Friday, August 21, 2009

Aprimo Marketing Studio Expands the Scope of Marketing Automation

Summary: Aprimo Marketing Studio includes traffic generation features missing from nearly all existing marketing automation products. This broader scope should become standard as marketers try to truly integrate their programs.

Aprimo is in the early stages of launching Aprimo Marketing Studio, a new Software-as-a-Service marketing automation suite that is separate from the existing Aprimo product.* The new offering is designed to support all stages of interactive marketing, starting with traffic generation from paid search, Web banner ads and blogging, and continuing with visitor behavior tracking, landing pages and forms, interactive dialogs, multi-step email campaigns, lead scoring and CRM integration. These are supported with Web analytics and extensive marketing operations features including workflow, digital asset management and financial analysis.

If you read that list quickly, it sounds pretty much like every other marketing automation vendor. But in fact it’s a substantially broader scope than I’ve seen in other products.

- Consumer-oriented systems generally limit themselves to outbound email and multi-step campaigns, and sometimes provide real-time recommendations to call centers and Web sites.

- Business-oriented (demand generation) vendors add some Web support through visitor tracking, landing pages and forms, but even they rarely do much with other “inbound marketing” channels including paid search, banner ads, search engine optimization and blogging.

- Both sets of vendors generally do a decent job with asset management, Web analytics and other reporting, although only the consumer-oriented systems tend to offer serious support for planning, workflow and detailed financial analysis.

- Neither group provides tools to build and manage a major corporate Web site (generally called "Web content management", although I've labeled it "Web site management" in the following table). The landing pages, forms and related content management that these systems do provide are only designed to let marketers supplement an existing site. I'm increasingly convinced that effective interactive marketing will eventually require the marketing system to run the Web site.

- Neither group has meaningfully integrated social media monitoring and interactions beyond making it easy to share posts to Twitter and Facebook, although Alterian’s Techrigy acquisition (see my related blog post) and Pedowitz Group’s Sweet Suite (see yesterday's post) are steps in that direction.

I've summarized this in the following table. Of course, I’m generalizing about sets of vendors so there will be individual exceptions.

functionality provided:

consumer marketing automation

business marketing automation (demand generation)

traffic generation:

- paid search management

- banner ad management

- search engine optimization

- blogging

- outbound email



- social media monitoring, intervention and analysis

relationship management

- Web landing pages and forms


- multi-step campaign flows (including trigger, event-driven)



- real time recommendations to external systems


- lead scoring


- sales automation integration



- Web visitor tracking (individuals)


- Web analytics (aggregate behaviors)



- general campaign reporting



- predictive modeling and advanced statistics



- marketing planning


- content and digital asset management



- Web site management

- workflow


- detailed cost analysis


In short: both groups are quite weak when it comes to inbound marketing and social media, and the consumer marketers fall glaringly short when it comes to integrating with Web sites.

The business marketing systems have their own weaknesses, particularly in operational support. But given the obvious and growing need to integrate Web marketing with everything else, the consumer systems’ gap strikes me as more important.

I’m even more concerned because there has been relatively little innovation among the consumer marketing automation vendors in recent years. They have competed mostly by extending and refining existing features than by moving into major new areas. The demand generation vendors have been much more dynamic.

There are good business reasons, or at least explanations, for the consumer marketing vendors' strategy. Number one is probably that their clients haven’t been pushing them to do more. But these gaps in their capabilities ultimately make them vulnerable to new, more comprehensive competitors.

This brings us back to Aprimo Marketing Studio. The new Aprimo product would fill every box on my table except social media, predictive modeling and Web site management. This scope makes it truly different.

Now, promising these features and implementing them effectively are very different things. I can't judge the new Aprimo system because I haven't had a detailed demonstration and the system won't start serving live customer until next month. (The official launch will be in November at the Dreamforce conference.) But what matters for now is the vision. Even if Aprimo doesn’t execute it immediately, someone else eventually will.

I already mentioned that Marketing Studio is designed as a true Software-as-a-Service system. As discussed in an earlier post, this is unusual for a consumer marketing system – Entiera and Neolane are the only other pure SaaS products I can think of – although it’s standard for demand generation products. Aprimo already serves both types of marketers, so it's a logical candidate to bring SaaS to consumer marketing systems. But other consumer-oriented vendors are also moving in this direction. When you're evaluating those products, the question to ask is whether the vendor has truly reengineered the system to take advantage of SaaS economies, or is simply running its existing software in a hosted mode and sending a monthly bill.

Aprimo Marketing Studio is aimed at mid-size and larger companies. Pricing begins at $4,000 per month for the base version with up to 10 users and 250,000 emails. The marketing operations module adds another $2,500 per month and other modules are priced at $1,500 each. There will also be fees as clients add users and email volume. At the end of the day, Aprimo is expecting the average client to pay $50,000 to $75,000 per year. This is pretty standard territory for consumer marketing systems, but well above the median for demand generation vendors.

* The new product has its own Web site, which you can reach here. The site offers a free copy of an excellent Forrester Research report on interactive marketing, which is well worth the inevitable Aprimo sales call that will follow.

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