Ivo Campos - Marketing Automation

Hubspot Vs Pardot (Part I): Lead scoring and grading

Let’s start comparing Pardot and Hubspot by taking automatic lead scoring into account, as this should be the basis of any Marketing Automation tool. Ultimately, automatic lead scoring will enable you to pinpoint the potential clients that you should be notifying your sales team about, and when you need to assign these clients to them. In addition to this, you can also use this system to define the best marketing procedures to help you get to know the user better and to get them interested in your product. If you’d like to learn more about automatic lead scoring, then this article on the Double II approach will be a useful guide for you.

Before I start, I want to clarify a few things regarding the content of this post:

  • I’ll be focusing on the traditional model of scoring and grading, without taking into account the new predictive scoring models from Hubspot or Pardot (Einstein).
  • I’m mainly using Pardot Professional and Hubspot Enterprise at the moment, and so I’ll be using these plans’ features to make my comparisons
  • Marketing automation tools like Pardot and Hubspot enable you to customize natively in a variety of ways, as well as carrying out development work. If you know of any other valid methods to carry out the tasks that I’ll mention, then please get in touch and leave a comment.
  • I don’t intend this article to be used as a guide on how to create a scoring or lead rating system. However, what I will do is to compare both tools. If you’d like to find out more about them then here’s a guide to Pardot, and this article is all about Hubspot.

» More info: Read this post with some Hubspot scoring tips.

I’ll now start to compare the two products:

Separating concepts: Scoring and Grading

Here we have the first big difference between the two tools. When you use Pardot, you’ll see that it makes a clear distinction between the concepts of scoring and grading:

  • Scoring: This is based on the user’s activity, and the rating takes into account how they respond to the brand’s strategies or how interested they are in the product.
  • Grading: This is based on the user’s profile, and on how interesting they could be for your company.

Hubspot, on the other hand, has only one field which they call Hubspot Score. However, this doesn’t mean that you’re limited in any way. Hubspot is actually more flexible than Pardot in many aspects, and this is one of them. You can use Hubspot Score to measure the user’s activity and create a Score-type field called Grade. With this Grade, you can then evaluate your users’ criteria and award them a corresponding score based on that.

lead scoring hubspot
Creating the Score-type field in Hubspot

winner lead scoringWinner – Scoring and Grading: Pardot

In my opinion, not differentiating between these two concepts can create an inaccurate lead qualification model. For example, let’s say I work in a SaaS company that uses an Enterprise product. I’ve just launched an eBook, which not only appeals to my target audience, but also to students, who will normally be considered disqualified leads. If the lead scoring is carried out using just a single metric – scoring – then they’ll receive a low rating based on their student profile. However, their online activity will cause their scoring to increase, which means that some leads will start to be assigned to the sales team erroneously.

The same thing can happen the other way round. Let’s take the example of a B2B company, where I’d like to target C-Level executives. They’ll probably use my website very little, and won’t respond to my marketing actions. So, by only taking the one metric into account, the lead will receive a low rating, even though their profile should have been of great interest to the sales team.

Grading: Creating your Personas

Pardot has a specific section where you create your Personas, called Profiles. In each Profile, you can specify which criteria are of most importance, and these will form the basis for the lead scoring when grading is implemented.

Profile Pardot lead scoring
An example of a Profile page on Pardot

Hubspot has a Persona field, which is where you can classify your contacts. In order to start using this field, you’ll have to create all the profiles and then add different information such as “Goals”, “Challenges”, etc. You can then edit the contacts manually or use a workflow to assign them a Persona.

winner lead scoringWinner – Profile Creation: Pardot

Although Hubspot has the option to create Personas, as far as I’m concerned it isn’t very practical and is less focused on ratings. The fact that Pardot allows you to use the Profile as the basis for lead scoring makes it more useful in this sense.

Grading: updating automated processes

After you’ve created the Profiles in Pardot, you’ll have to create Automation Rules. These rules will evaluate your potential clients’ criteria, in order to assign them a Profile. As well as that, you’ll be able to specify how to increase and decrease their grading, depending on how they fulfill those criteria. However, there’s a risk that you could end up using up a lot of automation rules here, depending on the number of Profiles you have, and their corresponding criteria. These rules are limited, and depend on which Pardot plan you decide to purchase.

Hubspot allows you to set up a maximum of 100 automation rules within the Score field. These can be both positive and negative rules in order to define the grading, and, within them, you can set up a large number of possibilities.

winner lead scoring

Winner – Automation Processes: Hubspot.

Pardot’s limited number of automated rules isn’t the only reason that it has lost this section, but also the fact that creating each of the rules can be quite tedious and time-consuming.

Understanding each user’s individual grading

You may want to understand why a user has a specific grading, or you may find errors in some of your leads and want to update them manually (obviously you’ll only do this when there aren’t many leads and when you don’t need to change the general rules for all leads).

In Pardot, there’s a dedicated user’s profile tab, where you’ll be able to see all the different criteria that have come together to give them their current grading. This tab also offers you the option to modify these criteria. By clicking on the thumbs up icons, you can “match” the criteria and thus improve the grading, or, alternatively, use the thumbs down icons to decrease the grading.

Hubspot doesn’t let you change the grading manually. However, within the Score field, you’ll find an option to “test” a user and there you’ll be able to understand which rules have caused their grading to either increase or decrease.

Testing grade Hubspot
In Hubspot Score you can test a contact

WinnerWinner – Understanding your users’ gradings: Pardot

Having compared the grading, or the ratings based on the users’ profiles, we’re now going to compare our leads’ scoring and activity:

Basic scoring to get started

Pardot suggests a default general scoring rating which you can then modify depending on your company or project’s specific characteristics. What Pardot does is to propose a list of actions and a different score for each one. For example, if a user completes a form, then they’ll receive 50 points, and for every page they visit they’ll receive one point. You can then change that scoring system based on the marketing actions your company takes.

Basic Pardot scoring
Pardot has a basic lead scoring system which you can edit

Hubspot doesn’t have a default lead scoring system, but it does allow you to create one according to your needs.


Winner – Basic lead scoring: Pardot

One of the main challenges we can find in B2B companies is not knowing how to start creating a lead scoring model. Having a framework to work with, even if it isn’t necessarily customized to your business, can help to give you an idea of actions that might be relevant for your company.

Let’s take a case in point. Some users may be getting high lead rating scores without being particularly active on my site. If that’s the case, then I can start to think about assigning fewer points to actions that have little relevance for my company, as well as those that don’t necessarily show an interest in my business.

Scoring Categories: Categorizing the users’ interests

Pardot’s Scoring Category is a very useful tool in this respect. You can define themes or areas of interest (a usage scenario for your product, for example), and then evaluate the response you receive from your leads, based on these specific categories. By doing this, you’ll be able to understand which topics are most relevant to your users and then personalize the content based on this information.

Pardot Scoring Categories
Create your own Scoring Category with automated processes or by adding Folders

Hubspot doesn’t have this default option, but, thanks to its flexibility, it does allow you to create something similar.

Winner Winner – Categorizing lead scoring: Pardot

Updating the scoring during specific campaigns

Pardot allows you to influence either the lead scoring or the category lead scoring when you launch special marketing campaigns. For example, if you send out emails announcing a new product launch, then you can assign more points to contacts who click on this email or who fill in a form.

The only way you can do this on Hubspot is by modifying the rules in the Hubspot Score field. This won’t be a problem if you’re able to manage to correctly categorize the elements of your campaigns, but there’s always a greater risk that this modification will affect all your leads, rather than just the ones you’re interested in for a specific campaign

Winner Winner – Updating scoring during specific campaigns: Pardot

Evaluating a user’s activity during a specific time period

This can be a useful option if you want to evaluate and rate the user’s activity during a specific time period (for example, the users who have visited the pricing page in the last 30 days).

Pardot doesn’t offer this option directly. The only way you can get around this is by creating custom fields and applying automated rules to them, but then we’re back to the problem of the limited automated processes again.

Hubspot, on the other hand, allows you to evaluate the user’s activity not only during a specific time period, but also according to the number of times they’ve visited a specific page.

Winner Winner – Evaluating a user’s activity during a specific time period: Hubspot

Resetting the scoring to zero

Sometimes you’ll want to delete a contact or prospective client and start over again with their lead scoring. Let’s take the example of a user who became a Sales Qualified Lead or an Opportunity a year ago, but nothing came out of it. After a while, you’ll want to re-evaluate their interest in doing business with you, and you can do this by resetting their lead scoring and starting again from scratch.

Pardot allows you to do just that, and you can select one or more contacts and then create an automated rule to reset their lead scoring to zero. However, you need to bear in mind that this action is irreversible.

Hubspot, on the other hand, doesn’t offer you the option to do this, but it’s something that several users have requested, and so you can vote here to ask them to develop this feature.

Winner Winner – Resetting lead scoring to zero: Pardot

Using regular expressions (Regex) to evaluate scoring

When trying to evaluate a user’s activity, you may have to carry out some quite complex page searches, especially on sites with several sub-domains. In these situations, regular expressions are extremely useful.

There’s a basic option in Pardot called Page Actions that will help you to do this. By using the asterisk sign (*) you can include all the pages within a particular directory. By way of an example, if you create the rule domain.com/directory/* , then the user’s lead scoring will be affected when they visit any page within the sub-domain directory.

In Hubspot, you have the option to create lists using Regex, which will help you set up quite complex page searches. After doing that, you can then integrate those lists into Hubspot Score.

Winner Winner – Using Regex: Hubspot.

Scoring: Using web events

Another easy way to understand your user’s online activity in more detail is by using web events. These web events could be when a user watches a video, closes a modal, or clicks on an element on the website. Finding out more details about these user activities can be a very beneficial marketing automation tool.

Pardot doesn’t have the option to detect these web events.

Hubspot, on the other hand, does give you this option. Your IT team will be able to help you detect these events, create lists, and use them to influence user scoring.

Hubspot web events Lead scoring
After configuring your events on the web, create Active Lists in Hubspot

Winner Winner – Using web events: Hubspot.

Scoring: Integrating other tools to rate leads

Pardot is rather limited in its ability to use connectors. In many cases, you’ll need to use Zapier type tools to be able to connect to another tool and then read the activity.

In Hubspot, there are plenty of integrations that will allow you to create lists, and thus influence your users’ ratings.

Hubspot App Marketplace

Winner Winner – Integrating with other tools: Hubspot

In conclusion

To sum up, both tools are very powerful and yet both have their pros and cons. It all comes down to your specific needs and what features you value most.

My overall opinion is that Pardot has more native options to help you rate your users.

Hubspot, on the other hand, seems much more flexible in many ways, with more ways of integrating with other tools.

I’m leaving you with an infographic that summarizes where each tool has the advantage over the other, as regards rating and grading your leads. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment if you’d like to give your opinion on other features that are important to you in either Pardot or Hubspot, as well as those I’ve already discussed in this article.

Part 2: Emailing

Which Marketing Automation tool does it better?

Read the comparison between Pardot and Hubspot

Read More
Pardot Vs Hubspot - Lead scoring and grading