Lead Management Automation: Market Overview In The Works

With economic recovery still distant, business marketers look to 2010 and wonder what’s in store. How do you do more with less resources is a common question I hear from CMOs, VPs of Marketing, and marketing directors with whom I speak daily. Modern marketing can not scale effectively without automation. And while it is not the cure-all to every problem, automation can help tune the marketing mix, scale online and social efforts, deliver better returns on campaign investment, put more qualified leads in front of sales, and create a direct, visible connection between marketing programs and business impact.

When it comes to marketing automation, B2B marketers need technology specifically geared around capturing demand and qualifying it for sales attention. However, picking the solution best positioned to deliver on lead management automation’s promise of stronger pipelines and more predictable marketing results frustrates B2B marketers at large and small firms alike. Frankly, the market is awash with competitors and claims. The 800-pound gorillas lack track records with current feature sets and many of the smaller players, with the exception of Eloqua, have yet to top the $25 million dollar mark in annual revenues.

To help B2B marketers sort out the space, I am soon publishing a report reviewing the B2B lead management automation market. While the report mentions almost 50 different companies, I lined up 18 of the most promising technology providers and compared capabilities. Included specifically in the report are Aprimo, Eloqua, eTrigue, Genius.com, HubSpot, LeadLife Solutions, Leads360, Loopfuse, Manticore Technology, Market2Lead, MarketBright, Marketo, Neolane, Pardot, salesforce.com, Silverpop, Sitecore, and Unica.  I also talk a lot about where the market is going and what holds it back.

During the next few weeks, I plan to use this blog to share some of the findings and ideas that hit the cutting room floor. And to open a dialog with you, the suppliers, and anyone else who wants to talk about how to make this technology work and how to keep the market thriving.  I know as soon as I publish this post, I know I’ll start to get comments about why this list and why were others left off. The answer is simple: this is a start.

The report looks at overall trends and issues in the evolving lead management automation space; it does not provide an in-depth comparison of all the possible providers. To rate inclusion in the “Harvey ball” comparison table, I required vendors to demonstrate market tenure and penetration.  We looked at firms with over 50 customer accounts by August 1, 2009, more than five competitive mentions (in a recent survey), products successfully sold for 12 months or longer, and product offerings that met the majority of our criteria, which includes a full complement of lead scoring/qualification, nurturing, routing/sales force enablement, and reporting capability. If a firm didn’t meet all these criteria, they were left out of what I am sure will become “infamous” Figure 5. All vendors reviewed received an advanced copy of the report and the opportunity to comment. Which some did.  Extensively.

As the publication date draws nearer (in the next couple of weeks or so) I’ll blog more about the results.  In the meantime, feel free to weigh in and let me know what you think of the list and the market. If you are considering a lead management automation investment, who would you include and why?  While the report is “in the can” so to speak, blog posts are easy to write and I’m happy to take on any questions (or vendors!) in the space.

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