This past November I posted a blog piece, titled “Top 20 Cross-channel Marketing Execution Platforms?” The piece was a call for input on the state of technologies that assist marketers in running complex, cross-channel, integrated marketing communication programs that ultimately are focused on delivering one thing – customer sales. These technologies are becoming more critical to marketing organizations over time. Why? Chaos: Rapid growth in Internet-based communication mediums has led to a power shift in the buyer-seller dynamic; marketers have never been at a greater disadvantage. Meanwhile, their roles and campaigns are becoming more complicated. At the same time, they are being asked for greater, real-time visibility into results and marketing ROI as never before. “The online world … has refused to stay in a nice, little box,” commented Scott Brinker on his Chief Marketing Technologist blog in October. “[It] has exploded into millions of microchannels, with few boundaries, in constant motion, with people sloshing freely among them — often under little or no direct control of the marketer.”
Since my first blog piece on this topic, I’ve gotten some great feedback from folks in the industry, have spoken with nearly a dozen technology vendors and have digested quite a few recently-published books on the subject, including Sandy Carter‘s The New Language of Marketing 2.0, David Raab‘s Raab Guide to Demand Generation Systems and Steve Woods‘ Digital Body Language — all great reads. This process has helped to evolve my earlier thinking – validating some initial observations but also changing others.
Source: Adam Needles, Propelling Brands (original)
A key revision from my first piece is a re-thinking of my taxonomy for classifying this technology group. First, it is clear that a centralized, intelligent and automated layer is emerging at the heart of the continuum of marketing systems (see diagram), and this layer serves a critical functional role in integrating high-level strategic management with tactical execution. I have chosen to refer to this layer as integrated marketing management. Second, it is clear that there are several existing software ‘camps,’ with different roots, aims, legacies and constituencies, that are both converging on and vying for this core integration and management layer. These camps include: demand generation, marketing automation/enterprise marketing management (EMM) and advanced customer relationship management (CRM). While each comes at this layer from a different angle, the lines between these systems are blurring and their features and capabilities are increasingly quite similar. Yet these camps remain important points of distinction and differentiation today because they are how many vendors classify their systems, and they help to understand both the strengths/weaknesses and the capabilities/gaps of these vendors systems.
The result is a complicated decision-making environment for marketers that want to harness the capabilities of integrated marketing management. “Now everyone is trying to tie it all together, [but] you wind up with a weird gulf in buyer expectations,” commented Steve Woods, CTO of Eloqua, in a phone interview. “Marketers aren’t used to doing this evaluation.”
That is why I’m writing about this topic. As a marketer, who has taken the time to become more educated about this space, I’d like to help lift the veil off of what is perhaps the Holy Grail of marketing – having IT systems that actually provide leverage to your integrated marketing activities and processes, rather than just drowning you in more data and execution responsibilities.
So what is an integrated marketing management platform, how can it help marketers, and who are the top vendors in this segment?
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