This year's Rising Stars represent a mix of promising young companies and seasoned veterans that are entering new markets. While their ages and sizes vary widely, they have one thing in common—their innovations are motivating people to act. On the following pages, you will find solutions that help marketers make smarter decisions about their customers and products, a content aggregator that enables salespeople to leverage relevant social media data to close more deals, and gamification software that incentivizes customers and employees to accomplish desired results. With such valuable solutions, it's no wonder why these companies are soaring to new heights.
The Evolving Brand
Already known for its wide array of consumer products, Adobe has been breaking new ground in the B2B market through its digital marketing offerings, which include Web content management and analytics tools. "We're a brand on the move," declared Ann Lewnes, senior vice president of global marketing at Adobe, during a keynote speech at this year's Forrester Marketing Leadership and Customer Intelligence Forum. "Adobe is evolving, and our mission is expanding to allow people to manage their content, measure their content…and ultimately monetize their content."
In the last 18 months alone, Adobe has added numerous companies to its portfolio and launched a digital enterprise platform for customer experience management as well as a next-generation platform for the Adobe Online Marketing Suite. Among its acquisitions are the behavioral data bank DemDex; Auditude, a video ad management and analytics platform; EchoSign, a cloud-based contract and e-signature solutions provider; and Efficient Frontier, a digital ad-buying and optimization platform.
Both Forrester Research and Gartner have named Adobe a "Leader" in their respective research reports. In its "Forrester Wave: Web Analytics, Q4 2011" report, Forrester said Adobe combined "strong product offerings with a substantial market presence and solid strategy." Forrester also noted that Adobe maintains the "largest enterprise Web analytics footprint of any vendor."
Gartner named Adobe a "Leader" in its 2011 "Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management" report. It described Adobe's Web Experience Management solution as "one of the best Java-based products in the WCM market."
Adobe is unique, according to Matt Langie, director of product marketing for Adobe's digital marketing business, because it helps companies "connect all the dots."
"We can now help our customers connect the dots from the initial image that's being created in Photoshop all the way to testing and targeting that image…and then optimizing the business such that customers know they can make more money with image A versus image B because they've tested it and they have the data and analysis to prove it," Langie maintains. "There are really no other companies in the world that can do this."
Serious About Gamification
It's not all fun and games to Badgeville, even though the company competes in the emerging gamification market. For organizations that need to increase user adoption, Badgeville averages 20 to 250 percent increases in user behavior for its clients within any given technology deployment.
Founded in 2010, the Silicon Valley start-up's client roster includes Deloitte, Dell, Universal Music Group, and NBC; it has more than 150 Fortune 1000 clients across many industries.
This year, Samsung layered in Badgeville's platform on its Web site, creating Samsung Nation to bolster user-generated content by designing an environment where customers could level up and earn rewards. In one quarter, 34 percent more users put 220 percent more items in their shopping carts and 700 percent more users "liked" Samsung products on Facebook.
In April, Badgeville released a suite of Gamification Frameworks to enable rapid deployment of its solutions across customer and employee applications. While Badgeville services many consumer brands, about 40 percent of its business is employee-facing and 10 percent is developer-facing, Kevin Akeroyd, senior vice president of field operations, told CRM magazine in January.
Badgeville introduced a mobile software development kit for iOS and Android devices this spring to help developers seamlessly integrate Badgeville-powered platforms into mobile and tablet applications. Deloitte Digital just built out a geolocation service using Badgeville for a "Who What Where" program to connect its consultants.
Integration is the name of the game for Badgeville, which forged a partnership with Ant's Eye View this winter to bring gamification strategies to Fortune 500 companies. Badgeville also linked up with Bizaarvoice to power social loyalty programs.
"Whether it's a social commerce offering like Bizaarvoice, a CRM offering like Salesforce.com, an enterprise collaboration offering like Yammer or Chatter…companies are realizing that putting a gamification or enhanced reputation layer on top of a technical offering drives adoption, utilization, and end-user value proposition," Akeroyd said.
As gamification as an industry increases in popularity, it's safe to say that Badgeville is helping change the name of the game. The company recently nabbed a spot on Gartner's list of "Cool Vendors in Social CRM 2012" and ranked on Forbes' Top 100 list of America's Most Promising Companies. Now that's cause for bonus points.
The Social Media Pro
As more companies reach out to customers on social networks, they're turning to enterprise social marketing platforms like Hearsay Social to make those connections.
Based in San Francisco, Hearsay Social helps its corporate clients manage their many social media accounts while remaining in compliance with brand guidelines and regulations from the FTC, SEC, and the Financial Industry Regulation Authority. As proof that the demand for these services is rising, the company announced in December that it had multiplied its customer base sixfold in a six-month period, adding new enterprise customers in several verticals, including retail, insurance, financial services, hospitality, medical, automotive, and real estate. At the time this article was written, the Hearsay Social platform was facilitating more than 5 million customer interactions and powering more than 16,000 social pages and profiles.
In February, Hearsay Social announced it was partnering up with the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) to enable regulatory compliance and business ROI solutions for financial firms using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
"We have only begun to scratch the surface," said Hearsay Social CEO and cofounder Clara Shih in a statement. "Our alliance with SIFMA empowers firms with the proper systems, knowledge, and peace of mind to confidently embrace the incredible upside of social media while mitigating risk."
Hearsay Social's platform includes social CRM features that enable users to maintain records and receive alerts about their interactions with clients, social analytics, and a Social Compliance Module. The company updated its offerings this year with Hearsay Social for Facebook Pages Brand Timeline, which lets users schedule and publish posts and cover photos, pin and star comments, as well as distribute campaigns across employee profiles, business pages, and timelines.
Gartner included Hearsay Social in its 2012 "Cool Vendors in Social CRM" report, which says Hearsay is "designed to highlight interesting, new and innovative vendors, products, and services."
"This [Gartner] designation [is a] great win," said Shih. "We launched Hearsay Social on the vision that social media will forever transform the relationship between businesses and customers."