Most marketers want two main benefits from bought-in consumer marketing software: help with collecting, analysing, and segmenting customer data, and tools to help them act on that data through the design, execution, and measurement of marketing programmes, according to a new Forrester Research analysis of consumer marketing platforms.
The newly formed Consumer Marketing Platforms TechRankings software assessment from Forrester Research currently has six main vendor participants (DoubleClick Ensemble 6.5, E.piphany E.6, SAS Marketing Automation 3.2, Siebel 7.5.3, Teradata CRM 5.0, and Unica Affinium), while Oracle, PeopleSoft, and SAP did not participate in the evaluation process.
TechRankings was created with the aim of producing an objective, scenario-based product testing and evaluation process, for which Forrester reviewed enterprise systems from the participating vendors that allow marketers to plan, target, deliver, and measure direct-to-consumer marketing communications, across both online and offline channels.
Consumer marketing platforms - an outgrowth of CRM software - are primarily used strategically by firms in the retail, catalogue, financial services, travel, and telecom industries. Each of the products Forrester evaluated was found to have different strengths and weaknesses in areas such as segmentation, integrated analytics, architecture, and user interface.
The review found that marketers wanted help with collecting, analysing, and segmenting customer data, and also tools to help them act on that data. Forrester also found that both of those functions need to support a multichannel environment and increasingly must support requirements like call centre and web integration, field marketing teams, and real-time decision-making.
"Consumer marketers know the benefits of these applications but they question how to cut through the noise and find the product best suited to their business and technical needs," said Eric Schmitt, senior analyst for Forrester. "Within each vertical industry, marketers have a wide range of requirements that software providers - from CRM veterans to newcomers - are working to address. The trick is finding the best match."
Room for improvement
Related research, entitled 'Market Overview 2003: Marketing Automation - Still Room for the Specialists', conducted by Giga Information Group (a Forrester Research subsidiary) found that while there is often internal pressure for companies to select the marketing offering from their existing CRM vendor, high-end B2C (business-to-consumer) companies running sophisticated marketing campaigns find that CRM applications fall short on the capabilities they need.
"Process, not segmentation, is the sweet spot for most CRM vendors," explained Elana Anderson, senior industry analyst for Forrester. "The CRM vendors are becoming increasingly competitive in meeting the marketing needs of their B2B constituents while they lag behind in serving the needs of B2C marketers."