Adobe's Marketing Cloud challenge: Putting a unique spin on the 'customer experience' buzz

Adobe is pushing a theme of creating unique customer experiences. The problem: So is every other marketing cloud provider.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Adobe's revamped Marketing Cloud will be wrapped in an experience motif as it aligns its resources, adds data science and courts chief marketing officers looking to transform their businesses.

The company isn't wrong about its customer experience push and has it's content creation spin that differentiates it from the pack. What's the problem? The term customer experience is likely to become meaningless similar to the way cloud computing, digital transformation and other tech terms that get tossed around.

Adobe's John Mellor, vice president of business development and strategy, says the company's Marketing Cloud is "at the forefront of the experience business." Customers want new ways to interact with enterprises on all fronts.

Experience will get a lot of play at Adobe's Summit powwow this week. Consider the elevator pitch:

The flood of information and opportunity unleashed by the digital revolution has raised customer expectations to unprecedented levels. There's only one way for brands to thrive in this new environment: Become an Experience Business. Companies have to create a personalized, compelling customer experience at every link of the relationship, from websites and mobile apps to retail environments.

Sound familiar? You bet. Salesforce talks customer experiences all the time whether it's pushing the Internet of things, its service, marketing and analytics cloud and overall position as a relationship operating system. Oracle has its customer experience suite.

Last week's launch of Google's Analytics 360 suite includes a data marketplace, analytics and marketing cloud tools that'll compete with Adobe, Salesforce and a bunch of others. The blog post from Google notes the game is about delivering engaging experiences across multiple screens is everything.

To say Google and Adobe's marketing clouds rhyme would be quite the understatement.

Turns out everyone wants compelling experiences to market to customers. "We're in a hot space and I'm not surprised to see others in it," said Mellor.

What's Adobe's differentiator? The company is betting that its heritage in content, app and site development will be the difference between its Marketing Cloud and its rivals.

For chief marketers, the status quo may remain. Today's reality is that enterprises need to connect to multiple data pools and providers and utilize many marketing clouds. An Adobe customer may also utilize Salesforce and even Oracle. Google is also in the mix since DoubleClick and its text ads are a key budget item.

Bottom line: The hodge-podge of marketing technologies will continue even as cloud leaders put their own unique spin to the "experience" game. "Success from Google does not necessarily harm incumbents. Instead, we think expanded efforts from Google will probably help to grow the broader sector, which has substantial upside given the untapped potential associated with bringing more technology to marketing functions," said Pivotal Research's Brian Wieser.

Weiser continued:

We also note that an ongoing issue among marketing technology companies is that while virtually all marketers would prefer to use integrated suite-based solutions (because product pricing might be cheaper in bundles, less IT integration is required and data may move more consistently across products), most end up choosing what they consider to be best-in-breed solutions for their different marketing technology software requirements. Google's product is supportive of this element and offers integrations with "many" third party data providers and platforms. Towards this end, what will matter most is whether or not the products are ultimately good or not and whether they are easy for marketers (or the segments of marketers which Google targets in its sales efforts). These factors will only be known over time.
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