Marketing automation software assessed
It makes sense to use marketing automation software, but where do you start? How can you objectively compare the options available?
For some while marketers have known of the advantages that targeted marketing has over mass marketing. But it also has had some disadvantages. While most appreciated the increase in profits that it could bring, it was still perceived by some as being much more labour-intensive and expensive to perform. Now, automation is bringing the advantages with few of the disadvantages. Direct channels like the Web, e-mail and interactive television are changing the discipline of marketing. And according to Forrester Research, these new channels will drive the migration from mass marketing to more direct techniques. But, in order to adapt, companies will have to increase their investments in automation software and reduce their reliance on third-party services.
The market is still there Marketing automation software - which delivers the right message to the right prospect or customer at the right time - has been used for about a decade, principally by catalogue merchants, financial services and telecoms companies, and retailers. Last year, due to the weak economy - which in turn led to decreased marketing budgets - marketing automation software sales lost momentum. But according to Eric Schmitt, senior analyst at Forrester, this was just a blip. "Marketers are undergoing a cultural shift and demanding more control over their customer interactions. To do this successfully, firms are turning to marketing apps that allow them to tailor communications to individuals and track their efforts and resources more accurately and cost-effectively."
Include more of marketers' needs Up until now, the software has dealt mainly with campaign management and analytics. Forrester recommends that vendors now move on and include marketers' needs in planning, process, lead, and asset management. It would also help if vendors priced it more creatively with pay-as-you-go packages that look like services, and tied prices to contract or campaign volume, or even harder financial goals like revenue increase.
Key differentiators At first glance, marketing software products can look surprisingly similar, but a closer look reveals the need to distinguish apps based on both business capabilities and infrastructure issues. Key business differentiators include high-end analytics, Web-based campaign delivery, real-time decision making, and process management features for planning, managing, and approving marketing programmes. To separate marketing apps along technical lines, users should focus on data architecture, database support, and globalisation.
Objective evaluations With all this in mind, Forrester has updated its Marketing Automation Application TechRankings with new lab-tested products and enhanced vendor criteria. TechRankings combines independent laboratory evaluations, objective analysis of product and vendor capabilities, and online customisation tools to help users prioritise their requirements and create a custom ranking. Forrester and its evaluation partner Doculabs has so far evaluated the following products: Chordiant's Marketing Director Suite v 3.2, E.piphany's E.5.03, MarketFirst v 3.1, NCR Teradata's CRM 4.02, Protagona's Ensemble v 5, SAS Institute's EMA v 2.1, Unica's Affinium Suite 2.0, and Xchange 7.
Nine key attributes They are evaluated on more than 500 criteria, from which nine key attributes that users should consider when evaluating marketing apps have been identified: sophistication of marketing analytics; campaign management capabilities; administration and security; integration with external data sources and software; globalisation for use in non-English-speaking/US environments; architecture; consistency across the application's modules; vendor strength in this market and support for the product; and the product cost.
For more details about TechRankings, click here