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  • Marketing Lead Management,  News,  Vendor Selection

    Do We All Need Marketing Automation Applications?

    I’ve just been to two fascinating events that fed a theory currently rotating in my head about marketing automation software – the question asked in the blog title. Sure, I make a living off the fact that marketing professionals need help selecting vendor partners to automate various business processes. But I have found myself asking some whether they are really ready for that step at all: for various reasons.

    Event #1 was held in Munich by Nintex, the business process automation (BPM) vendor. Last November, my research on Marketing Lead Management had exposed that many marketers automate that process not with a branded marketing automation software but through a BPM project – both bpm’online and Pegasystems appeared in the top ten rated by 1500 business professionals globally. So, I’m keeping my eyes out for other BPM vendors and appreciated Nintex’s invitation to their 2019 customer event.

    Nintex has certainly grown up since their early success as a utility/tool that made Microsoft Sharepoint so much easier to manage and use for business operations staff. They now have over 8000 clients and offer a fully-fledged BPM suite (including the Robotic functions which form the new secret sauce for BPM projects) as a cloud solution. I networked with many experienced ops developers who’ve been loyal to Nintex for years and were now excited to see how this relationship can continue.  Nintex CEO, Eric Johnson, pointed out that three quarters of enterprise business processes in organizations are still NOT automated. While the spread of packaged business applications continues to reduce this number, many mid-sized companies and enterprise organizations prefer to eshew that option and instead task their operations departments (or a services partner) to set up the required automation through a low-code, drag and drop, scalable workflow automation system that better fits their needs. Nintex showed some examples of these projects in marketing at the event. And even Workfront are now promoting their system as a solution for Marketing Ops. 

    The other event was last week in London – I was invited to present at the GetStacked conference by my old friends at B2B Marketing. They scheduled me in the “Getting Started” track and briefed me to “keep it simple”. And I did meet several Marketing Directors who were experienced in marketing but new to the concept of automation technology – and were not that sure about it, in various ways. I congratulate B2B Marketing for recognizing this need. Indeed, I did present the slide you see below with the comment “You may not even need a marketing automation application”. 

    Justin Hall, of the renomated agency Protocol (who are certified on several MA solutions), also had a slide saying:  “DO YOU NEED MA AT ALL? Is it just modern-marketing hype and bullshit?“.  Then he showed how he had set up their own marketing automation system for less than 500 GBP. 

    On that note, the GetStacked conference ended with a keynote that was emotional and dramatic in its major point that marketing automation vendors promise too much, deliver too little and show little sympathy for the true challenges that marketing executives have in their jobs. Maureen Blandford, clearly as exasperated as she is experienced, said that she is tired of their “shame-marketing” (referring to the typical tone that much of the vendors’ marketing content likes to adopt). She also stated (wrote it on slides even) that:

    • “Foundational Tech doesn’t work as it states on the tin.”
    • “Proliferation of Band-Aid Tech to make up for the gaps in the foundational but causes integration and reporting gaps.”
    • “Worse than budget, ever bit of tech requires capacity to learn it, onboard it, use it. And troubleshoot the downstream issues x every piece of tech in your stack.” 

    Her 30-minute rant was met with heavy applause by the GetStacked audience of around 400 B2B marketers – looks like the vendors need to create more empathy in their marketing (reminds me of my post on digital marketers being cobbler’s children).

    Oh, and my theory was fed once more only yesterday when a vendor of Web Experience Management software (my next research report in April) briefed me on how one of its clients had used the software to create a Partner Relationship Management portal as well as a quite capable Sales Engagement Management solution.    

    Always keeping you informed! Peter 

    One of the slides I presented at GetStacked
  • Marketing Lead Management,  Vendor Selection

    VSM for MLM now published

    What an exciting time to be discussing Marketing Lead Management (MLM) automation – a topic galvanized recently by the headline news that Adobe is acquiring Marketo for $4.75 Billion. Marketo – the vendor that led the first charge a decade ago to automate the MLM process in B2B companies, along with peers like Act-On, Hubspot, Eloqua, and Neolane. MLM automation continues to be a priority investment area for many CMOs – in our recent survey of 1500 users worldwide, 72% of respondents said they were now investing in it – half of those to replace their existing system.  In fact, we estimate total annual software license, maintenance and SaaS revenues for MLM to be around $3.5 Billion this year, shared around roughly 60 vendors.

    But planning to buy software, investigate the vendors and select the right solution is not a trivial task for any business professional. While the influence of IT professionals is increasing in this application area (historically, marketing has often been able to make autonomous decisions about its services and technology procurement), most marketing automation decisions are still finalized in the marketing department. But, as a CMO told me a few months ago: The thing is, the vendors always know so much more than me, they talk about their solution every day – I only get into this topic occasionally and need to select a vendor partner perhaps once in a decade”. 

    The buyers inform themselves about potential vendors through general internet research, talking to their peers and reading industry analyst research. More and more, they use peer reviews websites such as G2 Crown or Capterra. The challenge for buyers is: analysts are mostly focused on the needs of large enterprises, their target clientele; while the peer review websites tend to get quite busy and difficult to align to specific needs.

    I have spent the last months following a new research methodology which addresses those issues. I first surveyed the business users, asked them which vendors they have worked with, and asked for a rating of the vendors based on specific criteria (criteria aligned to the typical selection criteria used when selecting a software vendor). I then shared this “feedback” with the vendors and got briefed by them on their go-to-market strategy and product roadmap. The combined scoring schema of the 20 vendors most named by the survey respondents inform a Vendor Selection Matrix for Marketing Lead Management Software that I have now published. The survey is global and covers SMBs as well as enterprises.  I’ve profiled the top 10 vendors with these headlines.

    Act-On Software Mid-market success now spreading to the enterprise segment #1 Global Winner,                            Joint-#1 in Customer Satisfaction
    Hubspot Inventor of “inbound marketing” continues to innovate and execute Joint-#1 in Customer Satisfaction
    Marketo Marketing automation leader now under the Adobe brand promise
     Bpm’online Drive for process management in marketing helps bpm’online success Joint-#1 in Price/Value Ratio
    Salesforce Probably the preferred choice for Salesforce customers
    Adobe Investing BIG in marketing lead management
    Pegasystems The business process manager for marketers
    Salesfusion Capable marketing platform for SMBs with service if desired Joint-#1 in Price/Value Ratio
    SAP A brew in progress: a little SAP, Hybris plus Callidus – final recipe to come
    Oracle MLM leader gone cold due to lack of focus and corporate inertia

    The biggest surprise is certainly the progress of Eloqua since it was acquired by Oracle. What is also clear is that many companies do not want a marketing application, but prefer a rapid development tool that enables them to automate their marketing processes specific to their needs, and quickly. This also reflects the increasing influence of IT professionals in the buying process.  The survey report is available at the researchinaction.de website – the vendor scorecards are available to clients.

    Always keeping you informed! Peter