Forrester Research named the nine most significant lead-to-revenue management (L2RM) marketing automation platform vendors. So what makes a good one?

They go beyond revenue performance management and transform marketing across the customer life cycle. They have deep features and functions. They make smart acquisitions

"Change in the B2B marketing automation market is likely to accelerate in 2014," Forrester's Lori Wizdo predicted in her new report. "New buyers from B2C and B2B2C marketers will redefine the functional table stakes. Acquisitions will continue as the mega enterprise software vendors plump up their marketing clouds. And the pace of innovation, driven by new tech startups, will remain high."

Enterprise: Who Leads and Why

So who's on top in general, according to Forrester? 

Act-On, Adobe, CallidusCloud, IBM, MarketoOracle,, Salesfusion and Silverpop.

Forrester,  in its enterprise evaluation, determined five leaders and four strong performers:

Oracle (Eloqua) and Marketo lead the pack. It’s not surprising that Eloqua leads in features and functions, Wizdo reported. Oracle's products have been around the longest (since the early 2000s) and have been deployed by many larger enterprises with complex marketing program requirements. Marketo, which was launched in 2006, "presented a product set to Forrester that indicates it has come up the functionality curve quite quickly vis-à-vis the competition."

Adobe is close behind. Adobe’s acquisition of Neolane puts it here. "Neolane has excellent multichannel campaign management capabilities, which were weighted highly in the enterprise view," according to Wizdo.

Act-On and (Pardot) also fall into the Leaders category. Both Act-On and Pardot -- the latter joining the family through the ExactTarget acquisition -- focus on the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market. "Both companies do an admirable job of delivering functionality for nearly every criterion in our evaluation," Wizdo said.

Silverpop and IBM are on the cusp of leadership. With strong products, these vendors "straddle the line between B2B and B2C marketing." Marketing automation vendors have long treated the requirements of B2C and B2B marketers as different. However, Wizdo said, recent acquisitions and market developments indicate some convergence in B2C and B2B marketing automation segments, which will probably serve to raise the relevance of both of these competitors.

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CallidusCloud and Salesfusion are also strong performers. CallidusCloud and Salesfusion each have strong capabilities for managing the later stages of the lead-to-revenue funnel, Wizdo said.

Small Marketing Teams: Who Leads and Why

Forrester's small marketing teams evaluation revealed two leaders, three strong performers and four contenders:

Act-On and Salesfusion are leaders. Forrester looked in this category for vendors with a robust, but simple, set of capabilities at a low entry price point. Act-On and SalesFusion fit well here.

Silverpop, and Marketo are strong performers. Take price and commitment to smaller marketing teams out of the equation, Wizdo said, and these vendors deserve an evaluation based on their strong functional performance.

Adobe, CallidusCloud, IBM, and Oracle are contenders. B2B marketers can get the job done with any of these solutions providers. "Given the cost and complexity tradeoffs, it’s likely that small marketing teams or SMBs will choose a different vendor," Wizdo wrote, "which will most likely be a satisfactory decision for the vendors."

Title image by BlueSkyImage (Shutterstock).