As companies become advanced in social and digital business, they require consolidated technology instead of point solutions
Adobe Marketing Summit and Oracle OpenWorld both took place recently. It’s another month until Dreamforce, but I expect similar announcements to be made there. These giants are all building “suites” for cross-channel customer engagement through a series of acquisitions and integration with their existing offerings (see Figure 1). Among the pieces, each has bought social media monitoring and management tools, as well as marketing automation players. Having a complete social offering is a big part of this, but it’s also about integrating social with other customer engagement channels for the best data, targeting, and contextualization. The result: a technology suite that goes beyond just social, designed to entice CMOs with one-stop shopping convenience. Figure 1: How Three Companies Are Creating Digital Marketing Suites
|Social media monitoring||Salesforce Marketing Cloud (Radian6)||Adobe Social (Adobe SocialAnalytics)||Oracle SRM (Collective Intellect)|
|Social media management||Salesforce Marketing Cloud (Buddy Media)||Adobe Social (Efficient Frontier / Context Optional)||Oracle SRM (Vitrue & Involver)|
|Social media advertising||Salesforce Marketing Cloud (social.com)||Adobe Media Optimizer (Efficient Frontier)||N/A for now; on product roadmap|
|Marketing automation & multi-channel targeting||Salesforce ExactTarget||Adobe Campaign (Neolane)||Oracle Eloqua|
|Analytics & insights||Salesforce Marketing Cloud (Radian6)||Adobe Analytics (Omniture)||Oracle SRM and OBIEE (Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition)|
|Content marketing||No internal component, but integration (e.g. Kapost)||Experience Manager & Creative Cloud||Compendium|
|Enterprise social network||Chatter||N/A, although has built collaboration into Marketing Cloud||Oracle Social Network|
|Data & CRM||Salesforce||No CRM, but has Omniture DataWarehouse and data connectors into partner solutions||Oracle Database (plus Siebel), Oracle Sales Cloud, Oracle Service Cloud, Oracle Commerce|
It should go without saying that this chart is not an exact comparison and that line item “components” vary in complexity. The degree of integration also varies.
Advanced companies need integrated tools to succeed in digital business
These suites are finding an audience ready for a better option. Focused on social business for a moment, brands are getting increasingly advanced, yet they continue to use point solutions in different departments and channels for monitoring, management, optimization, and analytics. In a typical example, one of our clients uses Radian6 for monitoring, Vitrue for social content publishing, Cotweet for customer care, and Adobe Analytics (formerly Omniture) for web analytics.
Plus enterprise social networks and customer communities are disconnected. The result is disparate sets of data being compared in Excel, mixed levels of communication and collaboration, and lost insights. The emerging need for more integrated solutions has been anticipated by Salesforce, Oracle, and Adobe, who are now assembling Digital Marketing Suites.
Best-in-class point solutions dominate today, but change is coming
Although point solutions can’t fully address the needs of an advanced social business, they are often best-in-class—because the promise of the Digital Marketing Suite has yet to be fulfilled. When advising clients on monitoring tools or SMMS today, we often end up recommending point solutions. This is based on specific client requirements, which vary, but it’s not often that one of the “giants” makes it to the very top of a short-list. With SMMS for example, the offerings are good but not typically best for the client. And overall, the benefits of a suite aren’t compelling enough today—but over the coming 12-18 months, they will be.
The future is suites—or irrelevance
Not only will there be consolidation in terms of technology coalescing into larger suites, but the marketplace will also go through the natural evolution and consolidation as the landscape matures. For social marketing vendors determined to stay independent, there is only one option: to raise money to scale into suites themselves by buying or quickly building missing components like monitoring, optimization, and analytics. Several SMMS vendors like Hootsuite, Sprinklr, Spredfast, and HearSay Social have raised significant rounds of financing to build scale.
They are embedded and tough to replace, and integration-enabling APIs may extend the timeline, but over time that will not be enough to support so many players. Consolidation or exits are an inevitable outcome, as it has been in previous technology spaces. A few of the other SMMS vendors have already folded, like Awareness Inc. and Syncapse. This left their customers high and dry and needing to start the search for vital tools all over again. That has been another reason why some companies are looking to the big players—simple staying power.
What does the future look like with Digital Marketing Suites?
Beyond the obvious benefits of integration, like fewer tools and logins, and platform security that come from an integrated suite, there are four impending changes that marketers should watch closely:
1. Internal and external social networking on a single platform
In SMMS, collaboration features are mostly limited to basic workflow (tag, flag, annotate, route). Yet as social permeates an organization, the need for internal communication through Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs) becomes necessary to plan and react to external engagement. Adobe has already made a push to bring greater collaboration into its new Marketing Cloud offering, although it does not have an ESN product of its own. Salesforce will undoubtedly integrate Chatter into future offerings of its own Marketing Cloud, while Oracle is embedding Oracle Social Network into the social publishing workflow for collaboration. Companies with installed ESNs are also eager to tap and evolve internal employee engagement and direct it toward external conversations for purposes like providing customer support and employee advocacy.
2. Company-wide utility—this is not just for one department
Most SMMS address one or two departments’ needs well, yet we found that companies today are likely to have up to 13 departments involved in social. Social customer support may require the features familiar to a call center, whereas marketing may require a content repository and an editorial calendar that includes earned media. Because each department has different use cases and metrics, these suites are looking to address the needs of many departments rather than just the one or few primarily addressed today. Marketing is central, but other stakeholders are increasingly being involved.
3. Customer relevance and targeting (Social CRM)
Speaking of sharing nicely across departments, the growing need for a common view of customers’ social profiles and social behavior data is also driving a move to suites. Several SMMS vendors have focused on customer identification and targeting from the outset—but few integrate well with marketing automation and enterprise CRM systems in order to know and target customers based not only on social data, but all available customer data.
To take an example, Walmart allows Facebook fans to Like local stores, then shows them items specific to that store, based on comparative local prices and even the local weather. By integrating (in this case, location) data, the relevance of its content is increased. For now, customers remain mostly anonymous, so only certain layers of relevance may be applied at any given time (geography, demographics, psychographics, socialgraphics, mobilegraphics, brand affinity, loyalty program, etc.). So far, the local Walmart pages have little engagement, since they still feel impersonal compared with other local businesses.
Eventually, though, companies will have a single customer view, connecting these layers of relevance for contextual, personalized messaging for individual customers and prospects. This has been a long-term promise and the customer journey keeps getting more complex, but Adobe, Salesforce and Oracle have all been especially focused on this of late.
4. Bigger sticker price and IT involvement
The average enterprise deal size for SMMS has steadily increased over the past few years, rising from $76k last year to deal sizes of what we typically see today in the $100-150k range. This reflects a growing ability to spend on social software where there is perceived value.
These larger Digital Marketing Suites will naturally be even more expensive, but as social is integrated, an independent social business technology budget which will be a challenge for most marketing organizations that are still just beginning to build out their social business capabilities. Also, because these suites are larger in scale and require greater care to be “plugged in” correctly, marketers will need IT to be more involved than it has been in decisions like SMMS, which marketing departments have in some cases been able to buy and install on their own.
P.S. Digital Marketing Suite seems like a good name for now, but this goes not only beyond social, but even beyond marketing. While Adobe and Salesforce each have their “Marketing Cloud,” Oracle has its “Social Relationship Management,” which is department-agnostic, but of course focuses on Social (Oracle Eloqua is referred to separately for now). So what is this called, really, and does it change over time?