Digital Marketing Depot’s B2B Marketing Automation Platforms Intelligence Report 2015 examines the current market for B2B marketing automation platforms and the considerations involved in implementing marketing automation software.
According to the report a number of significant marketing automation market trends are shaping the B2B landscape this year, including:
- Continued expansion of the marketing automation ecosystem.
- B2B adopts predictive analytics for lead scoring.
- Software as a Service (SaaS) evolves to Marketing as a Service (MaaS).
Trend #1: Continued expansion of the marketing automation ecosystem
The speed of marketing automation development has led even the largest vendors to open their platform architecture to allow integration with a wide range of independent software vendors (ISVs). Virtually every major marketing automation platform offers either built-in or plug-and-play access to a wide range of apps.
As a result, the marketing automation ecosystem now includes digital campaign management, social media and video marketing, web publishing, data management and intelligence, accounting applications – and much more.
Some vendors take a “suite” approach by integrating the apps into the platform, meaning the customer still buys everything from one vendor.
Other vendors offer open APIs, allowing ISVs to create custom software that plugs into the platform. This approach lets potential clients choose apps that are most relevant to their business goals, and often appeals to SMBs on a tight budget.
Both approaches leverage an open platform, giving the marketer a one-click, cloud-based access to the desired apps.
Trend #2: B2B adapts predictive analytics for lead scoring
Predictive analytics, which are widely used in B2C marketing to recommend product purchases based on historical online behavior, are now being used by B2B marketers to enhance lead scoring.
The goal is to use machine learning to more accurately identify, qualify, and close leads.
Traditional lead scoring models are based on two sets of data values: behavior and demographics – with scores based on an average of 10 data points. Predictive scoring can incorporate 200 or more data points by sourcing websites, social networks, and internal systems such as the CRM and marketing database itself to calculate scores. Opportunities can score higher based on factors such as recent business growth or their similarity to customers that made a purchase.
Nearly half of the features upgraded by B2B marketing automation vendors in 2014 related to analytics, according to Raab Associates. A growing number of predictive analytics software vendors also have become part of B2B marketing automation platform ecosystems. These include Lattice Engines, Mintigo, Fliptop, 6sense, and Infer.
Trend #3: Software as a Service (SaaS) evolves to Marketing as a Service (MaaS)
Educating the marketing end user has been one of the biggest challenges facing B2B marketing automation vendors seeking to increase market penetration.
According to Sirius Decisions, 85% of B2B marketers using marketing automation platforms don’t believe they are using them to their full potential. As a result, the term “marketing as a service” or MaaS has taken hold as vendors combine their software platforms with marketing services in order to provide full service.
Some vendors are doing this on their own; others are targeting agencies that already provide services but don’t have the software capabilities; while others – particularly the larger suppliers – are forming partnerships with outside agencies.
At the enterprise level, Salesforce and Adobe each partnered with two of the largest international agency holding companies in September 2014. Salesforce and Omnicom agreed to create a “CRM alliance” that will provide Omnicom agencies with access to Salesforce Marketing Cloud solutions, including ExactTarget (and Pardot). Publicis Groupe signed on with Adobe to offer its agency network the “Always-On Platform,” comprising several Adobe Marketing Cloud products including Adobe Campaign, Adobe Analytics, and Adobe Media Optimizer.
HubSpot and newcomer SharpSpring are targeting the mid-market with agency-focused products specifically designed for managing multiple clients. HubSpot’s Partner program provides platform support, training, and exposure to agencies. SharpSpring provides agencies with a white-labeled platform, discounted pricing, and features such as single sign-on to facilitate access to multiple accounts.
In the SMB market, platforms such as Act-On have made adjustments to their existing products to improve marketer ease of use. Act-On’s changes include drag-and drop content creation and management, a UI for customizing dashboards, and an independent CRM integration layer that provides transparent integration of CRM systems such as Salesforce and SugarCRM.