Pardot & Act-On are both excellent marketing automation platforms geared towards the small to medium sized business. Both tout their ease of implementation and simple-to-use, intuitive interface. This article offers an in-depth overview of the similarities and differences between these two platforms.
Both products are geared towards the small to medium sized business. These are companies who are want to take advantage of the sophistication of segmentation and lead nurturing programs that are not available in your standard email marketing platform, but don’t have the budget for all the bells and whistles of platforms like Marketo or Eloqua. Both platforms are priced at the lower end of the spectrum, but both have very different pri
Act-On starts at $500 month, with month-to-month contracts. Pricing is based on the number of
active contacts you plan to market to (send e-mails to) in any given month. You may send as many emails as you want to the same people in a given month, but only up to your maximum number of active contacts. This means if you only plan on e-mailing a finite amount of people per month, then you can get marketing automation for as little as $500 a month. Act-On does not price on a per feature basis, all features are included in your monthly price.
Pardot recently changed their pricing model from a number of emails sent pricing model to a database size pricing model. Pricing starts at $1,000 a month for a contact database of 30,000 contacts. “Blocks” of 30,000 contacts are then added for an extra $300/month up to 500,000 and then $200/month extra for blocks of 30,000 over 500,000. Pardot has three pricing levels: Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate. The larger packages have the ability to add more custom fields, add more nurturing programs and landing pages as well as greater API access.
Features & Benefits
The feature sets of Act-On and Pardot vary quite a bit, with Pardot having the leading edge over Act-On with more integration options, more sophisticated website visitor tracking/alerts, and more in-product reporting than Act-On.
First, I’ll go over some of the features that Act-On has that Pardot does not. One really nice feature is that with Act-On you can segment your prospects by the number of emails they’ve opened, clicked-on, been sent, etc. Another nice feature is the ability to select which fields get pushed into your CRM on a list by list basis. You can choose to store certain data only in Act-On and not have it overwrite your CRM data. Whereas, with Pardot the mapping to Salesforce is on the field level and is either pushed in or not pushed in based on the field, not on the list.
However, Pardot far and away has a much wider feature set as well as a bit more sophistication in regards to website visitor alerts, landing page testing, easier WYSIWIG editor and ability to customize HTML within the tool. One of the most frustrating parts of Act-On is trying to build your own landing page templates. Act-On uses what they call “stationery”. To build a customized template in Pardot you can simply load HTML from an existing page on your website and modify it in the system to create a layout template. With Act-On you must build the HTML outside of the system and put it into a .zip file along with any necessary images and upload it to Act-On. If you need to make a change, you must delete the file in Act-On and re-upload it, there is not currently an easy way to edit templates within the tool itself.
Another feature where Pardot takes the lead is web visitor tracking. With Pardot you can get pretty granular with your visitor notifications. You can customize it so that if an existing prospect visits a certain page or downloads a certain resource, that the CRM owner of that record gets notified the moment it happens. With Act-On the visitor alerts are fairly simple. Alerts are sent based on criteria you choose (if someone from X company visits the website, then send alert to X person) and only sent if that person visits any page on your site, you cannot define particular pages or define that it gets sent to the CRM owner of that record.
Landing page testing is another feature that does not yet exist in Act-On, but is built-in to Pardot. With Pardot you can create two or more landing pages and split your traffic to those pages with one URL. This is a great feature for savvy marketers who continually test different forms, different calls-to-action, and different headlines to extract greater value from their marketing campaigns by figuring out what generates more leads.
The final set of features that differentiates these two products is the different integrations offered. The online marketer’s toolchest includes many different types of tools from webinar software, Google Analytics, Google Adwords, online chat software, event registration software, etc. Both products integrate fairly well with the top CRM systems: Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, Sugar CRM as well as webinar software: WebEx, GoToWebinar, etc. However Pardot has many more tools that it integrates with natively: Google Adwords, Google Analytics, Olark, Eventbrite, WebEx, GoToWebinar, Twilio, and coming soon, Wistia. The integrations are really important as it gives the online marketer a holistic view of their marketing campaigns all within one tool.
In summary, if you are researching marketing automation tools and looking at either Pardot or Act-On it will depend on the budget and needs of your marketing department. If you have a small database and just want a little more sophistication than e-mail marketing, go with Act-On. If you have a bit more money in your pocket and would like to bring all your marketing activities under one roof, go with Pardot.
Alison Rouse is the Marketing Automation Manager at a tech startup in Portland, Oregon. With over 10 years experience in marketing, Alison blogs about her passion for database marketing and CRM best practices at www.awkwardalison.com.