In Marketing Automation, Marketing Technology blog & podcasts, Marketing Techonology

Act-On Software vs. Salesforce Pardot

When considering a marketing automation platform there are tons of vendors available. In this blog series, we are comparing the most chosen platforms. In this episode, we’re comparing Act-On marketing automation to Salesforce Pardot. First of all, you’ll get a brief overview of both platforms, followed by the key differences.

Salesforce Pardot – overview

Salesforce Pardot is the B2B marketing automation solution within the extensive Salesforce Marketing Cloud. It enables you to perform most inbound marketing actions, including lead management, managing your pipeline, email, and drip/nurturing campaigns and -of course- it’s integrated into your Salesforce CRM. A brief overview is given in the video below:

According to research and reviews, done by Gartner, 67% of users would recommend Pardot to others:

Source: Gartner.com

Act-On overview

Act-On is an independent marketing automation vendor, it is not associated with any other CRM vendor. In June 2020 company has updated the platform and has also renewed its branding and website. For your convenience, we have created a 17-minute video that demonstrates all the capabilities in short:

According to research and reviews, done by Gartner, 78% of users would recommend Act-On to others:

Source: Gartner.com

Act-On vs. Salesforce Pardot – the key differences

At a high level, the 2 marketing automation solutions seem to be identical in their specs. As with most software solutions, the devil is in the detail. Adopting a marketing automation platform is a long-term choice and you don’t want to change platforms the first years after you’ve implemented it. So, below we give the key differences that users will have to take into account when comparing Act-On to Pardot.

Email marketing: Act-On vs. Pardot

Both platforms support email marketing. They both have a what-you-see-is-what-you-get editor (WYSIWYG). The difference, however, is that Act-On has a fully functional drag-and-drop editor. Both for building the emails themselves as for building templates. So, in practice this means that you can easily build your own templates in Act-On, using drag-and-drop, whereas with Pardot your templates require HTML knowledge, and templates are usually built by professionals.

A screenshot from the Act-On editor:

Another nice feature within Act-On is the adaptive sending. This is artificial intelligence being put into practice. The feature enables you to send out an email campaign over a given period and Act-On will send each recipient their email at the time they a most likely to open it. This timing is a result of previous opens, web visits, and other behavior.

CRM integration: Act-On vs. Pardot

Obviously Salesforce Pardot only integrates with Salesforce CRM. So, when you’re a Salesforce user you can connect Pardot, and the 2 work seamlessly. The following functionalities are available:

  • Sync leads bidirectional (based on lead scoring)
  • Enable you to create leads, contacts, tasks, and calls in Salesforce
  • The online touchpoints (as recorded in Pardot) will be visible within Salesforce
  • Reporting on all kinds of level, especially to report on ROI
  • Send tracked emails

All the functionality mentioned above is available for 100% within Act-On as well. The big difference is that Act-On has native integrations to other CRM vendors as well. So, should you ever want to move away from Salesforce, or you are using another platform you’re not limited. Act-On has the following native (deep) CRM integrations:

  • Salesforce
  • MSDynamics
  • SugarCRM
  • Infor
  • Netsuite

Setting up the CRM integration takes only 45 minutes.

We have a blog describing all the advantages of integrating automation and CRM.

Webinar integration: Act-On vs. Pardot

Both systems have native integrations to webinar platforms. Other integrations are available through Zapier. Native integrations include major vendors like Webex and GotoWebinar. Here, the devil really is in the detail. Although both platforms have integrations, only Act-On really enables you to do the complete email flows (including the recording as a follow-up) from the automation platform.

In practice, this means that you could use the actual info from the webinar, including data from polls and chats, in a personalized way to follow up. If you have used a multiple-choice question (like yes, no, maybe) poll, for example, the specific answers can be used to build a personal email as a follow-up: people that have answered “yes”, will get different blocks of content in their email than people that answered “no” or “maybe”. Also, you’ll be able to use this for lead scoring.

We ran a webinar on this topic:

Costs: Act-On vs. Pardot

Looking at costs, you need to take the following aspects into consideration:

  • Software license: both Pardot and Act-On have monthly pricing which is invoiced on a yearly basis. Act-On starts at $900 (€875) per month, this includes webinar integration but CRM requires an additional fee (around $300 per month), in total your investment would be from $1500 monthly when using all functions mentioned above. When looking for similar functionality in Pardot you would need the ‘Plus’ module, which starts at $2500 monthly. Both of the solutions are charging based on contacts. also here, there is a big difference:
    • Act-On charges your Active contacts: Active Contacts are based on the number of contacts you engage within a given month — not the size of your database. Your database might include millions of contacts, but you might include only 50% of them in your campaigns. Act-On fees are based on the volume of active contacts rather than the sum number in your marketing database.
    • Pardot charges on your full database size
  • Onboarding costs: both solutions require onboarding. Depending on your needs (basic or full help with strategy) this varies from $5,000-$15,000 for both platforms.
  • TCO: your total cost of ownership also depends on the external (consultancy) costs and internal resources. With Pardot you probably will be looking at consultancy costs for developing email and landing page templates (around $2000 per template on average), whereas with Act-On you’ll probably do these things in house and you need te take those costs into account.

Considering Pardot or Act-On?

We help companies to select the right marketing automation platform, onboard and implement the software and support to get the most from the solution. Interested in learning more? Schedule a free 30-minute consultancy below: