Act-On Software is a marketing automation company delivering innovation that empowers marketers to do the best work of their careers.
The sentence above is more than just boilerplate “marketing jargon” Act-On slaps onto its press releases and other collateral. As a company built by marketers for marketers, we are – from CEO to summer intern – focused on the needs of the CMO and their marketing teams.
So, with that said, we were pretty excited to see Act-On Software named a Leader among lead-to-revenue management (L2RM) platform vendors in the Forrester Research, Inc., report: The Forrester Wave™: Lead-to-Revenue Management Platform Vendors, Q4 2016.
“… What Act-On might miss in depth, it reaches in breadth,” writes author Lori Wizdo, Principal Analyst for Forrester Research in the report. “Act-On’s vision has grown from its initial goal of providing a ‘demand gen engine’ to enabling marketing’s new role as the architect of multichannel engagement across the life cycle.”
When Act-On was listed in Forrester’s 2014 report, our founder Raghu Raghavan called it an “amazing milestone” for the company. Even more impressive, in my estimate, is the consistency needed to achieve that type of ranking over several years.
“Our standing in this year’s report confirms what we’ve always known: an investment in product is an investment in customer success. We’re grateful to be the only privately-owned company named a Leader, and we’re thrilled to be the platform that mid-market CMOs count on to execute their brand, demand, and customer marketing programs, as they embrace their expanded role in the buyer’s journey,” said Act-On CEO Andy MacMillan.
Companies included in the Forrester Wave™ were evaluated across 36 criteria, broken out into three high-level categories – Current Offering, Strategy, and Market Presence. Those scores then helped determine the Forrester Wave™ rankings of the 11 vendors invited to participate.
Act-On was noted for its corporate and product strategies, and for marketplace reach. Interviewed customers praised Act-On for its “ease of deployment, ongoing resource requirements, and ‘above and beyond’ customer support.”
We could stop and pat ourselves on the back for quite a while about this (and you may have seen us doing so in our individual LinkedIn or Facebook streams), but what does it all mean to you as a marketer?
So, what’s in it for you? Well, we all know that B2B marketers are more sophisticated than ever. They’re requiring more functionality from a marketing automation system that will allow them to manage engagement across multiple channels – email, web, and social – for the entire time they’re engaged with their prospects and customers.
It’s no longer just about connecting to a CRM or offering lead gen on steroids. It is about revenue accountability. It is about analytics, and about predictive analytics. It is about being a better content marketer. It is about personalizing experiences in a much different way for the individual, as well as the larger account (yeah, I am talking about Account-Based Marketing).
And fewer and fewer CMO’s have the resources to train just one person to become the martech “tech.” To be successful in today’s world, anyone from the marketing team should be able to jump into their platform and easily create a landing page or email, plan an automated campaign, publish a social post or schedule a social campaign, gate a new eBook or demo video, or provide the executive team a report on the results.
“It is becoming more important in a lot of companies that these tools are ones the everyday marketer can use, just like we learned to use Word and PowerPoint and graphics tools,” said Adam Mertz, Act-On’s senior director of product marketing. “These are just the tools that we need to learn how to use today to be successful. And they need to be accessible tools.”
Mid-market companies, in industries ranging from technology to manufacturing, are increasingly adopting marketing automation as they begin to understand that it takes both a great product and a great marketing effort to achieve your goals. For those companies – for your company – the Forrester Wave™ rankings are an independent, third-party validator that can help sort, filter, and prioritize the vendor options that best addresses their/your needs.
What is L2RM and What is the Evaluation Process?
The Forrester Wave™ research process is rigorous, objective, and transparent.
A lead-to-revenue management (L2RM) platform is a Forrester term. It includes everything a company does on a marketing automation platform to attract the right kind of targeted traffic to their website, nurture that traffic into leads, and then convert those leads into marketing qualified leads, and then into sales qualified leads. They also looked at how those platforms build and manage post-sale relationships and drive customer lifetime value.
During Forrester’s research, they required vendors to complete very detailed questionnaires, provide comprehensive product demonstrations, and then schedule executive presentations where the vendor’s management team shared their vision and product roadmaps. Forrester performed in-depth interviews with reference customers, as well as conducted customer surveys.
They asked about a vendor’s support for different marketing and organizational strategies. They asked questions about how the platform integrates with CRM systems. They looked at:
- The breadth and depth that vendors offer in reporting, analytics, and alerting to improve and measure marketing effectiveness
- Marketing planning and management
- The tools provided in a platform to manage the business of running marketing.
If you read my post from last week, I mention that sometimes a vendor will say they are a B2B platform, but are really offering B2C solutions. Well, Forrester evaluates all the vendors from the lens of a B2B marketer (and to some extent those B2C marketers that operate like B2B marketers, and have that kind of long lead nurturing and lead scoring outlook).
Vendors get a score between zero and five. And there are specific reasons as to why a vendor scored a zero, a one, a two, a three, a four, or a five. Any company can purchase the report, download it, and then look at the spreadsheet with all scoring data and gain an understanding as to why Act-On scored a five or four on a particular topic, as well as look at other vendor scores.
Act-On’s Leader Highlights
At Act-On, we believe your marketing automation platform should support your whole marketing lifecycle – building your brand, driving demand, and expanding customer relationships.
Here’s how we did on Brand, Demand, and Expand:
- Brand: Act-On scored higher on inbound support then other vendors that coined the term inbound
- Demand: The report also places a lot of importance on middle of funnel capabilities (the demand side, that includes lead nurturing, lead scoring and so forth). And Act-On has had this focus since its start
- Demand: Act-On also scored very high on integration with CRM systems
- Expand: Act-On received high score for usability, which includes many factors including having a clean user interface, and good UI design. It also included our Act-On Anywhere capability
Additionally, Act-On scored very highly in terms of corporate strategy.
Forrester looked at:
- How much commitment did a vendor have to B2B marketing as a market
- B2B marketers as a market
- How the vendor saw technology transforming the process of B2B marketing in the future
- Product strategy (how strong are the features that are available and also those in the pipeline, and how good is the supporting architecture)
- Industry strategy, and to what extent a vendor is coming out with specific capabilities for specific industries
And our negative scores weren’t always negative. Forrester evaluated capabilities that would be featured via a suite of products, or marketing ecosystem, that were submitted for evaluation, such as those offered by larger vendors that were ranked alongside or ahead of Act-On. However, sometimes more is not better, more is just more. And often you might have to buy more than one product to get all the functionality evaluated in the rankings. So, in this case, scoring low by offering our customers flexibility is not a bad thing (at least in our opinion).
So, join us for a polite golf clap for this is accomplishment. However, we’re jumping back into work at building a great product so that our customers – you – can continue doing the best work of your career.
P.S. If you’re not already a customer, please sign up for one of our upcoming live demos and see what all the fuss is about!