Key Findings from the 2021 ANNUITAS Enterprise Marketing Automation Platform Analysis
Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs) are perhaps the most misunderstood component of the Demand Technology Stack.
Too often MAPs are associated with tactical email nurturing and simple lead qualification — tactical use cases that dominate immature platform deployments. But in an enterprise environment, MAP is literally a keystone element – underpinning Enterprise Demand Process and enabling marketing and sales systems (and their data) to successfully operationalize go-to-market around customer journey.
Consider the following critical capabilities for MAP in an enterprise environment:
- Can it manage non-linear customer journey and multi-faceted contact-level and account-based lead qualification?
- Can it handle the processing demands of complex trigger actions and large numbers of data record updates – in real time?
- Does it have a capable, accessible, powerful – and two-way – API?
- Does it offer a solid integration with Salesforce (or other, leading CRM), including a view into the lead, contact, account and opportunity objects?
- Is it simple to set up for an experienced team and intuitive enough for non-technical marketers to create and monitor programs and generate reports?
- Can it support the full complexity of an automated, multi-channel, perpetual demand marketing program?
The importance of MAP to the Demand Technology Stack is also reflected in the significant size and ongoing growth of the global market for MAP software – valued at $4.06 billion in 2019.
Given the critical importance of MAP within an enterprise environment – and looking through the lens of strategic deployment of MAP – ANNUITAS|research conducted an extensive analysis of four of the leading, Salesforce-integrated MAP software vendors in late 2020. (This analysis focused on the Salesforce ecosystem, given its critical mass. Please expect additional analysis beyond this ecosystem in the future.)
The goal was to evaluate the ‘enterprise suitability’ of these platforms – i.e., their ability to play the ‘keystone’ role we believe MAP should play in an enterprise Demand Process environment.
You can download this ANNUITAS|research report here. Meanwhile, the following post outlines the key context for this report, as well as its key findings.
ADOPTING ENTERPRISE DEMAND PROCESS
The goal of enterprise Demand Process is to orchestrate all sales and marketing interactions, ensuring every touchpoint is right place, right time, as much a possible, while moving the customer through initial Engagement, Nurturing, and ultimate Conversion.
It represents a shift from a tactical, ‘random acts’ demand state to a sustainable and strategic mode for enterprise organizations.
Why take this strategic Demand Process approach to go-to-market in an enterprise environment?
- Go-to-market falls apart at execution: Don’t get me wrong, many companies have a very clear view of their target customer. They have built personas and conducted market research. They have done some customer journey work and know how to delight their customer through their product or service. But when it comes to their go-to-market approach, most companies continue to engage in random acts of sales and marketing, and so-called ‘growth strategies’ subsequently fall apart at execution. Enterprise Demand Process provides the framework to ensure successful go-to-market execution – keeping people, process, content, technology and data aligned to and optimizing customer journey.
- Technology is not a demand solution: Too often enterprise organizations consume an increasing amount of marketing and sales technology in order to address go-to-market challenges. Four problems emerge from this approach. One, these investments increasingly segment enterprise architecture and create more disconnects than interconnects. Two, these organizations find that their data quality actually erodes as these systems are not working together around a data value chain concept but in many cases are populating competing data. Three, all of the add-ons and plug-ins result in decreasing strategic use of CMS, MAP, and CRM; thus, core systems are used in a less sophisticated and mature fashion over time. Four, technology expenditures skyrocket, while ROI on these expenditures plummet. Adopting an enterprise Demand Process context helps rationalize enterprise architecture and improve the strategic role of every marketing and sales technology investment.
- Demand Process delivers substantial demand marketing ROI: The ANNUITAS data science team has tracked nearly 100 enterprise transformations over the past nine years. Successful Demand Process deployments typically drive 3.4X improvement in the return on demand marketing investments over current industry baselines for performance — a substantial, not an incremental, improvement.
EVALUATING ENTERPRISE MAPS
MAPs are the keystone for successful Demand Process delivery, management and optimization – constantly tracking customer journey, correlating customer interactions, triggering actions, orchestrating multi-channel engagement, and driving core logic around ‘where a customer is’ and ‘what’s the next, best content offer.’
The MAP thus can be thought of as the ‘brain’ of the Demand Technology Stack — constantly monitoring and optimizing customer critical path.
Given this point of view, ANNUITAS|research conducted evaluations of four leading MAPs through the lens of the necessary role and charter the platform plays in an enterprise demand technology environment.
This evaluation looked at the four market leading platforms today—Oracle Eloqua, Marketo, Salesforce Pardot and Hubspot—analyzing 112 requirements that are critical for enterprise environments.
These 112 requirements were grouped around five categories:
- Lead Management
- Operations and Reporting
- Salesforce Integration
- Ease of Use and Sustainability
The evaluation assumed that there are baseline expectations you should have from an enterprise MAP. These include:
- Complex, customizable Lead Qualification Stage management capabilities
- Complex, customizable scoring capabilities
- Complex nurture program build capabilities
- Sophisticated Salesforce integrations
- Large data repository and processing capacity
- Standardized, automated workflow management
We also considered the following core factors in the analysis:
- API strength and customization capabilities
- Service, support, and training
- Ease of use
The following summarizes our findings and provides key commentary on each of the four platforms we reviewed (for a more complete set of key findings and insights, please download this ANNUITAS|research report):
- The standout – in every enterprise evaluation category – is Adobe’s Marketo platform. Marketo scored 19% higher than Eloqua and Hubspot and 24% higher than Pardot in the analysis. While you might assume that ‘enterprise’ platforms are robust but complicated to use and that ‘SMB’ platforms are less robust but also easier to use, the Marketo platform clearly challenges this paradigm for enterprise environments. It is both very capable and excels at ease of use. It has arguably the strongest Salesforce Integration – scoring highest in this category. It also is a stand-out in Operations and Reporting with its’ real-time triggering capabilities – a key element for improving customer experience and for improving the ability of demand marketing to be right place, right time.
- The Hubspot platform – which has often been regarded as an SMB platform (and is market dominant in less-than-1M-records segment) – performed strongly and is worthy of consideration for enterprise environments. In fact, compared to Oracle’s Eloqua platform, which might be considered the enterprise stalwart of this group, the two platforms’ Overall Scores are statistically indifferentiable. Hubspot scored the number-two spot in the Operations and Reporting criteria category – speaking to its robust capabilities in program building and reporting. A key weakness is Hubpsot’s Salesforce Integration – with sync times longer than that of Marketo, Eloqua, and Pardot.
- Oracle’s Eloqua platform is a stand-out in its API and Salesforce Integration – two areas of strength and worthy reasons to consider this platform for enterprise use cases. And overall Eloqua sits in a strong second place among enterprise MAPs. Yet the factors holding back Eloqua from being number one come down to deficiencies in Operations and Reporting – where it scored last – and Ease of Use and Sustainability.
- The challenge for the Salesforce Pardot platform is that it really is not – and was not ever designed to be – an enterprise platform. When David Cummings and Adam Blitzer founded Pardot, their goal was to build an MAP that was the easiest for SMBs to use. And not surprisingly, the platform truly stands out in this area – scoring second in the Ease of Use and Sustainability category. It also has a compelling price – often highly discounted by Salesforce in enterprise deals. Yet its weaknesses hit critical factors for enterprise suitability – scoring last in the areas of Lead Management, API and Salesforce Integration (ironically). And that is why Pardot currently sits at number-four in our analysis.
Ultimately, every enterprise organization must make the right choice – for the right reasons – to support its specific enterprise Demand Process. No two use cases are the same, just as no two of these enterprise MAPs are the same. Given each platform has strengths and weaknesses, it’s clear that there is a strong opportunity for any organization to find a viable match among one of these four platforms.
We’d love to help frame your approach to Demand Process and to evaluating the right MAP – and the right Demand Technology Stack – for your organization. Let us know if you’d like to connect.
Meanwhile, below are some additional resources to consider: