Marketing Automation Industry Scorecard and Analysis
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the world of marketing automation, wary of vendors’ extravagant promises, and confused by the buzzwords and jargon, take heart: You’re not alone.
In the first-of-its-kind study of the online marketing programs of 21 top marketing automation vendors, we came to an inescapable conclusion: Most are just as confused as everyone else.
Here’s some of what we found after 12 weeks of research:
- A big budget isn’t enough to make a search program successful.
- Most marketing automation companies don’t practice what they preach.
- Almost every company does some really dumb things that cost them a surprising amount of sales and revenue.
- Companies that sell software for inbound marketing are pathologically allergic to outbound marketing, to picking up the phone and calling prospects.
Marketing Automation: A Relevant, Growing Industry.
We focused on marketing automation for the first issue of The Angles Report® for a very simple reason. We use marketing automation software every day for online marketing, email distribution, lead capture, data collection, and analysis. The methods and messages marketing-automation companies use are designed specifically to work on people like us. They tend to be thought leaders in this space, and they have exposure to a wide range of campaigns, techniques, and tricks every day. Simple osmosis should make them great marketers.
Marketing automation also has become big business, with a range of companies large and small. This range corresponds nicely to a lot of marketers. You may not have a six-figure budget to work with, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from companies that do. Or, you may have an eight-figure budget in which case you’re right to be paranoid that smaller companies are outperforming you right and left.
|Industry: Marketing Automation|
|Average Unique Visitors/Month||2,181,695|
|Total Unique Visitors/Month||37,088,807|
|Average Monthly Budget||$119,228|
|Total Monthly Budget||$2,503,790|
Each month, our survey set of 21 companies attracts approximately 37 million unique visitors and spends $2.5 million on Google AdWords. (See above.) Most, but not all, of these companies purchase the very expensive category keyword “marketing automation” for as much as a $16.40 cost per click. Each day, there are about 400 searches conducted for “marketing automation.”
On average, the monthly paid-search budget for the companies researched was $119,000; with one spending as little as $4,750 while another shelled out $711,000. The average number of unique visitors each month was 2.1 million; there were 25,000 at the low end and 25 million at the high end.
A Big Budget Without a Great Process Is Worthless.
No matter the company size or scope of its online marketing program, we assessed how well each executed a well-established process: Advertise, capture data, engage and convert. To evaluate that process, we examined companies’ paid-search ads, landing and confirmation pages, and their follow-up with leads.
We scored each company for 200 metrics that were designed to be as objective as possible. (See Methodology for details.) The total scores for all 21 companies researched produced The Angles Report® company rankings, a profile of the average marketing automation vendor (See average score below.) and companies executing best practices (See winners below.):
|Program Scope||3.86||Constant Contact, Infusionsoft, Zoho|
|Category Keyword||8.14||Eloqua, Marketo|
|Category Focus||3.29||Emma, Leanplum, Marketo|
|Paid Search Total||15.29||Marketo|
|Technology||2.64||HubSpot, Marketo, VerticalResponse|
|Form Design||1.19||8-way tie|
|Landing Page Total||10.40||Marketo|
|Confirmation Page Total||3.45||Zoho|
|Overall||38 (out of 100)||Marketo|
Overall, the companies we researched performed best with their search programs, the first of the four-phase online marketing process. The weakest part of their downstream processes, on average, was the confirmation page. Marketo ranked first in three out of four categories, scoring 69.2. That’s well above the average company score of 38. (See Company Scorecards & Analysis.)
Not All Winners (or Losers) are Created Equal.
As we analyzed our findings, clear winners and clear losers emerged. Top-scoring Marketo, for example, led its closest competitor, Constant Contact, by 15 points. StreamSend came in last with 11.5 points and RedPoint Global nipping at its heels.
A surprise surfaced too: Winner or loser, budget alone doesn’t matter that much. The amount of money a company spends on search advertising has little to do with the quality of the downstream process it has in place to convert unknown prospects to known leads and ultimately, customers. A big budget isn’t enough to make a search program successful. Conversely, a great email program isn’t enough to make up for a paltry budget. It takes a fully integrated, well-executed, four-phase online marketing process to make an impact.
We found many companies significantly overspending on marketing and underinvesting in their marketing process. We call them Gamblers, because they’re betting that spending more is enough to win. Other companies underspend on marketing and overinvest in marketing process. We call them Investors, because they’re too cautious and are wasting opportunity. Both Gamblers and Investors, along with Losers that don’t get much of anything right, have work to do.
The Angles of Impact™ illustrates the impact of a company’s online marketing program based on how much it spends and on how good its program is. (See below.) We mapped AdWords position, a proxy for how much a company spends, against the score of its overall program.
|Winners in the upper right have an above-average marketing process and an above-average ad position on Google. Constant Contact, Eloqua, iContact, InfusionSoft, Marketo, Silverpop, VerticalResponse and Zoho are Winners. Leanplum and Pardot are right on the line.|
|Losers in the lower-left quadrant have the worst marketing process and are bidding the least on their paid-search advertising of the 21 companies surveyed. They are CallidusCloud, eTrigue, RedPoint Global, StreamSend and, industry golden child, HubSpot.
|Gamblers in the upper-left quadrant are placing big bets that a big budget will make up for a suboptimal marketing process: Sailthru, MailChimp, SALESManago and Sales-fusion. In the short run, they’re probably right, but in the long run, the house always wins.
|Investors in the lower right have put time, effort and money into quality marketing processes but are cautiously sitting on the sidelines while the Gamblers outbid them. It’s easier for an Investor to become a Winner than it is for a Gambler. But both Investors and Gamblers are squandering opportunities.
Marketers Must Strike a Balance Between Process and Budget.
Is it better to be an Investor or a Gambler? You can have the best marketing process in the world, but if you’re not spending enough to promote it, it doesn’t matter. Similarly, you can outspend your competitors, but if you don’t support that outlay with great follow-up with leads, the money doesn’t matter.
What does matter is balance, the balance between how good a marketing process is and how big the budget is to promote it.
In assessing how balanced the companies in our survey set are, we divided them into five groups
Five-star companies are in the top 20 percent for both marketing process and AdWords position. Theoretically, in a group of 21 companies, there is room for two five-star companies. Only Marketo made the cut.
|Four-star companies are the top 40 percent for either marketing process or AdWords position, but they’re still performing well in both areas. Eloqua is spending too much money while Constant Contact, iContact, and Zoho are spending too little, making Infusionsoft the Goldilocks of the bunch; its spend is just right.
|Three-star companies are in the top 60 percent for both marketing process and AdWords position and often rank much higher for one measure. Salesforce.com, IBM and Deluxe − big, multinational companies − own Pardot, SilverPop and VerticalResponse, which may explain why they’re spending more than they should.|
Two-star companies like MailChimp, SALESManago and Sailthru are hamstrung by a poor marketing process or, like Emma and SharpSpring, by a small budget. All two-star companies either spend too much on advertising or invest too much in process and are very imbalanced.
One-star companies are in the bottom 20 percent of either ad position or marketing process − or both. There could be one-star Gamblers and one-star Investors, but here all of the companies are Losers, underscoring how little impact HubSpot and the others have.