Marketers Are Looking for Best Match Platforms

Forrester Research recently unveiled its Consumer Marketing Platforms TechRankings, a scenario-based product testing and evaluation process. Forrester 's research focused on marketing automation specialists and leading CRM suite vendors to participate in this latest TechRankings. Marketing automation software, which grew out of CRM, allows marketers to plan, target, deliver, and measure direct-to-consumer marketing communications, across both online and offline channels. Eric Schmitt, an analyst with Forrester, estimates the marketing automation market at $300 million a year. He says that the sector is on track to continue its 10 percent year-over-year growth. This is a niche market, according to Schmitt, who estimated the marketing services space to be $2 billion a year. Marketing automation platforms are employed strategically by a variety of industries like retail/catalog, financial services, travel and hospitality, and telecommunications that need to reach a huge volume of customers. The pharmaceutical and package-goods industries are also starting to use marketing automation, according to Schmitt. The new Forrester TechRankings are based a combination of customer references, rigorous hands-on product evaluations, and a review of product documentation. The research includes a written summary of each vendor, along with a spreadsheet driven set of technical and functional criteria that are weighted to score the products. Potential marketing-automation buyers can change the weight and criteria ranking to suite their specific product needs. Six vendors have participated in the research, including DoubleClick (Ensemble 6.5), E.piphany (E.piphany E.6), SAS (Marketing Automation 3.2), Siebel Systems (Siebel 7.5.3), Teradata (Teradata CRM 5.0), and Unica (Affinium). Each of the products Forrester evaluated has substantially different strengths and weaknesses in areas like segmentation, integrated analytics, architecture, and user interface. According to Forrester, Oracle, PeopleSoft, and SAP chose not to participate in the evaluation process. "These ERP vendors have been moving into CRM for some time and recently done very well," Schmitt says. "They all have marketing applications, but the sweet spot of their applications doesn't align well with our criteria, and they have not cracked the superhigh end of the user spectrum for marketing. Oracle has a lot of big manufacturing customers, but those are the users who need this." Users are looking for marketing automation want platforms that work in multichannel environment and support for call centers, the Web, and field marketing teams, according to Schmitt. He says that price is not a factor in choosing a marketing platform. Prices can range from $200,000 t0 $750,000, not including the data warehouse needed to pull data. "Requirements are popping up around distributed marketing so that the field force can be involved," Schmitt says. "We are also seeing a lot more interest in things like integrated customer analytics. Customers want a single environment for analyzing customer data and don't want to have to export data."
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