A recent Forrester Research study of six marketing-automation products found that all have relative strengths and weaknesses. But when it comes to satisfying the greatest breadth of requirements, two stand out.
"There's a universe of requirements we looked at," said Eric Schmitt, a senior analyst with the Cambridge, Mass.-based firm. "It's an oversimplification to say products A and B are the two best."
However, Forrester's Consumer Marketing TechRankings system identified Affinium from Unica Corp. and E.piphany Inc.'s E.6 as most likely to "bubble to the top," Schmitt said. The other products had strengths and weaknesses in areas such as segmentation, integrated analytics, architecture and user interface.
The report also evaluated DoubleClick Inc.'s Ensemble 6.5, SAS Institute Inc.'s Marketing Automation 3.2, Siebel Systems Inc.'s Siebel 7.5.3 and Teradata's CRM 5.0.
Oracle Corp., PeopleSoft Inc. and SAP AG elected not to participate in the study.
Over the last 18 months, Forrester interviewed more than 100 companies using or considering marketing-automation software. Analysts also reviewed the applications' documentation and spent a day with each vendor for a hands-on evaluation. The research was focused on companies with millions to tens of millions of customers that need high-volume, consumer-facing programs, Schmitt said.
The products all had particular areas where they performed well. For example, high-volume, retail financial services firms with large amounts of customer data should consider Teradata, Schmitt said. Similarly, DoubleClick scored well in combining Web and e-mail capabilities. Companies running Siebel in their call centers may want to consider Siebel for marketing automation, Schmitt said.
"It's interesting to note Siebel was the only one of the big CRM suite vendors that chose to participate [in the study]," Schmitt said. "While we didn't find Siebel best in class for traditional database marketing, they had some interesting applications, particularly in distributed marketing, such as with field agents needing to review data."
The results also offered a few surprises, Schmitt said. Teradata has a good depth of integrated customer analytics, and, along with E.piphany, separated itself from the pack.
"In general, these products are supporting many modes of campaign management," Schmitt said. "In the past, it was basic batch and blast. Now you're finding widespread support for multi-step, recurring and trigger-based campaigns."
Schmitt said he has also seen more support for real-time marketing, software that can analyze customer preferences, providing targeted offers and messages on the spot for agents dealing with inbound customer calls.
From customer interviews, the study revealed that many companies are interested in the intersection of customer service and marketing, self-service such as online billing and management tools, and direct mail and e-mail campaigns. According to the research, the two things companies want most from their marketing-automation software are help collecting, analyzing and segmenting customer data and the ability to act on that data through measuring, designing and executing marketing programs.
Related research by Forrester subsidiary Giga Information Group found that many companies face internal pressure to select marketing automation software from their CRM vendors. Yet high-end business-to-consumer companies running sophisticated marketing campaigns find that the applications often fall short of the capabilities they need.
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