Should Salesforce.com Be On Your Marketing Automation Shortlist?

by Lauren Carlson

CRM Market Analyst,

1/11/2011

I’m extremely satisfied with the quality of our marketing technology and I think you’ll find it’s extremely competitive today.

- Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff

If you’re looking for customer relationship management (CRM) software, Salesforce.com is an obvious go-to for sales and service functionality. When it comes to marketing automation, however, should the 800-pound gorilla of CRM make your shortlist?

Many buyers will evaluate Salesforce.com because the marketing application is bundled with their Sales Cloud 2 product. You’ve got to love a free app. However, marketing automation specialists, like Eloqua, Marketo and Pardot, provide features that enable far more sophisticated marketing strategies. So, who should consider Salesforce.com’s marketing application? Who should look elsewhere?

To answer these questions, we decided to take a look at Salesforce.com’s marketing offering and assess whether this leader in CRM should make your marketing automation shortlist.

Functionality: The Meat of the Matter

Product functionality is, of course, a critical component of any software evaluation. We used our own Marketing Automation Functional Evaluation Guide to evaluate Salesforce.com’s marketing offering. After seeking the expertise of several members on our Software Advisory Board, we were able to asses the seven high-level marketing automation functions listed in the table below.

Functionality
Salesforce
Capabilities
Gaps
Lead Capture
Impressive website builder with landing page tools for “web-to-lead” lead generation.Lacks additional form building capabilities beyond “web-to-lead”.
Lead Nurturing
Linear, multi-step campaign building for limited drip marketing.Lacks multi-step, multi-channel branched campaigns with behavior-triggered events.
Lead Scoring
Basic lead scoring based on demographic data (BANT).Lacks behavioral or implicit lead scoring capabilities.
Email Marketing
Low-volume email capabilities for smaller campaigns (2,000/day).Lacks scalability for larger campaigns (e.g. 2,500+ emails/day). Weak in email deliverability.
Data Management
Crowd-sourcing in Jigsaw app to maintain up-to-date information on leads.Lacks automated deduplication of contacts gathered in web-to-lead process.
CRM Integration
As a suite, integration is native and compelling.
-
Reporting & Analysis
Reports track lead progress and campaign effectiveness.Lacks sophisticated lead behavior tracking on websites.

Clearly, Salesforce.com offers rudimentary marketing automation capabilities, but their offering doesn’t have the same depth of functionality found in many of today’s leading marketing automation systems.

Who Should Have Salesforce.com on Their Short List?

Salesforce.com could be a great starter system for many companies. Their marketing app is ideal for existing users of Salesforce.com CRM that have modest marketing aspirations. Specifically, it is a good solution for basic lead and campaign management. Salesforce.com’s marketing application is a good fit for buyers who:

  • Currently use Salesforce.com CRM and don’t want to integrate additional systems.
  • Want to automate simple, linear, drip marketing campaigns only.
  • Plan to market to a relatively small database of prospects (i.e. <2,500 records), but do not plan to scale for larger campaigns.
  • Want a segmented database for tracking which campaigns touched a specific lead, but do not need to track detailed lead response to campaigns.
  • Want to replace manual data entry with automated lead capture and contact management.

Who Should Evaluate Best-of-Breed Marketing Automation But what if you need to move beyond the basics? Lead nurturing is a sophisticated marketing strategy gaining attention because of its promise to engage buyers more personally throughout long sales cycles. Effective lead nurturing requires detailed tracking of buyer behaviors, as well as dependent logic or triggers for moving customers into new campaigns based on those behaviors. Salesforce.com is lacking many of these capabilities. Salesforce.com’s marketing application is not a good fit for buyers who:

  • Require scalability for large volume (2,500+ leads) email campaigns.
  • Want to track website visitor activity, such as downloading a whitepaper.
  • Need to score buyers based on behavioral criteria such as frequency of website visits, pages viewed, or response to email campaigns.
  • Require automatic deduplication of leads as they enter the system to avoid sending the same email or marketing collateral multiple times.
  • Want sophisticated branched campaigns with an “if-then” logic flow based on buyer behavior.

If you are serious about lead nurturing, these features are a “must-have.” The strongest option, then, is to integrate a marketing automation solution, such as Eloqua, Marketo or Pardot with Salesforce.com CRM.

The Verdict

Salesforce.com’s bundled marketing app provides functionality for basic marketing processes. Many companies, however, will outgrow Salesforce.com’s marketing tool. These companies should consider integrating a best-of-breed vendor.

It should be noted that current Salesforce.com users have the option of enhancing the marketing tool with add-ons through the AppExchange. In fact, Jep Castelein wrote an interesting article on using the add-on tools in the Salesforce.com ecosystem to create a more sophisticated marketing automation solution. Another option is hiring a consultant or Salesforce.com reseller to build out more sophisticated workflows if your needs become moderately more complex.

As for innovation, we do not expect Salesforce.com to invest substantially in marketing application anytime soon. Salesforce.com has made it clear that the primary focus of their investments are in developing their platform-as-a-service (PaaS). Additionally, their legacy is in sales force automation and customer service, two markets that dwarf the relatively nascent marketing automation market. For Salesforce.com, the return on investing in marketing automation probably isn’t there.

A special thanks to David Raab, Todd Fitzwater, Brian Hansford, Alex PelletierAlok Misra and other members of our Software Advisory Board for lending their expertise.

As always, we love to get your feedback. Please, let us know what you think of our assessment in the comment section below.

 

8 Comments

Lauren, thanks for the great post. Our approach at AscendWorks has been to use best-in-class and design via integrations. The shortcoming is typically that the data sync, management and production processes have more hassles and inertia to them versus a completely integrated system.

Salesforce.com would gain advantage by building out further marketing automation. Of course, their relationship with technology partners and their positioning as a platform are constraints in the business decision.

I believe the market would welcome this as the need to serve up ready leads to the salesperson is ever increasing. Buyers don’t buy through interruption. They go through a process and marketing automation readies the lead for the salesperson in a systematic way. More can be found in this article: http://salesforce.ascendworks.com/salesforce-com-integration-with-marketing-automation/

Thanks for the thoughts.

Comment by Don Dalrymple
01/12/2011
 

Interesting proposition but doesn’t quite make the grade. It is true that far too many marketing departments are using their marketing automation platforms as expensive email platforms. However, the inability of salesforce.com to use behavioral triggers for sending follow up emails in a nurture campaign is a critical flaw. Tracking, segmenting based on, and responding to buyer behavior is at the heart of today’s successful marketing. See my reports on this at: http://www.psgroup.com/SearchResult.aspx?CategoryID=981

Comment by Sue McKittrick
01/12/2011
 

Lauren, thanks for the link. I’ll find some time to read and digest!

Comment by Mark
01/12/2011
 

Here is the take of one salesforce.com partner that has been at this for a decade… it is not salesforce.com vs. a more powerful marketing automation engine like Manticore, Eloqua, Marketo, etc. It is salesforce.com FOR SURE (the gold standard in CRM) plus MAYBE a marketing automation tool. To begin with, you have to have a CRM system and none of the tools mentioned above are a CRM. Then you determine if you can live within the marketing tools salesforce.com provides, and if you can, you license one of the dozen or so bolt-on tools that leverage the core salesforce.com database. One thing I know is MOST companies aren’t fully using the CRM capabilities they have paid for and it takes a company with some amount of dedicated marketing staff to make a stand-alone marketing automation tool pay for itself. In my career, in addition to being a salesforce.com partner, I’ve been an Eloqua, Manticore and ExactTarget partner. All have their strengths and weaknesses and all integrate out of the box with salesforce.com (there must be a good reason for this).

Our article that compares emarketing vs marketing automation tools that integration to salesforce.com is found at http://www.akacrm.com/blog/35-sfdc-insight/146-email-marketing-solutions-for-salesforcecom.html. All comments are welcome.

Brent Mellow
Principal & CEO
akaCRM
http://www.akacrm.com

Comment by Brent Mellow
01/12/2011
 

Lauren,

Nice post. You cover a number of the capabilities available in most marketing automation tools, but not all of them. I would add the following to your chart: Microsites (with Personalized URLs and Dynamic Content), Event Management (multi-city road shows and webinar series), Social Media Sharing & Reporting, Digital Body Language Tracking with Real-time email alerts sent directly to sales when hot prospects visit your website, containing visitor details like pages visited, length of visit and search terms used.

Within Lead Nurturing, I would note that lack of multi-channel capabilities in Salesforce.com (automated SMS, Call-on-Demand, and Print-On-Demand). Within Data Management, I would add the lack of sophisticated data management capabilities – Data Normalization and Data Rationalization.

Those are my comments on features/functions, but what about domain expertise and best practices? What about skills development? Marketing automation is a journey and not many companies have the skills in-house to go it alone. At Eloqua, we have developed an Education / Accreditation program for Marketers to learn how to do the new programs marketing automation platforms now allow them to do (Lead Nurturing, Lead Scoring, Progressive Profiling, and more). We do Success Planning with our clients to help them focus on improving the various areas of their Demand Generation Framework (data management, campaign management, lead management, reporting & analytics) in an order that makes sense for their specific business maturity and requirements.

Marketing automation is still a relatively new and unstructured area, and each client’s journey―like each company’s sales and marketing process―is wholly unique. Features and functions are just one part of the puzzle.

You can visit AppExchange to read some of Salesforce.com’s customer reviews on why they need a marketing automation platform in addition to what Salesfoce.com provides – http://appexchange.salesforce.com/reviews?listingId=a0N300000016YgUEAU. Here’s one I picked to share with your readers

Eloqua works for us
Written by Punit Mital, Director, B2B Segment Marketing at Rosetta Stone on 5/28/2010
In less than 2 months since implementing Eloqua lead scoring and modifying our processes on how sales reps follow-up on leads, our lead conversion rates have increased by more than 20% as reps prioritize follow-up based on lead rating rather than FIFO. We find that implicit rating is a very good indicator of where lead is in the buying process and how engaged they are. This has helped us to really nail down some very engaged prospects and to send them to sales immediately. Without Eloqua this would not be possible.

Eloqua’s Customer Success team is unlike any I have seen – they work hard, and are extremely knowledgeable – both about the application and about how marketing can help drive sales results. I think buying an Eloqua solution is more than investing in a product it is the company – what helps extract value from Eloqua is the product coupled with the organization right from the CEO down.

Comment by Jill Rowley @ Eloqua
01/13/2011
 

This is like testing a car without starting the engine.

The most important benefit of using Marketing Automation is the intelligence it gathers. Intelligence CRM solutions aren’t designed to handle. Yet which can make all the difference to your sales team – making you stand out, making your communications timely and getting them to the real buyer, not just the person who filled out the web form.

Yet nowhere is this part of the evaluation.

Comment by Peter Johnston
01/14/2011
 

From Web > Lead, to Web > Lead > Email. Small jump, very manual. I’d say the SFDC play is less competitive towards marketing automation vendors and more targeted at entry level email products like ConstantContact or MailChimp.

When is SFDC just going to buy someone and get this over with?

Comment by Tewks
01/14/2011
 

Lauren:

Thank you for the post. I just completed a thorough evaluation of CRM and marketing automation software.

I decided to move forward with Microsoft Dynamics CRM due to the interface with Outlook which our salesforce is already using and use of the new CRM is KEY.

On the marketing automation front, I chose Hubspot we a desire to practice inbound versus outbound marketing to build brand awareness and generate leads.

We’re a small firm and I’m a one-person marketing department that needs to generate the activity of a much larger organization. I look forward to learning and using both software packages to help us achieve our goals.

Tom Smith
Director of Integrated Marketing
Bord na Mona Environmental Products U.S.

Comment by Tom Smith
01/16/2011
 

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