user-friendly workflow tool also enables you to simply trigger actions such as sending emails, adding or removing from lists and programs, sending alerts, and changing data values or lead scores. Simple or advanced workflows can be built using the drag-and-drop workflow builder:

Marketo workflow builder  

Reporting and analytics

You can’t run a successful marketing campaign without real-time analytics and reporting. Both solutions feature dashboards for tracking the performance of your campaigns, including sales reports, automated alerts and split testing.

Although Pardot’s reporting is relatively restrictive, it is highly focused on what’s most relevant to marketing teams. You can tie new acquisitions to your marketing efforts, which gives you the opportunity to repeat what worked before, while further refining the process with A/B tests.

pardot marketing data analytics  

Pardot's full-funnel reporting feature also displays the entire customer journey in a conveniently visualized format:

pardot lifecycle funnel report  

On the other hand, one of the biggest advantages of Marketo is that it excels in helping you find the most effective sales channels and strategies:

marketo analytics  

You can also build reports of varying levels of complexity to share with stakeholders and communicate the performance of your campaigns. Reports and dashboards are extensively customizable and users can view them in Marketo's mobile app provided.

marketo reporting  

In comparison, Pardot doesn’t have a mobile app, although via integration with Salesforce, you can still track performance on your phone too.  

Pricing and scalability

Finally, we come to one of the most important factors of all, and that’s what your budget can accommodate. Both automation softwares are priced for more established businesses: Marketo starts at $895 per month and Pardot at $1,250 per month.

Marketo Engage and Pardot each offer very scalable pricing plans, but Pardot is potentially the more flexible of the two. With Pardot, you can start with one user, paying an extra $50 per month for each additional user. They also offer a refund policy and provide options to package your automation suite with other Salesforce products.

pardot pricing comparison  

Marketo supports up to 10 users, with additional users incurring extra costs based on a customized pricing plan, but it doesn’t offer any refunds. Marketo offers four pricing plans and provides more information about pricing and customization when you contact their sales team.

Marketo Engage pricing

Summary: When to choose Marketo vs. Pardot

Here’s our quick summary of how to decide if Pardot or Marketo is the best marketing automation software for your business:

When to choose MarketoWhen to choose Pardot
You have in-house resources to implement and manage advanced MarTech toolsYou want a marketing automation system you can manage yourself
You want the most feature-rich toolYou want features your team can understand more quickly
You want the most complexity and flexibilityYou want simpler user-experience
You don't have other Salesforce products in your tech stackYou're using other Salesforce products and it'll keep things simpler

Whether you choose Marketo or Pardot as your marketing automation software, make sure to keep your software in sync with the rest of your tech stack to avoid messy contact management.

With PieSync, it's simple to set up two-way syncs that keep your contacts freely moving between apps. You can get started now with a free trial.

About Lucy Fuggle

Lucy Fuggle writes for PieSync, the two-way contact sync tool for hundreds of apps. She also works with her clients to make their brand matter with a content-rich marketing strategy.