• Marketing Lead Management,  News,  Vendor Selection

    MLM Report is Out

    I’ve now published the new Marketing Lead Management (MLM) vendor selection matrix via my business partner Research in Action. Our global survey of 1500 business decision makers found that 72% of business will  be investing in new MLM software – over half for their first time. This area of marketing automation is a critical backbone for most marketing organizations but I also know from my recent research with another partner, B2B Marketing, that only 60% of existing users are satisfied with their current solution, citing issues like lack of time/resources to use it effectively and integration – that report comes out in a few days for B2B marketing premium subscribers.

    That is probably why the report has discovered a vendor landscape for MLM which is an interesting mix of Email Service Providers, Marketing Automation vendors and even some Customer Data Platform vendors, showing the range of MLM project maturity across organizations (see my MLM S-Curve Maturity Model). 

    Congratulations to Marketo, who were named and rated the highest of all under that brandname, even though the company was acquired and absorbed by Adobe several years ago. In contrast, the other early market leader and innovator, Eloqua, has somewhat disappeared under the Oracle brand; though it’s customer satisfaction scores have improved greatly since last year’s survey. An interesting brand highly-rated for MLM process automation continues to be Creatio (previously known as bpm’online). Act-On and Hubspot also appear in the Top 5 as rated by the survey respondents.  

    As well as the ratings, we now also ask respondents whether they would recommend the vendor to their peers, the percent of affirmatives is documented as the Research In Action Recommendation Index; it ranges in this landscape from 83% to 96%.

    Our survey also returned that organizational issues are the most significant success inhibitors – 20% cited  executive buy-in is a serious barrier and, evidently, some CMOs still struggle to even get a role in the lead management process and must argue with sales about “turf“.

    The report states that functions provided by lead management systems are also of increasing importance to other departments and programs in a business: internal communications, customer satisfaction initiatives, customer service or support, and channel management. That increases the installed footprint for MLM providers but also expands the user profiles that they sell to and work with.

    If you would like to see more of the report, such as the individual vendor profile sheets and full scoring schema, please contact me.  

    Always keeping you informed! Peter

  • Marketing Lead Management,  News,  Vendor Selection

    The MLM Maturity S-Curve

    Marketing Lead Management (MLM) automation continues to be a priority investment – in our new global survey of 1500 business decision makers, 72% said they’ll invest in new MLM software – over half for their first time. The report is available here and it shows a vendor landscape for MLM, as voted by the business decision makers, which is an interesting mix of Email Service Providers, Marketing Automation vendors and even some, such as Evergage, who I’ve written about last month, described often as Customer Data Platform vendors 

    This is due to the range of project maturity across the landscape and I think that, over time, the prevalent transactional prospect/lead process in MLM will mature to a lifecycle-based customer engagement process in both B2C and B2B. 

    Our surveys and consulting work enables us to continually assess the maturity of marketing organizations (combination of organization, process and technology). We have identified five maturity phases for MLM and associated processes: 

    • Chaotic. Lead management neophytes commonly first focus on eMail campaigning to purchased or built-up lists. The goal is to distribute content to qualified contacts and provide rudimentary leads to Sales.
    • Reactive. Initial fulfillment creative matures to a content marketing program earning an audience and new contacts from inbound lead capture. Marketing-qualified leads are generated and passed on.
    • Stable. An operational MLM system shares content and run digital campaigns, nurturing and progressing leads through all digital channels, including indirect business channels such as subsidiaries, distributors, resellers (TCMA).   
    • Proactive. Marketing’s role matures from supporting sales transactions to ensuring a customer experience. The necessary functionality is found in more mature MLM solutions or from additional products. Sellers are  supported as a vital experience channel and marketing at the account level becomes mission-critical.
    • Predictive. Over time, the prospect/lead process changes to a more holistic Customer Engagement Management process. Every industry is morphing to an “as-a-service” business model and digital channels will increasingly be used to engage with customers throughout their lifecycle: from initial research through to product use or service consumption. 

    The various processes can be mapped against this model on what we call an S-Curve Maturity Model. 

    Whether you are trying to win over consumers to be active in communities and social media, or if you are trying to recruit a business buyer to be a loyal user and advocate, the classical lead generation paradigm for all marketers is going to be replaced by new relationship-based metrics of customer success.

    Always keeping you informed! Peter

  • Marketing Lead Management,  News,  Vendor Selection

    Evergage Joins the MLM Vendor Landscape and gets Acquired

    Marketing Lead Management (MLM) automation continues to be a priority investment – in our new global survey of 1500 business decision makers, 72% said they’ll invest in new MLM software – over half for their first time. 

    My new MLM Vendor Selection Matrix report, with the 2020 MLM vendor landscape as selected by those 1500 respondents, will come out later this month. But, due to this week’s news, I’ll point out NOW, that it is an interesting mix of Email Service Providers, Marketing Automation vendors and even some specialist vendors, such as the vendor Evergage. 

    Variously described as a Personalization Engine, Customer Data Platform, and other categories that analysts like to invent, Evergage is an exciting newbie on the MLM block. Regardless of category (and marketing professionals do not buy in categories), Evergage earned its place in this survey because it has been found and deployed by marketing professionals who searched for more functionality to optimize their ongoing engagements with buyers and customers.  

    My interviews showed that many firms are deploying it together with their established MLM platform to improve the customer engagement process. In the context of MLM, it is mostly bought by experienced users of Marketo, Eloqua and Salesforce Pardot seeking a 1-to-1 customer engagement: personalized  email campaigns, website or mobile app renditions, and other lead generation activities.

    Earlier this week, Salesforce acquired Evergage. It is unlikely that Salesforce wants Evergage as its CDP, though it may well leverage some of its IP and people, as that product roadmap is already well underway. No, I think Salesforce bought the vendor to enhance its own MLM offering for all the reasons described above. 

    For those of you needing some background, here is the already-completed Evergage vendor scorecard for my upcoming VSM report. This is what I write up for each vendor in the report and it is sent to all survey respondents and to our research clients.

    Always keeping you informed! Peter

  • ABM,  Brand Content Management,  DAM,  Marketing Lead Management,  Sales Enablement Management,  Vendor Selection,  Web Experience Management

    2019 Vendor Landscapes

    In 2019 I have discovered many separate vendor landscapes – all listed below for everybody to read.

    During these projects, I interviewed thousands of marketers on their business processes automation and talked to some 120 marketing software vendors – usually analyst relations staff and product marketing managers, as discussed in this blog

    The vendor-marketers have often commented something like: “strange, there are vendors on your list that I do not see in deals or think I compete with”. 

    Well, that’s because I first describe a marketing process in my interviews and ask respondents which vendors they work with on that process. I try to avoid category terms invented by other analysts or product managers because the chances are: marketing people don’t think in categories (that’s more of an IT-centric trait).  

    I’m currently updating my Marketing Lead Management (MLM) report. The survey is in and the new vendor landscape is an interesting mix of Email Service Providers, Marketing Automation vendors and even some describing themselves as Customer Data Platform vendors. My observation is that the MLM process is changing to a Customer Engagement process in many companies and that is why we have this mix.

    So the challenge for marketing software marketing professionals is: Do you focus on shining in a category or ensure you are found by marketing professionals when they are seeking a solution to their automation challenges. Sometimes, these objectives and tactics may be mutually exclusive. 

    Here are the vendor landscapes discovered in my global process-oriented surveys. 

    Marketing Lead Management (Nov 2018). MLM processes are deployed in marketing and/or sales operations departments to support the collection of unqualified contacts and opportunities from various sources such as: Direct mail or email responses; Database marketing programs; Other multichannel marketing campaigns; Offline interactions such as seminars and tradeshows; Social media contacts; and web pages.


    Brand Content Management (Dec 2018). BCM is the management of all digital content assets in order to govern the brand messaging across the company, from corporate brand to the individual messaging statements around products. Companies working in a more distributed (sometimes called local) marketing environment deploy BCM processes to manage content across all their internal organizations, subsidiaries, and/or all business partners.


    Sales Engagement Management (Mar 2019). Marketing plays an increasingly active role in enabling the sales team, collaborating with their colleagues in Sales Operations with a robust set of sophisticated tools in an all-in-one platform in order to engage productively with knowledgeable buyers and customers.


    Web Experience Management (May 2019). WEM is an integrated set of business processes for the creation, management, delivery and optimization of contextualized digital experiences on websites. Software used to automate these processes must deal with an ever-more complex, extensive and interconnected technology landscape.


    Digital Asset Management (July 2019). The DAM process is the storage and management of digital files, in particular digital media files like graphics, videos, sound and text components needed for digital content production. DAM catalogs and retrieves the digital assets for various types of users working in marketing, product management, sales, service, design, and manufacturing departments of an organization. 

    ADOBE (#1 Overall, #1 Customer Satisfaction), APRIMO, BYNDER, CANTO, CENSHARE, CLOUDINARY, COGNIZANT, CELUM (#1 Customer Satisfaction), CUMULUS, DIGIZUITE, EXTENSIS, MEDIA VALET, MEDIABEACON, NORTHPLAINS, NUXEO (#1 Customer Satisfaction), OPENTEXT, PICTUREPARK, SITECORE (#1 Customer Satisfaction, #1 Price/Value), WEDIA, WIDEN

    Account Based Marketing (Oct 2019). The ABM process is actually a long-established marketing/sales methodology in business services companies, where success depends so much on personal empathy and the relationship. The advent of digital marketing, tooled by technology advances in website and data analytics, now allows all B2B businesses to do ABM by leveraging collected behavioral and profile data on companies (accounts) or even individual buying decision-makers.


    Channel Marketing and Enablement (Nov 2019). Channel Marketing and Enablement processes cover the tasks involved for a manufacturer distributing products and services through partner organizations as their indirect channel. Only a few vendors can help marketers to automate both sets of processes.

    ANSIRA, CHANNELXPERTS, IMPARTNER (#1 Overall, #1 Price/Value), TIE KINETIX (#1 Customer Satisfaction), ZIFT SOLUTIONS

    Through-Channel Marketing Automation (Nov 2019). Part of the channel marketing processes involved for a manufacturer distributing products and services through partner organizations as their indirect channel, TCMA  brand and content asset management; where programs, promotions and leads are managed both down and up the channel. TCMA is also known as Local or Distributed Marketing.


    Partner Relationship Management (Nov 2019). Part of the channel marketing processes involved for a manufacturer distributing products and services through partner organizations as their indirect channel, PRM is the set of processes around the partner relationship itself: recruitment, registration and classification, contractual details, information exchange, and more.  


    Feedback and comments are welcome, here or directly to

    Always keeping you informed! Peter 

  • ABM,  Marketing Lead Management,  News,  Sales Enablement Management,  Uncategorized,  Vendor Selection

    Report on ABM Coming

    I’ve been researching the topic of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and find that 57% of businesses plan to invest in ABM software in the next 1-3 years. Business marketers in every industry must add ABM functionality to their marketing tech stack because their buyers only want communications relevant to their current business issues.   

    The ABM process is actually a long-established marketing/sales methodology in business services companies, where success depends so much on personal empathy and the relationship. So, they research the interests and needs of their target audiences and provide that “market intelligence” to their sellers or account managers. 

    The advent of digital marketing, tooled by technology advances in website and data analytics, now allows all B2B businesses to do ABM by leveraging collected behavioral and profile data on companies (accounts) or even individual buying decision-makers. ABM software enables marketers to channel personalized content to potential buyers. But first and foremost, ABM is a strategy and is applicable to all marketing channels.

    ABM is currently the most-used promotional acronym by marketing software vendors with well over 90 software vendors claiming to provide ABM-specific functionality. There are probably several dozen more with no ABM claims but also being used by B2B companies to market to specific accounts with target-market segmentation and content personalization. Still, I estimate the software market at around $750 million in 2019 with a current annual growth rate of some 12%.

    The term ABM is actually a misnomer, it should be Account Based Marketing and Selling (ABMS). The ABM process will only succeed if marketing collaborates with its sales counterparts to select the target accounts; share the important contact data; coordinate content distribution and distribute intent alerts. My survey found the second most important driver for ABM investment to be “enable sales to better understand their customers”.  Some interview respondents pointed out that they have always done ABS but this is now supported better by their ABM project. 

    My prediction is that the current mire of confusingly-positioned vendors will converge to a couple of dozen platform providers supporting all, or most, of the ABM-related processes such as account and contacts selection; analytics and insights, content personalization, customer engagement orchestration, and performance assessment. Many survey respondents reported deploying two, three or even four ABM vendors, with integration an issue. 30% plan to migrate to a more suitable system, unusually large compared to other vendor selection matrix surveys. 

    As usual, I will publish a Vendor Selection Matrix showing the ratings for the 20 most cited ABM vendors across our survey of 1500 practitioners. That will be on October 8th.  The top ten vendors rated by the respondents are (all listed alphabetically): 6sense, Demandbase, Engagio, Kwanzoo, InsideView, Jabmo, Madison Logic, Adobe (Marketo), MRP, and Zoominfo.  In positions 11 thru 20 are vendors Agent3, D&B Datavision, Lattice Engine, LinkedIn, Radius, RollWorks, TechTarget, Terminus, Triblio, and True Influence

  • Marketing Lead Management,  News,  Vendor Selection

    Do We All Need Marketing Automation Applications?

    I’ve just been to two fascinating events that fed a theory currently rotating in my head about marketing automation software – the question asked in the blog title. Sure, I make a living off the fact that marketing professionals need help selecting vendor partners to automate various business processes. But I have found myself asking some whether they are really ready for that step at all: for various reasons.

    Event #1 was held in Munich by Nintex, the business process automation (BPM) vendor. Last November, my research on Marketing Lead Management had exposed that many marketers automate that process not with a branded marketing automation software but through a BPM project – both bpm’online and Pegasystems appeared in the top ten rated by 1500 business professionals globally. So, I’m keeping my eyes out for other BPM vendors and appreciated Nintex’s invitation to their 2019 customer event.

    Nintex has certainly grown up since their early success as a utility/tool that made Microsoft Sharepoint so much easier to manage and use for business operations staff. They now have over 8000 clients and offer a fully-fledged BPM suite (including the Robotic functions which form the new secret sauce for BPM projects) as a cloud solution. I networked with many experienced ops developers who’ve been loyal to Nintex for years and were now excited to see how this relationship can continue.  Nintex CEO, Eric Johnson, pointed out that three quarters of enterprise business processes in organizations are still NOT automated. While the spread of packaged business applications continues to reduce this number, many mid-sized companies and enterprise organizations prefer to eshew that option and instead task their operations departments (or a services partner) to set up the required automation through a low-code, drag and drop, scalable workflow automation system that better fits their needs. Nintex showed some examples of these projects in marketing at the event. And even Workfront are now promoting their system as a solution for Marketing Ops. 

    The other event was last week in London – I was invited to present at the GetStacked conference by my old friends at B2B Marketing. They scheduled me in the “Getting Started” track and briefed me to “keep it simple”. And I did meet several Marketing Directors who were experienced in marketing but new to the concept of automation technology – and were not that sure about it, in various ways. I congratulate B2B Marketing for recognizing this need. Indeed, I did present the slide you see below with the comment “You may not even need a marketing automation application”. 

    Justin Hall, of the renomated agency Protocol (who are certified on several MA solutions), also had a slide saying:  “DO YOU NEED MA AT ALL? Is it just modern-marketing hype and bullshit?“.  Then he showed how he had set up their own marketing automation system for less than 500 GBP. 

    On that note, the GetStacked conference ended with a keynote that was emotional and dramatic in its major point that marketing automation vendors promise too much, deliver too little and show little sympathy for the true challenges that marketing executives have in their jobs. Maureen Blandford, clearly as exasperated as she is experienced, said that she is tired of their “shame-marketing” (referring to the typical tone that much of the vendors’ marketing content likes to adopt). She also stated (wrote it on slides even) that:

    • “Foundational Tech doesn’t work as it states on the tin.”
    • “Proliferation of Band-Aid Tech to make up for the gaps in the foundational but causes integration and reporting gaps.”
    • “Worse than budget, ever bit of tech requires capacity to learn it, onboard it, use it. And troubleshoot the downstream issues x every piece of tech in your stack.” 

    Her 30-minute rant was met with heavy applause by the GetStacked audience of around 400 B2B marketers – looks like the vendors need to create more empathy in their marketing (reminds me of my post on digital marketers being cobbler’s children).

    Oh, and my theory was fed once more only yesterday when a vendor of Web Experience Management software (my next research report in April) briefed me on how one of its clients had used the software to create a Partner Relationship Management portal as well as a quite capable Sales Engagement Management solution.    

    Always keeping you informed! Peter 

    One of the slides I presented at GetStacked
  • Marketing Lead Management,  Vendor Selection

    VSM for MLM now published

    What an exciting time to be discussing Marketing Lead Management (MLM) automation – a topic galvanized recently by the headline news that Adobe is acquiring Marketo for $4.75 Billion. Marketo – the vendor that led the first charge a decade ago to automate the MLM process in B2B companies, along with peers like Act-On, Hubspot, Eloqua, and Neolane. MLM automation continues to be a priority investment area for many CMOs – in our recent survey of 1500 users worldwide, 72% of respondents said they were now investing in it – half of those to replace their existing system.  In fact, we estimate total annual software license, maintenance and SaaS revenues for MLM to be around $3.5 Billion this year, shared around roughly 60 vendors.

    But planning to buy software, investigate the vendors and select the right solution is not a trivial task for any business professional. While the influence of IT professionals is increasing in this application area (historically, marketing has often been able to make autonomous decisions about its services and technology procurement), most marketing automation decisions are still finalized in the marketing department. But, as a CMO told me a few months ago: The thing is, the vendors always know so much more than me, they talk about their solution every day – I only get into this topic occasionally and need to select a vendor partner perhaps once in a decade”. 

    The buyers inform themselves about potential vendors through general internet research, talking to their peers and reading industry analyst research. More and more, they use peer reviews websites such as G2 Crown or Capterra. The challenge for buyers is: analysts are mostly focused on the needs of large enterprises, their target clientele; while the peer review websites tend to get quite busy and difficult to align to specific needs.

    I have spent the last months following a new research methodology which addresses those issues. I first surveyed the business users, asked them which vendors they have worked with, and asked for a rating of the vendors based on specific criteria (criteria aligned to the typical selection criteria used when selecting a software vendor). I then shared this “feedback” with the vendors and got briefed by them on their go-to-market strategy and product roadmap. The combined scoring schema of the 20 vendors most named by the survey respondents inform a Vendor Selection Matrix for Marketing Lead Management Software that I have now published. The survey is global and covers SMBs as well as enterprises.  I’ve profiled the top 10 vendors with these headlines.

    Act-On Software Mid-market success now spreading to the enterprise segment #1 Global Winner,                            Joint-#1 in Customer Satisfaction
    Hubspot Inventor of “inbound marketing” continues to innovate and execute Joint-#1 in Customer Satisfaction
    Marketo Marketing automation leader now under the Adobe brand promise
     Bpm’online Drive for process management in marketing helps bpm’online success Joint-#1 in Price/Value Ratio
    Salesforce Probably the preferred choice for Salesforce customers
    Adobe Investing BIG in marketing lead management
    Pegasystems The business process manager for marketers
    Salesfusion Capable marketing platform for SMBs with service if desired Joint-#1 in Price/Value Ratio
    SAP A brew in progress: a little SAP, Hybris plus Callidus – final recipe to come
    Oracle MLM leader gone cold due to lack of focus and corporate inertia

    The biggest surprise is certainly the progress of Eloqua since it was acquired by Oracle. What is also clear is that many companies do not want a marketing application, but prefer a rapid development tool that enables them to automate their marketing processes specific to their needs, and quickly. This also reflects the increasing influence of IT professionals in the buying process.  The survey report is available at the website – the vendor scorecards are available to clients.

    Always keeping you informed! Peter