Feast or Famine in the Marketing Automation Space?
The power of Marketing Automation can be mighty, which is why I was sorry to see the announcement that Adobe is purchasing Marketo. There are many advantages to the acquisition, as described by Trevor Parsell on LinkedIn. But it will require Enterprise customers to eat a full-course meal when they might be better served with a la carte ordering.
This merger does what most do – it will stifle continued innovation from the industry leader and it take away customer choice. Marketo has been setting the pace since 2006, and now all that energy will go towards integration with Adobe’s Marketing Cloud. Or at least the appearance on it. Then, as that integration proceeds, consumers will no longer have the same choice to “build or buy” in the Marketing Automation Space (MAS).
As a Marketing Strategist, I have helped a number of large enterprises spec and purchase a new MarTech stack. At the outset I advise that there are really two choices: Build your own best-in-class SaaS stack with Marketo at the center or purchase a Marketing Cloud from SalesForce (Pardot), Oracle (Eloqua), IBM (Silverpop), or Adobe.
As you might expect, MAS providers are good at Marketing. Up until now, Adobe’s Marketing Cloud was composed to more than nine programs presented with a slick integration story that makes it hard to tell which program does what. Their MAS portion required a purchase of Adobe Audience Manager, Target, Experience Manager, Campaigns, Analytics, and Core Services. More modules if you want social and media integration. Think all that is cheaper than one Marketo purchase? Nope. I did the apples-to-apples due diligence two years ago for Fiserv, and the Cloud license is always more expensive. And more convoluted.
Because the Cloud-provider wants you to buy their whole suite, they make it expensive and difficult to integrate with the SaaS you already have. And very difficult to establish API connections and map data. Suddenly the purchaser finds out that they are facing a long, complicated implementation that requires expensive Professional Services help for a year or more. (Longer if the provider can arrange to get bogged down). But it’s easier to go through your company’s Procurement and Security labyrinth just one time, so you choke down the check.
Rather than buying a full-course meal, I have always recommended a la carte MAS. Marketo has established robust API’s with many other best-in-class MarTech SaaS (and there are many). So you can keep what you have and then add what you want when you are ready to digest it. Just what you can chew.
Sadly, now enterprises will only have a choice of Clouds. Adobe will likely chop up Marketo’s functionality into modules to sell separately (which makes apples-to-apples pricing comparisons almost impossible) and build-your-own MarTech stacks will become too difficult for large enterprises. I’m sure all those best-in-class SaaS vendors who get referral business by being part of the Marketo Premier Partner Program are seeing their futures fade.
I’m not saying Adobe’s Cloud isn’t good, or that change is bad – just saying that choice is better.