The Marketing Automation Explosion
The market is still fragmented, but it may be the fastest-growing segment of CRM in the near future.
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Marketing automation is on the brink of an explosion. A recent Meta Group study shows that the Global 2000 is spending far more on marketing automation systems than on other categories of CRM, and that's fueling rapid development of new marketing automation software. Still, the market remains highly fragmented.

We already have seen the arrival of a large number of excellent marketing automation products and can expect to see an explosion of new offerings in the immediate future. Some of these will be sold as standalone or best-of-breed products; others will be plug-in modules that integrate directly into larger CRM vendor programs. Most will be Web-based and use a Web browser as the user interface.

Until recently, marketing automation software assisted the marketing manager in compiling and tracking leads, budgets and sales to determine a return on investment and measure campaign effectiveness. Now, through the use of workflow builders and automatic triggers, marketing automation tools not only deliver conventional marketing functionality but also enhance the user's ability to operate in a more dynamic environment.

For example, campaign management functionality has evolved from simply tracking campaign data in a static environment to providing in-depth analysis of campaigns on a real-time basis. Lead generation has evolved from manual input and distribution of leads to the automatic generation, qualification and routing of leads directly to the appropriate account executive or sales channel partner.

These enhancements are examples of how the CRM industry is moving to bring critical information to the marketing manager faster and more accurately than ever before in order to leverage the manager's analytical and decision-making ability.

The following functions and features should be part of an enterprise-wide CRM program's marketing module. Also included is a short list of vendors that may deserve further investigation in your search for the right solution.

Selection Criteria

  • Product/price configurator A product/price configurator provides the user with the ability to configure a product comprised of many parts based on a set of predefined rules that ensure compatibility while calculating complex pricing. Pricing can include taxes, import duties, discounts and exchange rates. A customer's specific needs, such as price, delivery date and quantity, can also be inserted into the configuration to assist the user in offering the best possible solution while working within the constraints of both the predefined business rules and the customer's needs.

    The following programs exemplify comprehensive product/price configuration: 2order v. 3.2 by BT Squared Technologies Inc.; BaanConfiguration v. 1.0 by The Baan Company; Exactium Mobile Sales (XMS) System v. 7.0 by Exactium Inc.; Sales Mechanix v. 3.2 by Newtonian Software; and Vantive Sales v. 8.0 by The Vantive Corp.

  • Campaign management Campaign management software allows the user to create and define steps in a marketing campaign: advertisements, outbound calls, literature fulfillment, mail-in responses and follow-up calls. Sub-campaigns, such as a marketing event, may be attached to a campaign in order to note media type, lead type, audience attendance, frequency, size, location, profile, creator, department and office. The user can track placement costs in print ads and radio commercials and subtotals for designated marketing areas with the ability to roll all data into the total budget.

    Campaign management also allows the user to determine the return on investment for a campaign using online, real-time results with the ability to associate the ROI with a number of events in order to measure each event's effectiveness.

    The following programs exemplify comprehensive campaign management: CallBack v. 7.2 by CallBack Software, Inc.; Clarify FrontOffice 98 by Clarify, Inc.; Jsales v. 2.0 by Sales Vision, Inc.; Pivotal Relationship v. 99 by Pivotal Software, Inc.; Prime Vantage v. 1.6 by Prime Response, Inc.; SalesLogix Sales Information System v. 3.0 by SalesLogix Corp.; Siebel 99 by Siebel Systems, Inc.; TakeControl v. 99 by Firstwave Technologies, Inc.; Vantive Sales v. 8.0 by The Vantive Corp.; and WorldTrak v. 4.0 by WorldTrak Corp.

  • Opportunity management Opportunity management tracks information related to an opportunity such as account, decisionmakers, partners, competitors, sales strategy, resources, products, quantity, quotes, open/close dates, potential sales revenue, status, activity history, outstanding activities, win/loss and probability to close. To-dos, ticklers and alarms support opportunity management by automatically reminding or notifying a user of an action step that needs to be executed to move an opportunity to close.

    Team selling is supported via opportunity management by giving team members access to shared files to remain updated on activities, events and any action(s) yet to be executed by team members relative to that opportunity.

    Sales methodologies such as the Miller-Heiman (funnel sales) solution-based selling model can be adopted by guiding the sales representative along a set of action steps that leverage information and resources specifically related to the opportunity in order to win the sale.

    The following programs exemplify comprehensive opportunity management: BaanFrontOffice v. 98.4 by The Baan Company; Clientele v. 7.0 by Epicor Software Corp.; MarketForce v. 5.0 by Software of the Future, Inc.; Marketing Manager v.4.0 by UpDate Marketing, Inc.; Prevail v. 4.71 by Synergistics, Inc.; SalesLogix Sales Information System v. 3.0 by SalesLogix Corp.; Siebel 99 by Siebel Systems, Inc.; Vantive Sales v. 8.0 by The Vantive Corp.

  • Marketing encyclopedia A marketing encyclopedia is an electronic repository of information such as a product catalog, product descriptions, competitive products, strengths and weaknesses (competitor vs. in-house), pictures, pricing information, presentations, technical specifications and white papers. The user can attach a direct link to a file through a Web browser for quick access to information on a desired subject such as company, competitor or product. Files located in the marketing encyclopedia can receive real-time, online updates either from the intranet, Internet or the enterprise server. Updates can be flagged for easy identification. Various file formats are supported in the marketing encyclopedia such as MS-Word, MS-Excel, MS-PowerPoint, Adobe Acrobat (PDF) audio (.wav) and video (.avi).

    The following programs exemplify a comprehensive marketing encyclopedia: ONYX Customer Center v. 4.0 by Onyx Software Corp.; SalesLogix Sales Information System v. 3.0 by SalesLogix Corp.; TakeControl v. 99 by Firstwave Technologies, Inc. and Vantive Sales v. 8.0 by The Vantive Corp.

    Most of the products identified above integrate with a third-party push-technology product that provides real-time updates of files in the marketing encyclopedia. With push technology, the user identifies the Web site or key word that is of interest by logging it into the program's memory, and the program will perform a search and download the relevant information directly into the marketing encyclopedia. Some of the more popular push-technology products are BackWeb and Calico's Smart Delivery.

    Lead Generation
    Electronic lead generation involves the routing of leads via the Internet to the appropriate sales representative or next step in a campaign based on qualifying criteria such as territory, zip code, product, service, demographic or level of interest. A prospect who fills out a brief questionnaire located on the company's Web site will receive a response in the form of literature fulfillment, a reply via e-mail or a phone call directly from a sales representative. Leads can be automatically recorded in the company database and placed in a sales track based on qualification.

    The following programs exemplify comprehensive electronic lead generation: Applix v. 7.0 by Applix, Inc.; Baan FrontOffice v. 98.4 by The Baan Company; Enterprise Series v. 6.9 by Data Code, Inc.; Marketing Manager v. 4.0 by UpDate Marketing, Inc.; Netgain v. 2.0 by Firstwave Technologies, Inc.; Prevail v. 4.71 by Synergistics, Inc.; Sales Continuum 2000 by Pipestream Technologies, Inc.; and Vantive Sales v. 8.0 by The Vantive Corp.

  • Competitive information Competitive information allows the user to track competitors by name, product, news and competitive product, as well as to attach to the competitor's record bookmarks to a competitor's Web site, white papers, articles, notes and memos. The user can access a list of competitors in a table with strengths and weaknesses and pricing available for quick reference and drill down for more detail. Competitors can be attached to an opportunity for quick reference.

    The following programs exemplify comprehensive competitive information: Clientele v. 7.0 by Epicor Software Corp.; Pivotal Relationship 99 by Pivotal Software, Inc.; Prevail v. 4.71 by Synergistics, Inc.; Siebel 99 by Siebel Systems, Inc.; The IntellAgent Control System v. 4.71 by IntellAgent Control Corp.; Universell Business to Business v. 6.3 by MEI Technology Group; and Vantive Sales v. 8.0 by The Vantive Corp.

  • Word processing Most marketing automation programs handle common functions such as letter writing, mail merge and label creation via integration with Microsoft Word or Corel's WordPerfect. Users can access a template of predefined letters, which import contact information for letter or fax generation.

On the Horizon
The CRM industry is seeing new, highly specialized vendors in the area of marketing automation. These specialized vendors, such as Rubric and Prime Response, are integrating advanced Web technologies to automate traditional marketing campaigns, processes, services and closed-loop reporting. Using a built-in workflow engine these programs automate "continuous" relationship marketing processes that transform raw leads into qualified prospects to increase revenue, reduce expenses and measurably improve marketing ROI. In addition to campaign management, other functionality offered by these specialized marketing automation tools include campaign financial controls, event management, product management, data management, knowledge management and market segmentation/distribution management.

Additional vendors that offer specialized marketing automation include Firepond, Paragren Technologies and Paradigm Ovation. Firepond offers an interactive buying tool that allows the user to brand the entire program. Firepond's Signature Plus provides product/price configuration, product recommendations, pricing and quotation, financing, proposal generation, order management and other integrated features that incorporate the company's branding throughout the program.

As marketing automation applications continue to develop, we should soon see programs that build client profiles from across the entire enterprise, including selling channels. In order to incorporate a one-to-one marketing mix, marketing automation must assist the user to more precisely understand the client's needs, desires, habits and constraints. Increased focus on tracking individual buying patterns, supported by techniques such as collaborative filtering and response behavior, along with knowledge of a customer's service history and satisfaction ratings, will allow companies to implement creative marketing strategies and sales methodologies.

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