Marketo Inc. and CrowdFactory are joining forces to produce an integrated social marketing suite. The deal was announced Wednesday.
Here are my takeaways.
Marketo, a hot, emerging company focusing on digital marketing, is a good place to hang your hat if you want to collect venture capital and progress to an initial public offering. While digital marketing is important, I think it is showing signs of maturity. It’s been around long enough that the category creator, Eloqua, has already gone public and the sector is well-known. This is not to say that everyone has digital marketing in-house or even knows what it is. But there’s ROI -- or as Marketo might tell you, RPM for revenue performance management. Nonetheless there’s a lot of market space left.
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CrowdFactory is also emerging, but it is at an earlier stage than Marketo. CrowdFactory is a social marketing application, an approach that is newer and not as well understood. I first became aware of social marketing during 2011’s CRM Idol contest. As a primary judge in the competition, I saw their earliest briefing and was impressed. They use social techniques to more actively involve customers in marketing campaigns and the features include some aspects of the still nascent idea called gamification. But as a social campaign solution they are more tactical than Marketo in some ways.
The merging of Marketo and CrowdFactory gives the combined company greater ability to play in the strategic as opposed to tactical realm. I can see Marketo as more of a business-to-business play (B2B) and CrowdFactory as more of a business-to-consumer (B2C) offering. The combination not only cross-fertilizes each area with its opposite member’s best ideas, it also gives more of an end-to-end marketing twist to companies that go after each kind of market.
More important, I see marketing changing in the general direction of the combined forces of Marketo and CrowdFactory. Conventional B2B marketing with more of an accelerated B2C flavor would undoubtedly warm the cockles of many sales managers’ souls. Likewise, B2C marketing campaigns with more of a thought leadership (as opposed to ‘Buy this now!’) approach might elevate that conversation.
It’s my belief that in the near future we need to find more ways to understand opportunities and automate them to help reduce the overhead and time it takes to move deals ahead. For this reason alone I like this merger.