Friday, March 16, 2012 Announces Web Site Management: Will Marketing Automation Features Follow? yesterday announced the launch of, an enterprise-class Web site management system. The news didn’t seem to get much attention, perhaps because itself pretty much buried it. But VP of Product Management Anshu Sharma did post a detailed explanation of the rationale on a blog.

My original reaction was “I told you so”, since I’ve been talking about the convergence of CRM and Web site management for years. (Here’s a piece from 2009.)  Sharma’s reaches a similar conclusion although he puts it in a larger context of social media (people expect to interact with a company Web site like they interact on social media), cloud,  and mobile computing (marketers need content that can be presented on all types of devices). So far so good, especially since multi-channel content is another trend I’ve been toying with for some time.  (Not that I'm bragging or anything.)

Just to clarify my argument, the case for convergence between CRM and Web site management boils down to the fact those are the two main systems that companies use to interact with consumers. The move closer as Web sites capture more individual-level information and present more personalized treatments. And, as the two giants converge, the marketing automation industry stands between them like a mushroom, waiting to be crushed or gobbled up (if giants eat mushrooms).

Some of that gobbling has already begun.  Web site management vendor SDL purchased Alterian last November and sales enablement vendor CallidusCloud bought LeadFormix in January. Ironically, speculation about itself buying a marketing automation system had pretty much died down since last August’s Dreamforce conference, when the firm made it pretty clear they didn’t have plans in that direction (notwithstanding their earlier HubSpot investment).

That’s why I was greatly intrigued by Sharma’s statement that the transformations created by social, cloud and mobile technologies “can only bear long-term fruit and deliver on the full promise of a 'digital marketing platform' when marketing and IT are a true partners.”

 That’s the first reference I can find to a “digital marketing platform”.  It certainly implies something that includes marketing automation functionality. Maybe the reason decided not to purchase marketing automation system because they figured same functions would evolve organically from a combination of CRM and Web site management. That’s probably correct, although it would take longer than adding those features directly.

In any event, the combination of CRM and Web site management gives an integrated database containing all the information needed for effective marketing automation. Building marketing automation features to exploit that information then becomes a lot easier than building a complete marketing automation system.  This applies whether the system providing those features comes from or an AppExchange partner, and it means the barrier to entry is lower than ever.  In short, the announcement is big news for the marketing automation industry, whether people recognize it or not.

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