2014 may just be the year of marketing automation. From adoption, to integration, to acquisitions, there’s a ton of movement in the marketing automation industry.
Salesfusion recently bought Loopfuse, merging two successful B2B sales automation tools in the industry. Salesfusion differentiates their marketing automation platform by providing 5 areas of focus – email, lead capture, visitor tracking, analytics and lead scoring. They also note that their off-the-shelf integrations with Microsoft Dynamics, SugarCRM, Sage, Salesforce and Saleslogix are much tighter than others in the industry.
Salesfusion hopes to bolster its platform with the addition of predictive analytics, social nurturing, social publishing and social listening tools. Dom Nicastro has written a pretty comprehensive description of how the coupling of the two platforms could provide some great competition to Marketo and Eloqua.
Marketo continues to be a comprehensive standalone platform. But Salesforce purchase of ExactTarget and Pardot, Adobe’s purchase of Neolane, Microsoft’s extension of Dynamics into automation and Oracle’s purchase of Eloqua seem to be driving comprehensive, integrated marketing platforms. The next few years are going to be interesting as the mega-marketing platforms continue to rise and customers are left with tougher decisions. I’m sure the big boys are hoping to cross-promote and sell customers across their platforms as competition increase.
Lower cost providers like Infusionsoft, Act-On, Hubspot, continue to gain traction with the SMB market where one size fits all. We recently saw a demo of SharpSpring, a beautiful, low-priced solution that’s comprehensive and has pricing that’s targeting agencies. And we watched as Optify, a great solution, self-destructed last year.
There’s no doubt that every marketer is moving more towards drip and multi-touch, multi-channel campaign management, and deeper engagement. Email marketing providers by themselves are becoming less attractive as these marketing automation platforms rise in flexibility and featuresets well beyond sending a newsletter. And many of them cost less!
There’s still a lot of confusion on the definition of what a marketing automation platform is. While Salesfusion has lead to revenue management down, they don’t seem to tie in customer firmagraphics and retention as deeply as offerings like our sponsor Right On Interactive.
I believe we’re going to continue to see the big guys swallow up and integrate the best systems. The SMB market will continue to struggle with one-size fits all solutions that have higher turnover and less-sophisticated integrations. The mid-tier market may have the best year this year as companies don’t want to get locked into a mega-platform but they still want the sophistication of a comprehensive marketing automation solution. I believe many of the mid-tier platforms that aren’t swallowed will fine-tune their offerings for specific industries.
Any way you slice it, it’s going to be an exciting year for Marketing Automation! My advise for marketers is to ignore the sales hype and map out your marketing and lead generation process. Identify the tools that integrate with yours and find the solution that matches your process. Trying to modify a successful sales process into a platform that doesn’t match it is a surefire way to fail your marketing automation implementation and kill your inbound and outbound marketing performance.