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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 researchinaction.de website – the vendor scorecards are available to clients.

Always keeping you informed! Peter

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