In 2008, the recession drove marketing purchases that were low in risk and high in immediate gains; in 2009, the rebounding economy made innovative solutions in marketing automation (MA) a bit more palatable. Vendors are now integrating all aspects of customer intelligence to provide deeper insight into what marketing is—and isn’t—achieving. Megan Heuer, marketing operations service director at SiriusDecisions, cites “a continued focus on tighter integration of MA with CRM, as well as with other sources of data…
like Web analytics and finance data, to develop a more complete picture of marketing impact.” A torrent of solutions for social media marketing and management has generated the first trickle of social media analytics. “There has been a rush by [marketers] to be more social,” says Ray Wang, a partner at Altimeter Group, “[from] things as simple as a LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter feed to actually doing some deeper social CRM [initiatives].”
Alterian earned wide praise for company direction and an understanding of the market’s future. “They started with a very narrow solution and built campaign management and analytics on top of that,” says David Raab, principal of Raab Associates. “They’ve been systematically expanding since then in a very impressive way.” Alterian’s system, though, isn’t seen as user-friendly. Distributed through partners, Alterian doesn’t interface directly with customers, which several analysts suggested may lead to confusion about how to configure and integrate the product.
Aprimo rejoins the leaderboard this year due in large part to scores for product depth that reflect its strength in marketing resource management (MRM) and a recently launched on-demand solution. “They’re trying to get a piece of Eloqua and Marketo’s action,” Raab says. “They arguably invented the [MRM] field and sort of backed into the rest of [MA]. So the depth has to do with their [experience with] MRM functions.” Joe Stanhope, senior analyst at Forrester Research, says he likes how Aprimo is making its MRM solution applicable to multiple channels: “They’re doing more with their B2C offerings and with B2B.”
Analysts praise Eloqua for pioneering software-as-a-service (SaaS) MA—a double-edged sword when your capabilities are too complex for many customers. “They got the arrows in the back because their product was too complicated,” says China Martens, senior analyst specializing in enterprise software at The 451 Group. She believes the company has handled this issue well. “They really have regained a stronger focus about where they’re going, what they’re doing, and taking customers with them.” “A lot of customers [are] complaining,” Raab says. “A lot of people bought Eloqua when there was nothing else to buy even though it wasn’t the right system for them.” Raab says he sees changes coming, as the company prepares to update and improve its user interface. Eloqua is still a leader, he says, and “very good at listening to customers.”
SAS Institute received solid scores in customer satisfaction and depth of functionality, but the analytics pioneer’s score for company direction helped bump it from the top spot. “SAS tends to be ahead of everyone or behind for a certain period,” Wang says. “They’re very independent in their approach.” He applauds SAS for tackling MA’s tougher aspects, but says the effort may explain the company’s drop. “They design for the worst-case scenario,” he says. “Sometimes [the worst-case scenario] is not necessarily what the majority of their customers are facing today.” Stanhope says the “king of analytics and data mining” has made positive moves in accommodating multiple channels, particularly with online marketing modules and Web analytics capabilities.
Unica regains its crown just a year after losing it. The industry titan’s solution received a near-perfect score for its depth of functionality, which Wang calls “by far the most comprehensive solution out there.” Wang also notes that Unica has recently done a better job with interactive and event space marketing. “[Unica’s] building from the ground up a combination of campaign management, email, Web analytics, and search capabilities,” Stanhope says. “They’re creating a new category for themselves.” Despite the highest scores in company direction, Unica took some hits in terms of usability. “They’re lacking ease of use, and they’re not always easy to deal with in terms of contracts,” Wang says. “And because they’re on top they don’t always necessarily respond well to advice.” Yet Wang says most power users in search of a marketing solution ultimately choose Unica.
One to Watch
The recent deal between Oracle and Market2Lead may have been a head-scratcher—only intellectual-property assets changed hands, not customers—but Oracle can now integrate Market2Lead’s MA solution with CRM technology. “I don’t think anyone would buy [Oracle] as a standalone MA solution if CRM wasn’t a piece of it,” says Raab Associates’ Raab. “[But] we’ll see what they do…. It will be an on-demand solution [and Oracle might] ramp up that capability.” Altimeter Group’s Wang says he’s also interested in the company’s MA acceleration: “They’re investing in cleaning up the marketing side of the house, and what they have are significant capabilities that are going to show up in master data management capabilities and the ability to tie back into both SaaS and on-premises environments.”