Marketo is the most user-friendly. LoopFuse is the most recommended by current users. Act-On is often most often chosen by non-tech SMBs. And while SAS put on a strong showing as both a very user-friendly and flexible enterprise system, Hubspot took away top honors as the best all-around marketing automation system.

The massive, 1,000-plus-respondents VentureBeat marketing automation report is finally ready, and the results are not exactly what you might expect.

Now available: Get the report here.

Web content optimization and targeting leaders

Above: Web content optimization and targeting leaders

Image Credit: VentureBeat

Here are just a few of the surprises:

  • Big enterprise system SAS is ranked “most flexible”
  • More than half of all companies using marketing automation use more than one marketing automation system
  • Even more surprising: 44 percent use three or more systems
  • Marketing automation pioneer and user-friendliness leader Marketo was rated “least flexible”
  • Salesforce, which was built on CRM and has no less than three marketing automation solutions including Pardot, did not get top ranking for integration with CRM systems

The one constant? Massive growth.

“There’s tremendous growth, tremendous opportunity, and tremendous upheaval in this market,” report author Wendy Schuchart says. “Even after years of 50 percent industry growth, only about three percent of non-tech companies have adopted marketing automation to date. Which means there’s also a lot of uncertainty for companies about how to proceed.”

While some findings were almost shocking, other findings were not such a surprise.

The usual marketing automation suspects ranked high in our respondents’ eyes, with Hubspot, Marketo, and Eloqua ranking near the top. Salesforce, which has been putting tremendous energy into marketing tools to complement its sales-based core, also ranked high. Enterprise newcomers such as IBM and SAS ranked surprisingly well — this is apparently not your daddy’s enterprise software. And SMB newcomers such as Act-On hit the top ten as well.

The VB Marketing Automation Index

Here are the top 10 marketing automation companies, as ranked by our 1,000-plus respondents:

Buyers interested in IBM's marketing automation system

Above: Buyers interested in IBM’s marketing automation system

Image Credit: John Koetsier
  1. Hubspot
  2. Salesforce
  3. Marketo
  4. SAS
  5. Eloqua
  6. IBM
  7. Act-On
  8. InfusionSoft
  9. LoopFuse
  10. Silverpop

This report is one of the very first new things you’re going to see from VentureBeat — a research offering we’re calling VB Intel. The platform won’t launch until this spring/summer.

When it launches, VB Intel will deliver affordable intelligence for SMBs who need practical advice on managing their business. Thought leaders, independent analysts, consultants, and hands-on been-there done-that experts will be offering their knowledge and experience via the site.

(If you’re interested in contributing, sign up here.)

Respondents to the survey ranked marketing automation leaders on 24 criteria, including cost, maturity, performance, reliability, and integratability. Interestingly, Silverpop ranked higher than Salesforce for integration with CRM systems, in spite of the fact that Salesforce, of course, was built around CRM.

In a recent update to his mammoth marketing automation buyers’ guide, industry analyst David Raab —  who himself is soon to be a VB Intel contributor — estimated the marketing automation industry will reach $1.2 billion by the end of 2014. That’s just in the business-to-business space, as the industry expands beyond email and web to social, paid search, and direct marketing. And, of course, as the industry grows far beyond simply catering to tech companies.

There’s plenty of room for that growth.

“We see only about 3 percent penetration in non-technology midmarket companies,” Act-On CEO Raghu Raghavan told me recently. “And the high-end of the market — above $500 million in annual revenue — is only about 20 percent penetrated.”

The full VentureBeat Marketing Automation Index report is available here.

More information:

International Business Machines Corporation, abbreviated IBM and nicknamed Big Blue (for its official corporate color), is a global technology and innovation company headquartered in the Northeast US. IBM is the largest technology and ... read more »

Salesforce, the Customer Success Platform and world's #1 CRM, empowers companies to connect with their customers in a whole new way. The company’s platform and application services include: Salesforce Sales Cloud, the world's #1 sale... read more »

Silverpop is the only digital marketing technology provider that unifies marketing automation, email, mobile, and social. Our customers achieve superior Return on Relationship, by uniquely engaging each individual based on their behavi... read more »

Eloqua, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Oracle, is the leading provider of modern marketing automation and revenue performance management software that helps ensure every component of marketing works harder and more efficiently to drive r... read more »

Marketo (NASDAQ: MKTO) provides the leading marketing software for companies of all sizes to build and sustain engaging customer relationships. Spanning today’s digital, social, mobile and offline channels, Marketo’s® customer eng... read more »

SAS is the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. With innovative business applications supported by an enterprise intelligence platform, SAS helps 45... read more »

Infusionsoft provides the leading sales and marketing software for small businesses, designed to help them get organized, grow sales and save time. Unlike other software providers, Infusionsoft is solely focused on small business succe... read more »

Act-On was created to empower small and mid-sized businesses to effectively market online at a fraction of the effort and cost incurred by larger enterprises. Little beyond email marketing existed to serve small marketing teams until A... read more »

HubSpot is the world’s leading inbound marketing and sales platform. Since 2006, HubSpot has been on a mission to make the world more inbound. Today, over 10,000 customers in 65 countries use HubSpot’s software, services, and suppo... read more »

LoopFuse provides marketing automation solutions. It offers OneView marketing automation suite that provides marketing tools. The company offers organizations the ability to generate leads from their website, score and route leads, mar... read more »

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