How to measure your Marketing Automation campaign ROI

These days, marketing automation has evolved from being just a digital initiative buzzword, to an increasing reality that modern businesses need to embrace.

But while marketing automation as a practice is growing at a fast pace, according to a Duke University study, 63 percent of CMOs remain at a loss when faced with the task of trying to quantify the ROI of their marketing automation efforts.

And with the significant investment required to put a marketing automation in place, the need to quantify its success has become increasingly important to businesses’ bottom line.

Below, we’ll try to help you make sense of the challenges in measuring the success of your marketing automation campaign, and give you tips on how to tackle this seemingly daunting endeavor.


Why it’s difficult

Essentially, what makes determining the ROI of marketing automation campaigns lies is how the digital business ecosystem has birthed a wide variety of digital initiatives. These entwined digital marketing systems have made measuring their respective ROIs much more complicated than businesses would prefer.  

But though there may be an abundance of variables to measure (often leading to analysis paralysis), studying the available data and deciding on which variables are most important to your business will help you simplify the process of determining the success of your marketing automation campaign.


Key metrics

Marketing consulting firm DemandGen, came up with a few key metrics you can use to aid in measuring the success of your marketing automation campaign.

Engagement metrics

This refers to the data that helps you understand how your prospects are responding to specific elements campaign – which include:

  • Site traffic Website traffic is an excellent indicator of how well your email marketing campaign is performing. An increase in site traffic following a particular email campaign, gives you an understanding of what works, while the opposite allows you to pivot to a different strategy.   
  • Open, click-through and unsubscribe rates This data could give you insights regarding the quality of your lists and emails. If you feel that your campaigns are underperforming in this regard, you could perform some or all of the following: list audit, list segmentation review, and A/B testing.
  • Reconversions How many of your leads are consuming additional content? How many are making additional purchases? By looking at the requalified leads you get from your campaigns, you’ll get an understanding of how your leads are reacting to different types of content.

Performance metrics

Having high engagement metrics if good, but if their engagement doesn’t lead to them being taken to the next step in the sales funnel (or if it’s taking longer than you would prefer), then you’ll need to study why that’s the case and make the necessary adjustments.

Here are some of the things you should look at:

  • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) The reality is that only a small fraction of your MQLs will close, which means that the more you have, the better it will be for your bottom line. Take a look at your sources, and identify which ones are most effective at generating leads.  


  • Sales-accepted leads The alignment between marketing and sales is crucial in this regard. If your MQLs aren’t being accepted by your sales team, you need to get in a room and redefine what your company’s idea of a qualified lead should be.


  • Marketing and sales cycle length Understanding the amount of time it takes for a lead to move from the initial touch point to a sale can point you in the direction of which stages of your customer journey are taking too long. Once you get a view of where the cycle is stalling, you can come up with the necessary adjustments.


Revenue computation

Customer lifetime value

As pointed out by 60 Second Marketer founder, and SIXTY CEO Jamie Turner, the starting point for anyone who wants to calculate the ROI of a marketing automation campaign is understanding the concept of customer lifetime value (CLV).  

In essence, CLV is the amount of money you make from the average customer during the period where they’re a customer. As simplified by Turner in an example, if your service costs $20 per month, and the average customer stays with you for 24 months, your CLV ($20 x 24) is $480 (adjust accordingly if you’re not in the monthly subscription model).

Cost per sale

This is basically the amount of money it costs to convert a prospect to a customer. According to Turner, ideally, your CPS should be about 10 percent of your CLV.

Drawing from the previous example CLV of $480, the CPS in this case should be $48, meaning that for every $48 the company spends for marketing, they should get one customer.

Of course, by now you should know it’s never that simple. Consider these hypothetical figures:

But to get the above hypothetical figures, a lot has to go your way. For instance, the above is assuming that you are able to make customers out of 10 percent of your newsletter subscribers. It’s also assuming that you’ll be staying within the budget required for your marketing automation campaign, which is far easier said than done.

The costs (paid advertising, web design, content production, other marketing needs) add up, and you could find yourself being over budget before you even notice it. That’s why it’s important to keep track of the previously mentioned aspects and metrics of your campaign to afford your company the best chance of getting good ROI on your marketing initiatives.



In today’s digital marketing ecosystem, there is a wealth of variables and data to measure. But if the bottom line is determining if your investment in marketing automation is profitable, you need to understand and identify which metrics are most important to your campaign, while also clearly defining what you are trying to accomplish with your marketing automation.

According to Shopify, incorporating your data into your company’s or team’s weekly routine is highly advisable; not just to determine your progress or achievements, but also to identify and understand your bottlenecks and immediately come up with strategies to solve them.

Though increasing revenue is always the bottom line, different companies have different reasons for implementing marketing automation. What do you want out of your own campaign?

Martech Mind – Key questions to ask your vendor

Did you know the number of marketing technology vendors has increased by 2567% since 2011?

This one titanic stat illustrates just how crowded the market has become. Martech and marketing automation solutions now number almost 4,000.

The explosion of new tools and platforms has been driven in part by an increasingly complex customer journey. We now live in a world where the simple, linear customer journey has been replaced by a much more fragmented experience.

Prospects interact with brands on a variety of different channels, and spend longer researching and comparing before purchase. They used to visit on average just 1.25 channels before converting (2010). In four years that rose to 3.25 (2014).

The increased level of customer activity online coincides with our growing ability to track and store data on their interactions. The resulting boom in big data is another reason for the growth of marketing automation solutions designed to collect and harness these insights for marketing success.

But with a dizzying array of marketing technology out there, how do you separate the wheat from the chaff?

Key questions to ask your… potential marketing automation vendor

  • How easy is it to change my campaigns once they are set up?
  • How does dynamic content work in my emails, landing pages and forms?
  • How flexible are the lead scoring models?
  • What are the most common apps that customers use to extend their systems?

What these mean for customer experience

You need to be able to design campaigns that can respond to real customer activities. Gone are the days of setting a campaign and forgetting about it (if they ever existed).

Plans must change in the face of customer activity, A-B test results and new insights. Any marketing automation solution must enable and facilitate agility to help you deliver the optimal customer experience.

Targeting is also crucial. Be sure you can easily use dynamic content to tailor your messages to the right customer segments. This is closely tied to lead management and scoring.

Your martech solution must be both flexible and sophisticated, aggregating user activity from different campaigns to generate reliable lead scores. Finally, check you’ll have the ability to plug in apps for extra functionality according to your needs.

Key questions to ask your… potential cross-channel marketing vendor

  • Can I connect cross-channel unique identifiers (email, phone number, device ID) so I can orchestrate across all my digital channels?
  • Can I do day-to-day segmentation, execution, and reporting myself, without IT support?
  • How does your solution help me and my team be more efficient in creation, testing, and automation so I can spend more of my time strategising and less time doing?

What these mean for customer experience

Being able to effectively market to customers across channels is a key concern for marketers. 89% of them admit challenges in creating a single view of the customer.

Any cross-channel martech solution must be able to connect customer identifiers from different sources – email, device ID, social – to generate unified user profiles. Only then can you orchestrate cross-channel activity without duplicating or sending irrelevant messages.

Don’t underestimate the importance of efficiency and ease when it comes to marketing technology. Your time is precious, and this stuff is supposed to make your life easier. So make sure you won’t be needing to seek out help from the IT department when it comes to day-to-day tasks like segmentation, execution and reporting.

Above all, marketing automation should free up your time, streamlining processes like testing and executing, so that you can focus on creating strategies for improving customer experience.

Key questions to ask your… content marketing vendor?

  • How is all the content organised and stored?
  • How will my teams stay aligned?
  • Is there an editorial calendar that can track activities besides blog posts?
  • Can I create custom workflows to automatically manage approvals?
  • Will this tool integrate with the rest of my marketing stack?

What these mean for customer experience

You know all about the importance of creating and distributing useful and engaging content. But what’s less clear is how different martech solutions help to organise and store that content.

An intelligent and easy-to-use content system is crucial to helping your teams stay aligned and giving your content the best chance of success. An integrated editorial calendar will allow you to schedule and orchestrate content across channels from one central location, vastly improving efficiency.

Key questions to ask your… social media marketing vendor?

  • What social platforms can be updated and monitored?
  • What metrics and dashboards are available?
  • How easy is it to integrate with other marketing technology?
  • Do the tools support multiple languages?
  • How responsive and supportive is the company itself?

What these mean for customer experience

Social media is a hugely important channel, with research suggesting its usage has grown by 829% in a single decade.

Any marketing technology solution worth its salt must be capable of updating and monitoring multiple social platforms, to enable you to both listen to and interact with your prospects and customers wherever they are.

Also crucial is the collection and display of in-depth, actionable metrics on an accessible and user-friendly dashboard. Armed with this information, your team can react and respond to insights, evaluate ongoing success and continually optimise the customer experience.

Other things to consider include languages support – very handy for international marketing campaigns – and the level of support you’ll get from the vendor post-purchase.

It all boils down to customer experience

Just in case you didn’t get the memo, what we’re hinting at is customer experience! Look at any marketing technology solution through this prism and you’ll begin to identify the key weaknesses and strengths that will help you make your final decision.

GDPR, irresponsible marketing and racist bots

A panel of digital marketing experts explores the coming AI tide, regulations around data and potential marketing mess-ups.

At the ‘What’s Next?’ DMA panel in London, where digital marketing experts discussed what’s on the near horizon when it comes to marketing tech and impending regulations that could force a revision of marketers’ responsibilities around customer data.

The panel comprised:

  • Host – Mark Runacus, Chief Strategy Officer, Karmarama; DMA board member
  • Jason Andrews, Executive Creative Director, The Hub
  • Skip Fidura, Client Services Director, dotmailer
  • Caroline Kimber, Data Strategy Director, Stack
  • Pantelis Kotopoulos, Group Head of Inbound Marketing, Unibet

The DMA's What's Next panel looking at 2017

Right around the corner

For The Hub’s Jason Andrews, VR, particularly when it comes to sport, is what’s exciting in 2017. “Sky’s looking into this at the moment. You can have your own VR headset at home and enjoy a personal view of the game rather than relying on the commentator’s perspective.”

Unibet’s Pantelis Kotopoulos concurs: “The world of sports content, in terms of AR and VR, is going to change dramatically. We’re trying a lot of things with VR and other technologies… I’m not 100% sure how fast it’s going to catch on with sports [in terms of user adoption], but It’s going to be quite big in 2017.”

For Kotopoulos though, 2017 will be all about bots, prompting, Stack’s Caroline Kimber to bring up the impending UK release of Jibo, the ‘world’s first social robot’:

Says Kimber: “It’s going to be quite an interesting concept and more interactive [than what’s come before]. It’s supposed to talk to the family which seems quite weird. There are certainly some issues that we’ve seen with [the artificial intelligence built into the Amazon Echo] Alexa ordering the wrong things—we’ve got similar issues with Siri and others.”

It’s the ever-larger torrent of data headed marketer’s way that Kimber anticipates: “[These bots and devices are] collecting an enormous amount of data. Also, some of the big supercomputers, the likes of IBM Watson, are opening up areas for a lot of organisations to get involved—open collaboration is going to become more important.” Regarding the data deluge, Kimber points out: “One of the key things, and this is something that’s holding people back at the moment, is that it’s great have all of this data, but what can you actually do with it?”

She suggests that marketing automation will be the area where data and AI can help marketers most. “Insights are brilliant but if you can’t do anything with them, they’re not a huge amount of use. [You have to be able to use them in a way] that isn’t massively onerous to actually implement. AI’s brilliant, but you’ve got to have it bolted to some kind of automation engine to enable you to deploy it in an efficient and effective way.”

Does AI mean a less humane CX?

Panel host Mark Runacus ponders whether we might lose sight of a genuinely human customer experience with the move towards AI—something discussed in-depth by our sister site, eCommerce Insights. Kimber puts a positive spin on things: “The whole idea of AI is that if you’re a business, you can use it to do the data crunching and actually free up resources to enable you to include more humanity in the customer experience.

“AI and bots can be brilliant if they make the consumer’s experience more efficient and easier to deal with. But when customers do need human contact, they need a person who knows what they’re doing. It’s about shifting the balance of how we engage and serve customers and audiences.”

Runacus runs with this idea, suggesting that if AI can save companies money, they might be able to afford to pay customer service staff more, leading to an improved customer experience—Kimber agrees that this is a potential outcome.

Investing in AI

Kotopoulos says that Unibet is looking into the whole environment of bots—not just chatbots. “It’s not the future because this is already happening, particularly in China with WeChat. We in the West have to catch up as instant messaging platforms open up.

Bots used on Facebook's Messenger

“We have a lot of data; it’s just a matter of teaching the bot and allowing it to learn from that data, in order to provide better customer services. That’s going to free up a lot of time to [redistribute the ‘human element’ elsewhere in the customer experience]. Obviously the human element is essential.”

Internally, Unibet is seeing these experiments with bots as an investment, “to see where we can actually plug these technologies into the organisation. It’s all about automation [whereas] it used to be about programmatic [advertising].”

Opportunities for irresponsible marketing

Dotmailer’s Skip Fidura, who chairs the DMA’s Responsible Marketing Committee, previews some soon-to-be-revealed research on over-communicating through email marketing, that he thinks offers an interesting parallels to AI.

“[The research] finds that in the UK, 75% of businesses have no rules around how often you should, or can communicate [by email]. 78% of marketers want a rule, which makes me wonder—as marketers, do we not trust ourselves to be responsible and to manage our customer relationships appropriately?”

He concurs with host Runacus that the opportunities to be irresponsible with marketing will grow to be huge. “The backlash when it goes wrong will be equally huge. I’m not so much worried about marketers abusing the data but if you’ve ever played around with any AI system…” He brings up Microsoft’s massive AI own-goal from mid-2016, where chatbot Tay, overnight, taught itself to be racist whilst attempting to emulate the casual patter of Millennials online.

Microsoft's ill-fated Tay Twitter bot

Says Fidura: “What they didn’t teach the bot is how not to be racist. For those of you who have kids, you spend a lot of time explaining to your children ‘no, you can’t say that. Why? Because it’s rude.’ Whether it’s racism or something else inappropriate. With AI, you’ve got to [coach it in] societal norms, give it some frame of reference.”

Get Data Privacy Right

Stack’s Kimber summarises the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (commonly known as GDPR) for the audience, which will become UK law in May 2018. She adds: “Brexit notwithstanding, I think there’s still a strong feeling that [UK law] will adopt all of it.” She picks out a number of key factors that will affect marketers.

First, “the definition of personal data is going to be massively expanded, for example, something like your IP address will become a personal identifier. For a lot of the programmatic advertising, there’s going to be a lot more regulation and a lot more care needed around that.”

Another factor pertinent to the marketing community “is the whole issue of consent.

“There are going to be a lot more rules and regulations around individuals consenting to their data being used and being aware of what their data is being used for. As a consumer, you can interact in so many different ways with a brand—joining up all of those data points, ensuring that you’ve got all of the permissions and that consumers fundamentally understand this is a really big issue for us.”

On the other hand, she also sees it as a great opportunity. “It’s our duty as marketers to be very personally relevant to our audience. Something that’s come out very strongly from the UK Information Commissioner [currently Elizabeth Denham] is that if consumers can see the benefit [of a marketing communication] and it’s relevant and not too ‘Big Brother’… then that’s a real positive and I do think there are a lot positives. For us as marketers, this will force us to be much more relevant and pertinent, which has got to be a good thing.”

Crystal clarity for consumers

Fidura, meaning to scare the audience, points out: “Take AI and the transparency rules baked into GDPR and think about a subject access request [a request from an individual for personal information].”

“Somebody asks you for all of the information you hold on them; what you’ve collected from them, what you’ve observed behaviourally and what your AI has profiled them as. You hand that back… That’s going to scare the crap out of them!”

He advises: “The first thing to get ready for GDPR—you need to think about what are the implications about all of the activity that you’re doing. What’s the implication of implementing an AI system? Is the upside going to be there for you?” He soothes: “I think it will be. Longer-term, consumers will start to get used to all this data being held.”

Initially though, things could get rocky for permission-based marketing: “Immediately after GDPR comes into play, there will be a subject access request and it will be reported in the Daily Mail. It will be an expose that runs through the month of June 2018.” The implication being that the media won’t be able to resist sensationalising the issue of customer data and privacy in order to sell papers and get clicks, turning on the marketing industry for the amount of data is has grown accustomed to collecting.

“My advice to all my clients in terms of getting ready is: be open, honest and transparent. Why do you need the data? What are you gonna use it for? How are you going to store it? What’s the benefit to the consumer? Don’t let your lawyers write that—put it in your own terms, in your brand tone of voice and aim it at your customers. If your customer base is 25-35 men, write it in language that will resonate with them.”

T&C’s 😫 tl;dr

Later in the panel, Fidura blasts a recent popular smartphone app, Meitu, which became a social media viral hit as it allows portrait photos to be made to look like anime characters which hilariously hideous results:
The Chinese data-grasping app Meitu

“If you read their T&Cs, they literally take every piece of data on your phone and store it.” As reported by Fortune and others, the extraordinary amount of data that the app collects likely ends up in the hands of the Chinese government. Fidura feigns surprise: “Everybody’s like, ‘that’s crazy, why would you let anybody do that?’ There are loads of other apps that do the same thing! Most people don’t read the terms and conditions.

“This is a huge problem, something that the Responsible Marketing Committee is looking at. Not how to get consumers to read the T&Cs because they never will, but how we can get marketers and brands to present the important bits of the T&Cs in a way that consumers can digest. [So that they can] make informed decisions but don’t have to read 47 pages of tiny print with legal jokes in it, like ‘do not use your iPhone to produce a nuclear missile.’”

What is the best marketing automation software for me in 2017?

You wouldn’t be alone in wondering what exactly ‘marketing automation’ refers to.

Simply put, it’s the umbrella term for software which enables you to automate repetitive digital marketing tasks across multiple channels (e.g. email, social media)—and, importantly, track the results.

Although it started out with email (e.g. sending a welcome email when someone signed up to a mailing list), marketing automation now encompasses all sorts of processes and channels, with data analytics at the heart of planning and executing campaigns. Broadly speaking, we’re talking about the segmentation of prospective or existing customers; personalisation and scheduling of marketing content; and tracking the resulting success rates and behaviour.

The goal is to be able to speak to customers and prospective customers in a relatively personal way but at scale—despite the word ‘automation’ carrying with it the connotation of robotic communications and canned responses.

In his article “The beginner’s guide to marketing automation”, TFM contributor Andrew Nicholson, CMO and Co-founder of Kulea MA, adds:

“Marketing automation is about creating a dialogue, rather than a monologue with your customers and prospects.”

Essential marketing automation software features

Marketing automation software products are numerous and varied, but there is some functionality which every competent package should offer (and execute competently).

Email marketing

Everybody knows that email is still vital to marketing (despite being a 50-year-old technology it’s still one of the most effective channels) and improving the automation of email is at the core of what all competing vendors offer.  The email basics of marketing automation include:

  • email database segmentation,
  • email templates,
  • sending and tracking,
  • behaviour-triggered-emails. (e.g. downloading a PDF triggers a specific email)

Slightly more fancy features (depending on the size of your organisation) include:

  • personalised emails,
  • A/B testing or split testing

The established Email Service Providers (ESPs) such as Dotmailer or Adestra have added automation features to their offering, so that they are now email automation platforms, able to send customers on automated email paths (if they open this email, then send that confirmation email) which will be suitable for many use cases.

However as this comparison of ESP and Marketing Automation features shows (source) if you want to go further in connecting the email behaviour with wider customer nurturing efforts, then you should be considering a fully fledged marketing automation platform.


Content management system (CMS)

Content marketing—or ‘inbound marketing’ if you like—is here to stay and creating good content shouldn’t be a chore. Images, videos, articles, landing pages—great marketing automation software will help you create and manage these without additional hassle.

Landing pages

The ability to create, tweak and split test (A/B or multivariate) landing pages is an important part of improving the success of campaigns, something which marketing automation software should aid.

Hosted web forms

Whether it’s simple newsletter sign-ups or more involved surveys or registrations, online information forms should be a cinch to create and connect to your databases.

Lead management & integration with CRM software

Marketing automation isn’t a replacement for sales software, but it should play nicely with whatever your organisation uses (if any). Things like lead scoring—a number indicating a lead’s likelihood to buy based on their trackable behaviour—segmentation and campaign nurturing should be possible for organisations that have a coherent, competent combination of sales and marketing automation systems.


The sinew that binds together any modern marketing effort, strong data analytics features means stronger campaigns. This can include a lead’s:

  • website behaviour, (including landing page conversion rates)
  • responses to certain emails,
  • behaviour on social media, (perhaps brand tracking or sentiment analysis)
  • offline data from call centres or postal correspondence.

Analytics are of course crucial for working out the effectiveness of certain content, and the cadence and scheduling of campaigns.

Artificial intelligence and other shiny objects

Above and beyond the fundamentals of customer management listed above, the larger marketing automation platforms are busy acquiring, bolting-on and developing some powerful capabilities in areas such as artificial intelligence.  The IBM Watson cognitive computing platform is bringing A.I. to IBM’s marketing cloud, while Salesforce announced Einstein and  Adobe launched Sensei both of which promises to bring similarly impressive A.I. capabilities to their marketing clouds.  Expect to see lots of marketing in this area over the next 12 months.


When do I need to upgrade to dedicated marketing automation software?

Depending on your organisation’s size, needs and current tools, you may already possess (and not realise it) the requisite automation capabilities through your current website, email service provider, social media, sales and/or analytics tools – as each tool offers some level of automation in its own right.

Marketing automation is just an umbrella term—it doesn’t mean that every organisation needs to invest on one all-encompassing service. Even marketing automation evangelist HubSpot points out that a lot of investments in this space fail and that some companies mistakenly think they’re buying a catch-all marketing solution.

TFM contributor Andrew Nicholson (who’s company is a competitor in the space) points out:

“…ambiguity often leaks in [to the ‘marketing automation’ software category]. Different solutions will have a different focus, and the term is often appropriated by martech firms keen to jump on the marketing automation bandwagon.

“[It’s] a technology fraught with peril. Lots of businesses have had their fingers burned… largely due to the complexity of the tech, and the high costs companies charge for their services. …a report last year by [automation] guru David Rabb highlighted that 70% of marketing automation users are unhappy with their current solution. The dirty secret of marketing automation is that… the vast majority of customers that invest in it end up taking advantage of a fraction of its functionality.”

That said, some growing organisations might benefit by upgrading their capabilities, which tends to come around the time when you need to get serious about lead management. Whilst Foxtail Marketing’s Mike Templeman believes that small- and mid-sized organisations using enterprise marketing automation is “nailing thumbtack with a sledgehammer”, he points out that:

“These tools shine when they’re loaded with millions of contacts, integrated (often with a lot of help from your IT department) with your CRM, and are left to grind through their workflows and lead scoring rules.”

There is also a case for small companies to invest in marketing automation, to help a small marketing team (or just one person) compete with a company that enjoys a much larger marketing and sales apparatus. As with any technology however, the person using it day-to-day will need to be well trained and have the knack for getting the most out of what marketing automation software has to offer.

Some key takeaways from a recent Entrepreneur infographic regarding marketing automation savings include:

  • When you automate your social posts and ads you’ll save more than 6 hours per week;
  • You can increase your your reply rate by 250% by automating your outreach and follow-up emails;
  • 49% of consumers will gladly switch brands for just a coupon.

Marketing automation software comparison

In terms of popularity and regard, Marketo and HubSpot tend to rise to the top of most analysis.

Datanyze’s market share analysis points towards the dominance of Marketo and Adobe Marketing Cloud among the top 1,000 websites (according to traffic ranking service Alexa)—implying their popularity among enterprise firms and the top online content providers:

Datanyze's market share analysis of marketing automation use among the top 1000 sites

Whereas HubSpot leads when the top 1 million websites are considered –  showing HubSpot’s popularity amongst SMEs – followed by Marketo, Adobe and Salesforce Pardot:

Datanyze's market share analysis of marketing automation use among the top one million sites

Meanwhile, TrustRadius’s user review community is generally impressed by both Marketo (8.30/10) and HubSpot (8.2/10), with both far out in front in terms of quantity of reviews and general rating. It should be pointed out that perhaps Oracle Eloqua’s, Salesforce Pardot’s and Adobe Campaign’s ratings and review tally suffer because of their history as technologies that have been acquired and folded into ‘marketing cloud’ suites.

TrustRadius marketing automation software trustmap

Writing in mid-2015 about enterprise solutions, Foxtail Marketing’s Mike Templeman was so bold as to dismiss Adobe’s, IBM’s and Callidus’ offerings:

“This isn’t just because they have the three lowest user bases, but they also receive the lowest user ratings and their specializations don’t really aid the marketing department as much as they think.”


Marketo is named among the best marketing automation software

California-based Marketo, founded in 2006, claims to be “best-in-class marketing automation software”. Its cloud-based applications cover several bases including email, mobile, social, advertising, website management and analytics.

In its first 10 years, Marketo wrestled with the likes of HubSpot for SME customers, but early 2016 saw the firm shift towards competing with the giants of the marketing sector like Oracle (which acquired Eloqua), Salesforce (which acquired Pardot) and Adobe (which acquired Neolane) and their respective “marketing clouds”.

A key difference between Marketo and the marketing clouds is that it is an open platform, keen on promoting its integration with a wide range of partners, including the likes of Hootsuite and Sprinklr.

Find out more about Marketo via our updates hub.


Marketo’s 2016 pricing is a little tricky to pin down, especially on its website—possibly because of the “desperate price competition coming from the large suite vendors” identified by Phil Fernandez, Marketo CEO.

Marketing Automation Insider and G2 Crowd note Marketo’s three packages starting from $895 per month for ‘Spark’; ‘Standard’ starts from $1,795 per month; ‘Select’ is from $3,195.

Marketo offers a number of solution bundles including email marketing, lead management, consumer marketing, customer base marketing and mobile marketing—you’ll need to contact sales to find out more about pricing for these and enterprise packages.

Capterra published a marketing automation roundup in 2014, at which time Marketo’s three packages were priced as such: Spark (starting at $1,195 per month), Standard (starting at $1,995 per month) and Select (starting at $3,195 per month). In 2013, The Sales Lion published an in-depth look at Marketo, Pardot and Eloqua including a Total Cost of Ownership chart, finding that a mid-tier package would come to $47,940 a year for Marketo Standard.


One Forbes contributor praised Marketo for the way it handles workflows, as a drag and drop ‘stack’ of and/or/if rules.

A Team Lead in Professional Services (medium-sized business with over a million contacts in list) was very positive about Marketo:

“We are using almost each functionality… Marketo has really helped to generate leads in a very short span of time even when running a few campaigns.

“Marketo has the best user interface which makes it very simple and powerful. The documentation is very well explained and any new person can read it and use Marketo. [It] has very rich functionality.”

A director at Web Spiders, a medium-sized IT company, was also mostly positive, adding:

“We highly recommend Marketo as it’s highly effective and easy to use for any size or type of organization… [It’s] well suited for domestic and local engagements [but] less appropriate for global engagements.”

The Head of Marketing Operations worldwide for large software firm Quintiq gushed:

“…for B2B it’s the best. Lead nurturing with the engagement engine is brilliant, easy, and powerful; integration with CRM, especially with Salesforce is just too easy and really boosts the value of your CRM; [and] workflow management is very flexible, but still very easy to use.”

That said:

“I’m missing marketing resource management (MRM) and marketing asset management (MAM) functionality for it to become a fully integrated marketing management suite.”

An account manager from a medium-sized professional services firm is considerably less impressed:

“For companies with a lot of money who can pay consultants high amounts of money to do things for them and set it up, go ahead. This is not for people who want to run things on their own.

“The user interface is extremely difficult to use. It’s not intuitive where to go to set things up, or why certain things appear the way they do.”

A marketing automation expert from Revenue Pulse is much more positive, but measured:

“You can do just about anything with the system, but it does take time and effort.

“The biggest misconception with Marketo is that it is magic, that all you have to do is turn it on and you’re off to the races. This isn’t the case—automation requires that rules and workflows be put in place, so it does require work at the beginning, but once things are setup properly, life is beautiful.

“Also, with a powerful system like this, it can completely put the spotlight on problem areas within your organization (this is good, but be ready!)”

“It helps with speed-to-lead, getting qualified leads to sales quicker and highlighting relevant information for them. It’s our email marketing tool that is powerful and enables sophisticated nurturing and personalized messages to our target prospects and customers. It also has very powerful and helpful reporting to help both marketing and sales make better decisions in terms of campaign spend and process improvements internally. It really can do everything and is used across the organization for many reasons (and is always evolving).”

Some cons:

“Support and Services are not their strong-suit [and] the integration with CRMs other than [Salesforce] have definite room for improvement. System speed can become an issue for large complicated enterprise installations if you’re not careful about setup.”


HubSpot is named among the best marketing automation software

HubSpot, founded in 2006 (as with Marketo), has sought to popularise the term “inbound marketing”, following the maxim: “Don’t interrupt buyers, attract them”.

The wider HubSpot platform concerns itself with blogging, search engine optimisation (SEO), social media, lead management, landing pages, calls-to-action, marketing automation, email, analytics and mobile.

It is the market-leading automation platform for SMEs, which has built up a loyal following through their excellent blog and user-friendly platform.  In our Marketing Technology review report we found that:

“Hubspot is the people’s choice, with the highest satisfaction level given to any vendor in any category: 8.6 out of 10. It is a solution particularly well-suited to the needs of small to medium sized businesses.”

HubSpot’s automation offering is officially called “Workflows”, which you can take for a spin as part of a 30 day free trial of the marketing platform.  Find out more about HubSpot via our updates hub.


HubSpot’s main marketing platform (as opposed to its CRM or sales software) starts from £140 per month, but marketing automation is only available via the Pro plan (£560 per month or £6,720 per year as it’s billed annually + £2,100 required onboarding). The Enterprise plan costs £1,680 per month, £20,160 per year + £3,500 required onboarding.

There are additional extras, including increasing the cap of the number of contacts you can have as well as website, reporting and advertising options.

HubSpot pricing


HubSpot’s content-handling tools have come in for praise over other solutions aimed at SME’s, as well as its ability to provide “full funnel attribution” which tells a clear story as to what is really driving traffic.

A Marketing Coordinator at small marketing agency, Speak!, takes a balanced view on HubSpot:

“HubSpot is well suited for organizing your clients, tracking the buyer’s journey, and automating your social media as well as email marketing. [It also] provides great analytics tools to see exactly how everything is performing. It is less appropriate if you want to design your own website or landing pages using custom fonts and templates.

“HubSpot’s customer service is prompt, friendly and helpful. [It] has a system for any marketing automation need you might have [but] creating and editing templates can be tedious and buggy and [also] has built-in coding restrictions which make it difficult for coders to customize what they want.”

A direct marketing analytics manager from Bank Independent, a large firm, was very positive:

“HubSpot is a very helpful tool for marketing departments wanting a central tool for campaign functions and analytics. Our organization uses [it] as a central tool for marketing campaign automation and management including e-mails and lead nurturing, blogging, landing page and call-to-action development and analytics. We have been extremely pleased with HubSpot’s integrated tools, intuitive user interface and excellent customer support.”

A communications officer at the same company added:

“Although we don’t use every single feature, the ones we use make it worthwhile. As features are added, HubSpot is becoming more and more of a one-stop shop for our marketing and customer communication needs.

“We began using HubSpot for customer emails, landing pages, campaign management, personas [and switched to] using it for social media management and marketing when our Hootsuite contract [expired]. I’m not totally sold on HubSpot’s [social media management] especially the publishing aspects. I continue to publish directly to the platform.

“The email module is so user-friendly, especially compared to some other cumbersome tools we’ve used. Like the entire platform, it is easy to understand yet still robust.
The integration of campaign components is awesome [and] landing pages/CTAs… are super simple to create with drag-and-drop interfaces, easy form builders and ‘smart’ forms that get to know the submitter as they complete the form.

“I think we have been able to provide a better customer experience with our HubSpot emails, plus create much easier ways for folks to contact us through landing pages and CTAs—it’s convenient for them, and helps us to know they want to hear from us. We can now attribute many, many B2C sales within our subsidiary company to our HubSpot tools!”

A digital marketing campaign specialist from medium-sized software firm, etouches, is also complimentary:

“It is important to understand the tool completely before implementing your team and efforts on it. [sic] The tool must be used correctly or the automation just doesn’t work. I believe it’s also recommended that all is housed under HubSpot for better reporting: blog, social media, website. This is the only way you can track contact behaviour around everything and generate some insightful reports.

“My team has previously used Silverpop and it was proven that HubSpot has been more intuitive, easy to use and more of a complete solution for marketing automation. HubSpot has put a lot into perspective as to what we should and shouldn’t be doing in terms of lead generation and inbound versus outbound marketing.”

A marketing manager who inherited her small education company’s use of HubSpot said:

“It is a great platform for those who are inbound beginners, short of manpower and would like to automate as many marketing actions as possible. But once you use HubSpot for a bit longer, you realize the platform itself has different limitations that put constraints [on] your marketing plan, especially on the SEO side where you want to change some coding.

“HubSpot mainly helps with solving the manpower problem of the marketing department, as it is a marketing automation platform with great analytics, tracking, and optimization. It makes my job as a one-woman-band department head so much easier and more efficient. It also has a great academy for learning all kinds of inbound marketing related strategies and knowledge.”

Adobe Campaign

Adobe Campaign is among the best marketing automation software

Part of the Adobe Marketing Cloud, Campaign was formerly known as Neolane before Adobe’s acquisition of the company in 2013. It lives a double life as both a multi-channel campaign planning tool and a marketing automation solution.

Adobe Campaign bills its main features as cross-channel campaign orchestration, integrated customer profile, targeted segmentation, contextual email marketing, real-time interaction management and operational reporting. Channels-wise, it promises to sync across online (email, web, mobile and social) and offline (direct mail, call centre, point of sale and kiosks).

The first marketing cloud was officially launched by Adobe in 2012 following its acquisition of Omniture, which triggered a series of major acquisitions by the four giants (Adobe, IBM, Oracle and Salesforce) in this space (read more on the rise of the marketing cloud).

You can keep up to date with Adobe Marketing Cloud news using our updates hub.


Adobe Marketing Cloud pricing is a bit tricky to nail down, as it is made up of eight products that can be subscribed to in any combination; pricing is also dependent on company size.

The services are explicitly for enterprise customers with complex digital marketing needs and budgets that can accommodate a minimum spend in the tens of thousands of dollars.

If you want to know exact pricing, it is best to contact an Adobe salesperson.


A production and copywriter at telecoms enterprise, Com Hem AB, said:

“Adobe Campaign works very well for those who want to work with automated email marketing. The user interface is easy to navigate, even for beginners; you don’t need to know MySQL to set up workflows and you can build personalized emails by using modules with conditions set by previous behaviours and interests. [However] it is not for SMEs, you must be an advanced marketer for the investment to pay off.”

A senior manager, marketing operations and systems, at computer & network security enterprise Palo Alto Networks added:

“Adobe Campaign fits very well in the ecosystem of Adobe Marketing Cloud for large enterprises. It can integrate and communicate with other components of Adobe Marketing Cloud to design a next generation predictive marketing digital campaign. For SMBs, it can do all (manage recipients, host web sites, track leads and clicks and capture them via REST, and give reporting). You have to look at your desired outcome and budget to figure out if Adobe Campaign will be used standalone or in the ecosystem of [the marketing cloud].

“[We use] Adobe Campaign… as the core email marketing tool in the Adobe marketing platform stack. When done right, using predictive and next best message concept, these emails delight customers as they are very relevant to where they are in their discovery / buying journey.”

He counsels:

“Adobe Campaign should be operationalized, architected and run by a central team.”

Another Palo Alto Networks senior manager commented:

“Campaign has a lot of features and flexibility for us to build several direct and digital marketing campaigns across multiple channels. This provides robust tools for users to manage their campaign and build any complex campaign.

“But the user experience is very poor—it is built from [an] IT user perspective but not from the marketer perspective.”

A sales manager at an enterprise, reviewing Neolane (Adobe Campaign’s pre-acquisition name) in mid-2015, had this to say:

“Neolane is for those who are looking for a complete email and automation solution that’s able to also integrate social and mobile. It integrates easily with CRM and includes web tracking and automated workflows. The UI is not very intuitive, and the WYSIWYG editor could be more robust.

“Neolane has many features and capabilities that, quite frankly, not every business will use. During the selection process it’s key to know your own objectives and what you want from your system and which features are the most important to your business.

“Despite the shortcomings of user interface and basic troubleshooting difficulty [in mid-2015], Neolane is much more robust and delivers better capabilities to our sales and marketing staffs than any other product we have used here or any product our staff members have used at other locations.”

Writing in early 2015, an administrator in quality assurance at a medium-sized firm said:

“Neolane is not a bad product, but definitely needs some polishing. It’s quite customizable and can manage multi-channel campaigns. It also provides an enormous amount of data. However, it’s neither intuitive nor responsive and for debugging, we often have to get assistance from customer support.

“Smaller less technically staffed companies should avoid it. For mid-size companies with a serious need for a email solution, it might be worth considering if the staff involved in using the product isn’t afraid of technical-looking stuff. The staff that runs the servers (if it’s on-premises deployment) needs to be fairly technical, and willing to dig into issues and errors that will arise.”

Oracle Eloqua

Eloqua is among the best marketing automation software

Oracle announced it was getting into the marketing cloud space in 2014, bringing together, among other solutions, Eloqua for marketing automation and Responsys for cross-channel marketing.

Oracle itself reinforces that Eloqua is primarily for B2B marketers. It differentiates itself from other platforms by way of its “robust partner network” and numerous integrations—placing an explicit emphasis openness and integration rather than being a “monolithic suite”.


Oracle Eloqua’s monthly cost for a database under 10,000 contacts is $2,000 for the Basic plan (up to 10 marketing users), $4,000 for Standard (up to 50 marketing users and adding various features including priority service) and you’d need to contact sales about the Enterprise plan.


Eloqua has previously come under fire both for missing a content calendar feature and for requiring a work-intensive workaround to enable A/B testing of landing pages.

A marketing operations data manager at BT explains that they directly compared Marketo and Eloqua:

“Eloqua is well suited to an organisation looking for a multi-channel marketing automation tool which integrates well with Salesforce. However the CRM integration and some of the advanced functions require a lot of work and understanding, so an organisation looking for a simple email platform, or stand alone marketing CRM might be better looking elsewhere.

“The flexibility of the application allows us to adapt its functions to meet our company’s needs and the applications such as the contact washing machine and program canvas allows us to maintain a clean contact base and manage all important ‘consent’.

“Over two months we piloted campaigns in both Marketo and Eloqua with two teams, Ops and marketers, and found Eloqua to be more intuitive for the marketing teams and gave the Ops team more options for development and customisation.”

A marketing technology consultant who has implemented and serviced Eloqua (alongside other marketing automation platforms) explains:

“It’s great at a lot of things and has a lot of options. That also means that it can be overwhelming for smaller businesses, and it’s harder to get started with the platform. Small or large, I recommend organisations always find a trusted Eloqua partner to assist in implementation, setup and maturing of the platform within your organisation.

“[Eloqua’s] out of the box CRM integration (SFDC, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle Sales Cloud) is stellar. Transfer of leads and contacts between Eloqua and CRMs works seamlessly and is very precisely configurable. There’s usually more than one way to solve a challenge in Eloqua. This makes the platform very flexible with regards to business needs. I’ve experienced similar platforms where you’re often tied to one workflow, which tends to kill this adaptability.

“The reporting functionality… interface… feels old-fashioned and less visually intuitive compared to other tools. Because Oracle is such a large enterprise itself, performing many acquisitions in rapid succession, product documentation is often out of date and scattered, which can make it a little hard to find answers to support questions.

“[Compared to Act-On, IBM Silverpop Engage and Marketo] Eloqua is… the better option for corporate- and enterprise-level businesses. Its many features, flexibility and constant stream of updates make it the futureproof answer to any marketing challenge. That said, I think smaller businesses will benefit more from platforms like Act-On or Hubspot. While these platforms may have less flexibility in their options, they are easier to get started with.”

A marketing specialist at large revenue management software firm, Model N, said:

“The big enterprise companies which can also invest in multiple Oracle products should use [Eloqua]. Small companies who just want to send out promotional emails should not go for this. It is really expensive compared to other marketing automation tools such as Marketo or HubSpot [and] moving away from Eloqua is very difficult. You need a programmer and an admin if you want a smooth execution of the system.”

A marketing director at a large IT firm is pretty hard on Eloqua:

“Eloqua was the pioneer, but now it is an expensive laggard—Oracle is hurting their innovation. [It’s] good enough for a huge company that has a big marketing ops organization that is transactionally focused and doesn’t change much. It is not appropriate for lean marketing teams or anyone who believes in self-service tools. It is also not a good fit if you want to have fast and rich personalization on your site because their forms and javascript tools are very behind the times.

“It’s impossible to use for any non-technical marketer. This is built for organizations with a large marketing ops team that does all of the execution of programs for other marketers. Creating emails is very difficult and it is very hard to have a responsively designed approach to using templates.

“It is too labor intensive to provide any real scale. Yes, it can send out millions of emails, but it doesn’t scale at the marketing project level. The technical nature and lack of usability are major barriers to get widespread adoption in an organization, let alone in a broader marketing department.

“[In comparison] it would be close to a tie between Marketo and Eloqua but the best of the group right now is HubSpot. While HubSpot came from an SMB background, their pace of innovation and releases has allowed them to catch up and surpass the other [marketing automation] vendors in many areas.”

Salesforce Pardot

Pardot is among the best marketing automation software

Salesforce is generally recognised as the leader in CRM software, but has been aggressively expanding into marketing with its acquisition of ExactTarget in 2013 (which itself had acquired Pardot, among others). In 2014, the group of services was rebranded Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

As you would expect, Pardot is sold on the basis of an “airtight integration” with Salesforce CRM and as with Oracle Eloqua, it is billed as marketing automation for B2B marketers.

Be sure to check out our Salesforce info hub to keep up to date.


Salesforce Pardot’s pricing begins at £800 per month (billed annually) for its “Standard” package up to 10,000 contacts. Pricing for the wider marketing cloud packages requires a call to sales.

Salesforce Pardot pricing

Bolt-ons include Wave for B2B Marketing, an advanced analytics tools, and Salesforce Engage, which extends marketing automation to the sales team.


Someone from the marketing department of a small financial services firm wrote on TrustRadius:

“I find Pardot’s best feature is its ability to integrate with many different systems. [It] alone will not do any of your heavy lifting segmentations and provides a considerable amount of headaches in its less than smooth email creation process (fonts change, links break…), but for users who need a system which can integrate well with nearly every system, Pardot is your system. Specifically it is Salesforce’s [CRM] integration with Pardot that allows direct import of detailed segmented lists… If your company does not need deep integrations, Pardot may not be the system for you.

“Landing pages have forms that are very effective at gathering information from email readers [but] landing page and email templates are lacking. There are few designs to work from and I often find myself working from scratch when I need a landing page.”

A digital business developer at small firm Quarsh Creative is largely positive about Pardot:

“I would recommend a platform such as this for businesses with a staff of over 30 that wish to increase their sales pipeline and fast track sales cycles through leveraging their content… However, you will need a front end developer if you’re to fully leverage the most of Pardot’s features.

“[Pardot has a] simple and intuitive user interface, which enhances user experience. Form building is very straight forward with the ability to go from simple to complex fields—great for gathering additional details from return visitors.

“Sales love the in-depth reporting they now receive from leads’ activities [which] enables tighter teamwork between marketing and sales.

“[That said] loading speeds can be horrendously slow at times. We’ve lost business (leads and enquiries) as a result of forms and pages taking minutes to load / process… Being in Australia, loading speeds can take a very long time. This affects our productivity with the platform.


“We’ve begun using Pardot for helpdesk and support communication on top of our marketing and sales. It’s a game changer in this respect.”

A marketing director at enterprise firm Nielsen posits:

“It’s great for people like myself who are not technical and don’t know code. I thinks it’s appropriate for any size of business. I think if you are very technical and like building out lots of campaigns then you’d probably be better suited with something like Marketo or Eloqua.

“Pardot has a great UI which is intuitive and very ease to learn and use, [also], setting up automation rules and completions action are very easy.

“[Salesforce has] excellent customer service, They have open office hours a few times a day where customers can call in and get problems solved at no charge.

“I used Marketo and hated it. It was difficult to use, required too many steps to execute a program, and the customer service was terrible. I actually don’t know why anyone would use it when options like Pardot and HubSpot are available. Pardot is exactly the opposite – easy to use, quick to set up and execute a campaign, and awesome customer service.”

A chief marketing officer at a medium-sized hospitality business is positive:

“Pardot is ideal for B2B companies and short-sales cycle businesses. It runs off of first touch attribution which is good if your customers don’t need many interactions in order to purchase. If your business relies on email marketing, lead generation from your website and customer facing team enablement, Pardot is what you need.

“We use it for all customer facing communication, lead generation programs, lead generation program management, and lead generation measurement. All teams have access to create email campaigns at will and it’s easy enough to use that everyone can it on their own. This makes us a more agile, dynamic company.”

That said:

“Multi-touch campaign attribution, as well as landing page and email customization isn’t strong.”

Best choice of marketing automation software for different use cases

From reviews it is clear that different use cases require different solutions, so we would recommend starting not with the tech but with the customer problem. In the words of  Steve Jobs

“You have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology”.

By starting with a clear understanding of the customer experience you are trying to deliver, and of the current organsiational and technological issues you face, then you should be in a strong position to evaluate the vendors listed above.


The beginner’s guide to marketing automation

I hate the term ‘marketing automation’ – it’s one of those annoying expressions, like ‘cloud’ or ‘omnichannel’ that means different things to different people.

Ask five colleagues what marketing automation is and you’ll get five different answers. So let’s get this set in stone from the offset.

Marketing automation is technology that automates and personalises your digital marketing communications to improve efficiencies, increase sales, and create more opportunities for customer engagement.

Marketing automation is about creating a dialogue, rather than a monologue with your customers and prospects.

How marketing automation goes about achieving these goals is where ambiguity often leaks in. Different solutions will have a different focus, and the term is often appropriated by martech firms keen to jump on the marketing automation bandwagon.  So let’s dig a little deeper…

Marketing automation brings together previously disparate tools so that everything operates under one roof; creating a sum that is significantly greater than its parts.

Email, CRM, analytics, segmentation & targeting, CMS… all these fancy acronyms and marketing cornerstones are welded together through the use of clever tracking and reporting to ensure a consistent, relevant and profitable customer relationship.


Let me give you an example of marketing automation in action…

Steve became a big fan of Acme Corp after meeting them at a trade show a few years back, and visits their website religiously to check out new products. He’s saving up for a new exec toy, but can’t decide whether to buy it from Acme, or their competitor.

Acme, being a smart company, have added a marketing automation tracking cookie to their website that allows them to track and score Steve’s website activity anonymously.

Even though Steve is anonymous, his unique Cookie ID (let’s call it cookie ID XYZ123) allows Acme to recognise Steve’s browser and present him with personalised web page content, based on his previous viewing activity. eg. A promotion for a product Steve last viewed appears dynamically on the Acme Corp’s homepage next time he visits the site.

So already Steve’s experience is significantly more relevant than a non tracked website.

Then one day, the magic happens. Steve clicks on a personalised email that Acme have sent him that links back to their website (he gave them his details at the tradeshow).

Suddenly, an association is made between the cookie ID on Steve’s browser, and Steve’s CRM record, and cookie ID XYZ123 is no longer anonymous. Cookie ID XYZ123 is Steve! (Equally, Steve could have filled out an online form, or clicked a social media link sent to him to create this association.)

Now we’re cooking.  Not only do Acme have Steve’s entire browsing history added to his CRM record, they’re also now able to fire out communications to Steve based on his past and present online behaviour.

Next time Steve visits the website, Acme know about it, and are able to target Steve with timely communications relevant to him. Eg. Steve looked at the executive toys product range, so Acme wait a day, then pinged Steve an email offering him 10% off their latest executive toy if he buys this week.

Acme can even set up alerts to their sales team, so that when Steve views a particular product page, or hits a score threshold, they know to give him a ring and convert the sale.


It sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

Well it should be, but alas, marketing automation is a technology fraught with peril.  Lots of businesses have had their fingers burned by MA (as we call it in the trade), largely due to the complexity of the tech, and the high costs MA companies charge for their services.

In fact, a report last year by MA guru, David Rabb, highlighted that 70% of marketing automation user are unhappy with their current solution. But it doesn’t need to be that way.

Marketing automation satisfaction scores

The dirty secret of marketing automation is that although when it works, it works incredibly well, the vast majority of customers that invest in it end up taking advantage of a fraction of its functionality.

Indeed, it’s been reported that 59% of companies don’t fully use the technology they have available, and anecdotally, I can tell you that I’ve heard a number of stories about expensive enterprise level marketing automation solutions being purchased, only to be left on the shelf unused the moment the expensive consultants move on.


So why are 1st generation marketing automation solutions so damn complex?

Truth be told, it’s not the solution provider’s fault (well, not entirely).

They’ve often evolved from email marketing or CRM platforms, and in order to keep up with market demand, have merged with or acquired third party tech to supplement their own skill set.

Integrating these previously separate solutions is a major hurdle, and just as they succeed with one, another channel pops up and the process begins again.

The result of this race to keep up is invariably a Frankenstein’s monster of technology, trying it’s best to convince the world that it’s perfectly normal to have bought in body parts.


Fortunately, there are other ways for smaller businesses that can’t afford, or don’t have the resources, to implement enterprise level MA.

Third party application integration solutions such as Zapier and IFTTT allow canny marketers to connect their previously uncommunicative cloud based marketing applications together; providing automation through integration, whilst ensuring they’re only paying for the apps that they need.

Building on this interconnected approach to automation, we’re finally starting to see 2nd generation marketing automation solutions hitting the market.

With a focus on ease of use, affordability, and open API’s (technological bridges that allow different tools to talk to each other) these news solutions actively encourage third party developers to create complementary tools that integrate seamlessly with their own platforms (without the need for mergers and acquisitions to get involved!).

This next generation (full disclosure – my own company, falls into this category) are aimed not at global corporations with teams of Phd students and infinitely deep pockets, but at small to medium businesses that up until now have been frustrated and bemused by marketing automation in equal measures.

If you count yourself as working for, or running one of those businesses, now is a great time, as marketing automation finally comes of age.



Adobe Marketing Cloud explained

Adobe is the latest marketing cloud to announce machine learning and AI capabilities.

Following hot on the heels of IBM Watson and Salesforce’s Einstein, Adobe has announced the launch of Adobe Sensei as “one of our biggest strategic investments”, bringing artificial intelligence into their marketing cloud.

Adobe Sensei will ‘automate mundane tasks, drive predictive and personalisation capabilities, and boost productivity’ across both Marketing and Creative Clouds.

Some examples of the new intelligent services include:

  • Attribution: Algorithmically determining the impact of different marketing touch points on consumers’ decisions to engage with a brand.
  • Anomaly Detection: Simplifies data analysis by surfacing the most relevant insights and highlighting anomalies using statistics to focus on what needs attention
  • Sentiment Analysis: Helps see and predict what customers like, talk about, and share most.


For more information visit the Adobe Sensei microsite


What else is happening in our Marketing Cloud hub?

An image with the text Adobe marketing Cloud updates hub featuring a cartoon scientist offering a comprehensive guide

What is Adobe Marketing Cloud?

Adobe Marketing Cloud is a digital toolbox, filled to the brim with enterprise-level applications and services covering the major areas of digital marketing. There are eight main tools – Analytics, Audience Manager (personalistion), Campaign (multi-channel marketing; automation), Experience Manager (content), Media Optimizer (ads), Primetime (video), Social and Target (testing).

Marketers can buy individual bits but, as with the Beatles, they tend to work better together, becom ing more powerful when used in combination and integrated with other marketing technologies.

“I’d argue that we have the most complete solution on the market. We are in the process of integrating everything together which will make it more appealing to marketers” – Ann Lewnes, SVP & Chief Marketing Officer Adobe speaking to TFM in June 2015

Signalling its move into the Customer Experience market, Adobe was the first major software provider to announce its intention to build an integrated digital marketing hub. The Marketing Cloud suite of tools – officially launched in 2012 – was compiled in part through acquisitions including Omniture, Day Software and Neolane.

Here’s a 2 mins 30 secs video covering the basics of what its all about. It’s slightly out of date (Jan 2015), mentioning six of the eight products currently available:

Adobe Marketing Cloud updates: What’s the latest news?

MAY 2016 – Acquisition

Adobe proudly touted its acquisition of Livefyre, best known for its online commenting system. Livefyre also offers tools for brands to engage with their audiences, for instance aggregating user-generated content in real time for live web pages and event screens.

Adobe plans to integrate Livefyre into its Experience Manager, its content management service for building web sites and mobile apps – TechCrunch.

MAY 2016 – Adobe Summit EMEA announcements

A photo of the stage at Adobe Summit EMEA 2016

Adobe announced various updates across its marketing cloud:

  • Data-driven advertising – New advertising capabilities include full integration of Adobe’s Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) to help deliver personalised creative content at scale and in real time, support for video ads with built-in analytics and the ability to leverage location information to adjust bids on search ad impressions – press release.
  • New data science capabilities across the Adobe Marketing Cloud, including:
    • an auto-allocate capability in Adobe Target (Smarter Allocation for Visitor Traffic) which automatically discovers the highest-performing experiences and funnels live visitor traffic to those experiences even while you’re still testing;
    • the integration of Adobe Media Optimizer with Adobe Analytic;
    • folllowing on from the January launch of Adobe Campaign’s remarketing capability, it added “propensity scoring” to Adobe Analytics for cart abandonment, where customers are scored on their likelihood to return to the site;
    • also unveiled was Adobe Campaign’s beta program for predictive subject lines, which suggests subject line content to optimize performance – Adobe blog.

The software giant also teased results from its Adobe Digital Index (ADI) EMEA Best of the Best 2015 Report, which benchmarks what the average and top companies are doing:

  • Only 40% of consumers think companies are doing a good job at providing consistent and personalised experiences across devices.
  • European consumers now own an average of 6.1 connected devices, and use three of these daily, across multiple operating systems.
  • 85% of us also now frequently switch devices during online tasks, showing there is still work to be done by brands to make sure experience across devices stacks up.
  • From a UK-perspective, we are ahead of the curve when it comes to website traffic from desktop visits, with the lowest average amount of traffic originating from a desktop device at 56%, which means considerably more traffic is coming from mobile devices than other countries. This is supported by data which found that the UK’s Top 20 has the highest performance in the traffic originating from a smartphone (43%), outperforming every other country.

APRIL 2016 – Product update

The AMC Spring 2016 release includes single-click navigation between solutions, new notifications widget and a redesigned Feed.

New Adobe Analytics features include the Activity Map (formerly ClickMap), virtual report suites, Analysis Workspace project scheduling and downloading, and Data Workbench 6.6.

Release notes.

MARCH 2016 – Product updates and launches
The Adobe Summit in Las Vegas saw the launch of, a developer portal enabling developers to download the Adobe Marketing Cloud software development kit and easily access API routines and protocol – press release.

Newly announced Adobe Certified Metrics offer standardised digital census data for more accurate measurement of digital audiences – this was followed up by news of related comScore and Neilsen partnerships – press release.

Adobe unveiled it’s Marketing Cloud Device Co-op, a network that will enable the world’s biggest brands to work together to better identify customers as they move from one digital device to another – press release.

Other announcements from the summit include deeper integration of AEM Mobile, new Mobile Core Services tools, new capabilities in Adobe Primetime and new data science capabilities.

DECEMBER 2015 – Partnership

An extended Accenture and Adobe partnership will focus on providing digital marketing solutions for large-scale campaigns in the life science, healthcare and financial services sectors in NA and Europe – press release.

“Working with Accenture at this level is a significant step toward providing tailored versions of Adobe Marketing Cloud solutions that address the unique requirements of specific vertical industries. This is a logical next step in the evolution of Adobe Marketing Cloud as an enterprise software platform to help industries successfully transition to digital.” – Matt Thompson, executive vice president, Worldwide Field Operations at Adobe

NOVEMBER 2015 – Product launch

Adobe launches Audience Marketplace, a data exchange where companies can buy second- and third-party audiences – TechCrunch.


8 products make up Adobe Marketing Cloud

  • Adobe Analytics (previously Omniture SiteCatalyst) – A relatively powerful tool for measuring what’s going on when people check out your website. It sits at the centre of the stack, letting you work out the effectiveness of other Adobe Marketing Cloud products in granular detail. With some development tinkering, Adobe Analytics can also pull in various data from other offline or third-party sources, giving you a wider view of the customer journey.
  • Adobe Audience Manager – Useful for targeted ad campaigns, Audience Manager lets you build audience profiles to improve personalisation. Audience Marketplace, where businesses can acquire second- and third-party audiences, launched in November 2015.
  • Adobe Campaign – A multi-channel marketing campaign planning and execution tool. It was formerly known as Neolane before Adobe’s acquisition of the company in 2013. It’s also lives a double life, moonlighting as a marketing automation tool.
  • Adobe Experience Manager – Adobe Experience Manager is an asset creation and delivery platform, handy for publishing tailored content (e.g. newsletters) across web, email, mobile and social.
  • Adobe Media Optimizer – A tool for ad-buying, which lets you forecast the ideal combination of search, display and social media ads within budget. Media Optimizer also provides ad management and delivery.
  • Adobe Primetime – Primetime is a video platform built around modern viewing habits (i.e. any Internet-connected device becomes a TV). It’s aimed at broadcasters, cable networks and service providers, letting them serve up TV and film content mixed with personalised ads.
  • Adobe Social – A social ROI tool that lets users manage social media campaigns across all the major platforms.
  • Adobe Target – Target helps businesses identify their best content through digital testing and optimisation. You can also use it to create anonymous profiles of site visitors, enabling personalised product or content recommendations.


Adobe Marketing Cloud review: What the analysts say

Gartner (which for some reason has its own name for marketing clouds – “digital marketing hubs”) has once again identified Adobe Marketing Cloud as top dog in its Magic Quadrant analysis:

A chart showing Gartner's Magic Quadrant 2016 analysis of digital marketing hubs, with Adobe Marketing Cloud reviewed as the most complete and joint best in execution.

“Many marketers have adopted Adobe as their standard for digital marketing applications, incorporating other providers only in areas where Adobe lacks offerings, such as e-commerce. While Adobe supports open integration with outside applications, its core service layer, including profiles and audiences, administration, and collaboration tools, creates incentives to stay within its suite. Consider Adobe if you are a midsize-to-large B2C enterprise looking to compete on quality of customer experience and personalization.” – Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs, pub. 5 January 2016

A consultant to UNICEF gave the package a mixed review over at TrustRadius, finding it powerful but pricey, as well as potentially tricky to implement:

“ROI on Adobe Marketing Cloud purchase – Adobe Marketing Cloud has been a valuable customer-aquisition asset for several B2B companies I’ve had contact with. While return in investment depends on other variables surrounding the tool and the business, consistent increase in lead-to-conversion rates have been a good indication of increase in performance.
For B2C businesses, however, Adobe Marketing Cloud can be an overkill solution. Its high license, implementation and maintenance costs make it a hard investment to back, since cheaper solutions can provide the same kinds of insights.” – Rodrigo Domingues, Integrated Marketing Consultant, UNICEF


Adobe Marketing Cloud pricing: How much is it?

A picture of piles of coins for the Adobe Marketing Cloud pricing section

Adobe Marketing Cloud pricing is a bit tricky to nail down, as it is made up of eight products that can be subscribed to in any combination; pricing is also dependent on company size.

The services are for enterprise customers with complex digital marketing needs and budgets that can accommodate a minimum spend in the tens of thousands of dollars.

If you want to know exact pricing, it is best to contact an Adobe salesperson.

A former CMO for Acquia (a smaller CMS rival) argues that Adobe Marketing Cloud is simply not a mid-market product:

“It’s no secret that Adobe CQ [experience manager] is the most expensive CMS. Adobe said during their recent partner summit that the average CQ deal is $450,000 in license with the total implementation cost of over $2m USD. Adobe’s focus is squarely on the largest companies who value their entire Marketing Cloud…” – Tom Wentworth, writing as Chief Marketing Officer, Acquia


Adobe Marketing Cloud Exchange – what is it?

A screen grab of the home page of Adobe Marketing Cloud exchange

Adobe Marketing Cloud Exchange – launched in May 2014 – is a marketplace for AMC applications, some of which better integrate Adobe products with each other as well as third-party apps.


Adobe Marketing Cloud training videos

A picture of the home page for official Adobe Marketing Cloud video resources

Adobe has its own video platform, where a lot of its most valuable official content is hosted, as opposed to YouTube. Best to use the search function to look for walkthroughs about particular products.

If you’re feeling a bit lost with Adobe Analytics, it has an official YouTube Channel featuring a number of short videos ranging from simple to expert tips.

Digital marketing agency Axis41 publishes an Adobe Experience Manager podcast – as well as a few short spotlight videos on various aspects of the software – YouTube Playlist.

Here’s a quick video tour of Adobe Social, with a playlist of relevant videos also on the page.

This 13-minute Adobe Target product showcase will give you a good sense of the personalisation tools available.


Most valuable Adobe Marketing Cloud resources

Adobe has a well-stocked resource centre for its Marketing Cloud services.

Case study: See how Chelsea Football Club arrived at their purchase of Adobe Marketing Cloud via IT firm CACI and how they implement it across the business.

Case study: House of Fraser’s Paid Search Manager talks about how the company uses Adobe Media Optimizer for Search within Adobe Marketing Cloud.

9 ways to save time and money with marketing automation [Infographic]

The popularity of marketing automation has risen considerably over the past few years, with 11x more B2B organisations using the technology than in 2011.

Therefore, how can you make sure you’re making the most of your investment?

This infographic from Entrepreneur identifies the nine ways marketing automation can help you save a lot of time and money.

Key takeaways include:

  • When you automate your social posts and ads you’ll save more than 6 hours per week;
  • You can increase your your reply rate by 250% by automating your outreach and followup emails;
  • 49% of consumers will gladly switch brands for just a coupon.


Marketing automation and AI will take 30% of jobs. Is resistance futile?

The machines don’t have holidays, they don’t get sick, they don’t ask for pay rises and will take 1 in 3 marketing jobs, says Mike O’Brien.

In 2013 Sir Martin Sorrell, who as CEO of WPP controls 48% of the world’s advertising budget, said digital media would grow as a proportion of WPP’s total spend, from about 35% to 40-45% by 2018.

So when then are WPP clients like Unilever, the world’s third-largest consumer goods company, pulling back from Facebook and scaling back their use of external marketing agencies?

Mike O’Brien, CEO of Jam Partnership and IDM tutor, told a typically packed theatre at TFM 2016 that the recent migration of advertising work away from agencies means that more than 40% of digital marketing activity is now done in house. Sorrel believes – or least says he believes – that this is cyclical, that the work will come back to him – but O’Brien thought this optimistic.

It’s not just the financial crash that triggered this trend. Low-overhead exemplars of the gig economy like Uber, which doesn’t actually own any cars, and Airbnb, which needs no bricks-and-mortar hospitality assets, tend not to need or use marketing agencies. Users are reminded of the existence of these brands every time their apps are updated automatically.

UK ad industry 

Speaking on day two of TFM, O’Brien said the outcome of the EU referendum was also damaging the industry. Statista has projected that the UK advertising industry will lose £1bn in revenue by 2030 as a result of Brexit.

Another thing making life complicated for marketers is the sheer volume of platforms, hardware and of course data. “IoT is going to drive us insane as we can’t manage what we have,” said O’Brien.

Small wonder that one survey revealed brittle confidence among marketers. Only 9% of people working in the sector claimed to feel totally confident in their prospects, said the speaker.

Cutting costs

So how can the industry cope with these headwinds? Can we reduce costs, O’Brien asked the audience?

Asking for more and more money at director level is certainly not the solution, he continued. “It’s incumbent on us to find ways of going to the director and saying we can do it for less.”

Marketers need to boost their return-on-marketing-investment (ROMI), streamline processes and engage in real time with clients.

The wave of automated productivity 

Every revolution in automation has boosted productivity, said O’Brien. If it makes you personally more productive, then great; not so much if it makes the company more productive instead. Automation could eliminate 30% of jobs, warned the speaker.

That’s bad news for the Exchequer too: robots and algorithms don’t pay income tax.

Research from the Drum has identified no fewer than 250 different marketing job titles. How many of these will survive the coming wave of automation? Machines don’t have holidays, they don’t get sick, they don’t have babies, noted O’Brien.

O’Brien, who is also course tutor and digital lecturer at the IDM Academy, invited TFM attendees to assess their own vulnerability to automation by auditing their daily work routine for repetitive tasks. Unfortunately, a surprisingly large amount of what we do, even in supposedly skilled jobs, is repetitive, studies have shown.

O’Brien offered the following reading list for anyone interested in how automation, robotics and artificial intelligence will, for good or ill, shape the future of humanity:

  • The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts – by Richard and Daniel Susskind
  • The Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of Mass Unemployment – by Martin Ford
  • Surviving AI: The promise and peril of artificial intelligence – by Calum Chace
  • Humans Need Not Apply: A Guide to Wealth and Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence – byJerry Kaplan
  • Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era – by James Barrat

The accelerating speed of technological change is making it even harder to adapt. About half (49%) of businesses already automate at least some processes.

Some console themselves with the thought that machines can never recreate creativity – but even this isn’t necessarily true, said O’Brien.


Where is automation already working?

O’Brien listed a number of areas where automation has already proven successful:

  • Email – personalisation to auto response
  • Lead management – scoring to CRM
  • Campaign management – from calendar to budgeting
  • Online marketing – dynamic content development to conversation rate optimisation
  • Integration – from data import to API integration
  • Analytics – auto SEO to revenue analytics
  • Social – from monitoring to advertising

The benefits of automation inclue:

  • Reduces costs
  • Increases ROI
  • Streamlines processes
  • Engages in real time
  • Reduces human error
  • Always operates at optimum levels
  • Algorithms don’t ask for pay rises and they work through Christmas


But there is hope for the humans…

Some of the more optimistic students of technology have argued that very few occupations will be under threat in the near to mid-term. Creativity is fiendishly difficult for AI to replicate.

That said, journalists (including this one) will be alarmed that a program called Quill by Narrative Science has already penned articles for Fortune, among others.

O’Brien also mentioned a mind-boggling ad campaign from Chevrolet. The campaign used IBM’s AI software, Watson, to give people positivity tests, based on their social media activity, at the petrol pump.

Contrary to received wisdom (at least in some quarters) that it’s better to specialise, the speaker urged marketers to become polymaths – to broaden their skills base. This is what the gig economy – which now includes 16% of the UK workforce, noted O’Brien – is all about.

He also said marketers and other professionals need to “let go of silos, processes and hierarchies”.

In a last-ditch attempt to reassure the audience about the machines’ coming hegemony, O’Brien suggested people could still make themselves useful by exploiting their distinctly human qualities:

  • Be social
  • Consciousness
  • Reflectiveness
  • Unpredictability
  • Ambition
  • empathy

That should help. We hope.

Salesforce update: Einstein AI is coming to Marketing Cloud

Welcome to TFM’s Salesforce Marketing Cloud hub, our summary of the latest advice and information about this fast-growing and fast-acquiring marketing cloud.

Salesforce announce Einstein: AI for everyone

artificial-intelligence-in-businessSalesforce have announced they are bringing artificial intelligence capabilities such as deep learning, natural language processing and predictive analytics into all areas of their business.  Billed as ‘AI for everyone’, Einstein will bring a predictive experiences for customers of Marketing Cloud, CRM and all other Salesforce platforms.

It is the culmination of $600m investment in artificial intelligence by Salesforce who have built Einstein from acquired companies such as MetaMind, PredictionIO and RelateIQ.

The platform will take various data sources  to train machine learning models, including “customer data from CRM, activity data from Chatter, email, calendar and e-commerce; social data streams such as Tweets and images; and even IoT signal”.

While timing and pricing details are still to be confirmed, the initial benefit to users of Salesforce Marketing Cloud will be able to start creating predictive journeys. For example:

  • Predictive Scoring will score every customer’s likelihood to engage with an email
  • Predictive Audiences builds custom audience segments based on predicted behaviours
  • Automated Send-time Optimisation predicts the optimal time to deliver messages based on past customer behaviour.

Einstein will enable Salesforce developers to quickly build AI-powered apps using the tools that they already use.

AI-powered marketing is going to be a hot topic at TFM 2016 next week and we will be ask Salesforce to explain more in the Marketing Cloud All-Star Debate. Register for your ticket.



Salesforce Marketing Cloud updates

An image with the text Salesforce Marketing Cloud updates hub featuring a cartoon scientist offering a comprehensive guide

What is Salesforce Marketing Cloud?

Salesforce is generally recognised as the leader in CRM software, and has been aggressively expanding into marketing with high profile acquisitions including ExactTarget in 2013 (which itself had acquired CoTweet, Pardot, iGoDigital and Keymail Marketing). In 2014, the group of services was rebranded Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SMC).


As with other marketing clouds Salesforce Marketing Cloud covers marketing automation (still branded as Pardot) and analytics across email, web, social and mobile, selling multi-year subscriptions to the software:


Salesforce provides an uplifting two minute video overview of the :

Salesforce Marketing Cloud review: What do the analysts say?

Salesforce Marketing Cloud can be found among the leaders in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs, alongside Adobe, Oracle and Marketo:
Gartner's Magic Quarter for digital marketing hubs, showing Salesforce among the leaders

Gartner, in its analysis, recommends Salesforce Marketing Cloud for “midsize-to-large B2C enterprise[s] in the consumer products, retail, high tech or financial services industry with a moderate- to-high level of digital marketing expertise.” It also reports that “customers report high satisfaction with its intuitive user experience and journey-modeling capabilities” but also that some “report concerns over pricing and diminished support quality.”

TrustRadius sees “Salesforce Marketing Cloud Email” score 7.3 out of 10. One anonymous reviewer comments:

“We have not had great support when adding a new business into our existing account. It would be great to get a dedicated person that could help with implementation/consultation even after we have our initial on-boarding. Businesses change over time, and it would be great to get the support from Salesforce Marketing Cloud”

Danny Tran, Lead Technical Developer at WebMD, is positive, saying:

“this is a very solid solution for email marketing. It is very scalable from a developer’s view. The proprietary AMPscripting is very powerful in allowing developers to leverage most of platform programmatically which most providers are lacking. I believe that is the one key component making the Salesforce Marketing Cloud superior to others.”

He adds:

“We are leveraging their API to hook in several of our company systems to process triggers, imports and other applications. There is a lot of flexibility in terms of how you would create different applications depending on what outcome you are looking for.”

Further reading: Rise of the Marketing Clouds


Salesforce Marketing Cloud updates: What’s the latest news?

SEP 2016 – Salesforce announce Wave Analytics for B2B Marketing app

Salesforce have launched Wave Analytics for B2B Marketing app, a new app to enable marketing cloud users to dive deeper into marketing, CRM other sources such as Google Analytics, webinar or event registration data into a single view.

This easy-to-use app is based in part on consumer apps such as “Fitbit, Mint and Waze” which have made analytics more intuitive, and should improve the connection between marketing cloud and the sales activity recorded in Salesforce CRM.

Salesforce’s Wave B2B Marketing app in action

Read more about Wave Analytics B2B Marketing app here.

JUNE 2016 – The Demandware acquisition

In the largest ever acquisition in the marketing technology industry, Salesforce purchased ecommerce platform Demandware, effectively kickstarting the formation of a commerce cloud to complement its sales and marketing clouds – TFM.

The Demandware logo

Demandware brings with it hundreds of clients including Marks & Spencer – Adexchanger.

FEBRUARY 2016 – Quarterly performance
Salesforce’s marketing cloud revenue grew 31% to $184 million in the fourth quarter (ending Jan 31st 2016) of its fiscal year – Ad Age.

JANUARY 2016 – Free consultation
In the US at least, Salesforce is offering businesses in the retail industry a free consultation with its Marketing Cloud team to demonstrate, through bespoke planning, how its software suite can help them “build smarter one-to-one customer journeys” – Marketing Land.

NOVEMBER 2015 – Feature roll out
Salesforce has added predictive analytics – leveraging machine learning and data science to score and segment customers in real-time – to its marketing cloud – Information Week.


Salesforce Marketing Cloud pricing: How much is it?

SMC pricing starts from £280 per month (billed annually, so £3,360 per year) for personalised promotional email marketing. There are four broad solutions – “Email, Mobile, and Web Marketing”, “Social Media Marketing”, “Digital Advertising” and “B2B Marketing Automation” – each split into four packages – Basic, Pro, Corporate and Enterprise.
Salesforce marketing cloud updates pricing chart

The Corporate package for Email, Mobile and Web Marketing starts at £2,625 per month, billed annually (£31,500 per year).

Salesforce Marketing Cloud training and certification

Salesforce University offers training and certification, via corporeal and virtual instructor-led training, self-paced online resources and private workshops.

Training paths include “User”, “Administrator”, “Developer”, “Solution Designer” and “Technical Architect”, with prices ranging from £325 to £3,250. Official UK courses are taught in Staines (near Heathrow).

Salesforce calls its combined support and training packages “Success Plans”, offering Standard, Standard+, Premier and Premier+ which cover the Marketing Cloud.

Certification tracks for marketers include “Email Specialist” and “Social Specialist”. Both involve a 90 minute exam and registration fee of $200.

The do’s & don’ts of marketing automation… what the vendors forget to tell you

Whether you are looking at marketing automation for the first time, revisiting an existing deployment stuck with strategic inertia or wanting to optimise your current investment, we’re here to help you know some of the wider considerations that need to be addressed.

To help save you money, de-risk your marketing automation and think a little wider than the demo and delivery, here are a few dos and don’ts when it comes to marketing automation from vendors:


…recognise marketing is a process not a purchase. Most marketers over invest in the software acquisition and under invest in the ongoing adoption and deployment.

…have a Request for Information (RFI) process, if only to agree your vision and objectives internally. Stakeholder engagement and alignment across the business before deployment is essential, and money saving too.

…remember this is about better marketing not better technology. Marketing automation is a tactic, marketing is the strategy.

…have at least three people driving your marketing automation inside your organisation, as a minimum. Find an executive sponsor, a project manager, and a digital ‘doer’.

…allocate a budget for services and support (x2-3 the cost of the software). Consider the training you need to drive better understanding and adoption outside the platform in addition to training inside the platform.

…establish quick wins and longer term goals. The most successful project management plans are those that establish and deliver quick wins early while having longer term visions and milestones in place too.

…establish the ‘marketing spine’ early. Ensure your content management system (CMS), marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) are all integrated. Many organisations are adopting too many disparate technologies before integrating the core three first. Some refer to this as the ‘marketing stack’, don’t let it become a pile.


…measure the wrong stuff. You still need click-thru’s and open rates, but marketing automation is really about moving the dial from marketing as a cost-centre to marketing as a profit-centre.

…ignore IT, just pick the right partner. The best projects work where IT and project management embrace the cloud and are supportive of marketing.

…don’t assume marketing automation is an extension of CRM with the same stills. It isn’t just another tab in you CRM, it needs very different skills to deliver properly.

…think just because of the name its domain is limited to the marketing departments only. Take marketing automation to other departments and enhance it.

…abdicate responsibility, it is your responsibility. Marketers are no longer being measure just by the campaigns they run, but increasingly by the technology they put in place.

…forget the bigger picture, drive change and new thinking. Your role is to be a radar to the market and to deliver new thinking.

Although vendors clearly understand marketing automation, they often do not approach it from a marketing point of view, consequently missing the wider guidance and engagement. Embrace marketing automation with long term goals in mind, and use it to enhance more than just your marketing.

See the below infographic for more information:


Rise of the marketing cloud: Adobe vs IBM vs Oracle vs Salesforce

Marketing technology is the new battleground of the biggest tech firms; the favoured strategy is to build a comprehensive “marketing cloud”. Who is winning and what’s in it for you?

That put the cat amongst the pigeons: the Gartner analyst Laura McLellan’s 2012 prediction that by 2017 the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO seems to have concentrated the minds of decision makers in the technology industry, setting the scene for the rise of the marketing cloud.

Added to this global market intelligence firm IDC’s forecast that spending on marketing technology will continue to increase until at least 2018, and you can clearly see what is causing the gold rush mentality:

IDC's marketing technology map revenue, the precursor to the rise of the marketing cloud

Why so serious?

Marketing technology is horribly fragmented and selecting a vendor can be paralysing for buyers.

Thus the big software companies, alongside a number of smaller competitors, have seized the opportunity to sell their customers more complete marketing suites. In theory, this takes some of the hassle out of building a bespoke, marketing stack.

For companies of a certain size and ambition, simplifying and unifying marketing software is alluring, ideally meaning less time spent integrating and more time spent marketing. Customers are buying packages stuffed with possibilities – paying meaty sums, annually billed, in the process – but their employees aren’t necessarily exploring the full breadth of what is included. If you were feeling cynical, you might commend this trend as an impressive example of mass upselling.

Price is a major issue here: if you simply want to send email, monitor web traffic and/or manage social channels, there are cheaper or indeed free alternatives (TFM has established regularly updated hubs on the most popular freemium tech, including Google Analytics, Hootsuite and MailChimp).

Buying a marketing cloud from one of the software titans, with their reputations for dependability, stability and trustworthiness, offers a warm blanket for the IT department, after all: “no one ever got fired for buying IBM”. Implementing any new technology is a serious investment, so whilst the services of small, sexy startups can be appealing, you want to be sure that your core systems are robust and your vendors are in it for the long haul.

Further, at a time when cybersecurity is a case of ‘when, not if’, entrusting customer data to a single, well-protected cloud is attractive.

What is a “marketing cloud”?

Definitions vary, but a marketing cloud that passes muster should be built around a core of content management, marketing automation and solid analytics. Each of the big four have competencies in each of these core systems, with an additional collection of different data management, social and advertising tools around them. The Hub notes that predictive analytics and customer journey mapping are the next must-have features for marketing clouds.

Clash of the clouds

Four of these suites – the titular “marketing clouds” operated by Adobe, Salesforce, Oracle and IBM – have been built through acquisition as the industry goes through a period of consolidation: Oracle’s CEO Mark Hurd sees just two cloud application providers controlling 80% of the market within 10 years.

The first marketing cloud was officially launched by Adobe in 2012 following its acquisition of Omniture which triggered a series of major acquisitions by the four giants of this space. The spending spree shows no sign of slowing down with the latest (Salesforce’s acquisition of ecommerce platform Demandware) going for a staggering $2.8 billion.




Who is winning search?

Google Trends tracking of “Adobe Marketing Cloud”, “IBM Marketing Cloud”, “Oracle Marketing Cloud” and “Salesforce Marketing Cloud” shows all four enjoying the growth of search interest, with Adobe taking an early lead. As Adobe have now been overtaken by Salesforce in search volumes, does this suggest that Salesforce are the current kings of the marketing cloud?

Adobe Marketing Cloud

TFM has published an updates hub with all the latest news on the Adobe Marketing Cloud.

Who shot first? Adobe did.

The official first-mover in the rise of the marketing clouds, Adobe has spent $3.2 billion on acquisitions in the space. Now rebranded Adobe Analytics, its key acquisition – SiteCatalyst’s web analytics platform Omniture – was bought in 2009 for $1.8 billion. The technology sits at the heart of the Adobe marketing stack, enabling customers to measure everything in the cloud.

The acquisition of Neolane (now Adobe Campaign) in 2013 for $600 million added marketing automation; alongside Audience Manager (personalised ads), Experience Manager (content), Media Optimizer (ad management), Primetime (video), Social and Target (testing), it means that Adobe probably has the most comprehensive stack on the market.

In November 2015, Adobe acquired comScore’s Digital Analytix technology assets and customer accounts, helping to keep it out in front and improve its data manipulation chops.

Most recently the software giant announced its acquisition of Livefyre, known for its online commenting system, which it plans to integrate into its Experience Manager, its content management service for building web sites and basic mobile apps.

It may be that Adobe’s brand strength in other areas ends up being its greatest marketing asset, with its Creative Cloud (in particular Photoshop), sitting on the desktops of designers and marketers across the world. Adding marketing tech that slots in alongside the market-leading creative software could be an alluring prospect: one only Adobe can offer.

Adobe does not offer a CRM solution, preferring to partner and integrate with Microsoft Dynamics CRM (our sister site has published a Microsoft Dynamics CRM updates hub).

It’s not a cheap, easy solution though.

According to The Forrester Wave: Digital Experience Platforms, Q4 2015:

“Adobe outshines the other evaluated vendors when it comes to services partners, though some of these partners have begun to complain about Adobe’s cost and complexity, leaving potential openings for competitors. Adobe remains a fit for companies with sophisticated marketing needs that require best-of-breed solutions — and with the budget to support them.”

IBM Marketing Cloud

TFM has published an updates hub with all the latest on the IBM Marketing Cloud.

IBM has spent $1.4 billion on marketing cloud acquisitions, covering analytics (Coremetrics in 2010), campaign management (Unica in 2010), analytics for retailers (DemandTec in 2011), customer behaviour analysis (Tealeaf in 2012), ad-focused mobile messaging (Xtify in 2013) and marketing automation (Silverpop in 2014).

The new kid in town in terms of marketing clouds, Big Blue has been going great guns in the ecommerce sector, with the IBM WebSphere Commerce platform serving many of the large retailers. An integration of IBM WebSphere with its marketing cloud could prove very appealing to retailers in particular.

As a pioneer of advanced analytics with its Watson natural language processing platform, IBM could set alight the marketing cloud race for supremacy by bringing artificial intelligence to marketing (or accidentally launch Skynet and wipe out the human race).

IBM pushes two innovations in particular: its Journey Designer software for improving customer experience; and its Universal Behaviour Exchange for connecting data across applications.

A few months prior to its marketing cloud rebranding however, VentureBeat labelled IBM’s available software “martech spaghetti”:

“For example, in customer analytics, IBM has eight separate Tealeaf-branded product families and 12 separate named products. In digital marketing, it has 12 different IBM-branded products, including six analytics products. In omnichannel, the company has nine different products, plus 11 more in omnichannel advertising.”

Oracle Marketing Cloud

TFM has published an updates hub with all the latest on the Oracle Marketing Cloud.

Oracle announced its marketing cloud in April 2014, promising to “Predict behavior. Optimize content. Scale on an open platform.” Its approach has been slightly different from its marketing cloud competitors, with an explicit emphasis being made on openness and integration rather than being a “monolithic suite”.

With a solid tech background and the trust of IT teams, Oracle has spent $4.2 billion to date on acquisitions for its marketing cloud, starting with leading marketing automation platforms Eloqua (designed for B2B) and Responsys (for B2C).

This deals were followed up with moves to add data management (BlueKai), marketing analytics (Datalogix), content management (Compendium) and testing and optimisation (Maxymiser).

Oracle also boasts a Service Cloud, built on CRM/social/contact centre software acquisition RightNow.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud

TFM has published an updates hub with all the latest on the Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Salesforce dominates with its world-conquering CRM platform and huge ecosystem of partners. Further, the Salesforce App Exchange – the largest B2B apps store – boasts 249 marketing apps.

Adding powerful marketing tools to market-leading CRM potentially brings Salesforce closer than its competitors to the promise of “putting the customer at the centre”. Analysts have thus far called into question how well integrated Salesforce’s cloud are:

“While Salesforce remains a powerhouse on sales and service, and the Marketing Cloud has many loyal customers, the integration between these clouds and marketing is not fully executed — lacking common tooling, architecture, or code base. Fortunately, as a native cloud platform, the robust APIs and extensions owned by the sales and service clouds overcome some challenges, but even this approach is not shared across the portfolio today.” – The Forrester Wave: Digital Experience Platforms, Q4 2015

It has spent $6.3 billion on acquisitions, including the two biggest single purchases in the sector.

In June 2016 it acquired ecommerce platform Demandware, creating an enterprise ‘Commerce Cloud’ to accompany Salesforce’s current collection of clouds for sales, marketing and customer service. Paying  $2.8 billion, this is the largest ever acquisition in the marketing technology industry,

It follows the $2.5 billion 2013 purchase of ExactTarget (which itself had acquired CoTweet, Pardot marketing automation, iGoDigital and Keymail Marketing). Social media capabilities have been bolstered by the purchase of Buddy Media and Radian6. The inevitable marketing cloud rebranding came in 2014, and in recent months Salesforce has made the largest ever marketing tech acquisition when it bought out Demandware for $2.8 billion.

The Hub notes that Salesforce has relied heavily on partnerships in a very cooperative marketplace. If the rate of consolidation in the sector continues however, this may become a harder path to tread.

Salesforce has built a reputation for digital transformation; it also benefits from the megaphone provided by branded conference Dreamforce, now the biggest software conference on Earth with 150,000 delegates and 10 million joining in online.

While the Adobe Summit is growing quickly in size and status, Google Trends data shows that Dreamforce still enjoys 10 times the search interest:

Google trends data on the respective events of the software giants with a marketing cloud


And the winner is…[awkwardly long pause]…

If there is agreement across analysts, it’s that Adobe is on top in the marketing cloud wars, with Salesforce and Oracle hot on its heels, each following distinct strategies. Through its acquisitions and reputation, IBM is still a fierce competitor but has some way to go in terms of integration between its products and also suffers from developing its cloud and on-premises digital marketing portfolios in parallel.

Adobe, Salesforce and Oracle make it into the “leaders” quarter of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs while IBM Marketing Cloud can be found among the challengers:

Gartner Digital Hubs 2017Among the things it has measured for its marketing cloud report, VentureBeat finds that Adobe edges in front in terms of market penetration, and as of March 2015 was “killing it in marketing clouds” racking up 99.4 points on its 12-category scoring matrix:

VentureBeat Insight's marketing clouds by market penetration showing Adobe in the lead

IBM hadn’t launched its marketing cloud when this graph was originally published.

Looking at Google AdWords search volumes, of the 234,000 marketing cloud-related monthly global average searches, Adobe enjoys a 43% share, followed by Salesforce (24%), Oracle (23%) and IBM (10%).

Branded “marketing cloud” searches (e.g. “Adobe Marketing Cloud”) are small compared to searches for specific products, for example, Omniture (2.7 times the number of searches for Adobe Marketing Cloud), Pardot (4.1 times more searches than for Salesforce Marketing Cloud), Eloqua (five times more searches than for Oracle Marketing Cloud) and Silverpop (11.3 time more searches than for IBM Marketing Cloud.

Marketing cloud brands split by product, according to Google Trends search volume

This indicates a branding gap to be bridged between individual products and the wide cloud portfolios, in particular for most recent entrant IBM.

What’s that coming over the hills…

There are of course many other competitors: HP with its Autonomy-based marketing cloud which Gartner chose not to include in its digital marketing hubs analysis this year; Marketo, with its marketing automation suite and upmarket strategy to take on the big boys; HubSpot growing beyond its focus on inbound marketing and startup chutzpah; Google’s recent announcement of the extension of its Google Analytics platform into this space; and many more besides.

With so much to play for, this fight will run and run.

Marketo updates: Latest news from a marketing automation leader

Welcome to TFM’s Marketo hub – a regularly updated resource of advice and information about one of the world’s leading marketing automation platforms.

Top links:

An image with the text Marketo updates hub featuring a cartoon scientist offering a comprehensive guide

What is Marketo?

Marketo, founded in 2006, is known for its marketing automation software, and claim to be the ‘best in class for marketing automation’. Marketo’s cloud-based applications cover a variety of bases including email, mobile, social, advertising, website management and analytics.

In its first 10 years, it wrestled with the likes of HubSpot for SME customers, but early 2016 saw Marketo shift towards competing with the giants of the marketing sector like Oracle, Salesforce and Adobe and their respective “marketing clouds”.

Gartner’s 2016 ‘Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs’, positions Marketo as a leader in the category alongside Oracle, Adobe and Salesforce:

Gartner digital hub


It’s not just the consultants who like Marketo. Last year, TFM visitors voted Marketo the third most loved  marketing technology and users compare Marketo favourably to other marketing automation solutions in the market.

This comparison from users of TrustRadius shows an overall rating of 8.3 out of 10, with a particularly high score for lead management.

Marketo Trust Radius


Marketo in 20 seconds

We asked Elizabeth Smyth, Marketo’s Marketing Director to explain what they do in just 20 seconds. Here is what she said…

An open platform

A key difference between Marketo and its ‘Marketing Cloud’ competitors, is that they are an open platform, integrating with a wide range of partners, while Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce are focused on integrating with their own products.

Marketo’s Launchpoint ecosystem of partners means that it integrates easily with various partners, such as the leading social relationship platforms highlighted in Forrester Wave research:




Marketo’s demo page has some helpful 4 minute videos on different aspects of the products, such as this lead management demo:

Marketo summit: The Marketing Nation Summit

Taking place in Las Vegas from May 9-12 2016, The Marketing Nation Summit is Marketo’s branded conference, with Arianna Huffington and John Legend among this year’s keynote speakers.

Previous years have seen the summit based in San Francisco in early April with 2015 enjoying an international roadshow which visited various US cities as well as the UK, Germany, Paris, Canada and Australia.

Marketo updates: What’s the latest news?

MAY 2016 – Acquisition

Marketo has been acquired by Vista Equity Partners for $1.79 billion, taking the company private again  TFM.

the vista equity partners logo

CEO Phil Fernandez stated that:

“The acquisition will allow Marketo to continue to focus on customer success and to remain the independent category leader, continuing to set the agenda for product innovation and thought leadership for the entire digital marketing industry.”

MARCH 2016 – Strategic partnership
Marketo is teaming up with consulting firm Accenture to help it land big, strategic accounts/ This upmarket mission will put its sales team in direct competition with the likes of Oracle and Salesforce – Fortune.

The Marketo and Accenture logos

MARCH 2106 – Board reshuffle
Three existing Marketo executives will fill new roles: Fred Ball (former CFO) becomes executive vice president and chief administrative officer (CAO); Brian Kinion becomes senior vice president and chief financial officer (CFO); and Jason Holmes (former CCO) is promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer (COO) – PR Newswire.

FEBRUARY 2016 – C-Suite appointment
Marketo hires its first chief security officer, 25-year veteran Jason Hoffman – CSO Online.


Marketo pricing: How much is it?

Marketo’s 2016 pricing is a little tricky to pin down, especially on its website – possibly because of the “desperate price competition coming from the large suite vendors” identified by Phil Fernandez, Marketo CEO.

Marketing Automation and G2 Crowd note Marketo’s three packages starting from $895 per month for Spark; Standard starts from $1,795 per month; Select is from $3,195.

Marketo offers a number of solution bundles including email marketing, lead management, consumer marketing, customer base marketing and mobile marketing – you’ll need to contact sales to find out more about pricing for these and enterprise packages.

Capterra published a marketing automation roundup in 2014, at which time Marketo’s three packages were priced as such: Spark (starting at $1,195 per month), Standard (starting at $1,995 per month) and Select (starting at $3,195 per month). In 2013, The Sales Lion published an in-depth look at Marketo, Pardot and Eloqua including a Total Cost of Ownership chart, finding that a mid-tier package would come to $47,940 a year for Marketo Standard.

Marketo API: What’s available?

Marketo offers a number of REST APIs including for leads, lists, campaigns, activities and more. These allow for the manipulation of data stored within Marketo.

Other REST APIs are covered on the Getting Started page, while developers can dive in with the Quick Start Guide.

Marketo also offers SOAP APIs.

Don’t know your API from your elbow? Our sister site eCommerce Insights took a top level look at the meaning of APIs.

Marketo certification and training

There are three certifications available from Marketo directly, for active customers only:

  • Certified Expert – involving the completion of the relevant learning path in Marketo University and passing a 90 minute exam.
  • Certified Revenue Cycle Analyst – involving the completion of the relevant learning path in Marketo University and passing a 90 minute exam.
  • Certified Consultant – this involves a 2-day workshop (the fee is $1995), strategy project and presentation in addition to a 90 minute exam.

Marketo have published a certification FAQ PDF.

Marketing Rockstar Guides has a few extra tips for people thinking about getting certified (for Marketo, that is).

How to embed martech into your customer-centric strategy

Content marketing isn’t just about creating the right content: the right martech is needed for a content marketing strategy to be effective. You can’t attract, acquire, and engage an audience without a proper collection of systems to manage customer data, compelling content, and product information.

The term martech has entered into common usage, although people often disagree on exactly what it means. Construed very broadly, digital marketing technology is the collection/cocktail of digital systems that marketers use to gather, cultivate, and nurture leads and customers. Traditionally, these systems reflected how a marketer wanted to represent a brand or product line.

However, as marketing becomes (or aspires to become) more customer-centric, marketers increasingly sense that new approaches must focus much more intensely on customer preferences — including their browsing and buying history — and meet them in the channel of their choosing (mobile, in-store, catalogue, or otherwise). Digital assets are instrumental to realising this plan.

Top-performing brands already recognise that a superior customer experience is intrinsically tied to the quality of their digital channels, and companies that sell tangible products effectively tie together in-store and digital shopping experiences. But, the quest for effectiveness in omni-channel marketing is hampered by a lack of practical frameworks to assess current states, conduct multi-stakeholder analysis, and help charter custom roadmaps for enterprise contexts.

In this regard, traditional IT-oriented architectural reference models can provide a layered inventory of digital marketing systems and provide a baseline for further analysis of functional (i.e., business), integration, and security/privacy needs.

However, a complementary approach to digital marketing as a strategy, practice, and technology examines the efficacy and usability of marketing systems from the perspective of the customer.  A customer-centric reference model can more closely tie systems analysis to business value via the pursuit of brand awareness, customer engagement, and increased sales.

Reference enterprise architecture

A traditional omni-channel marketing architecture reference model looks at systems in terms of layers — from the enterprise back-end, forward to the frontline screen.

A traditional omni-channel marketing architecture reference model looks at systems in terms of layers — from the enterprise back-end, forward to the frontline screen.

The optimal enterprise digital marketing architecture can be usefully represented as a series of technology layers, from bottom to top:

  • Enterprise Data Foundation – Master product & customer data, analytics, and business intelligence.
  • Major Marketing Technology Platforms – Marketing automation, digital asset management, web content management, and social media engagement to manage content and engagement.
  • Prototypical Marketing & Sales Services – Ecommerce, self-service applications, online video platforms, and content delivery networks, which are often all using digital assets in some form.
  • Major Channels – Channels such as mobile devices, websites, and kiosks — these are the “presentation layers,” or “touch points” through which consumers access marketing & sales services.

Key Benefits

This approach represents an enterprise-centric view of digital marketing. Crucially, it takes a data-centric approach.  Employ this type of reference model when:

  • Holding discussions among disparate stakeholders, and you need to refer to a common set of terms and relationships
  • Performing a rapid inventory of your key systems and frameworks; for example, you may be missing a consumer analytics tool or a product information management system – this will also influence your ability to measure the effectiveness of your assets
  • Performing a “stoplight” analysis of where the enterprise is doing well or poorly; for example, you may be “green” in web content management, but only “red” in marketing automation and “yellow” in social engagement
  • Distinguishing back-end data and content from the front-end user experience, and distinguishing marketing & sales services from underlying platforms

Customer-Centered Reference Model

A customer-centered model puts consumer/customer experience at the center, and outlines layers of capabilities required to engage prospects and customers, creating more value both for them and your company.

A customer-centered model puts consumer/customer experience at the center, and outlines layers of capabilities required to engage prospects and customers, creating more value both for them and your company.

A customer-centric model puts the customer at the center of the marketing technology strategy. A key assumption here is that marketers’ efforts to better engage consumers or increase consumer loyalty are a win-win for both parties. Consumers want to engage with brands, products, and services that are relevant to them; however, too often they struggle with digital experiences that frustrate this goal. Increased engagement results from explicitly shaping systems to address consumer needs and user experience — not just enterprise requirements. At the same time, consumer engagement must balance enterprise capabilities and concerns with consumer needs.

Key Benefits

A consumer-centered approach offers several benefits:

  1. It focuses your team. By making the consumer the subject of the equation, it supports better alignment of enterprise investments with actual consumer needs and desires.
  2. It clarifies the distinction between platforms (gray) and applications (purple). This distinction enables the enterprise to clearly separate roles and responsibilities, such that IT can own platforms, while business stakeholders can own specific applications.
  3. It lends itself to “RACI” models where you can assign Responsible/Accountable/Consulted/Informed participation within a responsibilities matrix. You can align your enterprise to be more agile and responsive to consumer needs.
  4. It germinates discussion of personas and tasks. These are the two essential building blocks for effective digital experiences.

Why these models are important

Marketing teams should work to expand their remit beyond just content marketing, website management or email automation toward a more integrated digital marketing experience writ large.  Like all reference models, use these as a common frame for internal communications and alignment. At a minimum, employ these models to inventory your current environment and self-assess the effectiveness of it. Marketing leaders can use these models in several ways to simply drive stakes into the ground, take stock, or set signposts for strategy.

What doped up Russian athletes and marketing have in common

As the debate rages on about Russian athletes joining the Olympics this week, Laura McHenry can’t ignore that marketing too has its share of dirty secrets.

Athletics has once again joined the already beleaguered ranks of cycling, football and tennis with its unattractive doping and  match-fixing allegations. I, like many others, thought ‘bloody hell, they’re clearly all at it’. Harsh, but perhaps true, and it shows how quickly public opinion can turn against an industry.

All industries have their equivalent dirty secrets. Take marketing. Our doping practises are those actions that can make marketers feel destined for greatness but actually result in customer turn-off, freak out, and unsubscribe. As everyone strives to create, develop or enhance a brilliant multi-channel strategy, are the actions of a rogue few tarring us all with the same brush in the consumers’ eyes?

Let’s have a look at the doped up three on my podium:

1. Bronze Medal goes to Crap Data

I sometimes get emails from a well-known hotel chain that always open with ‘Dear McHenry’. I am instantly irritated. The fact they compound this mistake in every single communication they send me makes me view that particular brand with decided antipathy!

Inaccurate data collection, storage and usage. No excuse! Even the most basic levels of personalisation require those three stages to be correct. Having your basic data in good order, feeding into a single view of the customer, and easily accessible, lays the right foundation for your marketing strategies. Without it, you end up sending emails like the one I receive from Humungous Hotel Chain. Getting this right is simple, but pivotal.

So, think about how you want to use your data. Easy right? Now, are you storing and capturing your data in a way that allows you to use it in the way you want? If the fields you’re storing names in only allow ‘McHenry, Laura’ or ‘McHenry’ or ‘Ms Laura McHenry’ you won’t be able to address an email to ‘Dear Laura’. If you’re thinking ‘that’s the least of my problems’ or ‘no idea where to start’ work with your customer data platform provider – they’ll point you in the right direction or undertake some data cleansing projects for you. Data in this state doesn’t support any kind of multi-channel strategy!

Putin makes his first and last (we promise, Sir) appearance on TFM Insights

Putin makes his first and last appearance on TFM Insights (we promise, sir)

2. Silver Medal Position Awarded to Creepy Stalker

‘I know what you did last summer…’ OK – maybe not that bad, but not far off! So, personalisation is everyone’s goal, to achieve that ultimate ‘Segment of One’. What nirvana! What riches will flow! Yes, sure – if it’s done right.

Personalisation is, I believe, far and away the most powerful tool in the marketer’s arsenal. Knowing what I like to buy, when I like to buy, how I like to buy and offering me that tempting deal when I’m about to purchase once more, are all sure-fire winners offering the customer a cohesive, coherent message that they feel is just for them. But there is a line that marketers can cross where brilliantly well-informed becomes Creepy Stalker.

For example, utilising a combination of app, SMS and iBeacon technology could enable the text “If you find yourself in-store today, have a piece of cake on us.” Yummy!

Or “Laura, the red pants you looked at on our website last night are just behind you…” Creepy! I’d never try to steer anyone away from the absolute necessity of personalisation, but I would remind them to ‘try not to be weird’.

3. And, with the Gold Medal… Totally Clueless!

Now, having talked about the above, in Silver Medal place, the dangers of taking personalisation too far, surely the most heinous marketing crime is that of taking personalisation nowhere at all. Or taking personalisation to a supercilious, knowing place where the assumptions that message is based on are WRONG.

I can’t be the only person nagged to purchase the shoes I viewed online on my laptop last night, when I have already purchased them via my smartphone sat in bed. This brand clearly have no idea where I am at any stage on my customer journey. Knowing where a customer is on their journey enables the brand to support and encourage that journey. They can make pertinent suggestions or offer support when they notice I’m ‘wobbling’. Am I concerned about shipping costs? Am I checking the ‘offers’ pages? This is invaluable information in the hands of a savvy marketer.


So – it’s absolutely essential to be able to identify the customer as they move between devices – make sure this is something that your Marketing Automation provider can support. Ideally they can also retain ‘anonymous’ customer data and store it until the point they can link it to a customer  i.e. when they’ve registered.

We all like to think we have a Single Customer View – but we must accept that if we only know when a customer is viewing our website on their laptop, but not on their smartphone, work mobile, home tablet or desktop we really are deluded.

Laura McHenry is Marketing Director, RedEye and will be speaking about How to predict your customer’s next move with the power of data at Technology For Marketing, on 28th September 2016. Register now.


Mythbusters: 10 myths MarTech vendors tell

The marketing world has perhaps never seen so much change. The core tenet of marketing – that of a marketing funnel – is disappearing and is being replaced by the amorphous concept of a customer journey. Consequently, marketing is much more dependent on complex technology.

marketing technology

But the marketing technology landscape is so crowded and confusing that it can overwhelm any enterprise buyer. As marketing is transforming into a more data- driven and scientific discipline, picking the right set of tools remains a challenge.

When you are looking to select marketing technology (MarTech) for your enterprise, you will encounter several half-truths and also some outright falsehoods. Here are ten such commonly encountered myths and the real story, based on our experience of advising large global organisations with their MarTech initiatives.

Myth 1: “There is a fully integrated marketing cloud”

Many vendors claim to offer a seamless marketing suite with a dazzling array of components and modules. But if you look carefully under the hood, you’ll find that these different components may not be so well-integrated at all.

The truth is that a marketing cloud is a lot of moving parts. Here’s why. In recent years, large vendors in this space built their marketing clouds based on a flurry of acquisitions – a large vendor would have typically acquired five other vendors – and integration between the various acquired bits is still a work in progress.

A fully integrated marketing cloud is as mythical as the Loch Ness monster or a Himalayan Yeti. Rumors of sightings abound but sightings are rarely confirmed.

Myth 2: “A single platform can meet all your marketing requirements”

Not just the degree of internal integration, the maturity of several tools that make up a marketing platform also varies widely. Add to that, the sheer number and diversity of marketing use cases (we estimate there are 50+ of marketing use cases)

An “end-to-end” marketing suite typically supports 10-12 of these use cases. For instance, content marketing is considered an important of the marketing portfolio but few marketing platform vendors support that use case out-of-the-box.

In short, a platform, however large it may be, can only address a subset of the marketing use cases adequately. Practically all marketers adopt a best-of-breed technology strategy.

Don’t miss: Your chance to hear from over 200 speakers, across 15 theatres at this year’s Technology for Marketing. Register for free today.


Myth 3: “You are a latecomer to the MarTech party”

FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, can be a powerful motivator to procure expensive MarTech software. Several vendors play on this sentiment. However, MarTech is still in the early stages of adoption.

Real Story Group’s 2016 industry survey shows that a majority of the marketers (Business to Business – 52% and Business to Consumer – 54%) are in the “just starting” phase. It is okay to carefully evaluate suitability in the context of your business priorities and proceed at a pace that is right for your organisation.

Myth 4: “Implementations are as easy as ABC”

Cloud software is not necessarily easy to implement. You have to still have a plan for integrations with the rest of your enterprise technology stack and sort through any customisation requirements. No wonder then that only 39% customers report completing their MarTech projects on-time as planned.

Myth 5: “You don’t need any new training or skills”

Data-driven marketing requires not only data and tools, but also expert resources who can leverage the new tools effectively. In fact, half of the organisations report that they do not have such expertise internally.

Consider that only 37% of the enterprises leverage the full potential of the tools purchased. As to the rest – when you buy tools before you are ready, you don’t flex the full potential of purchased tools.

Myth 6: “Marketers are thrilled with their new toys”

Sure, MarTech has great potential but it is currently underperforming relative to both potential and expectations. Customer satisfaction with MarTech products is middling.

Several factors contribute to this state of affairs – vendor hype but also marketers themselves not being fully equipped to take advantage of new technologies.

Myth 7: “Scalability is a given”

Scale is more than the number of records in the marketing list/database. Scalability is a function of several factors such as number of geographies, campaigns, languages and global requirements. Typically, when vendors talk of scale, they refer to a single dimension but you may have a different notion of scalability.

We find this one of the main reasons why pilot projects succeed but larger deployments struggle.

Myth 8: “There is a single enterprise-wide data hub”

No, usually there are multiple silos. Customers operate an expanding number of marketing systems that hold relevant customer and marketing data, but few are fully exploiting it to access and validate that data in a consistent way.

Instead of aiming to stand up a single marketing data repository, a more sensible approach is that of a “virtual data warehouse” – a logically connected and available set of core data about prospects, leads and customers.

Myth 9: “We can easily manage visual assets”

Digital Asset Management is a specialised discipline in its own right and is an integral part of delivering highly engaging customer experiences. Marketing automation systems do not excel when it comes to handling images and rich media assets. It is best to let a DAM system control functionality such as asset lifecycle, metadata and asset rendering.

Myth 10: “We can fully track customer sentiment”

Marketers are increasingly paying attention to what customers say (on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook) about their own brands (as well as competitor brands). Social media monitoring is a valuable market research tool but accurately ferreting out sentiment from social media posts is a fraught endeavor. There are far too many complexities and nuances in human conversations and automated software does not pick them up.

When you hear tall claims about the high level of accuracy for sentiment detection, take them with a pinch of salt.

*The data cited above is from a 2016 Real Story Group survey of more than 100 enterprise MarTech leaders from around the world.

For more information, please see the below infographic:

Martech infographic explaining customer satisfaction


The Science of Marketing: 10 reasons we are super excited about TFM 2016

2016 is an exciting, experimental and fast-moving time to be in marketing.

The speed of change is only increasing as smart analytics, A.I., marketing automation and new technologies transform marketing into a science.
Understandably, many marketing teams are struggling to adapt fast enough, under pressure to keep up with rising customer expectations and transform their business to a digital world.

These are some of the key themes keeping the marketing community on their toes, and we will be addressing at this year’s Technology For Marketing, 28-29 September, Olympia London.

200 speakers. 15 theatres. All free.

Running alongside eCommerce Expo and Customer Contact Expo, the event will have over 200+ speakers, across 15 theatres over the two days, with top brands and experts covering all the important topics.

To find the right formula, I have spent the past few months researching these key issues and testing our content assumptions on TFM Insights.

Add in a healthy dose of inspiration and we believe we have cracked the formula of a content programme that will keep you ahead of curve and help set your strategic direction for 2017.

I can’t wait to share the highlights this year’s event:


1. Killer Keynotes

TFM Poster

  • The Myth of Content Marketing
    Content marketing has swept the marketing world by storm.  More marketers say they are doing content marketing, and will create and distribute more content over the next 12 months.  But sadly, most marketers really aren’t practicing content marketing.  Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi will tell you why so many marketers are failing, and how you can actually succeed with your content marketing programme.
  • Rethinking the connection between humans and tech
    Dave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer, Microsoft invites you to consider how humans will evolve when ever-smarter technology is introduced in the daily basis. This keynote will help to shape your way of thinking about how we and our customers can immerse ourselves in technological advantages without losing the balance in both your personal and work life.
  • Digital-enabled customer experiences
    Ritesh Patel, Chief Digital Officer and EVP of Ogilvy Commonhealth Worldwide will share with you how Healtchare industry is grasping the power of digital and create a better experience for their digital-enabled customers.


2. Be part of a live experiment in the Neuromarketing lab

Visitors to TFM are invited to take part in a live experiment in neuroscience in the keynote area. Lab will analyse audience emotional responses when exposed to different websites and marketing messages to show provide insightful tips and advice for how you can try experiments like this yourself.


3. Discover cutting-edge marketing technology

logos 800
Find the perfect tech for you by meeting with over 70 marketing technology and service providers, from marketing automation to social media platforms, showcasing solution to drive customer engagement.

Don’t miss: The Marketing Cloud All-Stars debate. Joe Pulizzi will referee as IBM, Oracle, and Salesforce go head-to-head to debate the future of marketing technology.

Register to Technology For Marketing 2016

200+ speakers, 17 theatres, 2 days. All free.

4. Learn from Digital Transformation leaders

Digital transformation is not easy, with more than 75% likely to fail according to Gartner.

We have gathered experts from different backgrounds to join the Digital Transformation Panel in to discuss their own journeys and what could you learn from their success as well as their mistakes.

• Stephen Ingledew, MD of Standard Life will also talk you through Standard Life’s transformation, in particular focusing on the “human factors” You can read about his unique approach here.
• Iain O’Neil Nuffield Health’s Digital Director explains how they keep digital efforts focused on improving the core business and delivering commercial results.
News UK’s Chief Commercial Officer Dom Carter will also give you first-hand information on The Sun and The Times rebranding journey, and how they combined creativity, data and insight to create new types of advertising solutions their customers really need.
• Hear how brands and service providers strive to build a better and more personalised customer journey. Learning from case-studies such as RedEye with Hotel Chocolat, 3Radical with Zizzi / Mitchells & Butlers


5. New BuzzSumo research unveiled and content heavyweights

TFM has partnered with BuzzSumo to reveal exciting new research into how content marketing works in different markets. Comparing several millions of URL, this in-depth analysis will reveal the content that resonates in B2B and B2C, comparing markets as varied as charities and travel, automotive and pharmaceutical industries. This will be a unique opportunity to learn results of this world-first research into the science of content marketing.

As the matter of fact, content is king in everything we do, so we are pleased to welcome back TFM favourites Doug Kessler on how insight can drive content marketing and Catherine Toole’s tips on getting stakeholders to buy-in to your content strategy and avoid “Frankencontent”.


6. Brush up your marketing skills with Dave Chaffey, Kelvin Newman and the IDM Academy

This year the theatres at TFM are filled with practical advice on improving marketing for you and your team.

Highlights include:
Dave Chaffey, CEO & Founder of Smart Insights presenting new Smart Insights / TFM research into digital marketing skills
Kelvin Newman CEO of Rough Agenda on 5 easy things you must do to improve your search rankings
Mike O’Brien and The IDM will host a series of IDM Academy sessions on Machine Learning, GDPR and digital marketing.


7. Get up to speed with the A.I. Masterclass


Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Cognitive Computing…these are not just buzzwords, but technologies which are making a significant impact in almost every industry.

Steve King, Founder and CEO of much-hyped cognitive computing agency Black Swan will take you on an hour long AI Marketing Masterclass with practical examples from companies like Disney, Unilever, Boeing and Vodafone, and the chance to watch machine learning being coded in real-time.


8. Three events under one roof


Technology is breaking down between marketing, ecommerce and customer service, so new for this year we are connecting TFM with two other events: eCommerce Expo and Customer Contact Expo.

The three shows together provide education and technology about the entire customer journey from customer acquisition through to conversion and retention into one experience.


9. Directors Club Live


Running alongside TFM, the Directors Club Live is an invite-only event featuring a high-level programme packed with keynotes and roundtable discussions, as well as networking opportunities tailored specifically for chief marketing officers, marketing directors, ecommerce directors and heads of customer service.

Directors Club Live will offer a number of thought-provoking sessions led by industry experts, who will share what they’ve learned through innovative research and long-term experience.

If you think you meet the criteria and would like to attend, please let us know.


10. All this is free

I know, I know. You don’t like to talk about anything as vulgar as money.

But free event with over 200+ speakers of this quality makes TFM without question the best value marketing event in Europe this year. How’s that for a call to action?

What are you waiting for? Register to attend here.

Register to Technology For Marketing 2016

200+ speakers, 15 theatres, 2 days. All free.

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