Can the Market Sustain a Stand-Alone EMM?

Market Overview

The new millennium has completely redrawn the IT industry map especially in the enterprise marketing management (EMM) sector. Since year 2000, the number of independent marketing automation vendors has significantly shrunk due to frequent acquisitions and takeovers. Names such as Xchange, MarketFirst, Annuncio, and Prime Response no longer exist. Larger application providers like Amdocs, PeopleSoft, and Chordiant have assimilated all. Amongst the few still operating is Aprimo. Their strategy primarily targets large customers from the financial services, technology, media and entertainment, pharmaceuticals and manufacturing industries, and it pays. Aprimo just released its version 6.0 posed to help the vendor sustain the ongoing IT turmoil.

Building a better understanding of customer preferences to better serve their needs and increase their loyalty is certainly the motto for the new generation of marketing automation systems. Many customer relationship management (CRM) software vendors focused their first marketing modules in generating and conveying leads to the sales force.

Campaign management and e-mail marketing functions were amongst the first modules for CRM vendors to include in their product offerings. Siebel, E.piphany, Pivotal, DoubleClick, and Aprimo are some of the providers of such functionality. Marketers can design multilayered marketing campaigns filtering by customer segments and using the contact center capability to reach their target through multiple channels such as phone, portals, email, direct mail, and PDA.

The second functional category widely provided is electronic marketing. Such a solution offers a web-accessible, enterprise resource that manages and delivers essential information to marketing's customers, both internal (sales, customer support, etc.) and external (prospects, media, partners, etc.). Integrated content management and customization have added value to the basic features of e-mail marketing by avoiding the pitfalls of mass marketing.

Overall, basic campaign management modules provide the following capabilities:

  • Planning campaigns targeted at segmented audiences

  • Keeping a history of all the campaigns that have been run

  • Tracking and analyzing the response to various products and target segments

  • Executing and tracking responses, which help in generating leads for sales

Marketing analytics is the third component adding a new dimension to the basic campaign management modules. The analytics functionality enables marketers to conduct customer behavioral analysis and understand key issues such as propensity to buy. CRM vendors such as Pivotal, PeopleSoft, and Siebel are now offering marketing analytics through acquisitions beside other pure marketing players such as Chordiant, E.piphany, SAS, and Unica.

The most recent tool in the world of marketing automation is the emergence of the marketing resource management (MRM) pioneered by Aprimo. Facing shrinking budgets, marketing departments are more and more accountable for the cost of their activities. MRM helps marketing professionals to plan ahead for the following:

  • Time for human resources

  • Time for financial resources

  • Responsibilities for different team members at different steps

MRM combines workflow capabilities for assigning tasks and triggering alerts and knowledge management to accede into marketing best practices. A tighter control over the projected budget, the planning, and the execution combined with a myriad of functions from campaign and lead management modules have pushed the limits of marketing automation and that is the reason vendors such as Aprimo and Unica are now referring to their products as enterprise marketing management (EMM) solutions.

Product Definition and Market Impact

Despite competition from both major CRM/ERP (enterprise resource planning) vendors and marketing analytics providers, pure-player marketing solutions like Aprimo, and Unica continue to serve the enterprise market place with new and updated EMM offerings. Recently Aprimo announced its new release Aprimo Marketing 6.0. The Indianapolis based firm, caters to big accounts like Merrill Lynch, America Online, Pfizer, and Autodesk. Its fully web-based solution encompasses functional areas such as marketing planning, financial management, production management, customer dialogue, and lead management applications. According to Mike MacNulty, a product marketing manager at Aprimo, "the product emphasize on application modularity contributes to deployment flexibility over time and quicker time-to-value". Production Management and Planning and Financial Management are two functional components geared towards the marketing resource management (MRM). The more traditional features such as campaign and lead manager are covered by the Demand Creation suite.

The Production Management modules deliver the necessary features to initiate and design through a scripted web template a marketing project from scratch. Features include internal or external resource assignments and management of cost by means of real time cost tracking. The pre-defined templates help marketers to follow the steps specified by best practices. The teamwork is fully auditable through online approvals for deliverables and creative. A rule based workflow manager, enables users to control quality standards like Six Sigma or financial regulatory rules like Sarbanes-Oxley.

The Planning and Financial Management modules confer to marketers financial visibility into their planned, committed and actual investments and provides the solution its expected MRM qualification. Using the budgeting and forecasting tool, defined users can be granted access to budget assignment, allocation, and transfer of funds. Links to a number of back-office applications, such as PO and AP systems, facilitate the exchange of financial data. Automated notifications for over- or under-plan conditions can be used by managers to control their marketing activities financials at different stages.

Customer Dialogue Management and Lead Management are the two major components of the Demand Creation suite. Users can leverage various demand creation modules to divide their customer list by segment and start targeting them using a multistep and multichannel marketing campaign. As a result they can automatically assign generated leads to specific sales groups or persons to conclude the sale.

Aprimo Marketing 6.0 .NET architecture takes full advantage of web services facilitating the interoperability of the application in a disparate system environment.

Aprimo Strategy and User Recommendations

A major strength of the Aprimo marketing application is in allowing marketers to handle their marketing activities as a series of interconnected projects. Each project could respect the overall enterprise picture including cost expectancy, resources allocation and return on investment control. Despite its enterprise oriented high priced solution, the Indianapolis based company provides a user-friendly application easily customizable at the user level and process oriented through the use of templates. The application enhanced functionality covers almost anything needed in a marketing department to achieve better results. Additionally, companies can combine their EMM with a Sales Force Application (SFA) application in order to take full advantage of Aprimo's Lead Manager. Aprimo offers a productized XML (SOAP) Gateway to establish and maintain this connectivity with major enterprise players including Siebel.

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