Thoughts on Adobe’s Acquisition of Marketo

Ever since Vista Equity Partners acquired Marketo in May 2016, the countdown was on to see what the future would be for the industry’s gold standard marketing automation platform. Much like the Amazon HQ2 frenzy, theories ran rampant as to who the eventual acquirer would be, and everyone from Google to Salesforce made the list. After Marketo’s purchase of Bizible, it seemed like Vista was following the standard private equity formula of bundling a bunch of related technologies together for a profit. And wow did they do it perfectly! When the news broke regarding Adobe’s acquisition of Marketo, my first thought was, “The team at Vista really knows what they are doing.” Everything seemed to go according to plan.

The Details of the Deal: That’s Billion, Not Million

By now we all know that Adobe purchased Marketo for $4.75 Billion. Yes, billion. In fact, it is Adobe’s largest acquisition ever. The Wall Street Journal highlights that Adobe is looking become a one-stop-shop for marketers and states, “This deal is expected to add scale to Adobe’s existing marketing-technology capabilities. It will also bolster the company’s clout with business-to-business brands, which make up the bulk of Marketo’s customer base.”

According to Marketo CEO Steve Lucas, “Adobe and Marketo both share an unwavering belief in the power of content and data to drive business results. Together we will deliver an unrivaled solution that will place customer experience and engagement at the heart of digital transformation.”

Why We’re Excited About Adobe’s Acquisition of Marketo

For Adobe, acquiring Marketo’s customer base brings them firmly into B2B territory. For Marketo, being in the Adobe portfolio brings some very exciting possibilities for a more designer-oriented UX and product integrations, including:

  • Enhancing the overall Marketo UI (which has remained largely the same since Marketo’s inception) to be more in-line with the Adobe brand
  • Making the campaign building process more visual, like Eloqua’s Campaign Canvas, Pardot’s Engagement Studio, or Autopilot’s Journeys
  • Seamless integrations with Adobe tools such as Dreamweaver, Photoshop, or Illustrator

Autopilot, a relatively new entrant to the marketing automation space, uses a visual campaign workflow called Journeys

Why We’re Leery of Marketo Being Acquired by Adobe

As with any big acquisition, there’s the possibility of stagnant development, lackluster support, and a loss of the community that made Marketo so attractive in the first place. I was an Eloqua customer when they got bought by Oracle, and support seemed to die overnight. The already complicated and admin-heavy platform became even more so, and with Oracle’s commitment to the high end of the enterprise market, it very clearly didn’t feel like a product for the mid-market anymore.

Marketo has built its success firmly on B2B mid-market tech companies, to the point that it has a cult-like following among marketing ops professionals in the industry. I personally hope it stays that way. Of course there’s great opportunity for Marketo to evolve into an even better platform under Adobe’s stewardship, but there’s always the worry that a company you’ve been rooting for since the beginning — a product you’ve built your career on — ceases to be the thing that makes it special. And so, we’ll be watching closely to confirm that the Marketo community remains as vibrant as ever and that product development marches forward.

A Big Question Mark for Marketo’s Analytics Capabilities

When Marketo acquired Bizible earlier this year, it was a signal that they took the marketing data problem seriously. Even with RCE and tons of reporting options in Marketo and Salesforce, most marketers still struggle to run meaningful reporting in an automated way. We work with marketing teams every week who spend a ton of time manually cobbling data together to create relatively simple reports on campaign performance and to prove marketing’s impact on revenue. While most of this reporting typically ends up in Salesforce, the vast majority of the data is populated via the marketing automation system.

Adobe doesn’t have the backbone of a company overly concerned with analytics and reporting, so it will be interesting to see if or how they tackle this. The reason Marketo is so popular among MOPs folks is because it’s flexible enough to get things legitimately correct. It takes a lot of work and data infrastructure, but if you have an idea of what you’re looking for the reporting output to be, you can construct a system in Marketo to accomplish it. If Adobe could find a way to make this infrastructure/attribution/reporting process much easier for the standard marketer to figure out, however, it would be a huge differentiator.

What It Means for the Rest of the MarTech Industry

“Adobe clearly stated their intention to expand their Marketing Cloud to compete more effectively with the leading players in marketing automation and customer relationship management space, and this is a first major step down that path,” says Ryan Duguid, chief evangelist at Nintex, a workflow automation platform.

It has also been mentioned that the Marketo deal will help Adobe “compete in marketing services against Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and even the great powers of digital advertising, Google and Facebook.” However, I foresee Salesforce feeling the largest impact of Adobe’s Marketo acquisition. Salesforce acquired marketing automation platform Pardot in 2013, and they do a phenomenal job selling the integration when in reality Pardot’s integration with Salesforce is nowhere near as robust as Marketo’s. On the business development side of the house, bundling Pardot in with Salesforce renewals and upgrades has been an effective way for Salesforce to win deals and gain market share.

But, Salesforce should be careful continuing this strategy. In many organizations, it’s typically the VP of Sales that executes the agreement with Salesforce. While the bundled deal is attractive, I’ve seen it more than once that the sales leader rushes forward to save money without consulting the marketing team on whether Pardot will meet their needs. This inevitably leads to resentment towards Pardot once marketing gets their hands on the product because 1) they weren’t a part of the evaluation process and were forced into it, and 2) Pardot is a subpar platform. This could come back to haunt Salesforce unless they can radically improve the UI and catch up on functionality.

Charting the Future of Marketing Automation

Yes, I’m a Marketo groupie, but I firmly believe that Marketo is in a position to chart the future of marketing automation. It already boasts the most robust and flexible platform compared to its mid-market competitors like Pardot and Hubspot, and its integration with Salesforce is best in class. However, leveling up the visual components of Marketo would be a welcome change, provided updates and functionality to data and analytics don’t fall by the wayside.

Three Things Revenue Marketers Do Differently

“Let’s see. What campaigns can I run to achieve as little as possible?”

Said no one ever.

From the smallest business in America to the largest enterprise on earth, the purpose of marketing is to increase awareness and grow the business.

But let’s assume we all agree on that and also that marketing has become a fiercely data-driven game.

Marketing with purpose is the law of the land: the democratization of data is transforming the marketer’s role from brand and PR, to data analyst and ops expert.

And not just marketing.

Today’s Fortune 500 CEO is more accountable than ever, largely because the entire organization is focused on data and outcomes.

In its annual report, the Conference Board found that among Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index companies that were at the bottom of performers, the CEO succession rate jumped five percentage points, from 12.2 percent in 2015 to 17.1 percent in 2016. That’s well above the rate over the past 16 years.

Of course it’s not just because of the availability of data, it’s also because the world is watching—and responding—when CEOs behave badly (Uber).

But I digress.

The fact is, no matter the size of the team or industry, the wind of change is here. Marketing is shifting to a revenue center—a role once reserved for Sales alone—and marketing leaders must create new business, expand existing business, and consistently drive growth.

So what do revenue-focused marketers do that’s so different? Let’s focus on three things.

 

  • They Align with Sales Every Quarter

    As much as we talk about sales & marketing alignment, how many of us actually dedicate the time and energy to it every quarter?

    Yep, end of quarter is crazy for sales. But regardless, you really do need to book a conference room and spend an afternoon reviewing the previous quarter’s performance and making sure you’re aligned on pipeline and revenue goals.

    Take the time to dig into the numbers—exploring quality of leads, engagement within key accounts, and tackling questions like:

    • Which campaigns moved the needle?
    • What activities drove the best inbound leads for sales follow up?
    • Are we targeting the right people or do we need a refresher on personas?
    • Were there any surprises?

    As marketers, if we don’t have that solid alignment, how can we realistically plan for the upcoming quarter and remainder of the year?

    Having been in some organizations where marketing avoided (literally) involving sales in planning, it doesn’t work and no one wins.

  • They Create Plans that Make Sense

    And by that I mean plans that tie closely to revenue goals.

    That’s why the first item is so important. Your quarterly and annual plans must work back from revenue goals, which are set by the business and understood by sales & marketing. From that key goal, you’re looking at historical data, conversion rates, and average deal size to figure out how to allocate budget.

    B O N U S
    Not super mathy? Download this Lead to Revenue Template to help you get started. And if that doesn’t quench your thirst, check out the Modern Marketer’s Guide to Planning for a deeper dive.

    A typical marketing org probably has demand gen, digital, content, and ops. Everyone on the team should own their piece of the plan, with individual goals and MBOs that map back to revenue targets.

    If Sales Development falls under marketing, review performance and brainstorm new ways to optimize and recharge. Do a sanity check to make sure SDR outreach is a complement to sales and marketing activities, and not drowning your prospects in over communication.

    As a team, there’s no better feeling than celebrating marketing’s impact on a great quarter. Cheers!

  • They Know Which Metrics Matter

    And have a way to get at the data without entering the 10th circle of Excel hell or waiting for ops to pull reports. (by the way, Sponge includes great dashboards made for marketers so you’ll never have to retrofit Salesforce again).

    Assuming you’re using marketing automation and a CRM system, have these metrics in your back pocket:

    • Lead to opp conversion
      Sure, this metric relies on sales follow up and performance, but it also reflects lead quality. Track this conversion rate monthly but also go back a year or two and observe trends.
    • Campaign opportunity influence and ROI
      Whatever you do, have access to a dashboard that shows which campaigns and content are influencing opportunities during the quarter.
    • Email performance
      Opens and click-throughs are a great way to check the temperature of your nurture campaigns. Email is still the best way to engage leads once they’re in your database. Poor performance could be a sign of exhaustion, lack of compelling offers, or crummy content.
    • Funnel velocity
      Work with marketing ops to ensure you have a way to track lead flow from beginning to end. When the CEO asks, “How long does it take a lead to convert to an opportunity?” you should probably have the answer ready to go.
    • Happiness
      Remember what happiness and fulfillment feel like? Don’t lose sight of your team and your customers. Don’t get so caught up in data and hitting your numbers that you sacrifice quality and sanity.

Want more on metrics and revenue-driven marketing? Don’t miss this on-demand webinar:

how revenue marketers own their metrics