Software as a Service as the Next Wave of Marketing Automation

Note from Jim.  This came to me from a person I am linked to on Linkedin.  Thought it was a good primer on marketing automation so here it is…

Software as a Service as the Next Wave of Marketing Automation

How many of you are looking to decrease your costs while extending your current capabilities around marketing?  I’m hoping that you all said yes at this point.  One way to do this is to consider a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS or On Demand) Marketing Automation Suite.

Here’s the thing, On Demand is a software delivery model that has been around for quite a while. Companies like RightNow Technologies and have changed the face of Customer Service or Salesforce Automation respectively. They’ve done it via a new model.  Now, it is marketing’s turn. Many of us use this model for Email or Web Analytics today and do not think twice about it. We outsource those pieces of our infrastructure because there are aspects of that effort that are very difficult to manage. For Email, the key is scalability and deliverability. An Email Service Provider can more easily deploy the resources to manage high volume emails and deliverability issues with ISP’s because they are doing so for a number of clients. Everyone shares the expense burden for the systems and resources, thus it is less expensive for everyone.

These applications are easy to deploy, less expensive and less time consuming than managing it yourself. Plus, you only pay for what you use, so there is a direct correlation between cost and revenue that these systems generate.  So, if it works for email marketing, web analytics and web offer management, could it also work for database marketing?  After all, a marketing database is a far more complex animal. It requires the ability to bring together multiple sources of data, merge and match that information to ensure that you get a full view of the customer, then deploy a myriad of reporting, analytics and campaign management tools over the top.  It also requires that your data makes sense for your business and not crammed into a database structure that is static and non-customizable.

The answer to that question is yes, it certainly is possible. In fact, it is already done.  There are several companies who have put together a true On Demand (which doesn’t just mean that it is hosted) delivery model for marketing automation suites. These are highly evolved marketing systems that can consolidate data from multiple sources and provide you insight into your customers that you struggle to get today.

So, what does this give you over your current environment today? I speak to a great many marketers who have this problem. That is, they have customer data spread throughout the organization and they are paying for multiple systems to manage that data and execute their marketing campaigns. They likely have customers in their fulfillment system, an email marketing system, a web analytics system, product information in yet another system, and a few reporting applications to tie it all together or they use a lot of excel to build out reports. Not only is this time consuming, it is expensive because you have license agreements for each one of those systems and you are paying large sums of money to support each one.

Imagine, if you will, that you could eliminate those systems. What would you be able to do if you were to drop the cost of your marketing environment by 40% or more? How much better would you be able to target your customers and create consistent coordinated multi-channel messaging if you were executing all of your marketing from one system? What would it mean to your company if you could measure the impact of multiple marketing events on the customers and prospects? This is what an On Demand Marketing Automation suite can give you.  Software as a Service as a delivery model for your marketing software is here today.  Elana Anderson (formerly an industry analyst for Forrester, now Vice President of Product Marketing for Unica) agrees, on her blog she wrote, “Over the next five years the lion’s share of marketing technology innovation will be in software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions.” If you are looking for ways to reduce your marketing expenditures without cutting headcount or the volume of your marketing, I encourage you to look into a SaaS Marketing Automation vendor to help you in 2009.

 Jeff Hassemer is a fifteen year database marketing veteran and vice president, product management of Entiera™, premier provider of the industry’s first On Demand Marketing Automation Suite, offering comprehensive capabilities for today’s multi-channel marketer.


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