A trip down the Funnel to see the future of marketing automation

Marketing automation has come from no-where to being one of the hottest topics in B2B marketing inside five years. If it isn’t a contradiction to call something in B2B a ‘household’ name, then the likes of Eloqua and Marketo probably already hold this status, if not Silverpop also. And doubtless Hubspot, Neolane, Act-On and Aprimo etc. aren’t far behind them.

Whilst some consolidation is probably due in this market, I’m looking forward to seeing most of these vendors under one roof for the same time at Funnel, Econsultancy’s demand generation/marketing automation event, now in its second year, which has cannily exploited the explosion of interest in this technology.

If the event is anything like as good as Econsultancy’s longer-established (and B2C-focused) Jump event, then it should be well organised and extremely useful for anyone interested in this subject. It will be a great opportunity to meet many of the leading figures and players in one location, which could prove invaluable to the great many companies who are currently considering marketing automation.

However, the challenge with this kind of event, where sponsors are allowed speaking slots, is to manage the relevance and objectivity of the presentations, and prevent over-pitching. In theory at least, vendors in this market understand the critical nature of content, and the importance of keeping their presentations objective and issues-focused – but whether they manage to do so on the day, remains to be seen. Those that take the high ground and avoid the temptation to overtly or aggressively sell their solution, will doubtless come out on top.

My objective on the day will be to find out what’s new in the world of marketing automation (in functional terms); how the vendors are creating differentiation through positioning (if they’re even trying); whether automation has managed to break out of its tech sector heartland and genuinely be embraced by the wider B2B market; and how the market for this dynamic technology is evolving.

I’ll be tweeting from Funnel (my handle is joel_b2beditor) and doing a blog review afterwards, so watch this space for my thoughts. If you’re going to be there yourself, please let me know – it would be good to share opinions and get your perspective.