• Brand Content Management,  DAM,  News,  Vendor Selection

    MRM Earns a Boost of Interest, but is About to Change

    I hope you had a great summer break. I was away for a few weeks myself and have returned to my desk refreshed and ready for more work as Research Director for Research In Action, Lead Analyst at B2B Marketing, as well as several individual client projects.

    Earlier this month, I completed my 2022 Vendor Selection Matrix research on Marketing Resource Management and can report that there is clear increased interest in establishing a such a system to help marketing executives to plan, monitor, and control the usage of their most important resources: money, people, content assets, projects, and brand. 

    Marketing financials and calendars are the most popular processes being automated, closely followed by marketing performance management. Based on our conversations with users and vendors, we estimate that 55-60% of companies have automated, or will be automating, parts of the MRM process in 2022.

    When we asked 1500 business professionals about their 2022 MRM projects, well-over one third of companies cited the need for data on marketing performance or return-on-investment as their major reason for MRM investment. Just over one third see it as a method to reduce overall costs and a significant 26% consider improved brand management as a priority.

    The need for such a Marketing Resource Management process was proposed some years ago (I could probably claim to be that analyst) but not readily accepted by the user community. Now, the need for MRM is perhaps clearer, but the modern marketing executive wants more than just an asset management system. 

    They need a more dynamic solution that enables them to forecast, measure, model, analyze and even predict all their business numbers – to be fully empowered with control over their marketing processes and outcomes. 

    I anticipate the process name itself to mature in the next years. It will be interesting to see what thought leadership campaigns come out of the vendors and how quickly the user community can tune in to the new terminology. 

    These are the Market Leaders (having both a Strategy and an Execution score of over 4 out of 5) in the Vendor Selection Matrix™ – Marketing Resource Management 2022 as scored by the survey and myself (listed alphabetically):


    These are the vendor brands named spontaneously by the survey respondents. Some of the brands are part of larger vendor organizations (such as Welcome being part of Optimizely and Workfront part of Adobe). Also, BrandMaker acquired Allocadia earlier this year and have now rebranded completely to Uptempo.  

    Some of the marketers we surveyed saw MRM as just content or even digital asset management and so named and scored their vendors. Both Contentserv and Percolate (Seismic) have stated that they appreciate the great feedback from the survey but no longer promote their solution as an MRM solution and should be applauded for their honesty.

    The link above connects you to the public version of the report, with the alphabetical list of market leaders and shorter vendor profiles. Watch out for several versions of report in full detail over the next months as several vendors distribute their licensed reprints.

    Always keeping you informed! Peter

  • Brand Content Management,  DAM,  News,  Vendor Selection

    Marketers Need to Manage All Their Resources

    You may have noticed: when I do market research on software vendors and products, I always approach my topics from the business point of view – not 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 buy software because they are collectors, they want to make their processes more efficient and expect an automation project will help. 

    Over the years, their list of processes to be automated has become longer but also more business centric. Way back when, marketing was only about sales support, lead generation and literature. Now, 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 have full responsibility for the planning and effectiveness of all 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). 

    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 – especially the financials.

    Content and brand resources are already marketing-specific and many CMS and Brand Content Management systems include resource management for those resource types. Digital assets are managed in DAM and PIM systems.  But using the corporate ERP software to manage people resources is not good enough as a typical CMO-led organization increasingly includes external contributors (agencies, freelancers, analysts), all to be accounted for as an ongoing marketing-people resource. Lastly, the spending of marketing budgets is now so dynamic and digital that executives can no longer rely on monthly or quarterly batched financial reports with historical data – if anything, they need a dashboard that forecasts, predicts and recommends.  

    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.

    MRM is still in its adoption infancy. Capterra has some 50 MRM Software offerings in its directory. And my esteemed ex-colleagues at Forrester produced a NowTech report on MRM in Q1 this year that focused on the needs of enterprise B2C organizations above $1 billion in revenue and identified 28 vendors.  

    But what is the market saying?

    Well, I have now fielded my 2022 global survey of marketers’ experience with MRM solutions and am talking to the vendors to complete my research. This is the list of the Top 15 vendors from the survey (in alphabetical order).


    Curiously, a significant number of vendors who marketers cite as their MRM solution are telling me that they do not want to “position the offering as MRM”.  Who says that the customer is always right?  

    Always keeping you informed! Peter O’Neill

  • Brand Content Management,  DAM,  News,  Web Experience Management

    Käufer wollen Produkte im richtigen Kontext sehen

    Szenario 1: Ein Produkt, aber viele unterschiedliche Käufer

    Stellen Sie sich vor, Sie sind ein Hersteller von Werkzeugmaschinen, wie z. B. einer hochwertigen Bohrmaschine, einer echten Hochleistungsbohrmaschine mit hohem Drehmoment und einem Schlagschrauber. Ein Werkzeug, welches von verschiedenen Profis benötigt wird, z. B. von Bauarbeitern, von Automechanikern und von Zimmerleuten, in einer Garage, Werkstatt oder auch bei der Montage vor Ort. 

    Die Herausforderung ist nun: Wie können Sie die Bohrmaschine so präsentieren, dass sie jede dieser Zielgruppen anspricht (und von ihnen gekauft wird)? Wie können Sie sicherstellen, dass Ihre Produkte auch dort angezeigt werden, wo diese ganz unterschiedlichen Käufer nach ihren Werkzeugen suchen?

    Szenario 2: Eine Website, aber viele unterschiedliche Besucher

    Stellen Sie sich jetzt einmal vor, dass Sie ein großer Einzelhändler für Heimtierzubehör sind. Sie vertreiben Tausenden von Produkten für sämtliche Arten von Haustieren, und der Großteil Ihrer internationalen Kunden und Interessenten shoppt heutzutage digital. Eines Tages könnte Ihre Website also von einem in den USA ansässigen Besitzer mit einem etwas ungewöhnlichen Haustier besucht werden, z. B. einer Glattechse. Ein anderer Besucher aus Asien hat ein eher klassisches Haustier wie eine Katze. Und wieder ein anderer Besucher ist in Südafrika ansässig, hat besonders anspruchsvolle Bedürfnisse und besitzt aus diesem Grund einen Diensthund.

    Diese vielfältigen Profile werfen Fragen auf: Wie können Sie Ihre Produkte jedem einzelnen Online-Besucher im Kontext seiner jeweiligen Bedürfnisse und seines Umfelds präsentieren? Wie können Sie die Inhalte sogar so weit wie möglich für jeden dieser Besucher personalisieren?

    Kundenzentrierung – ehemals analoge Wechselbeziehungen sind nun digital

    Die letztendliche Umwandlung eines Standard-Produkts in eine kundenspezifische Lösung wurde früher durch überzeugende Verkaufsgespräche erreicht. Verantwortlich dafür waren in der Regel Außendienstmitarbeitern, die die Kunden besuchten oder empfingen. Oder auch Verkaufsmitarbeiter in Ausstellungsräumen, die die richtigen Fragen stellten, bevor sie die empfohlenen Produkte präsentierten und anpriesen. Herausragende Produktunternehmen verteilten sogar Print-Materialien, in denen der Verkäufer die richtigen Illustrationen und Use Cases auswählte, die zum Profil des Kunden passten. Die Kundenzentrierung war im Wesentlichen analog und personenorientiert.

    Die heutige Realität ist jedoch digital und global. Die meisten Käufer durchforsten im Vorfeld mehrere Vertriebskanäle und Websites, um sich über die Lösungen zu informieren, die sie nutzen möchten. Der Besuch von Ausstellungsräumen oder Verkaufsgespräche in den eigenen 4 Wänden gehören längst der Vergangenheit an. Die Art der Kundenzentrierung, die von gut informierten Verkäufern gewährleistet wurde, muss heute folglich Teil von digitalen Prozessen und Systemen sein, die eine E-Commerce-Welt unterstützen. 

    Hersteller wie der oben erwähnte Bohrmaschinenhersteller wollen die Produktinformationen genau im Kontext jedes potenziellen Kunden präsentieren. Und in dieser digitalen Welt müssen sie diese Produktpräsentation auch über ihre Handelspartner oder Einzelhändler und in den meisten Fällen auch auf ihrer eigenen Websites gewährleisten. Der ebenfalls oben erwähnte Einzelhändler für Heimtierprodukte hat beispielsweise einen mehrsprachigen Online Shop, der mit Produktdateien von Tausenden verschiedenen Lieferanten zurechtkommen muss – aber er möchte auch die Konsistenz seiner eigenen Marke wahren und zusätzliche Dienstleistungen wie Schulungsinhalte und Werbepakete anbieten, die auf den Kunden ausgerichtet sind.

    Digitale Käufer fordern IHR persönliches Erlebnis

    Digitalisierung macht ungeduldig. Marketern sehen sich mit vielfältigen, wie den oben genannten und ähnlichen Herausforderungen konfrontiert. Diese werden immer größer, da Kunden jede E-Commerce-Website, auf der sie sich nicht willkommen fühlen und verstanden fühlen, umgehend wieder verlassen. 

    Ob Verbraucher oder professionelle B2B-Käufer – sie sind unbeeindruckt von digitalen Erlebnissen, die den Eindruck erwecken, dass das Unternehmen wenig oder gar nichts über ihre Bedürfnisse und ihren Hintergrund weiß. Umgekehrt verweilen sie aber länger auf einer Website, die relevante und kontextbezogene Informationen bietet. 

    Im besten Fall sollten Marketer in der Lage sein, alle Erwartungen der Käufer vorauszusehen und zu erfüllen. Nicht nur bei der Anzeige hilfreicher Inhalte, sondern auch bei der Präsentation der Produkte selbst. Viele dieser Daten sind in modernen digitalen Marketing-Systemen verfügbar und können zur Abstimmung der Inhalte verwendet werden.  

    Kommen wir noch einmal auf das Beispiel des Bohrmaschinenherstellers zurück: In diesem Fall benötigen die verantwortlichen Marketer eine Plattform, die es ermöglicht, dasselbe Werkzeug (ein Bild eines gängigen Produkts) in verschiedenen Bildhintergründen darzustellen, je nachdem, in welchem Kontext sich der Besucher der Website befindet: auf einer Baustelle, in einer Garage oder in einer Schreinerei. Außerdem würde ein passender Text, der zum Bild passt, direkt in den digitalen Kanal eingefügt, unabhängig davon, welches digitale Programm verwendet wird. Ähnlich verhält es sich mit dem Einzelhändler für den Heimtierbedarf. 

    Marken- UND Produktinhalte gewährleisten eine umfassende Customer Experience

    In jedem Fall erfordert dies mehr als nur das ” Feintuning ” eines digitalen Assets, obwohl viele traditionelle Digital Asset Management (DAM) Systeme genau das sind, nämlich Asset Management Systeme. Das Markenerlebnis muss ebenso gut verwaltet werden wie das Produkterlebnis. Das Markenerlebnis wird durch digitale Assets wie pädagogische oder Thought-Leadership-Inhalte, einschließlich Rich Media wie Bilder und Videos, unterstützt. Viele Hersteller schaffen sogar durch innovative Verpackungen ein einprägsames Markenerlebnis, indem sie beim Auspacken ihrer Produkte Emotionen beim Verbraucher wecken.

    Die Verwaltung sämtlicher Marken- und Produktinhalte geht weit über die klassische Definition von “Content Marketing” oder die Aufgaben der meisten Content-Management-Systeme (CMS) hinaus. Das liegt daran, dass Markeninhalte Teil der gesamten Kommunikation eines Unternehmens sind, so dass die Verwaltungsprozesse eine Zusammenarbeit mit vielen anderen Teilen des Unternehmens und externen Partnern erfordern. Es geht auch um ein Zusammenspiel zwischen erforderlichen Freigaben bei gleichzeitiger Kontrolle. Ich habe begonnen, den Begriff Brand Content Management (BCM) in meiner Forschung zu verwenden, und ich habe kürzlich 1.500 Unternehmen zu ihren BCM-Bedürfnissen und den Anbietern, mit denen sie zusammenarbeiten, befragt – den Bericht finden Sie hier.

    Die Mehrzahl der im BCM-Bericht genannten Anbieter zieht es immer noch vor, ihr Angebotsportfolio als DAM-Plattform für Unternehmen zu bezeichnen, aber Unternehmen wie Sitecore, Censhare und Wedia helfen Unternehmen ganz konkret dabei, sämtliche Marketing-Assets zu verwalten, anzupassen und bereitzustellen. Das Resultat sind mehr Relevanz, Reichweite und allgemeinen ein gesteigerter Geschäftserfolg. Sie ermöglichen es auch personalisierte Kundenerlebnisse auf internationaler Ebene bereitzustellen und sammeln aufschlussreiche Daten aus der Customer Journey, um die Content-Produktion voranzutreiben und die Zielgruppen besser anzusprechen. Ich bin besonders beeindruckt davon, wie das Digital eXperience-Modul von Wedia die Bereitstellung personalisierter und ansprechender Inhalte über alle Kanäle hinweg unterstützt. Ihre Kunden können somit ein wirklich personalisiertes Kundenerlebnis anbieten.

  • BCM Research,  Brand Content Management,  DAM,  News,  Vendor Selection

    Buyers must see offerings presented in their context

    Imagine: One Product, with Many Different Buyers 

    Your challenge: How can you present the drill so that it appeals (and is bought by them) to each of these audiences? How can you ensure that your products are even displayed wherever these quite different buyers are looking for their tools? 

    You are a maker of machine tools such as a high-end power drill, a real heavy-duty one with high torque and impact wrench. A tool needed by various professionals such as construction workers on the building site, car mechanics in a garage or repair shop, or even carpenters in their workshop or onsite installing something. 

    Or: One Website, with Many Different Visitors 

    You’re a large retailer of pet accessories with thousands of products for all types of pets, and most of your customer traffic is digital and international these days. One day, your website could be visited by a US-based owner of a somewhat unusual pet, say, a skink lizard. Another visitor, from Asia, has a more standard family pet like a cat. Yet another visitor lives in South Africa and disabled with a service dog. 

    How well can you present your offerings to each digital visitor in the context of their per-related needs and their environment? How can you even personalize the content as much as possible for each of those visitors? 

    Customer Centricity moves from Analog to Digital Interactions

    The final translation from standard product to customer-specific solution used to be accomplished by great sales conversations hosted by field sales staff visiting or hosting customers. Or by showroom sales staff who ask the right questions before presenting and pitching the products they would recommend. Great product companies would even distribute printed sales materials where the seller selects the correct illustration and use cases to match the customer’s profile. Customer-centricity was essentially analog and people-driven.

    However, the world is now digital and global. Most buyers browse across multiple channels and websites to inform themselves on solutions they would like to leverage, not visiting showrooms or taking visits from salespeople. That customer-centricity that was provided by well-informed sellers now needs to be part of the digital processes and systems that support an eCommerce world. 

    Manufacturers like the power drill supplier above want to present product information in every potential customer’s exact context. Plus, in this digital world, they also need to render that product presentation through their trading partners or retailers and probably on their own website. The pet-goods retailer cited above has a multi-language eCommerce site that must cope with product files sent by thousands of different suppliers – but it also wants to maintain consistency of its own brand and provide added value services like educational content and promotional bundles that are customer-centric. 

    Digital Buyers Expect THEIR Experience

    Digital breeds impatience. The challenges faced by marketers involved in the above scenarios, and all similar, is increasing in intensity, as buyers quickly click-away from any e-commerce site that does not make them feel welcomed and understood. Whether a consumer or a professional B2B buyer, they are unimpressed with digital experiences that imply that the business they’ve visited knows little, or cares nothing, of their needs and background. Conversely, they will stay longer on a site which does present relevant and contextual information. 

    Ideally, those marketers want to be able to anticipate and meet all buyer expectations. Not only when displaying helpful content, but when presenting the products themselves. Much of this data is available in modern digital marketing systems and can be used to tune content.  

    To go back to the example of the power drill manufacturer, their marketers need a platform that would allow the same tool to be rendered (one picture of a common product) within different picture backgrounds depending on the context of the website visitor: a building site, a garage, and a carpentry workshop. It would also provide a suitable text copy matching the picture directly into the digital channel, regardless of which digital experience system is used. Similarly with the pet products retailer. 

    Brand AND Product Content Provides the Customer Experience  

    In each case, this requires more than just “tuning” a digital asset though, many traditional Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems are just that, asset management systems. The brand experience must be managed as well as the product experience. The brand experience is sustained through digital assets like educational or thought leadership content, including rich media such as pictures and videos. Many manufacturers even create a memorable brand experience through innovative packaging, creating emotions for consumers when they unpack their products. 

    Managing the total of all brand and product content is also much more than the traditional definition of “content marketing” or what is done by most content management systems (CMS). That is because brand content is part of all communication that any business distributes, so the management processes therefore involve working in tandem with many other parts of the company and external partners. It is also a balance of enablement and governance. I have started to use the term Brand Content Management (BCM) in my research and I recently surveyed 1,500 companies about their BCM needs and the vendors they work with – here is that report. Note that nearly one quarter of the respondents have more than six different systems in place (and we asked “vendors”, so the number of systems could be even higher) and that this has increased dramatically since our 2018 survey.

    Most of the vendors named in the BCM report still prefer to call their offering an enterprise DAM platform, but companies like Sitecore, Censhare and Wedia are, indeed, helping organizations to manage, customize and deliver all marketing assets for more relevance, impact and overall business success. They also power personalized customer experiences on a global scale and gathers insightful data from the customer journey to fuel content production and better engage audiences. 

    This blog was commissioned and sponsored by Wedia. I was particularly impressed with how Wedia’s Digital eXperience module supports the rendering of personalized and engaging content across all channels. Their clients can truly deliver a personalized customer experience.



  • BCM Research,  Brand Content Management,  DAM,  News,  Vendor Selection

    BCM 2021 Report Preview

    I am in the middle of updating my research report on how marketing organizations are automating their Brand Content Management family of process.

    BCM is increasingly important to Marketers

    This is an important business process set which I see maturing through these three stages in many marketing organizations:

    STAGE 1: There is a basic desire to manage all digital-branded content files and digital assets in a central repository to ensure consistency and maintain a “single source of truth”.

    STAGE 2: The marketers are actively leveraging content into all marketing programs, including those rendered through third-party channels where they need to offer these content assets for through-channel marketing programs.

    STAGE 3: Due to the increasing criticality of brand (more than just the logo), marketers care deeply about managing all brand messaging across the company, from corporate brand to the individual messaging statements around products. 

    Companies working in a more distributed (called local in some industries) marketing environment deploy Brand Content Management systems to manage content across all their internal organizations, subsidiaries, and/or all business partners.

    Managing brand and content is now a major business pain point in marketing organizations that seek a consistent process from content creation, through 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.

    Consolidation is the name of the game

    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 – our survey highlights and underscores the need for consolidation across the brand and content management stacks. Nearly one quarter of the respondents have more than SIX different systems in place (note: we asked “vendors”, so the number of systems could be even higher). Also, the proportion with 6-10 vendors has increased dramatically since our 2018 survey.

    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 15 vendors selected by buyers in this survey generate less than 40% of that total. This list includes established software giants but there are several innovative solution providers, who talk much more about marketing than technology.  

    And the winning vendors are ….

    The report draft is currently out for fact-checking with the vendors, who must review their profiles and provide me with feedback. Of course, some will push back that I should score them higher – but I then remind them that the report is primarily informed by the market survey (63%) and there is little that I can do. If they only got 3 out of 5 for their Price/Value Ratio, perhaps that is important market feedback they should note (and there is one here with that score). It will publish in early August on the Research in Action website.

    The vendors reviewed in the report will be: Acoustic, Adobe, Ansira, BrandMaker, BrandMaster, BrandMuscle, Bynder, Capital ID, Celum, Censhare, MarcomCentral, OpenText, Optimizely, Sitecore, and Wedia. 

    Always keeping you informed! Peter

  • DAM,  News,  Vendor Selection

    DAM is Still Very European

    My January 2021 Vendor Selection Matrix™ reports focused on the management of digital assets. The software market for automating this process has been energized by an explosion in the volumes of digital assets, particularly rich media assets such as photos and video, driven by digital marketing and eCommerce. In some industries such as apparel and retail, this explosion can even include the management of new, dynamic assets created by customers during their buying behavior.

    The Digital Asset Management (DAM) process is the storage and management of digital files, in particular digital media files like graphics, videos, sound and text components needed for digital content production. DAM systems can catalog and retrieve the digital assets for various types of users working in marketing, product management, sales, service, design, and manufacturing departments of an organization. 

    In my research, I found well over 40 active vendors offering DAM solutions, including open-source providers and vendors active only in their local markets. Although DAM is a mature technology, there is high demand for new DAM projects as more businesses need a management system for the expensive rich media content they now create for digital marketing programs and eCommerce projects.  There is an explosion in the need to manage video files across almost all industries.

    I also found a new market driver: companies who enable prospects/customers to configure their products using digital technology on websites, kiosks or other point-of-sale platforms also need to manage those dynamic assets – to support a sales order or just to provide feedback to product designers. This trend, where DAM expands from static digital files to include variants and instances created in the customer-facing delivery phases, which also need to be stored, logged, tagged and retrieved, is most apparent in the apparel and retail industries but I expect it to impact other industries as well in the next years.  I would call this “outside-in” DAM as opposed to the traditional “inside-out” DAM projects. 


    Of particular interest to me, living here in Europe, was that the list of leading global suppliers included several European vendors who have significant worldwide presence. SITECORE, originally founded in Denmark, was voted as #1 in the matrix based on the feedback by the survey respondents and the German vendor CENSHARE was placed #2. 

    European businesses tend to be much more process-oriented than North American firms. As the demands of digital marketing and rich media increase the need to install more rigorous business process around digital assets (compliance, security, privacy), vendors who have developed products for the needs of European companies are able to take advantage of their functional leadership in international markets as well.

    Several other European vendors BRANDMAKER, BYNDER, CANTO, CELUM, PICTUREPARK, plus ADOBE, APRIMO,CLOUDINARY, NUXEO, and WIDEN complete the list of Market Leaders (vendors with total scores of 4 out of 5 or more for both Strategy and Execution criteria).

    The public version of the Vendor Selection Matrix™ report can be viewed here. Some of the vendor listed above offer licensed versions with the full matrix and their vendor scorecard/profile. 


    I also did a separate survey of 750 DAM practitioners in Germany and discovered that the top 10 vendors as selected by those respondents included just six non-German companies which is far fewer than usual. The top five vendors in Germany include SITECORE, CENSHARE and the Isreali/California vendor CLOUDINARY that is currently running hot in the retail/eCommerce sector. The vendors ADOBE, BRANDMAKER (German), BYNDER (Dutch), CANTO (German), CELUM (Austrian), CONTENTSERV (Swiss), and NUXEO complete the Market Leaders in the important German upper mid-market segment (or “Gehobenen Mittelstand” as it is called locally). .  

    Cloudinary’s version of that report, which is in German language, is available here. And Sitecore’s version is here – they actually changed the layout a little.

    Always keeping you informed! Peter

  • DAM,  News,  Vendor Selection

    PIM Rules! – Product Data is Key for Success

    It no longer matters whether you are a B2C or a B2B business – digital marketing and eCommerce is booming and now mission-critical. Many manufacturers must now incorporate eCommerce into their sales strategy much more than previously, and the marketers will usually work through a mix of eCommerce channels: direct on their own websites, plus third parties such as marketplaces and distributors. The only way they can optimize the customer experience through all those channels is to pay much more attention to the Product Information Management (PIM) process, which has historically been an obsession in IT and product management departments, but less so in marketing.

    In this digital world, companies require high-quality and unique product information on an increasingly large scale (number of SKUs and variants, plus number of channels), for all these reasons important to marketers:

    • To have direct influence on conversion in the buying process
    • To reduce the number of returned goods
    • To gain higher visibility through search engines
    • To leverage higher website traffic
    • To reduce resources spent on individual customer queries
    • To optimize the product and customer experience, resulting in customer loyalty

    PIM ensures the quality of your product data

    The right PIM system improves the quality and accuracy of all product data, which leads to the optimization of all digital marketing business processes. It will become the central place for all product-relevant information, specifications and digital files and the feed for the countless digital channels to be deployed by marketing.

    The basis of success in the sale of products and services is top-quality product data and that would be difficult enough even if each company only sold directly to customers. But product information must now be provided by manufacturers to their sales forces, distributors, retailers, marketplaces, and more; all digitally and essentially in real-time pace. Manufacturer specifications must fulfil legal requirements, but also be comprehensible. 

    I could go on … but you get the point, I hope. This is why I found it suitable to do my latest Vendor Selection Matrix research on the process of PIM.    

    I did my usual survey of 1,500 business decision-makers, presented them with my definition of PIM and asked them to name and score their feedback about the vendors they knew enough about in that context. The survey discovered fifteen vendors rated often and highly enough to be included in the report. 

    Who is in the PIM Vendor Landscape ?

    These are the Market Leaders, having both a Strategy and Execution score of over 4 out of 5: 


    The full list was completed by these vendors: ATACCAMA, IBM, INRIVER, RELTIO, SAP, and WINSHUTTLE.  

    The public version of the report is here. We do not reveal the individual scores but you can see ratings for Market Presence, Growth Rate and Customer Traction, and see summary profiles. The survey respondents have received a full copy and out marketing automation research panel (ca. 90,000) can also check it out. 

    PIM or MDM ? – Depends on who you talk to

    Now, the overall data-management process in companies is historically called Master Data Management (MDM) and is usually a family of processes managed out of the IT department. Those companies who do not even have MDM set up usually manage their product data within their ERP system. 

    Indeed, many of the vendors we discovered in the survey do still market their solutions as an MDM solution and are more focused on covering the requirements for data projects as specified by the IT department. 

    My research clearly found that marketing professionals are now much more involved in using PIM for digital marketing and eCommerce to complete the digital experience. This is a much more business-oriented population, with job titles such as eCommerce brand managers and merchandise designers. So even those vendors who have been selling PIM for decades should extend their solutions and messaging to match the new needs and, most importantly, the different language of these users – and I paid particular attention to this in my briefings with the vendors. Plus, PIM must now integrate to other enterprise systems such as eCommerce and DXM. 

    There is going to be significant churn in the PIM software market: 29% plan to consolidate their PIM systems; 29% plan to replace what they have; and another 17% are investing in PIM for the first time. This varies across regions: 43% of North American respondents are in replacement mood while 45% of European companies, where PIM is more mature as a process, are planning consolidation projects.   

    Contact me if you’d like to hear more about this research.   

    Always keeping you informed !  Peter

  • DAM,  News,  Vendor Selection

    Digital Marketers Discover the Power of Product Data

    As I stated in a previous blog, it now looks like data now rules the roost in marketing. Success no longer depends on creative events or content, or persuasion by charismatic sales people – marketing success is now data-driven. I was talking about customer data management (in B2C and increasingly in B2B too) and the B2B marketing’s own ABM process – in the context of  Vendor Selection Matrix reports earlier this year. 

    The ABM work led me to talk to several marketers working in manufacturing companies and those conversations pointed me to one important other flavor of data – product data. The recent acceleration of digital marketing and eCommerce investments has increased the need for marketers to be involved with product data, usually managed in a Product Information Management (PIM) system, which is why I have decided to reviewed this landscape for the first time. 

    Many manufacturers must now incorporate eCommerce into their sales strategy much more than previously, and the marketers usually discover a mix of eCommerce channels: direct on their own websites, plus third parties such as marketplaces and distributors. The only way they can optimize the customer experience through all those channels is to pay much more attention to the PIM process, which was previously scoped only by IT and product management.

    I did my usual survey of 1,500 business decision-makers, presented them with my definition of PIM and asked them to name and score their feedback about the vendors they knew enough about in that context. The survey discovered fifteen vendors that were rated often and highly enough in our survey to be included in the report. 

    Do you need a PIM Application or an MDM Vendor

    Now, the overall data-management process in companies is historically called Master Data Management (MDM) and is usually a family of processes managed out of the IT department. Those companies who do not even have MDM set up usually manage their product data within their ERP system. 

    Indeed, many of the vendors we discovered in the survey do still market their solutions as an MDM solution and are more focused on covering the requirements for data projects as specified by the IT department. Indeed, I have emails from vendors telling me that should not be covering them in my report on PIM because they “provide an Enterprise multi-domain Intelligent Data Hub”. Also from the ERP vendors named by some of the respondents denying they do any PIM at all. But then again, the customers of these vendor seem to think that they do. And isn’t the customer always right ???

    My research clearly found that Marketing professionals are now much more involved in using PIM for digital marketing and eCommerce to complete the digital experience. This is a much more business-oriented population, with job titles such as eCommerce brand managers and merchandise designers. So even those vendors who have been selling PIM for decades should extend their solutions and messaging to match the new needs and, most importantly, the different language of these users – and I paid particular attention to this in my briefings with the vendors. Plus, PIM must now integrate to other enterprise systems such as eCommerce and DXM. 

    There is going to be significant churn in the PIM software market: 29% plan to consolidate their PIM systems; 29% plan to replace what they have; and another 17% are investing in PIM for the first time. This varies across regions: 43% of North American respondents are in replacement mood while 45% of European companies, where PIM is more mature as a process, are planning consolidation projects.   

    Who is in the PIM Vendor Landscape ?

    Within the fifteen vendors scored by the 1,500 survey participants, these vendors ended up in the Market Leaders category, having both their Strategy and Execution score of over 4 out of 5 (listed alphabetically): 


    The full list was completed by these vendors: ATACCAMA, IBM, INRIVER, RELTIO, SAP, WINSHUTTLE.  

    The major reasons why Marketing is getting more involved with PIM are summarised in the graphic below. 

    We plan to publish the report later in May. Contact me if you’d like to hear more about this research.   

    Always keeping you informed !  Peter

  • ABM,  DAM,  Marketing Lead Management,  Sales Enablement Management,  Vendor Selection

    Data (ABM) now drives B2B Marketing

    My work on several projects in the last months has led me to this one clear conclusion. I recently issued a report on Customer Data Management profiling the Top 15 vendors automating this process for marketers in many different types of companies, including B2B organizations. I have also done extensive surveys and practitioner interviews for B2B marketing for their Propolis community on martech, marketing operations and customer experience. And next month, I’ll publish my report on Account-Based Marketing (ABM). Heh! I’ve been so active that Onalytica now list me as a data analyst

    It is clear that technology can now “read” a marketplace and name exactly those companies that are “in market” for a certain topic (ie. have a budget and firm intent to invest). And it can produce a profile of all decision makers in each company (account), documenting exactly that person’s decision criteria and/or preferences plus, perhaps, their recent research history (what other offers are they considering, how much information do they have). 

    That does make me shudder a little – that was exactly what I did as a field marketer personality, always in contact with vendors and users alike, working for HP Germany during the 1990s.

    It now looks like data now rules the roost in B2B marketing. Success no longer depends on creative events or content, or persuasion by charismatic sales people, marketing success is now data-driven. 

    Here is what my ABM report will say……

    ABM has spread across all B2B sectors

    ABM technologies were first adopted in the software industry but are now being deployed in financial services, healthcare and now, increasingly, in the health care and manufacturing sectors. The trend towards digital marketing, tooled by technology advances in website and general data analytics, and now accelerated by the COVID-19 business environment, has motivated all these B2B businesses to collect as much behavioral and profile data about individual buying decision makers as possible, and then to:

    • Post localized contextual content marketing programs to profiled visitors
    • Send personalized/specific digital marketing content to individual prospects
    • Capture prospects who may have left the website unsatisfied by re-targeting 
    • Gather and calculate “propensity to buy” data and provide this data to sellers 
    • Aggregate digital behavior across a buying team to provide guidance to marketing and sales.

    ABM platforms help marketing to play its role in revenue success. Leading-edge CMOs now favor an ecommerce model and focus on customer experience, all of which requires an ABM approach. Even digital advertising has become fundamental for B2B marketers, and ABM software supports ad-targeting by either providing native advertising capabilities or at least enabling integrations with partner solutions.

    ABM is how B2B marketing should be

    B2B sellers work at an account level and most B2B projects involve large and complex buying centers and decision processes. So mature B2B CMOs now focus on account-based work, developing and maintaining engagement with important contacts in target accounts. Account-based marketing and selling is how B2B marketing should work, mixing digital and human communication. 

    ABM platforms could become the new marketing backbone system

    ABM continues to be the most-used promotional acronym by marketing software vendors with well over 90 software vendors claiming to provide ABM-specific functionality and it is a highly-active playing field for venture capital investors. The leading ABM platform vendors have product roadmaps to expand into a wide range of engagement channels, including direct mail and campaign personalization. Currently, most users connect ABM systems to the (older) incumbent marketing lead management (MLM) platform to cover that. But most MLMs have been slow to embrace ABM so, as martech budgets tighten, ABM urgency could drive MLM vendors out of their market. 

    The ABM nomenclature will fade out in the near-term. 

    B2B marketing will end up being 100% account-based in its digital marketing, informed and optimized by data collected about those accounts. This will remove the need for the ABM label – the new system of engagement is, essentially, the (ABM-based) B2B marketing cloud with data as the hub: an account-based go-to-market platform. 

    We plan to publish the report on April 12th. I can reveal now that the global survey of 1,500 practitioners scored these vendors as Market Leaders (a score of over 4/5 on both the Strategy and Execution axis): 6SENSE, DEMANDBASE, KWANZOO, JABMO, MADISON LOGIC, MRP, TECHTARGET, and TERMINUS.

    Contact me if you’d like to hear more about this ABM research, including the other ABM vendors selected and scored in our global survey of 1,500 practitioners.  

    Always keeping you informed !  Peter

  • ABM,  BCM Research,  Brand Content Management,  Channel Marketing and Enablement,  DAM,  Marketing Lead Management,  News,  Sales Enablement Management

    2020 Vendor Landscapes

    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.


    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.


    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. 


    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.


    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. 


    Feedback and comments to poneill@marchnata.eu please.  

    Always keeping you informed! Peter