Through the last year in my work with Research in Action, I have discovered many separate vendor landscapes – ALL LISTED BELOW FOR EVERYBODY TO READ. I interviewed thousands of marketers on their business processes automation and talked to nearly 200 marketing software vendors – as discussed in this blog. I was briefed by many more vendors in 2020 than in 2019, when starting out as an independent analyst, which was gratifying but also made the projects longer.
The vendor-marketers often remark something like: “strange, there are vendors on your list that I do not see in deals or think I compete with”. Well, that’s because I first describe a marketing process in my interviews and ask respondents which vendors they work with on that process. I try to avoid category terms invented by other analysts or product managers because the chances are: marketing people don’t think in categories (that’s more of an IT-centric trait). We also survey companies from mid-market to enterprise and across the globe, while many vendors are very specific about their target market segment.
But the challenge for marketing software marketing professionals remains: Do you focus on shining in a category; or do you ensure you are found by marketing professionals when they seek an answer to their automation challenges. Sometimes, these objectives and tactics may even be mutually exclusive.
Here are the vendor landscapes discovered in my global process-oriented surveys. I have taken the liberty of listing the vendors in order of their ranking in the Vendor Selection Matrix graphic.
Channel Marketing and Enablement (Nov 2019). ”Channel” being business partners not marketing channel. I also wrote reports focused on Partner Relationship Management (PRM) and Through-Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA) based on this list. This topic is often also called Local Marketing. The most dramatic feedback I had for this report was a threat to be sued by one vendor who, firstly objected to being lower than #1 and, secondly, claimed that they had not given me (nor their 124 customers) permission to talk/write about them.
IMPARTNER (#1 Overall, #1 Price/Value), BRANDMAKER ( #1 Customer Satisfaction), TIE KINETIX (#1 Customer Satisfaction), ZIFT SOLUTIONS, CHANNELEXPERTS, BRANDMUSCLE, ELATERAL, ANSIRA, SPROUTLOUD, BRIDGELINE DIGITAL, NETSERTIVE, CHANNELKONNECT
Marketing Lead Management (Mar 2020). MLM processes are deployed in marketing and/or sales operations departments to support the collection of unqualified contacts and opportunities from various sources such as: Direct mail or email responses; Database marketing programs; Other multichannel marketing campaigns; Offline interactions such as seminars and tradeshows; Social media contacts; and web pages.
MARKETO (#1 Overall, #1 Customer Satisfaction), ACT-ON (#1 Price/Value), HUBSPOT (#1 Customer Satisfaction), CREATIO (#1 Price/Value), ORACLE, SAP, ADOBE, SALESFORCE, RIGHT-ON INTERACTIVE, PEGASYSTEMS, EVERGAGE, SALESFUSION, SUGARCRM, ZOHO, CRM NEXT
Sales Engagement Management (May 2019). Marketing plays an increasingly active role in enabling the sales team, collaborating with their colleagues in Sales Operations with a robust set of sophisticated tools in an all-in-one platform in order to engage productively with knowledgeable buyers and customers.
SEISMIC (#1 Overall, #1 Customer Satisfaction), CLEARSLIDE (#1 Price/Value), SHOWPAD, BRAINSHARK (#1 Price/Value), HIGHSPOT, SALESPHERE (#1 Customer Satisfaction), BIGTINCAN, SAP, , MEDIAFLY, PITCHER, SALESLOFT, APPAROUND, ZOOMIFIER, PROLIFIQ, ACCENT TECHNOLOGIES
Digital Marketing Service Providers (Aug 2020). We wanted to ask marketing practitioners about the service providers they work with on their digital marketing projects. But what do we call this beast?
Marketing Agency … Marketing Consultant … Marketing Systems Integrator (SI) … Media Agency … Full Service Agency … Digital Agency … Digital Experience Agency …
Then I remembered posting a research report back in 2011 called “The Emergence of the Digital Marketing Service Provider (DMSP)” based on a consulting project I had just done. My Forrester colleagues didn’t like the term, but it led to many new engagements with both creative marketing agencies, who wanted to add more IT skills to their offering, and traditional IT-centric SIs wanting to expand their creative offerings. It worked for the survey and produced great results – but we also learned that these companies do little or no marketing about themselves, so the report had little traction. I was particularly pleased to see the provider that I based that 2011 Forrester report upon (I’ve known Valtech since they were a HP hardware reseller back in the 1990s) topping the survey results.
VALTECH (#1 Overall), R/GA, HUGE, MERKLE, 10PEARLS, CAPTECH, ICFNEXT, MPHASIS, EPAM, PROXIMITY, PUBLICIS SAPIENT, CRITICAL MASS, MULLENLOW PROFERO, PERKUTO, LEADMD, KIN & CARTER, CI&T, PEDOWITZ GROUP, THOUGHTWORKS, DIALEXA
BTW – the above research revealed this: DMSP are absolutely awful at marketing themselves (“cobblers children”).
Marketing Resource Management (Oct 2020). Marketing executives, as with any business executive, should have full visibility for the planning and effectiveness of all the business resources they deploy. The Marketing Resource Management (MRM) process manages all marketing assets and supports plans and budgets for marketing initiatives. As the topic is not fully deployed, we found a vendor landscape with a mix of vendors managing some asset types, those that manage projects resources, plus those vendors who do manage the full range of digital assets, talent, budgets and projects.
BRANDMAKER (#1 Overall, #1 Customer Satisfaction), PERCOLATE BY SEISMIC (#1 Price/Value), APRIMO, WORKFRONT (#1 Price/Value), CONTENTSERV, ALLOCADIA, BRANDMASTER, SITECORE (#1 Sitecore), ELATERAL, WEDIA, INFOR, SAS, BIZIBLE, SAP, BRANDMUSCLE
Customer Data Management (Dec 2020). The vendor landscape for Customer Data Management (CDM) is a broad mix of vendors with a wide variety of claims: data consolidation, collecting entire clickstreams, creating a “golden record” through identity resolution, enabling intelligent engagement, and identity tagging. The CDM challenge is different across the B2C and B2B spectrum, which we analyzed in the report at length.
TEALIUM (#1 Overall, #1 Price/Value), AQUIA (#1 Customer Satisfaction), EVERGAGE, SITECORE (#1 Price/Value), CXENSE, ACTIONIQ, ADOBE, REDPOINT GLOBAL, EULERIAN, BLUECONIC, COMMANDERS ACT, SALESFORCE, NGDATA, ORACLE
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Always keeping you informed! Peter
Marketing Resources Need To Be Managed As A Business
As some of you may know, I do market research on software vendors and products through interviews with marketing practitioners. I always approach my topics from the business point of view – instead of a technology category/label only familiar to product managers in software companies, or analysts at Gartner or Forrester, I name a business process (or family of processes) that I know marketers are thinking about. After all, marketing executives don’t sign cheques for software because they are collectors, they want to make their processes more efficient and expect an automation project will help.
So one of my more general ice-breaker questions has always been a flippant “So, what do you manage these days as a marketing manager?”. And the ice is usually broken by the marketer listing things like “leads”, “spending”, “agencies”, “people”, “digital assets” (they used to say “literature” way back), and, of course, “The brand”.
Over the years, their list has become longer but also more business-centric. Way back when, marketing was only about sales support, lead generation and literature. Thankfully, modern CMOs or Marketing Directors are now responsible for a more extensive operation, some of them even measured on revenue contribution. And so, as with any business executive, they should have full responsibility for the planning and effectiveness of their business resources.
For a marketing executive, those resources fall into these categories: money, people, content assets and brand. And the process to manage these resources is therefore being called “Marketing Resource Management” (MRM).
MRM is still in its adoption infancy — If you google MRM, you’ll be informed about Magnetic Resonance in Medicine or guided to the marketing agency MRM/McCann. Capterra does have 28 MRM Software offerings in its directory though. And my esteemed ex-colleagues at Forrester produced a Forrester Wave on MRM in 2019 that focused on the needs of enterprise B2C organizations above $1 billion in revenue and identified eight vendors with more than 25 such installations.
I would propose that now the time has come for many more CMOs and Marketing Directors to acquire their own “ERP system” and implement a serious MRM project, taking full control over what can make a marketing organization successful.
Clearly, content and brand resources are already marketing-specific and many CMS and Brand Content Management systems include resource management for those resource types. But using the corporate ERP software to manage people resources is no longer sufficient for a CMO because team managed increasingly includes external contributors (agencies, freelancers, analysts). These cannot be counted as a project but must be seen as ongoing marketing people resources. Lastly, the spending of marketing budgets is now so dynamic and digital that marketing executives can no longer rely on monthly or quarterly financial reports with historical data – if anything, they need a dashboard.
By definition, the MRM system should be marketing-centric – one that has the right language or terminology, reporting structure and cadence. Marketers think in terms of campaigns, not financial quarters, and they need a planning calendar. It should provide marketing professionals at all levels in the hierarchy with an ideal experience and support decisions about marketing investments. For that reason, the ideal solution would often be one that is grown out of an existing management system used within marketing.
But a relevant MRM must be more than just a planning/budgeting system: database plus reporting. It needs to able to be state of the art in that it can:
- Take inputs from all players in the marketing ecosystem – for many companies this can include geographic entities or subsidiaries and even business partners
- Collect live data in real-time to support decision-making
- Provide recommendations and insights based on AI.
I am currently fielding a global survey of marketers and their experience with MRM solutions, so watch this space.
Always keeping you informed! Peter
I presented at the Online Marketing Rockstars (OMR) Festival last week.
OMR started in 2011 as a small event on online marketing held at the prestigious Bucerius Law School, Hamburg. It is now the leading conference for digital marketing in Europe and OMR 2019 hosted 50,000 visitors over two days to meet over 400 exhibitors including some 1,500 executives from the national and international marketing scene.
I was a guest of the vendor BrandMaker– we’ve been working together for many years: I was at their HQ in Karlsruhe 8 years ago to do a workshop on through-channel marketing automation (TCMA) back in my days as an industry analyst at Forrester Research. Earlier this year, marketers around the world scored them highly in my research on Brand Content Management. I was engaged to present in their OMR19 Masterclass and we had over 300 applications to attend but could only admit 150 people – I expect that BrandMaker will set up a webinar to make the same presentations to those who lost out.
I had initially discovered BrandMaker when I was researching innovative marketing automation vendors from Europe– a report I then published to Forrester clients each couple of years. It was a sort of hobby project (Forrester didn’t really care about doing European research) where I could champion local vendors and also make clear that marketing in Europe is so very different to the marketing challenges faced by an American firm selling to American customers. You’d be amazed at how few American companies export their products – especially compared to the economy here in Germany of course.
Unconsciously, I think I also probably used Brandmaker as a method to educate many of the analysts in my team (as Research Director, my team of 11 B2B marketing analysts were all based in the US). Understanding how BrandMaker worked and what it offers, helped them to understand the true complexity of business marketing, especially in an international context. As they always admitted, this was beyond what was being offered in the so-called leading marketing automation systems coming out of the US.
The exhibitors at OMR19 included new and established software vendors in all aspects of digital marketing. I had many productive meetings and could finalize my upcoming reports on Web Experience Management, as many of the leading vendors in that report were present (I’ll publish both a global and a Germany-specific Vendor Selection Matrix later this month). I was also prospecting for vendors to include in my planned research on Customer Data Platforms later in the year.
The “Rockstar festival” modus was also an education for me as a marketer. When I was first invited, I must admit that, at first glance through the agenda and the set-up, it seemed a little strange for a serious business event. But it is being deliberately presented and positioned to our younger generation of marketing colleagues. And there is a lot of wisdom in that plan. BrandMaker had clearly recognized that as well.
Many of us talk of how we need to market to Millennials and recruit Millennials into our teams. But the point is: Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1998. They are now all over 30 years of age and some of them are approaching their 40thbirthday.
So, it is now time to consider targeting the generation after that – they are going to be our buyers very soon, and they are the new employees that we will be recruiting. For vendors and buyers of marketing technology, this generation has one very clear characteristic.
IF THESE PEOPLE DO NOT LIKE SOMETHING, THEY WILL IGNORE IT
My last survey across 1500 business professionals had “adoption” among the top 3 project success factors and I am therefore considering a new set of criteria in my market research about software applications. One that indicates how likely is the system to be adopted by the staff you are trying to help and motivate by investing in the software.
I’ll call it something like “Employee Experience” and it is about much more than the design or ergonomics, which software engineers call User Experience. The EEx is influenced by how:
- Accessible the application is, especially if the employee is a casual user
- Integrated or even embedded it can be (did you know the average business employee already opens scores of applications each day?)
- Does it communicate back to the employee – one who is now in the habit of using voice activation, read quickly, consume pictures and videos and so on.
If anybody has suggestions about to measure these factors, feel free to contact me.
Always keeping you informed! Peter
Here is my next Vendor Selection Matrix – the top twenty vendors named by business users who have automated their Brand Content Management process.
Managing brand and content is now a major business pain point in marketing organizations that seek a consistent process from content creation, thru delivery, to attribution. The recent explosions in content marketing and digital channels have increased both the complexity and volume of content assets. Plus, the transition of the classical sales cycle to what is now recognized as a buyer-led research process means that marketers must obsess about the brand message carried in all the channels. Many of them also serve an ecosystem of subsidiaries, distributors, resellers or even franchisees.
Most companies use several software tools within this process as there are few vendors who cover the complete lifecycle for content and brand. But companies want to consolidate their software platforms – a recent study showed that business users typically switch applications over 1,100 times per day. We found that 76% of the 1,500 buyers we surveyed will invest in brand content management software in the next 1-3 years, over half of the 1,500 for the first time.
So, it is no surprise that the market for this software is active and growing. I found nearly 50 active software and SaaS vendors globally generating an estimated total revenue of around $2 billion but it is still quite fragmented across many vendors – the top 20 vendors selected by buyers in this survey generate less than 40% of that total. This list includes established software giants like Adobe and OpenText but there are several innovative solution providers, who talk more about marketing than technology, enjoying annual growth rates of 100% plus. Vendors like Brandmaker (the global leader in our survey), Brandmuscle, Brandsystems and Bynder plus MarcomCentral.
As I did with the marketing lead management report, here are the highlights I noted for each of the top ten vendors on their scorecards. Remember, the ranking is based on their total scores: an aggregate of the scores assigned by their users plus my assessment.
Always keeping you informed! Peter
I’m almost there with my next Vendor Selection Matrix. I’ve been researching the top twenty vendors named by business users who have automated their Brand Content Management process.
This is an important marketing process which matures from 1) a basic desire to manage all digital branded assets in a central repository to ensure consistency; through 2) actively leveraging content into marketing programs and channels; to 3) the management of all brand messaging across the company, from corporate brand to the individual messaging statements around products. Companies working in a more distributed (sometimes called local) marketing environment deploy Brand Content Management systems to manage content across all their internal organizations, subsidiaries, and/or all business partners.
We had presented the users with a list of 36 possible vendors. I have now collated the respondents’ scoring and user feedback on the twenty vendors named the most, spoken with many of the vendors and written profiles for each of the top ten vendors in the matrix. The last phase is that of fact-checking – giving the vendors one last chance to review my commentary and correct me if necessary.
The top ten list is really interesting. Just as the VSM for Marketing Lead Management mixed up marketing automation vendors with business process automation tools, users have named several software vendors (three with “Brand” in their name) but also the software tools provided by a couple of marketing agencies. There are several European vendors highly listed in this global survey.
The twenty vendors reviewed in the matrix are as follows: Adobe, Ansira, BrandMaker, BrandMuscle, BrandSystems, Bynder, Capital ID, Celum, Censhare, Code Worldwide, Episerver, IBM, MarcomCentral, Northplains, OpenText, Pica9, SAS Institute, Vya, Wedia, plus open source solutions. I plan to publish in December.
Always keeping you informed! Peter