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Best Inbound Marketing Software

Traditional marketing is becoming less effective because it interrupts people as wells as not being as cost effective. CEOs demand return on investment on marketing spend and with the fact inbound marketing is 60% more cost effective than traditional (outbound) marketing, it is no wonder why companies are switching to their efforts to inbound marketing.

Firstly to clarify the Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation terms. The term inbound marketing was created by HubSpot and is derived from Seth Godins book Purple Cow on permission marketing. Marketing automation companies are slightly changing their focus to inbound marketing as they have discovered businesses are interested integrating all their marketing activities rather than just nurturing leads.

But what if you don’t have any leads to nurture. You don’t want to use an outbound tactic like buying data – you need to do inbound marketing.

There are many inbound marketing tools out there.

However, what is the best Inbound Marketing Software?


hubspotThe term inbound marketing was created by HubSpot. They created the product from the top down rather than bottom up. What I mean by this is search, blogging, social and then landing pages, nurturing leads and reporting. Pre HubSpot 3 the product was basic and had limited functionality specially in the area of lead nurturing/marketing automation. With HubSpot 3 they have really upped their game and introduced workflows (their marketing automation tool), smart call to actions (CTAs) which show a specific CTA based on the lifecycle of a contact, smart fields/progressive profiling.

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  • HubSpot has a Content Management System (CMS) that provides functionality for your site to be built on or migrated
  • The keyword tool and page manager are ideal for search marketing it offers keyword research tool as well as checking your pages are optimised – page titles and h1 tags and inbound link tracking
  • The blogging platform is very simple to use and gives you lots of hints and tips to optimise your blog.
  • The new social media tool has really impressed users and it is now seen as competition to tools such as HootSuite. You can publish ad schedule messages through all your social media accounts, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and even LinkedIn groups.


  • HubSpot allows you to create call to action (CTA) buttons and landing pages that are critical to the conversion process.  Creating both is an easy process in HubSpot, as is tracking the activity from the pairings.  HubSpot provides functionality in designing campaigns and workflows , although there is no drag and drop capability with which to do so.
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    HubSpot provides custom lead scoring to score leads. Close loop Reporting is also achievable with integration to Salesforce. They provide an open API to integrate with your CRM system but of course you will need a team of developers to help you with this. If you are looking to integrate your CRM they have a marketplace where you can get , integration with CRM.


marketoThis tool and others like it are high end marketing automation tools and their main markets are enterprise businesses. For Marketo if you are an SME then you will be offered Spark which has less functionality but more expensive than others tools.

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Marketo offers what they term ‘social media applications’ in three areas:

  • Social sharing – which offers intelligent share buttons triggered by prospect actions, customisation of the share message and image and the capability to build a database with social profiles and prospects’ sharing behaviour
  • 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


Email – Marketo offers the ability to design emails with a visual drag and drop interface so the user doesn’t need any html skills to build a high quality design. Testing email versions are 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.

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 nice feature is the social sign in its offer as well.

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


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)

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

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


pardotRecently acquired by Salesforce we will soon see how the product changes. It is a good all round tool that uses drag and drop for lead nurturing and emails are what you see is what you get.

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  • Pardot offers a social posting capability that connects with users social accounts and allows for posting to those accounts with custom 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.
  • It has a key word tool that searches keyword volume and monthly searches


  • Pardot also offers a WYSIWYG email design interface, along with 36 pre-built template designs. 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 offers pre-defined templates and a visual drag and drop landing page builder to facilitate landing page creation.  Progressive profiling, dynamic content personalisation 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.
  • 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 customised by adjusting the points assigned to the various activities included in the scoring model.


  • 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.
  • 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.


In conclusion, HubSpot is a simple tool to use for marketers. The other tools give you a broader range of capabilities but HubSpot is a more simplified tool which integrates all aspects of digital marketing.

Also, HubSpot was most recently built – incorporates architecture that others don’t have. Marketo and Pardot were built as marketing automation tools and have ‘added on’ up the funnel activities such as SEO and Social.

HubSpot is the best inbound marketing software because it incorporates all aspects of digital marketing. Pardot was a close second an if the title of this blog was best marketing automation software then Marketo would be the best.

If you need help with your inbound marketing strategy then download our free guide:

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