Marketers and marketing vendors are taking the brunt of this economic downturn, struggling to optimize despite budget cuts. "Clients are realizing they can't afford a suite," says Gus Vazquez, a principal at Customer Value Partners. Kimberly Collins, managing vice president at Gartner, says this year showed a need for vendors providing a broader vision,with marketing performance management (MPM) and marketing resource management solutions in high demand. The goal, as it should have always been, is to drive stronger, better, more-relevant communication with the customer. Collins says that user purchases have been more tactical, opting for small, immediate gains from smaller initiatives. Enterprise marketing management (EMM) vendors may be well-equipped, but a down economy "is keeping vendors from being leaders," Collins says. "It's the maturity in the user market that's [the] issue."
After being recognized as a Rising Star in 2007, Alterian holds onto another year among the leaders. The vendor, however, was the only one to decline in scores across all categories. Some analysts attribute that to its May 2008 acquisition of United Kingdom-based Web content management system vendor Mediasurface, which may have distracted the company from innovating around marketing automation. The company did take a step forward with its acquisition of social media monitoring company Techrigy in July.Moreover, Alterian reported global revenue growth of 73 percent for the year ending March 31, and a customer retention rate of more than 90 percent.
Eloqua returns to the leaderboard this year, but Jim Dickie, managing partner with CSO Insights, says he's concerned by a decline in customer renewals. High-priced and saddled with usability concerns, Eloqua is seen as unappealing to the mainstream marketer. Unfortunately, Dickie says, targeting the larger marketing organizations isn't enough anymore-"that's just a small portion of the market," he says. Gartner notes Eloqua has responded to these critiques with "tactical usability improvements, including simplified terminology, customer dashboards, and templates." Gartner also reports that the company's revenue grew by 54 percent in 2008.
Newcomer Silverpop is often regarded as an Eloqua competitor, but Suresh Vittal, principal analyst at Forrester Research, says Silverpop's strong suit is its B2B capabilities, rather than B2C-in fact, its Engage B2B (formerly Vtrenz) solution has won industry-wide recognition. Where Jill Dyché, partner and cofounder of Baseline Consulting, says that Silverpop, while strong, is still very much a niche player, Dickie believes customers seeking true marketing functionality look to vendors like Silverpop. A decline in its score for reputation for customer satisfaction may be addressed by Silverpop's Client Support Portal, a service line open 24 hours a day, five days a week.
Long-time winner Unica lost its crown this year, coming in a close second. The company improved across all categories this year, but analysts say activity around Unica has been subdued. "We're just not hearing that much about them anymore,"Dickie says.Dyché argues that Unica will be hard-pressed to achieve the depth of functionality of an Oracle or SAS. Nevertheless, she credits its excellence in data mining and behavioral-prediction capabilities; and when push comes to shove, she says, Unica is winning deals over the bigger players. Gartner keeps Unica in the game for its strength in multichannel campaign management. Product releases are expected around its online marketing offerings-a key area of growth.
SAS Institute edged its way into the winner's circle this year. Improving significantly in each category this year, SAS seemed like an unlikely candidate for this space given its usual emphasis on analytics. "They were the first to get it," Dyché says, but she argues that even if the company has the technology and resources, its marketing message is weak relative to business intelligence and CRM. According to Collins, SAS's MPM vision is "one of the strongest in the industry." The company's strength in analytics meshes perfectly with companies looking to focus on campaign management and campaign optimization. In March 2009, the company released an on-demand version of SAS Campaign Management-a move that marked the beginning of a software-as-a-service mission for the company, which Gartner says could be a "strong differentiator when integrated with [multichannel campaign management]." -Jessica Tsai
One to Watch - Marketing Solutions
One of CRM's Rising Stars last year, Marketo is now this year's One to Watch. The company is narrowing the gap between marketing and sales-enabling each to help complete the revenue cycle. Gartner's Collins says the solution allows users to do more with less, but analysts worry that Marketo's size and the simplicity of its approach may in fact be limiting. Marketo is seen as the inexpensive B2B option, catering to the lower end of the midmarket. Even so, Marketo delivered year-over-year second-quarter revenue growth of nearly 800 percent, but analysts insist the company will need innovative applications to carry it to the next level.
CLICK HERE to view PDF of 2009 Market Leaders comparison chart.