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The big focus of most of the major marketing clouds that have launched in the past few years is B2C: working to enable one-to-one communication between brands and millions of connected consumers. That’s actually a departure from where marketing automation began, which is in the business-to-business space.
So it’s interesting to see that today Demandbase is launching what it calls the “first-ever” marketing cloud for B2B marketing.
And one that includes tools all its B2C frenemies already use, according to CEO Chris Golec.
“We’re launching the Demandbase B2B marketing cloud — all our suites are being rolled up into really the first marketing cloud for B2B,” he told me yesterday evening from the Marketing Innovation Summit for B2B conference. “The other major marketing cloud companies are all customers of DemandBase … most of their technologies were made for consumers.”
It might be a bit of a stretch to call Demandbase’s offering, which brings together its existing technologies into one integrated package, the “first ever” B2B marketing cloud — competitors such as Salesforce, Oracle, and Adobe certainly serve the B2B crowd as well. However, Demandbase does focus solely on the business-to-business marketing space, which separates it from the other marketing clouds. Adobe’s suite focuses on ad-buying, social, targeting, campaigns, and analytics, and Salesforce’s cloud includes email, mobile, social, advertising, and web components.
Demandbase has a different set of components, including five separate suites:
- identification technology that tells you who is on your site
- audience management that allows you to build lists of companies to target all over the web
- a real-time bidding ad exchange to buy targeted ads focused on those companies via Google, Facebook, and more
- connections into the same marketing clouds that also use Demandbase, including those from Oracle, Adobe, Salesforce, and 10 different marketing automation systems
- and a new CMO dashboard that gives you a complete view of spend and results
(In other words, B2C marketing automation systems use Demandbase to grow their businesses, and Demandbase connects to B2C marketing automation systems to enable richer functionality for its customers. Marketing technology is simple in 2014, said no one ever.)
Golec says that business-to-business marketing and selling is fundamentally different from business-to-consumer.
While that’s clearly the case, with typically long selling cycles, more difficult buyer identification challenges, and different demographic and “behavior” characteristics, it’s interesting to see that some innovative B2C marketing technology companies like IBM are starting to apply B2B marketing characteristics to consumer marketing — for instance identifying family units as families, then working to isolate the decision makers and the decision influencers, and targeting each in specific ways.
“It’s really about solving three problems,” Golec says. “One, you’ve got to get the right companies to your site. Two, when they arrive, you have to engage them with the right information. And three, then you need to connect that engagement with the right sales activity.”
The power of Demandbase is that with its identification and targeting capability, the company is able to tell companies exactly who is visiting its site and who doesn’t even have a clue the company exists. Being able to tie that information directly into a targeted ad campaign that focuses just on people in the companies you want to market to is a powerful capability.
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As Golec told me, when you know that a visitor to your website is from a large financial company that is already a customer, that changes things.
“You will get 2-3 times the number of clicks just by customizing the web experience,” he said. “And when you make the experience consistent from advertising to website, customers get very excited.”
The most interesting component of the newly-minted marketing cloud might be the CMO dashboard, which Demandbase says will give marketers a complete view of their funnel, showing them how much they’re spending, how much traffic those dollars are driving, and an estimate of revenue that they’ll achieve based on that traffic.
That one-dashboard-to-rule-them-all vision is something CMOs have longed for, especially as studies have come out indicating that even though marketers have more data than ever before, they’re actually using it less than ever.
Demandbase’s competitors include the frenemies and coopetors.
For example, Adobe has extensive targeting capabilities as well as analytics. There are other analytics competitors such as Mixpanel and personalization solutions such as KISSmetrics, while Marketo also offers strong identification and personalization features via its Insightera acquisition. Bizo is probably the most complete competitor solely focused on B2B, with the distinction that it serves both SMB and enterprise, while Demandbase is enterprise-only.
But no one competitor seems to have quite the mix of capabilities that Demandbase has, and that is having an impact on the company’s growth. Golec says the 100-employee company doubled revenue last year and is on track to double revenue again this year.
Part of that might be due to its interesting ability to intertwine customer/partner/client relationships with the other major marketing clouds. “Everyone has a different combination of marketing solutions,” Golec says. “We’re agnostic … we plug into everyone.”
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