Adobe is in. But the even bigger story is that so are 11 other marketing automation startups, newbies, and players.

Starting almost four months ago, VentureBeat surveyed over 1,000 marketing pros about the marketing automation systems they use. We used that data to build the VB Marketing Automation Index and highlight some of the best picks in this fast-growing segment of marketing technology.

But there have been two massive changes in marketing automation that have become more obvious over the past few months.

Big cloud suites versus point solutions

Image (2) adobe-logo.jpg for post 106458One change is the ever-more stark differentiation between the massive marketing clouds (Adobe, IBM, SAS, and Oracle) as opposed to the standalone solutions from still-independent players, highlighted by leaders Marketo and Hubspot. And the other change is the virtual flood of new players, including both startups and established companies, that are charging into the marketing-tech space and offering marketing automation solutions for different verticals and with different foci, as well as varying degrees of maturity and completeness.

So we’ve updated our Marketing Automation report, adding 12 new companies.

The most significant is Adobe’s massive marketing cloud, which saw huge updates at the company’s recent summit conference. For now, we’ve ranked it behind solutions we’ve received more user feedback about, such as those from SAS, Oracle, and IBM, but the company is showing both a strong commitment to usability and a serious ability to scale to the largest company’s needs. And while it is an integrated solution, Adobe focuses pretty much its only enterprise product on marketing, meaning it is not distracted by ERP systems or databases or other enterprise baggage.

The VB Marketing Automation Index:
1,000 marketing pros, 84 pages, 22 charts, 11,600 words

That has the potential to allow Adobe to have perhaps as much laser focus on a strong marketing solution specifically as an independent such as Hubspot or Marketo but also bring enterprise resources and scope to the project.

The other big change?

Startups, startups, startups

Startups! And, of course, “startup” divisions from more established companies.

500 startupsMarketing tech is growing quickly fast right now, and that’s attracting investment and opportunity. There’s mobile-focused marketing automation startup Kahuna, which just took in $11 million in funding. We’ve also got our eye on local marketing heavyweight ReachLocal, which is bringing marketing automation to over 1,000 small businesses, as well as Swedish startups like Leadsius. And the flood of new companies bringing marketing technology — or, often, marketing technology lite — is impressive.

While providing more options and more price points for companies seeking to adopt marketing automation, this also makes the industry noisier and makes decisions harder.

So we profile 11 new or recent entrants to the space, including Spokal, Nurture, CommandIQ, Mindmatrix, Genoo, Boingnet, Simplycast, and Hatchbuck. Each focuses on a slightly different piece of the market, and many of them are extremely inexpensive, allowing for cheap entry points to the marketing automation universe.

The new rankings

We’ve also followed TrustRadius’ lead in separating out companies into enterprise, mid-market, and small-business segments. The spaces are just too different to lump companies into one index.

content marketing tacticsYou will notice, however, that two companies appear in two categories. Marketo, for instance spans both mid-market and enterprise, while Hubspot spans small business and mid-market.


  1. SAS
    Power, power, power. Pricy, but perhaps the most user-friendly big-company solution
  2. IBM
    Power to spare. Expensive. But comprehensive too, and will soon come with enhanced B2C functionality via recent acquisition Silverpop
  3. Oracle Eloqua
    The power of enterprise and (some of) the usability of a modern startup, with the promise of improved usability to come
  4. Marketo
    Explosive growth and a wide range of tools, with strong core of dedicated users
  5. Adobe Marketing Cloud
    A massive solution with the promise of impressive interoperability


  1. Realtime-Marketing-Lab-Logo 160pngHubspot
    Simplicity and accessibility, plus power, all in one package
  2. Marketo
    Explosive growth and a wide range of tools, with strong core of dedicated users
  3. Salesforce
    A vision of ultimate connectedness in Salesforce1, and a lot of present reality in AppExchange — plus, of course, Pardot
  4. Act-On
    Strong mid-market performer with a focus on non-tech, non-Silicon Valley companies

Small business

  1. Hubspot
    Simplicity and accessibility, plus power, all in one package
  2. Infusionsoft
    Built-in e-commerce, drag-and-drop campaigns, very affordable
  3. LoopFuse
    Acquired by SalesFusion; will affordability suffer?

The updated VB Marketing Automation Index is available here.