Marketing Automation Providers: If It’s Content vs Data, Who Wins?

Content vs data: who wins?

Content vs data: who wins?

On the same day that we see an announcement about an agreement between Oracle and Salesforce to share data, Marketo provided an announcement about its 1000th blog post, basically a summary of things “then and now”.

This is about as clear a picture as we’re going to get about the current and future consolidation of the industries that have come to be known by various names as “marketing automation” and “content marketing” (and related terms).

There’s “data” on the one side, and “content” on the other.

Of course, both sides will profess expertise in both arenas. However, in terms of “strength vs strength”, Oracle and Salesforce are going to have their strength in the “data” arena, and Marketo and some of their like-minded competitors are staking their claims in the “content” arena.

“Big Data”? No Problem for Oracle/Eloqua

In the “data” arena, Oracle and Salesforce, two traditional rivals, have seemingly “agreed to play nice”, at least in terms of sharing their data more easily. As I’ve used these solutions, it was already a natural fit.

And, in a recent blog post, I put up a video in which Oracle/Eloqua outlines its product roadmap, saying “we’re committed to continuing the Eloqua roadmap, exhilarating it, and then integrating it with a broader portfolio”. That involves using “Eloqua’s marketing cloud in a multi-vendor environment”.

If anything, Salesforce and Oracle are on the same side of the house, in the “data” world. On the other side of the house, Marketo is more about providing “content”, and perhaps in that emphasis, we see a clue about the weaknesses it is trying to cover.

Will “Thought Leadership” Trump “Data”?

If Eloqua has been “all about revenue” (and data), then Marketo has staked its claim in the realm of “thought leadership” in the form of “content”. Jon Miller, who wrote the blog post, gives himself this moniker and tagline:

Jon (@jonmiller) leads all aspects of Marketo’s thought leadership, communications, and content marketing programs.

And in line with the “thought leadership” process, the blog post “revisiting our very first post, “Modern B2B Marketing Defined”, and commenting on what’s changed – and what hasn’t – since August 8, 2006.

What hasn’t changed:

• Customers are more empowered than ever, and less likely than ever to want to be interrupted with someone else’s marketing message.
• “Mass media” is giving way to the need for “mass customization”.
• Marketing must be accountable [a tip-of-the-hat to “revenue”].

What has changed?

• “Content marketing” has become the new and personalized SEO.
• It’s now all about ***Social Media*** and ***Mobile***.
• Integrated SaaS (“software as a service”) providers will be more needed to process the data.

While mentioning the explosion of data, Miller doesn’t give much of a hint as to how data is to be captured, managed, and used. He does note that “at the core” of the “integrated” services, there will be some mechanism to use “behavioral data about prospects and customers.” But there are no specifics about how “advanced” and “predictive” “analytics” will be used. Only in the coming years, “even more dynamic personalization” and “real-time marketing” will be forthcoming.

I’m not familiar with Marketo’s platform. But I do know Oracle/Eloqua and Salesforce, and the ways that they integrate data in ways that are useful to an organization. The difficult part about these solutions is finding appropriate ways to incorporate the “content marketing” portion.

In the coming months and years, the struggle for dominance will be between those who know the data and struggle to provide the content management, and those who manage the content well but struggle to scale to the data needs.

Convergence will minimize the differences; “execution” will be key

I don’t doubt that there will be some convergence: the “content” competitors will acquire data-savvy partners, and these will thrive on the content side. The Oracle/Eloqua/Salesforce side will need to strengthen their ties with “content marketing” thought leaders.

In the end, I doubt that the “content” marketers are going to be too lacking in data, and nor will the data providers find themselves lacking in the “content” arena. But as I said above, handling the data seems to be the more difficult task, and I’d give a slight edge to the Oracle/Eloqua side.

What it’ll come down to is, as Tom Peters has said, “execution”.

I’m @johnbugay

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