The name of the game is automation. The less you have to waste time on repeat efforts, the better. This is where business to business (B2B) software comes in that does the grunt work for you (and probably manages it better than you would have). Here’s a review of some of the top companies around that help make that pile of marketing work a little easier to shuffle through.

Marketo – There’s a laundry list of the services Marketo offers, from lead generation, nurturing to securing, event marketing, website monitoring, landing page optimization, social media marketing and coveted ROI analysis. They also offer consulting and training to really give their customers a well-rounded B2B marketing experience that takes the edge off the business owner strapped with a limited marketing budget. Marketo is used by some of the biggest names, including PayPal and Hughes and was recently named by Forbes as a top 30 in “America’s Most Promising Companies List.”

Marketo’s also kept the small business owner in mind by launching “Spark by Marketo,” getting you the same compelling services but for a reasonable price of $750/month. The figure may seem like a lot of money, but if it’s getting you the results and you’re making that plus profit after the first month, it’s well worth the investment. A reluctance to invest in marketing is one of the biggest reasons a business doesn’t do well or goes under. Small business owners need to learn when to spot a deal (that’s also a necessary service) and when to crack open the company wallet. Marketo definitely gives you good reason to do that but, as always, you should also check out the competition below…

Eloqua – With the “power to succeed,” Eloqua offers two main selling points: 1) accelerated revenue and 2) automated marketing. It offers the ability to nurture leads, but it’s unclear whether they’ll help you find leads like Marketo promises. Aside from nurturing leads, they offer sales analysis. Automated marketing lets you hone in on the right customer, easily manage campaigns and convert leads into sales.

Totus – Differing slightly from the above two by services rendered, Totus gets you four things: 1) A web to print storefront, 2) a fully hosted solution, 3) variable data communications and (my favorite) 4) cross media communications that let you store, manage and distribute media across all channels. Clients also reap the benefits of contact management, reporting and budget management. With such varied services, clients can customize their package based on their needs.

Which Should You Use?

Many marketing companies that offer a wide range of services tend to excel really in just a few of them. If you’re looking for one umbrella company to run the lifecycle of your marketing campaigns, then these are a good start. If you’re looking for a niche service, like email marketing, then consider a company that really offers cream of the crop service by excelling in one thing really well.

Another thing to keep in mind is that at the end of the day, these are just tools that you can use…they don’t actually do the work for you. So you’ll either need someone to manage it or you’ll need to train yourself. If you’re doing it on your own, then consider going with a company that offers training, like Totus – or a company that offers a lot of training material, like Marketo.