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Number one… Small-Business-Friendly Vendors need to have clear pricing, easily available on their website.  If they do, they make the next cut.
We then check if they offer reasonable terms, no or low start-up fees, and affordable fees?  Many providers offer free services for beginners. Our matrix represents those vendors who espouse these simple premises so you can save time deciding on their offers and learn about marketing automation in the process.  Please understand that judgements are made, in many cases, on a cursory look at their web sites (something that you would have to do if you wanted to evaluate these things) but in many cases I have first-hand experience with vendors and their products. They do not have clear pricing on their web sites and force you to search or inquire about pricing. Believe it or not, I think there are a few who don’t really want to speak to people at all. If we look at their reasons (the vendors), I suspect that they are primarily interested in bigger customers. People with small but growing businesses don’t have time to wade through 60 web sites or talk to 80 salespeople to find the best marketing automation providers. Marketers realize that an omnichannel customer can only be served properly when having a single customer view.
Omnichannel, multi-channel, whatever you call it: all channels matter in the buying journey.
As no business has one typical customer with one static channel preference, buying behavior or media consumption pattern, cross-channel marketing automation tools have taken a high flight.
I have been working with several marketing automation vendors and – more importantly – talking and working with many of their customers. Furthermore, in a growing and highly competitive market, marketing automation vendors focus a lot on aggressive acquisition and sales. As a matter of fact, the main reason why marketing automation fails, has everything to do with content marketing or better: a lack of it. Don’t get me wrong: marketing automation is not about deploying everything right away, it is a staged approach in most cases.
There are of course other reasons why marketing automation often fails and I will cover those that are related with content and content marketing in later posts.
In some cases, the marketing automation vendors are to blame as well, they don’t give the example. Are the people you will work with proactively using content marketing and social media marketing themselves? Again, your marketing automation partner has a responsibility in being clear about this, it’s not just about technology and selling licenses. In Q1 2012, Forrester Research released an update on its Forrester Wave Email Marketing Vendors report. This report is meant to give an overview of how the email service providers stand in relation to each other and how they measure up. But, as it turns out, only a few enterprise-level email marketers will truly get the value from this report. At the end of 2011 Forrester conducted product evaluations, interviewed 18 email marketers and did an online survey of 74 email marketers to gain client feedback on their vendors and the market. The first part of the report goes into the survey, with questions about the biggest challenges in email marketing, which email tactics are often applied, and what these marketers think is the most important part of the vendor offering.

The email vendor report also includes a table with the most-applied email tactics, split up in daily vs. It becomes more interesting when the marketers rank the different vendor offerings by importance. The second part of the Forrester report is the actual email marketing vendor wave chart and a table with the wave scores. Forrester decided to narrow the number of vendors included in the report and only looked at enterprise-level email marketing vendors. The Forrester wave scores the email marketing vendors based on current offering and strategy, and then plots them in a graph. The truth is that some of the criteria in the 2012 report (like percentage of enterprise clients or main focus market) aren’t shared by marketers that are selecting an Email Service Provider. It might be interesting to note that we could not find a dedicated press release by Epsilon Interactive, but Golden Lasso, although just mentioned in one line in the report, did seize the opportunity to inform the world about it. Forrester has made the Forrester Wave Email Marketing Vendors 2012 into a report that is usable (but certainly not complete) for American email marketers looking for an enterprise-level solutions. Some channels are more popular among specific target audiences or during specific stages of the path to purchase but in the end they all are important as buyers consult several content sources and information channels. And it’s striking to see how many undervalue – or at least underemphasize – the crucial role of content. True, content marketing is important and even underestimated in lead generation but it’s not just about that. Some marketing automation vendors don’t follow up and empower existing customers enough, with high churn rates and failures as a result.
While content is the glue in all marketing automation processes and in virtually all stages of the buying journey, you would be amazed to know how few businesses using marketing automation, actually have a content marketing strategy, let alone identified their buying personas, analyzed their content gaps or conducted a touchpoint mapping exercise with clear KPIs. But at the very least you start by having a customer-oriented strategy, including a content marketing strategy.
The more it is about your needs, the more they might be in helping you succeed of just themselves. Because it’s in the middle, between awareness and purchase that most content marketing fails. He's a digital marketing and business consultant with hands-on international experience, proven results and a 100% customer-centric view.
Forrester announced the acquisition of New York City-based JupiterResearch in July 2008 and then went on to release “The Forrester Wave: Email Marketing Service Providers” in December 2009.
The first part shows three graphs based on a survey conducted with 74 email marketers, all of whom are customers of the six vendors included in the Email Marketing Forrester Wave report.
Some of the vendors reach out to us and help us to understand their offerings better as well over time and we think that’s small business friendly too. Most of them actually struggle with finding relevant content in both dialog marketing in general and in email marketing, still the main way businesses use their marketing automation platforms. Although aggressive sales practices, overpromising and not helping marketers to fully use their marketing automation tools to generate value, do play a role. You need that follow-up, strategic advice and certainly content marketing plan that’s inevitable in any (B2B) marketing automation project as an end customer of the marketing automation platform you use.

And at the very least you are also on the main channels where prospects and customers want to interact with you in this day and age.
Most of the reasons why marketing automation fails are effectively about content marketing, processes and resources. J-P is active on the crossroads of marketing, management, customer service, publishing, digital technologies, psychology, media and IT since 1992. Second is the integration with other online tools, and third is the automation of next-best action. Even if they are among the select fortune 1000 companies that Forrester is aiming at, the last selection criteria, “prominence in client conversations,” seems a bit out of place for an industry report. Even if their prices are a little higher than others, they are generous with information and ideas. Indeed, the number of business that is ready to fully deploy marketing automation is still relatively low. Especially as content ranks high among the main challenges to marketing automation as the chart below shows. Proprietary offices around the world is deemed least important, but not all email marketers surveyed work for an international company. In the end, we’re often mainly talking about email marketing – and a bit of social and mobile but relatively limited – in practice. If the people, processes, resources, human intervention, common sense (think about lead scoring, for instance) and organizational and cultural ‘musts’ aren’t there, marketing automation simply fails. In one of our Google+ communities I once mentioned an example whereby even for a very basic and silly editorial calendar in Excel, one marketing automation vendor, HubSpot, (I’m a customer so, no harm) requires registration. You need to know that and your partner needs to tell you if he doesn’t just want to sell you a license and some consulting. It does give a nice roundup of what Forrester thinks are the future tactics that an email marketer could consider when selecting an Email Service Provider. This approach is often characterized by an undervaluation of digital and social channels in buying journeys and by a pure hard selling face-to-face approach.
Is it built around buyer personas or around the strict message and organization of the vendor or partner? Marketing automation vendors have to take up their role in that regard and not promise you a Rolls Royce when there’s no destination to drive to (the goals, the audiences), no driver (the teams and processes) and no gasoline (the content) in your company to start with. It might work on the short term and on a small scale but it’s disastrous for the competitive position and long term.

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