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The Road to Omnichannel Marketing Success

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execution platform," Jeff Hassemer, senior vice president of global product strategy for Experian Marketing Services, says. And, unlike comparable cross-channel solutions, where campaign assets are managed in separate systems or across channel-specific vendors, Experian Marketing Services' platform provides a central location for marketers to plan, manage, execute, and optimize all of their campaigns across different channels, according to Hassemer.

"We built systems around various channels, rather than attempting to address new channel needs with existing solutions," he says. The latter creates siloed channel campaigns and brand experiences that are not consistent or streamlined. "Often," he adds, "companies try to bolt together additional solutions to deliver a more holistic marketing platform, but it simply doesn't work that way."

Oracle Responsys, Hassemer argues, has a topnotch email marketing functionality, but had to "bolt on" social and mobile marketing solutions. IBM's offerings suffer from a similar issue. "With Unica [Campaign], IBM was able to offer a customer management tool, but was still lacking on execution. That's why they bought Silverpop [a marketing automation provider, in April 2014]," he says. A common sentiment among analysts, this critique of the gaps in solutions offered by some of the biggest names in marketing isn't falling on deaf ears. As vendors race to deliver the most comprehensive offerings, the competition is quickly escalating to a full-on marketing cloud war.

The War of the Marketing Clouds

Though not a "groundbreaking concept," marketing clouds are becoming an increasingly appealing premise because of their deepening integrations and growing breadth of capabilities, Sahir Anand, analyst at EKN Research, says. For prominent vendors such as Salesforce.com and Oracle, the marketing cloud tends to be the result of a series of acquisitions, which means that several best-of-breed solutions are consolidated into a cohesive, all-in-one solution equipped with all of the tools that marketers may need.

"The top marketing clouds that are out there now have the potential to help overcome many of the challenges associated with the campaign management and execution side of the omnichannel problem, because the vendors that offer them have already brought together the different solutions you'll need, and they try, for the most part, to take care of integration," Anand says.

Salesforce.com was among the first to assemble its marketing cloud, acquiring ExactTarget in 2013 to round out its suite, but others have followed suit. Adobe, for example, has recently asserted itself as a marketing technology leader, Hopkins says, mostly thanks to the "impressive platform" that its digital marketing cloud offers for omnichannel marketing.

In June 2013, Adobe acquired Neolane, a marketing technology provider praised for its campaign management capability, and for 

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