Marketers should expect this investment on the supplier side to pay off for them with increased product innovation, integrated platforms, additional partnerships, and strengthened cross-channel integration.
Investment in marketing automation is no Johnny-come-lately for both marketers and solutions providers - and that is license to think big for both sides. Three years ago when IBM purchased Unica, the company talked about how integrating the application layer closer to the database would help marketers increase customer engagement. Teradata purchased Aprimo that same year with the same goal. SAS soon after launched a new division to address campaign management from a business analytics perspective. This year, the activity with marketing automation providers Eloqua (purchased by Oracle in January) and Marketo (IPO in May) signals that the need for automation and integrated marketing management is still powering growth and optimization for marketers, from enterprise to mid-market.
Marketers should expect this investment on the supplier side to pay off for them with increased product innovation, integrated platforms, additional partnerships, and strengthened cross-channel integration services. "We've seen tremendous growth over the past four to five years, even when the economy was down, and we don't see saturation yet," says Andy Bober, SAS director of customer intelligence product management. "Many marketers address campaign management and optimization with a hodgepodge of technology and processes, but we are seeing an evolution, especially with larger organizations who are focused on retooling their marketing organizations, and consolidating and streamlining operations," he says.
"Marketing automation solves a very critical issue of how to grow revenue," says Dennis Dayman, VP and chief privacy officer for Oracle-Eloqua. "Quality (targeted messaging) over quantity (broadcast messaging) is a focus not just for us, but for everyone, from email delivery vendors trying to make messaging more relevant, and for database application providers focused on analytics and campaign management."
"We are moving toward a more consolidated marketplace, powered by some very exciting technology, and particularly for companies that have an existing marketer customer base (e.g., Teradata, Oracle, ExactTarget)," he says. "Marketing automation is as much about lead generation and sales conversion as it is about retention. This is illustrated by the demand to convert browsers to buyers both offline and online, and being able to adapt marketing messaging to the buying cycle. We see this need for B2C lifecycles (shorter, more impulse, more frequent) and B2B (longer, more considered, infrequent)," Dennis says.
Marketo CEO Phil Fernandez agrees, saying on the Marketo blog that "Large-scale trends, such as increasingly self-directed consumers and broad and instant availability of information online, are changing the role and responsibilities of the marketing department in most organizations around the world. In today's data-centric, multi-channel business environment, marketing professionals are being pushed to fundamentally change how they engage and interact with prospects and customers."
Marketers will be looking to these firms for new thinking around how to integrate new channels. "We've seen some pretty good examples of integrating with social and predictive modeling, and have helped automate better predictors of future activity and behavior," says Andy of SAS. "We know there is a clarion call for stronger integration of all channels - traditional and digital and emerging - and we see how web content, campaign management, and analytics vendors are all starting to sound a lot alike. Marketers can look to each solution provider to focus on their core markets and solution strengths."
Marketers want to improve ROI, of course, but they also want to align marketing with the rest of the organization. Every product and functional unit must participate in customer experience. This feeds the need for marketing automation solutions, and - along with the fact that changing buyer behavior is forcing companies to change how they market and sell - is the reason behind the continued vendor investment in this space.
I believe it also feeds the need for marketers to step up and accept the mantle of "data stewardship." With consumer demand for real-time, relevant interaction, as well as the advanced automation technology to make it happen, who better than marketing leaders to ensure the responsible and respectful use of marketing data? Some may argue that it's irrelevant if the data governance and marketing operations functions roll up to marketing or IT or legal. Certainly it should be a collaborative approach. But it's in the marketing organization where the customer experience is conceived and executed. And so the data analytics and experience management should be there, too.
"Technology in the marketing department empowers the CMO to be more involved," says Dennis from Oracle-Eloqua. "You have to grow up with the times. It's not 50 percent of your time, but it should be 5 percent. Put a process in place that makes your marketing, product, legal, and customer-facing teams aware of the regulatory environment and the opportunities to build trust around responsible behavior."
Marketers don't have a choice but to evolve, says Andy from SAS. "There is an evolution from a creative, non-analytical CMO to ones who have to have both creative and data analytics skills as part of the toolkit. This modern CMO will benefit from all the new attention in this space, as there is a lot being done to make it easier for marketers to do their jobs, and keep up with the deluge of issues that we have to deal with as marketers." We are certainly seeing more cooperation among CIOs and CMOs, with both focused on working together to achieve a truly customer-centric approach to business and marketing, as reported by a new CMO Council study.
Please use the comments section below to let us know your thoughts on the impact of all this investment - and how you will take advantage.
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Stephanie Miller is a partner with brand and marketing technology strategy firm TopRight Partners. She is a relentless customer advocate and a champion for marketers creating memorable customer experiences. A digital marketing and CRM expert, she helps sophisticated marketers balance the right mix of people, process, and technology to optimize a data-driven content marketing strategy. She speaks and writes regularly and leads several industry-wide initiatives. Feedback and column ideas most welcome, to smiller AT toprightpartners DOT com or @stephanieSAM.
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