Co-Founder and Executive Director, Strategic Partnerships
Vice President, Digital Activation
Choosing a marketing automation provider is no easy feat, especially now that the technology tends to be part of a larger suite of products—all within a massive marketing cloud solution. Marketing agency R2i recently put together a report comparing some of the top marketing automation providers in an effort to break down the maturity and effectiveness of individual tools. Chris Chodnicki, R2i’s co-founder and executive director of strategic partnerships, and Kara Alcamo, vice president of digital activation, shared some research highlights with eMarketer’s Maria Minsker that can help companies identify the right marketing automation tool.
eMarketer: What’s your impression of the marketing automation space? How is the technology maturing?
Chris Chodnicki: Marketing automation has evolved from the managing of emails to a much broader management of multiple channels. The maturity level of the products has excelled and accelerated—especially when it comes to the level of integration with other marketing technologies, such as a content management system or a CRM [customer relationship management] system.
eMarketer: How should marketers go about choosing a new marketing automation tool?
Kara Alcamo: The key is to create a list of must-have features vs. nice-to-have features. When we work with clients, we assign a weighted score to different factors, such as segmentation and targeting capabilities or A/B testing. If a company isn’t working with an agency, they can just go through that process internally. Before vetting tools, organizations need to know what they actually need—otherwise they won’t be able to ask the right questions.
“Before vetting tools, organizations need to know what they actually need—otherwise they won’t be able to ask the right questions.”
Companies that are looking to clean up their stack need to go through each of the tools in their existing stack and identify areas of potential redundancy, as well as areas of opportunity. Different groups within the business may also use the technology in different ways, so it’s important to identify those different use cases.
eMarketer: Is cost a concern when it comes to marketing automation technology?
Chodnicki: These products are pretty competitively priced, and they’re now being priced based on a consumption model. That’s important because it means that small and medium-sized businesses aren’t hindered from products that were previously only affordable for large enterprises. Most of these marketing automation tools have adjusted their pricing to meet marketplace demands.
eMarketer: What’s next for marketing automation technology? Where is it heading?
Alcamo: There’s already a move toward account-based marketing, especially from Marketo. There’s a lot of fragmentation in the marketplace with ABM [account-based marketing] providers, and over the next year or two, we expect to see marketing automation vendors snap up companies that can deliver ABM through tools like predictive lead scoring. That includes players such as EverString or Infer.
“[Predictive lead scoring] may soon become a native component of marketing automation for some of the bigger players.”
eMarketer: You mentioned predictive lead scoring. Are brands increasingly asking for that capabilitiy?
Alcamo: Yes, interest is rising rapidly. We see a lot of new technologies and platforms entering the marketplace. It may soon become a native component of marketing automation for some of the bigger players. Right now, there’s not a single player that can “do it all” very well, but as new capabilities come onto the market, they eventually become requirements for clients, and vendors either build their own versions or make acquisitions.