The old-guard of enterprise software and marketing automation
Despite that Eloqua, Marketo, and Hubspot are not founded-yesterday startups, they’re not the grand old men of marketing automation. That distinction belongs to blue-chippers like IBM, Oracle, SAP, and SAS.
These companies have long specialized in big software for big companies with big price tags.
A company like SAS has “solution lines” (aka sets of inter-related products) for marketing, including analytics, business intelligence, and customer intelligence. But it also has a specific, single product labeled “marketing automation,” which, it argues, offers unmatched usability, unrivaled analytics, and superior data management — and which the company has tested and developed over 10 years with insider insights from the world’s biggest corporations.
SAS’s solution enables you to segment your market, create multichannel campaigns, run A/B tests, and manage all your marketing activities centrally.
Ultimately, however, its biggest asset — and the largest fly in its ointment — might be its tight integration with other SAS business and data tools. And if you’re not in the SAS world, it may not make sense for you. And, of course, pricing starts well in the six figures and goes — you guessed it — up from there. But if you’re a Fortune 1000, it may just fit your budget, and your needs.
Like SAS, IBM has any number of software solutions for marketing.
The company bought marketing automation startup Unica for almost $500 million in 2010 to “help companies automate, manage, and accelerate core business processes across marketing, demand generation, sales, order processing, and fulfillment.” It also offers other products in the areas of data, analytics, and commerce as well as a package of solutions it calls Enterprise Marketing Management, which includes enterprise-scale marketing optimization as well as pricing, product mix, customer experience, and web optimization and performance modules.
The Unica purchase now resides in what IBM calls “Marketing Operations,” and focuses on budgets, processes, and collaboration, as well as asset tracking.
Again, costs are high — well into the six figures — and integration is key. If you’re an IBM shop, and if you’re a massive company, this is worth considering. But simply due to the number of solutions and modules and complexities, don’t expect an easy, short, or cheap route to marketing automation.
Oracle has the unique distinction of offering blue-chip services and support from a big, old-school company while also offering the focused, fairly simple, and straightforward solution of a marketing automation startup. That’s because Oracle bought Eloqua (see previous page) and smartly kept it functioning as a standalone company. While pricing isn’t exactly cheap, it’s not Bill Gates-expensive either, and you still get massive integration capability into other Oracle solutions.
Which, along with Eloqua’s already mentioned marketing automation chops, makes this a solid choice for medium-sized companies.
SAP has many of the same challenges of old-school SAS and IBM, without the benefit of a recent targeted acquisition that is laser-focused on marketing automation. The company presents its CRM solutions as a marketing automation suite, with varying degrees of success.
As one SAP sales target put it, “At times the scenario feels like this: ‘SAP is the answer. What was the question?'”
SAP did buy Hybris in a billion-dollar acquisition in 2013, but that company, while focused to a degree on customer experience, has largely been targeted on B2B commerce, not B2C. And it lacks many of the tools that Eloqua and Marketo offer, which offer a direct link between planning marketing campaigns and actually initiating them right within the same tool, with all the capabilities you need immediately present.
SAP shares one other challenge with many of the other enterprise-level solutions, Oracle’s Eloqua excepted: Do not imagine that you will implement these solutions with extensive help from IT personnel. Hubspot and Marketo, on the other hand, are not nearly as large a technical challenge to integrate and use.