I’ve just published the latest edition of our B2B Marketing Automation Vendor Selection Tool (VEST), with updated entries on all your favorites and several new entries to boot. This is always a fun project because it gives me an overview of what all the vendors have been up to for the past six months. A few interesting trends stood out:
- revenue growth is accelerating. My data are a little less comprehensive than previously because several of the big vendors are now part of public companies and don’t share detailed information. Those that did provide information showed great growth in 2013, in most cases over the 50% I had predicted for the industry as a whole. Even more interesting, nearly everyone reported faster growth in revenue than in clients: to take one vendor that does provide statistics, HubSpot recently reported 50% revenue growth vs. 25% growth in number of clients. In their case and others, the reason seems to be a combination of larger size deals on new customers and growth in billing to existing customers. Based on this data, I’m projecting a 60% increase in industry revenue for 2014, to $1.2 billion. You heard it here first.
- the hot new feature is…SEO content rating. Yes, there’s continued growth in various aspects of social media marketing and in mobile-friendly content creation. That’s old news. What I hadn’t realized before is that at least a half dozen vendors had added or improved features to help marketers build content that attracts search engine hits on selected keywords or concepts. I suppose that’s become increasingly important as marketing automation moves beyond its original role in lead management to help attract new leads at the top of the funnel. (Do I get SEO credit for using “top of the funnel”?)
- lots of new vendors. I added four new vendors to the report, all of which have just begun to market their products aggressively. None is very large yet, except for SimplyCast, which won’t release precise data but did say it has 3,000 to 5,000 customers for its multi-channel customer management system (you may recall that I reviewed them briefly last week.) The new systems offer a broad range of configurations, from ultra-simple interfaces with limited functions to elaborate multi-channel workflows that are correspondingly complex.
- agency systems are big. Two of the four new vendors are agency system specialists, and several other vendors have also launched special agency editions. This creates some weird feature combinations, since agencies to serve small businesses need administrative features, such as precise user rights management, that are otherwise only used by big enterprises, . Of course, the reliance on agencies is more evidence that many marketing departments still lack the skills needed to do advanced marketing automation on their own – but you knew that.
- mid-market leadership may be up for grabs. Small but established mid-market firms including SalesFusion and eTrigue have been growing particularly quickly, as has Act-On. This may be because the current mid-market leaders, Marketo and Pardot in particular, have been focusing more on enterprise sales. I had thought that heavy funding would be necessary become a new market leader, which is the way Marketo, Act-On and HubSpot did it. SalesFusion did just take an $8.25 million investment but their revenue doubled last year without it. So perhaps having a good product and being focused will enough for someone new to elbow into a top-three position. We'll see.