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Chuck Schaeffer A Marketing Software Convergence on the Horizon

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Dueling Marketing Software Growth Tracts—Social Marketing vs. Marketing Automation

There an interesting two-fold growth occurrence occurring in the marketing software sector—with marketing automation systems and social marketing automation showing increased traction (along separate but converging tracks)—and both representing the highest growth technologies within the CRM software industry.

Gartner just reported that the marketing automation software industry reached $2.8 billion in 2011, about a quarter of the reported CRM software industry total of $11.9 billion. The analyst firm also forecasts that the marketing automation software industry will see double digit year over year growth for at least the next three years. Marketing automation clearly represents the highest growth sector among the CRM software tenants which also include sales and service.

But don't confuse marketing automation software with social marketing automation. While the two overlap to be sure, the objectives and capabilities remain separate—at least for now.

Marketing Automation Software

Marketing automation software is primarily used to acquire and nurture leads. This application software supports lead acquisition and lead management with sophisticated features that automate digital lead tracking, online lead acquisitions, lead scoring, email marketing, nurture marketing, lead transfer and marketing analytics. The application software is highly effective in acquiring more leads and transferring higher quality leads to the sales team.

The success of marketing automation software has propelled several start-ups into high growth companies. Emerging growth publishers such as Eloqua, Marketo and HubSpot are securing big venture capital infusions, impressive IPOs and the inevitability of being acquired by much larger CRM software publishers. In fact, as HubSpot has become the highest growth marketing software publisher in the world, they're next in line for a liquidation event.

In separate but parallel tracks, marketing automation software vendors and CRM software vendors are getting more social with their marketing software—a path that could ultimately converge what are today integrated but disparate applications.

Social Marketing Solutions

Marketers have always been able to inject messaging, promotions and content into social channels. The business problem though has been making that content stimulating in order to promote engagement and socialized propagation while also delivering quantifiable measurement of social marketing efforts in business terms (financial metrics such as volume of qualified leads and sale opportunities derived, not activity figures such as new fans and Likes).

Social marketing solutions tend to be purpose built for launching campaigns across social networks, using components, widgets or other technologies to attract engagement and extend reach into cascading consumer social spheres, and bring measurability to an otherwise elusive marketing spend and ROI calculation. Social marketing may be showing a tipping point from the recent M&A announcements that are likely to trigger continued M&A events. Just this year, Oracle, Marketo and Salesforce.com have acquired Vitrue, Crowd Factory and Buddy Media, respectively. In each case, the acquisition is designed to accelerate social marketing.

But in reality social marketing software vendors may be ahead of the buyers they intend to influence. The 2012 Buyer Experience Study from IDC shows that while technology buyers are increasingly using social networks to keep up with industry information and connect with peers, they do not yet view them as key influencers when making technology purchase decisions. The research study discovered that 84 percent of technology buyers interact with social networks for educational and personal reasons; however, only 18.6 percent said social networks have influenced how they engage vendors or make purchase decisions.

But social marketing vendors and CMO's are betting that technology buyers will come around. In a separate IDC research survey, titled the 2012 Tech Marketing Barometer Study, social media marketing tools represented the highest growth technology marketing investment area among CMO's, with 65 percent of participants saying they plan to increase their investments in social marketing technologies. IDC's Rich Vancil, Group VP, comments that "Our research shows that social marketing tools are at the top of the CMO's shopping list for 2012." Vancil went on to suggest that social marketing investments can deliver payback, noting "Social marketing is capable of providing high impact at a relatively low cost."

While marketing automation software has become mainstream, social marketing is still young and lacks consensus messaging and understanding. To put this new burgeoning software sector into perspective, it's helpful to understand the capabilities, business use cases and high level roadmaps from the leading vendors in the space.

Oracle's Push to Social, Cloud and CX

In early June Oracle announced its intended acquisition of social marketing company Vitrue for $300M. The Vitrue application helps marketers publish and manage social marketing campaigns across Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube and other social networks from one place, or maybe more to the main point, Vitrue helps companies acquire Facebook fans and push out marketing messages to the news feed in order to engage those fans and generate new leads.

Oracle has already signaled that Vitrue will be closely integrated with other Oracle products, such as Oracle CRM. Oracle and Vitrue plan to give customers a unified, real-time, high-touch social experience across interactions and channels—which if achieved would further bolster the company's aggressive push into the cloud, and its new found affection for Customer Experience (CX).

Salesforce Misses the Marketing (Automation) Cloud But Gets a Social Marketing Cloud

Salesforce.com's desire for Buddy Media—to the tune of $689M—suggests a powerful bet to help brands propagate their messaging through their customers social networks and beyond. In fact, with social marketing tools like Buddy Media, the brands' messaging and the content that gets shared, exchanged and socialized among social communities become one in the same. The brands achieve marketing success by seeding the content that gets people talking about those brands. Subtle promotion of a brand's content among social spheres that are most likely to engage and redistribute that content creates a near limitless cascading reach that has never before been possible.

It's effectively the online equivalent of word of mouth referrals but in a one-to-many distribution pattern that travels 24 x 7 and without the need for real-time contact or proximity.

Buddy Media provides the tools to acquire Facebook fans, supply content to get them talking (about the brand's products or services), monitor online conversations so they know when to engage, and measures which ads social consumers best respond to, which content they most 'like' or what combination of text, images and call-to-actions produce the highest conversions. Buddy's goal is to acquire fans, leverage them to become brand evangelists and expand reach to virtually limitless scale.

Buddy Media is the second social marketing company acquired by Salesforce.com in the last year. The acquisition is certain to add value to the Radian6 purchase in 2011 for $350 million, but time will be needed to rationalize the overlapping functionality and deliver a roadmap that demonstrates a synergy with both products. Expect that roadmap to be delivered at Dreamforce in September.

Marketo's Push To Integrate Marketing Automation and Social Marketing

Marketo also recognizes word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing and has released its own solution, stemming from its acquisition of Crowd Factory, to enable this behavior through social channels. The Marketo Social Boost solution uses online apps such as polls, sweepstakes and contests to entice people to engage with and share content they find interesting. This social marketing software solution permits Marketo customers to extend and measure marketing campaign reach through campaign recipients as well as those recipients' social spheres. And because the new social marketing capabilities are tightly integrated with the company's flagship marketing automation system, social marketing can be included as a flight in a more traditional drip campaign or multiple social marketing flights can be assembled in a social nurture campaign.

Social Marketing & Marketing Automation To Join Forces

Social marketing is another digital marketing tool that will soon become commonplace with more popular marketing automation systems, channels and methods such as digital lead tracking, website landing pages, email marketing and search engine optimization (SEO). But more interestingly, this may be the marketing technique that bridges and then converges marketing automation software and social marketing solutions into a single solution set that drives even more growth together than they garner apart.

It's certainly not lost on the CRM software vendor community that Gartner predicts CMOs will control more of the IT budget than CIOs within the next five years or that eMarketer predicts that social advertising will be the single largest growth area of online advertising by 2013.

Significant market growth coupled with a new CMO budget authority and supplemented with a perpetual thirst for more qualified sales leads provides a lucrative incentive for marketing software publishers to converge the capabilities of marketing automation and social marketing into a single platform. End

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Comments (8) — Comments for this page are closed —

Guest Chris Nichols
  Social marketing has top of mind awareness among CMOs, however, that awareness often doesn't translate to results. A Capgemini report showed a big disconnect between intent and execution. In the report, 58% said they plan to increase spending, however, 71% said they still struggle in making sense of the (mostly unstructured) data, 39% said the unstructured data is too difficult to interpret and 46% said they don't have the time to interpret the data. Harnessing social data is like surfing an information tsunami. Until the tools get better its going to be tough.

Guest alexbryson
  I think Oracle’s prior acquisition of RightNow (with its Cloud Monitor) and the two new acquisitions of Vitrue and Collective Intellect put the company into position to leap frog Salesforce.com and the rest of the industry when it comes to social CRM and social marketing IF they match their newly acquired intellectual property with the required promotion that is necessary to see these types of solutions grow. Vitrue is a strong multi-tenant cloud solution for brands to manage all their social media properties with a central tool. It also compliments the Oracle Social Network, which is more focused on internal collaboration, to offer the full spectrum of social apps.

Guest Winston Gray
  Larry Ellison and Oracle believe that buying innovative companies is a valid method to acquiring research and development and in many ways they’re right. Any tech company with some cash can acquire companies, but the bigger challenge is successfully integrating them. Oracle has proven itself successful time and time again by being able to integrate the companies and the IP it acquires. I think they will do well with their Vitrue acquisition.

Guest Tracy Phillips
  $689 million (or $745 million depending upon how you count the deal) for Buddy Media is excessive. The company has some big clients, but little revenue and no profits. Call me crazy, but I’d prefer to have profits over customer logos on my website. Beyond Buddy Media being small and losing money, survey’s by Reuters and others show that the high majority of Facebook users say that neither brand conversations nor brand ads have ever caused them to make a purchase. Sending out the same message to big fan groups is the opposite of one-to-one marketing and clearly lacks customer segmentation. I think the cattle herding approach typified by the current generation of social marketing tools is going to be challenged.

Guest salesbyday
  I’m not sure these social marketing solutions are really intended for the vendors existing CRM software customers. Salesforce is primarily a B2B solution while Buddy Media is primarily B2C. The Buddy Media platform helps large retail and B2C companies place content and social advertising online in a well tested and optimal fashion. It’s great for engaging consumers, pulling in impulse sales and moving retail products; not the same though for B2B decision makers, complex product sales and long sales cycles. Similarly, Marketo is primarily focused on B2B marketing while Crowd Factory has a few B2B clients but is clearly aimed at large-scale B2C organizations. It’s hard to determine at this point whether a single social marketing product can accommodate both markets equally well. What seems more predictable is the downside if these solutions try to accommodate both markets equally well, but fall short when compared to the social marketing software vendors who focus on one side or the other.

Guest Joe Weithman
  I think Facebook marketing is quite unproven, but acts as a gateway for companies to try some social experimentation and then adopt more social marketing methods.

Guest meanmachine
  These acquisitions are great for marketers to tap into new social channels. The tools now move beyond keyword based social listening to deliver more focused sentiment analysis, sophisticated latent semantic text and analytics for customer and market predictive modeling, and semi-automated retrieval of targeted customer data elements which can be combined with CRM data for more relevant marketing campaigns.

Guest Zach Kirk
  CMO's and marketers are wise to recognize that the rise of social marketing acqusitions by CRM software companies is a clear sign of what market leaders are doing, and how social CRM strategy and supporting technology should be a part of traditional CRM. Social CRM apps as standalone systems will eventually give way to integrated CRM and social CRM apps.
 

 

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It's certainly not lost on the CRM software vendor community that Gartner predicts CMOs will control more of the IT budget than CIOs within the next five years or that eMarketer predicts that social advertising will be the single largest growth area of online advertising by 2013.

 

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