OpGen Media: Marketing Ops & Demand Generation Insights

HubSpot vs. Act-On — What Is the Best Choice For Your Business?

May 20, 2019 3:10:20 PM / by Ryan Bozeman

Choosing the right digital marketing and automation software is an important choice. It sets the stage for the future of your digital operations — what campaigns you run, what channels you focus on, and how you scale your marketing efforts are all affected by your choice.

HubSpot and Act-On are two of the most popular digital marketing software solutions on the market today. They occupy a similar space and each has its pros and cons. Deciding which software you’d like to use to power your marketing operations requires that you dive a bit deeper than reading the home page.

In this article, we’ll weave a combination of our personal experiences with both platforms and public reviews together to compare and contrast the two platforms. This article is designed to help give you a big picture understanding of the differences between the two platforms and help you make the best possible choice for your business.

Big Picture Differences

While there are many similarities between HubSpot and Act-On, there are some big differences between the two platforms as well. The platform that you choose should depend on your company’s internal needs, current resources, and planned future strategies. In this section, we’ll cover some of the big differences between HubSpot and Act-On. Both solutions strive to offer an all-in-one platform that provides all major features to marketing and sales teams.

Let’s dive into the big picture differences between the two:

Experienced vs. New Marketers

While both platforms do strive to offer comprehensive solutions, Act-On certainly seems like a solution that would be more useful to new marketers, rather than experienced professionals. While Act-On’s feature set is certainly enough to cover the bases, marketers that are looking for “enhanced” or “sophisticated” functionality, personalization, and customization may find that they outgrow Act-On as their needs become more complex.

Some examples of where Act-On falls short in its offered featured compared to HubSpot include:

  • A lack of detailed funnel analytics. While Act-On does provide basic information about leads generated and their place in your funnel, it falls a bit short in its funnel reporting features. The platform provides no closed-loop analytics without integration from a third-party CRM platform.
  • No real-time Salesforce integration. While Act-On does integrate with Salesforce, it only pulls data and updates once every four hours. While this may be fine for small and mid-sized businesses, larger and more agile companies need a real-time solution to increase conversions and reduce missed opportunities. .
  • Less precise lead attribution and conversion data. Act-On does provide plenty of basic conversion and usage data for landing pages but doesn’t dive deep into the lead attribution or channels that those conversions came from. This means that for truly deep conversion tracking with Act-On, you’ll need to use integration with a third-party conversion tracking solution to utilize that data.
  • Lead scoring is limited. Act-On limits its lead scoring to native Act-On fields. For some companies that’s fine. But, if you are coming from another solution with customized fields, you won’t be able to import those into Act-On. For companies that rely on custom fields, this is a big problem that requires them to re-think their whole lead scoring strategy and related processes to use Act-On’s lead scoring system.
  • Lack of social media features. Act-On does include the ability to publish to Twitter and other social media platforms but doesn’t offer much beyond that. One notable feature that is missing is social listening, giving users the ability to monitor activity on social media and respond to topics related to their business.

So, as you can see, Act-On does leave users wanting in some areas. These are some of the reasons why we typically recommend HubSpot over Act-On. But that isn’t to say that Act-On isn’t a solid solution — it is. However, most businesses will find they outgrow the system as increased functionality is needed to scale their organization.

It’s for this reason that we say that Act-On might be a platform that is better suited for new marketers and companies that are just getting their operations off the ground. Keeping in mind they might have to upgrade systems sooner rather than later. Act-On’s pricing starts at $900 per month, which is comparable to HubSpot’s $800 per month price for their full marketing suite. However, HubSpot recently debuted a $50 per month option that offers a very limited feature set, which could represent a great way to try the platform out without making a large commitment.

Analytics & Reporting

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One area where HubSpot stands heads and shoulders above Act-On is in its detailed analytics and reporting features.

HubSpot has the goal of making all of your relevant marketing (and sales) data available from a simple and centralized interface. Their analytics and reporting systems are deep. Their baseline reports cover all of the KPIs and metrics most businesses will need, but HubSpot also offers deep custom reporting features that allow them to deep-dive into their marketing operations and identify areas for improvement.

Act-On’s base reports are excellent as well. They are decently deep and provide access to more data than most third party systems like Google Analytics. For most businesses, Act-On’s analytics and reporting features will be more than enough. However, for more seasoned marketers their system might prove to be a bit too simplistic.

For instance, Act-On doesn’t allow users to see how the different channels within a multi-channel campaign are performing in real time. For high-spend, fast-moving campaigns, it’s critical that decisions are made using up to date information. Their system also requires that users use manual tracking URLs. To match the functionality brought to the table by HubSpot, Act-On users would need to use multiple third-party integrations.

While both tools offer excellent basic reporting, more seasoned marketers will find that they quickly outgrow the features offered by Act-On.

Pricing

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HubSpot and Act-On are comparable when it comes to pricing. HubSpot’s Marketing Hub plan costs $800 per month and gives you access to most of their major marketing features. HubSpot also makes their CRM software available for free for life. Their Enterprise plan is available for $3,200 per month. That gives users access to advanced features like predictive lead scoring, content partitioning, YouTube integration, and more. However, access to HubSpot’s SalesHub starts at $50 per month for a limited version, the base version of the software is $400 per month, while sales features are built into the base Act-On subscription.

Act-On’s base plan is available for $800 and includes all of the basic marketing and sales features included in their solution. They also offer an Enterprise plan for $2,000 per month that provides more marketing and sales users within the system.

While we mentioned earlier that HubSpot does offer a $50 plan (for each of their Marketing, Sales, and Support Hubs), those plans are severely limited. In truth, they are more like a trial. The full feature set is where the value lies and we don’t recommend that our clients start with the $50 plan, outside of signing up to get a better understanding of the solution. We see the Professional plan typically serve all our clients needs from a feature set perspective.

Support and Documentation

For companies that have never invested in a comprehensive marketing and sales platform, support and documentation is an important consideration. You’ll likely run into some problems and misunderstandings as you begin to use the software.

When you run into issues, you want to make sure that you have the support that you need to figure out the problem and move forward. This is one of the reasons why we recommend HubSpot so highly, their support is unmatched .

HubSpot offers full unmetered support through phone, web, and Twitter. There is no difference in priority for higher paying customers. This multi-channel approach makes it easy to get in contact with their team and secure the help that you need to keep things moving smoothly. Their technical support team is top notch and will even get their hands dirty by helping companies to solve technical issues themselves. OpGen Media also offers a troubleshooting and maintenance retainer package where we will work with you hand in hand to pinpoint, resolve and prevent any system issues. We have have many clients who find this valuable as it adds an additional security net from the subject matter experts who built and optimized their system.

Act-On is also known for their excellent support. They offer full phone and email support during business hours and according to online reviews, are very responsive and quick to answer questions. They also have a technical support team available to help with platform adoption.

If your company needs a more comprehensive support solution, Act-On has support upgrades available. For $6,000 per year, you can gain unlimited access to their university and community, and 24x7 phone, web, and email support, instead of only being able to contact support during business hours. This upgrade also places your questions in a separate queue that leads to even faster response times. With the upgrade, users gain access to their customer success team as well, which can help you to make the most of the platform, but the cost can be too steep for some companies.

Training & Documentation

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Both HubSpot and Act-On really have it down when it comes to training and documentation. In fact, many would say that they are the two leaders in this space.

HubSpot offers more than 1,5000 articles and more than 20 user guides in their Knowledge Base. These extensive guides walk you through many of the most popular features and functions within the platform, step-by-step. Customers also gain access to the strategy-focused Academy, where a wide range of courses and guides are available on marketing, sales, and customer service topics. HubSpot allows you to keep track of your progress and earn certifications in a wide variety of subjects, making it a great training tool for employees as well.

Act-On also offers a huge number of guides and how-to articles in their “University” page. The “University” page separates this content by the different popular features that the platform offers to make it easy to find the guides that you need. Their “Resource Library” features more than 400 strategy-focused articles and podcasts. They also offer a “Video Learning” page that features webinars and short information videos that teach you how to use their software.

When it comes to training and documentation, one platform doesn’t really stand above another here. They are both excellent and provide a wealth of educational content that can help you to learn how to use their platform and make the most of it with modern strategies.

Critical Reception

Both platforms have been heralded by critics and online reviewers alike. Both companies receive high scores across most platforms, with generally positive reviews from their users. However, HubSpot does seem to come out on top in this area.

This shows that both platforms are valued within the marketing industry, but HubSpot clearly has an edge over Act-On.

An Important Choice

Choosing the right marketing automation software is critical. The decision will drive your internal processes, strategies, and employee training programs. While there is no “wrong” choice between HubSpot and Act-On, here at OpGen Media, we typically recommend HubSpot to our clients. It’s simply the more scalable platform, driven by its deep feature set and easy to use interface.

Topics: Marketing Operations

Ryan Bozeman

Written by Ryan Bozeman