Friday, March 30, 2012

Survey of Surveys: Budgets and Process are Main Barriers to Marketing Technology Success

I recently gave a Web presentation comprised almost entirely of slides from different surveys. This was a bit of an experiment and, sad to say, it didn’t seem terribly successful. I did weave the slides into a nice little story line – marketers know they need better technology, poor data is the root of their problem, and we know how to solve this – but even that wasn’t enough. Pity.

Still, preparing the slides gave me a chance to scan the surveys in my archives, which was entertaining in its own little way. Many surveys ask similar questions, which gave me some choices during my preparation. But I didn’t look carefully at how they compare.

Today I’ll do that. I’ve chosen one of the most popular questions: what are the barriers to marketing technology adoption? I have versions of this from seven different surveys within the past year.

Of course, each survey uses different terms. To make the comparison, I collapsed the various answers into a few reasonably-distinct categories, committing a certain amount of shoe-horning along the way. I then recorded where each answer ranked in each survey, compiled the results, and did a crude ranking with a combination of mathematical wizardly and body english.  (Multiple answers for the same survey indicate I placed several questions into the same category.)

Results are below.  I've shaded the first ranked answers in orange and the second and third ranked answers in yellow.

My first observation was the sheer inconsistency of the answers. Budget issues emerged as a clear number one, but they reached that rank on just four of the seven surveys and ranked quite low on the other two that included them. The second-ranked item (marketing process) was never listed first; it ended where it did because it had the most twos and threes. No other item was ranked first more than once or in the top three more than twice.

Things made a bit more sense when I looked at the survey audiences. Winterberry and Forrester were specifically about online marketing, Gleanster and Marketing Sherpa were B2B surveys, and IBM and the two CMO Council studies were of general marketers. Since most B2B marketing is also online, it makes sense to look at the first four as one group and the other three as another.

Now we see some interesting consistencies:

• Budget isn’t much of an issue for the online and B2B marketers, but dominant for the mixed marketers.

• Marketing process and marketing staff skills are major concerns for online and B2B but rarely mentioned by the mixed marketers.

• Senior management support, and to a lesser extent IT support and technology capabilities, are significant barriers for mixed marketers but don’t slow down the online and B2B groups.

• Metrics, organizational silos, and the economy are cited occasionally by both groups but don’t seem to be major issues for either.

So there’s a fairly coherent picture after all.

• Online and B2B marketers are struggling to keep up with a rapidly changing marketplace, meaning their biggest problems are people and process. The importance of their work is obvious enough that budgets and senior management support are generally available. They have the technical savvy and independence to avoid issues with IT support and organizational silos.

• Mixed marketers, working in traditional channels, still struggle with budgets, metrics, and senior management. They have mature marketing organizations, so process and skills are in place, at least for traditional programs. They do struggle more with IT, technology, and organizational silos, because they lack their own technical skills and have limited clout in the organization.

• Everybody says they care about metrics but it's rarely a top priority.

Or at least that’s my take. I’ve displayed the actual surveys below – if you reach other conclusions or spot any other patterns, let me know.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Kwanzoo Builds Content for Cross-Channel Marketing

I first bumped into Kwanzoo about a year ago at a conference trade show and was frankly puzzled at what they offered. The mechanics were clear: a tool to generate HTML-based forms, surveys, banner ads, and social sharing links that could be used on Web sites or embedded in emails. What puzzled me was the advantage of this over anyone else’s HTML content, including the content that could be generated using standard tools within most marketing automation systems.

Since this particular mystery ranked somewhere between the fate of Amelia Earhardt  and Nacza Lines  in my personal priorities, I didn’t investigate further. But the company reached out to me recently and provided a clearer explanation. Here’s the story.

What makes Kwanzoo special is it creates a sequence of Web pages that can be deployed as a single unit. A typical sequence would be a survey followed by different offers depending on the visitor’s answers. The entire sequence is built in Kwanzoo and deployed as a code snippet which displays the survey and calls the subsequence pages from Kwanzoo when appropriate. The second thing that makes Kwanzoo special is that its pages can be deployed on a client’s own Web site, on external sites and ad networks, embedded in emails, within Facebook, or on a mobile device. Users can also apply Kwanzoo tags to conversion pages to track results.

These capabilities make Kwanzoo substantially more versatile than a conventional marketing automation system, which would rely on campaign flows or manually-embedded links to manage the page sequence and could only deploy on emails or microsites generated by the marketing automation system itself. By contrast, users design the flows by filling out a simple form within Kwanzoo and then receive HTML snippets – simple calls to Kwanzoo-hosted URLS – that can be embedded anywhere. Kwanzoo also provides a powerful editor to build the Web pages and offers.

Data captured by Kwanzoo can be directly posted to Eloqua, Marketo, Constant Contact and The Eloqua integration is especially elegant, using an Eloqua Cloud Connector (i.e., a parameterized API call) that makes the Kwanzoo pages available within Eloqua’s own content builder and can read Eloqua cookies in real time to help guide the response selection. Integration is on the way with other marketing automation and CRM systems.

Users can also apply IP-address-based visitor identification to tailor responses to named accounts and different industries.

Kwanzoo says this versatility addresses some critical pain-points for marketers, including needs to create content and capture data across multiple channels and to create more personalized interactions. True enough.  But the system has its limits, most notably that sequences are limited to a couple of steps, a few data inputs, and a handful of actions, and that it doesn't maintain its own marketing database.

In other words, Kwanzoo is more a bridge between different marketing channels than an integrated marketing system. It’s easy to imagine Kwanzoo-captured data making its way back to multiple systems (marketing automation, CRM, Web site, mobile, etc.), which is not the ideal situation. There’s certainly a market today for this approach: Kwanzoo has landed about 25 clients since its launch in 2010 and seems to be growing nicely. Still, you have to wonder whether integrated platforms will eventually add similar capabilities tied directly to their own databases, making Kwanzoo’s external bridge less necessary.

Or, even more directly, will Adobe offer pretty much the same capability?  They already have the dominant tools for content-building (Dreamweaver, etc.) and Web visitor tracking (Omniture), which are the two key pieces of Kwanzoo's offering.  I long ago predicted that Adobe would combine these to create "smart content" that would adjust to customer behavior, although so far Adobe hasn't listened.  But they could.

But that’s Kwanzoo’s problem, not yours or mine, eh? At the moment, it’s worth a look. Pricing is based on number of impressions and starts as low as $499 per month to put Kwanzoo units on Web pages.  It quickly rises to $2,499 to embed units in emails, post data other than basic lead capture, support mobile formats, and use IP-address information for targeting.  

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.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

BI Vendor QlikTech Reveals QlikView Pricing: I Modestly Help to Clarify

Business Intelligence software vendor QlikTech* officially published its price list last month, after years of keeping it a not-very-closely-held secret. I was personally pleased, since people occasionally ask me what QlikView costs.  But then I looked more closely at the list and realized I wasn’t quite certain what it meant. Happily, it didn’t take long to set up a briefing and clarify matters. Just in case anyone else is also confused, here’s what they told me:

- The lowest entry price for a fully functional version is $1,350. Although this is called a “Named User License”, it does NOT require connection to a server—the specific point I wasn’t sure of. What distinguishes this from the free Personal Edition is that the Named User License can read QlikView files created on other machines, while the Personal Edition cannot. Thus, a company could buy two Named User Licenses for $2,700 and those systems could share files back and forth.  Let me state clearly that as a confirmed QlikView fan, I think this is a terrifically low entry price.

- Companies with many infrequent users can purchase a “Concurrent License” that allows one user at a time for $15,000. This figure is so high that I thought it might be a typographic error, but QlikTech assures me it’s correct. In fact, they say it’s a bargain because they’ve found many clients can share more than 11 users on one license. These would be salespeople or other non-analysts who want to occasionally view a report. It seems to me that Murphy’s Law would ensure they all access the system during the same five minutes – presumably the evening before their monthly reports are all due – but I’ll take QlikTech’s word that this isn’t the case. After all, they're the analytical experts, eh?

- Companies who don’t want to spend $1,350 for casual users have some other options. These include a $350 “Document License” for one user for a single document, a $70,000 “Information Access Server” allowing unlimited users to access a single document (usually over a public Web site), and a $3,000 “Extranet Server Concurrent License” that allows one external user at a time to read documents on an $18,000 “Extranet Server”.

There are various other licenses for larger systems and special purposes. The descriptions are more or less self-explanatory, but of course you’d want to talk to QlikTech itself for detailed explanations.

One thing you definitely won’t find is a free or low-cost  “reader” licence that lets users view but not change a QlikView document. This is a disappointment to me personally, since we at Left Brain DGA use similar readers to send reports to our clients today. I can’t see those clients paying for Named User Licenses or Concurrent Licenses. But QlikTech is philosophically opposed to the idea of a limited-function reader, which it argues “goes against the current trend toward the democratization of software — in which line of business users can become as adept with an analytics tool as any business analyst or developer.” I can’t say I agree: QlikView takes considerable effort to learn, and many business users don’t have the time, need, or inclination to bother. They would be perfectly happy to consume existing reports without drilling any deeper, but are unlikely to pay $1,350 for the privilege.

I can’t judge how much business, other than mine, the lack of reader is costing QlikTech. Surely some people end up buying the full Named User License and using it as a reader, which makes up for some of the people who don’t buy at all. QlikView also has a strong argument that their total cost of ownership is lower than competitors, even at current pricing levels. The company grew 40% year-on-year as of its last financial report, so they’re clearly doing just fine with their existing approach.

* QlikTech is the company, QlikView is the product