Google Trends allows anyone to run comparisons across different search terms, companies and number of other categories that Google has come up with. The results show relative interest over a specified period of time.
We queried for a trend that compared five of the leading marketing automation systems, at least according to G2Crowd — HubSpot, Marketo, [Salesforce] Pardot, [Oracle] Eloqua and Act-On.
We used single word brand names and “search term” — we didn’t mix “search term” and “Company” categories across brands. In addition, we filtered for the U.S. only.
However, it’s easy to change the results to other country or to “Worldwide”. Simply click the Google Trends link in any of the graphics below and you’ll be able to modify the filter.
Here are results for 2015. What can be inferred from Google Trends data with regard to popular marketing automation brands? We’ll look at each brand in turn and also speculate as to whether brand name ambiguity, or lack thereof, is a factor in search term popularity.
“HubSpot” is the most searched for marketing automation brand in the United States. On a percentage basis, searches on the word “HubSpot” are disproportionately high in Massachusetts, HubSpot’s home state. This follows, since HubSpot is one of the shining stars of Boston’s tech scene. Keep in mind that the numbers below are relative to a state’s population. HubSpot’s high relative search popularity in Massachusetts skews the overall trend somewhat, but not by as much as one might think.
HubSpot has arguably done the best job of marketing its brand. It also has distinctive, two syllable brand name. In “Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead”, which was co-authored by HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan, the value of creating a memorable company name is addressed.
As an application, Marketo has generally been sold into companies that are upmarket from HubSpot’s average size customer. Marketo, therefore has a smaller audience than HubSpot. Partly because of this, in despite Marketo’s very strong marketing, it’s not even a close second to HubSpot in the trend graph.
Interestingly, the relative number of searches on the word “Marketo” is only slightly less in Massachusetts than in Marketo’s home state of California. The inference here is that HubSpot has driven popularity for the entire category of marketing automation, not just for its own brand.
The chart above helps to explain why Salesforce retains the branding of its acquisitions for a time. For example, the current “Salesforce Marketing Cloud” was “ExactTarget Marketing Cloud” for months after the ExactTarget acquisition.
It’s possible that the Pardot brand is searched for by some using the string “Pardo”, since some people erroneously believe that the brand name is French in origin, which it is not. Pardot is actually the Latvian verb for “to market” or “to sell”. If someone hears the brand name pronounced with a silent “t” they might search using the wrong string.
However, brand name ambiguity is probably not the reason that Pardot is below both HubSpot and Marketo. The likely reason is that Pardot has simply not churned out nearly as much content over the years as its competitors.
In terms of market awareness, Salesforce’s marketing machine has become much more important than the Pardot brand. It wouldn’t come as a complete surprise if Pardot was rebranded “Salesforce Marketing Automation” or “Salesforce MA” at some point in 2016.
While “Eloqua” is currently branded “Oracle Eloqua”, it’s likely that most people still search using only the word “Eloqua”. As is the case with Marketo, Eloqua has a smaller addressable market than HubSpot or Pardot, since it’s designed (and priced) for larger companies.
The brand may have also been diluted since the Oracle acquisition and double name branding.
Act-On is a well-known brand, but it shows the lowest interest. This is likely due to the fact that there’s a hyphen in the brand name. Many people searching for “Act-On” may type it as a single string, “Acton” or as two words, “act on”.
It’s possible that Act-On’s brand ambiguity from a grammatical perspective is the main cause of the fewest brand searches compared to the other leading marketing automation vendors. Since Act-On is a popular solution, people who are interested in Act-On are apparently arriving at the vendor’s site in ways other than through strict brand search.
Google Trends provides valuable insight into people’s relative interests. The data for a given technology product category, such as marketing automation, may contain important lessons both for brands within that category and for brands in other categories.