How Marketing Automation Has Evolved in 2013

How much can a market really change in 12 months? If you’re talking about marketing automation, the answer is significantly! Over the last two months, I‘ve attended several dozen marketing automation vendor briefings with my colleagues Jason Hekl, Jen Horton, Jill Stanek and Jonathan Block in preparation for this year’s SiriusView – SiriusDecisions’ report on the marketing automation platform market. Through these briefings, plus inquiries with our client base, marketing conferences, client interviews and benchmark surveys, we’ve identified several ways the marketing automation space has evolved.

These changes include: and Adobe entered the marketing automation market through acquisitions (ExactTarget/Pardot and Neolane); the percentage of b-to-b companies using marketing automation increased; and marketing automation capabilities proliferated (beyond emails and registration forms). In this post, I discuss changes of special note – three in the marketplace and three marketing automation platform features we consider most impactful:


  • Marketing technology stack. Marketing automation has often been positioned as a point solution that is used by marketing solely for demand creation. Teradata, through its acquisition of Aprimo, and IBM, via its purchase of Unica, took a more expansive approach – providing a broader marketing platform. This approach is now being imitated by several other vendors such as Oracle (via its acquisition of Eloqua), (through its acquisition of ExactTarget/Pardot) and Adobe (through its purchase of Neolane).
  • Customer lifecycle. Marketing automation vendors’ messaging has begun to change. Until recently, most vendors focused on how marketing automation can be used to drive net-new demand generation. With the exception of Right On Interactive, there was limited messaging on how marketing automation can be used to onboard new customers, engage with current customers, grow customer accounts and turn customers into advocates. In a study that Jonathan Block and I conducted in 2012, only 8 percent of marketing automation users reported using marketing automation for b-to-b customer marketing. In 2013, the marketing automation industry as a whole started to acknowledge and provide use cases for using marketing automation throughout the customer lifecycle, from delivery of training materials during onboarding to maintaining service levels and monitoring customer satisfaction.
  • New entrants. Despite the recent acquisitions in the marketing automation market, the number of vendors in this space is simultaneously increasing. To illustrate, last year’s SiriusView on marketing automation covered 11 marketing automation vendors, but this year’s report will include 18. This is not to say there are 18 marketing automation vendors in total; I would say there are about 35. However, we believe 18 of them offer viable solutions to our b-to-b clients. In addition, several larger established marketing software vendors will enter the b-to-b marketing automation space in the coming year.


  • Dynamic Web site. By optimizing a Web site’s calls to action and messaging based on what’s known or inferred about the site visitor, significant conversion improvements can be achieved. Several vendors (e.g. Neolane, HubSpot) have had this ability for some time. Other marketing automation vendors (e.g. Eloqua) have partnered with third-party marketing technologies via integration options (e.g. Demandbase, Get Smart Content) to provide this capability to their customers. Though it’s not a marketing automation platform requirement, the ability to drive personalized calls to action on a corporate Web site is quickly catching on. Silverpop, through its recent release, and Marketo, through its recent acquisition of Insightera, have added this capability. A third of the vendors featured in the SiriusView for marketing automation also offer this capability.
  • Technology ecosystem. Marketing automation platforms are a key part of the b-to-b marketing infrastructure, and it is becoming more critical than ever to stitch marketing software applications (e.g. Web conferencing vendors, data providers, social platforms) together. Responding to the concept of the AppExchange, last year several vendors (e.g. Eloqua, Marketo) created marketing software markets. This year, several other vendors (e.g. Act-On Software) followed suit, providing pre-built integrations with key marketing and sales technologies. Like the dynamic Web site, this is quickly becoming an area that b-to-b organizations will use to evaluate marketing automation technology.
  • Marketing resource management (MRM). Prior to the social media boom, most marketing automation vendors focused on incorporating MRM capabilities into their platforms, including budgeting, planning, scheduling and workflow approvals. With the rise of social media, marketing automation vendors shifted their development efforts. Many marketing automation platform vendors recently have returned their attention to MRM (e.g. Marketo Financial Management), and others (e.g. Silverpop) have built out or enhanced their workflow and approval processes. Several vendors have highlighted this area on their product roadmaps to focus on directly or via partnerships.

About the Author

Jay Famico is Practice Director, Technology at SiriusDecisions. He is a thought leader focused on helping companies gain maximum value from their investments in marketing programs and technology. Follow Jay on Twitter @JayFamico.


  • Michael Gerard, 17th December 2013 at 9:44 am


    Good post Jay. I’m glad to see marketing automation vendors advance beyond email communication into web site personalization. (i.e., “Dynamic Web site”) It’s especially interesting to see the shift back towards MRM, for which the market seems to have lost focus since the days of Unica and Aprimo.

    As a marketing practitioner, I continue to value the existence of a technology ecosystem as you referenced above. There are too many shifts in technology and buyer behavior at this point to depend upon any one vendor. I look forward to your SiriusView on marketing automation for 2014.

  • Cathy Brennan, 17th December 2013 at 10:07 am


    Hi Jay!
    Thanks for this post! As an agency partner of Eloqua’s (now Oracle) since 2010, we have watched the evolution of this market “up close and personal.” We have found manufacturers to be slow to adopt the technology. However, we expect to see radical changes in their awareness and acceptance of marketing automation as 2014 unfolds. We look forward to seeing your SiriusView, as well!

  • Idan, 19th December 2013 at 12:19 pm


    Here’s an odd thought: despite all those changes and shifts and the overall rise in awareness to the whole domain , I can’t shake the feeling that most vendors have sort of “left sexy out the door” in 2013. I mean, really, MRM?! that’s what we’re looking forward to in 2014? even ‘dynamic web site’ sounds like something IT would get more excited about than most marketers. I look back 2-3 years ago and I can’t help but think how things felt different back then: Hubspot, Marketo and Eloqua did spectacularly well in getting marketers excited about their offerings and educating the whole market about inbound, automation and marketing-sales alignment. that sense of excitement has, in my opinion at least, sort of worn off in 2013 and a more sober, corporate-ish feel has taken its place. so here’s my wish list of things that can perhaps bring sexy back to marketing automation in 2014:
    1) tighter integration between lead nurturing and retargeting platforms – Eloqua, through its joint offering with Bizo, has shone a light down that road and it looks interesting.
    2) auto discovery & integration of social profile (and graph?) data into the customer database – most social integration I’ve seen from the likes of Marketo or even the most advanced ESP’s has to do with basic campaign management and inbound data capture. ok, fine. now move on.
    3) real time interactions – this borders on the ‘dynamic web site’ theme you touched on above. marketing automation vendors should take their cues from what vendors like Woopra and Intercom are doing for SaaS providers.
    4) predictive marketing – the future of marketing technology and a domain hardly any marketing automation vendor havsgone to yet. basically. if you have a centralized campaign logic and execution platform coupled with customer data, you have the core ingredients for figuring out what should work next for specific audiences/offers/products. Think AgilOne and Causata, and adapt to B2B.

  • Alex Rada, 25th December 2013 at 2:42 pm


    Hello Jay,

    I won’t think of marketing automation only in the b2b area. This is the easies way to automate, as each business has a sales cycle. But there are already companies doing this pretty well in the b2c area, which is much hard, because of user fragmentation and diversity.

    What do you think about marketing automation in ecommerce? I founded exactly for this, and things are going pretty well. If you want to have a look, please visit our site.

    Thank you for your posts!

  • Sandhya, 13th January 2014 at 5:32 am


    Good article, Jay. The mention about website personalization was definitely important. However, what irks me is that so many automation systems still use only email automation almost exclusively. Big players recognize the need to introduce marketing into social channels. At Agile CRM, we cater to small businesses, and our marketing automation platform accomodates marketing on different media like twitter, linked in, text messages, etc., in addition to email. This is one place where marketing automation still needs to catch up with – social media. The power is tremendous and needs to be taken advantage of.

  • Warren Whitlock, 21st January 2014 at 6:51 pm


    We’re just getting started. I look forward to big data, combined with real time updates to allow us to look at a person and know what we know about them. Automate everything but the human to human contact

  • Ehab, 27th March 2014 at 2:44 am


    Thanks Jay Famico for the post,
    Very rightly said that the percentage of companies using marketing automation increased significantly. In coming years more of these technological shift will be seen, it will ultimately help both the manufacturers & customers to get good products in less time span. yes, the manufacturers are slow to adopt the new technology. Large companies are getting into automation industry with the acquisitions. More & more automation shift is required as it has tremendous power and it must be taken as advantage.

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