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.
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