Three Predictions For Marketing Automation From Act-On’s Chief Marketing Officer Atri Chatterjee

Cloud Computing Today recently had the privilege of speaking with Act-On’s Chief Marketing Officer Atri Chatterjee about his predictions for marketing automation in 2015. Chatterjee predicts that 2015 is likely to witness the expansion of marketing automation over and beyond a platform that enables an expansion of revenue. Specifically, Chatterjee envisions marketing automation as becoming a key part of customer relationship management and management of the customer lifecycle more generally. From a technology standpoint, Atri asserts that the industry will increasingly demand “marketing automation platforms to be open systems” that interoperate with other cloud platforms and products as noted in his three predictions below:

3 predictions for the ‘Future of Marketing Automation’ by Atri Chatterjee:

1. Marketing automation will not just be categorized as a lead to revenue platform and instead leveraged throughout the customer life-cycle; for communication programs beyond acquisition and through retention and expansion.

2. Marketing automation will be the front end technology for customer relationship management. Marketing is currently the first touch point for customers and it will also continue throughout the relationship. A marketers role in the customer experience will continue to be more pervasive as the use of marketing automation expands to other initiatives.

3. Marketers will require their marketing automation platforms to be open systems that empower them to customize their solution with other third-party cloud services to enhance its overall use. Doing so will allow marketers to differentiate their digital marketing experiences and be able to augment campaigns using data from other systems such as ERP, HR, CRM and others. Think of marketing automation as a trains locomotive and the cab cars as the eco-system of apps.

About Atri Chatterjee

Atri is responsible for all things marketing at Act-On. Although he didn’t join until 2012, his association with the company as an adviser and an early customer goes back to when the company was founded. He wasn’t satisfied with helping the Act-On revolution from the outside; he had to jump in!

His over 20 years of experience span marketing, product management, business development and engineering at high-growth innovative companies ranging from start-up ventures to large public companies. Most recently, he was Vice President and GM of the User Authentication business at Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC). Prior to that, he was Senior Vice President of Marketing at McAfee, Inc. (now part of Intel) and prior to that was the CMO of Secure Computing Corporation until its purchase by McAfee.

Atri was also the first VP of Marketing at Responsys, where he helped create the first business plan, raise several rounds of funding and establish that company as a pioneer SaaS application for email marketing. He has also held senior marketing roles at other category-leading companies including CipherTrust, McAfee, Netscape, and Clarify.

Advertisements

Act-On Announces Data Visualization, User Experience and Integration Enhancements For Its Marketing Automation Platform

Marketing automation vendor Act-On today announced a set of enhancements to its platform that enable marketers to more effectively evaluate and transform the efficacy of their marketing campaigns. Specifically, Act-On delivers enriched reporting, a more easily customizable user interface and expanded integrations with third party vendors that give marketers increased flexibility with regard to the bi-directional exchange of data with applications that participate in outbound and inbound marketing initiatives. Newly announced reporting functionality includes funnel report capabilities that visualize the flow of data at different stages of the marketing process as illustrated below:

Funnel reporting enables marketers to drill-down on leads from different stages of the application progress and track their progress over time. Moreover, Act-On announces the availability of a more easily customizable dashboard that allows users to selectively organize their favorite marketing campaigns and analytics and data visualizations of interest. As part of its focus on delivering a marketing platform for small to medium-sized businesses, Act-On now delivers expanded integrations and APIs for CRMs such as MS Dynamics, Sugar, NetSuite given that many smaller companies cannot easily afford Salesforce.com, which Act-On supports as well. Despite having roughly 200 customers with over $500M in revenue as noted by Act-On’s CMO Atri Chatterjee in an interview with Cloud Computing Today, Act-On’s focus on mid-market companies renders it unique in the marketing automation space, particularly because it delivers an integrated platform featuring increasingly rich user experience functionality and the one of the few month to month contracts in the industry. The marketing automation space should expect to hear more news regarding the rate of Act-On’s impressive product innovation as the company continues to focus on delivering a turnkey marketing platform for SMB customers with a richness of functionality more commonly seen amongst products geared toward the enterprise.

Marketing Automation Vendor Act-On Raises $42M Just Days After IBM’s Agreement To Acquire Silverpop

Marketing automation vendor Act-On Software today announced the finalization of $42 million in venture financing in a round led by Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV) with additional participation from Norwest Venture Partners, Trinity Ventures, US Venture Partners, and Voyager Capital. As a result of the funding raise, David Yuan, general partner at TCV, joins Act-On’s board of directors. Act-On intends to use the funding for all aspects of its business operations, including product development, sales, marketing and operations. The announcement of Act-On’s funding raise comes in the wake of IBM’s announcement of its agreement to acquire marketing automation firm Silverpop on April 10.

IBM’s acquisition of Silverpop for an undisclosed sum builds upon Oracle’s acquisition of Eloqua and Responsys, Salesforce.com’s acquisition of ExactTarget and Marketo’s IPO in May 2013. Silverpop specializes in the personalization of marketing content based on the creation of customized audience profiles derived from email, social media and web and mobile activity and boasts 8000 customers in over 50 countries including the likes of Mazda, Stonyfield Farm and Advanced Micro Devices. Atri Chatterjee, CMO of Act-On, commented on the significance of IBM’s acquisition of Silverpop as follows:

The marketing automation industry has been heating up and Act-On is playing in one of the hottest markets right now…IBM acquiring Silverpop further validates the rapidly growing market and substantiates the industry as a whole. We are seeing an increasingly growing demand for marketing automation as companies are doing more online multi-channel marketing and moving beyond email. Corporate Darwinism is at work here in a fast evolving market. The companies that remain standing are the hyper-growth ones with leading edge technology, or the behemoths that are scrambling to enter the market.

Here, Chatterjee notes that the marketing automation landscape is rapidly bifurcating into two spaces marked by “behemoths” like IBM and Oracle that elected to scoop up attractive platforms such as Silverpop, and a selection of standalone vendors that differentiate themselves by consistently demonstrating their ability to innovate and respond nimbly to customer needs and the changing technology horizon in which all marketing vendors operate. Act-On definitively stands in the category of the “hyper-growth” vendors “with leading edge technology” as evinced by its growth to over 2000 customers and accolades such as the designation of leader in the Forrester Wave report on lead-to-revenue management platform vendors for Q1 of 2014. Today’s funding raise brings the total capital raised by Act-On to $74 million since it was founded in 2008. Act-On now has the luxury of innovating upon its integrated marketing platform to develop more accurate analytics and predictive modeling algorithms to drive the personalization of marketing content at both a population and individual customer level. Key challenges for the Beaverton, Oregon-based company will involve the platform’s ability to incorporate real-time analytics into its prescriptive marketing campaigns, the refinement of customer profiles as they evolve in the specific context of the customer’s relationship with specific brands and the ability to generate effective outbound content such as text messages that match the needs and predispositions of targeted consumers. With an extra $42 million in cash in hand, however, Act-On may well end up becoming one of the vendors scooped up by the “behemoths which are scrambling to enter the market,” particularly if it can consolidate its impressive traction to date and enhance its platform to the point where it becomes the undisputed leader in the marketing automation space.

Act-On Opens Up Its APIs To Third Party Developers In Bid To Expand Partner Ecosystem

Today, marketing automation vendor Act-On announced the expansion of its partnership community by providing third party access to its APIs. By providing third party developers access to its APIs, Act-On stands poised to significantly increase the size and quality of contributions from organizations that are interested in leveraging Act-On’s marketing automation software. Today’s announcement empowers third parties to integrate Act-On’s marketing data into other applications in addition to conversely enriching the Act-On platform with plug-ins and functionality that enhance the Act-On platform itself. The graphic below depicts the relationship between Act-On APIs and its suite of applications:

To date, Act-On already integrates with more than 20 third party applications such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Salesforce, WordPress and Drupal. Act-On has recently improved its Act-On Partner Exchange (APEX) website with an online directory and resources for developers such as documentation and sample code. With this announcement, the marketing automation and analytics space should expect Act-On to build upon its impressive Q3 revenue announcement marked by year over year quarterly revenue growth of 194%. Act-On’s decision to open up its APIs to third parties is likely to accelerate integrations between its marketing applications and other applications, thereby driving usage and expanding its customer base and touchpoints. Moreover, the decision to open up its APIs renders it a more attractive target for potential acquisition as a result of the refinement of its capability to shuttle marketing campaign-related data across a wider ecosystem of applications.

Salesforce Acquires ExactTarget For $2.5 Billion As Online Marketing Space Heats Up

Salesforce.com announced plans to acquire ExactTarget for $2.5 billion in what represents the biggest acquisition in Salesforce’s history. The deal comes less than 12 months after Salesforce acquired Buddy Media for $680 million. Under the terms of the deal, Salesforce will pay $33.75 a share, or 53% more than the ExactTarget closing share price on Monday of $22.10. Salesforce noted that the acquisition is expected to increase fiscal 2014 revenue by $120 or $125 million, and correspondingly reduce adjusted earnings by 16 cents per share.

ExactTarget is used by over 6000 companies to manage email marketing, text messages and social media camapagins, including the likes of Nike, Coca Cola and Gap. Its acquisition enables Salesforce to offer customers a more comprehensive marketing platform in contrast to Buddy Media and Radian 6, another of its recent acquisitions. Buddy Media specializes in social media marketing and Radian 6 focuses on understanding what is said in social media platforms. CEO Marc Benioff commented on the magnitude of the deal’s size and the broad scope of ExactTarget’s product line by noting:

We can’t just keep making these small acquisitions. That strategy was just taking honestly too long. We needed to do something of consequence and we needed to do something strategic and we needed to do something now.

Shares of similar companies within the email automation and marketing automation space rose upon news of the acquisition, with Responsys closing at $10.53 a share, up 8.78%. Constant Contact shares closed at 15.76 a share, up 5.14%. Privately held Act-On, an integrated marketing vendor that delivers a comprehensive automated marketing solution featuring SEO, integrated Google Analytics support and analysis of search histories, reacted to the news of the acquisition with the following remarks from Act-On CEO Raghu Raghavan:

Marketing software is undeniably one of the hottest markets right now and can be attributed in part to the fact that more CMOs are purchasing marketing-related technology and services from their own capital and expense budgets…All of the recent activity over the past year in the marketing automation space with Oracle’s acquisition of Eloqua, and then last month’s news of Marketo’s IPO are validation of this red hot space that Act-On is operating in. To think that only 5% of the market has been penetrated leaves green fields for marketing software vendors to innovate, expand and grow. This is only the beginning of a long and prosperous road for marketing automation.

The key point Raghavan makes here is that Chief Marketing Officers are increasingly purchasing technology for marketing from their own budgets as opposed to IT, with the result being that the marketing automation is space is exploding as CMOs experiment with different vendors and types of analytics. In December 2012, for example, Oracle acquired Eloqua for $871 million, or $23.50 per share. According to The Wall Street Journal, Salesforce paid 5.5 times the 2014 forecasted revenue price of ExactTarget, less than the 6.1 multiple of forward revenue that Oracle paid for Eloqua. Shares of ExactTarget closed up 52.4% on Tuesday at $33.69 a share, whereas shares of Salesforce declined 7.89% to $37.80. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff celebrated the finalization of the acquisition but noted that the company was likely to take a “vacation from M&A for anywhere between probably 12 and 18 months.”

Act-On Launches SaaS Application Dedicated To Automation Of Inbound Marketing

Today, Act-On Software announced the launch of Act-On Inbound, a SaaS application that expands the purview of Act-On’s marketing software to include an offering dedicated to inbound marketing. Act-On Inbound integrates analytics across multiple inbound marketing channels to provide customers with a holistic picture of how website, blog and advertising campaigns facilitate lead generation as well as conversions. The resulting holistic picture of a customer’s inbound marketing profile enables enterprises to accurately measure the ROI of advertising campaigns and to proactively, iteratively refine content and advertising initiatives as the universe of digital content evolves.

Act-On Inbound features the following:

•SEO Enhancement

The solution provides customers with direction for improving website content, blogs and other landing pages after a thorough analysis of the SEO performance of each respective component of inbound content. Importantly, Act-On Inbound delivers SEO recommendations after performing a 360 degree evaluation of SEO performance across multiple sources of content in order to understand whether keywords perform differently in one content repository as opposed to others. The SEO analysis provides recommendations not only regarding keywords but also about the metadata underlying pages as well as their structural composition.

•Google Adwords Support

Act-On Inbound supports Google Adwords from within the application itself, empowering customers to obtain granular analytics about the performance of specific keywords and the ROI associated with Google Adwords campaigns. Customers can understand which keywords resulted in leads and revenue by way of Act-On Inbound’s integrated dashboard.

•Search History Analytics

Customers can leverage Act-On Inbound to analyze the search patterns of customers by segmenting search terms that resulted in inbound points of customer contact. The resulting search history analysis enables customers to tailor inbound content to the search patterns of prospective customers.

Act-On Inbound delivers its functionality by way of a single, comprehensive dashboard that allows users to effectively understand the performance of a customer’s inbound marketing universe both in its totality and in relation to analysis of its specific parts. In conjunction with the launch of Act-On Inbound, Act-On also recently announced the release of a mobile app that allows marketing professionals to access Act-On marketing dashboards and analytics from any mobile device. Act-On positions itself in the hot but intensely competitive marketing automation space featuring the likes of Marketo, whose post-IPO performance continues to impress shareholders.