Tuesday, August 05, 2014

VEST Report: Analytics Tops List of Upgraded Marketing Automation Features

I finished the latest release of the B2B Marketing Automation Vendor Selection Tool (VEST)  yesterday, which is always a great relief. But the elation lasted about two minutes, since I then had to write a press release announcing it. The challenge with that is you need a “news hook”, meaning something that gives reporters a reason to write about your story. For the January release, that’s always easy, since I have a new estimate of industry revenues and the press loves that sort of thing. But I can’t repeat that for the mid-year release.  That meant I had to dive back into the VEST data and find something interesting to say about it.

Of course, that isn’t all bad, since rolling around in industry data makes me as happy as a pig in mud.* But finding clever insights on demand is still tough. Happily, I did find something intriguing, at least to my obviously-biased eyes. You can read the headline in the press release or – lucky you – get even more details below.

What I did for my analysis was look at changes in vendor scores for the 200 items that go into the VEST data. That gives an interesting view of where vendors are improving their products. I had no particular expectation of what I’d find.  But when I looked at the most common items (those which had been upgraded by three or more vendors), it immediately became clear that changes related to analytics were heavily represented. In fact, if you count lead scoring and content testing as part of analytics, seven of the dozen items fell into that category. Who knew?

Looking deeper, I expanded my analysis to include items upgraded by two or more vendors, which included 43 of the 200 total. By golly, the results were similar – 19 of the items fell into analytics, compared with just four each in the next most common groups (campaign management, content marketing, and CRM integration). Houston, we have a pattern.

As I say, this result was totally unexpected, but it can still be explained with 20/20 hindsight. I might have expected more development of features for social, mobile, and content marketing, which are top-of-mind for many marketers today. But social and content marketing are mostly managed outside of marketing automation and mobile is mostly limited to ensuring messages are viewable on mobile devices.  By contrast, analytics is something most marketers do want from their marketing automation system and an area where great improvements are still possible. So a clear-eyed understanding of how marketing automation is actually used, as opposed to what people are talking about, would have predicted analytics as the focus of vendor attention.

Needless to say, this analysis is really just a byproduct of the primary purpose of the VEST, which is to assemble apples-to-apples comparisons of B2B marketing automation vendors so that buyers have an easier time finding the right system. I’ll probably circle back and write a bit more about the latest data in another post. In the meantime, if you’re actually in the process of making a purchase, or just want to understand the industry better, you can buy your very own copy at the Raab Guide Web site.


* Does anyone know whether pigs really like to roll in mud? It’s a great clich√© and all, but I am not a farm boy.

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