Eloqua and Marketo are the highest-ranking leaders in the June 2012 Gartner Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management. Read on to find out what got them there and how they fit into the overall customer relationship management strategy for an organization.

Lead management processes take in unqualified leads from sources including Web registration, direct mail, digital and email marketing, social networks and tradeshows. CRM lead management solutions automate and optimize how those outputs are then qualified, scored, nurtured, augmented and prioritized for delivery to direct and indirect sales personnel and organizations.

Leaders – Eloqua, Marketo

Gartner credits Eloqua for its ability to support complex multichannel lead management processes, easy-to-use UI, 39% growth from 2010 to 2011, and high levels of user satisfaction. However, Gartner also advises Eloqua features a steeper learning curve and higher licensing costs than some other best-of-breed vendors and that non-salesforce.com implementations need extra investigation before deployment.

Second-ranked leader Marketo focuses primarily on B2B lead management and marketing automation. Marketo experienced 130% growth between 2010 and 2011 and also receives praise for its ease of use, short time to productivity and analytic/reporting capability. Areas of caution include a heavy focus on salesforce.com users and a heavy focus on smaller, rather than enterprise, users.

Challenger – Teradata Aprimo

Teradata Aprimo is the only one of the nine CRM lead management vendors featured in the current Magic Quadrant to be included in the Challenger category. Gartner says Teradata Aprimo includes lead management as part of a “robust, but complex” broader marketing automation suite that also includes applications for integrated media management (IMM), analytics and campaign management. Teradata Aprimo gets high marks for product functionality, variety of deployment options and financial health (US$ 2.3 billion revenue in 2011), but Gartner cautions it is less innovative and has a less clearly defined vision than the leading vendors in this space and also requires high operational overhead.

Visionary – Neolane

The visionary sector of the current CRM Lead Management Magic Quadrant also only includes one company -- Neolane. According to Gartner, Neolane’s API provides a service-oriented architecture (SOA)-compliant layer that enables integration to third-party applications, and the company is a leader in integrating social media functionality into CRM lead management. Although Neolane’s platform is flexible, it is also complex, and analytics and KPIs only received average scores from users.

Niche Players – salesforce.com, IBM (Unica), Oracle (Siebel), SAP CRM. Microsoft Dynamics CRM

salesforce.com led the niche players sector of the Magic Quadrant, providing basic lead management but not best-of-breed capability. salesforce.com receives kudos for its wide customer base (100,000 users of its hosted CRM applications), basic but cost-effective solution and strong partner ecosystem. Potential users are advised to be aware that complex lead management functions will likely require integration with the functionality of best-of-breed vendors.

IBM (Unica) features the viability and growth of parent company IBM, and the new Unica Enterprise Marketing Management suite includes what Gartner terms a “rich” lead management platform, as well as integrations with numerous analytical tools and Facebook and Twitter. However, the vendor does not offer B2B support on par with magic quadrant leaders and often requires a hybrid deployment model.

Oracle (Siebel) provides core lead management functionality as well as integration with functionality from many other Siebel applications, and offers end-to-end automation of the marketing and sales process. The application is dependent upon the Siebel CRM tool and complete lead management applications will require the implementation of several Siebel modules.

SAP CRM is suggested for companies that currently use or intend to use SAP solutions. SAP's lead management functionality is an integral part of SAP CRM Marketing and SAP CRM, and includes real-time analytics and a broad ecosystem of third-party partners. Gartner advises customers find the SAP environment complex and there is a lack of newer features, such as social media integrations.

Microsoft offers lead management capabilities that are embedded in Dynamics CRM and Dynamics CRM Online. Gartner says Dynamics CRM is only appropriate for companies that are currently using it for sales force automation (SFA) and CRM, and that have fairly basic lead management needs. Strengths include relative simplicity and integration with other Microsoft Dynamics CRM functionality, while cautions include a lack of best-of-breed features and a relative lack of focus on lead management CRM compared to other vendors in the Magic Quadrant.