Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ranking the Demand Generation Vendors by Popularity (Yes, Life Really Is Just Like High School)

As you might imagine, I’ve been trying to decide how to expand the set of products covered in the Raab Guide to Demand Generation Systems. My original plan had been to add several marketing automation vendors with significant presence in this market. The tentative list is Unica, Aprimo, Alterian, and Neolane.

But I’ve also been approached by some of the other demand generation specialists. My original set of products was based on a general knowledge of which companies are most established, plus some consultation with vendors to learn who they felt were their main competitors. So far the original list of Eloqua, Vtrenz, Marketo, Manticore Technology and Market2Lead has proven a good set of choices. Yet there are so many more vendors I could add. How to choose?

The general rule is pretty obvious: pick the vendors that people are most interested in. We do, after all, want people to buy this thing. Of course, you want some wiggle room to add intriguing new products that they may not know about. Still, you mostly want to the report to include the vendors they are already asking about.

But although the general rule is obvious, which vendors are most popular is not. Fortunately, we have the Internet to help. It offers quite a few ways to measure interest in a vendor: Web searches, blog mentions, Google hits, and site traffic among them. All are publicly available with almost no effort. After a close analysis of the alternatives, I have decided the Alexa.com traffic statistics are the best indicator of vendor market presence. (You can read about the analysis in fascinating detail on my marketing measurement blog, MPM Toolkit.)

The table below shows the Alexa rankings and share statistics for the current Guide entries, the four marketing automation vendors already mentioned, and a dozen or so contenders.

Alexa

Alexa

rank

share

Already in Guide:

Eloqua

20,234

0.007070

Silverpop

29,080

0.003050

Marketo

68,088

0.001700

Manticore Technology

213,546

0.000610

Market2Lead

235,244

0.000480

Vtrenz

295,636

0.000360

Marketing Automation:

Unica / Affinium*

126,215

0.000850

Alterian

345,543

0.000250

Aprimo

416,446

0.000220

Neolane

566,977

0.000169

Other Demand Generation:

Marketbright

167,306

0.000540

Pardot

211,309

0.000360

Marqui Software

211,767

0.000440

ActiveConversion

257,058

0.000340

Bulldog Solutions

338,337

0.000320

OfficeAutoPilot

509,868

0.000200

Lead Genesys

557,199

0.000145

LoopFuse

734,098

0.000109

eTrigue

1,510,207

0.000043

PredictiveResponse

2,313,880

0.000033

FirstWave Technologies

2,872,765

0.000017

NurtureMyLeads

4,157,304

0.000014

Customer Portfolios

5,097,525

0.000009

Conversen*

6,062,462

0.000007

FirstReef

11,688,817

0.000001


The figures themselves need a little explaining. The Alexa rank is a “combined measure of page views and number of users”, with the most popular site ranked number 1, next-most-popular ranked number 2, etc. (In case you're wondering, the top three are Yahoo!, Google and YouTube.) Alexa share represents “percent of global Internet users who visit this site”. The rank and share figures correlate closely, but share is probably for comparing sites, since the ratio directly reflects relative traffic. That is, a share figure twice as large as another share figure indicates twice as many visitors, while a rank that is one half as large as another rank doesn’t necessarily mean twice as much traffic.

The figures for the existing vendors, in the first block of the table, give pretty much the ranking you’d expect. One wrinkle is that Vtrenz is owned by Silverpop, so Silverpop.com presumably siphons off a great deal of traffic from Vtrenz.com. On the other hand, Silverpop is a major email service provider in its own right, so a large share of the Silverpop.com traffic probably has nothing to do with Vtrenz. In any event, I’ve listed both sites in the table. Vtrenz is clearly a major vendor, so nothing is at stake here except bragging rights.

What’s more interesting is the figures for the Marketing Automation group. Unica is quite popular, while the other vendors are much less visited. This doesn’t particularly surprise me, although seeing Alterian, Aprimo and Neolane rank well below Manticore Technology and Market2Lead is odd. Perhaps these vendors are more obscure than I had realized. Still, they are much larger firms and do much more marketing than Manticore or Market2Lead. Interestingly, the other measure I found somewhat credible, IceRocket’s count of blog mentions, ranks Alterian, Aprimo and Neolane considerably higher than Manticore and Market2Lead. (See the MPM Toolkit post for details.) So the marketing automation vendors are probably a little more important to potential Guide buyers than the Alexa numbers suggest.

But my real concern was the Other Demand Generation group. Here, the Alexa figures do provide some very helpful insights. Basically they suggest that Marketbright, Pardot, Marqui and ActiveConversion, are all pretty much comparable in market presence to Manticore and Market2Lead. I spoke with Marketbright and Pardot this week and connected with ActiveConversion some time ago. Based on those conversations, this seems about right. (Marqui is a special case because they fell on financial hard times and the assets were recently purchased.) Rankings fall off sharply for the other vendors on the list, providing a reasonable cut-off point for the next round of Guide entries.

Of course, nothing is set in stone. Perhaps one of the smaller vendors can convince me that they have something special enough to justify including them. Plus there is still the question of whether I should invest the effort to expand the Guide at all, and what sequence I do the additions. But, whatever the final result, it’s nice to have an objective way to measure vendor market presence.

7 comments:

Jep Castelein said...

I have worked with Market2Lead, Marketo, Pardot and LeadGenesys and feel that they are very close in features and scope. Market2lead is the most feature-rich and therefore also most complex. At the other end, Pardot is the master of the 80/20 rule, keeping things simple where possible. LeadGenesys is best with understanding and supporting the marketing and sales processes, and providing excellent metrics. Marketo is possibly the most balanced, although sometimes with a little too many Web 2.0 bells-and-whistles.

David Raab said...

Thanks Jep. Can you explain what you mean by the 80/20 reference to Pardot?

Jep Castelein said...

With 80/20 I mean that they strike a great balance between including the essential functionality, but not getting bogged down in feature wars that make the product overly complex. Therefore I find the system very easy to use. However, especially non-technical marketers may find that Pardot's functionality is organized more by features than processes. In other words: less focused on providing a step-by-step approach for setting up a campaign (Marketo does this better).

Adam Blitzer said...

Thanks for the kind comment Jep.

David, I believe Jep's 80/20 rule reference means that we make intelligent product choices for our target market: Small and mid-sized enterprises. For example, our scoring works out of the box and meets the needs of 80% of clients. The other 20% can customize it later if needed.

We do not build "one-off" features to win deals and instead focus on functionality that would benefit 80% or more of our client base.

David Raab said...

Thanks Jep. I think you are dead-on that having a process rather than feature orientation makes a huge difference in usability.

kevin.courteau said...

I was just pitched by Trovus - a UK firm on a lead gen proposal that was very similar to Pardot.

Are you familiar with this firm and how would you rate them?

Thay are at http://www.trovus.co.uk/

Thanks,

Kevin Courteau
Global Crossing

David Raab said...

Kevin,
It looks like Trovus is only capturing and tracking Web site visitors, similar to a LeadLander or DemandBase. This is just a fraction of what Pardot and other demand generation systems do.