Marketing Nation 2018 – Marketo gets fearless alongside Google Cloud and SAP

The future of marketing will be built on what people do – and not just what they say they do. That was the message from Marketo CEO Steve Lucas, as he took to the stage at the company’s Marketing Nation 2018 conference in San Francisco on Monday.

If that sounds a little cryptic, it quickly became clear that Lucas’s intention was to draw a sharp distinction between customer relationship management (CRM) software and what the marketing automation company feels it offers its customers: an engagement platform.

A shift is underway, Lucas explained, from systems of record that are based on customer and contact data (CRM), to systems of record that contain engagement and experience data. As he told attendees:

Why does this matter? It matters because CRM, as great a system as it is, is a system populated by what people say they are doing, and not what they’re actually doing. A system of engagement is a system of record populated by what people are doing, and we know that what people do is more powerful than what they say. This new system of engagement and the record within it is what will drive the future.

This system, a single, unified platform for all the tools needed to perform the ‘plan, engage and measure’ of marketing activities, across any channel, sits at the heart of Marketo’s ‘engaging everywhere’ vision. Said Lucas:

Over the past two years, we have invested in a literal sense hundreds of millions of dollars in engineering, product and growth efforts, to build out an entirely new platform.

On that platform, over the course of the last year, he added, Marketo customers have successfully delivered 30 billion emails and those company’s own customers have clicked on over 21 billion embedded links in websites, emails, social sites and more. Overall, the platform has supported 400 billion marketing activities in the past year.

The sky’s the limit

Now, that platform has a new look. Lucas’s first big news announcement of his keynote was Marketo Sky, a new user interface that the company claims will provide marketers with a faster way to experience its system, with global search capabilities and single-click campaign approval, among other features. It will be available at the end of the month as an open beta release.

The second announcement was that of a new artificial intelligence (AI) engine, Marketo AudienceAI, the company’s first collaboration with Google Cloud since the two companies partnered back in August last year.

This combines Marketo’s platform with Google’s infrastructure and its AI and machine learning tools, in order to help marketers expand target audiences by identifying ‘lookalike’ targets in their marketing databases, based on historical lead conversion patterns. The first customer win for AudienceAI is Palo Alto Networks, a net-new customer that will go live on Marketo this week.

Next up was the announcement that Marketo will this year deliver native integration with both SAP CRM and SAP Cloud for Customer. Lucas told the audience:

Strategic applications from organizations like SAP… they represent a treasure trove of data and information that can bring valuable insight to us as marketers. This is just the beginning of our strategic partnership with SAP. Now, this effort to connect to more strategic platforms, like SAP, will round out your ability to gain insight and engage like never before.

Being fearless

Lucas was joined on stage for the relevant announcements by Diane Greene, CEO of Google Cloud, and by Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP. With the theme of this year’s conference being ‘The Fearless Marketer’, both chatted with him on the topic of fearlessness.

Greene related some of her adventures as a keen yachtswoman, while McDermott gave a very moving account of the 2015 accident in which he lost his left eye and his subsequent recovery. He told the audience:

I can tell you, it’s going to happen, in one way or another – we’re all going to get hit with thunderbolts. And the question is, what will you do when yours comes? What I can tell you is that they’ll never remember you for how you went down, or what happened with your thunderbolt, but they’ll never, ever forget you for how you get back up and keep on coming.

The final announcement of this year’s marketing keynote was the news of Marketo’s acquisition of Seattle-based Bizible, a supplier of marketing attribution and planning software, for an undisclosed sum. The aim here is to offer marketers a better understanding of the complete analytics funnel, from campaign planning to revenue and execution, so that they can allocate budget to the campaigns that reap the best return on investment. Said Lucas:

The combined product strength of Marketo and Bizible provides all marketers everywhere enhanced visibility into every touchpoint across any channel. Our investment will accelerate Bizible’s impressive growth and provide instant and achievable benefits to our current and future customers in the enterprise and beyond.

My take

This was an extremely assured performance from a first-time CEO who’s now 18 months into his role at Marketo. The company announced significant steps forward in AI (with Google) and in integrating its platform with other enterprise systems of record on which sales and marketing professionals rely (with SAP).

The Bizible deal marks the largest acquisition in its history, both in terms of employees and acquisition price. Lucas appears to have brought new ambition and a fresh confidence to Marketo. This is a company of deeds, not words – and it appears to be paying off. The challenge now will be getting customers to embrace its vision just as enthusiastically – or should that be fearlessly?

Image credit – Marketo Disclosure – At time of writing, Marketo and SAP are premier partners of diginomica.


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