Marketo Rocks Up and Powers On in Marketing Automation

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Content Copyright © 2012 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

Last week the Marketo Rock Star tour was in London. The lead singer was Phil Fernandez, Marketo’s CEO, who sits somewhere between Freddie Mercury and Mick Jagger as software CEOs go. He did an outstanding stage presentation to 200+ marketers, and was equally impressive when I met him face-to-face backstage, once I had fought past the Marketo groupies. He was very engaging and open, clued up and creative. So moving on from the charm offensive, what did he have to say?

Marketo, which claims to be the fastest growing market automation vendor, powers on fuelled by big ticket VC funding and a groundswell of popular support. Marketo now boasts 2,200 global customers and is rapidly expanding its market reach in Europe and Asia (it has recently started direct operations in London, and has opened an office in Australia). It is also now spreading its wings from its Small Medium size Business (SMB) roots into Global Enterprise accounts. For example, GE now has over 800 Marketo seats.

Traditionally Marketo has sold into B2B high technology companies, but now is selling more broadly into all sectors, but especially Healthcare, Financial Services, and Publishing. The rate of product development is voracious. Marketo claims to introduce a new product category every 9 months. Next off the block is likely to be back-office marketing resource management (MRM) for managing marketing budgets, resources and brand assets.

Marketo is also looking to grow by extending its channel partner model and by recruiting established marketing services providers (MSPs) as referral partners. For example, creative agencies whose adverting clients are looking to adopt marketing automation are ideal.

Marketo is a software company in a hurry, with a big hairy audacious vision, and an infectious ‘can do’ attitude. There is a palpable ‘buzz’ around Marketo which is energetic and fun, and hence perfectly suited to the gregarious, outgoing personality types that inhabit Marketing Departments.

But what does Marketo actually do? Traditionally, marketing automation has been associated with vendors like Unica (acquired by IBM) and SAS Institute who sell big ticket ($500,000+) systems to large B2C companies (think Vodafone or BSkyB for example). Such companies want all-encompassing integrated enterprise systems to manage their colossal number of promotional campaigns.

Marketo, and their arch rival Eloqua, have re-defined this market space to focus on SaaS-based B2B sales lead management – helping to improve the flow of quality sales leads from Marketing to Sales at a fraction of the cost of the larger vendors’ solutions. The principal tools for this are demand generation, lead nurturing and lead scoring. Technology companies were an obvious easy first target market for both Marketo and Eloqua, as they have complex and difficult sales cycles and expensive direct sales forces. Hence a small increase in sales pipeline productivity has a big effect on technology company profitability.

To automate demand creation processes, Marketo offers email marketing, event marketing, web site landing page creation, and social media capabilities. Marketo’s foray into social media marketing has been accelerated by Marketo’s recent acquisition of Crowd Factory, and the installation of its CEO (Sanjay Dholakia) as the Marketo CMO. Now Marketo offers social apps such as Facebook page management, social analytics, and integrated social marketing.

The whole value proposition is packaged up within the concept of Revenue Performance Management – how to organise and align Sales and Marketing, and measure and optimise their combined performance. Just to make sure you ‘get’ this idea, Phil has just written a book called ‘Revenue Disruption’ (published by Wiley) to explain the concept. When does this guy find time to sleep?!

Marketo are doing an amazing job of maintaining its momentum while keeping many plates spinning. Its product range and quality and Marketo’s excellent web site education content are setting a new standard for ‘next generation’ marketing. Currently they are recruiting like mad (they have 50 open positions), primarily for technical roles at their HQ at San Mateo, California. Let’s hope their support resources don’t get too stretched in the rush for growth. For the meantime however, Marketo is exciting, fun, and long may it continue to dazzle marketers.