Marketo Spark vs. Pardot: Comparison of Top Marketing Automation Providers

Posted by Michael Neubarth
Michael Neubarth
Michael Neubarth is Vice President of Marketing for and founder and Director of eMatrix Media Comm...
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on Wednesday, 04 January 2012 in Comparz Blog

With its new Spark offering, Marketo has taken aim at marketing automation competitors in the small business space, among them Pardot.


How do Marketo Spark and Pardot compare?


As analyst David Raab notes, “the news here is price.” Spark starts at $750 per month for 30,000 emails per month, and is obviously positioned to undercut Pardot’s entry-level Professional edition, which is priced at $1,000 per month for the same 30,000 emails per month.


Pardot has carved out a niche by providing an all-in-one marketing automation solution for companies of about 20 to 200 employees that want to move away from standalone email marketing, lead management, and web analytics to a single comprehensive solution. Pardot’s main selling points are competitive pricing, easier setup and learning curve, and very good support.

Marketo, meanwhile, has made its name as a leader in the higher end of the market (its flagship Professional Edition is $2,000 per month), offering enterprise solutions that are generally seen as relatively easier to deploy but less robust than solutions from Eloqua.


With Spark, Marketo has made setup and configuration easier through online tutorials. Marketo also includes one-on-one mentoring sessions with marketing experts as part of Spark subscriptions. However, enterprises often hire consultants to configure these types of marketing automation systems, and smaller businesses with limited resources may still find Spark challenging.


A feature-by-feature comparison shows that Marketo  Spark and Pardot offer essentially the same basic menu of marketing automation capabilities—email marketing, landing pages and forms, lead nurturing, lead grading and scoring, integration with leading CRM systems, social media features, and reporting and analytics.


With Spark, Marketo has made its low-end offering more attractive by discontinuing its $1,200 per month Small Business Edition and adding features that the older offering lacked.


In assessing Marketo Spark, Raab finds that “the bottom line is that similar capabilities were already available at a similar price point from Marketo and others. Spark just doesn't change much.”

However, a $250 per month savings may be enough to sway price-conscious small business users towards Marketo Spark.

Bottom Line: As Raab points out, there is a surprisingly wide variation in the specific features available in different products, and the best way to choose a system is to identify your particular requirements, then evaluate and select the system that best meets those needs. 

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Michael Neubarth is Vice President of Marketing for and founder and Director of eMatrix Media Communications. Michael has a comprehensive marketing, communications, PR, analytical, and editorial background, including strategic marketing, communications, and market intelligence roles at IBM, FatWire Software, and Brodeur Worldwide, and as an analyst at Meta Group covering advanced technologies. His experience includes roles as editor-in-chief of Internet World, NetGuide, and Windows magazines, and expert contributor to Michael is a well-known writer on information technology, digital marketing, and social media issues, and his articles and blogs are cited widely online.


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