We recently wrapped up our first ever evaluation on lead-to-revenue management (L2RM) platforms.  In this 75-criteria evaluation, we identified the nine most significant solution providers in the category, and researched, analyzed, and scored them.  I want to extend my sincere thanks to each vendor in the report — Act-On, Adobe, CallidusCloud, IBM, Marketo, Oracle, salesforce.com, Salesfusion, and Silverpop — for committing to and participating in the often grueling Forrester Wave™ evaluation process.  

In the analysis, the Forrester team looked in detail at how the vendors support traditional business-to-business (B2B) lead management capabilities — lead capture, lead nurturing, lead scoring, and lead promotion — as well as meet the emerging needs of B2B marketers in cross-channel execution, social campaigns, and real-time, contextual triggers, optimization, and analytics.   

Forrester clients can read the full report here.

The Forrester Wave process is extensive. Here are some of my key takeaways after having scored 675 criteria, reviewed the transcripts of 30 interviews, watched 18 hours of vendor demos, topped off with 9-plus hours of vendor strategy presentations:

The L2RM Platform Buyer Needs To Exercise Deep Due Diligence When Making A Platform Selection

The L2RM platform market is a relatively mature market. The product portfolios of the L2RM platform vendors are replete with features and functions. Hundreds of millions of venture capital dollars have been put to good use generating features and functions — in addition to fueling marketing and sales. Every vendor can tick just about every box. L2RM platform buyers need to remember that more is not better; more is simply more. In fact, when you do not need extra functionality, more is sometimes worse. B2B marketing leaders need to inspire their teams to avoid making a quick decision: the differences are in the details. You must exercise deep due diligence to find your L2RM Platform. I would urge you to download the interactive scorecard tool and use it to customize the Forrester Wave model for your organization’s needs.

Theory Is Ahead Of Practice When It Comes To B2B Automation

The B2B marketing buyer is spoilt for choice with the functionality presented by the L2RM platform vendors. But, how is that changing the practice of marketing? Not enough, and not fast enough in my opinion. In addition to interviews with the vendor reference clients conducted for the Forrester Wave, I’ve had the chance to assess the state of marketing practice from conversations with hundreds of revenue marketing practitioners in 2013. I find that too many marketers have only used the L2RM platforms to automate what they were doing before; they are not taking advantage of a significant bit of the functionality. Based upon my anecdotal research, I’d estimate that nearly 50% of marketers aren’t even A/B testing their email subject lines; less than a third have implemented a progressive profiling strategy and only one in four has developed a lead nurturing strategy that goes much beyond a four-touch drip mail campaign. Forrester has a body of research, The Lead-To-Revenue Playbook, which aims to provide guidance and support for marketing leaders who need to build, re-engineer, or retrofit an L2R process. It’s worth a look if you’re trying to take your L2RM initiative to the next level.

B2B Marketing Leaders Are Moving Beyond Revenue Performance Management

Savvy B2B marketers are going beyond revenue performance management to transform marketing into the architect of engagement across the customer life cycle. They are re-engineering their lead-to-revenue process to transform marketing — from a top-notch supplier of leads for the load-bearing sales channel to the architect of customer engagement across the entire customer life cycle. And they are demanding that their L2RM platforms support this, with capabilities like: customer insight to personalize the web experience; improved capabilities for content creation, management, and delivery; seamless multichannel engagement capabilities; and better reporting and analytics, especially predictive analytics. L2RM platform vendors are stepping up with tooling that enables customer-centric, multi-channel, personalized marketing — at scale.

Watch This Space . . .

Change in the marketing automation market is likely to accelerate in 2014. Consolidation season has started. The past 18 months have seen some major acquisitions as vendors have moved closer to the vision of a fully integrated marketing automation system: Oracle acquired Eloqua, Compendium, and Responsys; salesforce.com acquired ExactTarget, which had previously acquired Pardot; Adobe acquired Neolane. Marketo, which had a successful initial public offering (IPO) in May 2013, acquired Insightera. More acquisitions and IPOs are likely in the year ahead. New buyers from B2C and B2B2C marketers will redefine the functional table stakes. And the pace of innovation, driven by new tech startups, will remain high.

Forrester clients can read the full report here. And keep in mind that if you’d like to discuss the findings or need additional guidance on a specific provider, you can set up an inquiry.