The first Forrester Wave on lead-to-revenue management (L2RM) automation solutions released Tuesday singled out Oracle’s Eloqua and the still independent Marketo as marketplace leaders catering to large enterprises. As defined by Forrester, L2RM is essentially B2B marketing automation.
Additionally, Act-On and Salesfusion were champions among solutions designed for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The report assessed the ability for each vendor’s technology to nurture prospect relationships over a long sales cycle.
Oracle’s and Marketo’s dominance isn’t a tremendous surprise given that both are considered the grande dames of B2B marketing automation, given their respective legacies (Principal Analyst Lori Wizdo, who wrote the report, pointed out in a release that Eloqua has been around since the early 2000s and Marketo has been around since 2006). The top performers were selected from a 75-criteria technology evaluation as well as 300 conversations with enterprise customers over the past year.
Wizdo was impressed with the consistency of the vendors she assessed. “B2B marketers are spoiled for choice in terms of technology,” she said. “There weren’t any [vendors] that we felt were risky bets, which happens a lot in a Forrester Wave.” But there were points of differentiation, particularly in the ease with which customized communication programs could be built and scaled, the level of sophistication in engagement rules, data collection and presentation and reporting and analytics.
Although certain vendors came out on top, Wizdo cautioned companies considering implementing B2B marketing automation to understand their own business needs first and foremost. Vendors with rich feature sets might be Wave "Leaders", but it doesn't make them the best for every type of business. “If you have a very short sales cycle in a mature market where someone will find you, then capabilities to optimize website for conversion and social channels are most important," Wizdo said. "On the other hand if you are selling to an audience you know well in a defined market and you want outreach to them, then capabilities to deliver targeted content over a long cycle are important.”
Despite the sophistication of these B2B marketing automation technologies, Wizdo was surprised to learn how underutilized much of it is. “The theory [the technology] represents is still far ahead of the practice of what [enterprise customers are] actually doing,” she said. “From my conversations, and this is anecdotal and not based on Forrester data, about half of the people I talked to aren’t doing A/B testing of their email subject lines. All of these products enable it easily. That 50% of the people I talked to [didn’t do it] was surprising. It’s almost like not flossing your teeth: Why wouldn’t you do this? It should be just basic hygiene but people aren’t doing it.”
Another under-used tool was progressive profiling, which operates under the theory that a prospect is less likely to fill out a long form with numerous fields than a short one. The B2B marketing automation tools Wizdo examined all had the ability to allow customers to progressively fill out forms (ie name and email during the first visit, company size during the second, etc).
Besides Oracle and Marketo, other “Leaders” included Adobe’s Neolane, Act-On, and Salesforce.com’s Pardot. One tier below as “Strong Performers” were CallidusCloud, IBM, Salesfusion and Silverpop.
And while Act-On and Salesfusion topped the SMB space, Oracle and Adobe were only “Contenders.”
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