Raab Associates has released its latest report on marketing automation platforms.
The annual report, called the B2B Marketing Automation Vendor Selection Tool (VEST), provides more than 200 data points about each product, narrative descriptions of vendor strengths and weaknesses and fitness ratings for small, mid-size and large marketing departments. And it shows a surprising trend in new product features. (Disclosure: VEST is one of the third-party reports VentureBeat sells via its VB Insight store.)
While you might expect marketing automation vendors to focus on trending topics such as content marketing and mobile and social media, the reality is that fewer than 10 percent of vendors have launched new features that embrace those channels.
If ‘buzzword features’ aren’t getting all the attention, what are? The answer, according to the VEST report: Nearly half of all upgrades by marketing automation vendors in the past year relate to analytics.
Raab Associates’ Principal, David M. Raab, has over 30 years’ experience as a marketer, consultant, author, and analyst. The VEST helps marketers purchase a marketing automation system that matches their needs and is known for being extensive and comprehensive.
I asked Raab if he thought the drive to add analytics features was due to customer requests or because the vendors realize this is their weakest area. Are they just plugging gaps in their products?
“It’s a bit of both,” Raab told me. “Changes related to lead scoring were concentrated among some of the less mature vendors, who were indeed filling gaps. But other changes were spread more broadly and were generally related to advanced capabilities such as fractional revenue attribution, predictive modeling, and marketing stage analysis. Those were more driven by customer needs, whether requested by clients or anticipated by the vendors,” Raab said.
In addition to trend analysis, the VEST saw nine new features added to the index this year. Which of the new additions to the report excited Raab the most? “The ones that are most interesting are those that are still relatively rare, including algorithmic revenue attribution, connections to external data and simulation of campaign flows,” Raab said. “Each of these happens to support expansion of marketing automation in a different direction; paid advertising, deeper operational integration, and advanced optimization. It will be interesting to see which direction turns out to be most successful.”
Also of interest in this year’s report are details of the continued expansion of the marketing automation space. For the third year in a row, 50 percent revenue growth is being reported across the industry. Is this sustainable?
“Nothing can continue forever, but I don’t think we’ll slow down for the next year or two,” Raab told me. “There are still plenty of companies who are buying their first system, and there is an increasing supply of marketers who have experience with these systems.”
The latest VEST includes detailed analysis, industry revenues, and vendor reports that show each company’s strengths and weaknesses. Interactive quadrants show the leaders and challengers for different industry segments, and readers can adjust these to show the most suited targets for their marketing automation needs.