The marketing automation technology marketplace currently buzzes with many competing vendors, including new entrants. At the high end of this market, however, lies two players who frequently go head to head: Adobe's Marketo and Oracle Eloqua.
Historically, analysts (including me) would often lay out a classic confrontation between old-school reliable (Eloqua) and a more experimental player (Marketo). There's some truth to this veneer, and even today two vendors describe themselves (and their competitor) in relevant terms. Eloqua: "we're dependable!" Marketo: "we're innovative!"
In terms of business scenario fit — the most important criterion for you the customer — they tend to cluster together on our RealQuadrant output charts, so it's understandable that prospective customers will short-list them together.
Like many things in life, the truth is more nuanced. As we talk to more customers, some real differences emerge. Marketo does roll out features faster, but the company tends to under-deliver on depth, leaving customers to teach them some important lessons. It's unclear what specific plans Adobe has to fix this. Oracle likes to point to its overall reliability and some refactoring in the most recent major version, but when you work every day in the tool, you realize that much underlying clunkiness still remains. Either of those sound familiar?
One thing is certain: you should be especially cautious of both vendors' claims to address B2C environments; they talk a good game but may struggle to deliver.
Like most other technology segments we cover, the experience and breadth of your digital marketing team should play a big role in how well any vendor "fits" for you.