Sailthru.LogoThe Martech Challenge: The digital revolution has transformed how marketers reach and engage customers, as well as the tools needed to be effective.  In this series brought to you by Sailthru, we look at how to meet martech challenges head on — exploring cross-channel marketing, innovation, customer experience, email marketing and other topics essential to today’s marketers. See the whole series here.

Marketing today follows consumers across the digital landscape — or should — offering them the experience that they want: connected, consistent, and completely tailored to who they are and what they are interested in. This is the most significant, yet challenging, opportunity seen in marketing since the word “digital” came into the vernacular and it’s why 84 percent of senior marketers worldwide plan to increase their spending in multichannel marketing.

Marketing clouds provide the backbone tech bundles that facilitate that conversation between consumers and brands. No question, legacy vendors like Salesforce, Oracle, Adobe, HP and IBM have the longest time-in industry, and often the most internal resources, to meet today’s complex marketing challenges.

However, that long-held experience does not guarantee success when it comes to meeting the needs of the modern customer experience. Legacy vendors face their own set of challenges when responding to the needs of today’s customer-centric marketer, leaving brands to buy on a vision that may never become a reality.

Juggling and integrating multiple acquisitions

VB Insight’s report on “Marketing Clouds: How the best companies are winning via marketing technology” examined some of the major challenges legacy vendors contend with as well as the emerging players who are now competing and winning market share.

Legacy vendors often strive to innovate by acquiring smaller companies with ideas and technologies with the potential to move the larger company forward as a whole. Take Salesforce, who acquired ExactTarget, which had previously acquired Pardot to power automation and iGoDigital for personalization and analytics. These series of acquisitions allow now giant marketing clouds to check the boxes across all major marketing functionalities on the surface.

However, oftentimes a multitude of acquisitions bogs down a legacy vendor and the acquisitions end up being great for marketing fodder alone, but not so successful in building a holistic product offering. For example, according to the VB report, “IBM is currently handling more than 40 products with ‘different brands, overlapping responsibilities, multiple heritages from numerous acquisitions, and no clear progression, sequencing, hierarchy, or organization.’” This can be confusing to customers looking for a simple, turnkey marketing solution.

The alternative — companies that offer solutions rooted in a shared history and a single database — offers two essential benefits for companies: efficiency and effectiveness.

“The efficiency of managing multiple channels from a single platform makes a big difference in your ability to get answers and execute marketing the way that consumers demand for it to be done today,” said Stephen Dove, senior vice president of product for Sailthru. “On top of that, the effectiveness of having all those channels driven off a single database is huge. It’s not enough to be able to trigger an email based on a purchase made on a mobile app. Consumers expect that brands know who they are and what they’re after regardless of where they are coming from and that’s something you simply cannot achieve with scale and cost efficiency using a legacy marketing cloud.”

Smaller single-platform, multi-use, purpose-built platforms, such as Sailthru are often better internally integrated than most of the massive legacy vendors. These newer, more agile vendors approach meeting the needs of managing a modern, connected customer experience by building native solutions that provide greater ROI potential. Marketers need to decide if they want to purchase based on legacy features and the potential of their integrations or if they prefer solutions that offer a different perspective on managing data, insights development and engagement that they can grow with over time.

Take cross-channel personalization as an example. Where legacy clouds were quick to acquire onsite, email and mobile automation tools in addition to personalization technologies, the single-platform solutions have developed native capabilities. Business Insider uses Sailthru to connect email and onsite channels. Recommendations served to any individual reader are based on that reader’s combined email and onsite behaviors and interests. When a reader clicks through specific content in email, that story is not served as a recommendation on the website. And vice-versa all in real-time. This connectivity of both data and experience has increased Business Insider’s email clickthrough rate by 60 percent and onsite recirculation traffic by 52 percent.

exclamation-001Learn more about martech decision-making and overcoming legacy inertia at a Sailthru live event on September 15 in San Francisco featuring Bill Gurley of Benchmarch. Gurley has built a career on growth, innovation, and disruption and will be sharing his insider’s perspective on e-commerce technologies and their potential to impact the bottom line. Register here for free

Maturity Curve

Getting to automated, personalized, one-to-one cross-channel marketing follows a progression. Most brands and businesses mature gradually to move beyond batch-and-blast communications and demographic-based segmentation to a fully connected, integrated, and predictive marketing strategy.

However, legacy vendors are slow to mirror this maturity curve and often are unable to truly meet the needs of marketers who are seeking solutions that allow them to get ahead of their customers and increase loyalty and revenue. The new set of technology providers who are setting trends are doing so because of their ability to enable marketers to leapfrog on maturity curves relating to customer data, customer insights, and customer engagement — while legacy vendors are held back by the practices described above.

HP, for example, has not yet delivered on social media marketing or built an app marketplace, both of which are nearly inseparable from the current digital marketing experience. Oracle has yet to offer a full suite of mobile services, such as an app analytics or a mobile engagement solution, which is also integral to modern marketing. Salesforce does not have the e-commerce integrations often expected of marketing solutions today. And, according to the VB Insight report, “IBM is sorely in need of a martech dictator to come in, cut its product list, focus on building more features into fewer, broader solutions, and massively integrate its offerings.”

Yet many marketers do embrace new technology providers and act as a trendsetter for their industries. Early adopters not only enjoy earlier lift to their bottom lines, but also benefit from a boost in reputation by being a step ahead of their competition.

Commitment to investment

As analysts and research publishers like VB continue to evaluate the martech space, more emphasis will be put on use cases and success stories. It’s going to take a lot more than completing a list of features to fulfill the vision of a truly integrated martech platform.

Rather, in order to hold position as the de facto leaders in digital and multichannel marketing, or rise to it, any vendor in the space will have to demonstrate use cases across a variety of customers. True cross-channel marketing is still in its infancy, and given the difficulty and expense found in managing these experiences in legacy environments, there likely will be continued jockeying for position and leadership.

Taking these challenges into consideration, legacy vendors are increasingly not the immediate go-to marketing solution they are often thought to be. Sometimes it takes a smaller, innovative, and more agile vendor that is more focused on integrating the latest features to provide the ideal, holistic marketing platform to get today’s job done. Given the above, it’s unwise to count these companies out. Both have advantages and disadvantages, but what’s important is that any vendor meet the requirements of the client’s customers whose needs have been entirely transformed through the explosion of devices and channels.

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