When my colleague Laura Ramos and I set out to “Wave” the B2B predictive marketing analytics space, we knew that while there are impressive results across the board here, marketers struggle to identify differentiation among its vendors. We’re thrilled to have published Forrester’s first Wave that provides clarification to B2B marketers who seek to connect their business requirements to a predictive marketing analytics solution.
The Wave process begins by screening dozens of interested vendors and each participating vendor – household name or not – brings exceptional capabilities to the market.
We included 11 vendors in the assessment: 6sense, BrightTarget, EverString, Infer, Lattice, Leadspace, Mintigo, MRP, Radius, The Big Willow, and Versium.
Forrester Waves have a track record of delivering objective guidance to technology buyers of all stripes, supported with an interactive tool that marketers can use to zoom in on the capabilities that are important to them. We chose to focus on how well these offerings give marketers the ability to deploy predictive marketing analytics across the customer life cycle, to integrate with other popular martech solutions, and leverage a variety of data sources. Laura and I prioritized the following core principles as we built and assigned weights to each of the 28 criteria:
- The extent to which solutions can reliably predict an outcome in a specific time frame.
- The ease with which marketing and sales can execute campaigns using model output.
- The degree to which model output supports engagement across the customer life cycle.
- With that context, we dove into the current offerings and strategic vision for each vendor.
We didn’t quite find a solution that provides boatloads of intelligence about new or existing targets, reveals purchase timing, demonstrates built-in intuition about optimally designed content, and delivers that content via a customer’s desired channel – all provided with “set it and forget it” automation. Delivering on that vision is still off in the future.
But we did find that predictive marketing analytics has a place in a balanced B2B marketing technology portfolio since the category powers three distinct but core responsibilities: ongoing nurture for known accounts, cultivation of anonymous contacts at unknown accounts and, and finally, identification of new accounts showing signals of interest in a firm’s portfolio of services and offerings.
Predictive marketing partners generally round out two categories: fit (as determined by attributes shared with existing or present in desired customers) and behavior (as determined by signals of engagement).
In this Wave, we assigned value to large datasets of behavioral data. That’s not because we view behavioral data as pixie dust – it’s simply because in The Age Of The Customer, empowered, self-serve customers forge their own paths when gathering intelligence and otherwise exploring options for purchase. In short, buyer behavior is increasingly independent, increasingly digital, and increasingly occurring on a broad set of digital properties, not just brand-owned platforms.
Despite that, Forrester maintains that predictive marketing analytics enable forecasts into probable outcomes, not certain outcomes. Short of checking a box on a landing page form that says “Contact me, I want to buy a product like yours in about 6 months…” B2B buyers are not making any commitments when they explore, search, and consume content. Because of that, B2B marketers need to know that behaviors such as searches, content consumption, and other indicators serve as proxies for intent.
Bottom line:B2B buyers should recognize this as a complex market – the vendors in this space have unique, valuable, and differentiated features. We look forward to working with business buyers, decision makers, and users to determine which vendor in this market can serve their unique needs and requirements.