Marketing Applications for the Masses: Blending Power and Simplicity

There is a very good reason why all the historic leaders in marketing software no longer exist--they built highly specialized systems with an addressable market of 100 companies that had armies of database administrators, statisticians, and campaign desig
Written by Rod Johnson, Laura Presla , Contributor

There is a very good reason why all the historic leaders in marketing software no longer exist--they built highly specialized systems with an addressable market of 100 companies that had armies of database administrators, statisticians, and campaign designers. All of these vendors failed to broaden and simplify the use of their tools to address the thousands of companies that need and want more advanced marketing capabilities.

The Bottom Line: Now some vendors are finally getting the word and delivering advanced, but usable capabilities. So, companies should take notice, since marketing has proven to be the most consistent ROI opportunity of all the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) projects you can consider.

What It Means: Software vendors from a variety of areas--Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), CRM, marketing, and e-commerce--are working on the issue.

Here’s a rundown on what vendors in each area are doing:

  • From the ERP world--Oracle has found the balance between power and simplicity. Not known for its ease of use, Oracle Marketing has gone a long way to change that image, delivering advanced data mining to the masses by masking the complexity and including deep integration between campaign planning and design, segmentation, list management, and advanced scoring algorithms. Based on its roots in financial systems, Oracle also offers a lot of power to marry the marketing budgeting and planning process realistically in order to start to understand the correlation between marketing and revenue, and attack the marketing accountability dilemma. Oracle’s competitors, SAP and PeopleSoft, also offer strong marketing suites with many advanced features, but they have yet to deliver the ease of use required to promote broader adoption. The Takeaway: The real story is that unlike past product releases by Oracle where the demo never quite seems to translate to reality, customers have validated the strength of the application in large-scale consumer marketing and mid-scale Business-to-Business (B2B) marketing operations.
  • From the CRM world--Two vendors stand out, Pivotal and E.piphany, because of the blend of best-of-breed functionality and proven business user support. Pivotal, based on the acquisition of MarketFirst, has been able to perpetuate the historic strength of that product in usability. And E.piphany has always been distinctive in its ability to extend advanced database marketing techniques to business users. The Takeaway: Both vendors are worth a look for most marketing evaluations. While E.piphany is attractive to a broader array of companies, its price points remain too high for most users to justify. At Pivotal the price is right, but does not go far enough on advanced analytics.
  • From the marketing world--SAS, Unica, and Aprimo stand out for very different reasons. SAS has finally delivered a product that masks the complexity of its analytics in its latest release, but still has room left for improvement. Unica certainly offers a wide range of advanced features, from advanced model development to optimization, but has not sacrificed usability. However, we find that most of its customers still need a dedicated team of power users to take advantage of the richness of the application. Lastly, Aprimo offers solid breadth of capabilities across planning and resource management, campaign management, analytics, and lead management, which is very attractive to many B2B corporations. The Takeaway: Each vendor is viable for the broader opportunity, but each also has some baggage.
  • From the e-commerce world--Noted for its ease of use, Blue Martini takes an industry-specific approach to marketing by offering retail and manufacturing functionality, such as promotion and merchandising management. Specializing in analytics, reporting, and marketing workflow, the system provides campaign management and real-time offer management, manages loyalty programs, and delivers marketing offers to Point of Sale (POS) systems and kiosks for in-store promotions. The Takeaway: In retail and some manufacturing industries, such as Life Sciences, High-Tech, and Consumer Products, Blue Martini goes beyond the generic, one-size-fits-all approach to deliver a differentiated online and offline marketing toolset.
Conclusion: All companies could benefit from more sophisticated marketing tools to better segment and understand customer value and behavior, personalize communication, develop multistep campaigns, and deeply measure effectiveness. The good news is that the technology has evolved so that they do not require a host of dedicated skills to support. So, if you are looking for a strong potential ROI opportunity, it is worth the investment to consider the business case for more advanced marketing tools.

AMR Research originally published this article on 13 August 2003.

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