Best Marketing Automation Software: The 2017 CRM Market Leaders

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Marketing automation is not a new sector in the CRM space, but it is certainly the one area that has been capturing the most attention in the past year or two. In fact, last year alone, the marketing technology market grew by 40 percent, according to several estimates. That’s because in 2016, more companies got started with marketing automation than with any other technology, and many more started thinking about how they could begin to use it in the future. To show just how prevalent it has become, market research firm EmailMonday reports that approximately 55 percent of all B2B companies are now using marketing automation in some form. What’s more, the same research found that 91 percent of the most successful users reported that marketing automation is “very important” to the overall success of their marketing across channels.


Act-On Software made our leaderboard this year with strong scores in all four areas: 3.9 in functionality, 4.1 in company direction, and 4.2 in customer satisfaction and cost. According to Cindy Zhou, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, the company “is a solid choice at an attractive price for small to medium B2B marketing organizations.” Rebecca Wettemann, vice president at Nucleus Research, agrees, adding that Act-On “has more than what most of its customers need functionality-wise.”

Adobe scored 4.4 in functionality, 4.3 in company direction, and 4.1 in customer satisfaction, but continues to struggle with cost (3.2). Zhou calls Adobe “a leader in B2C marketing automation,” bolstered by a partnership with Microsoft that gives it “a solid pipeline of cross-sell opportunities.” Beyond that, she says Adobe benefits from “increased emphasis on cross-cloud integration of Adobe Marketing Cloud and Creative Cloud functionality.” Wettemann notes that Adobe Campaign “has the depth of functionality enterprises need,” and that “customers are happy with it, say it is intuitive once they’ve gone through thorough training, and the customer service is really great.”

With scores of 4.4 in functionality, 4.1 in company direction, and 3.8 in customer satisfaction, Oracle’s spot on the leaderboard is a given, but the company, like many others, doesn’t do as well with cost (3.2). “Oracle Eloqua is considered the industry leader in terms of functionality by many competitors and customers alike, and customers are by and large very satisfied once they get the product down,” Wettemann says. Zhou adds that “Oracle’s approach to the CX Suite facilitates cross-sell opportunities” and “the combination of Marketing Cloud with parts of Oracle Data Cloud provide customers with access to a robust ID graph for audience targeting.” 

Salesforce.com’s Pardot also had strong scores in all four areas: 4.4 in company direction, 3.9 in customer satisfaction, 3.8 in cost, and 3.7 in functionality. Wettemann says that “Pardot has a little ways to go in terms of functionality, but new capabilities like [account-based marketing] show progress.” According to Zhou, “Salesforce Pardot for B2B Marketing provides Sales Cloud users a unified way to manage and execute on campaigns.”


Marketo jumped from One to Watch status for the past two years to the winner’s circle. Scores of 4.4 in functionality, 3.9 in cost, 4.0 in company direction, and 3.8 in customer satisfaction were all among the category’s best. Zhou says a series of dramatic changes are among the reasons for its meteoric rise. “Customer satisfaction with Marketo is high, and the partnership with Infor is promising. Vista [which acquired Marketo in August 2016] has built a strong portfolio in MarTech and AdTech to extend Marketo functionality. New CEO Steve Lucas brings enterprise platform experience and focus to the company.” 


Infusionsoft scored 4.2 in cost, 4.1 in company direction and customer satisfaction, and 3.5 in functionality. According to Wettemann, it “is for very small businesses…so it does not have the depth of functionality of some of the others, but it is very clear in its direction, has great marketing, and its customers love it.” Zhou agrees, saying that the company “targets SMBs to provide an all-in-one marketing automation, CRM, social marketing, and e-commerce solution.” 

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