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Taking Your Marketing Automation To New Heights: Marketing Cloud vs. HubSpot

Marketing Cloud or HubSpot? This is a loaded question, asked by many marketers, with several variables weighing in on the final ruling. I’ve worked extensively with both tools throughout the 11 years of my marketing career, most of which took place within the Salesforce ecosystem, and if I had to give you a recommendation right now, it would be Marketing Cloud.

But before we get into why I consider Marketing Cloud to be the premier marketing platform on the market today, let us first take a look at the history of the products and explore key capability differences as you navigate the many options offered through both tools.


Marketing Cloud was founded in 2000 under the name ExactTarget. Its original focus was marketing across multiple channels (leading the charge for an omnichannel approach to marketing) and was purchased by Salesforce in 2013. Salesforce has spent the last 9+ years continuing to invest and innovate its suite of tools and capabilities for marketing initiatives leveraging the power of data in Salesforce platforms.

HubSpot was founded in 2005 but did not become public until 2014. Its original focus was on Inbound Marketing, but in 2015, HubSpot expanded its suite of tools by offering existing clients a sales platform and a CRM. Since then, HubSpot has been busy adding additional “Hubs” for organizations to use—a Sales Hub, a Service Hub, a CMS Hub, and an Operations Hub. Now it seems the primary focus for HubSpot is not marketing-focused but instead CRM-focused.

Overall Capabilities

Marketing Cloud is a very powerful marketing tool. It’s positioned to sync directly with Salesforce’s robust CRM capabilities but is also able to transform subscriber data from many points of origin. Marketing Cloud is a multi-talented marketing platform that enables your organization to manage the lifecycle of your contacts, at whatever stage they may be, allowing you to listen, create, and deliver engaging content through advertising, automation, web, and mobile channels, all in one platform. I struggle to find something that you can’t do in Marketing Cloud.

HubSpot, now positioned to be a CRM instead of a powerful marketing tool, has a compelling selling point: it’s an all-in-one system. This would be ideal for organizations that have simpler data structures, volume, and have a sales/service-oriented approach to communicating with constituents. You can bring your data in and utilize HubSpot’s proprietary structure for CRM and Inbound Marketing programs. HubSpot, unfortunately, does not have a Nonprofit Hub or an Education Hub. There are great benefits to tapping into industry clouds, like Salesforce Nonprofit and Education Clouds.  If you were to use HubSpot for your nonprofit or institution—you would have to adapt to its sales nomenclature or create a custom architecture to support your data and internal processes. Also, if you’re considering integrating HubSpot with Salesforce, be aware of some of the limitations in the integration, like daily API call limits, the inability to sync campaigns or campaign member data, and duplicate data conflicts.

Standout Functionality

Marketing Cloud’s standout functionality is its versatility with data that can power its suite of tools. It uses tables called data extensions to store detailed information about contacts (or any data you’d like to utilize in your marketing efforts). These data extensions can be standalone or related to other data extensions, which allow you to run queries, relate data, and land on that right segment for your marketing purpose. With Marketing Cloud Connect, the native Marketing Cloud and Salesforce integration, all of the data extensions are sourced from your Salesforce CRM platform, allowing you to sync email tracking data back to Sales Cloud, with several customization options in the connector that allows you to have greater control over what data you want to sync or may not want to sync into Marketing Cloud.

HubSpot’s standout functionality is two-fold, it’s an all-encompassing single source database that’s still highly focused on Inbound Marketing. HubSpot spent 10 years growing its marketing hub before it branched off to include more hubs for Sales, Service, and Operations. Now that it includes more options to help an entire organization work together easier, it’s less focused on innovating marketing functionalities, and because it’s still primarily focused on Inbound Marketing (multi-channel), there are fewer feature-rich options for engaging or re-engaging existing contacts using an omnichannel approach.

Why I Think Marketing Cloud Is the Right Option for Our Nonprofit and Education Customers

Marketing Cloud and HubSpot are both great tools, but Marketing Cloud simply stands out as the more powerful, dynamic, and all-encompassing tool. The ability to maintain versatility and accommodate unique marketing needs across organizations and institutions creates a clear advantage for Marketing Cloud over HubSpot. Above all, Marketing Cloud is intuitive and really quite fun for modern marketers to work with! See Marketing Cloud in Action from our Nonprofit Summit 2021 session with Teach For America.

Curious about what Marketing Cloud can help your nonprofit organization or higher education institution achieve? Contact Cloud for Good a [email protected] to explore your options.

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