LinkedIn Twitter
Serial Entrepreneur, 5 startups, Product Guy, and Inveterate Blogger!

7 responses to “Marketing Automation Consolidation?”

  1. Kirsten Knipp

    Wow – Bob – I think you are channeling the Inbound Marketing mindset that we espouse at HubSpot!

    Couple of additional thoughts:
    -So many of these marketing automation solutions start halfway through the problem –> automating a dearth of leads is awfully silly. Very few of the mid-sized companies we work with come to us with purely an automation problem. They have a LEADS problem … AND a yield problem. You’ve got to solve starting with the top of the funnel before you automate anything in the middle.
    -Your point that there still has to be a human element is spot on – we can apply artificial intel and pattern analysis to all leads … but regardless, most companies that can afford marketing automation tools today sell products and services that require a bit more consultative selling. Now – what may change – is that as freemium and other downmarket options arise, folks in B2C or smaller ticket B2B companies may see the value of the tools and be able to automate almost all of the sale in a less complex sales cycle. Do you believe that, despite lesser VC interest in the SMB space, that bringing these modern concepts to the SMB marketplace can drive value for the entrepreneurs and small business owners that make up a large part of the US economy?
    -RE: Consolidation – Oracle’s recent purchase of Market2Lead’s assets is the first step and I am continually placing bets on who will be next.
    Great post!

  2. Bob Warfield

    Kirsten, I read the HubSpot blog along with a number of others with similar viewpoints, so no surprise some “channeling” is happening.

    RE the Leads problems: Most of these firms believe in just firing up more mailings to more lists they’ve purchased. There is definitely value in that, but it isn’t exactly a holistic view of the problem. HubSpot brings some more ammunition to the table. Personally, I also prefer the Inbound mindset. I’d much rather my customers self-select rather than being dragged into the discussion. Inbound are higher quality leads.

    For Yield, I think the MA players have a decent answer in Drip Marketing. It is again, not the only answer, and I’m not convinced it is even the best answer. I prefer to bring leads into a Community where there is more active participation rather than purely bombarding them with a Drip Feed.

    RE the low end, I think that market is actually much more lively than many of the VC’s suspect. The VC issue is how to reach them cost effectively coupled with worries about churn. They’re just more comfortable with fewer bigger sales. I prefer the opposite, but that’s a whole other post. The thing that has really changed since VC’s made up their minds about SMB is the Internet. I think that really changes the cost of acquisition versus the days of Direct Mail and Print Advertising.

    Thanks for joining the discussion,


    Bob Warfield

  3. Dharmesh Shah

    Great article, really got me thinking.

    On the topic of the lack of VC interest in the SMB space, I think you are right — too many VCs have burned too much capital in the past in that market, and so they are jaded.

    However, we’re seeing an increasingly strong interest from the investment community in the SMB space. Not only are some of the folks that made money in enterprise software getting clueful about the distribution efficiency available now with the Internet, but some consumer-oriented VCs are seeing the combination of potential scale and monetization that makes the SMB opportunity so interesting.

    Success stories like, ConstantContact, VistaPrint and others also helps a lot.

  4. Dave Blanchard


    First, I completely agree with the idea that the funnel needs to be extended earlier. There are some outbound components that need to be integrated too in order to close the loop, namely tweets, facebook et al posts, blog posts, sms. Some already inegrate direct mail. Even easy integration with webinar tools would be a Good Thing.

    The other inegration that could be improved is with back end financial and for retialers, POS software.

    Secondly, there is absolutely friction in the buying process. I am certified with infusionsoft and let me tell you from first hand experience that the buying cycle/education process is Lo-o-o-ng and rare is the small business owner who “gets” the concept of fundamently changing they way they do marketing because new tools and media allow for greater efficency and effectiveness.

    Part of the solution to the friction problem is for the MA vendors to develop a community of service providers that can economically build the “last mile” of the solution for a small business. You see this same model at a larger scale with Enterprise CRM — Siebel sells the system and Deloitte does the customization, data coinversion and training. To some degree this also adresses churn as the “stickyness” is in the complete solution (software + integration into business processes + ongoing optimization) that produces an ROI for the small business.

    I completely rosonate with you vision. My question is will realizing it come from extending the current generation of MA tools by exisitng players or by the creation of next generation tools by a start up?

  5. RE: Marketing Automation Consolidation | Demand Genesis

    […] This post is in response to Bob Warfield’s excellent article Marketing Automation Consolidation […]

  6. David Raab

    Hi Bob,

    Great post. I fully agree that outbound email + landing pages + lead nurturing + lead scoring isn’t a complete solution, although you and I may differ on whether they are enough to justify the cost of a marketing automation product. In practice, the alternative isn’t the One Great Marketing Solution In the Sky but separate systems for each of these functions. So just consolidating them, and in particular giving marketing the ability to create its own landing pages without relying on IT, adds considerable value.

    That said, Hubspot has the right idea of adding inbound marketing as well, and Infusionsoft takes it a step further by integrating CRM functions as well. There’s no doubt that Marketing Automation will expand to include all those. In fact, the leading vendors have already moved well beyond the core email + landing page functionality. That sort of expansion is utterly typical of a maturing market and, as you point out, typically accompanies consolidation.

    I also fundamentally agree that Marketing Automation may not survive as a stand-alone category, at least in the business-to-business world. (Business-to-consumer marketing automation is quite separate and has a long history; see Unica, Aprimo, Alterian, etc.) CRM vendors are one set of obvious owners. Web content management vendors are another.

    The sole hope for independent Marketing Automation is that marketers in some firms will have enough clout to demand their own system, rather than being subject to a system selected by Sales (CRM) or IT (Web CMS). This will only happen in large companies. Small businesses simply can’t afford the overhead to run separate systems, so integrated solutions will surely dominate in that segment.

  7. Howard Lothrop

    Sorry to be late to the party, but as both a HubSpot Small client and a SMB in search of more highly integrated automation I have a slightly different perspective.

    HubSpot offers great inbound marketing and lead generation functionality. It’s certainly helped me generate more leads. But that’s where it stops. Unless I’m willing to move up to a higher price point, i don’t even get an API to let me craft a DIY solution.

    I have cobbled together a series of automation products that relieve me of some of the follow up drudgery, but in reality I’ve exchanged 1 set of manual fixes for another. What I really need is a way to integrate the 2 worlds of lead generation and follow up, extending through the sell cycle and encompassing CRM for after the sale service.

    Now that would make me happy. Thanks.