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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Building Personas: “Soccer Moms”, “Fearful CEOs” and other people who may buy from you

First ThingsOne of the most important things that sets your marketing message apart from the others is “relevance” – if your message is relevant to the recipient, it’ll go a lot more smoothly from the inbox to your prospect’s brain.

If you can understand who the various people are who buy your products or services, you’re much more likely to be able to select (or create) relevant messaging (or “content”) to send to them.

That’s why thinking through “personas” for your customers is the very first project that Eloqua recommends.

This is clearly not the “automation” portion of “marketing automation”, it’s the “marketing” part. You may have heard the tech-related phrase, “garbage in, garbage out”. This is where you need to make certain you are working with good information. This is the foundation for the rest of your efforts.

(In a sense, it’s a shame that marketing “automation” companies need to remind their customers of this).

It’s all about the money, and this is where “marketing” meets “the money”. It’s where you, as a marketer, sit down with your sales and product management teams and understand, who’s buying each product or service that you sell, how they are involved in the purchasing decision, and what their “buying cycle” is.

At a later date, for each of these, you’ll think through their “buying cycle” their particular needs (or “pain points”) at varying points of the buying cycle, and also the type of “content” that you will address to them.

But for now, what’s the point?

Thinking through your customer demographics should be a standard operating procedure for any business, and for some, it is a science. Consumer marketing companies have come up with a number of different personas — some of these, such as “soccer moms”, have become well-known through such marketing processes as political campaigns.

2013-04-02-Consumer-Demographics

If you properly understand who the buyers are, and what they’re buying, you can automate your marketing efforts to them in an effective way. If you don’t get them right, it’s going to be a case of “garbage in, garbage out”.

If you click on the “Persona Development” link on http://growth.eloqua.com/, it’ll take you to the page where Eloqua makes its “persona development” materials available.

(If you aren’t already a member of their Topliners community, you may need to join in order to access this material.)