The Best Marketing Automation Software and Solutions: The CRM Market Leader Awards 2018

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Forrester Research values the current global marketing automation tools market at $11.4 billion and projects it to reach $25.1 billion in 2023, growing at a compound annual rate of 14 percent. One element fueling that growth is the rising demand for integrating marketing efforts and clearly demonstrating the return on investment from marketing campaigns. Other key growth factors include increasing demand for customer scoring and the ability to deliver personalization at scale. 

The industry is also benefiting from more cloud-based options, which can be a cost-effective way to provide scalability, flexibility, and large storage options. 

Marketers are showing increased demand for dynamic campaign management, account-based marketing, and predictive technologies that will allow them to make their platforms faster, more scalable, and more responsive. 

High demand for marketing software has increased competition among the software providers, who increasingly seek to differentiate themselves by launching new offerings or updating their current ones.


Once again, Adobe continues to impress analysts, earning an especially high score in depth of functionality (4.2). “With the Microsoft alliance in place, and an ecosystems and platforms perspective, they are solidly positioned to become a true market leader,” says Paul Greenberg, founder and managing principal of the 56 Group. But while Adobe scored well in other areas, it struggled mightily in cost, where it earned a category-low 3.4.

Last year’s One to Watch, Infusionsoft continues to do well in cost, earning a category-leading 4.4 in that area. It also had a strong performance in customer satisfaction, posting a 4.2. Its results in the other two areas, however, brought it down—it scored a 3.5 in depth of functionality and a 3.4 in company direction, both category lows. According to Greenberg, the company has “lost most of its remarkable team and a sense of direction.” 

Last year’s winner, Marketo, had another strong performance, earning a market-leading 4.5 in depth of functionality and a 4.0 in both company direction and customer satisfaction. Analysts remain cautiously optimistic about the company. Brent Leary, cofounder and partner of CRM Essentials, notes that Marketo still offers great functionality, “but others in the enterprise space are connecting, adding commerce to their platforms.”

Oracle held its position on the leaderboard, largely feeding off its strength in depth of functionality (4.2). Its scores in the other areas, however, were lackluster: a 3.6 in company direction, a 3.5 in cost, and a category-low 3.4 in customer satisfaction. Oracle “has, via the Eloqua acquisition and subsequent work on it over the years, actually built a decent, competitive enterprise-grade product,” Greenberg says. “But nobody hears about it.” Leary has a similar take, noting that though there are “many top-notch pieces” to Oracle’s platform,” the company “can’t get the mindshare of some of the other major players in the space.”


With dual 4.3 scores in depth of functionality and company direction as well as a 4.2 in customer satisfaction, Salesforce.com was this year’s clear-cut winner. According to Leary, the company’s “focus on connecting marketing and commerce and leveraging its data management platform to combine customer data for personalized customer journeys is paying off.” 

One to Watch 

HubSpot appeared on analysts’ radar this time around and put forth a strong showing in depth of functionality, earning a 4.1 in that area. It also posted a 3.9 in both customer satisfaction and cost. Its company direction, though, still raised a few question marks. HubSpot is “still the poster child for inbound marketing platforms,” Leary notes, “but others in the category have connected commerce to their marketing platforms, which is a differentiator today.”


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