We came across a great comparative review of the leading B2B Marketing Automation platforms available today, and we have a few insights of our own to add to it. True, most of it didn’t surprise us much, but we must admit that we found some observations surprising.

There’s also a twist we bet you won’t see coming.

Now, we all know that B2B marketers understand the value of lead nurturing, scoring, and reporting, and that everyone is looking for that holy grail, namely the combination of software and service that will make life easier for everyone. Now, B2B marketers use a variety of marketing automation software services, with three brands leading the game: Marketo, Hubsopt and Salesforce Pardot. This useful summary report by SiriusDecisions, available for you in full (courtesy of Marketo and following the obligatory registration form) right here, covers many B2B marketing automation services, and we’d like to direct the spotlight on these top three. 

Key marketing automation requirements & trends addressed

The report compares vendors based on various variables: From Role Administration and permission and web personalization, through Lead scoring and Scoring, and up to measurement and reporting, usability and viability and of course – service and support.

In addition, the comparison identifies three key marketing automation “feature trends” that will be tied with the success of those platforms in the market in 2016:

  • Usability – i.e., how user friendly is the service and will you need a degree in biomechanics to operate it.
  • Ad integration, which, just like predictive lead scoring, seems to be the next big thing: giving the marketer the ability to source specific lists for ad delivery directly from their marketing database, without the hassle of intermediary processes.
  • Advanced analytics. Well, we don’t really need to explain this, right? We all need as much information as possible, and need it to be as clear as possible.

Small and Medium Businesses have more than one MAP to choose from

In the research, Hubspot is identified as a good marketing automation platform for small to medium business. No big news there. Citing its advantages as a one-stop-shop for a startup organization, the conclusions about Hubspot’s downsides might surprise some: Its role administration and lead scoring receive low grades, and its lead nurturing and reporting capabilities are rated as mediocre. We tend to agree: Hubspot presents some weird limitations when it comes to more-than-basic lead scoring requirements, and making sense of what happens in your nurturing and who receives what can get really frustrating when all you have to work with is Hubspot’s flat workflow and list hierarchies.

The bottom line about Hubsopt is that it serves well its primary target audience – small businesses and startups that need a two years solution in between using an email service provider and implementing a more advanced marketing automation platform. Businesses looking to grow and truly expand on their marketing sophistication should look for a better marketing automation platform.

Salefsorce Pardot is categorized in a similar manner to Hubspot – a good platform for a small to medium business, with limited expansion expected for its operations and services.

While its easy to use interface and customer support are hailed in the report, Pardot’s overall score is surprisingly low – its role administration and web personalization are rated average, the highly important aspects of sales enablement and viability are also rated as average, and, as we expected, its lead scoring, nurturing and nurturing across multi-channels are rated well below industry standards in the report.

Admittedly, we have less experience over at Converto with Pardot than we have with Marketo and Hubspot, yet what we do know lead us to agree with its relatively low positioning on SiriusDecisions’ comparison matrix compared to other offerings. Our view of Pardot is that it presents an alluringly likable face in the form of an easy to adopt user interface, which hides more than a fair number of annoying obstacles on the way to implement truly impactful marketing automation driven processes. Most annoying of all is the disappointing degree to which the product has been integrated into its stepmother, Salesforce, over two years after its acquisition. Second top annoying? the need to ‘freeze’ workflows in order to collect response data. Yikes.

Which brings us to the results

What didn’t surprise us at all, were Marketo’s results in this research. In all evaluation criterias, Marketo scored either above or well above the industry standards; Role Administration (ok that threw us off a little bit), Lead Scoring (yes!), Multi-Channel Nurturing, Sales Enablement, Reporting and Analytics, Usability and Viability – all of these criterias were graded above the industry standards on the report.

Marketo’s web personalization (aka Real Time Personalization), Lead Nurture Programs, Service and Support and its Testing abilities were all graded exceptionally high by SiriusDecisions, and with good reasons, if we may add. In our experience, there’s no lead nurturing requirement you can’t address if you have a Marketo and someone who knows how to drive it well. It’s like Archimedes but with an Engagement Program instead of a pole lever.

As a marketing automation services agency, what we like best about Marketo is how little it inhibits us from doing what our marketer clients want to achieve. Sure, it’s not always easy or streamlined, and there’s definitely a learning curve you have to go through to take full advantage of the platform, but we think it’s worth it.

Oh, and about the surprise ending, the twist you didn’t see coming? Well, sit down, because it’s going to shock you.

It was Colonel Mustard, in the Kitchen, with a lead pipe. Get it?

 

 

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About Idan Carmeli

A B2B marketing veteran with a penchant for the written word and a geeky fascination with technology. Through Converto, a marketing services agency he's founded, Idan combines his professional passions to deliver the benefits of marketing automation to B2B organizations large and small, especially through intelligent, well crafted lead nurturing programs.

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