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    Magic Quadrant for B2B Marketing Automation Platforms 2021


    Magic Quadrant for B2B Marketing Automation Platforms

    Published 20 September 2021 - ID G00734621 - 56 min read

    By Noah Elkin, Julian Poulter, and 3 more

    Acquiring business customers requires deep insight into their motivations and behaviors to drive relevance and conversion, and deliver growth. Digital marketing leaders should work with sales teams and other stakeholders to assess the right B2B marketing automation solutions for their organization.

    Market Definition/Description

    Gartner defines B2B marketing automation platforms as software that supports lead generation, lead management, lead scoring and lead nurturing activities across multiple marketing channels.
    The main goal of these systems is to capture, qualify and nurture leads to the point that they are sales-ready, then align them to the appropriate sales team member(s) to drive toward a closed deal. B2B marketing automation platforms assist with data cleansing (by eliminating incomplete or redundant lead information) and lead augmentation (by providing additional data about prospects). B2B marketing automation platforms are designed to primarily support B2B use cases, but they may also be applicable to B2C organizations selling high-consideration products and/or B2B2C models with more complex, indirect sales processes.
    The core capabilities of B2B marketing automation platforms include:
    • Ability to input, synchronize, cleanse and activate first-party data while augmenting existing contact data with third-party data sources and relevant data from other marketing, sales, data management and digital commerce systems
    • Lead scoring functionality supporting the creation and management of lead qualification processes using business rules and/or artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)
    • Lead workflow functionality enabling organizations to manage the lead life cycle from collection to conversion and retention/upsell, using a graphical UI suitable for nontechnical users
    • Ability to deploy and manage a customer engagement program across multiple channels
    • Ability to track, measure and report on strategic and operational KPIs to monitor and guide revenue generation, including revenue guidance and insight based on current lead and account volumes/quality
    • Access to preconfigured, out-of-the-box reports and data visualization/dashboarding capabilities appropriate for marketing, sales and executive users
    Optional capabilities of B2B marketing automation platforms include:
    • Predictive analytics supporting automation of marketing activities, such as journey design, content and next-best-action recommendations and autonomous campaign optimization
    • Prescriptive analytics that specify a preferred course of action for the end-user organization
    • Customer journey analytics supporting the ability to track and analyze the way customers and prospects use a combination of available channels to interact with an organization over time
    Note that this Magic Quadrant represents an evolution of the research formerly known as the Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management. This is the first iteration focusing on B2B marketing automation platforms.

    Magic Quadrant

    Figure 1: Magic Quadrant for B2B Marketing Automation Platforms

    Source: Gartner (September 2021)

    Magic Quadrant for B2B Marketing Automation Platforms
    Vendor Strengths and Cautions
    Act-On is a Challenger in this year’s Magic Quadrant. Act-On is focused on growth marketing for B2B companies through multichannel marketing, behavioral insights and automated life cycle engagement. Its operations are mostly in North America, and its customers tend to be small and midsize business (SMB) and midmarket companies within the business services, manufacturing, retail and hospitality, banking and securities, healthcare, and technology sectors. Recent innovations include an automated journey builder, SMS channel support and a unified view of contacts, with future improvements geared toward better user experience, expanded multichannel capabilities and enhanced contact data management.
    • Pricing: Act-On’s pricing model is defined by active contacts, determined by the customers in the contact database to whom organizations are actively marketing, and there are no consumption fees for volumes of emails sent. This helps marketers more easily manage their budget and limits surprises from changes in campaign strategy.
    • Multichannel lead management: Act-On provides marketers the ability to personalize messages across key engagement channels, including email, SMS and social platforms. Email marketing campaigns can be customized through adaptive sending, which optimizes the time to send each email by open and click times as well as a customer’s overall engagement with the company.
    • Product updates: In addition to major feature releases — including three during 2020 — Act-On software is updated on a weekly basis to provide minimal disruption to marketers.
    • Lack of AI/ML: Act-On does not incorporate AI nor ML in its software, as is common in most other vendors reviewed for this research. This requires marketers to manually determine the most appropriate selections within areas such as lead scoring attributes, engagement channels and advanced analytics, rather than choose from recommendations suggested by algorithms.
    • Account scoring: Act-On’s approach to account scoring considers accounts as a collection of leads rather than an account with its own unique attributes. For example, the calculation of an account score is a roll-up that aggregates all leads in an account or averages all leads in an account.
    • Minimal marketer visibility: Act-On has among the lowest awareness of all vendors in this research among Gartner marketing clients, and it has not increased as a result of the company’s rebranding efforts in 2020.
    Adobe is a Leader in this Magic Quadrant. Its Adobe Marketo Engage product supports multichannel marketing automation and account-based marketing (ABM), with comprehensive lead and account-based qualification. Its operations are globally diversified while its customers are predominantly in North America and tend to be enterprise-scale organizations in high tech, financial services and manufacturing. Adobe plans to launch a chatbot to trigger cross-channel actions for leads and accounts and route leads to sales, and enable the forthcoming B2B edition of Adobe Real-Time CDP to connect multiple instances of Marketo Engage. Expanded integrations with other Adobe products, including the Adobe Experience Platform, are also on the roadmap.
    • Ability to scale: Adobe enables the delivery of sophisticated multichannel campaign strategies and supports large-scale B2B programs through its comprehensive marketing automation suite, supporting both lead management and ABM.
    • Global sales and support: Adobe has a global footprint through direct and indirect channels to support co-selling, implementation and customer service. In addition, Marketo Engage’s UI is offered in six languages with broad support for documentation and training materials as well as landing page, email and form builders.
    • Third-party integrations: Adobe offers robust integrations through the Marketo LaunchPoint and Adobe Exchange marketplaces, including sales force automation (SFA) integrations with Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, as well as ABM, social media and event marketing solutions.
    • Lacks simplicity: While Adobe sells into growth markets, it lacks simplicity, leading to a steep learning curve and potentially hampering utilization. Gartner Peer Insights users score it lower than other vendors for ease of deployment, and Gartner clients indicate that Marketo Engage requires extensive resources and effort to deploy effectively. Marketers with basic multichannel lead management requirements should assess if Marketo Engage exceeds their needs.
    • Reporting and analytics: Some Peer Insights users cite this as an area for improvement and find it difficult to access needed reports seamlessly. Adobe offers advanced reporting and analytics in Marketo Engage through Bizible and other Adobe Experience Cloud applications to supplement its standard out-of-the-box reporting.
    • Product updates: Adobe has been slow to integrate Marketo Engage into the broader Adobe family. While these efforts as well as customer-requested updates are starting to deliver impact, B2B marketers should ensure they have a clear understanding of the roadmap and planned release schedules for future integrations and upgrades.
    BSI is a Niche Player in this Magic Quadrant. Its BSI Customer Suite provides marketing automation as part of a broader set of integrated applications. BSI’s operations are focused in EMEA, notably in DACH (Germany, Austria and Switzerland). Its clients tend to be large organizations in high-consideration B2C verticals such as banking and securities, insurance, and retail. BSI offers its solution with on-premises, cloud and hybrid delivery options. BSI recently released a new analytics and reporting dashboard with industry-specific reporting templates. BSI plans to launch a collaboration platform for customers to share journeys and scoring models. BSI also plans to extend its implementation partner ecosystem throughout 2022.
    • Single customer view: BSI provides a single view into customer data and profiles, including a network view for exploring the organizational relationships of individual contacts. Its extended capture and target plan, in combination with next-best-action recommendations, supports organizations seeking to increase their marketing effectiveness.
    • Native AI embedded: BSI comes with sophisticated algorithms and performance indicators that provide strong support for decisioning, personalization and process automation.
    • Ease of integration: BSI facilitates the integration of web applications through its open platform, enabling an efficient flow of customer data. A Zapier integration provides access to additional application libraries.
    • Implementation partners: BSI provides implementation services for the majority of its customers, with only 10% leveraging BSI-certified partners for implementations. Customers assessing BSI should evaluate the availability of deployment resources, as BSI has only a small number of implementation partners, mostly limited to the DACH region.
    • Privacy regulations: Customer data is kept in Switzerland or Germany, in line with BSI’s primary market focus. Prospective customers wanting to deploy BSI outside of Europe can leverage global providers like AWS and Google Cloud but should assess BSI’s capabilities to comply with privacy regulations outside of Europe, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
    • Events support: BSI doesn’t provide prebuilt integrations for online webinars and tradeshows, seminars nor other events. If prospective customers want to integrate these events, BSI provides integration support at extra cost.
    Creatio is a Leader in this Magic Quadrant. Its Marketing Creatio solution is designed to work with Creatio’s sales and service-oriented applications, all of which are integrated on a single platform. Its operations are mostly focused in EMEA and North America. Creatio primarily sells its B2B marketing automation solution to midsize and larger organizations, with a diversified footprint across multiple industries, led by financial services, manufacturing and high tech. Approximately 30% of deployments are on-premises. Creatio’s roadmap includes enhanced channel marketing attribution models for organizations with complex partner structures and AI-based look-alike audience creation functionality to identify audiences most likely to convert.
    • Expanding AI/ML toolset: Machine learning is embedded across Marketing Creatio and the accompanying core platform, helping marketers surface customer and account insights, identify potential target segments, score and route leads, and offer next-best-action recommendations. AI/ML models work alongside business rules, enabling marketers to manage traditional demand generation programs alongside ABM campaigns.
    • Lead scoring capabilities: Lead scoring and qualification stand out among Marketing Creatio’s strong feature set. The scoring interface features an intuitive visual workflow for building scoring models using triggers and filters, while ML-generated insights help marketers focus on customers most likely to engage.
    • Cost-to-value ratio: Marketing Creatio’s strong functionality comes with accessible pricing, which is based on the number of marketing users, the number of active contacts (those included in one or more marketing activities) and email volume. Creatio’s pricing model makes Marketing Creatio a good value for cost-conscious midsize organizations.
    • Sales strategy: Two-thirds of Marketing Creatio customers are concentrated in EMEA, while an expanding partner ecosystem extends the platform’s footprint to more than 100 countries worldwide. Given Creatio’s reliance on partners for implementation, marketers should weigh partner availability against their implementation and support needs in their given geography.
    • Native execution channels: With some exceptions, Marketing Creatio relies on third-party integrations for many marketing channel endpoints, putting the platform’s emphasis more on orchestration than execution. Marketers should weigh the added complexity of managing additional tools against the ease of their integration into Marketing Creatio when considering the platform’s suitability.
    • Limited marketer visibility: Marketing Creatio has generally low awareness among marketers, and particularly among Gartner clients. Given the unified nature of Creatio’s platform, marketers should align with sales and customer service on an investment in Creatio, as it provides the greatest value if used across all three customer-facing teams.
    CRMNEXT is a Niche Player in this Magic Quadrant. It offers a comprehensive suite of CRM software solutions. It provides a marketing automation module for tracking and measuring marketing campaigns through various channels, such as email, social media, direct mail and call centers. CRMNEXT also offers SFA and customer service modules. The company mainly serves companies in the banking and securities and insurance sectors, with operations concentrated in APAC. CRMNEXT launched its Open Communication Platform to enable marketers to engage consistently with customers as they switch channels. CRMNEXT plans to release AI-driven account activation and orchestration to support ABM. Advanced real-time augmented analytics to align marketing and sales are also on its roadmap.
    • AI/ML functionalities: CRMNEXT provides a rich set of AI-based technologies and predictive models for lead scoring, allowing for sophisticated configurations. This is especially valuable to customers seeking to generate and manage high-quality leads using machine learning and automation.
    • Data and process management: CRMNEXT has sophisticated data integration capabilities designed to support high-scale organizations managing multiple data streams. It also comes with a process configuration management module, which is particularly useful for organizations with multiple users and complex workflows.
    • Versatile deployment options: CRMNEXT delivers its comprehensive marketing automation capabilities in on-premises, cloud-based and managed service models. CRMNEXT is one of few vendors evaluated that allows for this flexibility in deployment options.
    • Complex and inconsistent UI: CRMNEXT comes with robust but complex functionalities that require a steep learning curve and time for getting familiar with their use. CRMNEXT’s marketing capabilities display inconsistent UI experiences across audience management, lead workflow, lead management and analytics functions.
    • Product awareness: Gartner’s search analytics indicate very limited awareness for CRMNEXT. The inquiry volume for Gartner experts on CRMNEXT is the lowest among the vendors evaluated in this research.
    • Market penetration: CRMNEXT’s customer base is highly concentrated among large banking, securities and insurance companies located in APAC. Customers outside these sweet-spot industries or based in other geographies should assess CRMNEXT carefully for its use cases.
    Freshworks is a Niche Player in this Magic Quadrant. Its Freshsales Suite focuses on providing simplified lead management functionality to B2B marketers, supported by the platform’s Freddy AI engine. Its operations are global, with a similar percentage of customers in North America, EMEA and APAC. It primarily serves SMBs and midmarket companies in high tech with fewer than 25,000 leads in their database. Freshworks’ roadmap includes ABM functionality, comprising integration with ABM platform providers and the addition of account segmentation functionality. Also on the roadmap is the addition of ad management and enhanced landing page and website optimization functionality.
    • Lead scoring/qualification: Prebuilt scores include the likelihood to convert, and Freshworks’ Freddy AI/ML provides recommendations tied to account properties, engagement or in-app/web activity. B2B marketers are also able to add their own scoring models and run multiple scoring models concurrently.
    • Ease of use: Freshsales Suite simplifies marketing automation by focusing on the most critical elements of lead management. This enables marketers to quickly implement and run simplified campaigns to their target audiences.
    • Pricing: Freshsales Suite offers a pay-as-you-go model with monthly and annual pricing based on the number of user licenses. This pricing scheme appeals to SMB and midmarket customers with less complex requirements who are seeking a cost-effective solution.
    • Sales strategy: Freshworks sells to SMB marketers via inbound marketing efforts, encouraging self-service acquisition of its product. Implementation packages start with two hours of training, with most training offered via self-service content.
    • Integrations: Freshsales Suite has a more limited CRM partner ecosystem than most vendors in this research, while its event marketing platform integrations are limited to meeting solutions and its web content management integrations are minimal. B2B marketers seeking integrations to existing tech stack providers should carefully evaluate availability to integrate with Freshsales Suite.
    • Market presence: While Gartner has seen a moderate increase in client interactions referencing Freshworks, it remains one of the lesser mentioned vendors in this research.
    HubSpot is a Leader in this Magic Quadrant. Its Marketing Hub provides multichannel customer and prospect engagement as part of a unified SaaS platform combining content management, sales and service modules with a common user interface and unified data model. The majority of HubSpot’s customers are in North America and EMEA, with around 15% in Latin America and APAC. Its primary customers were historically SMBs, but HubSpot has been making efforts to reach more enterprise clients. High tech and professional services are the leading supported verticals. On the roadmap are product enhancements to customer journey analytics and AI-powered recommendations that will be customizable and dynamic and will work across audiences and content.
    • Overall usability: Ease of use remains a differentiating attribute for HubSpot, with a common interface across all modules (including Sales Hub and Service Hub) and a unified data model. The product learning curve is less steep than some other products in this research, while the robust onboarding program and self-help resources make it a solid choice for smaller marketing teams. Gartner Peer Insights users noted a favorable balance among the platform’s functionality, flexibility and extensibility.
    • Marketing execution: HubSpot demonstrates a clear understanding of the marketing automation market and its own value proposition. Successive years of 30%+ growth rates have enabled HubSpot to take clear leadership in the midmarket, momentum it is now using to move upmarket to the enterprise segment.
    • Partners and ecosystem: HubSpot has invested heavily in its partner ecosystem, including independent software vendors (ISVs), 300+ integrations and over 4,000 implementation partners, many of which are marketing agencies. Partners have a broad and deep geographical footprint, facilitating access to qualified service partners, which is especially useful for SMB customers, as evidenced in Peer Insights reviews.
    • Vertical strategy: While many CRM vendors are moving to support industry-specific solutions, HubSpot currently remains a horizontal provider. This is also reflected in the partner community, where vertical-specific offerings do not feature. Many aspects of marketing are common across industries, but industry-specific data, integrations and processes can ease onboarding and execution and provide a competitive edge for leading companies.
    • Scaling costs: Peer Insights reviews indicate some concerns over costs, particularly for smaller companies starting on the free tier as contact volumes increase. Marketers should scope the number of contacts that they plan to maintain in the system.
    • Limited application of AI: Prebuilt predictive metrics are restricted to likelihood to close and contact priority. Beyond these, the marketer has limited ability to configure or use AI, especially in regard to predicting next purchases or recommending specific offers.
    Microsoft is a Challenger in this Magic Quadrant. Its Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing product provides multichannel marketing automation, and is part of the wider Dynamics suite comprising sales, service, commerce and the Customer Insights CDP. Dynamics integrates with Microsoft’s Power Automate workflow process builder, the Power BI analytics platform, Office and Teams for collaboration. Microsoft’s operations are global. It serves a range of verticals and company sizes, with a growing footprint in enterprise organizations. On its roadmap, Microsoft aims to add flexibility to customer journeys using the Power Automate ecosystem. It will also add deeper personalization capabilities and incorporate AI-driven insights into journeys.
    • Ecosystem: Microsoft AppSource offers marketers a rich ecosystem of add-on product capabilities and implementation partners. In addition to the wider Microsoft environment of Office 365, Power Apps/Automate/BI and the underlying infrastructure platform and services, Microsoft Azure provides a robust environment for organizations of any size to manage the prospect and customer experience.
    • Innovation: Microsoft provides transparency into its overall roadmap for Dynamics 365 Marketing and has invested significantly in the product in recent years. The August 2021 release of customer journey orchestration capabilities allows real-time personalization and engagement. Microsoft has also integrated Dynamics 365 Marketing with Microsoft’s Teams collaborative software.
    • Customer insights: Dynamics already operates from a common data model, facilitating marketer access to sales and service data across Dynamics applications. The Customer Insights CDP, a separate add-on module, enables marketers to unify other customer data to build rich customer profiles. This data is available throughout the product to provide insights, predictions and activations.
    • Market awareness: Despite advances to the platform’s functional capabilities, awareness of the Dynamics 365 Marketing solution remains low among Gartner clients, particularly among those in marketing organizations. Microsoft does not often appear on marketing automation shortlists or longlists seen by Gartner.
    • Usability hurdles: Maximizing certain functionalities within Dynamics 365 Marketing requires mastery of related tools, such as Microsoft Power Automate, that feature different UI mechanics and interaction elements. Several Gartner Peer Insights users noted that the tool’s complexity hampers usability.
    • CRM integrations: Dynamics 365 Marketing plays best with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales for lead flows and routing. SFA integrations beyond the Dynamics ecosystem are limited, with Salesforce Sales Cloud available as a data source rather than a bidirectional sync. Integration with ABM platforms is similarly limited. Organizations evaluating Dynamics 365 Marketing will need to use Dynamics 365 Sales to fully achieve alignment between marketing and sales teams.
    Oracle is a Leader in this Magic Quadrant. Its B2B marketing automation platform is Oracle Eloqua, which supports marketing teams in large, complex organizations through comprehensive audience management and lead management capabilities. It integrates with advertising, account intelligence, commerce, content management and CDP modules within the Oracle CX Marketing suite. Oracle Eloqua serves enterprise marketers in a range of industries. Its operations are mostly focused in North America and EMEA. The 2021 roadmap includes launch of SMS as a native execution channel, the introduction of ML-based predictive lead scoring and the addition of predictive decisioning within Oracle Eloqua’s campaign design canvas.
    • Robust offering: Oracle Eloqua provides a deep functional set that is particularly applicable to enterprise B2B organizations seeking scale in their marketing automation programs. Improved ABM functionality over last year’s research, the addition of predictive lead scoring, integrations with multiple SFA systems and broad consent framework support indicate Oracle’s understanding of marketing needs in large enterprises with complex sales teams and business unit structures.
    • Data enrichment options: Oracle Eloqua customers have access to Oracle DataFox, Oracle Advertising Data Enrichment and third-party options via the Oracle Cloud Marketplace. These sources provide marketers with an extensive array of signal data to enrich account and customer records and help match leads to accounts. Advanced filtering options within DataFox give marketers access to a database of over 7 million global companies.
    • Improved user experience: Oracle’s Redwood UX, which continues to be implemented across its CX Marketing suite applications, has yielded advances in navigation and made core audience management and marketing automation functionality more accessible. Gartner Peer Insights users’ sentiment was largely positive, with many citing improvements to Oracle Eloqua’s ease of use.
    • Sales complexity/pricing: Gartner clients perceive Oracle Eloqua to be a high-cost solution for the category, despite Oracle’s efforts to streamline pricing. Add-ons containing key functionality (such as the Advanced Intelligence package, which provides fatigue and send-time optimization analysis) incur additional costs and complicate the determination of the right solution set.
    • Partner network: Oracle has fewer globally available implementation partners supporting Oracle Eloqua than many other vendors in this research. Given that approximately 80% of customers rely on third-party vendors for implementation, marketers with multiregion operations should verify sufficient coverage from Oracle and its partners.
    • Market presence: Oracle Eloqua appears less frequently in Gartner clients’ RFPs and shortlists for a B2B marketing automation provider than its primary competitors. It similarly generates lower search volume across Gartner websites and fewer inquiries with Gartner analysts.
    Pega is a Visionary in this Magic Quadrant. Pega Customer Decision Hub is part of the Pega Infinity product suite, which provides marketing automation technology and Pega Next-Best-Action Designer. Pega Scenario Planner enables marketers to simulate next-best-action scenarios to understand which products or product mix provide the best sales opportunities. Pega primarily serves large organizations across a global footprint, with a strong presence in EMEA and North America. Its customers are mainly in high-consideration B2C verticals such as telecommunications, financial services and insurance. Pega’s roadmap includes the expansion of out-of-the-box integrations to third-party CRM/SFA tools and marketing and sales clouds.
    • Strong AI: Pega provides strong natively embedded AI functionalities to help marketers determine next best actions and timing for customers in inbound and outbound channels. Marketers seeking automation from lead generation to sales conversion will appreciate the robust set of AI-based technologies that Pega provides.
    • Optimization support: Pega has undergone a transformation of its community and enablement ecosystem with a mission-based gamified learning platform that provides personalized and continuous training, called My Pega. With this innovation, marketers are provided with mission-based free video training, can win badges (which can be shared on social media), earn skills certificates and have easy access to new features.
    • Lead routing: Pega provides customizable and intelligent business rules based on a variety of triggers, such as availability, location and skills for optimal lead routing options. Gartner clients seeking full automation in managing prospects as leads are qualified and routed to the best-suited seller will benefit from these capabilities.
    • Market presence: Pega isn’t highly recognized by marketers. Gartner’s own search analytics show low search numbers for “Pega marketing” across Gartner websites. The number of inquiries taken for its marketing capabilities is significantly lower than for those vendors in the Leaders quadrant. Reviews across all Gartner properties are very low in relation to other vendors in this Magic Quadrant.
    • Implementation partners: Pega customers tell Gartner that finding implementation partners for Pega can be difficult and initially costly. Customers should assess implementation support provided by Pega or independent implementation partners, because the availability of resources will have an impact on the deployment speed.
    • Learning curve: Pega comes with its own platform and infrastructure. Gartner clients report hurdles in mastering Pega’s metadata platform and architecture. Prospective customers should be prepared for ramp-up time to understand the platform’s comprehensive structure.
    Salesforce is a Leader in this Magic Quadrant. Its Pardot product is part of Salesforce Marketing Cloud and supports lead management, multichannel engagement and ABM in organizations primarily using Salesforce’s Sales Cloud SFA. Its operations are global, and its clients tend to be midmarket and enterprise organizations within financial services and high tech. An integration with Slack enables insight-driven marketing and sales collaboration on campaign workflows. Salesforce continues to invest in expanding Pardot’s ABM functionality and improving its content builder functionality. Also on the roadmap is functionality enabling marketers to leverage prebuilt or custom content components from Salesforce partners via the Salesforce AppExchange.
    • User interface: Peer Insights users and Gartner clients speak highly of Pardot’s easy-to-use interface. This enables users to easily ramp up on the platform and quickly access critical information in the interface.
    • Support resources: Salesforce’s extensive Trailblazer Community offers marketers the ability to network and share best practices. Peer Insights user sentiment around customer success managers is favorable as well.
    • Reporting and analytics: Salesforce has improved on last year’s caution by expanding capabilities in Einstein AI, offered in Advanced and Premium editions of Pardot, along with B2B Marketing Analytics Plus offered in its Premium edition. Marketers are able to easily customize reports and views and share lead- or account-based reports to groups or individuals.
    • Lead scoring models: Salesforce Pardot does not enable cloning nor exporting of lead scoring models. Marketers seeking to use rule-based scoring need to manually adjust models using its customizable scoring model.
    • Pricing/cost: While the Growth edition of Pardot starts at a competitive price point, opting for the Advanced or Premium offerings affects cost significantly. B2B marketers seeking additional capabilities should be sure to understand the add-on modules and packaging necessary to meet their business requirements.
    • CRM integrations: Salesforce Pardot focuses exclusively on integration with other Salesforce CRM solutions (Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and industry clouds). Marketers using other CRM and/or SFA solutions will need to consider other vendors in this research.
    SugarCRM is a Niche Player in this Magic Quadrant. Its Sugar Market solution, based originally on the acquisition of Salesfusion, is broadly focused on enabling marketers to develop, execute and refine multichannel lead management campaigns in conjunction with the company’s Sugar Sell and Sugar Serve modules. Sugar acquired Node.io in 2020, bringing AI and deep-learning-enabled analytics and predictions to Sugar Market and its other offerings. Sugar’s operations and customers are mainly in North America. It tends to serve SMBs and midsize organizations in high tech, manufacturing and professional services. The company plans to add further use cases of AI/ML and support for multitouch attribution and expand its event management solution.
    • Lead scoring: Multiple scoring models can be run simultaneously with a view at the record level of each score. Scores are available for leads, opportunities and now at the account level to support ABM initiatives. Marketers can use prebuilt models or configure any field to drill down to predictive scoring details.
    • Customer satisfaction: Gartner Peer Insights users gave SugarCRM high scores for overall satisfaction, starting with contract negotiations and continuing through integration and implementation.
    • Transparent product bundles: SugarCRM offers a transparent approach to pricing, product bundles and support, with limited add-ons. Entry-level pricing includes unlimited emails for 10,000 contacts.
    • Multichannel support: Email marketing and Google ads are native, but social advertising is a paid option through a partnership with Oktopost. Sugar Market does not offer the ability to reach unknown users with display advertising.
    • Event management: Sugar Market only has integrations with Webex and GoToWebinar, which may be limiting based on the rising sophistication of virtual events and their importance to marketers.
    • Market traction: SugarCRM’s limited marketing execution and social media presence relative to other vendors in this research result in a lower number of newly acquired customers. In addition, the long-established SugarExchange marketplace has a limited number of ISV partner entries.
    Zoho is a Niche Player in this Magic Quadrant. Its B2B marketing automation solution is a component of Zoho CRM Plus, which brings together sales, service and marketing into a single platform to maintain consistency across functions and produce blended, cross-functional outcomes. Zoho’s operations are geographically diversified. Its marketing automation solution primarily serves SMBs across a range of industries. Zoho is expanding the breadth of its messaging capabilities with planned native SMS support and connections to WhatsApp. While AI is already a strong element of Zoho’s platform, its roadmap includes expanding the scope of AI to include lead routing, recommendations for next best actions and analytics.
    • Lead workflow flexibility: Zoho’s lead flow functionality is easy to use because it starts with several prebuilt journeys that can be modified based on a list of triggers and incorporates ​​predictive algorithms for orchestration and routing using Zia, Zoho’s AI assistant. Conditional steps move leads in response to specific behaviors, including handing off to sales via a variety of methods or moving to other more appropriate journeys.
    • Ease of implementation: Gartner Peer Insights users gave Zoho high marks for implementation and ease of deployment. Most marketers managed this implementation with either their own internal team or only with the assistance of Zoho, not partners.
    • Large, global customer base: Zoho supports a large number of customers across the globe, and the number of new customers has grown each year for the past few years, along with a high retention rate of existing customers. A growing platform with many customers amplifies the possibility of finding other organizations that are using it to solve the same challenges.
    • Bundled platform: For Zoho to offer sophisticated lead management capabilities combined with predictive algorithms, it requires multiple solutions that are bundled with its CRM, unlike other vendors in this Magic Quadrant. While some SMBs may prefer a technology platform that brings together sales, service and marketing, this approach is less effective for larger organizations where functions and their supporting technologies are often already in place.
    • Limited integrations: Zoho’s marketing automation platform integrates with a limited number of non-Zoho tools, including only two SFA solutions: Salesforce and SugarCRM. Marketers should make sure their existing martech and SFA tools can connect with the Zoho platform.
    • Market presence: Even though Zoho has a large number of Peer Insights reviews of mostly happy customers, its presence among other Gartner channels (e.g., client inquiry, search volume) is limited, reflecting Zoho’s traction among primarily smaller organizations. Enterprise marketers should determine whether the Zoho platform can sufficiently address the needs of larger organizations with higher-scale data management requirements and more complex lead management challenges.

    Vendors Added and Dropped

    We review and adjust our inclusion criteria for Magic Quadrants as markets change. As a result of these adjustments, the mix of vendors in any Magic Quadrant may change over time. A vendor's appearance in a Magic Quadrant one year and not the next does not necessarily indicate that we have changed our opinion of that vendor. It may be a reflection of a change in the market and, therefore, changed evaluation criteria, or of a change of focus by that vendor.


    The following vendor was added to this Magic Quadrant based on the relevance of its offerings to the B2B marketing automation category and the frequency with which Gartner clients have raised questions about its capabilities in the past year:
    • BSI


    The following vendors were dropped from this year’s Magic Quadrant based on a combination of factors. These included shifts in evaluation criteria that made some vendors’ solutions less relevant to the market, shifts in vendor focus or strategy, and lack of consideration of certain solutions among competitive offerings:
    • Acoustic
    • Resulticks
    • SAP

    Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

    The inclusion criteria represent the specific attributes that Gartner analysts believe are necessary for inclusion in this research.
    To qualify for inclusion, vendors needed to demonstrate that they met the following criteria as of 30 April 2021:
    • Proven ability to deliver lead management functionality as defined below in the Functionality section.
    • At least 20 customers using their B2B marketing automation solution(s).
    • A minimum of 12 new customers within the past 12 months (e.g., not new contracts sold to an existing customer) that have successfully deployed the B2B marketing automation solution in a production implementation. A successful deployment is defined as being able to show production capability of more than one functionality from the Functionality criteria listed below.
    • Demonstrated sales and customer support presence in a minimum of two of the following four regions: North America, Latin America, EMEA, Asia/Pacific. Presence is defined as regional coverage for three of the eight following industries:
      • High tech
      • Banking, financial services and insurance
      • Education
      • Healthcare (including providers, pharma and life sciences)
      • Manufacturing
      • Retail
      • Services
      • Transportation
    • Demonstrated business viability, for example, through three or more years of revenue growth; outside funding, such as venture capital, private equity or other sources of investment; or a reference list of successful customer implementations.
    • An ecosystem of partners that can provide technology extensions or services such as system integration services, third-party applications, digital agency services or consulting and implementation services for the above selected geographic areas.
    • At least $25 million in FY20 revenue from the B2B marketing automation solution and enough cash on hand to fund a year of operations at the current rate of cash depletion.


    Audience Management: Organizations seek to unify and synchronize their customer and account data across multiple channels, devices and life cycle stages for orchestration of lead workflows and engagement. Vendors should enable organizations to input, synchronize, cleanse and activate their own first-party data while augmenting existing contact data with third-party data sources. This functionality includes:
    • An ability to aggregate, store and segment unqualified leads from other marketing, sales, data management and digital commerce systems.
    • Support for integrated data cleansing capabilities to eliminate incomplete, redundant or duplicative lead information, or to associate valid data with known customer profiles, based on criteria set by the end-user organization.
    • An ability to enrich leads and accounts with value-added information in real time or at time of entry and in batch. Examples include firmographic, intent and technographic data.
    • ABM-specific functions that are clearly labeled as such within your platform, such as:
      • Matching leads to accounts.
      • Maintaining distinct records for individuals and accounts.
      • Collecting and building firmographic, demographic and behavioral history for qualified and unqualified accounts as they mature through the lead management process.
    Lead Scoring/Qualification: The ability to create multiple lead qualification and scoring processes using business rules and/or ML, including account and engagement scoring to support ABM. Scoring may be based on criteria such as a campaign engagement (e.g., email open or webinar attendance), product ownership or usage, ideal customer profile, lead data fields, estimated customer value, opportunity value, or seasonal criteria. Emphasis is given to systems that can create and manage multiple lead and account qualification and scoring processes simultaneously.
    Lead Workflow: This functionality enables the creation and execution of multiple lead management workflows, including those specific to ABM, helping organizations manage the lead life cycle from collection to conversion and retention/upsell, using a graphical UI suitable for nontechnical users. Lead workflow functionality dynamically routes leads and/or accounts through scoring, qualification, nurture, augmentation and distribution processes, based on criteria such as geography, estimated value and the status of prior process steps. These criteria can be set by business rules and/or determined by ML-based predictive models. Vendors should be able to pass qualified leads to an SFA system, call/contact center application, sales acceleration application or digital commerce platform for sales execution.
    Multichannel Lead Management: The ability to execute a single strategy across multiple channels or platforms, thus maximizing opportunities to interact with and engage prospective and existing customers. Vendors must be able to orchestrate at least three basic channels/endpoints and one advanced channel/endpoint within the same campaign. Emphasis is given to native channel support over direct connections with third-party applications, except where noted.
    Basic channels/endpoints include:
    • Email marketing (creation, send and response tracking)
    • Web (landing pages, microsites and brand sites)
    • Organic social media marketing (on platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook)
    • Online webinars (native fulfillment not required)
    • Direct mail marketing management (incorporation and management of direct mail campaigns; native fulfillment not required)
    Advanced channels/endpoints include:
    • Programmatic advertising/retargeting (including on social platforms)
    • Conversational marketing apps (e.g., Drift, Intercom; native fulfillment not required)
    • Digital commerce sites
    • Video/interactive applications (e.g., Instagram, TikTok, YouTube; native fulfillment not required)
    • Tradeshows/seminars/events (virtual and/or in-person)
    Analytics and Measurement: Vendors must provide organizations with the ability to track, measure and report on strategic and operational KPIs to monitor and guide revenue generation, including revenue guidance and insight based on current lead and account volumes/quality. They must also give organizations access to a set of preconfigured, out-of-the-box reports and data visualization/dashboarding capabilities appropriate for marketing, sales and executive users. These should include account-level metrics to support ABM campaigns that go beyond a roll-up of lead data as well as access to reports on mobile devices (via web and/or app) used by customer-facing sales teams.
    There is increasing market expectation that vendors will offer AI-related technologies such as ML frameworks and support for predictive and/or prescriptive analytics and A/B testing as natively embedded capabilities. Accordingly, vendors should support at least one of the following advanced analytics functionalities:
    • Predictive analytics/modeling that support automation of other marketing activities, such as journey design, content and next-best-action recommendations and autonomous campaign optimization.
    • Prescriptive analytics that specify a preferred course of action for the end-user organization.
    • Attribution — rule-based or algorithmic; multitouch attribution.
    • Customer journey analytics — The ability to track and analyze the way customers and prospects use a combination of available channels to interact with an organization over time. It should cover the full scope of the lead management process, including human interactions such as with a call center; digital marketing, e.g., website, email and mobile app; customer service, e.g., live chat; and touchpoints with a limited two-way interaction, e.g., display advertising.
    Integration With Other Applications: The ability to support bidirectional integration with CRM/SFA applications, call/contact center applications, sales acceleration technologies, digital commerce platforms and ABM platforms.
    Vendors must support integration with adjacent solutions in a minimum of two of the following platform categories as a standard, documented capability:
    • CRM/SFA (including the ability to pass qualified leads on to a sales organization as an automatic function of the lead management process)
    • Digital commerce
    • Web content management
    • Sales acceleration
    • ABM
    We also look for vendors to have integration libraries/marketplaces that enable marketing business users to add new data sources and/or execution channels to their B2B marketing automation solution.

    Evaluation Criteria

    The evaluation criteria and weights describe the specific characteristics and their relative importance that support Gartner’s view of the market. These criteria are used to comparatively evaluate B2B marketing automation providers in this research.

    Ability to Execute

    Product or Service
    The vendor’s core goods and services that compete in and/or serve the defined market. These include current product and service capabilities, quality, feature sets, skills, etc. These can be offered natively or through OEM agreements/partnerships as defined in the market definition and detailed in the subcriteria.
    We specifically look for:
    • Execution of the functionalities noted above in the Functionality section
    • Evidence of a consistent product release/update cadence indicating the overall health of the B2B marketing automation solution
    • Perceived ease of use of the B2B marketing automation solution
    Weighting: High
    Overall Viability
    An assessment of the vendor’s overall financial health, as well as the financial and practical success of its business unit. This criterion examines the likelihood of the vendor to continue to offer and invest in its B2B marketing automation platform, as well as its position in the vendor’s current product portfolio.
    We specifically look for:
    • The health of the line of business offering B2B marketing automation solutions, as evidenced by a consistent ability to generate revenue in the B2B marketing automation market
    • The vendor’s history of success in developing world-class B2B marketing automation products
    • Steady or improving customer retention rates
    Weighting: High
    Rationale for change from “Medium”: Given the centrality of B2B marketing automation solutions within the marketing and sales process, the current and future health of participating vendors and the viability of their solutions merit an increase in weight for this criterion.
    Sales Execution/Pricing
    The vendor’s capabilities in all presales activities and the structure that supports them. This includes deal management, pricing and negotiation, presales support, and the overall effectiveness of the vendor’s sales channels.
    We specifically look for:
    • The number of new customers acquired in the past year
    • Cost and pricing competitiveness as they relate to competitors with comparable capabilities. This includes the published list price of the vendor’s product (licensed or SaaS), any optional modules needed to meet the minimum product requirements defined above, annual maintenance fees (if any) and any required services, training, implementation fees, customization or related services
    • Customer satisfaction with contracting and negotiation processes
    Weighting: Medium
    Market Responsiveness and Track Record
    The vendor’s ability to respond, change direction, be flexible and achieve competitive success as opportunities develop, competitors act, customer needs evolve and market dynamics change. This criterion also considers the vendor’s history of responsiveness to changing market demands.
    We specifically look for:
    • The vendor’s success in creating and meeting a consistent demand for the product, as measured by continuing client wins and product use among the vendor’s installed base
    • Demonstrated investment of resources in product development in new areas directly related or adjacent to B2B marketing automation platforms in response to market demand or need
    • Consistent delivery of functionality specifically requested by customers
    Weighting: High
    Marketing Execution
    The clarity, quality, creativity and efficacy of programs designed to deliver the vendor’s message in order to influence the market, promote the vendor’s brand, increase awareness of products and establish a positive identification in the minds of customers. This awareness and positioning can be driven by a combination of publicity, promotional activity, thought leadership, social media, referrals and sales activities.
    We specifically look for:
    • The vendor’s ability to execute tactical and strategic marketing campaigns that drive a growing customer base
    • The vendor’s ability to create and extend its brand as a leading B2B marketing automation platform vendor and visionary in the space
    • Evidence of the vendor’s overall momentum and presence in the market
    • Continued agility in responding to a disruptive business climate
    Weighting: High
    Customer Experience
    Products, services and/or programs that enable the vendor’s customers to achieve anticipated results with the B2B marketing automation platform evaluated. Specifically, these include quality interactions by technical support or account support teams. They may also include ancillary tools, customer support programs, availability of user groups, service-level agreements, etc.
    We specifically look for:
    • The availability and viability of internal customer service and support capabilities, including support resources, systems, policy and global scope
    • Accessibility of external resources, including partnerships with global system integrators, consulting organizations and technology partnerships and related internal or external resources such as third-party tools or consulting methodologies, customer-led social networking initiatives, and the availability of user groups and SLAs
    • Demonstrated ability to help customers achieve positive business value, as well as drive sustained user adoption of your B2B marketing automation solution(s)
    Weighting: Medium
    Rationale for change from “High”: With many other high-priority criteria in this evaluation, Gartner believes a medium weighting is more appropriate for this criterion relative to its impact on marketers’ use of vendor offerings.
    The vendor’s ability to meet its stated goals and commitments. Factors include quality of the vendor’s organizational structure, skills, experiences, programs, systems and other vehicles that enable the vendor to operate effectively and efficiently.
    Weighting: Low
    Rationale for change from “Medium”: Gartner seeks to emphasize criteria where we have deeper insight into the performance of participating vendors.

    Table 1: Ability to Execute Evaluation Criteria

    Evaluation CriteriaWeighting
    Product or Service
    Overall Viability
    Sales Execution/Pricing
    Market Responsiveness/Record
    Marketing Execution
    Customer Experience
    Source: Gartner (September 2021)

    Completeness of Vision

    Market Understanding
    The vendor’s ability to demonstrate a clear vision of their market and understand customer needs and translate them into products and services. We evaluate the vendor’s ability to listen, understand customer demands, and shape or enhance market changes with their added vision.
    We specifically look for:
    • The vendor’s value proposition to the market
    • A comprehensive vision of external market forces (e.g., B2B buying trends, changing regulatory landscape)
    • Alignment with customer experience, digital business and execution optimization objectives
    Weighting: High
    Marketing Strategy
    The vendor’s ability to provide clear, differentiated messaging consistently communicated internally, and externalized through social media, advertising, customer programs and positioning statements.
    We specifically look for:
    • How effectively the vendor accentuates any unique functionality or value proposition
    • How effective the vendor is at reaching the buying center(s) for companies purchasing B2B marketing automation solutions
    • How effectively the vendor conveys differentiation and vision via virtual events, thought leadership programs and overall visibility
    Weighting: Medium
    Sales Strategy
    The vendor’s strategy for using appropriate networks including direct and indirect sales, marketing, service, and communication to sell its B2B marketing automation platform. We also look at a vendor’s ability to partner with customers to extend the scope and depth of their market reach, expertise, technologies, services and customer base.
    We specifically look for:
    • The vendor’s overall strategy in using direct and indirect sales channels to sell their B2B marketing automation platform to business and IT stakeholders
    • Marketing, customer support and service or communication affiliates that extend the scope and depth of the vendor’s market reach, skills, expertise, technologies and services of its customer base
    • Depth of demonstrated system integration, technology, application, strategy consulting and distribution partnerships
    Weighting: Medium
    Offering (Product) Strategy
    The vendor’s approach to product development and delivery. We evaluate how well a vendor is able to emphasize market differentiation, functionality, methodology and features as they map to current and future requirements.
    We specifically look for:
    • The vendor’s product vision relative to the functionalities noted above in the Functionality section
    • A consistent product release/update cadence indicating the overall health of the B2B marketing automation platform
    • Planned growth into new areas, such as improving marketing-sales execution, ABM, analytics, digital optimization or new technology directions such as AI/ML
    Weighting: High
    Business Model
    The design, logic and execution of the vendor’s business proposition to achieve continued success.
    We specifically look for:
    • The alignment of the vendor’s go-to-market and sales strategies, including channel and reseller partnerships for particular industries, geographies and delivery models
    • A product strategy that supports the business model
    • A product license model (such as SaaS versus one-time license fee) that effectively supports the target market
    Weighting: Medium
    Vertical/Industry Strategy
    The vendor’s strategy to direct resources (sales, product, development), skills and products to meet the specific needs of individual market segments, including verticals.
    We specifically look for:
    • How effectively the vendor’s solution(s) targets the current market
    • The vendor’s ability to direct resources, skills and investment to meet the specific marketing and sales needs of new market segments, users or vertical industry groups
    • The vendor’s scope of third-party partnerships with ISVs that offer industry-specific capabilities
    Weighting: Medium
    Rationale for change from “Not Rated”: Gartner clients increasingly request insight into the vertical/industry expertise of vendors in this market.
    The direct, related, complementary and synergistic layouts of resources, expertise or capital for investment, consolidation, defensive or preemptive purposes.
    We specifically look for investment of financial, management or technology resources, expertise or capital in the following areas intended to expand the scope, capabilities or global presence of the vendor and its products for its customers:
    • Product development in new areas directly related or adjacent to B2B marketing automation
    • Sales and support infrastructure
    • Third-party and partner relationships
    • Mergers and acquisitions
    Weighting: Medium
    Geographic Strategy
    The vendor’s strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of geographies outside the “home” or native geography, either directly or through partners, channels and subsidiaries, as appropriate for that geography and market.
    We specifically look for:
    • The percentage of employees allocated to different regions where the vendor has a sales and/or support presence
    • The depth and scope of partners available in those regions
    Weighting: Medium

    Table 2: Completeness of Vision Evaluation Criteria

    Evaluation CriteriaWeighting
    Market Understanding
    Marketing Strategy
    Sales Strategy
    Offering (Product) Strategy
    Business Model
    Vertical/Industry Strategy
    Geographic Strategy
    Source: Gartner (September 2021)

    Quadrant Descriptions


    Leaders demonstrate broad support across all assessed B2B marketing automation functional capabilities and consistently meet customer needs across the four core B2B marketing automation use cases (customer acquisition, lead nurturing, conversion to sales and customer retention/upsell). They further demonstrate market awareness and agility to develop and deploy functionality supporting emerging marketer requirements, either natively in their platforms or through preintegrated partner solutions. Leaders have a broad and deep ecosystem of technology partners and provide robust integrations with complementary systems, such as SFA, DAM, ABM and digital commerce platforms. They offer in-depth professional services through their own service organization and partnerships with leading solutions providers, managed service providers or consulting organizations. Leaders have demonstrated an ability to sell to and support enterprise-scale customers and deployments on a global basis. They also have shown their viability through consistent revenue and organizational growth, financial stability and either profitability or the ability to attract outside investment. Leaders sell successfully into more than one industry, and their customers report high levels of satisfaction and success with their implementations. In an evolving market with ongoing innovation, a Leader must also demonstrate that it is focused beyond current execution. It must have a robust roadmap for solidifying its position as a future market leader, thus protecting the investment of today’s buyers.


    Challengers offer solid core marketing automation functionality but may lack the depth of Leaders, particularly when it comes to integrations with adjacent solutions. Similarly, they may focus on a narrow set of use cases. Challengers are often slower to react to changes in the market than Leaders are, and lag behind them in execution. Their vision may be hampered by the lack of a coordinated strategy or integration across the various products in their portfolios. Alternatively, they may lack the marketing efforts, sales channels, geographic presence, industry-specific content or market awareness of the vendors in the Leaders quadrant.


    Visionaries have a strong and unique vision for delivering B2B marketing automation capabilities. They excel in offering emerging functionality desired by marketers — such as embedded AI to support predictive decision making and prescriptive recommendations — that enhances digital marketing leaders’ ability to execute complex multichannel lead management programs. Visionaries may set a strategic direction or demonstrate specific innovative capabilities in one or more key functional areas (such as audience management, lead scoring or advanced analytics) that the market will eventually adopt. They are thought leaders and innovators, yet may have gaps in broader functionality requirements or may be lacking in some aspects of their service and support resources, and/or business and partner ecosystems, which impairs their Ability to Execute. These gaps similarly limit their market presence and growth potential.

    Niche Players

    Niche Players provide a basic set of B2B marketing automation functions, typically to a narrow segment of the market. Their target markets are often circumscribed by their industry expertise or the dependency of their B2B marketing automation capabilities on a broader integrated CRM suite. Niche Players may be limited in their geographic reach, partner relationships and the scalability of their solution, which hampers their ability to solidify their market positions. They appeal to customers with limited budgets or constrained technology resources, or those that do not require the depth of functionality provided by Leaders or Challengers.


    This research highlights marketing teams’ increasing reliance on B2B marketing automation platforms for business advantage. It is an assessment of vendor capabilities based on past execution in 2020-2021 and future development plans. Observations about vendors and their capabilities are valid as of publication of this research, noting that both vendors and the market continue to evolve.
    To that end, as a digital marketing leader responsible for multichannel lead management initiatives, you should:
    • Study the evaluation criteria by which we determined each vendor’s Ability to Execute and Completeness of Vision.
    • Evaluate the vendors’ Strengths and Cautions.
    • Assess vendors in any of the four quadrants, with a focus on those that align with your requirements and goals.
    • Use this Magic Quadrant research in conjunction with our companion Critical Capabilities for B2B Marketing Automation Platforms research, other publications related to B2B marketing best practices and our analyst inquiry service.
    Readers should be careful not to ascribe their own definitions of Completeness of Vision or Ability to Execute to this Magic Quadrant, which they often incorrectly map narrowly to product vision and market share, respectively. The Magic Quadrant methodology factors in a range of criteria in determining position, as shown by the extensive Evaluation Criteria section.
    As you build your business case and requests for proposal, factor in the time, cost and complexity of integrating your B2B marketing automation solution with complementary solutions in your martech stack and core organizational systems such as SFA. Similarly, ensure that your organization develops a comprehensive plan to upskill end users of your B2B marketing automation solution on key functionality to maximize time to value. Explore vendor support packages and third-party managed service providers to help with onboarding, training and ongoing education (see Accelerate Martech’s Impact by Developing Your Team, Not Buying More Tech).

    Market Overview

    Marketing automation platforms enjoy widespread adoption in the modern B2B marketing technology stack. In Gartner’s 2020 Marketing Technology Survey, among the 79% of respondents who indicated they are using a B2B marketing automation platform, one-third (34%) characterized their utilization of their chosen solution as moderate. That means they are using 34% to 66% of available functionality. Another 25% cited high levels of utilization, corresponding to 67% to 100% use of available functionality. According to Gartner, the B2B marketing automation market continues to expand at a healthy pace, growing 15% in 2020 to reach $2.1 billion (see Market Share Analysis: CRM Marketing Software, Worldwide, 2020).
    Organizations use B2B marketing automation platforms to support the sale of “considered purchases” — any product or service that represents a significant investment for the customer and that typically requires in-depth, time-intensive research. Companies selling in a B2B or B2B2C capacity account for the bulk of purchases of B2B marketing automation systems. But, some B2C environments where individual products or services require careful customer consideration (for example, automotive, higher education, insurance policies and investment accounts) also may benefit from B2B marketing automation solutions that facilitate lead management. Associated lead management activities include driving higher-value opportunities through improved demand creation, execution and opportunity management. Lead management facilitates business profitability through the acquisition of new customers and the retention, cross-selling and upselling of existing customers.
    Marketing typically initiates and manages this process, but sales teams play a significant role, particularly as leads and accounts are nurtured to the point where they are ready for sales engagement. To help maintain the integrity of lead workflows, integration between marketing automation and SFA systems is critical. The availability of high-quality data on individuals and accounts is likewise central to maintaining seamless workflows. For this reason, B2B marketing automation platform vendors are focused on applying AI and ML to make relevant customer data and insights more accessible and actionable.
    As the market for B2B marketing automation platforms continues to evolve, so too do our evaluation and inclusion criteria. This year, as an evolution from the prior focus on CRM lead management, we’ve made notable changes to this Magic Quadrant’s evaluation and inclusion criteria. The intent is to better align with the specific requirements of marketing users as they continue to adapt to their own customers’ needs and changing behaviors. Due to these changes, this year’s research experienced some substantial shifts in vendors’ dot placements within our Magic Quadrant, as well as resulting in some added and dropped vendors.

    Trends Shaping the Market for B2B Marketing Automation Platforms

    The following trends are shaping the market for B2B marketing automation platforms and their planned capabilities:
    • Advancing use cases for predictive intelligence: Both vendors and marketing buyers are emphasizing AI and ML technologies to facilitate more scalable marketing automation and lead management processes, from segment discovery to lead scoring to autonomous campaign optimization capabilities. Nearly every vendor in this research has AI-driven capabilities in some stage of development. These capabilities are designed to make customer- and account-related insights more accessible and actionable, and better enable marketers to orchestrate complex customer journeys. The predictive accuracy of these capabilities can improve over time as more data from new sources is added to the underlying models. Marketers and their sales partners stand to benefit in areas such as improved forecasting and pipeline management. In turn, these features enhance the ability to discern channel, offer and segment performance for better business decision making, which can increase cross-sell and upsell effectiveness. Rising marketer interest in AI-powered capabilities in B2B marketing automation solutions mirrors what we’ve seen among end users of other marketing technologies.
    • Convergence with SFA: Marketing automation and SFA are the twin technology pillars that power the customer life cycle in B2B organizations. Historically, there has been something of a mix-and-match dynamic between these two systems, with marketers and their sales and IT partners routinely opting for a best-of-breed approach that combines solutions from different vendors. More recently, Gartner has seen a shift toward marketing automation functionality offered as part of a larger — and often integrated — CRM suite. Examples in this Magic Quadrant include BSI, Creatio, CRMNEXT, HubSpot, Microsoft, Oracle, Pega, Salesforce, SugarCRM and Zoho.
    • Blurring lines between B2B marketing automation and ABM platforms: B2B marketing automation vendors’ continued investment in ABM functionality puts them on a convergence course with adjacent ABM platforms, most of which still lack the marketing automation capabilities to fully execute ABM at scale. This has fostered an environment of continued, albeit uneasy, partnerships between B2B marketing automation and ABM platform providers. Many ABM vendors foresee a future in which they eventually supplant incumbent marketing automation providers as marketers’ primary customer engagement systems. Rather than an either-or outcome, we believe a merger of B2B marketing automation platforms and ABM platforms into a new category is a more likely result, spurred by a combination of native functionality development and merger and acquisition activity. The resulting solutions will enable B2B marketers to pursue and orchestrate both ABM and traditional lead management use cases with equal facility.
    • CDPs enter the solution set: As B2B marketers focus more attention on data-driven audience management and engagement, CDPs — a marketing technology initially associated with B2C use cases — are becoming more prevalent within the B2B marketing automation solution set. CDPs are now present in approximately 40% of the vendor offerings evaluated in this Magic Quadrant, with others eyeing their incorporation as part of their 2022 roadmap. Marketers’ increasing urgency to connect disparate datasets into unified contact and account profiles, and deliver context-driven experiences for individuals and buying groups, is fueling the proliferation of CDPs as embedded or integrated features in solutions in this category.
    • Cascading impacts of consent and privacy changes: Following the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect in May 2018, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and modern privacy mandates emerging in other markets, marketers need to change how they collect, store and use customer data. Brands are under increased pressure to disclose their data practices and consumer privacy rights at every digital touchpoint where data is exchanged to avoid customer backlash and erosion of trust. In Gartner’s 2021 Digital Marketing Survey, 83% of B2B respondents indicated that their company views data security and privacy compliance as a way to empower customers. Consent management and auditing capabilities — such as consent collection, permission management, and detailed preference and opt-in management — are an increasingly robust part of B2B marketing automation solutions. Vendors are also placing emphasis on where and how cloud-based customer data is stored. These functionalities help marketers meet stringent data privacy regulations.

    Acronym Key and Glossary Terms

    account-based marketing
    artificial intelligence
    customer data platform
    customer relationship management
    independent software vendor
    key performance indicator
    machine learning
    sales force automation
    small and midsize business
    user interface


    Gartner Peer Insights reviews for B2B marketing automation platforms: We considered reviews for Gartner Peer Insights CRM Lead Management (transitioning to B2B Marketing Automation Platforms) posted from 30 April 2020 through 30 June 2021.
    Gartner Digital Markets: We considered reviews for included vendors on Gartner Digital Markets properties (Capterra, GetApp, Software Advice) posted from 1 January 2020 through 30 June 2021.
    Gartner 2021 Digital Marketing Survey: The purpose of this survey was to understand current and future digital marketing strategies, including where responsibilities lie, current and anticipated challenges and responsibilities, how digital marketing strategies were impacted by disruptive events, where marketers’ channel-specific investments and initiatives are directed today, and what techniques they are using to support an effective cross-channel and multichannel digital marketing strategy.
    This study was conducted online from November through December 2020, among 350 respondents from the U.S. (31%), Canada (10%), the U.K. (30%), Germany (14%) and France (14%) (percentages don’t add up to 100% due to rounding). Ninety percent of respondents came from organizations with $1 billion or more in annual revenue. The respondents came from a variety of industries: financial services (40 respondents), high tech (39 respondents), manufacturing (41 respondents), consumer products (41 respondents), media (42 respondents), retail (39 respondents), healthcare providers (42 respondents), IT and business services (26 respondents), and travel and hospitality (40 respondents). Respondents were required to hold a leadership position in decisions related to digital marketing strategy.
    The survey was developed collaboratively by a team of Gartner analysts and was reviewed, tested and administered by Gartner’s Research Data and Analytics (RDA) team.
    Disclaimer: Results of this survey do not represent global findings or the market as a whole, but do reflect sentiments of the respondents and companies surveyed.
    Gartner 2020 Marketing Technology Survey: The purpose of this study was to understand how marketers are investing in, deploying and getting value out of marketing technology. The research was conducted online from July through September 2020, among 387 respondents in the U.S. (54%), Canada (3%), France (6%), Germany (8%) and the U.K. (29%).
    Respondents were required to be involved in decisions related to their company’s marketing technology strategy. Eighty-five percent of the respondents came from organizations with $1 billion or more in annual revenue. The respondents came from a variety of industries: financial services (46 respondents), tech products (51 respondents), manufacturing (63 respondents), consumer products (27 respondents), media (40 respondents), retail (46 respondents), healthcare providers (48 respondents), IT and business services (44 respondents), and travel and hospitality (22 respondents).
    This survey was developed collaboratively by a team of Gartner analysts and was reviewed, tested and administered by Gartner’s Research Data and Analytics (RDA) team.
    Disclaimer: Results of this survey do not represent global findings or the market as a whole, but do reflect sentiments of the respondents and companies surveyed.

    Evaluation Criteria Definitions

    Ability to Execute

    Product/Service: Core goods and services offered by the vendor for the defined market. This includes current product/service capabilities, quality, feature sets, skills and so on, whether offered natively or through OEM agreements/partnerships as defined in the market definition and detailed in the subcriteria.
    Overall Viability: Viability includes an assessment of the overall organization's financial health, the financial and practical success of the business unit, and the likelihood that the individual business unit will continue investing in the product, will continue offering the product and will advance the state of the art within the organization's portfolio of products.
    Sales Execution/Pricing: The vendor's capabilities in all presales activities and the structure that supports them. This includes deal management, pricing and negotiation, presales support, and the overall effectiveness of the sales channel.
    Market Responsiveness/Record: Ability to respond, change direction, be flexible and achieve competitive success as opportunities develop, competitors act, customer needs evolve and market dynamics change. This criterion also considers the vendor's history of responsiveness.
    Marketing Execution: The clarity, quality, creativity and efficacy of programs designed to deliver the organization's message to influence the market, promote the brand and business, increase awareness of the products, and establish a positive identification with the product/brand and organization in the minds of buyers. This "mind share" can be driven by a combination of publicity, promotional initiatives, thought leadership, word of mouth and sales activities.
    Customer Experience: Relationships, products and services/programs that enable clients to be successful with the products evaluated. Specifically, this includes the ways customers receive technical support or account support. This can also include ancillary tools, customer support programs (and the quality thereof), availability of user groups, service-level agreements and so on.
    Operations: The ability of the organization to meet its goals and commitments. Factors include the quality of the organizational structure, including skills, experiences, programs, systems and other vehicles that enable the organization to operate effectively and efficiently on an ongoing basis.

    Completeness of Vision

    Market Understanding: Ability of the vendor to understand buyers' wants and needs and to translate those into products and services. Vendors that show the highest degree of vision listen to and understand buyers' wants and needs, and can shape or enhance those with their added vision.
    Marketing Strategy: A clear, differentiated set of messages consistently communicated throughout the organization and externalized through the website, advertising, customer programs and positioning statements.
    Sales Strategy: The strategy for selling products that uses the appropriate network of direct and indirect sales, marketing, service, and communication affiliates that extend the scope and depth of market reach, skills, expertise, technologies, services and the customer base.
    Offering (Product) Strategy: The vendor's approach to product development and delivery that emphasizes differentiation, functionality, methodology and feature sets as they map to current and future requirements.
    Business Model: The soundness and logic of the vendor's underlying business proposition.
    Vertical/Industry Strategy: The vendor's strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of individual market segments, including vertical markets.
    Innovation: Direct, related, complementary and synergistic layouts of resources, expertise or capital for investment, consolidation, defensive or pre-emptive purposes.
    Geographic Strategy: The vendor's strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of geographies outside the "home" or native geography, either directly or through partners, channels and subsidiaries as appropriate for that geography and market.

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