The State of Marketing Automation at Dreamforce 13

Marketing automation

One reason I spent time at last week’s Dreamforce was to gather insight around the state of marketing automation.  At MindFire, we’re refining our product/market fit, so it is of particular interest to see how others are positioning themselves, and how the market is responding to the recent acquisitions and IPOs.

Attending the show were Marketo, Pardot (as a part of Salesforce and ExactTarget), Act-on, and Silverpop.  Hubspot and Eloqua did not exhibit.

Here are a few highlights:

  • I asked multiple Pardot, ExactTarget, and Salesforce reps how each of their solutions fit together, and here’s what I gathered:
    • After ExactTarget acquired Pardot, the directive was to integrate Pardot into the Marketing Hub.  Some of this integration is evident directly within Marketing Hub.
    • When Salesforce acquired ExactTarget, the directive was given to move Pardot into the Salesforce Sales Cloud, and move Radian6 and Buddy Media into ExactTarget’s Marketing Hub — which was renamed “Marketing Cloud.”
    • Over time, Pardot will become a more seamless part of Salesforce, with a focus on B2B marketers who need to nurture and score leads.
    • ExactTarget, as the Marketing Cloud, is pushing the concept of a single view of the customer, to which a variety of media can be used to communicate, including web, email, social, and products (like your car).
  • While some of Pardot’s functionality and ExactTarget’s “Journey Builder” seem similar, the official line is that Pardot is focused on lead nurturing and scoring in the B2B realm, while Journey Builder is targeted at B2C use-cases where communicating with existing customers is the goal (although it works in B2B acquisition campaigns as well).  The ExactTarget product does not do scoring, although it doesn’t seem a far stretch that they would incorporate it.
  • It was interesting that very few of the ExactTarget reps could speak to the cost of the Marketing Cloud.  The closest I could get to an answer was $5-$10k for the social aspect (Buddy Media and Radian6).

In listening to folks at the Act-on and Pardot booths speak about their products, it was interesting to hear how few claimed to know much about their competition.  It was refreshing to hear their honesty (“You know, I really don’t know too much about Hubspot …“), but I was surprised that there wasn’t more organizational awareness of how to exploit their competition’s strengths and weaknesses.

With respect to the marketing automation space, what else stands out?  If you attended Dreamforce, what did you notice?

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Thoughts on Marketo’s Q3 2013 Results

Marketo

In addition to enjoying S-1 filings (I know, nerd!), I love joining quarterly earnings calls, as they give a wealth of insight into the views held by leaders in other industries.

Last week, Marketo released their Q3 results (see the results here), and as a quasi-competitor, I find their insights particularly interesting.  Their success is admirable, but I believe the marketing automation space is enormous and still wide open, so there’s lots of room left to innovate.

Here are a couple highlights from the call:

B2C Marketing Automation: How does it compare to B2B?

Historically focused on B2B companies, Marketo has recently increased their focus on B2C companies.  In the 3rd quarter, their largest new transaction was a B2C company.

At MindFire, we’ve had a long history serving thousands of B2B and B2C companies, and have wrestled with which we are best suited for.  I’ve spent many days and nights thinking about the differences between B2C and B2B marketers, so it is of particular interest that Marketo feels their product applies equally well to B2C clients.

Phil (their CEO) claims that their B2C clients are moving away from batch-and-blast email campaigns, upgrading to Marketo to gain deep, personal connections to their customers and prospects.  We see much of the same.

During Q&A, Phil was asked if their B2C go-to-market approach is different than B2B.  Phil replied that they are essentially using the same 4-step strategy employed with B2B: (1) Innovating solutions, (2) bringing aboard beach-head Clients, (3) making those clients widely successful, and then (4) using the success stories to attain more Clients.

Phil said that their entire sales team sells both B2B and B2C, and that there is little specialization within the sales team.

Phil also said that they see many similarities between the needs of  B2B and B2C marketers.  In B2B, many of their clients have sales cycles that are weeks, months, or even years, with a high average selling price.  They’ve found that in many cases, B2C marketers are trying to solve a similar problem, in that they want to stay in touch with their most active buyers (to make sure they don’t go somewhere else to buy) — over a lengthy period of time.

Phil described their B2C pricing as also based on the # of records in the database, but utilizing a different price per record than B2B.  They peg the cost of each record to the value the name represents to the Client, since there is such a variety in the Client’s product price.  Phil stated that in B2C, they usually see more names in the database associated w/less value per name, whereas in B2B there are fewer names but each has a higher value.

Marketo’s Competition

An attendee asked around whether they’ve seen in changes given recent consolidation in the marketing automation space.

Phil implied that the recent 2 or 3 transactions have changed the environment, but that they feel Marketo (still) stands out as the gold standard for marketers.  Phil claims that they’ve seen Oracle bundling Eloqua into a deal when selling to CIOs, but beyond that, nothing major has changed.

In fact, he feels that the majority of the competition is standing still.  I’m sure the teams at Pardot and Eloqua feel much differently.

Another interesting question was whether Clients are using marketing automation to replace an older system, or another marketing automation solution.  Phil replied that it is very much all over the map, but that often they are replacing an email marketing solution (like ExactTarget).

In addition, they replace older technologies like Unica, Aprimo, Teradata, etc.  He also stated that there many enterprise and SMB marketers that are very ad-hoc, using spreadsheets and other manual processes.  In this situations, Marketo is their first mature tool.

I never cease to be surprised at how many well-established and mature companies are running successfully using ad-hoc tools and older technologies!

Marketing Automation = CRM?

A question I often get about our vision at MindFire is whether we intend to provide CRM functionality (there are some similarities).  Phil was asked a similar question, and replied that he sees Marketo as has having a strong data set about a Contact’s behavior, which he argues goes beyond traditional CRM (I agree); from this perspective, he feels they are a CRM of sorts — but they don’t want to be on the sales person’s desktop, nor do they have plans to declare war on the CRM market.

It’s great to see Marketo’s Q3 success, further validating the marketing automation space.  What else? What are your thoughts on Marketo’s future, and marketing automation as a whole?

[VIDEO] MindFire & HP SmartStream Production Center Integration

At last month’s DSCOOP in Nashville, we unveiled integration we’ve been working on with the HP SmartStream team.  It’s been fun working with their team, as they’re dedicated, passionate, and very hands-on (as you’ve seen from the Israel diary, I got to spend some quality time at their office in Israel).

In short, our marketing automation workflows can now easily output print-ready PDFs (via the HP Composer), and those PDFs are sent to HP’s Production Center for print on the Indigo.  This is what our Marketing Studio looks like, and an example of marketing automation workflow:

multi-touch

Our Marketing Studio, which is a drag-and-drop environment for creating multi-channel workflows

We invested in this integration because both MindFire and HP believe that marketers are rapidly adopting marketing automation technology to optimize their lead generation.  While most marketing automation campaigns use digital channels (like email, mobile and social media), print is sometimes underutilized because of workflow complexities.  (Or in some cases, not used at all!)

This is why we made it our goal to enable our mutual users to generate a triggered print piece as easily as a triggered email or text message.  While there’s more work to do, I certainly think we’re on our way.

Above is a short video the HP team put together on their Production Center, showing how marketing automation print pieces are prepared for print.  Enjoy!

Israel Diary Day 4: Pageflex and Caesarea (+photos)

israel_day_4

This is the fourth day in my Israel diary, where I’m attending the HP Indigo VIP Event in Tel Aviv.  See Day 1 in Tel Aviv here, Day 2 in Jerusalem and Bethlehem here, and Day 3 at the HP Indigo offices in Nes-Ziona here.

Another successful night of sleep.  After a great breakfast downstairs, I make my way back to the room to take care of some emails.  There’s some follow-up to do on a patent we just filed (here’s a post on what the patent process is like), as well as a few other things to check on back home.  Overall, there don’t appear to be any major fires (a concern whenever I travel).

At 9:00, Gadi from Pageflex picks me up to head to their office.  Gadi is responsible for customer support at Pageflex, and we have an engaging conversation about life, work, and Israel/US relations.  As we’re traveling on the freeway, traffic comes to a complete standstill.  I don’t mean we’re moving a few miles an hour — I mean that people are completely stopped, getting out of their cars and walking around.  Waze tells us there’s an accident ahead.

After waiting about 20 minutes, we notice Read more of this post

What Happens In Vegas …

I’ve been in Las Vegas the past few days, attending the PODi conference.  Focused on print and marketing, the conference is an intimate gathering of a few hundred industry members.

I flew in Monday morning, and except for accidentally shaving (the second time this has happened on the road — the razor’s piece that keeps my 5 o’clock shadow trimmed fell off during the flight, and I neglected to make sure it was on the razor before diving in — oops), everything has been smooth.

View from my hotel window

Vegas from my hotel window

We’ve had some great speaking opportunities.  On Monday, Joe and one of our Clients spoke at a 3-hour session about marketing automation and our Client’s real-life examples; it was well received.  Yesterday, I participated on a panel centered on the evolution of marketing automation; with me were a few industry friends from XMPIE and Pageflex.

Throughout the show, I’ve had some amazing conversations, many of which are blog-worthy material to share in future posts.

For example, I had an interesting conversation with the CEO of a company who shared a model to understand a person’s “time horizon”, and how the concept can help you better lead and manage your team.

In a nutshell, the idea is simple: everyone is different in how they think, and one such area is the time range they tend to think in.

For example, at a construction site, the carpenter thinks about today’s work, whereas his supervisor is thinking about today’s work in the context of the entire job site and other sites s/he is managing.

The carpenter’s time horizon is in days or weeks; the supervisor’s is 1-3 months.

The theory argues that once you understand your own time horizon and those of the people on your team, it becomes simpler to arrange your people in a way that maximizes their ability.

Any ways, more on that later.

This past weekend I spent some time with Dave on both Saturday and Sunday.  I’m eager to share more of his story and keep you involved with how this is unfolding.  I’m in the midst of writing about our time together and will share that soon.

On that topic: it is interesting to see how many people at the show know about Dave and J.  I see lots of pageviews for these posts (about Daveabout J), but it is difficult to discern who is reading.  However, I’ve met many people who have been touched by the stories.  It is encouraging.

I can’t wait to share that with my homeless friends.

Cheers!

Opinionated Product Development

I was recently speaking with an entrepreneur about a failed software start-up, reflecting on lessons learned.

During our chat, I shared a thought that has crystalized over some years of experience: the idea that as a software company, you need to have a perspective on how the world works (or how it could work).  You could call this an opinion.

When your product has an opinion, it is capable of resonating with Clients, Users, and Partners.  If your product is opinionated, you may find that people drawn to the product because of the ideas and possibilities it inspires.

For example: at MindFire we’re trying to solve the challenge of how to do marketing automation in an increasingly multi-channel world, while maintaining our mission of helping marketers generate higher quality leads for their sales team.

We’re certainly not the only ones trying to solve this challenge. But we have a set of ideas, theories, and hypotheses embedded in our platform, which add up to give our software  a point of view — a way of seeing the world. (By the way, I believe these hypotheses are what you try to validate with a minimally viable product; read more about that here)

I think it is good to have opinionated product development. By that, I don’t mean that you should have a product development team of jerks and a-holes — but that there needs to be a strong sense of what drives the product and its values.  

Otherwise, it is easy to fall victim to development by committee, which is one of the things that seems to have led to problems for the entrepreneur I mentioned earlier.

What do you think?  Does the idea of opinionated product development make sense?  What are some of the dangers of opinionated development?

 

Eloqua CEO: “We Had $200k in Bank Day Before IPO”

Joe Payne, Eloqua, Says Company Had $200k in Bank Day Before IPO

Joe Payne, Eloqua

Talk to most entrepreneurs, and you’ll likely hear incredible stories of near-death experiences.  I can’t think of one entrepreneur I know who hasn’t stared failure in the face (in some cases, multiple times).  It’s scary, sometimes nearly incapacitating — but you somehow find your way through and life goes on.

Here’s an anecdote to remember next time you’re feeling down: Eloqua (who happens to a quasi-MindFire marketing automation competitor), had a successful IPO in August of this year (they raised $92 million).

But according to Bill Flook of the Washington Business Journal, Joe Payne (CEO) reports that they only had $200k in the bank the day before going public.  Holy cow!

From looking at Eloqua’s SEC filings, I don’t think they were in any near-death situation, but it just goes to show that to be an entrepreneur, you need guts (and tons of help — it’s very difficult to do on your own).

Kudos to Joe Payne and the entire Eloqua team for their continued success. Here’s the full article on the Washington Business Journal.

What about you?  What near-death experiences have you had?  Do you agree that nearly everyone goes through them?

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