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Crucial Differences: Account Engagement vs Marketing Cloud Explained

Salesforce offers two powerful tools for helping businesses grow their customer base - Account Engagement and Marketing Cloud. However, there is often confusion around the differences between these platforms. While both involve digital marketing functions, they have distinct purposes and capabilities.

In this post, we'll thoroughly break down the key variances between Account Engagement and Marketing Cloud. This Pardot vs. Marketing Cloud guide will look at core features, target user personas, implementation strategies and more. Whether you're considering a new marketing automation solution or want to better leverage what you have, understanding these nuances is essential.

By the end, it will be clear which tool best suits your specific needs and organization. Let's jump in and explore the crucial differences between Account Engagement and Marketing Cloud.


Pardot (Account Engagement) vs Marketing Cloud


What is Account Engagement?

Account Engagement, previously known as Pardot, is Salesforce's B2B marketing automation solution. Some of its primary functions include:

  • Lead Management - Capture leads from multiple sources like the website and assign scores/stages.

  • Landing Pages - Create dynamic customized pages to nurture leads.

  • Email Marketing - Design beautiful responsive emails and track opens/clicks.

  • Forms & Surveys - Collect lead information and feedback via web forms.

  • Analytics - Track campaign performance using configurable reports and dashboards.

It focuses on helping B2B companies qualify inbound prospects, engage them through personalized journeys, and convert leads into pipeline opportunities. Account Engagement powers multitouch campaigns across the buy cycle.


What is Marketing Cloud?

Marketing Cloud is Salesforce's full-suite marketing platform for both B2B and B2C use cases. Some of its flagship capabilities include:

  • Cross-Channel Campaigns - Orchestrate omnichannel journeys across emails, mobile, websites and more.

  • Social Media Management - Post to networks and analyze social engagement in one place.

  • SMS/Push Messaging - Leverage mobile channels for highly engaging experiences.

  • Personalization - Leverage AI and first-party data for 1:1 communication at scale.

  • Digital Asset Management - Store, tag, search and reuse content like images and videos.

  • Analytics & Insights - Surface actionable intelligence on audiences, campaigns and performance.

Marketing Cloud empowers end-to-end marketing execution from discovery to loyalty across industries and touchpoints. It offers a more full-fledged platform experience.


Key Differences in Target Markets

At their core, Account Engagement and Marketing Cloud cater to distinct personas:

  • Account Engagement targets B2B marketing professionals focused on lead generation and qualification. Teams using it tend to be smaller.

  • Marketing Cloud serves both B2B and B2C marketers executing broader omnichannel strategies. It powers large digital programs at enterprise organizations .

In terms of company size:

  • Account Engagement is best for small to midsize businesses with dedicated marketing teams.

  • Marketing Cloud supports complex needs of mid-market to enterprise brands with matrixed shared services models.

In terms of business model:

  • Account Engagement fits the sales cycles of solution and project-based B2B sales.

  • Marketing Cloud meets demands of direct sales, e-commerce and customer loyalty use cases too beyond B2B.

So, in summary, Account Engagement addresses Lead Gen for SMBs whereas Marketing Cloud serves Omnichannel Marketing at scale across industries for large global brands.


Core Capabilities: Account Engagement vs Marketing Cloud Comparison


Let's now examine some of the key features available in each as well as their relative strengths:

Email Marketing

  • Account Engagement provides basic A/B testing and delivery tools.

  • Marketing Cloud offers deeper personalization, SMS/push, social integrations.

Landing Pages

  • Both enable landing pages, microsites and customized web forms.

  • Marketing Cloud powers more complex omnichannel journeys.

Analytics

  • Account Engagement offers standard lead and campaign reporting.

  • Marketing Cloud's analytics are more robust with predictive modeling.

Customization

  • Account Engagement workflows are customizable via the UI.

  • Marketing Cloud exposes APIs for advanced technical integrations.

Pricing

  • Account Engagement is priced per lead/contact record.

  • Marketing Cloud has minimum spend tiered by usage and service levels.

Implementation

  • Account Engagement implementation is usually self-serve.

  • Marketing Cloud provides professional services teams and SLAs.

As this comparison shows, Account Engagement offers the essentials for B2B lead nurturing while Marketing Cloud takes omnichannel marketing to an enterprise level of sophistication, data and scale.


Choosing the Right Fit

To recap, Account Engagement focuses narrowly on automating B2B lead generation programs at mid-market organizations. Marketing Cloud, meanwhile, serves as a complete suite enabling advanced omnichannel campaigns for both B2B and B2C at the largest global brands.

A few guidelines to help decide which tool is best for your situation:


  • Consider your target personas, buyer journeys and sales process complexity.

  • Evaluate team capabilities and technical requirements around customization.

  • Assess budget flexibility and potential long-term investment horizon.

  • Gauge scope of program - single product vs company-wide initiatives.

  • Review provider SLAs, support levels and implementation services offered.

With the right fitment criteria in mind, it becomes clear whether Account Engagement or Marketing Cloud (or a hybrid approach) enables maximum success for a given marketing organization and its overall goals. The right choice leverages core strengths while avoiding redundancies.


Additional Tips

A few extra tips for optimizing your Salesforce marketing technology:

  • Integrate both tools with the Marketing and Service clouds for complete alignment.

  • Use Marketing Cloud for company branding assets managed centrally.

  • Adopt a headless architecture to share content across systems.

  • Consider Marketing Cloud Email Studio for transactional/autoresponder emails from Account Engagement sequences.

  • If outgrowing Account Engagement, adopt Marketing Cloud incrementally by channel.

  • Continuously reassess needs every 12-18 months to right-size solutions over time.

  • Invest in certifications to maximize implementations and stay current on products.

With proper scoping and roadmaps informed by ongoing review, businesses can leverage Salesforce marketing tools most efficiently at each stage of growth.


Conclusion

This Account Engagement vs Marketing Cloud comparison represent the full spectrum of Salesforce's robust marketing automation capabilities. While they may seem similar on the surface, their differences truly lie in target use cases, recommended implementation approaches, and breadth of core features. Understanding these nuanced variances is absolutely vital for organizations to derive the greatest possible value from their investment. 

By selecting the tool that is most purpose-built for their unique needs, based on comprehensive criteria like business scale, buyer journey complexity, budget, and desired customization abilities - marketing teams can rest assured their programs are optimally set up for success from the outset.

With the right Salesforce solution strategically chosen and properly implemented, brands gain a powerful competitive advantage. When the distinct attributes and strengths of Account Engagement versus Marketing Cloud are fully recognized and applied prudently, businesses truly equip themselves to connect meaningfully with audiences across every touchpoint of the buyer's journey.





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